Dr. Bill Hardage posthumously promoted to Vice Chancellor Emeritus at Wayland

PLAINVIEW – Dr. Bill Hardage, who served Wayland Baptist University in a variety of administrative positions during a 40-year career, has been posthumously promoted to Vice Chancellor Emeritus.

Wayland’s Board of Trustees recently voted to honor Hardage, who died May 25, 2006, in an airplane crash in San Benito County, CA, at age 62.

Dr. Bobby Hall, President, served with Hardage for many years and praised his “remarkable passion for and loyalty to Wayland.”

“Dr. Hardage had a deep and lasting impact on my career,” Hall said. “Just as he did with so many others, Dr. Hardage provided opportunities for me to be involved, grow, and develop. His contributions to the Wayland system are legion, ranging from the development of external campuses to the growth of academics, student life, and athletics. He was a bastion of strength in both good times and bad.”

“He served the university in many different roles and found a way to be successful in all of them,” Hall continued. “Dr. Hardage left us way too early. Wayland and Plainview were better places with him here and I’m thrilled that the Board of Trustees has seen fit to honor him with the highest honor it bestows. While we would never be able to recognize all he has done for Wayland, I know that the granting of emeritus status means a lot to his family, his Wayland family, and so many other people who knew and thought so highly of him. He should certainly be recognized as one of the most important and impactful leaders in Wayland’s history.”

Born in Clovis, N.M., yet proud to proclaim roots in Oklahoma Lane, TX, Hardage was a 1961 Lazbuddie High School graduate. After attending another Baptist college, he transferred in 1963 to be a part of Wayland’s new track program and immediately began setting records. His track and field accomplishments were recognized with his selection among the first inductees into Wayland’s Athletic Hall of Honor.

Graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1965, Hardage coached football and track at Coronado High School in Lubbock. He served as an assistant track coach and physical education instructor at Texas Tech University while earning a Master of Education degree. Upon graduation from TTU in 1966, he returned to Wayland to serve as an assistant track and field coach and assistant professor of physical education. From 1971 to 1973 Hardage earned a Doctor of Education degree at East Texas State University, now Texas A&M University - Commerce, while serving as an assistant professor of Physical Education.

Returning to Wayland, he served as track coach and chairman of the Physical Education Department from 1973 to 1979, when he became Director of Special Services. In that role, Hardage was instrumental in expanding Wayland’s reach, adding eight external campuses to the existing four in the United States and helping the university establish a global presence with a campus in Kenya, Africa.

In 1982, Hardage became Associate Academic Vice President and then Interim Academic Vice President. He became Wayland’s first Vice President for Advancement in 1983, a position he held until 1990. Continuing to excel in administrative roles, he served as Vice President for Administrative and External Programs until 1993 and as Vice President of Academic and Student Services until 2000. Serving as Provost for much of 2000, he became Vice Chancellor in 2001. His title was changed but his duties remained the same in 2002, when the position of Provost was eliminated and he was named Executive Vice President. He held the No. 2 position at Wayland until his death in 2006.

“Wayland Baptist University was God’s call to Bill Hardage. But it was more than a call or vocation: it was God’s purpose for his life. In many ways, Wayland is what it is today because of Bill Hardage,” Dr. Travis Hart, who served as his pastor at First Baptist Church of Plainview, once said. “Through the tenure of several presidents, Hardage played the toughest role of all, the part of second fiddle, the most difficult part in any orchestra. And he did it well.” Hart also said, “He had an uncommon ability of not only knowing what needed to be done, but also how to get it done.”

In addition to his work at Wayland, Hardage was heavily involved in civic activities. He served as president and vice president of Plainview Chamber of Commerce, president of Plainview Noon Lions Club, a director of Plainview United Way, president of the Plainview Rodeo Association, and as a member of the Plainview-Hale County Airport Board. Other involvements included membership in the American Quarter Horse Association and Appaloosa Horse Club.

Committed to Wayland’s success, Hardage learned to fly in 1963 because cross country runners had to travel so far for national meets. Through the years he would also transport the Wayland Flying Queens and make numerous flights to the university’s external campuses. He helped organize the annual Plainview Fly-in and co-owned High Plains Aviation with son, Tim. He was a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

Beloved by his colleagues, the faculty named him the Outstanding Administrator for the 1989-1990 school year. He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Lifetime Leadership Award by the Association of Former Students, and an endowed scholarship bears his name. An auditorium at the Anchorage, Alaska campus is named in his honor, and the Bill Hardage Champions of Character Award is named for him. He was placed on Plainview’s Centennial Circle of Honor in 2008.

Hardage’s son, Tim, currently serves on Wayland’s Board of Trustees. His daughter, Cindy Bessire, serves as principal at Muleshoe High School. His legacy includes grandchildren, all of whom have attended Wayland.