If it is true that Hampton University is a family, as many of its employees claim, then President William Harvey is the family patriarch.

Entering his 34th year as president at age 70, he is the longest serving college president in Virginia. He is almost the longest serving college president in the United States with one exception – Xavier University President Norman Francis in Louisiana.

Harvey’s commitment lies in his deep love for his job.

“It is fun to come to work every day,” he said.

The fun for Harvey began at age 36 when he became president of what was then called Hampton Institute – a small, private, historically black college with roots tracing to Booker T. Washington and Benjamin Butler.

He came with a doctorate in college administration from Harvard University and with his wife, Norma, and their two young children.

When he arrived, the school was near a financial crisis.

“There was red all over the books,” he said.

By the end of his first year, Harvey balanced the budget and has maintained it ever since.

The Alabama native started with a simple notion taught to him by his mother, a kindergarten teacher – “If you have a dollar to spend at the grocery store, you cannot buy $1.25 worth of groceries.”

Overall, he said he runs the university “like a businessman and a school principal.”

There are two sides to the school’s finances, he said. “One is the expense side and one is the revenue side. I made sure the expense side was correct and that we were not overspending.”

Early in his tenure Harvey realized various department heads were having trouble with yearly budgets.

“When I first started, the registrar came to me in December telling me they were out of money,” he said. “We were just halfway through the school year and they were out of money.

“So I had each department divide their financial year into quarters. That way they did not run out of money halfway through the year.”

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