Hartman History Series - David Mefford

 We continue the Hartman History Series of articles with insight into Dr. David Mefford - Facts Everyone Should Know About David Mefford. The Hartman History Series has been researched and written by RSHI Member and Volunteer Warren Rutherford. You can find out more about the author on his LinkedIn page. RSHI Wisdom Council Member and former Hartman student, Art Ellis, PhD. has helped guide this process.


Facts Everyone Should Know About David Mefford
By Warren J. Rutherford


Researching information about Dr. David Mefford yields a wealth of information relative to his involvement in the development of the Robert S. Hartman Institute, as well as his considerable research and development of formal axiology, the Hartman Value Profile, and a variety of highly successful business pursuits involving formal axiology and the Hartman Value Profile.  Each of the interviews held with other Institute founders and professional colleagues reveals the picture of an individual wholly committed to good.  It’s easy to say, and harder to write about.

David was, from the outset of every interaction he had with his colleagues[1] and his life partner, Vera, wholly committed to understanding how he could, with his considerable intellect and effort, make the world a better place.  His understanding of the research and implications of Dr. Robert S. Hartman was vast.

Dave and Vera Mefford

Dave and Vera Mefford

His contribution to value science is best summarized from Vera’s Memorial Tribute to him in the Journal of Axiology, Volume 7, 2014

“Based on the foundation of Dr. Hartman’s first logical definition of goodness as the axiomatic core of the science of value, also known as formal axiology, David worked out the universal forms of value emphasis original to the consciousness of the world and the self – the source of valuation. He continued where Hartman left off by investigating the deeper nature of value and valuation in the valuing subject by utilizing the method of phenomenological analysis so that axiology could become the disciplined and scientific practice it is today. In his dissertation[2] David constructed the Value MAP (Meta or Master Axiological Pattern) and achieved a comprehensive typology of personalities based on value judgment patterns. This axiological personality model of 26 universal cognitive types and 54 emotional orientations is currently used by professional psychologists, fellow axiologists, business consultants, teachers, and coaches around the world for assessing, developing, and coaching individuals, teams, leaders, and organizations.”

While at the University of Tennessee Knoxville

David met most of his professional peers at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, including Dr. Hartman, Dr. John Davis, Wayne Carpenter, Dr. Steve Byrum, Dr. Mark Moore. Bob Hartman would often ask David to teach a class for him and sit in the back to offer constructive criticism. David also spent a summer in Mexico with Dr. Hartman in private studies and is one of a handful of students who were personally certified by Dr. Hartman to interpret the HVP. At the encouragement of Dr. Hartman, David attended the University of Heidelberg in Germany to secure his master’s degree. In 1970, Bob appointed David his European representative, and David worked with Siemens, Volkswagen, the Siebert Institute, and numerous other clients. He met Vera in early 1974, and after David received his Magister Artium, they returned to Knoxville in 1976 where David pursued his doctorate in philosophy and spent considerable time researching value theory, how it could be applied, and how the Hartman Value Profile could be developed so that more individuals and businesses could benefit from the profile. In the same year, he and Dr. John Davis founded the Hartman Institute, which held its first annual meeting in 1977.

In his earlier times at UTK, you might find him playing pool at the local pool hall with Mark Moore and others or talking with his peers on his porch about axiology or researching different aspects of Dr. Hartman’s philosophy.  All agreed that David was incredibly inventive in extending new applications of the HVP assessment and sharing his knowledge with his colleagues. He was a true pioneer - always willing to experiment in order to clarify axiology and improve the assessment.   

David had a remarkable ability to understand the philosophical background of axiology, as well as the implications of the new scientific approach of Dr. Hartman.  His commitment to Hartman’s axiology was total, but he also understood that Dr. Hartman opened the door to many other possibilities in the development of axiological models.

His Career and The Institute

David had a powerful understanding of the interpretation of the Hartman Value Profile, as well as a gift for identifying applications of axiology in diverse environments.  David also had a gift for teaching others, for helping each person identify and understand their unique, irreplaceable worth, and for creating reports and targeted applications of the HVP.  David developed a depth and breadth of knowledge about the history, theory, and applications of axiology which was unmatched.  His commitment to teaching the power of the intrinsic never wavered.    

David’s leadership, commitment, and energy have always been major factors in the development of the Institute.  Along with Vera and Dr. Davis, David helped to organize the annual Institute meetings, regularly presenting his research for others to consider and debate.

In discussion with his peers, the consensus was that with David you got Vera – and vice versa, and it was a very positive and powerful combination.  They became the face of the Institute, putting a welcoming and cordial face on the Institute.  Their collective writings are fundamental going forward for advancing the study and science of axiology.  

At each Institute meeting, they would present research and discuss with members and attendees the philosophical implications of axiology.   David and Vera were a team from the beginning.  They both shared a relationship that rested in their love and commitment to each other and to axiology.  Vera also became a powerful force in axiology and the Hartman Institute.  

Dr. Dave did more than anyone to expand the HVP to different assessments, working with Vera to develop numerous manuals for training and interpretation, working on the 13 typologies to improve practical applications in a variety of disciplines – business, sports, students, education, industry, management, benchmarking, finance, marketing, investments, etc.  He served as the anchor to gather all the people inside the Institute to explore Hartman’s ideas in greater depth. His focus for the Institute to document value and axiology as science helped to further develop formal axiology as a science. 

His peers indicated that David had a major impact on the study of value because he pushed the understanding of the importance of the profile and how it could be utilized in a multitude of human situations and used successfully; for instance, in resolving conflicts or developing a way of explaining why one outcome would be more appropriate than another.    

Clearly, David made the study of value a lifelong journey, always pushing and exploring various uses of the profile, creating targeted axiological assessments and statements, and continually advancing his research into the practical applications of the profile in life and in business.

David’s Relevance To The Institute Today

Dr. Hartman developed the calculus of value, enabling one to take any real-world situation, analyze it with the axiological concept, and then decide on which procedure and decision to make. Clearly, his peers believe that every major piece of material that David has written in collections – every piece he and Vera have written deserves to be read closely alongside Dr. Hartman’s work. His peers believe strongly that David and Vera were true ambassadors of Dr. Hartman’s work.

As noted above, Vera wrote a Memorial Tribute to David in the Journal of Axiology, Volume 7, 2014.  In this Tribute, she chronicles in detail the numerous advancements that David and she developed in their 40-year study and advancement of axiology.  I strongly recommend members access this Memorial Tribute to obtain a more advanced appreciation of the depth and breadth of his research and practical applications. 

It is fitting to quote Vera from this Memorial Tribute in order to appreciate the genius called David Mefford:

“David was a pioneer in the true sense of the word, a creative genius who witnessed and helped a new science emerge by fully developing a universal model and methodology for a scientific frame of reference for practical applications of Axiology.” 

[1] Interviewed for this article are Dr. Mark Moore, Dr. Steve Byrum, Vera Mefford, and Wayne Carpenter.

[2] Phenomenology of Man as a Valuing Subject.

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