Harding University posts all-time record retention and graduation rates

Harding University fall 2020 enrollment figures include its highest ever retention and graduation rates, with fall to fall retention at 86.7% versus 84.7% in 2019 and six-year graduation rate at 71.5%, up from 68.6% over prior year. Retention of  minority students was its highest ever at 80.2%, up from 75% in 2019. Undergraduate enrollment is 3,579 and graduate is 1,042, for a total of 4,621. New student headcount is 913.

 “Harding University has long had the goal of 85% retention. For a university that recruits nationwide and internationally to exceed this goal demonstrates that we are succeeding, and we are extremely proud of our nearly 87% retention rate,” said Provost Marty Spears. “Students who select Harding not only stay, they achieve their educational and professional goals as they do so.” 

Other significant milestones include a 42% increase in enrollment of minority students since 2015 and an increase in overall four-year graduation rates from 46% to 53% during the same period. Harding’s four- and six-year graduation rates are significantly higher than the national average four-year graduation rate of 43.7%  and the six-year graduation rate of 60.4% as reported by the National Center for Education Statistics.

“As we all work together to mitigate the spread and effects of COVID-19 on our campuses and across the country, Harding is seeking new ways to grow in this difficult environment,” Spears continued. “We are finalizing plans for a major initiative to significantly expand our online capabilities and offerings to provide more students the opportunity to obtain a world-class, Christ-centered Harding education.” 

Those plans will be announced later this fall.

New accolades for 2020 include The Princeton Review rating Harding one of the 142 best colleges in the Southeast and one of only four Arkansas schools to make the list. PLEXUSS, a website that provides information about college and career to more than 6,000,000 student users, has recognized Harding as having nine graduate and undergraduate academic programs ranked number one in the state of Arkansas based on advanced metrics that include student survey responses in 24 categories across a wide range of disciplines. Harding was in the top four in Arkansas for all its programs and highly ranked nationally as well. Finally, the University was ranked No. 8 by Study.com for best international business schools in the country. 

Students interested in learning more about Harding are invited to visit harding.edu, email admissions@harding.edu or call 800-477-4407.

Harding’s Physician Assistant Program Serves its One-millionth Patient

The physician assistant studies program has served its one millionth patient. The PA program is a 28-month Master of Science degree program in physician assistant studies. Since its inception in 2005 the program has had more than 400 graduates.

In March 2020 the PA program transitioned to online delivery of course work for the remainder of the spring semester, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Faculty spent the next several weeks delivering any curriculum that was transferable into an online format. Mid-summer the Class of 2021 returned to complete the remainder of their required didactic coursework. Following this, they joined the Class of 2020 in supervised clinical settings allowing the program to complete its one millionth patient encounter in August.

“It has been quite the journey, and the students, faculty and staff have weathered it with a grace and tenacity that has continued to amaze and impress me,” said Mary Madill, physician assistant studies program director and associate professor. “The journey continues and we just keep giving the Lord thanks for each and every milestone we reach.”

Harding University 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 harding.edu/alliedhealth or call 501-279-5299.

Paul R. Carter College of Business announces recipients of Botham Jean Scholarship

The Paul R. Carter College of Business Administration, in cooperation with PwC, has selected four students as recipients of the Botham Jean Business Scholarship. The scholarship, established in 2019, supports historically underrepresented populations as they pursue degrees within the Harding University College of Business. This year’s recipients have been chosen for their academic excellence and demonstrated leadership.

The scholarship was established by Harding and PwC in honor of Botham Jean, a 2016 alumnus of the University who was tragically killed Sept. 6, 2018, at his home in Dallas. Jean was a beloved risk assurance associate with PwC, proud Harding graduate and faithful Christian.

“During Botham’s short life he was active in community outreach in his native country of St. Lucia, leading several mission teams from Harding to visit poor and vulnerable institutions and communities,” said Dr. Allen Frazier, dean and professor of the College of Business Administration. “This scholarship is aimed at honoring his life and enhancing his legacy to even greater heights. The qualities we see in these students are consistent with what PwC asked us to look for – leadership, diligence, demonstrated capability and financial need. I am confident these students will gratefully honor the legacy of Botham Jean.”

Jean came to the University from the Caribbean nation of St. Lucia. During his time at Harding, he was a member of the Good News Singers, a resident assistant, an intern for the Rock House campus ministry, and a leader in Sub T-16 men’s social club. Jean frequently led worship during daily chapel services and other campus events. He was well-known for his charismatic and powerful song leading. After graduation, Jean moved to Dallas where he was hired by PwC following an internship with the company.

PwC initially established the scholarship fund with a gift of $50,000. Through personal contributions from PwC partners and staff and the PwC Matching Gift Program, it has grown to more than $600,000 as of June 1.

Harding has awarded Trinity Bolden, a freshman from Searcy, Arkansas; Rollansky Darote, a sophomore from North Miami, Florida; Brittany Tate, a junior from San Diego, California; and Antonio Montez, a senior from Carrollton, Texas, as the four recipients of the scholarship in Jean’s memory. All four students are studying accounting in the College of Business.

New leadership appointed within Harding’s College of Arts and Humanities

Harding University has appointed Amy Cox as chair of its department of art and design and Dr. Jay Walls as chair of the department of music effective Aug. 1, 2020.

