Hardage enters new phase in 35-year career at Wayland
Named vice chancellor for the university system in January, Dr. Bill Hardage took on his 11th title for his 35 years at Wayland. The new title brought little changes in his duties but placed him second in command under Chancellor Wallace Davis.
As vice chancellor, he serves in advisory roles for all campuses, oversees property management and information systems system-wide and works alongside Davis and Wayland chief financial officer Jim Smith on system issues.
Though he's called Gates Hall offices home for several decades, Hardage was once a far more familiar face in the athletics department. As young man he first came to Wayland as a student, a member of the college's new track and field team. He transferred to Wayland in 1963 after two years at Hardin-Simmons University, where he ran track and played football until the program was dismantled.
In those days, Hardage said he aspired to a career in the military. But the sports bug bit hard, and he graduated from Wayland in 1965 with a degree in physical education and biology. He moved to Lubbock for a brief stint as football and track coach at Coronado High School, then moved on Texas Tech University, where he served as assistant track coach and instructor in physical education while earning the Master of Education degree. Then the Pioneer family at Wayland began beckoning him home.
He returned to his alma mater as track and field coach and assistant professor in physical education for five years then left for two years to teach and coach at East Texas State University (now Texas A&M at Commerce), where he earned his doctorate in education.
Wayland again beckoned, and this time Hardage would come home for good. He returned as the chairman of the physical education department, the division chair of professional studies and as track coach. But soon after, his move into administration would begin.
Hardage became Director of Special Services in 1979, taking the reins of the four existing external campuses and helping to start another. From there, he would serve in the academic vice president's office, the advancement vice presidency, external programs leadership and back to academic and student services before becoming provost in February 2000.
Through the years, Hardage said several things have brought him and kept him at Wayland.
"I have a very deep love for the institution," he said. "I take great pride in what we do and I always felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be."
He said the continual challenges that came with each new job title kept Wayland fresh for him and gave him a new vision. He's seen many changes over the years: the addition of several new external campus programs, new buildings on the Plainview campus and renovations to existing ones, and of course, changing faces in administration and faculty. But he said the mission has remained solid.
"I think the very mission of this school is carried out in its staff, faculty and administration more than any school I know of," he said. "That mission is to serve students and provide the very best post-secondary education possible, in a distinctive Christian atmosphere. Our focus on students has always been there and that's what made us what we are."
Hardage commended past administrators on being "forward thinking" in regard to the external programs, which he calls "a blessing both in service and in financial support."
"The mission effort of Wayland far exceeds many other programs of ministry by being in contact with literally thousands of students who may or may not have ever been exposed to the Gospel and its influence," he added.