HAMPTON, Va. (September 30, 2018) –Hampton University officially welcomed the senior class of 2019 with the 76th Annual Opening Convocation. From the musical sounds of the Hampton University Symphonic Choir to the inspiring words of Hampton University President Dr. William R. Harvey and the prophetic message from Keynote Speaker, Secretary Frederick M. Lawrence, each attendant of this traditional event walked away with encouragement for a phenomenal year.
Hampton Mayor Donnie Tuck, Congressman Bobby Scott, and Dr. and Mrs. Freeman Hrabowski also attended the opening ceremony as honored guests.
Dr. Karen Turner Ward, Chair, Committee on Ceremonial Occasions, presided over the event. She reminisced about the last year of commemoration, celebrating Hampton University’s 150-year legacy and President Dr. William R. Harvey’s 40 years of legendary leadership. “The anniversary celebrated a legacy and a legend of excellence, and permeated the entire campus, creating an atmosphere that was both electrifying and infectious,” said Dr. Ward.
Hampton University President, Dr. William R. Harvey, welcomed each student to the university and officially opened the 151st year of existence of Hampton University. “Let us diligently strive to reach new heights, in academics, in research and service, guided by our commitment for being THE Standard of Excellence,” said Dr. Harvey. “I want you to know that any objective analysis will show that we are at the top of the heap of modest-sized universities in the country. As your President, I want you to know I will continue to push the faculty, the staff, you the students, into dreaming no small dreams. Be sure that Hampton’s history is preserved according to the priorities that General Armstrong set forth and that our future is bright.”
Dr. Harvey also honored Dr. Kelwyn A. D’Souza and Dr. Harvey J. Stokes with Hampton University’s 2017-18 Edward L. Hamm, Sr. Distinguished Teaching Awards. Dr. D’Souza is a professor in the Department of Management, has published numerous articles and served as Principal Investigator on twenty funded projects, totaling four million dollars. Dr. Stokes is professor of composition and 20th Century Music, has written more than 53 compositions and serves as President of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the National Association of Composers.
Dr. Harvey gave the distinguished class of 2019 a few words of guidance for the school year. “This is your final undergraduate year. This year presents you a prime opportunity here at Hampton to grow and achieve intellectually and spiritually, and this year provides opportunity to prepare and plan for the next phase of your life, life after college. That may be graduate college or a professional career. Whatever path, continue that journey with vigor, focus on the things that matter the most as you travel through this academic year. Remember the lessons that you have learned and use them as a guide. Remember that life is not a game of chance, it’s a game of choice,” said Dr. Harvey.
Hampton University was excited to have Secretary Frederick M. Lawrence give this year’s Convocation Address. Secretary Lawrence is a civil rights scholar and CEO of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s first and most prestigious honor society. He is a Distinguished Lecturer at the Georgetown Law Center, and has previously served as president of Brandeis University, Dean of the George Washington University Law School, and Visiting Professor and Senior Research Scholar at Yale Law School. He was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 2018 and the American Law Institute in 1999.
Throughout his address, Secretary Lawrence spoke about education, the powerful role of humor, problem solving, thinking creatively and “turning knowledge into wisdom.” Secretary Lawrence spoke about the promissory note that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. invoked in his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech, and said the students of today, Hampton University students, need to fulfill the remains of that promissory note.
“That promissory note did not get paid in full so who would have guessed that it now falls to you, the young men and women of Hampton University, to see to it that that promissory note is yet again presented for payment,” said Secretary Lawrence. “If this task seems too great to you and you think too much is being asked of you, then I will remind you that the tools necessary for this work are precisely what you’ve been obtaining here at Hampton University. Your task is not to perfect the world, but it is most decidedly to leave it better than how you found it.”