Hampton University
President's Letter to Students May 15, 2020
05/15/2020 - #239

Dear Hampton University Students:

If our circumstances and lives were following a normal pattern, you would have just returned home after the end of the spring semester. You would be making plans for summer travel, internships and jobs. It saddens me that our nation and the world are navigating new circumstances that do not allow for normalcy, circumstances that have placed our usual activities on hold.

These past few months, the University has had to deal with an unprecedented situation brought on by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This semester has been an adjustment for us all. You were required to vacate the campus as a health and safety measure. As a result, we transitioned from face-to-face to remote instruction. My understanding is that this transition worked well for students and faculty.

Despite students' absence from campus and the new set of challenges facing higher education, the University is working continuously to prepare for your return. I have activated three groups working to make recommendations for how the University will move forward. These groups are: Infectious Disease and Prevention Work ing Group, Financial Stabilization Task Force, Transformational Revitalization Task Force. The groups are reviewing strategies to ensure health and safety on campus, maintain a strong financial base, and revitalize the academic program.

Because of the fluidity of the pandemic, we monitor the situation daily to make decisions and adjustments as needed. The University has decided to hold the 2020 Summer Session virtually. No decision has been made on how we will conduct the fall semester. We are looking at various options, always keeping in mind the health and safety of the entire Hampton University family.

Fortunately, Hampton did receive $4.2 million from the CARES Act. Half of these funds ($2.1 million) have been designated for those students who are Title IV and Pell eligible and will be allocated according to the federal guidelines. In the next few days, eligible students will receive correspondence from Mr. Martin Miles, Director of Financial Aid, requesting information about how you would like your portion of the money allocated. Once your response is received, the process for allocating funds will begin.

Additionally, the Mellon Foundation has allocated $100,000 to be utilized for student needs. Mrs. Harvey and I have matched this gift with a $100,000 donation to be used for the same purpose. The $200,000 will be used to give each student who resided in the dormitories $100 toward their travel expenses to campus to retrieve their personal items. The checks will be mailed to each on-campus student's permanent address next week.

When Governor Ralph Northam lifts the Virginia stay at home order, Dr. Barbara Inman, Vice President for Administrative Services, will communicate to you the plans for retrieving your belongings from the residence halls. The plan will be very detailed and include social distancing requirements.

In the coming weeks, you will also receive information from Mrs. Doretha Spells, Vice President for Business Affairs and Treasurer, concerning the prorated room and board refund that will be applied to your account balance for this semester. For returning students who do not have account balances, the refund will be credited to next semester's room and board fees. Graduating seniors who do not have a balance will receive their refunds directly in the form of a check.

In the midst of these challenging times, with the support of some outstanding faculty, Hampton University students continue to shine. You are among the best and the brightest anywhere. THE Standard of Excellence exemplified by you continues to garner students and the University positive recognition and numerous awards. Listed below are a few examples of your accomplishments and successes.

  • Hampton University students from the School of Engineering and Technology competed in the 3rd Annual Advancing Minorities Interest in Engineering (AMIE) Design Challenge at the Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) STEM Symposium. For the 3rd consecutive year, Hampton University students won the competition.
  • Hampton University student Sara Avery, a sophomore journalism student from Raleigh, North Carolina, won a Pulitzer Center Fellowship. As a Fellow, Avery will undertake an international reporting project that she proposed, which involves traveling to Haiti to talk to locals about their 3D printed homes.
  • Hampton University student and Student Government Association Vice President Bruce Wilson gave a TEDx Talk at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia about the importance of leadership development and service. During the TEDx talk, he spoke about how student government in college is more than just student government; it can lead individuals to powerful places in the future.

As I stated earlier, these are truly unprecedented times. It is in these times that it is most important for us all to come together, be supportive of one another and lend a helping hand to those in need. As your President, I and my team are doing all that we can to ensure that Hampton students continue to receive a first rate education for future employment and/or graduate school.

In closing, I want to congratulate all of you for successfully navigating and completing this semester that was indeed unexpected and unprecedented. This coronavirus has given the world the greatest health and economic crises of our lifetime. Hamptonians, I admire your tenacity ,as well as your ability to adapt, to be creative, and to think outside of the box.

I recognize that some of you may have feelings of anxiety, uncertainty ,sadness, and even loneliness after having shared classrooms, dormitories and social events with others which is no longer possible at the moment. Please understand that these are normal feelings and reactions. Remain steadfast that the future will be brighter.

I want you to be and do what Hamptonians have always done in times of crisis and change, i.e., be resilient, be creative, be committed, and be helpful. Stay safe; stay strong and stay positive.

With all good wishes,
William R. Harvey President

#HU#

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