Previously published in the 2018 Ouachitonian yearbook.
After 26 years of dedicated service, unconditional Tiger love and living their lives on campus, Phil and Shirley Hardin retired together from their respective positions at Ouachita. Phil finished his Ouachita career serving as the assistant to the president, and Shirley as the assistant registrar. The family retired from the university as an iconic Ouachita family, as Shirley is the granddaughter of Ouachita president Dr. J.R. Grant, and daughter of president Dr. Daniel Grant. Phil and Shirley were Ouachita graduates, and their sons followed suit.
The couple met as they sang in the Ouachita Singers, before marrying in First Baptist Church Arkadelphia and holding the first wedding reception on the bridge of Evans Student Center. After graduation, they left campus to pursue careers and to start a family. Though the plan wasn’t originally to walk the halls of Ouachita as residents again, the pull of the purple and gold, the Tiger spirit and the desire to serve the place that meant so much to both inevitably brought them back to call Arkadelphia home once more.
After serving in churches and on Ouachita’s Alumni Board, Phil was approached about returning to his alma mater. “There came a time when the alumni director on campus retired. So Dr. Elrod, the president at the time, needed somebody to lead the alumni board, and at the same time, he needed an assistant. So he invited me to come and do those two things,” Phil said. Throughout his time at Ouachita, Phil had the opportunity to serve in many positions. Shirley also was hired to work for Ouachita’s Office of Development.
This was home base, according to Phil. “This is where we’d come back to visit her parents, to visit for homecoming. … For the first 14 years of our marriage, her dad was still president of the university. So for the largest part of our time away from Ouachita, Ouachita was still home.”
As the couple grew into a family, raising children and their careers back on the campus where they met, their Ouachita story stood out from the rest, due to the simple fact that their love for campus was rooted in history and in family.
“For us, we are investing in generations. It’s a generational commitment to me, and Phil, I know,” said Shirley.
“When we went to school here, there were still World War II Army barracks buildings that we had classes in. I lived in Francis Crawford West with Mom Chu. Phil lived in O.C. Bailey,” said Shirley. “It is a different place now, for sure. But still the place we choose to live our lives.”
By Addy Goodman
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