family had to be up by 5 a.m. in order to open the store and begin farm
work. Hines remembers the pounding on the store’s front door by people
who wanted to get something to eat to start their day.
of my jobs was to gas up the tractors," he said. "I remember
more than one occasion when I needed a flashlight to see what I was
was a crack shot, too, bagging his share of squirrels, especially during
the summer when he spent a lot of his time feeding and riding the family’s
got his bachelor’s degree in agriculture economics at Mississippi
State University and it took him 5 ½ years to do it. That’s because
he was always riding bulls around the Southeast on weekends.
only thing on my mind back then was to get to the next town, the next
rodeo," he said. "I tried not to tell my professors where I
was during those days. Most questioned my intelligence anyway so I didn’t
need to add to their opinions."
had some good job offers when he got his bachelor’s degree, but he
also set his sights on graduate school. He had taken the bull by the
horns, so to speak, and knew his future was in education, not rodeo.
Hines told one of his professors he was thinking about working toward a
master’s degree "he had to pick himself up off the floor."
said ‘Don, occasionally I take a chance on someone and I guess it’ll
be you this time,’" Hines chuckled, recalling the backhanded
compliment. "I guess he saw the potential in me."
professor still had reservations, however, and had Hines admitted on a
probationary basis. That meant he had to have at least a "B"
average in his first semester. He did it with ease and his interest in
economics took flight.
it turned out, grad school became easier than his undergraduate days.
Then, he was asked to teach an economics class at Mississippi State.
had great reluctance and anxiety over that, but it turned out to be one
of the greatest experiences of my life," Hines said. "It led
me to switch from ag economics to the wider world of economics and I’ve
never regretted it."
next logical step after graduate school was obtaining a doctorate and
Hines left for Kansas State University. He earned his Ph.D. in 1973 and
came back to Alabama where he began his education career as an assistant
professor of economics at what was then Troy State University.
he wasn’t holding down important positions at Troy, Hines served four
years as president of the University of West Alabama as well as a stint
as assistant director and chief of planning and economic development for
the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.
say he’s become a fixture at Troy University, where he’s left and
returned on several occasions, would be an understatement.
Don Hines has truly mastered the art of walking with kings while
retaining the common touch," said Troy University Chancellor Jack
Hawkins. "How many former university presidents are as equally at
home in the boardroom and in the rodeo arena? I’m proud to call ‘Cowboy
Hines’ our Dean."
who co-founded Horseshoe H. Consulting with his wife, Candace, also
serves as a commissioner on the Alabama Water Resource Board and is a
former chairman of the board of directors of the Tennessee-Tombigbee
Waterways Development Council.
understandably proud of his many accomplishments, but one that stands
out from all the others is creation of two university rodeo teams in
first one was in 1994 at the University of West Alabama. He began from
scratch, but quickly rounded up some of the most promising ropers and
riders in Alabama.
University’s rodeo team was launched in 2002 and has done well on the
college circuit which came as no surprise to Hines.
knew if we ever began one at Troy we’d be competitive and we’ve done
just that," said Hines. "We’ve raised $30,000 in scholarship
money and have received solid support from people who are supporting the
relies on Pike Farmers Co-op in Troy to provide him with the feed he
needs for his horses, as well as the mounts for members of the school’s
Co-op means a lot to me personally and our team uses it
exclusively," said Hines, who has become friends with Manager Wayne
Ward, Assistant Manager Jeff Barron and others who work there. "We’re
fortunate to have it here to help us."
four decades in the classroom, boardroom and rodeo arenas around the
South, Hines can now relax. He said he doesn’t plan to move again and
is having a ball spoiling grandson Brodee Asher.
become more jealous of my time now," he said. "I made it this
long without having to change any diapers. I can do that now."
is 17 months old, but already has the same love of horses his granddad
developed as a boy back in Mississippi.
been on a horse since he was 10 months old," said Hines, who
indicated he sees great cowboy potential in his first grandchild.
diapers can be a little hazardous, especially when baby boys are
involved, but they can hardly compare to his days in rodeo arenas where
he’d climb aboard a bull that would much rather be in a pasture.
adrenaline rush I’d get just before the chute opened is something I
can’t adequately describe," he said. "I guess I’ve been
thrown off at least 300 bulls and broke just about every bone in my
test papers, becoming a university president and meeting with movers and
shakers in Alabama’s business community is a lot safer— even if a
little bull might be thrown during those meetings he attends.
Benn is a freelance writer from Selma.