Founding Dean Charles J. Hardy Transitions from Administration to Faculty

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Founding Dean Charles J. Hardy has decided to step away from the role of dean of the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) and transition to the faculty, the university announced today. Following a robust and distinguished 39-year career in higher education across three institutions, Hardy is looking forward to shifting his focus from the executive leadership of the college and is enthusiastic about returning to his roots in the classroom. The prospect of building professional relationships with students through teaching and mentoring is exciting for Hardy after 28 years in a variety of administration roles at UNCW and other institutions.

“Dean Hardy is one of the most dedicated, passionate and caring administrators I have ever met,” Provost James J. Winebrake stated. “He is entirely committed to supporting faculty, students and staff, and has worked tirelessly to improve the quality of health services throughout the region, the state and the nation. This university – and this state – is a better place because of Charlie Hardy.”

The provost noted that Hardy’s many accomplishments include building and supporting a culture of community engagement within CHHS. “Dr. Hardy’s laser-focused approach to tackling big challenges has resulted in a college dedicated to educating the next generation of health and human services professionals. His leadership will be greatly missed, but his impact will live on in the transformative educational and research programs within CHHS.”

When Hardy joined UNCW as Founding Dean of CHHS in July 2011, the college was just completing its first year of existence. McNeill Hall (75,000 sq. ft.) was also one year old and served as one of two primary locations for housing college operations and its three professional schools (Health and Applied Human Sciences, Nursing and Social Work). Completion of McNeill Hall marked the beginning of what would later become known as the campus’s health science quad.

“Being part of building a community around health and human services has just been a joy,” Hardy remarked. “It really doesn’t seem like work. It seems like a purpose, a passion, a calling. We are always focused on our vision of enhancing the health and quality of life of individuals, families and communities in this region. To have grown up in southeastern North Carolina and be able to come back, lead and make a difference… it’s been incredibly humbling to be a part of the journey.”

Under Hardy’s leadership, the college received numerous awards and achievements, graduated more than 10,000 students, increased from 1,500 student majors to nearly 5,000, added six degrees, and completed the health science quad with construction of Veterans Hall (145,000 sq. ft.).

Hardy is proud of how the college is woven into the local community and the needs of southeastern North Carolina. He recalled a phone call from colleagues at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in early 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic. “They said, ‘Doc, we need your help. We need some of your students to come over and help us develop a vaccination clinic.’” Within a few days, UNCW students and faculty in the School of Nursing had stepped up alongside NHRMC to provide coordination and administer vaccines for community members. Stories like this are commonplace among the college’s three schools and have transformed classroom and lab education into pre-professional experiential learning.

Hardy attributes the college’s achievements to his extraordinary leadership team, faculty and staff. A culture of teamwork emanates through the shared structure that powers the college’s operations and core service teams. By keeping the focus on the needs of the programs they were offering or developing, CHHS leadership has skyrocketed the level of community engagement and maintained an intense approach on embodying the vision to always enhance the health and quality of life.

“Dean Hardy brings energy, commitment and vision to everything he does, and it shows in the success the College of Health and Human Services has achieved under his leadership. He is an innovator and a team builder whose collaborative approach to enhancing the health and quality of life in our region has resulted in some of the university’s strongest community partnerships,” Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli said. “When the pandemic first emerged, I asked Dean Hardy to lead the task force that developed a comprehensive and effective plan for the university to move forward safely and successfully. With a team of hundreds of faculty, staff, students, administrators and community members, all assembled by Dr. Hardy, a plan was developed to allow UNCW to pivot and persevere in an environment that was uncertain and dangerous. On behalf of the university, I want to thank Dean Hardy for his leadership at the college and university levels.”

Dr. Hardy has held a faculty position in the School of Health and Applied Human Sciences for nearly 11 years, alongside his administrative duties. He holds a Ph.D. in Exercise/Sport and Social Psychology from Louisiana State University; an M.S. in Motor Behavior/Control from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; and a B.S. in Health and Physical Education from East Carolina University. He also completed post-doctoral research with the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Prior to joining UNCW, Hardy worked at Georgia Southern University from 1994-2011. He served as professor and founding dean of the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health, dean of the Jack N. Averitt College of Graduate Studies, and chair of the Department of Health and Kinesiology. He also served as an assistant and associate professor at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill from 1983-94.

When asked what he is most looking forward to in this next stage of life, outside of teaching, Hardy responded that he looks forward to spending more of “our time” with his wife, Becky. The couple, married for almost 44 years and both of whom work for UNCW, have led dedicated careers in higher education since graduating with bachelor’s degrees, while also raising a family. With Hardy’s return to the faculty, they look forward to maintaining their engagement with UNCW, safely resuming their love of global travel, and enjoying “every single day in the pursuit of joy” at their beachside home. They also look forward to more visits with their daughter Anna, son-in-law Joe, and son CJ.  

Effective July 1, 2022, Hardy will begin the process of preparing to return to the classroom and research as a full professor in the School of Health and Applied Human Sciences.  

An internal search for an interim dean for the College of Health and Human Services will be launched soon, under the guidance of Provost Winebrake. Following the search, the interim dean is scheduled to begin July 1, 2022.

Founding Dean Charles J. Hardy