On April 5, faculty, staff and the McLarty family gathered in Cone Chapel as Dr. Bob Walker, chairman of the board of trustees, and President Burks presented the fifth presidential portrait to Dr. Bruce McLarty in honor of his service to the University.
“He will be remembered for his emphasis on community and mission,” Dr. Walker said. “He was an integral part of the community. He wanted to be known as Bruce and was completely okay with the student body addressing him as such. … He communicated with students as students communicate, often sending tweets. … This communication style very much resonated with the students. I don’t think anyone has connected with students better since the days of J.N. Armstrong.”
The portrait artist, Joshua Granberg (’08), shared his own video tribute, having known McLarty from a young age as their families worked together on the mission field in Kenya. Years later, as a University student, Granberg had the opportunity to get to know McLarty better and characterizes him as an “honorable man of God.” He visited with the McLartys last summer as he began the portrait commission, and McLarty reflected on his time as president, discussing fond memories and challenges he faced. When asked how he wanted to be remembered, he said “joyful” and “approachable.” During each phase of the painting process, Granberg continued to ask himself, “Does this look like the McLarty we know and love?” Granberg is a world-class portraitist, having been trained at the Florence Academy of Art following his education in Harding’s Department of Art and Design, and his depiction of the University’s fifth president is warm, inviting and full of joy.
After the portrait was unveiled, McLarty expressed gratitude for his family, whose presence enhanced the celebration, and for all those he worked alongside during his presidency and who came to honor him that day.
“I am so thankful that we got to work together, and I am so proud of what we did working together,” McLarty said. “I believe it was to the glory of God.”
McLarty’s portrait is displayed outside Cone Chapel on the second floor of the David B. Burks American Heritage Building, along with those of other former presidents. In addition, a framed composite of photos featuring highlights from Dr. McLarty’s presidency was revealed and hangs in the Founders Room.