UNC Alum Steve Israel '66, currently a managing director of the biotechnology practice Korn Ferry in New York City, has made a gift to create the O.B. Hardison, Jr, Scholarship Fund for the Humanities in the College of Arts and Sciences here at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Israel was inspired by Hardison's teaching of John Milton during his junior year. “It changed my whole life,” Israel says in an interview with Carolina Connectino. “So much so that I attribute 80 percent of my success, financially and personally, to the two courses I took from O.B. Hardison. He wasn’t merely a good professor. He inspired a love of learning. He made me want to learn. I went from cramming for exams the night before to basically living in the carrels at the library. I made nothing but As and Bs during my last two years. I did everything I could to become a scholar.”
Hardison himself was a Carolina graduate and popular teacher in a wide range of fields. He left Carolina in 1969 to become the director of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., where he founded the Folder Poetry Series and Folger Theatre.
Israel hopes to raise $1 million to endow the scholarship. In addition, Israel notes that “[Hardison] made Paradise Lost come alive, which was no easy task,” Israel continued. “Because of Hardison, I honed my communications skills so I could speak articulately and think more clearly. I’ve had other great teachers, but it was Hardison who opened the door.”