HAMPTON, Va. (October 24, 2018) – The Hampton University William R. Harvey Leadership Institute (WRHLI) held its second Meet the Leaders Series of the semester, welcoming Dick Abel, a retired Air Force Brigadier General and jet pilot.
Before speaking with the WRHLI Leadership Fellows, Abel got the chance to sit down and speak with Hampton University President, Dr. William R. Harvey.
CHAT BETWEEN DR. HARVEY AND DICK ABEL:
“I believe in leadership. I think that leadership is the key to anything that is successful,” said Dr. Harvey.
“And we’re lacking it in our country and you and I are shoulder-to-shoulder in trying to make an influence, an impact,” Abel said.
“Times have changed and I don’t know if we will ever get it back. I hope so, and that’s why we have to continue to do what we can do,” said Dr. Harvey.
“You’re investing in the vision of this institute. You’re investing in the future of our country,” Abel said.
“I believe there are people that are invested in me. I believe that the Lord has ordered my steps and because of that, I’ve been able to do things that are almost unheard of. I’m originally from Alabama. I was fortunate enough to get a doctorate from Harvard. I’ve been in the Oval Office of every single President since Jimmy Carter,” said Dr. Harvey.
Dr. Harvey was in the military at a young age. He went in as an enlisted man and he’s still in the inactive reserves as a lieutenant colonel. “There are so many things that I picked up that I still use today: discipline, structure, order, team work, having goals, I got that from my Army career,” said Dr. Harvey.
“I was Air Force, I flew cover over you to protect you!” said Abel.
“Well, thank you!” said Dr. Harvey.
Abel is an internationally known speaker on family values, strategic planning and moral leadership. During his 30-year military career, Abel led an Air Force flying demonstration team, coached football at the U.S. Air Force Academy, was awarded the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, and for service in Vietnam; the Bronze Star. He also escorted five flights of American POW’s returning from Vietnam.
After retiring from the Air Force in 1985, Abel served as a Senior Executive on the U.S. Olympic Committee and later as President of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He has written four books including, “The DNA of Leadership,” where Abel gives a meaningful discussion about the attributes, challenges, and rewards of being a principled and effective leader. He is a husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, coach and mentor to men and women of all ages.
Brigadier General Abel is inspiring, funny, witty, and a true leader. He interacted with the crowd of Leadership Fellows, asking questions and told them that what he was going to talk about really mirrors what Dr. Harvey speaks about in his book, “The Principles of Leadership: The Harvey Leadership Model.” Brigadier General Abel said, “I want you to know that you are very special just being selected to come to this university. Why do you think you can be a leader? I’m going to talk about who you really are. Your character. There’s a thousand things in leadership but we’re only going to talk about one, who you really are.”
“All of you are preparing yourselves to be young people who are going to provide inspired influence. That came from a friend who is an expert in training people to be leaders. You’re someone in the process of becoming a special person to influence other lives. The time we have today that will go by in a flash is all about preparing you for that, the honor to serve,” Abel said. “I’ve worked for many senior people in government, in business, in sports and even the Congress of the United States and looking at all these people, one thing I found constant, that the great ones, the ones most effective were people who in fact didn’t look at themselves as the most important person, that they look at who they serve.”
After the Lecture Series concluded, Brigadier General Abel received a certificate of appreciation from Dr. Jarris Louis Taylor, Jr., Director of the William R. Harvey Leadership Institute. “The University’s Quality Enhancement Plan theme is Preserving Our 3Cs: Character, Community, Culture. General Abel’s message on character was positive reinforcement and an affirmation of the importance and the values we as an institution and society associate with leaders of character. He honed in and was able to resonate with the 83 Fellows in attendance this evening, as character is one of the three pillars of the WRHLI, along with Service and Commitment,” Dr. Taylor said.
Ashlei Biggers is a Hampton University senior, secondary education with focus in mathematics, minor in leadership studies student and a Leadership Fellow who had the privilege of introducing Abel to the Fellows. “The lecture series is a positive thing because it’s giving the students a chance to learn about different leaders in this world and also to connect with them on a personal level,” Biggers said.
The third instillation of the William R. Harvey Leadership Institute Meet The Leaders Lecture Series will be Friday, November 16, 2018.