In Memoriam: Harrison B. Wilson Jr., 1925-2019

Harrison B. Wilson Jr., former president of historically Black Norfolk State University in Virginia, passed away on July 28, 2019. He was 94 years old.

Dr. Wilson served as president of Norfolk State for 22 years. When he arrived on campus in 1975, the school only offered four graduate programs and enrolled 191 students. By the end of Dr. Wilson’s presidency in 1997, the university offered 14 master’s programs, one doctoral program, and enrolled 1,110 students.

Dr. Wilson also oversaw a successful Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps at the university, which produced the second largest number of minority naval officers in the nation, after the U.S. Naval Academy. Additionally, the university graduated more African American teachers than any other university in the country during Dr. Wilson’s presidency. For his successful career at the university, Norfolk State named one of its administrative buildings after Dr. Wilson upon his retirement in 1997.

“I join the entire Spartan community in mourning the loss of Dr. Harrison B. Wilson,” said Virginia Governor Ralph Northam in a statement. “For more than two decades, his leadership brought tremendous achievement to Norfolk State University and charted a new course for the institution, both in academics and in athletics. As we reflect on his extraordinary life, legacy, and good will, my thoughts are with his wife, Dr. Lucy Wilson, his family, and the students, educators, and many others who loved him and learned from him.”

Dr. Wilson was a graduate of Kentucky State University. He held a master’s degree and doctorate from Indiana University.

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  1. Harold B. Wilson was the basketball coach and football scout when I played quarterback at Jackson State University. He was a role model and a mentor and he invited me to speak at Norfolk State University when he was President! May he rest in Heaven!

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