Skip to main content

David C. Hardesty, Jr.

David C. Hardesty

President Emeritus, West Virginia University
Professor of Law


  • A.B., West Virginia University (1967)
    — Student Body President
    —16th Rhodes Scholar (1983)
  • B.A. (1969), M.A. (1983), Oxford University, Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
  • J.D., Harvard Law School (1973)


David Hardesty is President Emeritus and Professor of Law at West Virginia University. He teaches subjects related to legal ethics, leadership for lawyers, trends in the legal profession, law practice management and the role of legislatures in the American legal system, including bill drafting.

Professor Hardesty holds degrees from West Virginia University, Oxford University (which he attended as a Rhodes Scholar), and Harvard Law School. He also attended advanced courses in higher education leadership and decision theory at Harvard University.

Professor Hardesty was the 21st president and CEO of West Virginia University from 1995-2007. While president, he served as chair of WVU Hospitals, Inc. and United Health System. WVU is a multi-campus public research university with comprehensive health sciences education. It enrolled approximately 35,000 students on all of its campuses in his last year as president.

While President, Prof. Hardesty led efforts to develop more than 25 student centered programs, including the first faculty led residential colleges in the university’s history. These efforts resulted in rapid expansion of the university student body. He also led efforts to focus WVU’s research programs, establish the world’s first forensic science and biometrics degrees, increase the university’s outreach and service activities, and create a new hospital system. WVU achieved a national reputation in the science of biometrics during his presidency. The health system he chaired expanded to become the largest in West Virginia.

Also, during his tenure, over $750 million in capital projects were launched, including a new student recreation center, Lincoln Hall (a residential college), major additions to the main university and the health sciences library, several other health sciences additions, a new basic science building, and many new laboratory, teaching and athletics facilities.

While serving as president, Professor Hardesty was a member of the National Security Higher Education Advisory Board; Chairman of the National 4-H Council; a director and officer in the Big East Conference; and a member of the Bowl Championship Series Presidential Oversight Committee. He was a founding director of the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute.

Prior to becoming president of WVU, Hardesty engaged in the private practice of law in Charleston with Bowles Rice for 19 years and served as State Tax Commissioner during Senator John D. Rockefeller IV’s first term as governor of West Virginia (1977-80).

Professor Hardesty is a former member of the Board of Directors of Consol Energy, Inc., and is Of Counsel to the law firm of Bowles Rice. He has previously been a member of and chaired several charitable, civic, economic development, business and education related boards.

Mr. Hardesty’s honors include several honorary degrees and citations, designation as a Distinguished West Virginian, West Virginian of the Year by the West Virginia Society of Washington, D.C., induction into the West Virginia Business Hall of Fame, induction into The National 4-H Hall of Fame, receipt of The National Distinguished Eagle Scout Award, and designation as a Graduate of Distinction by the West Virginia Education Alliance.

In 2009, the Festival of Ideas speakers’ series at WVU was endowed and named in honor of Hardesty, who helped to found the series in 1966 when he was student body president. An annual lecture at the WVU Cancer center is named in his honor.

Professor Hardesty is a frequent speaker on subjects related to the legal profession, higher education and leadership. He and his wife, Susan, are co-authors of Leading the Public University, Essays, Speeches and Commentary, published for West Virginia University by the WVU Press (2007). He has facilitated retreats and other meetings of boards and community groups for over three decades.

Susan Hardesty, a former teacher, served as the founder of the Mountaineer Parents Club, a parent and student advocacy organization that grew to 17,000 members under her leadership, and now enrolls 22,000 parents. She served a member of the board of directors of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges. Mrs. Hardesty is widely recognized for her advocacy on behalf of the parents of college age students. The Hardestys have two adult children, each of whom is a graduate of WVU and its College of Law. They have two grandchildren.

(Revised March 2017)

Teaching/Administrative Experience

  • President, WVU (1995-2007)
  • Faculty, West Virginia University College of Law (1995-present)
  • Director, West Virginia Law Institute (2009-2011)

Professional Background

  • Lawyer, Bowles Rice, McDavid, Graff & Love (1973-95)
  • Tax Commissioner, West Virginia (1977-80)
  • General Counsel, various West Virginia non-profit groups and private companies

Publications, Research, and Intellectual Contributions (see resume for full list)

  • Law STudents as Future Leaders: Using Neutral Facilitation Techniques to Teach Leadership Skills. WV Law Review on Line(120), 100. (2017)
  • Bill Drafting in West Virginia. WV Law Review on Line(118), 68. (2016)
  • Leading the Public University, Essays, Speeches and Commentary with Susan Hardesty, published for West Virginia University by the WVU Press (2007)
  • Introduction to Bill Drafting in West Virginia, 118 W.Va.L. Rev. Online 68
  • “Changing Campus Culture,” Handbook of Applied Developmental Science, Volume 4.Chapter 2: Hardesty, Jr., David C., Cote, Lawrence S., LeFlore, Larry. Sage (2003)
  • WV State Bar, “Leading lawyers—Lawyers in Leadership Roles—Implications for the Profession,” The West Virginia Lawyer, October-December 2009.
  • Contributor to Focus Magazine (West Virginia Media)
WVU LAW Facebook WVU LAW Twitter WVU LAW Instagram WVU LAW LinkedIn WVU LAW Youtube Channel