HAMPTON, Va. (April 1, 2018) — Hampton University President Dr. William R. Harvey and Dr. Michael A. Battle, a former U.S. Ambassador to the African Union, gave fitting and memorable tributes to both Hampton University and its founder, Brig. Gen. Samuel Chapman Armstrong, during the Founding Day celebration at historic Ogden Hall. The special Easter Sunday service was part of Hampton University’s twin anniversary celebration which commemorates the university’s 150th anniversary and 40 years of visionary leadership under Dr. Harvey.
Dr. Harvey spoke to Gen. Armstrong’s belief in good character and how Gen. Armstrong would want those at HU to carry themselves. Dr. Harvey also spoke to how Hampton University has continued to thrive despite naysayers and critics over its 150-year history.
“On this Founding Day 2018, I want you to know that we are here today because of General Samuel Chapman Armstrong,” Dr. Harvey said. “I have read where there were two things he wanted people associated with his institution to possess: They are strong academics and good character. Of the two, he thought character was more important. These things were not only important in 1868, but in 2018 they may be even more important. I want Hampton University faculty staff, students and alumni to emulate General Armstrong’s wishes and demonstrate honesty, integrity, responsible behavior and trust in their personal and professional lives.
“Hampton University’s history is replete with individuals both black and white who were critical of projects and proposals that the leadership brought forward. Despite their resentment and opposition to the progress that this great institution has achieved over the last 150 years, we have persevered by accepting and following the values and standards which Gen. Armstrong espoused and thereby set us on the path of becoming the world-class university that we are today.”
Dr. Battle, executive vice president/provost at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, and a former Hampton University chaplain of 20 years, delivered a powerful sermon recognizing and tying together the three important events coinciding on the historic day.
“Without the resurrection of Jesus celebrated each Easter Sunday, Hampton University would not be what it is today,” Battle said. “Armstrong needed the strength he drew from Jesus’ resurrection to persevere and follow his vision to found the school. Dr. Harvey would not have survived the challenges he faced as president for 40 years and overcome the obstacles in his and the university’s way without the power of the resurrection.”
Sunday’s service also featured Emmy Award-winning gospel musician Earnest Pugh performing with the Hampton University choirs. Pugh led the choirs and congregation through multiple songs that had the near capacity crowd on their feet from beginning to end, clapping and singing.
The celebration was capped off by the Hampton University Student Government Association (SGA) releasing 40 doves outside Ogden Hall. University SGA President Martha Baye said the symbolism behind the doves was to recognize and honor 40 years of visionary leadership and service from Dr. Harvey.
“President Harvey's 40 years represents the birth and development of one of the most important forms of student advocacy on Hampton's campus,” Baye said. “Since the start of the monthly admin meetings, many of the student demands and needs have been met. Jared Bourke, [university] SGA vice president, and I wanted to release doves on behalf of SGA to represent 40 years of outstanding service and the commitment to always give back and return ‘home.’”