When You Say Luddy and Barbara Hayden, People Smile

[This Article Republished from Pitt Giving]

For Ludwick (A&S ’66, EDUC ‘68G) and Barbara (EDUC ’66, ’69G ’78PhD) Hayden, endowing a scholarship at the University of Pittsburgh is just one step on a life-long path of improving Pitt and the lives of its students.

Luddy, as Ludwick prefers to be called, was a track star in high school. After his senior year, the Pitt track coach came calling with a scholarship offer.

Luddy stepped into a different world when he arrived at Pitt in 1962. By his count, he was one of less than 50 African Americans living on campus and, having grown up in Baltimore, Pittsburgh’s weather was different than what he was used to.

“I had never experienced below zero temps before coming to Pitt,” Luddy said. “I didn’t leave my room for three days that first February.”

Barbara arrived at Pitt in ‘63. Luddy heard she was also from Baltimore and asked her out on a date. They have been a couple ever since.

Luddy was a standout on the track team. Both he and Barbara were exemplary students. And when they graduated, they decided to stay in Pittsburgh. Luddy took a job teaching in the Pittsburgh Public Schools, and Barbara earned her master’s and doctoral degrees. Eventually, they landed positions at the University.

They were at Pitt at a time of major civil rights changes, both on and off campus. In 1968, Pitt launched a program designed to enroll more African American students, and Luddy was put in charge of the effort. The goal was to enroll 50 African American students on scholarships each year. And just as his coach had done six years earlier, Luddy was soon making visits to the homes of prospective students. Only he was building a diverse student body, rather than a speedy track team.

Linda Wharton Boyd (A&S ’72, ‘75G, ‘79PhD) was among those he visited and recruited. She says it was not enough for Luddy to know about you, he wanted to know about your family and background before he offered the scholarship. He wanted to understand what you would need to succeed.

“He made sure I had everything I needed in terms of resources and help while I was a student,” Linda said. “I just wanted to make him proud, and I still look up to him today as a mentor and friend. Our families are intertwined.”

Luddy left Pitt in 1972 to take a job at Gulf Oil Corp, and he and Barbara moved to Houston in 1976 when Luddy was transferred by the company. By then, they had paved a road to success that African American students continue to benefit from today. And their ties to Pitt never faltered.

“It was such an important and pivotal time in our lives,” Barbara said. “I came as a 17-year-old and have used what I learned academically my entire life, but our life outside the classroom also formed who we are today.”

When the African American Alumni Council (AAAC), under Linda’s leadership, launched a campaign to build endowed scholarships, Luddy and Barbara were the first to step up with a major commitment. “If Luddy and Barbara are involved, other alumni will talk to you,” said Valerie Njie (EDUC ’71), who was recruited to Pitt by Luddy and credits the Haydens for many of the successes the students achieved. “He taught us to excel in everything we did and then to give back, to help today’s students with your time, talent, and treasure.”

The Haydens always lead by example. Over the decades, Luddy has served on the boards of the Pitt Alumni Association (PAA) and the AAAC, and several honors have been bestowed on him including a Varsity Letter of Distinction (1989) and the Sankofa Award (2007), which is annually presented by the AAAC.

Along with annual cash gifts to the University, the Haydens have created a charitable remainder trust as a way to support Pitt. It provides them income in their retirement, and the principal will be used to create an endowed scholarship at the time of their passing.

“If you feel like we do, that the University of Pittsburgh has made a difference in your life, then one way to say ‘thank you’ is by giving back,” Barbara said.

Linda Wharton Boyd says it is that type of thinking that makes the Haydens some of the best people she has ever met. She says students who receive scholarship support from the Haydens should know they are not just benefiting from their philanthropy, but from their legacy of making Pitt a more diverse and welcoming University.

Hail to Pitt!

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