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Remembering Dr. Harrison B.Wilson Jr. THE BUILDER Honors NSU Employees and Student Second President of Norfolk State University, 1975-1997


Dr. Harrison B. Wilson Jr. was a giant among those who left an indelible mark on Norfolk

he Norfolk State UniversityState. Board ofHe Visitors University’s seventh president but to also as a coach and mentor to the students and sawintroduced his rolethenot only as president community, business, educational and elected leaders May 23 and recognized the hard work and anfaculty advocate dedication of NSU’s students, and staff.for the African American community. “This is a grand celebration,”Dr. saidWilson BOV Rector Joanthe G. Wilmer ’99. “This is a joyous occasion, had uncanny ability to see beyond the present day circumstances and especially for many of us here who have personally been involved with the conceptualization in shaping the magnitude of his 22-year tenure as Norfolk envision a brighter future for the University. The life of the University.” president is evident today the towering example he set as a leader; the Wilmer noted that one of the mostState’s importantsecond responsibilities of a university governing boardthrough is the motivation and was belief he instilled in his students, faculty and staff to achieve; and his vision of selection of the university president and said that the board delighted that Dr. Javaune AdamsGaston has accepted the invitation to growth lead Norfolk State. “With more than years of higher education and excellence for30the University. leadership,” said Wilmer, “Dr. Javaune Adams-Gaston has spent a lifetime leading change at some of the A tenacious fighter and advocate, Dr. Wilson fought and overcame enormous challenges nation’s most respected institutions of higher education.” Wilmer let the audience and Dr. Adams-Gaston Norfolk State. he retired in 1997, he had accomplished the following: know that she has the board’s support.confronting “Dr. Adams-Gaston, we welcome youWhen and

• Grew enrollment to nearly 10,000 students. Successfully lobbied against plans to merge Norfolk State with Old Dominion University and secured NSU’s transition from college to University status. • Expanded the graduate degree portfolio from four programs with 191 students to 14 master’s programs and one doctoral program enrolling 1,110 students. • Acquired 51 acres of land and completed 14 major capital construction projects, including L. Douglas Wilder Performing Arts Center, Joseph Echols Hall, Harrison B. Wilson Hall, five dormitories and Dick Price Stadium. • Strengthened NSU’s relationship with the City of Norfolk and broader Hampton Roads community by making the University more accessible to the public. He also endeared himself to local civic leaders following the 1989 Labor Day Riot at Virginia Beach by stepping into the racially charged controversy and providing leadership. • Produced, through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC), the largest number of minority naval officers in the nation, second only to the U.S. Naval Academy and graduated more African American teachers than any other university in the nation. • Moved the athletic program from Division II, Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA), to Division I, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). “We are a special breed.The Spartan knows neither defeat nor dishonor: it knows only character, pride, professionalism, devotion and loyalty. We shall continue to conquer all obstacles and opposition that face us and tend to impede our progress… The legacy will live on.” — Harrison B.Wilson Jr.

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