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University of Memphis receives $3.7 million gift from Hardin Trust

For release: November 16, 2012
For press information, contact Curt Guenther, 901-678-2843

The University of Memphis announced today that it received a $3.7 million gift from the Helen and Jabie Hardin Charitable Trust (Foundation). The gift includes $1 million for the Helen Hardin Honors Program, $100,000 to the university’s School of Public Health and $2.6 million to support women’s athletic programs.  The gift to athletics is the single largest donation ever made to women’s athletics at the U of M.

“Those of us who were fortunate enough to have known Helen and Jabie Hardin recognize that they were extraordinarily civic-minded and gave generously to many community organizations,” said Shirley Raines, president of the University of Memphis. “Our academics and athletics were recipients of their monetary support and their keen interest.”

The Helen and Jabie Hardin Trust has been a major benefactor of the University of Memphis for many years. Shortly before her death in 2008, Helen Hardin gave $2 million to the university for the benefit of honors students. That gift helped the university exceed its goal of increasing its honors enrollment to more than 10 percent of the undergraduate student body and the university named the program the Helen Hardin Honors Program. Established in 1975, the Honors program enrolled 1,848 students this fall. It is the largest Honors program in Tennessee. 

Jabie and Helen Hardin were the founders of wholesale food distributor Hardin-Sysco.  In 1995, the University of Memphis bestowed its highest honor, the Distinguished Alumni Award, upon the Hardins, and in 1997 they were inducted into the Society of Entrepreneurs.

The School of Public Health was established as an independent academic unit at the U of M in July 2009.  It prepares a public health workforce, addresses public health concerns and provides information and outreach to our community and the region.  Only four years after its creation, the School has been accepted as a candidate for accreditation by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).  The School of Public Health’s goal is to become one of the nation’s premier centers for health disparities research, with particular emphases on urban health equity, urban health policy, environmental health, and behavioral intervention tied to chronic diseases among vulnerable populations.

The U of M Athletic Department released its new strategic plan last month.  A portion of the plan outlines the university’s goals for continuing to grow athletics through new facility construction.

“One of our goals at the University of Memphis is to always remain at the forefront of women’s athletics and to be compliant under the guidelines of Title IX and gender equity issues,” said Tom Bowen, athletic director. “With the gift from the Hardin Foundation, we can begin additional facility construction projects that will benefit our women’s programs as we enter the BIG EAST Conference next year.

“We will use the Hardin Foundation gift to completely redesign and rebuild the Memphis track located at the Park Avenue Campus,” Bowen said. “We will enlarge the footprint of the current facility, enclose the grandstands and place a full-scale soccer field in the center of the track. Both men and women’s track and men’s and women’s soccer will reap the benefits of this project.

“This gift will allow us to enter into the second phase of construction at the Women’s Softball Stadium,” Bowen continued. “A new clubhouse will be added, which will house locker rooms, coaches’ offices, meeting and recruiting rooms, indoor pitching and batting areas, as well as a training room, equipment room and laundry room.”

The University of Memphis is currently in the second phase of construction on the Elma Roane Fieldhouse, which serves as the home of women’s basketball and volleyball. The new portion of the project will add a state-of-the-art weight room, an indoor, four-lane training track, an elevated cardio platform, a player lounge and an enlarged training room with Grimm Tubs, hydroponic pools for injury rehabilitation.

“All of these projects are critical to the university as we enter the BIG EAST Conference in July of 2013,” Bowen said. “This year marks the 40th anniversary of Title IX. We want to make absolutely certain that the University of Memphis remains a beacon for gender equity in women’s athletics.”

The University of Memphis launched Empowering the Dream, an ambitious $250 million fundraising initiative, in September 2011. Thanks to the Hardin gift, the U of M has now secured commitments of more than $228 million toward that goal. The campaign continues through June 30, 2013.


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