MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Bill Hardgrave was selected Tuesday as the new president of the University of Memphis by a unanimous vote of the board of trustees.
Hardgrave is currently provost and senior vice president at Auburn University.
“I am very excited and humbled to become the next President of the University of Memphis,” said Hardgrave in a statement from the university. “I grew up in Arkansas as a first-generation high school graduate and was well-aware of then-Memphis State University. I look forward to continuing the UofM’s recent phenomenal success academically and athletically as one of the two flagship universities in the state.”
Hardgrave will become the 13th president of the university, replacing outgoing president Dr. M. David Rudd. The U of M said Rudd will leave in May 2022, take a year sabbatical, then move into a faculty role.
The selection of Hargrave, who is white and will be coming into a university that is roughly 40% Black, came with some reservation from members of the Shelby County Black Caucus and the Memphis NAACP, which sent a letter to the trustees after the vote stating:
“While we are glad that the research status of the university has been prioritized, as it will have significant benefits for the broader community if achieved, we are woefully disappointed in the lack of racial diversity represented among the finalists.”