Chartwells Higher Education to introduce new campus dining experience at Harding University

Following a comprehensive review of its food service strategy and an extensive vendor evaluation process, Harding University has announced Chartwells Higher Education will be the new campus dining service provider effective May 26, 2020.

Chartwells, under the name Harding Dining, will transform the on-campus dining experience in partnership with Harding University to create a premier food service program that emphasizes quality, made-to-order food, menu customization, variety, value, student success and education, and forward-thinking innovations. Students will experience these improvements when they arrive on campus this fall.

“We are incredibly thrilled to be part of Harding University campus and community,” said Nadeem Zafar, Division President, Chartwells Higher Education. “Our program is built to set students up for success, using dining as an engagement and education tool across campus; whether it is introducing a new cultural dish, educating students on cooking practices and culinary skills through our Teaching Kitchen platform, or creating unique experience through the offered legacy events.”

As part of this student-centric program approach, students will experience several enhancements across campus, including an all new convenience store Market featuring fresh and ready-to-eat sandwiches, wraps, salads, protein plates, sweet and salty snacks, and household items. Within the Hammon Student Center, Tu Taco will replace Taco Bell and offer authentic street tacos, nachos, burritos and more. Additionally, through technology, students will be able to vote in spring 2021 for the next dining concept to occupy the space. 

The Brackett Library will welcome a local favorite, Midnight Oil, to campus to serve their delicious brewed coffees, specialty drinks, and express menu items in its coffee shop. Lastly, the COP-PA Kettle market in the Farrar Center for Health Sciences will be revamped to offer delicious and customizable salads, sandwiches and wraps. 

These new concepts will be supported by robust technology including Chartwells’ Boost mobile ordering, Sally the Robot salad vendor and ordering kiosks. Adapting to COVID-19 and keeping the Harding community safe, students will return to campus with mobile ordering and food pick-up lockers in the Hammon Student Center for guests to schedule and pick up their meals with ease.

The Charles White Dining Hall will transition to become The Range Food Hall and will welcome students as they begin classes on Monday, Aug. 24 featuring a Sweet Shoppe dessert experience and specialty pop-up stations featuring a weekly special such as bao buns and create your own quesadillas. A heavy emphasis has been placed on offering healthy foods made from scratch and an extensive allergen free program that clearly labels all foods with appropriate information so students can make safe and healthy dining choices. BalancedU communication can be found throughout the dining hall identifying vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and balanced menu items. Lastly, the FYUL wellness and sustainability program will allow for clarity boost, anti-inflammatory, and heart healthy menu items for students and student athletes to fuel their long days of studies, socializing and activity. To keep up with students’ busy schedules, Harding Dining will integrate ordering kiosks at the Flame station, which will serve grilled favorites, and the Innovate station, featuring various pop-up concepts such as made-to-order Korean BBQ, Asian, Mediterranean, and other menus on a weekly basis.

Chartwells Higher Ed will also introduce a brand new Carved & Crafted catering experience to campus along with a hyper-local focus to support local farms and farmers in the greater Arkansas community. The catering menus introduced on campus will offer different tiers of service from high-end events, everyday buffets and a student-focused guide, and a contactless and disposable catering program to choose from. For more information, visit or follow @hardingdining on Instagram.

Harding University appoints new leadership for its physician assistant program

The College of Allied Health has appointed Mary Madill program director and Amanda Diles academic director of its physician assistant program effective April 2020.

Mary Madill, associate professor, has been with the University since 2012. Before coming to Harding Madill worked in a rural primary care clinic and hospital in Arkansas.

“It was an honor to experience the mission of the Harding PA program come to life while working as a primary care PA in rural Arkansas, and it is an honor to continue advancing that same mission as the program director,” said Madill. “I have an incredible amount of gratitude for those who lead the development of PA education and practice in Arkansas.”

Madill received her Master of Science in physician assistant studies from Harding University. She previously served as the academic director, a position now filled by Amanda Diles. Madill fills the role previously held by Dr. Michael Murphy who is retiring in July.

Amanda Diles, associate professor, has been with the University since 2014. Before coming to Harding she worked in primary care. Diles received her Master of Science in physician assistant studies and a Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in health care management from Harding University.

