Harding University

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Harding University
Harding University Logo (Trademark of Harding University)
Motto"Community of Mission"
AffiliationChurches of Christ
Endowment$117.9 million[1]
PresidentBruce D. McLarty
ProvostMarty Spears
Academic staff
LocationSearcy, Arkansas, U.S.
35°14′52″N 91°43′38″W / 35.24785°N 91.72711°W / 35.24785; -91.72711Coordinates: 35°14′52″N 91°43′38″W / 35.24785°N 91.72711°W / 35.24785; -91.72711
CampusSuburban, 350 acres (140 ha)
ColorsBlack and Gold
Sporting affiliations

Harding University is a private liberal arts university with its main campus in Searcy, Arkansas and other campuses around the world. It is the largest private university in the state of Arkansas. Harding is one of several institutions of higher learning associated with the Churches of Christ.


Founded in Morrilton, Arkansas, in 1924, Harding College was named after James A. Harding, a minister and Christian educator associated with Churches of Christ.[2] Harding College moved to the campus of the defunct Galloway Female College in Searcy, Arkansas, ten years later. Today, the university contains forty-nine buildings on its Searcy campus. It has satellite campuses in North Little Rock, Paragould,[3] and Rogers as well. In addition, Harding boasts a number of international campuses around the globe: in Brisbane, Australia; Viña del Mar, Chile; London, England; Porto Rafti, Greece; Florence, Italy; France; and Namwianga Mission, Zambia.[4] The university also maintains a School of Theology in Memphis, Tennessee. Furthermore, Harding operates Camp Tahkodah, a 1,350 acre camp in the Ozark mountains near Floral, Arkansas, and Harding Academy, also in Searcy. The fall 2017 student body of 5,541 students includes 4,185 undergraduate and 1,356 graduate students from forty-nine states (currently missing North Dakota) and fifty-four foreign nations and territories.[5] The fall 2017 enrollment was bolstered by a freshman to sophomore retention rate of 82.5 percent.


The David B. Burks American Heritage Building on the Harding University campus.

The campus comprises 49 buildings located on 350 acres (140 ha) near the center of Searcy. The campus lies roughly between Race Avenue and Beebe-Capps Expressway and includes several other minor thoroughfares, the campus of Harding Academy, Harding Place (a retirement community), and portions of surrounding neighborhoods.

The heart of the campus includes the George S. Benson Auditorium, which hosts a required daily devotional and informational session known as "chapel" and sits facing the McInteer Bible and World Missions Center. Brackett Library, the American Studies Building (Education and English departments), the David B. Burks American Heritage Building (hotel and offices), Pattie Cobb Hall, and the Administration Building frame a grassy central commons area upon which can be found several paths, a fountain, and a bell tower made out of bricks from the institution that once stood there: Galloway Female College. Notable additions in recent years have included several dormitories; expansions of the cafeteria, student center, art department; and the David B. Burks American Heritage Building, as well as the addition of the McInteer Bible and World Missions Center, which came with the closing of the road that once ran through that part of campus. It is now a pedestrian mall.

After years of competing in the Ganus Athletic Center, Harding's volleyball and basketball teams moved back to the Rhodes-Reaves Field House, a round-topped airplane hangar from WWII. The "old gym," as it was once called, was retrofitted to accentuate the already deafening acoustics of the facility, working to the advantage of the home teams. The campus also has extensive intramural sports facilities.

In 2013, Harding renovated part of Unity Health South into an area for Harding's Doctor of Physical Therapy Program.

In 2017, Harding remodeled space in the McInteer Center which houses the Linda Byrd Smith Museum of Biblical Archaeology.[6] According to Harding University, "This museum features artifacts related to the period of the patriarchs, crucifixion and chronologies related to the ancient world." It includes an LCD touch-screen panel with three or four educational videos. Objects in exhibit will be rotated annually.



Structurally, the university comprises nine separate colleges: the College of Allied Health, the College of Arts & Humanities, the College of Bible & Ministry, the Paul R. Carter College of Business Administration, the Cannon-Clary College of Education, the Carr College of Nursing, the College of Pharmacy, the College of Sciences, and the Honors College. Each college then has its own subdivisions of departments or other sections.[7] The University also has a School of Theology in Memphis.


Harding University has been accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Higher Learning Commission. Specific colleges and programs have received further accreditation by other, specialized agencies as well.[8]


The U.S. News and World Report has consistently ranked it among the top 25 Regional Universities in the South.[9] The Princeton Review has also rated the institution among the Best Colleges in the Southeast.[10] The rankings website Niche has given the institution a grade of B+, academically.[11]


Harding University's primary campus houses the Brackett Library, which includes the Ann Cowan Dixon Archives & Special Collections. Its School of Theology, in Memphis, maintains a well-respected theological library, the L. M. Graves Memorial Library.

