Medical school legend dies at 89 Dr. Walter L. Hard, dean of The University of South Dakota School of Medicine from 1952 until 1966, died this week at his home in Minnesota. He celebrated his 89th birthday in February.
Hard, whose tenure saw the School of Medicine face many challenges to its programs, joined the faculty of The University of South Dakota School of Medicine in 1946 as professor of anatomy and assistant dean. He became dean of the school in 1952.
During his years in South Dakota, Hard was a familiar figure in the halls of the South Dakota Legislature. Through his efforts the school of medicine was not only maintained, but also firmly positioned for the move from a two-year to a four-year medical school. He is also credited with the plans, building and dedication of the Andrew E. Lee Medical Science Building, which opened its doors to students in 1954.
Further gains of the period occurred in such general services as workshops and courses for physicians and other health professionals; escalation of staff research; and growth of graduate study. Most noted of the last was the Regents' approval in 1956 for the offering of the doctoral degree by the departments of anatomy, biochemistry, microbiology and physiology/pharmacology.
In the course of his tenure, he was the recipient of awards from the South Dakota State Medical Association, the South Dakota Board of Regents and the South Dakota Medical School Alumni Association. While his administrative accomplishments and recognitions were many, the dean's greatest pride and concern was for the students whom he taught and nurtured.
In 1966 Hard accepted a post as vice-chairman of the department of anatomy at the University of Nebraska School of Medicine where he remained until retirement in 1977. Throughout his career, he continued to be active in research and contributed over 30 articles to scientific journals in areas of neurology, genetics and histology.
In 1977, The University of South Dakota School of Medicine established the Dean Walter L. Hard Society. Recognized as the premier donor society of the school of medicine, the society provides the school with resources for support of its ongoing mission of education, research and service. Hard continued to be an active member of the Hard Society's Steering Committee until his death.
Hard is survived by sons and daughters-in-law: Frank D. and Carla Hard of Rice, MN, and Walter C. and Betsy Hard of Acton, CA; sisters: Wilma Thomas of Kalamazoo, MI, Marjorie Hawkings of Sun City, AZ, Marion Allen of Grand Rapids, MI, and Elsie Butterworth of Coldwater, MI; eight grandchildren, two step-grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.