Amy Cox came to Harding in 2001 in the early years of her successful career as an interior designer. Since then, she has completed an MBA and a terminal degree in collaborative design from John Brown University and was recently promoted to associate professor. Cox holds a certification from the National Council for Interior Design Qualification and is a professional member of the American Society of Interior Designers and the Interior Design Educators Council. She has held various regional leadership positions for ASID and is serving as campus sponsor for this professional organization.

Cox has served as the director of the interior design program and on various university committees. Her community work includes various projects in Searcy and throughout the state, service on regional boards, and convention presentations for interior design colleagues at IDEC conferences.

Dr. Jay Walls came to Harding in 2000 when he became the assistant director at Harding University in Florence. After two years serving at HUF, Walls returned to Searcy as an assistant professor of music. In 2004 he was employed as a teaching fellow in music and Italian at the University of North Texas and later hired by the UNT Graduate School as coordinator of interdisciplinary studies and graduate recruitment. In 2014 Walls returned to Harding and is now an associate professor of music and director of the Arts and Life performance series.

In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Walls is a music composer with several works in circulation. His most recent works include The Clothes of Heaven, performed by the University Chorus, and Intempestus, premiered by Dr. Andrew Cook and Dr. Wesley Parker at the North American Saxophone Alliance convention in 2018. This summer he is completing a new work for the Searcy High School Orchestra.

For more information about the department of art and design visit harding.edu/art. For more information about the department of music visit harding.edu/music.

Harding University establishes new office for graduate and professional support

Harding University has established a new office of graduate and professional support. The office will provide expanded resources for more than 50 graduate and professional programs beginning July 1.

Graduate and professional programs have been a part of the educational offerings at Harding since 1952, growing to account for close to 20% of annual enrollment in recent years and representing significant growth opportunities in the coming years due to increased demand and job requirements for graduate education.

Mitch Walton, director of the office, reports to Julie Hixson-Wallace, associate provost and vice president for accreditation and institutional effectiveness. Walton has served as director of Harding-North Little Rock since August 2017. Prior to his time at Harding, he served as director of professional development for the Arkansas Association of Educational Administration (AAEA), executive director of three AAEA umbrella organizations, and as both the superintendent and high school principal of Sloan-Hendrix School District. Walton holds degrees from both Harding University and Arkansas State University.

The office will include five additional staff members who will contribute to the recruiting, marketing and support of Harding graduate and professional programs.

Harding University appoints new leadership for the Honors College

The Harding University Honors College has appointed Dr. Kevin Kehl dean and Dr. James Huff and Dr. Jim Miller as faculty fellows following a leadership restructure.

Dr. James Huff

Huff, recently promoted to associate professor of engineering from the College of Sciences, and Miller, associate professor of communication from the College of Arts and Humanities, have been named the first two-year appointees as Honors College Faculty Fellows beginning Aug. 1, 2020 through May 2022. In addition to teaching Honors courses, the faculty fellows will help develop the Honors College curriculum and co-curriculum and help guide and mentor students through various experiential learning and capstone projects.

Dr. Jim Miller

Since its inception in 1989, the Honors Program, which became the Honors College in 1998, has provided the most scholarly of undergraduate students at Harding with special opportunities for academic and social enrichment. The Honors College is open to qualified undergraduate students from any college and actively seeks to partner with faculty in every college to provide a rich experience for their students through honors sections and courses offered with honors contracts.

“I am pleased to announce that Dr. Kevin Kehl will be the new dean of the Honors College,” said Marty Spears, provost and chief academic officer. “Dr. Kehl is passionate about helping students from all colleges and programs of studies achieve their goals. He is committed to continuing the tradition of strong leadership in the Honors College and empowering the faculty fellows to develop and pursue a vision for the future of the Honors College at Harding. Dr. Kehl also will continue to serve as the dean of University College.”

Dr. Kevin Kehl

Kehl fills the role previously held by Dr. Mike James who retired after 47 years with the University.

Kehl, Huff and Miller will be joining others currently serving in the Honors College including Dr. Scott Adair, associate professor in the College of Bible and Ministry and academic director of Honors Symposium; Mrs. Debbie Baird, Honors College administrator; and Mrs. Kristina Chance, assistant to the dean.

For more information about the Honors College, visit harding.edu/honors.

Harding University names Andrew Braxter new Director of Church Outreach

The Harding University Office for Church Relations has appointed Andrew M. Braxter as the new director of church outreach effective Aug. 10. In that role he will work to strengthen the university’s outreach to the Churches of Christ, with a special focus on minority serving congregations. Braxter will also be a part of Harding’s Multi-Cultural Consortium and serve on its Diversity Committee.

Braxter delivered his first sermon at the age of 8, traveled to his first preaching appointment away from home at the age of 12, and made his first address at the National Lectureship at the age of 21. He has worked as the assistant to the vice president for public relations and development at Southwestern Christian College and has served in churches in Alabama, Texas, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Arkansas, where he currently serves as the minister to the Rose City Community Church of Christ in North Little Rock.

Braxter earned his Bachelor of Science in religious studies from Southwestern Christan College in 2015 and is currently working on his Master of Divinity from Harding School of Theology.

The director of church outreach will serve under the vice president of the Office of Church Relations. The purpose of the Office for Church Relations is to sustain and strengthen the relationship between Harding University and the Churches of Christ across the country and to be a source of support to the servants of God by offering programs and resources for ministry staff, church leadership and church members. To learn more about the Office for Church Relations visit harding.edu/churchrelations or call 501-279-4449.

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 www.dineoncampus.com/harding 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 harding.edu/alliedhealth or call 501-279-5299.