Feb. 28, 2018 – In recognition of his outstanding service and dedication to the city, Hampton University President Dr. William R. Harvey was given the Distinguished Citizen Medal Wednesday by Hampton City Council.
The approximate equivalent of a “key to the city,” the medal is the highest honor that Council may bestow on an individual. It dates back to 1964 and has been given less than 30 times.
A resolution read at the Council meeting Wednesday noted that Harvey “has served as the 12th president of Hampton University for 40 years, “creating a monumental legacy as one of the longest-sitting presidents of a college or university in the country.”
The resolution also noted just a few of Harvey’s many achievements, including his commitment to expansion and innovation in the university’s academic programs; the establishment of the Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute, one of the world’s largest freestanding proton therapy cancer treatment centers; his work as chairman of the Board for the Revitalization of Downtown Hampton; and his many national awards and honors.
Recent recipients of the Distinguished Citizen Medal include Dois I. Rosser Jr., founder and chairman emeritus of International Cooperating Ministries and former chairman of the POMOCO Auto Group; former NASA mathematician or human computer Katherine G. Johnson, whose inspiring story was told in the movie “Hidden Figures;” and former Hampton City Schools Superintendent Linda Shifflette, who served the school system for more than 40 years.
Also Wednesday City Council recognized Hampton University for being a “foundation for education and community building” in Hampton for 150 years. The university’s roots go back to 1861, when Mary Peake, a free black woman, began teaching former slaves under the shade of a massive oak tree that is now known as the Emancipation Oak at Hampton University. In 1868 the Butler School for Negro Children – later Hampton Institute and now Hampton University - was formalized.