David C. Hardesty Jr.
David C. Hardesty Jr.

2008 Inductees

David C. Hardesty Jr.

David Hardesty is president emeritus and professor of law at West Virginia University, where he teaches subjects related to professional responsibility (legal ethics) and the role of legislatures and statutory law in the legal system.
Professor Hardesty is author and co-author of numerous speeches and various articles on matters related to higher education and leadership. He and his wife Susan are co-authors of Leading the Public University, Essays, Speeches and Commentary, published for West Virginia University by the WVU Press (2007).
Hardesty holds degrees from West Virginia University, Oxford University (which he attended as a Rhodes Scholar), and Harvard Law School. He also has attended advanced courses in higher education leadership and decision theory at Harvard University.

Professor Hardesty was the 21st president of West Virginia University from 1995-2007, a tenure for presidents of major public universities that was roughly twice the national average. WVU is a multi-campus public research university with comprehensive health sciences education. It enrolled approximately 36,000 students in his last year as president.

While president, Hardesty led efforts to develop more than 25 student centered programs, including the first faculty-led residential colleges in the university’s history. These efforts resulted in rapid expansion of the university student body. He also led efforts to focus WVU’s research programs, establish the world’s first forensic science degree, increase the university’s outreach and service activities, and create a new hospital system, which he chaired. WVU achieved a national reputation in the science of biometrics during his presidency. The health system he chaired expanded to become the largest in West Virginia.

Also during his tenure more than $750 million in capital projects were launched, including a new student recreation center, Lincoln Hall (a residential college), a major addition to the library, a new science building, and many new laboratory, teaching and athletics facilities.

While serving as president, Hardesty was a member of the National Security Higher Education Advisory Council, chairman of the National 4-H Council, a director and officer in the Big East Conference, and a member of the Bowl Championship Series Presidential Oversight Committee. He was a founding director of the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute.

Before becoming president of WVU, Hardesty practiced law and was state tax commissioner during Senator John D. Rockefeller IV’s first term as governor of West Virginia (1977-80). Hardesty is a member of the board of directors of Consol Energy Inc. and is Of Counsel to the law firm of Bowles Rice. He has served on and chaired the boards of numerous professional and civic organizations.