Hampton, Virginia - Vice President Pence at a Proton Therapy Institute Roundtable:
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you, Dr. Harvey. And it is really an honor to be here at the Proton Therapy Institute, but a greater honor to be with you and with this wonderful team and wonderful students from Hampton University.
This is an extraordinary institution. And as we celebrate African American History Month — we just came from Langley Research Center where we talked about “Hidden Figures” and the tremendous progress that our researchers have made there, not only in advancing scientific understanding, but advancing a more perfect union. And Hampton University, I know, has been there every step of the way, making history and making a difference as a historically black college in this country.
But let me also say, Hampton University and the Proton Therapy Institute are just an incredible asset for Virginia and for the United States of America. This is an educational institution of a tremendous reputation.
And let me say to you, Dr. Harvey, I know you have the respect of all of the alumni of this school — generations who have gone through here under your leadership. And let me invite everybody to show our appreciation to Dr. Harvey for his incredible (inaudible). (Applause.)
I want to extend greetings from our mutual friend, the President of the United States, who has come to appreciate Hampton University but also to appreciate your leadership with no small amount of effort on your part.
We couldn’t be more proud, under this administration and President Trump’s leadership, to see the renewed investment in HBCUs.
And as I said to you privately, I’ll say with cameras in the room: Dr. Harvey, you played a leading role, including, very recently, when the President of the United States signed a measure to make federal funding for HBCUs permanent in this country. And the increases, the investment, all are a reflection of the quality of education but the importance of this educational tradition in our country. But I want to make sure people around the table know the role that you’ve played in all of that and how grateful the President and I are.
It is remarkable to think — I know I won’t have an opportunity to see the Emancipation Oak today, but I saw its offspring. (Laughter.) And to think of the history here is very humbling for me — that 20 students, 1861. And today, you’re a world-class university with more than 4,000 students, 40 states, 28 countries. It’s an incredible legacy.
You have understood, since your founding, what Frederick Douglass says: that “education means emancipation.” And Hampton University has been there creating educational opportunities and excellence that’s — that has generations of leadership in your wake. And we admire you greatly.
I was — I was moved to learn that one of your most famous alumni was one of my heroes, Booker T. Washington, who — we had — we had a brush with part of his legacy when President Trump, at the State of the Union Address, just a few short days ago, recognized General Charles McGee, one of the last surviving members of the Tuskegee Airmen. And it would be Booker T. Washington that started the Tuskegee Institute and began that great tradition.
And my son is a Marine Corps aviator. My son-in-law is a Navy pilot. So we’re pretty partial to pilots in our family. (Laughter.) And I think I was the first person to congratulate General McGee after the President promoted him to general. He walked in the White House as a colonel at the — at the youthful age of 100 years, and he left as a general. And it’s well-deserved. And we honor him as we honor that great legacy emerging from one of your great alums.
Hampton University’s — continues to pioneer in a broad range of fields. But let me say, as I close: To be here at the Proton Therapy Institute, to see firsthand the difference that you all have made in such a short period of time, it is — it’s remarkable to think about the thousands of patients who have come in here, some of whom I met today, who have literally received lifesaving innovative proton treatment for cancer.
And it was scarcely 10 years ago, Dr. Harvey, that this was a brain child of yours and of Hampton University. And thanks to your leadership and the generosity of people around the country and the excellent team you have here, you’re really changing lives. And I’m looking forward to hearing more about how we can be helpful and support not only the mission of Hampton University but specifically about the Proton Therapy Institute.
And to that end, I’m very grateful to be joined by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos who has been a great champion of HBCUs in our administration, a great advocate of the progress that we’ve made for HBCUs since the outset of our administration. And on her behalf and on the President’s behalf, thank you for such a warm welcome.