Paine College President Jerry Hardee Hits the Ground Running - First 45 Days

Posted by painewebmaster | 07/16/2017 12:19 PM

Dr. Jerry L. Hardee did not waste any time becoming acquainted with Paine College Community and the Institution's operations. Since coming on board June 1st, Dr. Hardee has spent much of his time meeting with the Cabinet, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends while challenging them to embrace the vision of satisfying accreditation criteria, raising enrollment, retaining students and increasing fundraising capacities.

Not one to lead from behind the desk, he walks the campus early mornings and visits with staff to strike up conversations about ways to enhance living and learning experiences for Paine students. He believes in a hands-on approach and holds staff accountable.  

With less than two weeks on the job, Dr. Hardee kicked off his Summer Tour of visitations with stakeholders. While in Athens, he greeted parishioners of the North Georgia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, and shared his vision for moving Paine forward with alums during the meeting of the Augusta Chapter. In Atlanta, he met alumni and students during the annual Paine College Family Reunion hosted by the Gamma Beta Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

His schedule revved up week of June 19th. He greeted the Georgia Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church Joint Annual Conference on the campus that garnered more than 1,200 youth, clergy, laity and parishioners during the four-day gathering. He served the Conference in dual roles, as a presenter and as the College's host. 

During the CME Conference, he jetted off to i-Heart Media headquarters to appear on the popular Fattz and Cher talk radio show. Responding like a pro to questions, he assured the community that he would work to preserve and sustain the 135-year old institution that has prepared thousands of alumni for the global stage. During the morning of June 29th, he greeted African American members of the Chamber of Commerce who pledged their support to Paine. Later in the afternoon, he addressed Mayor Hardie Davis and the Augusta Commissioners during their meeting where he laid out his vision for Paine and seized the opportunity to thank the City of Augusta for ongoing support of the College. 

During interviews with local Augusta media, President Hardee said, "I'm hopeful that local, state and government leaders will understand the importance of supporting Paine College and HBCUs to continue to educate students who want an education. It is our desire to form partnerships with businesses, corporations, organizations and industry leaders that will allow students to gain valuable experiences before they graduate. The goal is to prepare students to enter the workforce who will successfully satisfy the engagement terms for employment.

Religiously, Dr. Hardee solicits financial support for the Institution for he understands that fundraising goes with the territory. He is committed to reaching and exceeding the $15 million goal for the Comprehensive Campaign that is currently in the silent phase. Recently, the College launched its first official GoFundMe Campaign that is designed to build the Annual Scholarship and Annual Fund Campaigns. 

Early during his career, he served in fundraising and development and learned the value of a robust alumni relations program that engages graduates to support the Institution on multi-levels. "Alumni are the backbone supporters of this Institution," said Dr. Hardee who is committed to increasing the number of alumni chapters throughout the country. 

He greeted parents and incoming students during the College's early registration held in the HEAL Complex throughout the day on July 8th and later found time to visit with United Methodist Women of Georgia who stopped by the campus for a short stay in the afternoon.

"My vision goes beyond the challenges and directions that were set before me by the Board of Trustees," said Dr. Hardee. "As the leader of this fine institution, I must do everything within my authority to make sure that we are at the pinnacle in every spectrum. That includes increasing student enrollment to two-thousand and developing a wide range of offerings that will motivate students to reach beyond their dreams and aspirations."

Dr. Hardee does not allow any grass to grow under his feet and announced that he planned to visit 200 high school junior and senior classes and add additional recruiters to the Admissions staff.

From its inception, Paine College has opened its doors to blacks, whites, Hispanics and all ethnicities. Historically, Paine has given students equal access to a quality education. Founded on the principles of social justice and basic human rights for all persons, Paine prepares students to exit as gladiators who are prepared to compete in the global workforce.

While taking a glance down memory lane, President Hardee recounted the moment he arrived on the campus of Clark College with all his possessions in a card-board suitcase. With a small scholarship, he worked in the dining hall and mopped floors in the dormitories to off-set the cost of his tuition. 

"Larger institutions require you to bring something to get something but HBCUs oblige you to bring a desire to work and a thirst for education and in turn we will steer you on the path to success," said Dr. Hardee. Just like Paine College, HBCUs put students first.  

After touring the residential halls, Dr. Hardee announced that renovation and construction of dormitories would be placed at the top of the list of physical plant priorities. "I am asking students to bring a good attitude, the desire to learn, dreams and aspirations, and we will create an environment where they will have a chance to be successful. We don't ask for much but we will send them away with a lot."

Having served as the first African American President of an accredited Chiropractic College (Sherman College of Straight Chiropractic), President Hardee envisions a Pre-Chiropractic Program at Paine College once the Institution becomes stabilized. After retiring as President in 2007, he stayed on for two years as Chancellor at Sherman. He came out of retirement again to join Life University as Dean of Undergraduate Studies and retired as Special Assistant to the President in 2016.

With over 50 years of experience in the educational field and having served in leadership roles for Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs) and Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs), he is well-suited to address the challenges that are facing Paine College.

Coming out of retirement for the fifth time was decided during a conversation between President Hardee and his wife, Wyonnie. He asked his wife, "Who in this room is better to lead Paine College than I? Thus began another chapter in his life. 

He takes his presidential appointment at Paine College very seriously and prays daily that he will be successful in representing the people who made sacrifices to keep the Institution thriving. "Twenty-five years from now, I want people to say that Jerry Hardee left Paine College better than he found it."