Lives of Purpose

2022 Alumni Awards

Homecoming is a special time as many return to campus to reunite with friends and mentors and to remember and share stories in the place where it all began. As part of this celebration each year, the University honors alumni selected from a community of more than 60,000 who continue to live out Harding’s mission in their chosen fields all around the world. This year’s recipients continue the standard of excellence as they serve God, the church and their communities.

Distinguished Alumnus Dr. David Fincher (’72) 

Dr. David Fincher fondly remembers his time at Harding where he was mentored by talented, Christ-like faculty. Here, he also met his wife, Beth Saxton (’72), for whom he was a required pledge date while she was joining Zeta Rho. Together, the Finchers have answered the call of the Holy Spirit to serve students and families with faith-filled education.

Fincher graduated from Harding in 1972 with a bachelor’s degree in history and devoted his career to teaching and mentoring high school students as teacher, principal, vice president and then president of Greater Atlanta Christian School. Currently, he serves as chancellor and is thankful for the “opportunity to help shape the present and future of lives and organizations and see them transformed.”

Fincher also has served his local church as Bible teacher, education minister, pulpit minister and elder. He received the Metro Atlanta Gwinnett Public Service Award in 2017 and was named Harding’s College of Education Distinguished Alumnus in 2009 and the National Christian School Association Administrator of the Year in 2007.

Fincher and Beth live in Atlanta, and have three children, Matthew Fincher (’99), Kim Standridge (’00) and Stephanie Oduardo.

Outstanding Young Alumna Esperanza Massana Crane (’02)

At Harding, Esperanza Massana Crane learned that her workplace is also her mission. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and international business in 2002 and then earning a Master of Business Administration in 2005, she took that advice very seriously and has spent the last two decades working at everything as though working for the Lord.

For Crane, economic development is about creating economic opportunities, and she is instrumental in creating those opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses in Arkansas. 

Crane was named 2022 Woman of the Year in Business by Women’s Foundation of Arkansas at the Power of the Purse luncheon Sept. 21. Joining her at the event are Lisa Williams, Candice Moore, Lindy Ingram, Dr. Al Frazier, Adriana Fuentes, Liza Freeman, Julia Murphy, Erin Brogdon and Everett Kirkman.

Crane currently serves as the director of the Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprise Division of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. Previously, she was an account executive and research manager for CJRW advertising agency and assistant to the general manager of Nine West Stores in Central America.

Crane was named Woman of the Year in Business by Women’s Foundation of Arkansas in 2022. She also was named to the Arkansas 250 Most Influential Leaders by Arkansas Business in 2021, as well as their 40 Under 40 list in 2018. She serves on the board of directors for the Central Arkansas Library System as well as Girl Scouts — Diamonds of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas, and she is a member of the Little Rock Sister Cities Commission.

She and her husband, Christopher Paul, live in Little Rock, Arkansas, with their son, Sebastian.

Botham Jean Inspiration Award Molly (’70) and Annabelle (’04) Dawidow

Molly Lipe Dawidow traveled to Vienna, Austria, to work as a missionary assistant after graduating from Harding. There she met Mike Dawidow, a native of Sopot, Poland. They were married in 1974 and moved to Lubbock, Texas, to attend Sunset School of Preaching. The Dawidows served together as missionaries in Vienna, Austria, from 1979-1991, when they moved to Mike’s hometown to work with Sopot Church of Christ.

Mike Dawidow oversaw the construction of the church building, which also provides space for the English Bible Study Program that Molly founded in 1993. For nearly 20 years, Mike was instrumental in humanitarian aid and evangelism efforts for Eastern European refugees.

Tragically, the Dawidows’ son, Mikey, died in 2011, and then Mike died four years later. The vast scope of his work laid the foundation for the efforts Molly and their daughter, Annabelle, are continuing today.

When Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24,  Annabelle Dawidow immediately began to make arrangements for receiving refugees who would stream into Poland. She and her mother have organized the refugee center to receive more than 200 Ukrainian Christians so far. College Church of Christ in Searcy has generously supported this effort, allowing the refugee center to serve nearly 15,000 meals and to provide weekly food boxes for 20-25 families. The center also distributes cleaning supplies, toiletries, over-the-counter medication and clothing. They provide medical care, transportation, Polish language lessons and other services to meet needs of those who crossed the border with few possessions. The church in Sopot has grown from 30 members to more than 100.

Annabelle also assists humanitarian groups in purchasing and transporting food and supplies into Ukraine. Fluent in English, German, French and Polish, she also serves as translator and administrator of the refugee program.

The Dawidow family has served the people of Eastern Europe for decades, and they plan to continue loving their neighbors in every way they can. “We pray that God will let us be of service as long as this cruel war continues,” Molly Dawidow said.