Student life[edit]

The Original Harding College Arch.

Most students participate in local churches, social clubs, spiritual devotionals, or intramural sports. Each weekday morning, students are required to attend "chapel," a 35-minute devotional session. Chapel presentations are usually led by students or faculty, but special events and guest speakers take place on a regular basis.

Social clubs[edit]

Harding forbids formation of local chapters of national social fraternities and sororities. In lieu of the traditional Greek letter organizations, Harding sponsors student-led "social clubs" that serve a similar social networking function to the Greek system. Most of these organizations have adopted Greek letter names that are similar to national fraternity and sorority names. Currently there are 17 women's social clubs and 14 men's social clubs at Harding. Social clubs are open to all academically eligible students and serve as some of the university's most visible student-led organizations. The clubs are a prominent part of student life with slightly more than half of all undergraduate students participating as social club members.

The social club induction process begins when clubs host "receptions" in the fall to recruit new members. Prospective members then complete a "visitation", which requires that they meet and interview every current member of the club. The membership process culminates in Club Week, when each prospective member bonds with the other members of the club through a series of scheduled activities throughout the week.

Once a student is accepted into the club, they attend biweekly meetings and can participate in club-sponsored sports, service projects, and Spring Sing.

List of clubs:

  • Alpha Tau Epsilon
  • Beta Omega Chi
  • Chi Sigma Alpha
  • Chi Kappa Rho
  • Chi Omega Pi
  • Delta Chi Delta
  • Delta Gamma Rho
  • Delta Nu
  • Gamma Sigma Phi
  • GATA
  • Iota Chi
  • Ju Go Ju
  • King's Men
  • Knights
  • Ko Jo Kai
  • Kyodai
  • Lambda Chi Theta
  • Omega Phi
  • Phi Kappa Delta
  • Pi Theta Phi
  • Regina
  • Shantih
  • Sigma Nu Epsilon
  • Sigma Phi Mu
  • Sub T-16
  • Titans
  • Theta
  • TNT
  • Zeta Pi Zeta
  • Zeta Rho

Hazing controversy[edit]

Harding's social clubs have been involved in hazing controversies over the years. As a result, some have been forced to disband, including the Seminoles (2010), Kappa Sigma Kappa (2005),[12] Mohicans (1982),[13][14] and most recently Pi Kappa Epsilon (2015)[15].

Spring Sing[edit]

Spring Sing is an annual musical production held during Easter Weekend, featuring performances by the social clubs. It is widely attended by current and prospective students, alumni, and Searcy residents. An estimated 12,000 people attend the show each year.[16] Each year, an overall theme is selected, and each club develops music and choreographed routines for the show. Rehearsals begin as early as January.

Spring Sing also typically features two hosts, two hostesses, and a general song and choreography ensemble, with these roles chosen by audition. The ensemble performs to music played by the University Jazz Band.

Each club act is judged and, according to their performance, awarded a certain sum of money. The clubs then donate this money to charities of their choice.


Harding has competed in the NCAA at the Division II level since 1997, beginning in the Lone Star Conference moving in 2000 to the Gulf South Conference and then moving to the newly formed Great American Conference (GAC) in 2011. Men's sports include Soccer, Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Football, Golf, Tennis, and Track and Field. Women's sports include Basketball, Cheerleading, Cross Country, Golf, Soccer, Softball, Tennis, Track and Field, and Volleyball.

The facilities for the sporting events are: First Security Stadium, Ganus Activities Complex,[17] Stevens Soccer Complex,[18] Jerry Moore Field (baseball),[19] Berry Family Grandstand (softball),[20] Harding Tennis Complex,[21] and the Rhodes-Reaves Field House.[22]


In keeping with the university's expectation of the "highest standards of morality, integrity, orderliness, and personal honor," Harding has a number of rules that were designed to foster these standards on campus.[23]

Chapel and Bible class attendance are mandatory for students who are taking at least 8 hours for credit in a given semester. Additionally, students must complete at least 8 hours of Bible courses in order to complete the Liberal Arts curriculum. "First Time In College" (FTIC) students must take a survey course in New Testament during their first year (the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the first semester, the rest of the New Testament the second) followed by a survey of the Old Testament during their second year (Genesis–Job in Semester 1 and Psalms–Malachi in Semester 2).

Most students are required to live on campus, and those who do are required to be in their residence halls by midnight (00:00) during the week and 1 a.m. (01:00) on weekends. Except in certain open house events, men and women are not allowed to visit one another's dorm rooms.

Harding has had a no smoking policy on campus since August 1978. Disciplinary action may be taken against students who use illegal drugs whether on or off campus. The consumption of alcohol is also prohibited for students and faculty both on and off campus. A violation of this policy usually results in expulsion for one semester. Searcy, Arkansas is in White County, which is a dry county.

