HAMPTON, Va. (January 30, 2020) — Hampton University President Dr. William R. Harvey will return to his undergraduate alma mater, Talladega College, for the ribbon cutting ceremony of the new building that will bear his name. The Dr. William R. Harvey Museum of African American Art will house the college’s extensive art collections including six critically acclaimed Amistad Murals by Hale Woodruff. The ribbon cutting ceremony is being held Friday, January 31, 2020, at 1:00 p.m. at the entrance to the museum.
“Some of my fondest memories are of Talladega College. My time there helped make me who I am today. My professors at Talladega College gave more than instruction. They taught us about life. They emphasized the importance of good character, good personal conduct -- along with a mastery of a particular academic subject,” Dr. Harvey said. “It is incredibly exciting that the renowned Amistad Murals will now have a permanent home.”
To construct the museum for Woodruff’s murals, Dr. Harvey generously contributed more than $1 million, the largest financial gift that Talladega College has ever received. In addition to being the new permanent home for the Amistad Murals, the Dr. William R. Harvey Museum of African American Art will also house multiple rooms for staff and space for future art displays. In 2017, Dr. Harvey joined officials in breaking ground for the new museum, which was the keystone event at Talladega College’s Convocation, Homecoming and 150th anniversary celebration.
In 1938, Talladega College commissioned artist Hale Woodruff to paint six murals illustrating the rise of African-Americans from slavery to freedom in the United States. Three of Woodruff’s panels, known as the Amistad Murals, were the first pieces of twentieth century art to commemorate the 1839 slave uprising on the Spanish ship La Amistad. In 2008, the murals were appraised at $40 million, but in imminent danger of disintegration. With the assistance of the High Museum of Art, they were restored and sent on a three-year tour that received rave reviews. After the tour, the Amistad Murals were placed in storage for safekeeping until a museum with proper climate control and security could be constructed. The Dr. William R. Harvey Museum of African American Art will provide the protection needed for Woodruff’s critically acclaimed murals. The collection is now valued at $50 million.
A native of Brewton, Ala., Dr. Harvey began a long and illustrious career after graduating from Talladega College in 1961. After three years of active duty service in the Army, Dr. Harvey served first as an educator, then as an administrator. He earned a master’s degree from Virginia State University and his doctorate from Harvard. He became Hampton University’s 12th president in 1978.
Dr. Harvey’s is one of the longest-serving presidents of a college or university in all of America. During his administration, Dr. Harvey has introduced innovations that have solidified Hampton's stellar position among the nation's colleges and universities. His extraordinary leadership is reflected in the growth and quality of the University's student population, academic programs, physical facilities and financial base.
By all accounts, no leader in higher education has done more. Dr. Harvey has transformed a small college into a world renown institution celebrated for the remarkable advances introduced during his tenure. His accomplishments to date include 92 new programs,30 new structures and an impressive university endowment that has grown exponentially under his keen direction from $29 million to $280 million. That’s an 866% increase. His success has captured the attention of seven U.S. presidents who tapped him to advise them on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
Dr. William R. Harvey’s commitment to easing human misery and saving lives fueled the establishment of the first free-standing proton therapy cancer treatment center in the world-- a sought after hub for cancer treatment, research and technology. Hampton University is the first and only HBCU to have 100% control of a NASA mission and Hampton has four satellites / instruments currently in orbit.
An astute businessman, Dr. Harvey has applied his business acumen to the needs of Hampton University. In the process, he established student scholarships, created jobs, provided services, and increased the number of African-American entrepreneurs, while expanding the tax base in the City of Hampton. In addition to the distinguished leadership Dr. Harvey has provided to Hampton University, he is the sole owner of the Pepsi Cola Bottling Company of Houghton, Michigan. Dr. Harvey and his wife Norma have three children and four grandchildren.
One thing has rung true for Dr. Harvey throughout his life: give back generously to others. That lesson was taught to him by his parents and strongly reinforced at Talladega College.
A reception will follow the ribbon cutting ceremony at 7:00 p.m. at the Talladega Bottling Works. Both events are free and open to the public. Those interested in attending need to RSVP at RSVP@talladega.edu.