Dr. Bill Hardgrave named 13th President of the University of Memphis

Nov. 9, 2021 — Dr. Bill Hardgrave has been named the 13th President of the University of Memphis, the UofM’s Board of Trustees announced Tuesday.

Hardgrave served as Auburn University’s Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs since January 2018. He served as dean of Auburn’s Harbert College of Business from August 2010 through December 2017.

“I am very excited and humbled to become the next President of the University of Memphis,” said Hardgrave. “I grew up in Arkansas as a first-generation high school graduate and was well-aware of then-Memphis State University. I look forward to continuing the UofM’s recent phenomenal success academically and athletically as one of the two flagship universities in the state.

“I appreciate the belief that the Board of Trustees has in me as well as their trust that I can build upon the tremendous foundation that has been laid for the University of Memphis in the past few years. I can’t wait to be on campus and get started.”

As the chief academic officer, Hardgrave led Auburn’s 12 colleges and schools, including the College of Veterinary Medicine and School of Pharmacy, while overseeing academic resources, support units and instructional research programs. He led initiatives designed to promote student and faculty success and ensured the quality of student learning at the graduate and undergraduate levels. In addition, he managed the procedures for faculty recruitment, appointments, promotions and tenure.

“I believe that we have an obligation as a Board to support our next President every way that we possibly can, and perhaps the way that we can support our next President best is to connect him to the people that we serve,” said Doug Edwards, Chairman of the UofM Board of Trustees. “I feel with Dr. Hardgrave’s background, his work ethic, everything tells me he is somebody who wants to roll up his sleeves and do whatever it takes to take us to the next level.

“I am very pleased to have heard the comments of all of our trustees, and I am very pleased that we all have come to a common conclusion because the work is just starting.”

As dean of the Harbert College of Business, Hardgrave oversaw significant growth in student enrollment, undergraduate and graduate programs, resources for students and faculty and research advancements.

The college experienced unprecedented levels of philanthropic support under his leadership as he secured the then-largest donation in the history of Auburn University with a $40 million gift from Raymond Harbert in 2013. Harbert and his wife, Kathryn, also contributed an additional $15 million in 2016 in support of a graduate business building.

“I am very proud to support Dr. Hardgrave’s candidacy to be the next President of the University of Memphis,” said Carol Roberts, Chair of the Presidential Search Committee and Co-Vice Chair of the UofM Board of Trustees. “I believe that Dr. Hardgrave has the requisite skills, the experiences, but most importantly, the commitment to do what it is going to take to move our University to the next level.

“We have so much success in the foundation that we are building from, but we have so many challenges, and we want so much for our students and for our community. We need a leader who can help us get there, and, in my heart, truly believe that Dr. Hardgrave will have that capability. I am glad, and I am pleased to be able to say that I support Dr. Hardgrave as our next President."

Hardgrave launched the Auburn University RFID (radio frequency identification) lab, Geospatial Research and Applications Center and the Center for Supply Chain Innovation. He also oversaw the creation of a Business Analytics undergraduate major, a PhD program in Finance and an online MS in Finance.

The Harbert College of Business received external validation of its academic programs, including Top 10 national rankings for undergraduate Supply Chain Management, online MBA, online Master of Accountancy and online MS in both Finance and Information Systems.

Prior to Auburn, Hardgrave was the Bradberry Chair in Information Systems in the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas from 2001-10 and was the executive director of the Information Technology Research Institute, which he established in 1999. He also founded and directed the University of Arkansas’ RFID Research Center from 2005-10.

Hardgrave has published five books and more than 85 articles in leading journals such as MIS Quarterly, Production & Operations Management, Journal of Management Information Systems and the European Journal of Information Systems. His research has been cited in the Wall Street Journal, CNN, BusinessWeek and The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, among others. He has been awarded two patents.

In recognition of his contributions, Hardgrave has received the Ted Williams Award from AIM Global as the most influential researcher in the field of RFID and the Special Achievement award from the RFID Journal for his overall impact on the field. A highly sought-after speaker, he has delivered nearly 200 invited talks worldwide to a total audience of more than 35,000.

Hardgrave received a BS in Computer Science from Arkansas Tech University in 1987; an MBA with an emphasis in Computer Information Systems from Missouri State University in 1990 and a PhD in Management Information Systems from Oklahoma State University in 1993.

Hardgrave and his wife of 33 years, Ronda, have two children, Rachel, 26, and Gavin, 20.