How This 1949 Alumnus Is Securing Hundreds of Students’ Financial Futures

In the personal finance class offered by the McIntire School of Commerce, non-business students learn about building credit, saving for a home or creating an investment portfolio.

Robert “Bob” Hardaway Jr. and Sadiq Olanrewaju graduated from the University of Virginia 68 years apart, but the 2017 graduate and the 90-year-old alumnus were able to find plenty of common ground.

For one, they both played on UVA’s football team. Olanrewaju, who was born in Nigeria and immigrated to Maryland as a child, was a highly regarded offensive lineman before injury forced him to retire.

Hardaway, who stands significantly shorter than Olanrewaju’s 6-foot-6 frame, freely admits that he was better suited to the practice squad at first. Hardaway was in training with the U.S. Navy when World War II ended in 1945, and like many fellow servicemen, enrolled at UVA shortly after. He joined the junior varsity team for a few years before being promoted to varsity “as a benchwarmer” in 1949. That year, the Cavaliers were ranked in the Top 10 nationally under head coach Art Guepe.

“It was an opportunity for me to play football, even though I knew I might never play varsity,” Hardaway said. “I enjoyed the experience greatly.”

Both Hardaway and Olanrewaju were in the Z Society, a semi-secret society (members remain anonymous until Final Exercises) known for its philanthropic efforts, honorary dinners and academic awards.

Perhaps most significant, however, is the connection they share in the classroom. Olanrewaju is one of hundreds of students to take the “Personal Finance” course that Hardaway has endowed.

The McIntire School of Commerce offers the class, taught by Robert B. Hardaway Jr. Lecturer Dorothy Kelly, to non-business students seeking a better understanding of personal finance strategies.

“The focus is on financial wellness – making smart financial decisions so students will have the financial freedom to enjoy the life they choose,” said Kelly, a graduate of UVA’s Darden School of Business and parent of a second-year student in the College of Arts & Sciences. “We start with the basics – budgeting, keeping track of your finances and preparing for emergencies.”

Students then learn about evaluating employee benefits packages, preparing and filing tax returns, building and evaluating credit, preparing to purchase an automobile or home, mitigating risk, building an investment portfolio and maximizing retirement savings.

Kelly frequently brings current events into the classroom. This semester, for example, the class has discussed how recent natural disasters like the wildfires in California and the hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico have demonstrated the necessity of an emergency fund and the importance of carefully evaluating insurance policies.

Kelly’s students are also closely following the ongoing tax reform debate in Congress and discussing how different changes to the tax code could affect household finances.

“Taxes play a big role in personal finance, so becoming an informed voter is worthwhile,” Kelly said. “You need to understand the issues and be aware of how they might affect your finances and financial planning.”

Hardaway, now a California resident, returns to Charlottesville each summer to grade exams for the CFA Institute, which awards the Chartered Financial Analyst designation to qualified investment professionals. A retired financial analyst himself, Hardaway has been involved with the CFA Institute for years and met both Kelly and former professor Karen Bonding, who previously taught “Personal Finance,” through the institute.  

This summer, Hardaway was able to meet with Olanrewaju and hear about his experience in Kelly’s class.

“The personal finance class has helped me understand how to invest,” said Olanrewaju, who earned a bachelor’s degree in African-American and African studies and now works as a consultant in Washington, D.C. “I just started a new job and I understand where my assets should be allocated.”

Olanrewaju showed Hardaway around UVA’s football complex, and was entertained by Hardaway’s stories of how Cavalier football was different in the 1940s.

“We didn’t have a weight room or spend a lot of time watching film, and the guys weren’t nearly as big, strong, athletic and mobile as they are today,” Hardaway recalled.

He said he enjoyed talking with Olanrewaju and seeing how the class has impacted his life.

“It certainly made me realize just how worthwhile and meaningful the course is, and that it is apparently having a positive impact,” Hardaway said.

Kelly said students frequently tell her that the class is one of the most practical they have taken at UVA, and that they are already applying the concepts they are learning.

Peyton Johnson, a fourth-year student studying biology, said the personal finance lessons have already proven helpful as she evaluates employee benefit packages in her search for full-time employment after graduation.

“I’ve learned how to look at different packages and understand what would actually be beneficial to me and what wouldn’t, and I have a better understanding of why that is,” Johnson said. “I feel more confident in what I am looking for and what I am not.

“A good amount of this stuff, I would have learned over time through trial and error, but it pays to learn it now,” she said. “I am saving myself the headache of trying to figure it out on my own over the course of years, and I have the opportunity to go beyond what I may just pick up along the way.”

Kelly said that college and high school curricula are increasingly emphasizing age-appropriate personal finance lessons. As of 2011, all high school students in Virginia are required to take a personal finance course before graduation.

At UVA, Kelly is hoping to expand the reach of her class through short seminars for various student groups. This fall, she partnered with the UVA Career Center to offer a seminar for third-year students on evaluating and planning for summer internships. She has also offered “crash course” personal finance seminars in partnership with class trustees, fraternities and sororities, and other student groups.

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Caroline Newman

Senior Writer and Assistant Editor of Illimitable Office of University Communications