Harding’s College of Allied Health offers high quality educational programs in some of the most dynamic and fastest growing fields in the healthcare industry including pre-athletic training, exercise science, communication sciences and disorders, physician assistant studies, speech pathology, pre-audiology and physical therapy. For more information regarding College of Allied Health news and programs, visit or call 501-279-5299.

Harding University Department of Engineering and Physics uses lab to produce 3D printed masks and face shields for Unity Health

In mid-March, the University engineering and physics department received a call from Unity Health anesthesiologist Dr. Vernon Brewer asking if they would be willing to design masks and face shields in case of a PPE (personal protective equipment) shortage in Searcy. Rich Wells, assistant professor of engineering, assembled a small team to work on designing, manufacturing and producing masks and face shields for the medical center.

The project team began work immediately and consisted of Jon White, associate professor of engineering and physics; Brian Jones, Harding Academy High School math teacher; Weston Burks, senior mechanical engineering student; David Breezeel, freshman mechanical engineering student; Kassandra Fetz and Karlee Carney, pharmacy students.

The first step in the process was to choose a design that would be safe and practical to produce. Wells spent hours researching different designs that fit three specifications.

The first factor was safety. Although the homemade cloth masks that many are making provide protection for the general populace, Wells said they do not provide adequate protection for health care workers constantly coming in contact with COVID-19 patients because they do not filter out the small submicron-size viruses. In choosing a design, they wanted to provide the highest level of protection possible. Next, Wells said he looked for a design that would fit the user’s face well.

“If you don’t have a good fit, it leaks, and that defeats the purpose,” Wells said.

photograph of personal protective equipment
Example of masks produced to help healthcare workers

The third factor was breathability. The team placed a high priority on this because if the mask was hard to breathe through, it wouldn’t do its job correctly.

Within the first two weeks, four prototypes were chosen, produced and delivered to Dr. Brewer at Unity Health. Some of the masks had different shapes, while others had different filter and flow area sizes.

“Filter material is becoming in short supply,” Wells said. “So the question became: can we design a mask that still works but doesn’t require as much filter material as a standard issue mask in order to conserve resources that are in short supply?”

Once a design was chosen, Wells and the team began printing and assembling the majority of the masks and shields using a laser cutter and 3D printer in the University engineering lab. The overall process from research to production took about three weeks to complete.

Wells said it was a good learning experience. “We enjoy engaging with our community. In this case, we are supporting those healthcare workers treating people with COVID-19.”

Harding’s Didactic program in dietetics received continued accreditation

The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) Board for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics voted to continue full accreditation of the Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) until June 2027. 

Sarah Oropeza, the director of didactic program, is proud of the collaborative and caring faculty that made this possible, including former director Dr. Lisa Ritchie who was responsible for leading the development of the self-study and accomplishing a successful site visit. 

During the visit, the program’s professors reflect on improving student learning and developing new methods to assess student knowledge. The site visit allowed them to showcase the newly renovated facilities, including the food lab, and they were given insight on how to continually improve our program. 

“Students were excited to share their experiences and perspectives about the program and this reminded me of why our program has succeeded, because of our students,” Oropeza said. “Our students are what drive the program and we are especially proud of their accomplishments and their desire to pursue careers in nutrition and dietetics.”

Harding expands undergraduate and graduate degree programs for Fall 2020

Harding University announced a historic expansion in its undergraduate and graduate school offerings beginning Fall 2020. Fifteen new programs have been approved within the Colleges of Allied Health, Arts and Humanities, Business Administration, and Sciences, along with the Graduate School of Business and the College of Education’s Department of Mental Health and Wellness. These new programs include dual/accelerated degrees, interdisciplinary and innovative bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and certificates. Many of these new programs are offered in a fully online format. The new programs include:

College of Allied Health

College of Arts and Humanities

College of Business Administration

Graduate School of Business

College of Education Department of Mental Health and Wellness

College of Sciences

The College of Allied Health is adding to its educational offerings with the launch of two dual-degree programs for undergraduate students. One program will combine a B.A. in communication sciences and disorders with an M.S. in speech-language pathology. The second offering will combine a bachelor’s degree meeting required prerequisites with a new M.S. in strength and conditioning. These dual-degree programs allow students to earn both a bachelor’s and master’s within five years instead of six, saving a year of tuition and allowing graduates to enter the workforce a year earlier with higher academic credentials. While the new dual-degree programs will be offered beginning Fall 2020, a standalone M.S. in strength and conditioning will begin in Fall 2021.

