Obituary – Clifford M. Hardin

Apr 5th, 2010 | By | Category: Obituaries

Clifford M. Hardin, chancellor of the University of Nebraska from 1954-1968, died at his home in Lincoln April 4. He was 94. Among his survivors is Cynthia Hardin Milligan, dean emeritus of the College of Business Administration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Clifford Hardin
Clifford M. Hardin

UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman called Hardin “the founder of the modern University of Nebraska,” and said the significance of his accomplishments during his 15-year tenure as chancellor cannot be overlooked.

“Cliff Hardin was chancellor when I was a student and he remained a role model while I’ve been chancellor,” Perlman said. “He was most proud of hiring Bob Devaney as our football coach and delighted in telling the story of how that happened. He will be missed.”

NU President James B. Milliken praised Hardin and expressed his sadness over Hardin’s death:

“Cliff Hardin was a wise and transformational leader, and more than any other person shaped the modern, multi-campus University of Nebraska,” Milliken said. “In his authoritative history of the University, Prairie University, Robert Knoll wrote that Hardin was one of the three great leaders in the university’s history. I was fortunate to know Cliff and he always had a very welcome bit of advice for me. He will be celebrated and missed by all who love the University of Nebraska.”

Hardin was U.S. Secretary of Agriculture from 1969-1971, having been tapped by Richard Nixon soon after Nixon’s election. Among his accomplishments was the 1970 Farm Bill, which was crafted with much compromise and negotiation.

Hardin Hall, formerly the Clifford M. Hardin Center for Continuing Education, was named for Hardin. The building opened in 1961 as the Nebraska Center for Continuing Education; funding included a significant grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which Harding won, and private donations from Nebraskans.

Hardin, who was born in 1915, grew up in Indiana and helped run a family farm. He earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Purdue University. At age 38 was the youngest person in the country in 1954 to hold a chancellorship. He previously was dean of agriculture and director of the experiment station at Michigan State University. During his tenure, the University of Nebraska underwent significant growth and change, including adding Omaha University to become the University of Nebraska system in 1969.

After Hardin’s stint as ag secretary, he was vice chairman and vice president for research for Ralston Purina and chairman of Ralston Purina of Canada from 1971 to 1980.

Not one for early retirement, Hardin became director of the Center for the Study of American Business at Washington University and vice president and board member at Stifel Nicolause, an investment banking firm in St. Louis at age 65.

He also served on the boards of the Rockefeller Foundation, WinRock International Foundation, American Assembly, University of Nebraska Foundation, Halifax Corporation, Gallup, Inc., the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and others and was president of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, now the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

Hardin edited the book “Overcoming World Hunger” and numerous articles. He received the “Flame of Truth Award” from the Fund for Higher Education.

Hardin is survived by his wife, Martha; his children and their spouses, Sue (Larry) Wood, Clifford W. (Glenna) Hardin, Cynthia (Robert) Milligan, Nancy (Douglas) Rogers, and James (Mary Pat) Hardin; 15 grandchildren; 23 great-grandchildren; a sister, Phyllis (John) Walls; a cousin, Lowell (Mary) Hardin; and many nieces and nephews and friends.

Hardin’s funeral is 11 a.m., April 9 at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 2110 Sheridan Blvd.

Memorials are suggested to the University of Nebraska Foundation, 1010 Lincoln Mall, Suite 300, Lincoln NE 68508-2886.


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  1. Dear Mrs. Hardin and family,

    We were very saddened to hear of Clifford’s death. I graduated from UNL in 1957 and had the pleasure of getting to know Chancellor Hardin during those years, especially when I served on the Student Union Board. He was a great chancellor and truly impacted the future of the University. I always looked forward to visiting with him after leaving UNL. Beyond UNL he made so many contributions to industry, government, education and I know that he was a wonderfuly husband and parent. We extend our heartfelt sympathies and may God bless you and the family.


    Tom and Cynthia Olson

  2. Clifford Hardin provided an opportunity for my father, George Miller, in 1962 to become the physical plant director at the University of Nebraska. This was the beginning of a friendship that lasted for over 45 years.

    This was the opportunity for my father to excel in a position that rewarded the State of Nebraska with many buildings that were developed under budget where this is unheard of in today’s business circles. Additionally, he negotiated numerous public power contracts for the state that saved thousands of dollars annually. These two men worked in harmony to upgrade and expand the University of Nebraska’s campuses to meet the needs of the 20th century.

    One of the last meetings between these two gentlemen was in 2007 where they watched a Nebraska-Oklahoma football game at Mr. Hardin’s house. They enjoyed the legacy of the football team where each looked forward to the next game.

    Our family owes a great gratitude to Mr. Hardin for his insight in bringing my father back home to Nebraska with the employment opportunity that changed many lives. My parents always enjoyed the company of the Hardin’s and looked forward to their next meeting. Our sincere sympathies for the Hardin family for the loss of Clifford

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