William H. Barnhardt was a leading textile executive of the Southeast. He devoted his career to the development of his two businesses-Barnhardt Brothers Company and Tryon Processing Company. In his work both as a manufacturer and as an active civic leader, Mr. Barnhardt embodied the highest standards of personal integrity and public morality. Though noted for his business acumen and financial expertise, he was perhaps best known and understood as a humanitarian, a civic leader, and for his compassionate generosity.
Upon his death, Mr. Barnhardt's three children, William M., J. David, and Nancy, sought ways to memorialize their father's exemplary life. They were convinced that an annual seminar on ethics would continue their father's leadership in the business world by providing a unique professional development program. Mr. Barnhardt's children originally committed to support the program for five years, 1989 – 1994. The continuing success has been recognized by the Barnhardt family, the University, and the community, and this success is responsible in part for the creation of the Center for Professional and Applied Ethics. Funding continued past the original period, and the annual seminar is now permanently endowed as a program of the Center.