When an educator is called out of retirement six times – and he answers that call six times – it means two things.
One: People like what he does. Two: He likes what he does.
And that’s only part of what we like about Dr. Jerry L. Hardee.
Paine College’s 16th and newest president led his first Fall Convocation at the Augusta school Wednesday, and delivered his administrative mission vividly.
“I don’t want to talk about what Paine used to be because all I need to do is make sure that Paine is better than it’s ever been,” Dr. Hardee told the assembly at Gilbert-Lambuth Chapel.
In 2016 the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges voted to remove from accreditation after two years on probation for failing to meet three financial standards.
SACS denied Paine’s appeal, but the school sued SACS in federal court. The two sides settled on an injunction that keeps the school accredited while the lawsuit is pending. Paine still is on probation.
The next SACS review is scheduled for spring 2018, and Dr. Hardee has laid out his goals plainly for what he hopes to accomplish by then.
He wants to make the campus safer. Under Hardee’s leadership, dorm rooms are going to be checked regularly for alcohol, drugs and weapons. Also, to combat the problem of non-students loitering on the campus, all students will be required to wear their IDs and have Paine parking decals affixed to their vehicles.
He wants to double enrollment at the very least. It’s about 400 now. Paine’s record enrollment is believed to be 917, the 1997 enrollment under President Shirley A.R. Lewis.
“I am going to get into every high school that I can get into and I already have a number of contacts,” Hardee told The Augusta Chronicle in April. “I am going to get into those high schools, talk to students and promise them that if they were to come to Paine, they are going to get a quality education and I am going to do what I can to keep them there in terms of support services.”
He wants to grow the school financially – and he expects everyone to pitch in. Faculty will be required to participate in fundraising activities and to pursue grant opportunities.
Hardee believes Paine can compete. He believes Paine has much to offer its students and the community.
He just believes.
In other words, Hardee is precisely what Paine needs right now, and we hope Paine’s faculty, staff and especially its students join him in generating success.