The Hartgraves Take a Long View
Sitting in Lakeland, Florida, Al Hartgraves tells how he grew up in the town of Ninety Six, South Carolina. “It’s a real place,” he explains with a smile. “It’s a little east of Due West and south of Six Mile.” He and his wife, Aline, fondly recall their modest beginnings, but the path forward wasn’t always clear.
Al’s parents moved the family to South Carolina from Mt. Vernon, Illinois, where his father, Alonzo, was pastoring a small rural congregation. “I don’t remember much about it except that the house and the outhouse were far apart. Even as a three-year-old you don’t forget those things, especially in the winter.”
When the family arrived at their new South Carolina home they were amazed. “The house was brick and it had a bathroom inside,” Al recalls. “We were astonished. It seemed like an absolute mansion.” Years later as an adult he would be just as amazed at how small the house actually was.
It soon became clear the middle son of Reverend Hartgraves was cut from a different cloth. “My parents could see that I had some ability in school,” he explains, “but, with six children and a modest pastor’s income, they had no way to help me financially. I didn’t even have the $150 deposit to attend Lee when I finished high school.”
He enrolled initially at an extension campus of the University of South Carolina where he could work nights at the mill and take classes during the day. With unflagging support from Aline he finished his undergraduate degree in 1967, and his Masters in Accounting from “USC” just one year later.
After graduation Al received numerous job offers to work as an accountant, but one call came from Cleveland Tennessee that really interested them.
“Don Rowe who was the Department Chairman at Lee called to offer me a position as an accounting professor. I accepted.”
For the next 10 years Al helped to grow the fledgling business department at Lee. “Those were great years,” he recalls. “Dr. Rowe was a true mentor, and the leadership of Dr. Charles W. Conn is something that I remember fondly.” From 1968 through 1977 Al rose from Instructor of Accounting to Dean of Arts and Sciences, all while completing his PhD in Accounting and earning his CPA.
The Hartgraves credit those years as the motivation to form their endowed scholarship. “We give to Lee because Lee played a pivotal role in the early development of my professional life and because Lee, more than any of the universities that I have been associated with, shares our Christian values. Giving to Lee is a way of investing in the lives of students who will be positively influenced by their Lee experience for a lifetime.”
In 1978 Al joined The University of South Carolina faculty for two years before accepting a position at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Over the next 30 years he played a central role in building Emory’s Goizueta Business School into a top-25 program nationally, serving as Acting Dean, Senior Associate Dean, and Assistant Dean and Director of MBA programs, before being named Professor Emeritus of Accounting in 2009. While on one of the biggest stages in academics Al was repeatedly honored for his outstanding teaching, lucid writing, and professional contributions to the field of accounting. The preacher’s son from Ninety Six made it big, but he is quick to give credit for his success to “the grace of God and a wonderfully supportive spouse.”
“Having spent an entire career in higher education, I realize that endowment giving is one of the fundamental keys to building a great university; hence, our motivation to establish the scholarship fund, as well as to include Lee in our estate planning,” Al explains. “This fund will provide annual support for Lee business students for generations to come.”