College of Allied Health Dr. Michael (’77) and Marci Johnson Murphy (’77)

Dr. Michael Murphy always knew he wanted to serve God by serving others. He thought he would become a preacher but discovered he had a talent for science. With the help of excellent mentors like Dr. Don England, he realized the best path for him was through medical school. While in residency, he also discovered he had an aptitude for teaching.

Murphy was the founding chair of the Harding University Physician Assistant Studies Program in 2004 and continued to lead until his retirement in 2020. Prior to teaching at Harding, he served as residency faculty at Cox Family Medicine Residency in Springfield, Missouri, and as director of St. Francis Medical Center Family Medicine Residency at University of Tennessee-Memphis as well as teaching at University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria.

For Murphy, it is always rewarding to make a difference in someone’s life — both in patient care and in the classroom. “I relish the ‘Aha!’ moments when students gain comprehension of an important concept,” he said.

Murphy’s wife, Marci, partnered with him in creating the Physician Assistant Studies Program at Harding and spent many years serving as admissions director. “Starting a new program was exciting, challenging, scary and rewarding,” Marci said. “To see it continue to grow and provide well-trained health care providers for our area and nationwide is amazing.”

Michael Murphy has participated in medical missions to Ukraine, Guatemala and Zambia as well as serving as a volunteer clinician for Christian Health Ministry Clinic from 2006-2015. He also was a founding member of Physician Assistant Educators Association Ethics Council and received the Teacher Achievement Award from Harding’s College of Allied Health in 2019-20. Marci has been a Bible class teacher and camp nurse as well as working in foster care. The Murphys attend Downtown Church of Christ in Searcy where they have served as small group co-leaders.

The Murphys live in Searcy and have three children, Monica Hofheinz (’02), Ryan (’05) and Laura Rodgers (’07).

College of Arts and Humanities Major Ryan Oldroyd Scott (’98)

Major Ryan Scott graduated from Harding with a Bachelor of Music Education and then spent nearly two years teaching English as a second language in Florence, Italy, as part of the Avanti Italia missions program. Returning to Arkansas, he was a high school band director at South Side Bee Branch School District. Led by a desire to serve both his neighbors and his nation, Scott enlisted as a U.S. Army bandsman in 2005, earning the rank of staff sergeant. From 2010-12, he trained and led more than 300 U.S. Army paratroopers in military operations at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and in Al Asad, Iraq. Scott also has served as battery commander and as gunnery instructor for the Field Artillery Basic Officer Leadership Course. Most recently, he served as brigade operations chief at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, coordinating and directing operations for six basic training battalions.

Scott currently serves as an instructor in the department of behavioral science and leadership at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. He holds a master’s degree in strategic military studies from the University of Turin, in Turin, Italy, as well as a Master of Business Administration from Harding. Scott also serves as officer sponsor of the West Point Cadet Church of Christ.

Scott and his wife, Brook Prater (’97), live in West Point, New York, and have two children, Lily and Sadie. Named Fort Sill’s Family of the Year in 2014, the Scotts have actively served their country as well as the body of Christ all over the world.

College of Bible and Ministry Art Smith (’73)

Born in Kanakanak, Alaska, Art Smith began preaching at the age of 16. He graduated from Crowley’s Ridge College in Paragould, Arkansas, in 1966 and earned a bachelor’s degree from Harding in 1973 and a master’s degree from Harding School of Theology in 1979. Smith has preached in more than 200 Gospel meetings and has participated in approximately 50 foreign and domestic mission trips, including returning to his home state of Alaska to preach the Gospel every year.

For 40 years, Smith has taught Bible at Crowley’s Ridge College. He retired from full-time service as vice president for student affairs in 2020 and will retire from adjunct teaching in December 2022. In addition to teaching, he leads an annual student mission trip and connects CRC students to congregations without regular preachers. He has preached for the Commissary Church of Christ for 21 years.

Smith and his wife of 55 years, Brenda, have three children.

College of Business Administration Paul Maynard (’87)

When Paul Maynard was a freshman at Harding, he saw several seniors wearing suits on campus. After discovering that accounting firms would meet with high-achieving students and offer them jobs for after graduation, he immediately changed his major to accounting. He also was positively influenced by Professors Mike Emerson and Jim Henderson. Professor Emeritus William Hollaway, a sponsor for Maynard’s social club, TNT, invited Maynard to live in his home, helping to make it possible for him to afford a Christian education.

Maynard spent 15 years leading audit teams for educational, energy and food clients, eventually making partner at Arthur Andersen accounting firm. In 2002, he transitioned to Deloitte, where he currently serves as senior client partner. A global leader of a 1,000-member team, Maynard loves working with people to solve complex problems. Every day in his role is new and challenging, and having visited nearly 40 countries, he enjoys experiencing new situations and cultures.

