After more than seven years as dean of the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business, Hardgrave will take on a new challenge – elevating Auburn University’s academic profile as its provost and vice president for academic affairs. The Auburn Board of Trustees approved his appointment on November 10. He will begin his new role January 1, succeeding Timothy Boosinger.
“This is a way that I can serve Auburn University in a bigger and broader role,” Hardgrave said. “It’s an exciting time at Auburn and I’m excited to be a part of Dr. (Steven) Leath’s team. From many of the things that we’ve done at the Harbert College of Business, I look forward to seeing how we take some of those things and make them broader across the university.”
During his tenure as dean, the college experienced significant growth relative to resources, student enrollment and research capacity. The college’s breakthrough moment came in June 2013, when a $40 million gift from 1982 alumnus Raymond Harbert resulted in its naming. Harbert and his wife, Kathryn, also contributed an additional $15 million in 2016 in support of a graduate business building that will be completed in spring 2019. During Hardgrave’s tenure, the college has grown its endowment more than 230 percent and exceeded its comprehensive campaign goal by more than $30 million.
Under Hardgrave’s leadership, Harbert College’s enrollment grew by 47 percent from 2010 to 2017 and now ranks second in size among Auburn’s academic units with a fall 2017 enrollment of 5,392. Other highlights during his time as dean include:
- Expansion of research capabilities, including the openings of the Geospatial Research and Applications Center, the Center for Supply Chain Innovation and the Auburn University RFID Lab
- Creation of new academic programs, including a first-of-its-kind Business Analytics undergraduate major, a Ph.D. program in Finance, an online undergraduate completer program in Accounting, an online M.S. in Finance, a Master of Real Estate Development (in partnership with the College of Architecture, Design and Construction), and an online undergraduate completer program in Business Administration (to be launched in spring 2018)
- Implementation of new internship and study abroad requirements for students, including the Supply Chain Management program becoming just the second supply chain program nationwide to require an internship as a graduation requirement
- Establishment of new alumni engagement initiatives, including the launch of Harbert Magazine as a bi-annual publication and Young Alumni chapters in Atlanta, Birmingham, Nashville, Charlotte and New York City
- Growth of faculty professorship, fellowship and endowed chair positions from 16 in 2010 to 38 in 2017, with plans to fund 12 more new positions by 2019
- Development of the Auburn University Entrepreneurship Summit, which includes the $50,000 Tiger Cage student business pitch competition, the Auburn University Entrepreneur Hall of Fame and the Top Tigers luncheon recognizing fast-growing alumni-led companies
- External validation of academic programs, including Top 10 national rankings for the undergraduate Supply Chain Management program, the online MBA program, the online Master of Accountancy, the online M.S. in Finance and the online M.S. in Information Systems.
“Seven years went by too quickly,” Hardgrave said. “We’ve accomplished a lot and I wished I had more time, but this was an opportunity where I could serve Auburn in a bigger role. The college is in great shape. It is going to be a great job for the next dean that comes along.”
Before coming to Auburn, Hardgrave founded and served as director of the RFID Research Center in the University of Arkansas’ Sam M. Walton College of Business. Hardgrave graduated from Arkansas Tech University with a degree in computer science before earning an MBA at Missouri State University and a doctorate in management information systems at Oklahoma State University. Oklahoma State recognized Hardgrave as one of 100 outstanding graduates during its centennial celebration in 2014.