The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Who is Bill Hurd?: First gentleman goes on the record

Photo by Emma Sylvester for The Lafayette
Bill Hurd has spent the past few weeks raising the first family’s new dog.

Bill Hurd loves sports. He was a multi-sport athlete growing up, but at age 14, he was diagnosed with transverse myelitis, a rare neurological disorder that impacts the spine.

He was paralyzed from the bottom of his ribs down.

“I spent a month in a rehab hospital learning how to walk again,” he said. “And then I was in a wheelchair for a couple of months. Then I used two crutches, then got down to one, and then my dad, for my eighth-grade graduation, said, ‘Why don’t you ditch both crutches?’”

And then he did.

Walking again, albeit with a limp, Hurd went back to playing Little League baseball as a pitcher, but he wanted more.

“I said to [my coaches], ‘I can play first base, I can play first base,’ so they put me at first base,” Hurd said.

It was sports that brought Hurd to his now-wife President Nicole Hurd. While she was pursuing her master’s degree at Georgetown, he had a job as the university’s assistant sports information director.

“We met playing softball – Georgetown had this summer co-ed softball league,” Bill Hurd said. “We have a mutual friend who introduced us. We hit it off like that.”

Like an outfielder going for a fly ball, Hurd, now age 57, has followed his wife around the East Coast as new opportunities sprung up for her – from Charlottesville, North Carolina to central Virginia as Nicole Hurd earned her doctorate, then onto Chapel Hill, North Carolina when the College Advising Corps, President Hurd’s college access company, got a new national office.

“She’s had some really great opportunities, and I recognize that and so I’m like, ‘Okay, this opportunity is far better than what I’m doing right now, so let’s roll the dice,” Hurd said. “We’ve come up great every time we’ve moved. So every time I say, ‘I’m comfortable here, I don’t want to move.’ And then we move and I’m comfortable.”

Today, Bill Hurd considers Easton his home.

“I mean, look at this place,” Hurd said, motioning to the blooming trees adjacent to the patio of the President’s House. “It’s gorgeous.”

Hurd is a native of Newtown, Connecticut. His family moved down the road to Roxbury when he was 13; the new house was built in part by him and his older brother, who often helped out their father at his small construction company.

“We worked for my dad every summer, every winter,” Hurd said. “Once I got into school, I did all sorts of things to make money.”

After his illness largely sidelined him from playing sports, Hurd took up sports analytics, running numbers for his high school basketball team. In college, he applied his sports background to a job in the University of Connecticut’s athletic media relations office while conducting analytics for the school’s basketball team. A first-generation college student, Hurd also took a job as a waiter, delivered the school’s newspaper and cleaned parking lots for some extra change.

After completing college and a media relations internship at his alma mater, Hurd got the job at Georgetown. Then, he worked at the University of Virginia doing similar work and, thereafter, doing analytics for the University of North Carolina (UNC) women’s volleyball and men’s lacrosse teams.

When the Hurd family’s children were young, Bill Hurd took time off from his media career, eventually returning to UNC to work in its admissions office.

“I did that for twelve years,” Hurd said. “What was great about that is I could make my own hours.”

Due to his wife’s frequent traveling, Hurd utilized his flexible hours to help raise the family – “It’s family first,” he said – but these days, with his children in college, Hurd spends his time gardening, creating pottery and helping build Lafayette into the vision set by his wife.

“I mean, this place is a diamond,” Hurd said. “It just needs to be shined a bit brighter.”

To help shine up the college, Hurd provides input to the athletic department, where he has championed building up facilities for Lafayette’s varsity athletes. Additionally, he has met with many alumni, supported student performances and served as a “sounding board” for his wife.

“Whatever we need to do, we’re going to do it,” Hurd said. “[Nicole] is a smart, smart woman, and you know, I would follow her anywhere.”

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About the Contributors
Trebor Maitin
Trebor Maitin, Managing Editor
Pennsylvania enthusiast.
Emma Sylvester, Photo Editor

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  • L

    Lou FrancoJun 13, 2023 at 6:45 am

    This was a great read. While President Hurd is the face of the school, Bill Hurd has a very interesting background in his own right. It is also critical that he is apparently as enthusiastic about Lafayette as is his wife, and that he supports her and Lafayette as he does. I feel I know the Hurds better after reading this piece.