Harding requires faculty to dress professionally when attending class, chapel, lyceum, and American Studies programs. Prior to August 1979, female students were required to wear dresses to class and are still required to dress "modestly." In recent years, there has been a controversy regarding the wearing of yoga pants on campus.

American Studies Institute[edit]

The Administration Building of Harding University.

Harding also houses the American Studies Institute (ASI), a center designed to supplement students' academic training and promote "a complete understanding of the institutions, values, and ideas of liberty and democracy."[24] In doing so, the ASI exhibits a generally conservative political stance, focused on going "back to the fundamental values that made this country great." The formal roots of this program date back to 1953, when Harding formed the School of American Studies.

Prior to the formal foundation of the ASI, Harding was also involved in the production of a series of animated cartoons extolling the virtues of free-market capitalism. This, too, forms a precursor to the political conservatism that has characterized the ASI. This series, including "Make Mine Freedom" (1948) as well as "Meet King Joe" (1949), were all produced by John Southerland Productions as part of a concerted campaign to fight against the threats of communism at the beginning of the Cold War using popular media. The animations contrast mainstream American values with the values of Soviet communism. The initiative represented a central concern of Harding president George S. Benson, who believed that fighting socialism was a moral imperative, causing him to abandon the pacifism and political disengagement championed by founding influences James A. Harding and David Lipscomb, reversing the university's course and setting it on its current conservative political trajectory.

Currently, the ASI sponsors a number of programs aimed at promoting these values. These include entrepreneurial and leadership programs, a distinguished student honors program, the Belden Center for Private Enterprise Education, and participation in the Walton Scholars Program, which brings in qualified students from Hispanic countries to Arkansas colleges and universities.



Dr. Ganus as Vice-President in 1962.
  • J.N. Armstrong (1924–1936)
  • George S. Benson (1936–1965)
  • Clifton L. Ganus Jr. (1965–1987)
  • David B. Burks (1987–2013)
  • Bruce D. McLarty (2013–present)

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2014 Market Value of Endowment Assets and Percentage Change in Endowment Market Value from FY2014 to FY2015" (PDF). National Association of College and University Business Officers and Commonfund Institute. January 27, 2016. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  2. ^ https://www.harding.edu/about/history. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ "Fall 2014 Courses Offered at HARDING UNIVERSITY's Site At Crowley's Ridge College" (PDF). Harding University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 December 2014. Retrieved 15 December 2014.
  4. ^ "Harding University - Campuses". harding.edu.
  5. ^ About Harding Archived 2007-03-29 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ "New McInteer Museum". Harding University. Harding University. Retrieved 04-08-17. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  7. ^ "College & Department Overview". Harding University. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
  8. ^ "Accreditation Overview". Harding University. Retrieved July 25, 2015.
  9. ^ "Best Colleges Ranking". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
  10. ^ "Harding University Profile". Princeton Review. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
  11. ^ "Harding University Ranking". Niche. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
  12. ^ "KSK at Harding hazers "disbanded"". GreekChat.com. Retrieved 2014-07-28.
  13. ^ Stutzman, Lexi (31 August 2012). "Club week 2012: Impact of the Arkansas Hazing Law on Harding's club week history, activities". thelink.harding.edu. Harding University. Archived from the original on 24 August 2015. Retrieved 2014-07-28.
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-11-04. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
  15. ^ "PKE chooses self-disbandment | The Bison". The Bison. 2015-10-01. Retrieved 2018-06-19.
  16. ^ "Harding prepares for annual Spring Sing". arkansasonline.com.
  17. ^ "HardingSports". HardingSports.com. Harding University. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  18. ^ "www.HardingSports.com". HardingSports. Harding University. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  19. ^ "HardingSports.com". HardingSports. Harding University. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  20. ^ "HardingSports". HardingSports.com. Harding University. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  21. ^ "HardingSports". HardingSports.com. Harding University. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  22. ^ "HardingSports.com". Harding Sports. Harding University. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  23. ^ Student Handbook Archived 2006-09-02 at the Wayback Machine.
  24. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-09-06. Retrieved 2007-02-15.
  25. ^ "Mary Bentley's Biography". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved April 12, 2015.
  26. ^ "Verna Elisha Howard (1911-2000)". therestorationmovement.com. Archived from the original on December 25, 2013. Retrieved July 12, 2013.
  27. ^ "Ed Madden - Arts & Sciences - University of South Carolina". sc.edu.
  28. ^ "'Duck Dynasty'". harding.edu. Archived from the original on 2015-04-10.
  29. ^ "Rochester College Selects Dr. John Tyson As Next President - Rochester College". rc.edu.

External links[edit]