Harold Hazelip — the gentlemanly former Lipscomb University president who oversaw the private institution’s transitioning from a college to a university offering graduate programs — died Wednesday of undisclosed causes.

He was 92.

According to a release, Hazelip served as Lipscomb president from 1986 to 1997, beginning his tenure at the Green Hills university after serving 14 years as dean of the Harding Graduate School of Religion in Memphis. He replaced Willard Collins and was succeeded by Steve Flatt.  

LU photo

Harold Hazelip (on far left) with former LU presidents (L to R) Steve Flatt, Willard Collins and Randy Lowry in 2006

After stepping down as Lipscomb president (the university's 15th at the time), Hazelip assumed the role of chancellor. He also worked a three-month stint as interim president in summer 2005 and, most recently, served as president emeritus.

During his tenure, then-David Lipscomb College became Lipscomb University following accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. This allowed the institution to award master’s degrees for the first time in its history.

Hazelip’s presidency saw Lipscomb institute a study abroad program, deploy a campus-wide fiber optic network and enjoy a rise in the percentage of faculty holding terminal degrees from 63 percent to 83 percent.

In addition, and while Hazelip was president, Lipscomb unveiled master’s degrees in religion and education, while recording an enrollment topping 2,500 for the first time.

Hazelip earned his junior college diploma from Freed-Hardeman University in 1948 and his bachelor’s degree from Lipscomb in 1950. He later received a postgraduate Bachelor of Divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1958 and a Ph.D. degree in religion from the University of Iowa in 1967.

“We mourn the loss of someone who has had a tremendous impact on the Lipscomb community — from starting our study abroad program to adding academic accreditations to leading our first master’s degrees at Lipscomb,” Lipscomb President Candice McQueen said in the release. “Dr. Hazelip will always be ‘my president’ as I was blessed to be a Lipscomb student under his outstanding leadership. He led with quiet confidence and a strong vision for an academically advancing university.”

Hazelip is survived by his wife, Helen; children, Pat (Angela) and Jeff (Cheryl); grandchildren, Amanda Binkley (Braden), Colby, Patrick, Andrew and Philip (Ally); and great-grandchildren, Daniel, Eli, Olivia, Sophie and Ava.

A service will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Church of Christ in Green Hills adjacent to the Lipscomb campus. There will be no formal visitation.

Memorial donations can be made to Alive Hospice, Christian Community Services and Lipscomb University.