As a young boy, Calvin College philosophy professor Lee Hardy learned valuable lessons when he worked for his dad at the family-owned drugstore in Fullerton, Calif.
“I got to see how my father related to people,” he recalls, “and I saw the real sense of connection between him and his customers.”
“I also learned what it means to work hard,” he adds with a wry smile.
Those traits mark Hardy’s work today as a Calvin professor. And they are, in no small part, why he is the college’s 2007 recipient of the Presidential Award for Exemplary Teaching.
Growing up in Fullerton, Hardy would have been surprised to learn that someday he’d be living in the Midwest and teaching at a Christian college.
He wasn’t raised a Christian. At age 13 he made a commitment to Christ, going forward with his family at a Billy Graham crusade. After high school he went to art school and then began working in San Francisco as a graphic designer. He also began reading Christian books, looking to deepen his still-growing faith.
Author Francis Schaefer became a big influence, showing Hardy what it might mean to engage culture as a Christian. “Eventually,” he says, “I read myself into the Reformed tradition.”
He decided to study at L’Abri, which Schaefer founded. From there he went to Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Ill.
“I enjoyed the program,” he says, adding with a chuckle, “and I met a lot of Canadians”—one of whom, Judy Knoops, became his wife and the mother of their four children.
After doing graduate work at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Hardy applied for teaching jobs at a number of schools, one of which was Calvin College. He was hired in 1981 and has been a part of the Calvin community ever since.
While doing genealogical research, Hardy was surprised to discover that his British ancestors came to the United States in the 1600s as Puritans.
“So my roots are in English Calvinism,” he muses. “I’ve often wondered why I was so attracted to the Reformed tradition.”