“Harding’s leadership continually assesses current academic programs and research the market for new, mission-fit programs that equip our students for lives of service in their chosen vocation,” said Dr. Marty Spears, Provost, Chief Academic Officer. “The new programs approved for next year include a number of certificate programs that provide specific skills or expertise, several new bachelor’s programs including interdisciplinary majors in areas like cybersecurity or a master’s in student affairs that integrate coursework from technology and business or social work and counseling. We continue to develop new accelerated programs to save students time and money.”

Course offerings have also been expanded enabling creation of many new bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in response to student demand, job market growth and increases in professional credentials and standards. These high-quality degree programs will help equip graduates with an exceptional education and Christ-centered worldview. New degrees include:

Additionally, the University has approved six new certificates within the Graduate School of Business, the College of Allied Health, and the College of Education’s Department of Mental Health and Wellness. Business is expanding its selection with new 12-hour certificates in entrepreneurship, health care management, principled leadership and project management, which count toward an MBA or MSIS upon completion. The 12-hour certificate in American Sign Language is available to any student, undergraduate or graduate, and will teach basic ASL and an understanding of Deaf culture. The 18-hour counseling skills certificate is designed to equip those who work in ministry settings to help others with mental health concerns.

“Market trends indicate increased job growth in these segments as well as growth in demand for graduate education in these areas,” said Dr. Bruce McLarty, University President. “These new programs allow Harding to leverage existing strengths and grow into new areas as we expand graduate enrollment. As we all have been making our way through the COVID-19 crisis, Harding students and faculty have been working from home to practice responsible social distancing. However, using online ways of connecting, Harding University has been open and thriving throughout this ordeal. We have worked hard to come through this time better prepared and with better programs to offer than ever before. That is why we are so excited to announce these new offerings.”

Harding University Announces August Graduation

The University has set the date for the rescheduled spring 2020 commencement: Saturday, August 15, 2020. We plan to have multiple ceremonies as usual, and more information will be forthcoming on the times and college groupings.

As was previously communicated, students who complete graduation requirements by the end of the spring semester will have their degree conferred on schedule in May. Students who may be delayed in completing their graduation requirements will have their degrees conferred in August or upon completion. Because we were unable to hold Grad Fest, instructions will be sent shortly on how to accomplish the tasks related to graduation, such as securing caps and gowns, etc. Updated information will be posted at

Harding Suspends On Campus Classes for Spring Semester

Harding University announced that on-campus instruction will not resume this semester. Online course delivery will continue as the sole method of instruction for graduate and undergraduate programs for all Harding University locations. As such, all university-sponsored campus activities will be cancelled through the end of the spring semester. Below are some important instructions and next steps regarding the areas of greatest concern for the next several weeks:

  • Harding will continue the at-a-distance delivery of classes through the end of the semester. We will not resume on-campus instruction until further notice. Please continue to refer to the Pipeline page Student Online Transition – Spring 2020 for ongoing information and updates. More information regarding retrieving belongings is covered in item #5 below.
  • Spring Sing will resume in 2021. “Once Upon a Time” will be the theme. We look forward to resuming this cherished tradition in April of next year. All tickets will be refunded and a separate communication will be sent to those who have purchased tickets.
  • May 2020 commencement will be rescheduled for August 2020. We believe it is vital for our graduating students to be able to walk across the Benson stage, and we will celebrate together in August. While the ceremony will take place in August, students who complete graduation requirements by the end of the spring semester will have their degree conferred on schedule in May. Students who may be delayed in completing their graduation requirements will have their degrees conferred in August or upon completion. If you have questions about graduation, please email
  • Intersession and summer school will begin as scheduled. Students should continue to register for the classes they need. More information will be forthcoming regarding the specifics of course delivery. If you have questions regarding summer courses or availability, please email
  • Retrieving belongings from housing. Students will be notified via email on March 23 with a Google form link detailing the check out process for your specific residence hall. Once you have received that email, please contact or 501-279-4331 with any questions or concerns. Any students requesting to move out of a Harding rental apartment please contact or 501-279-4339.
  • Library resources. You can find the most up-to-date information regarding the Brackett Library at
  • Textbooks. Harding Bookstore “buy back” is not available this semester. All rented textbooks for the spring semester must be returned to the Harding Bookstore by May 15. All students who have rented a book will receive an email from the Harding Bookstore with instructions. If you have questions, please email
  • Refunds/credits. Notifications regarding refunds and credits will be sent at a later date.
  • Campus housing for those who must remain on campus. Residence halls are now restricted to students who have no option other than living on campus through the end of the semester and have made arrangements with student life. This includes those whose homes are outside of the U.S.; those whose internships or practicums require them to remain; those whose home communities are quarantined; those for whom returning home represents a health/safety threat. Food service is available.
  • Daily devotional. During this time of separation, we want to remain connected as a community. Next Monday we will begin posting a chapel-like daily devotional on all social channels at 10 a.m. each weekday and encourage you to join us.

