With South Florida the “epicenter” of the national housing crisis, Florida International University recently hired a real estate expert to lead its business school.
William Hardin, 61, became dean of the FIU College of Business in early June, after a year as interim dean. His predecessor, Joanne Li, left to become chancellor of the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
“I’m feeling pretty good. I already have a good feel for what the job is, but being appointed the permanent dean makes it a little bit more real,” said Hardin, who was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, and spent about half of his life in Atlanta before moving to Florida.
Hardin said FIU Business will try to meet rising demand for programs in areas like data analytics and cybersecurity — and logistics and supply chain management, which everyone understands now because of the pandemic, he said.
RELATED: FIU launches national search for its new president, Mark Rosenberg’s permanent successor
Still, the main challenge for FIU Business, Hardin said, remains figuring out how to engage students in a post-pandemic world.
“Technology changed how people, especially young people, view the world. People got used to all sorts of opportunities for how to meet — or not meet — people. But we want to get people back to engaging one-on-one in person, because I think in person is how we best develop relationships,” he said.
Hardin has worked at FIU for about 16 years. He first joined in 2006 as a finance and real estate professor, as well as the director of its real estate programs.
He held multiple roles since, including director of FIU’s Jerome Bain Real Estate Institute, which offers courses and conferences in the industry, and founding director of the Hollo School of Real Estate. In 2018, he became the associate dean of the Chapman Graduate School of Business.
RELATED: ‘The world has lost an icon’: Beloved FIU professor, dean dies. There from early days
Throughout his career, he has authored or co-authored at least 70 papers on topics like foreclosures and corporate governance.
In 2018, he received the Ricardo Medal from the American Real Estate Society — its highest scholarship honor — for his published research.
FIU President Kenneth Jessell touted Hardin’s experience.
“Dean Hardin’s scholarly work and nationally recognized expertise in real estate makes him a particularly important and relevant business leader in South Florida at this time,” Jessell said.
Before transitioning to FIU, Hardin taught at Mississippi State University for eight years, Morehouse College for three years and Georgia State University for two years. Before delving into academia, Hardin spent about seven years at NationsBank in Charlotte, now Bank of America.
He graduated from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill with a bachelor’s in economics. He has a master’s in international business from the University of South Carolina and a master’s in real estate from Georgia State University. He holds a doctorate in business administration from Georgia State University.
Three things you may not know about Hardin
An Olympic medal
He lived in Rio de Janeiro for a year in the 1980s, because his master’s program in international business at the University of South Carolina required it. He speaks Portuguese.
That language skill allowed him to volunteer as an envoy for the Portugal Olympics team during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta.
“Everyone who does the Olympics gets a participation medal, all of the athletes. That year apparently they had some leftover, I guess, so as an envoy, I got one,” Hardin said. “That was a good time for me.”
He loves Miami
“I like being in a place where diversity is champion. It really is a global city,” Hardin said. “I think that’s fun; it’s attractive. And it’s the future. The future is people from everywhere coming together to advance humanity.”
“I’ve been to a lot of locations and talk to a lot of deans in different places, and in Florida and Miami, we really benefit from our willingness to be inclusive and our cultural awareness.”
A husband, dad
He met his wife when they both worked in the same international division of a bank; they’ve been married for 35 years. They have a daughter; she attends the Emory University School of Law in Atlanta.
This story was originally published July 15, 2022 7:05 PM.