Harding President Dr. Bruce McLarty announces retirement effective November 30, 2020, Dr. David Burks to serve as president

Harding University Board of Trustees announced this afternoon that after careful and prayerful consideration, Dr. Bruce McLarty will retire as President of Harding University effective November 30, 2020.

“We are grateful for Dr. McLarty’s service over the past seven and a half years. He has made a powerful impact with his leadership, with an emphasis on community and commitment to living the Harding mission,” said Dr. Robert Walker, chairman of the Board of Trustees for Harding University. “Recent economic and higher education trends have created an extremely challenging business environment that has impacted the institution, leading the board to make a change. Chancellor Dr. David Burks will bring his experience and proven business acumen back to the University as a guiding hand through these unprecedented times.”

Dr. Burks, who is well-respected in the higher education and Church of Christ communities, served as president of Harding University from 1987-2013 and will become president effective December 1. A committee will be formed to evaluate a broader Presidential search.

“I am deeply grateful to the Harding University Board of Trustees for giving me the opportunity to serve as Harding’s president for the past seven and one-half years,” said Dr. McLarty.  “The University has had a profound impact for good on everyone in my family, and I owe it a debt of gratitude I will never be able to repay. Now as I retire from the University, I am reminded of Robert Frost’s line, ‘and miles to go before I sleep.’ There is so much I want to do. I am a preacher at heart, and I look forward to using my new freedom to teach, preach, encourage and write. I have been so blessed to have this time at Harding, and I am excited to find out what God may yet have in store for my wife, Ann, and me.”

Dr. McLarty looks forward to spending time with students, alumni and other members of the Harding community at homecoming this weekend and graduation on November 21.

“Dr. McLarty is a dear friend and colleague,” said Dr. David Burks. “I appreciate his many contributions to the University over the past seven and a half years. I certainly wish him well during this period of transition in his life. I know he will continue to make wonderful contributions to the Lord’s kingdom in the future.”

Harding College of Pharmacy celebrates American Pharmacists Month, announces new program format

Harding University College of Pharmacy is celebrating American Pharmacists Month by recognizing its alumni pharmacists and the contributions of pharmacists in all aspects of health care, as well as by honoring pharmacists in the community and launching a condensed curriculum program beginning Summer 2021. The 3 1/2 year curriculum is one of the few programs of its kind and allows students to optimize their time and money.

“Our new curricular plan optimizes the student’s time commitment and financial commitment while being trained in a Christ-centered environment,” said Jeanie Smith, HUCOP assistant dean for student affairs and admissions. “Students will graduate one semester earlier, saving a full semester of tuition. Graduates benefit by entering the job market sooner, ready to positively influence patient outcomes. In the words of Dr. Henry North, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences, ‘At HUCOP, students can thrive in 3.5.’”  

The optimized curriculum offers the same rigor, preparation and clinical opportunities in a condensed format aligning curricular content in each semester to reinforce concepts taught across multiple courses. Additionally, early clinical experiences are strategically placed throughout the classroom-based offerings to further reinforce student learning. The new blended curricular layout will prepare students for contemporary pharmacy practice. (The new curriculum is pending final approval from ACPE.)

Since the inception of the College of Pharmacy, 480 students have graduated from the program. HUCOP graduates serve in a variety of settings across the country, from Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in California to Unity Health in the school’s hometown of Searcy, Arkansas. Others serve in the U.S. Public Health Service, in hospital emergency departments and in local independent pharmacies. 

The College of Pharmacy seeks to graduate pharmacists who accept the responsibility of improving the spiritual and physical wellness of the world by providing patient-centered care that ensures optimal medication therapy outcomes delivered through the highest standards of Christian service. To learn more about the programs and services offered by the College of Pharmacy, visit harding.edu/pharmacy or call 501-279-5528.

Harding announces new legacy society for estate gifts

Harding University’s Center for Charitable Estate Planning today announced the James A. Harding Legacy Society, a new stewardship program that recognizes donors who support the university through their estate plans, wills or gifts of assets.

Gifts through estates are used specifically to support Harding’s endowment, which funds student scholarships, significant faculty positions and designated programs. Presently Harding’s endowment is valued at $169 million.

“The James A. Harding Legacy Society is our way of acknowledging a donor’s commitment to the future of the University,” said Ken Bissell, director of the Center for Charitable Estate Planning. “Making a legacy gift reflects the donor’s ongoing commitment to Harding’s mission. It enables a person to act on their convictions and make a difference for years to come. Unfortunately, these gifts often go unnoticed because they come at the end of a donor’s life.”

The program is named for James A. Harding (1848-1922), who was a pioneer in establishing colleges affiliated with the Church of Christ. Along with David Lipscomb, Harding helped found and served as the first president of Nashville Bible College in 1891, which later became Lipscomb University. He later founded Potter Bible College in Kentucky. Harding College (now Harding University) was named in his honor when it was founded in 1924 upon the merger of Harper College and Arkansas Bible College in Morrilton, Arkansas. His son-in-law, J.N. Armstrong, was Harding College’s first president.

Donors who qualify for membership in the Legacy Society typically support the university through estate bequests, trusts, annuities, IRAs or insurance policies. Membership benefits include invitations to annual meetings and special events, public recognition on Harding’s campus, newsletters, and estate planning seminars.

“Since our inception nearly 100 years ago, Harding has been blessed by the generosity of tens of thousands of alumni and friends who believe in our mission,” said Dr. Bryan Burks, vice president of Advancement. “Gifts through estates are critical to our long-term financial health and are among the largest donations we receive. The James A. Harding Legacy Society gives us an avenue to thank our donors who remember us in this very special way.”

For more information on the James A. Harding Legacy Society or ways to support Harding through estate giving, contact the Center for Charitable Estate Planning at 501-279-4210 or visit harding.edu/ccep.

Harding Launches New Nursing Program, First of its Kind in Arkansas

The Harding University Carr College of Nursing has launched a Master’s Entry into Professional Nursing (MEPN) program. This program is the first prelicensure Master of Science in Nursing program in Arkansas and will permit graduates to sit for the NCLEX-RN licensing exam and to achieve higher levels of nursing.

The MEPN program will equip registered nurses to creatively design excellent patient care and problem solve within the complexities of the health care system. Graduates will be prepared for direct patient care roles, as well as indirect care roles in health care facilities such as infection control, quality improvement, care coordination, education, and research as well as leadership, management and administration roles later in their careers.

The year-round, five-semester program will include 72 credit hours, 1,032 clinical hours and will prepare students with a bachelor’s degree or at least 90 undergraduate credit hours and undergraduate nursing prerequisites to become advanced entry-level professional nurses. The MEPN program is ideal for individuals seeking an exciting career change to professional nursing and health care. The degree will allow faster attainment of the advanced practice roles in nursing and completion of the Doctor of Nursing Practice following graduation.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the Carr College of Nursing to offer a master’s entry for those who already have a bachelor’s degree but also for incoming freshmen to move straight through undergraduate classes right into master’s level courses,” said program director Debby Nutt, DNP, RN. “The nursing faculty are extremely hard-working and are dedicated to our student’s success. The program will be a benefit to health care organizations across the state of Arkansas, the United States and other countries.”

The Carr College of Nursing’s mission is to develop nurses as Christian servants, providing a quality professional education, which leads to an understanding and philosophy of life consistent with Christian ideals. The programs provide a supportive environment to both challenge and encourage students to reach their full potential.

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.