These decisions and measures are so difficult for all of us, but this is a temporary situation. We will resume normal life and will be back together as soon as is feasible. Our prayers are with all of the Harding community and with our entire world as we pray for protection, healing and strength through this difficult time.

Harding Students selected to represent Arkansas at national Space Grant Consortium event in Washington, D.C.

A group of Harding University students has been selected to represent the state of Arkansas in Washington D.C. for the 30th anniversary of the Space Grant Consortium. The students selected, Abby Bankhead from Franklin, Tennessee, Sidney Brandon from Russellville, Arkansas, Hannah Smith from Searcy, Arkansas, Parker Pruitt from Beebe, Arkansas, Elizabeth Reed from Mount Pleasant, Texas, and faculty advisors Dr. Dennis Province and Dr. Cindy White, are part of the Harding University Space Research Team and are one of only 25 groups chosen from across the country to represent the consortium.

While in Washington D.C., the team will present their research results to lawmakers, senators and representatives, including six Arkansas congressmen, on Capitol Hill. The research is supported by a grant funded by NASA through the Arkansas Space Grant Consortium, which includes 17 four-year universities and colleges throughout Arkansas. Two of the HU Space Research Team members, Smith and Brandon, were also chosen to present at a session for selected students who will share their research with scientists at the Space Grant Annual Conference.

The team’s research focuses on enhancing the current system of wastewater treatment in space with a reactive oxygen species generator that will break down complex molecules and kill microbes using a combination of UV light and titanium dioxide. This process, known as photocatalysis, will help to clean and disinfect the air and water aboard the International Space Station so that it can be recycled.

Harding’s involvement with NASA began in the 1960’s with grant-funded research related to astronaut physical fitness of benefit to the first moon launch. The University maintains strong ties to America’s space program today through continued scientific and technology research and its membership in the ASGC.

The primary goal of the ASGC is to educate and familiarize faculty, undergraduate and graduate students with aerospace fundamentals, NASA’s broad research programs, and with other opportunities to enter aerospace and related industries. Following in NASA’s footsteps, they conduct programs to familiarize and motivate students with the STEM-related courses needed to enter aerospace activities at colleges and universities and to prepare them to enter white-collar and blue-collar professions in high-tech industries.

Harding names new director for charitable estate planning

Photograph of Ken Bissell
Ken Bissell

The Harding University Office of Advancement has appointed Ken Bissell as the new director for Charitable Estate Planning effective Feb. 1. In this role, Bissell will direct efforts to market the program and support donors through the planning process.

“Ken has the strengths we need to successfully lead this important aspect of the Advancement Office,” said Bryan Burks, vice president of University Advancement. “His background in marketing and strategic planning combined with his appreciation of our donors will be an excellent fit. Through his many years as a gift officer, he has been involved in numerous estate gifts and various gift instruments offered and supported through this office. Under Ken’s leadership, we will follow best practices by utilizing external attorneys when necessary to support the more complex legal estate plans and instruments to best support our donors.”

Bissell has served as senior advancement officer supporting Harding alumni and friends in Texas and the southeastern United States since 2011. Before coming to Harding he spent 21 years in corporate communications and marketing with Acxiom, Dell Inc. and Lexmark International. Bissell received his Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Harding University.

To learn more about the Office of Advancement or how you can become involved, visit or call 501-279-4312.