The Maynard family has worshiped with the Woodbury Church of Christ in Woodbury, Minnesota, for 25 years. He and his wife, Robin Ross Maynard (’89), have served as co-chairs of Harding’s President’s Council, and Robin is the newest member of the Harding University Board of Trustees.

The Maynards live in Afton, Minnesota, and have three children, Allie, Matthew and Jake.

College of Education Lewis L. Moore (’69)

Dr. Lew Moore graduated from Harding with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and he later earned a Master of Arts in teaching in 1971. He also completed a doctorate in marriage and family counseling from the University of
Nebraska in 1980.

Moore currently serves as director of the University Counseling Center and as professor of marriage and family counseling/therapy. He enjoys interacting with college students as they learn and experience challenges of personal growth. Joining students in “the search for godly virtues and the realization of his love and grace as we journey on this earth and move toward heaven … teaches us how God finds solutions that help us mature in faith and relationships,” Moore said.

Moore also has served in counseling ministry at College Church of Christ since 1981. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Louisiana Association for Marriage and Family Therapy in 2011 and a Servant of the Family Award from York College in 1986. In 2006, he received a Distinguished Christian Service Award from Harding as well as earning his pin for 50 Years of Service to the University in 2021.

Moore and his wife, Sue, live in Searcy and have two children, Michael (’96) and Justin (’00).

College of Nursing DeeAnn Martin (’75)

DeeAnn Martin says God led her to nursing. Soon after graduation, Martin took a job working in the neonatal intensive care unit at Arkansas Children’s Hospital where she was introduced to children with congenital or acquired heart disease. These children touched her heart and became the focus of her career.

Martin has found that nurses have many opportunities to make a difference for the suffering of the world. “We are gratified when children are healed, but one may not be able to ‘make everything better,’” she says. “I am reminded that the Lord tells us to bear one another’s burdens, to walk alongside one another. I think this is far more difficult than actually healing and requires strength and endurance, which our gracious Lord provides. In my experience, the parents of a sick child understandably expect healing, at a bare minimum. But when healing is not possible, this is when they lean the heaviest on the healers. It has been rewarding to me to feel ‘the lean’ of grieving parents, and to know that, just possibly, I have provided a safe, loving shoulder on which they can lean.”

In 35 years at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, Martin served her patients and community tirelessly. She received the Heart of Excellence award from Arkansas Children’s Hospital Heart Center in 2002 and the Daisy Award in 2007. She was nominated for the Most Compassionate Nurse in Arkansas Award in 2015 and received the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Quilt at the Heart Ball in 2016. Martin joined the Carr College of Nursing faculty in 2016, teaching for three years before retiring. She also served in administering vaccines and data entry at Unity Health White County Medical Center during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In retirement, she continues to volunteer with White County Court Appointed Special Advocates and in the Downtown Church of Christ food pantry.

DeeAnn and her husband, Tom (’75), live in Searcy and have two children, Allison Simmons (’00) and Caroline Cormack (’02).

College of Sciences Kristy Rollmann Shelton (’80)

For as long as she can remember, Kristy Shelton has loved working with children. She spent her high school summers working at a YMCA day camp and at Osage Christian Camp. She also had a passion for all sports and played softball, volleyball and basketball. At Harding, she played every sport on both her social club team and on an intramural team.

She and her husband, Cliff (’79), earned master’s degrees in education with an emphasis in recreation. They had planned to work in intramurals or run a recreation program, but after graduation, they found the market saturated. Shelton took a job as a physical education specialist at Root Elementary in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and instantly loved it. Neither of them had planned to teach, but they decided to send resumes to 10 Christian schools across the nation as a backup plan. Greater Atlanta Christian School called, and the Sheltons drove to Atlanta in May 1982. They were hired practically on the spot, and the rest is history.

Currently, Shelton is the lower school physical education specialist at GAC, teaching second through fifth graders. She also serves as assistant athletic director, assistant varsity volleyball coach, coordinator of the Kids Heart Challenge and leader of the annual Honduras mission team.

Shelton’s greatest passion is leading young people to Christ. There are so many lessons that can be learned through sports, which she describes as “a mirror to life.” “If I haven’t led my students and athletes to Jesus,” Shelton says, “then I’ve failed as a teacher and coach.”

Shelton is a four-time State Softball Coach of the Year and was named Gwinnett County Coach of the Year in 2011 for volleyball.

Kristy and her husband have been blessed to teach at the same school for more than 40 years. They live in Duluth, Georgia, and have two children, Tyler (’11) and Alexandra (’12).

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