Harding University commencement to be held May 5

Approximately 750 graduates will receive diplomas at Harding University commencement exercises Saturday, May 5. Two separate ceremonies will be held in the Benson Auditorium at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. President David B. Burks will present diplomas to all graduates.

Graduates in the 9 a.m. ceremony include students from the College of Arts and Humanities, College of Bible and Religion, Paul R. Carter College of Business Administration, Cannon-Clary College of Education and the Honors College. The 1 p.m. ceremony will be for students graduating with degrees from the Colleges of Allied Health, Nursing, Pharmacy and Sciences.

Dr. Michael Claxton, associate professor of English, will be the keynote speaker for the 9 a.m. ceremony, and Dr. Hewitt W. Matthews, dean of the Mercer University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Atlanta, Ga., will be the keynote speaker for the 1 p.m. ceremony.

Dr. Michael Claxton joined the Harding faculty in 2003. As associate professor of English, he teaches composition, world literature, British literature, Shakespeare and literature of faith. He graduated with his bachelor’s in art from Oglethorpe University and received his Ph.D. from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

His enthusiasm for the subject he teaches has made him a popular teacher and earned him the Teacher Achievement Award in 2009 and American Studies Institute Teacher of the Year in 2007. In 2011, he was awarded the Alpha Chi Faculty Scholar award recognizing a combination of academic scholarship and classroom teaching. Most recently, he was voted by students to receive the 2011-12 Petit Jean yearbook dedication.

Dr. Hewitt W. Matthews is dean of the Mercer University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Atlanta, Ga. On Tuesday of this week, Dr, William Underwood, president of Mercer, announced the appointment of Matthews as senior vice president for health sciences effective July 1.

Matthews received a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Clark Atlanta University and a Bachelor of Science degree in pharmacy from Mercer University. He received his master’s and doctoral degrees in pharmaceutical biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He did postdoctoral work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the Hospital Infectious Disease program.

Matthews has more than 100 publications, given more than 300 national and international presentations, and been awarded more than $2 million in research grants and contracts. He has received a number of teaching awards including the Outstanding Teacher Award from the Mercer University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and the V. Carlton Henderson Award from College’s Alumni Association in recognition of outstanding personal and professional achievements that have added distinction to the practice of pharmacy.

With an enrollment of more than 7,100 students, Harding is the largest private university in Arkansas and attracts more National Merit Scholars than any other private university in the state. Harding also maintains campuses in Australia, Chile, England, France, Greece, Italy and Zambia. For more information visit www.harding.edu.