The following is adapted from remarks delivered during a College of Medicine faculty meeting January 28, 1988, by Lewis E. January, M.D., Professor Emeritus of Internal Medicine and lifelong colleague of Dr. Hardin. A permanent exhibit honoring Dr. Hardin is located near Hardin Library’s third floor entrance.
Few individuals have been associated with this University longer and served it with greater loyalty and distinction than Robert C. Hardin, from his earliest student days in 1930 until his death January 2, 1988.
He began his internship in 1937 at University Hospitals, followed by a residency in Internal Medicine. He assisted in the pioneering research of Dr. Elmer L. DeGowin in the preservation, banking and transfusion of blood. By the time Dr. Hardin completed his residency, his name had appeared on eight published scientific papers.
In 1941 he entered the Army, where the military importance of his own and Dr. DeGowin’s blood work was quickly recognized. He was sent to England as commanding officer of the USA European Theatre of Operations Blood Bank and Consultant in Transfusion and Shock. In that capacity he was responsible for the control and distribution of blood and blood products for the entire ETO, and was chief consultant to military hospitals on the use of blood products in combating shock. His expertise made it possible for the USA to “gear up” to meet the great demand for blood products necessary for the invasion of Normandy and the remaining months of World War II. For this outstanding leadership he was awarded the Legion of Merit.
Dr. Hardin returned to The University of Iowa as an Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine in 1945 and by 1953 had attained a full professorship. He became intensely interested in diabetes, a research field in which he earned a national reputation and, in 1969, election to the presidency of the American Diabetes Association.
Successful and active as he was in teaching, research and patient care, he still found time to assume administrative responsibilities, which led to his being named Associate Dean of the College of Medicine in 1959, and appointment as Dean three years later. There followed a major reorganization of the medical curriculum, and an expanded role for the faculty in governance of the College.
In his next role as Vice President for Health Affairs, Dr. Hardin stimulated construction of the Health Science Library and the Bowen Science Building. He was influential in planning the long-range expansion and remodeling of University Hospitals and Clinics, work that continues to this day. His advice was frequently sought by the State Board of Regents, for which he served as unofficial counselor on health affairs and education. Off-campus, Dr. Hardin was active in the affairs of the National Institutes of Health and as a consultant to other institutions. In the campus community he always found time to champion the disadvantaged, whose interests he served through work with United Way, Iowa City Hospice Program and the Free Medical Clinic.
In 1975 he elected to return to the Department of Internal Medicine, where he again cared for patients and led planning for a comprehensive in-patient unit where diabetic patients both received treatment and learned, through a major educational program, how to achieve control of their disease.
Dr. Hardin became Professor Emeritus in 1983 but continued active part-time service until his death from a heart attack on January 2, 1988.
As it provides enlightenment to future generations of scholars, it is most fitting that this library bear the name of Robert C. Hardin–dedicated teacher, distinguished researcher, caring and effective physician and truly great public servant in every sense.