HAMPTON, Va. (August 31, 2020) – After 44 years of working with students, faculty and staff, Hampton University alumnus, minister, author, and musician, Mr. Woodson H. Hopewell Jr. left this world on Wednesday, August 27, 2020.
“The entire Hampton family is deeply saddened by the passing of our great friend, Mr. Woodson H. Hopewell Jr. Not only a Hampton University alumnus, but a great and caring administrator. Having worked at our ‘Home by the Sea’ for over 40 years, Dean Hopewell, as he was known by many, was a man of God who brought hope to all who knew him. Kindhearted and a mentor to students and professionals, Dean Hopewell will be missed by every person who ever had the chance to meet him,” said Hampton University President, Dr. William R. Harvey.
As a trusted leader, having had worked at Hampton University since September 2, 1976, Mr. Hopewell was loving, caring, kindhearted, with a calming and quiet spirit. He truly cared about people, the entire Hampton family and making sure that everyone’s needs were always met. “I am deeply saddened by this loss. Dean Hopewell was my mentor, a minister, talented musician and he gave one of the most powerful sermons you would ever hear when we used to have our meetings in the chapel with the male students,” said Andrew Morrison, Interim Director of Residence Life & Housing and Hampton University alumnus.
An accomplished and talented pianist and vocalist, Hopewell received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music and the Master of Arts degree in Counseling from Hampton University in 1976 and 1983, respectively. His career started at the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind, where he worked and taught for one year. After that he came back to work at his alma mater as Night Manager of the Student Union. Then he became the Assistant Director of Student Activities, working with Dr. Greer Wilson, whom Hampton’s Student Leadership Program is named after. In this role, Hopewell wrote and composed the song “You Have a Friend in Me,” for the 1986 Annual Student Leadership Workshop Retreat, which is still used today for the Greer Dawson Wilson Student Leadership Program freshman orientation and induction ceremonies.
In 1988, Hopewell became the Director of Student Activities and shortly after became the Dean of Men where he worked closely with Ms. Jewel B. Long, who was the Dean of Women and started the position around the same time. “We were a duo of sorts, bouncing ideas off of each other. We would meet to talk about making crucial decisions as it was related to judiciary matters. We were disciplinarians and also teachers at the same time. Though we had administrative hearings with students, we were teaching life lessons during those hearings,” said Ms. Long.
Dean Long and Dean Hopewell always had a good working relationship as they worked alongside together their entire careers. Dean Long retired from Hampton earlier this year. “Dean Hopewell would jokingly call me ‘boss.’ I think it was because he respected me or maybe because I was his elder, or maybe it was just my personality. It was a good relationship. He would deal with the facts and try to draw out the information. I would tell him to go ahead and add the details and the fluff. That’s why we worked so well together,” Ms. Long said. “We were a team that started together and ended at the same point of time. I believe that God’s hand is working again.”
In 2015, Dean Hopewell became the Dean of Judicial Affairs and Housing and stayed in this position until his death. A faithful member of the Hampton family, Dean Hopewell was inducted into the Quarter Century Club in 2002 and received the Claudis P. Harvey Outstanding Staff Award in 2003.
A noted author, in 2012, Dean Hopewell released a book entitled “Off the Dean’s Desk: Anecdotal Musings From the Dean of Men,” which was designed to help people in positions like him to realize they are not alone, and that the unusual circumstances they may encounter are not unusual. “I want people to understand the importance of being passionate about what you do. If you’re working with students or people, your approach can’t be laissez faire, you have to be committed,” Hopewell said about his book.
Dean Hopewell served as president of the National Association of Student Affairs Professionals and was the first African-American to serve as president of the Virginia Association of Student Personnel Administrators. He had held many leadership responsibilities in both associations.
A native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Dean Hopewell loved Philly cheesesteak sandwiches. He was married to Mrs. Delsey Hopewell and together they were the parents of three children; two daughters, one son; and one grandchild.