A group of Wright State students bid former President David R. Hopkins an emotional farewell with a reception that paid tribute to his accomplishments over his 10-year tenure in the university’s top job.
Hopkins and his wife, Angelia, were greeted warmly in the Wright State Nutter Center Berry Room on April 19 and treated to a presentation that included a slide show, videos and testimonials.
Hopkins stepped down as president in mid-March. He remains at the university and will teach in the College of Education and Human Services.
Holley Mapel, vice president-elect of the Student Government Association, moderated the program, which was sponsored by the Wright State Foundation.
“I have had quite a few interactions with Dr. and Mrs. Hopkins and they are just down-to-Earth genuine individuals who really care about this campus, care about the community, and most importantly they really care about the student success,” Mapel said.
The students thanked Hopkins for his role in the $163 million Rise. Shine. fundraising campaign, the opening of the Tom Hanks Center for Motion Pictures, the university’s seven Centers of Excellence and the construction of the Student Success Center and the Neuroscience Engineering Collaboration Building. They also thanked him for the modernization and expansion of the Creative Arts Center as well as the development of the Rinzler Student Sports Complex, the Enrollment Services/Raider Connect space, the Veteran and Military Center and the new student housing at Lake Campus.
The students also paid tribute to Angelia Hopkins for serving as a national and international ambassador for Wright State and praised her for her fundraising efforts, her role in the university’s annual ArtsGala and Friends of the Libraries, and for her tireless efforts as a community volunteer.
Several students came to the lectern to tell stories about their experiences with former President Hopkins, paying tribute to his uncanny ability to remember the names and details about the lives of individual students and his unwavering support of Wright State’s Model United Nations team. One student related how Hopkins agreed to be hit in the face with a pie in order to help raise money for a small scholarship fund.
Lukas Wenrick, president of the Student Government, read a proclamation that praised Hopkins for his dedicated service, including his role in getting Wright State recognized nationally for its service to military veterans and students with disabilities and for its community service.
Mapel presented Hopkins with a gift box of Butterfingers, saying she heard he had a special fondness for the candy bars.
Hopkins thanked the students and told them he has memories of nearly every one of them in the room.
Hopkins, who adopted the practice of personally shaking the hand of each graduating student at commencement, has presided over the graduation of more than 30,000 students.
“Wright State has always been special to Angelia and I in so many ways, but only because of you,” he told the students. “…The bottom line is if we don’t help you get to the finish line of a college education, then we have failed.”
Hopkins said he tried to create an environment during his presidency in which students could be their very best.
“Angelia and I have so many wonderful memories, but they’re all of you because that’s our heart. Our heart has always been for students,” he said. “And I think that’s why Wright State is so special.”
“It means a lot to us that you would say goodbye.”