Student thank-you letter sparks planned gift from alumnus

A connection initiated by a student at Mississippi State University inspired Robert C. Hardin to make a greater impact on his alma mater. After receiving a motivational letter from an MSU Foundation Ambassador, the Tupelo resident began considering additional ways to support the university he credits for his professional success.

The letter, written by then MSU senior Abbey Bufkin of Cleveland, who is now interning with the Senate Republican Conference in Washington, D.C., was part of an effort to thank donors who have amassed the most consecutive years of support. Consecutive annual gifts from donors like Hardin provide solutions to the yearly challenges Mississippi State faces as a state-supported institution.

“I’ve achieved modest financial success throughout my career that has enabled me to extend my appreciation to Mississippi State for what it has enabled me to achieve,” said Hardin, a 1973 accounting graduate, who has faithfully supported MSU for 36 years and counting. “The positive experience of connecting with students and MSU leaders and staff made me consider other options for giving to the university.”

Over his career, Hardin worked with mid-size companies as a controller or chief financial officer in the Germantown and Memphis areas of Tennessee before returning to Mississippi. He is currently director of affiliate accounting for the Dufresne Spencer Group.

Hardin enrolled at Mississippi State from the Big Creek area of Calhoun County where he was raised. His parents, Melvin and Janet Hardin, were Mississippi natives who were a construction worker and homemaker, respectively.

“As the youngest of four children, I was the first in my family to graduate from college, and my parents always enjoyed coming to Mississippi State,” Hardin said.

He continued, “I have a respect for what Mississippi State is doing to educate today’s young people. Since MSU provided a great education for me, I wanted to do what I could to help with the university’s goals, and a planned gift was a great mechanism for that.”

A bequest from Hardin benefiting several areas of Mississippi State is now in place. In structuring the bequest, Hardin selected the areas after touring the campus and meeting with leaders. Once realized, proceeds from the bequest will establish an endowed professorship and an endowed scholarship, both in the College of Business’ Richard C. Adkerson School of Accountancy.

“Mississippi State gratefully acknowledges Robert Hardin for his many contributions to our university and for his willingness to assist the Richard C. Adkerson School of Accountancy with its endeavors,” said Sharon Oswald, dean of the College of Business. “The Adkerson School of Accountancy’s programs are currently ranked among the top accounting programs in the nation, and that high standard of excellence is a testament to the quality accounting education and opportunities provided for our students, made possible, in part, with private gifts.”

In the accounting school, the Robert C. Hardin Endowed Professorship will provide a salary supplement and support fund for the holder of the professorship. As with all endowed positions at Mississippi State, the professorship will draw the best faculty possible and support their teaching, research and service efforts.

“My professors always guided me and offered encouragement. Although I wasn’t always at the very top of my class, professors like Joseph Curry, Dora Herring, Billy Simmons and Scotty Wofford really challenged me to succeed, and I am eternally grateful to them and the steadfast influence of my parents,” Hardin said.

Along with the professorship, the Robert C. Hardin Memorial Endowed Scholarship will also benefit the accounting school. Established in honor of Hardin’s late parents, the scholarship will provide support for full-time accounting students, primarily from Calhoun and Lee counties, who meet certain academic criteria and have demonstrated financial need.

“It feels wonderful to have my family name and the names of my parents associated with the scholarship,” said Hardin. “It is a perpetual impact that will continue as the scholarship makes possible a great academic experience for students to come.”

The remaining area of the bequest cements Hardin’s passion for MSU athletics. Hardin has been a devoted fan for decades, with much time spent at Bulldog sporting events as a season ticket holder for football, baseball and men’s basketball. His bequest will be used in the area of greatest need for the Bulldog Club. This creates a financial gift flexible to the needs of the university, its athletes, and athletic facilities.

For details on supporting MSU through planned gifts, contact Wes Gordon, director of planned giving for the MSU Foundation, at 662.325.3707 or wgordon@foundation.msstate.edu. Individuals may also request a copy of the university’s Wills Guide at msugiftplanning.org.


Robert C. Hardin


Abbey Bufkin