James Hardy looks back on 49-year career as professor - lsureveille.com: Administration

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James Hardy looks back on 49-year career as professor

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Posted: Monday, February 17, 2014 7:24 pm | Updated: 11:33 pm, Mon Feb 17, 2014.

When Professor James Hardy first began teaching at the University, the school wasn’t integrated and America had yet to live through the Watergate scandal or the death of John Lennon. In half a century, Hardy has seen a lot of changes.

During his 49 years at the University, Hardy has written books about baseball and literature, served as associate dean of the Honors College and taught history.

Hardy said he never left the University after his arrival because of his love for Louisiana and his passion for teaching. Hardy has no plans of retiring, despite being unable to drive or read small print — his wife brings him to campus every morning.

But possibly his biggest claim to fame is his three laws of life, made famous by Wikipedia.

“The first law is ‘To live is to suffer,’ the second is ‘For every important question there is no answer,’ the third is ‘If there was an answer, it would be love,’” Hardy said, holding up a finger for each law.

His three laws of life emerged from looking at Greek philosophy and bringing it up to date, Hardy said.

Hardy’s father was a professor, and from an early age growing up in Queens, New York, Hardy knew he wanted to be a professor as well. He currently teaches History 1003, which is Western civilization, Honors 2000 and constitutional law.

“I’ve always taught history,” Hardy said. “The first course I took in college was Western civ, the first course I taught as a teaching assistant was Western civ, and the course I teach now is Western civ.”

Hardy said the job of the professor in those introductory history classes is to take large subjects and make them clear by tying things together and making connections.

In 1965, when Hardy arrived at the University, the student population was half its current size and had open enrollment. Since then, it has grown to become a major research university. He also said over time, earning a degree has become a more difficult task.

“All kinds of electronic assistance is available that was not when I started,” Hardy said. “But from my experience in the History department, courses are more stringent.”

He and English instructor Ann Martin are currently writing a book together about universities and the difficulties they currently face. The first book they wrote as a team, published in 2011, was about Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita.” Nabokov was one of Hardy’s professors during his undergraduate studies at Cornell University.

Martin said she and Hardy also advise students on careers together.

“We’re kind of a one-stop-shop for students who don’t know what they want to do with their lives,” Martin said.

Martin said because of Hardy’s years of experience, he always has a great amount of sense when it comes to solving problems and can often predict the way things are going to go.

Hardy said he loves baseball, and he was a fan of the New York Giants before they moved.

“I’m a lifelong baseball fan, my mother was a baseball fan,” Hardy said. “I remember [LSU’s] first big championship season in 1965.”

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