William E. Hardy, Jr.
Growing up on the family tobacco and beef cattle farm in Danville, Virginia, Bill Hardy learned to love agriculture. From his father, he learned a deep appreciation for the land, the value of a strong work ethic and the importance of caring for those with whom you live and work. His mother, who was an exceptional elementary teacher, taught him the value of education and helped instill in him an endless desire for learning and a vision for the opportunities offered through education. These philosophies have provided a strong foundation and a direction for Hardy’s life.
After graduating at the top of his class in high school, Hardy attended Virginia Tech where he received his bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. degrees in agricultural economics. While at Virginia Tech, he was in the Corps of Cadets and marched with the Regimental Band, the Highty Tighties. Upon graduation, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Air Force. While a student at Tech, Hardy married his high-school sweetheart, Linda.
In 1972, Hardy joined the Auburn University faculty where he has served as a dedicated teacher, researcher and advisor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology. As a member of the Auburn faculty, Hardy saw an opportunity and need for our students to learn more about the legal issues facing farmers and the agricultural industry. While still working full-time as a member of the faculty he enrolled in law school and completed his J.D. degree in 1997. He became a member of the Alabama Bar Association in 1998 and has taught agricultural law since that time.
A key reason for Hardy’s success in the classroom is his deep and genuine empathy for students. The hallmark of his career has been his untiring efforts to teach, counsel, console and encourage students to reach their highest potential. He has been recognized for his exemplary work with students through receipt of several awards–the College of Agriculture Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence, the College of Agriculture Dean’s Award for Advising Excellence, the Contemporary Ag Program Professor of the Decade, the Auburn Alumni Association Teaching Excellence Award and on four occasions, the SGA Award for Outstanding Teacher in the College of Agriculture. In 2009, he was selected as a Teaching Fellow of the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture. His impact on his students can be measured through the high levels of success that they have achieved in many segments of the agricultural industry.
As a long-time member and later chair of the College’s scholarship committee, Hardy served to bring significant increases in funding for students. He served the College of Agriculture as Associate Dean for Instruction from 2000 to 2007. He left his mark in the College with such important programs as the graduation breakfast, the scholarship recognition program and the Ag Ambassadors. He advised campus organizations of FFA and Young Farmers. He also served as a campus-wide advisor for a partnership with the United Nations–Universities Fighting World Hunger. He was instrumental in securing support for the construction of a permanent structure for Auburn University at the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Georgia.
Bill and his wife, Linda, have one child, Sue Ellen Wilson. They also have two granddaughters, Callie Anne and Anne Hardy who have given him the most important title of his career, PAPA.