Excerpts from Dr. Williams’ Inaugural Address Sept. 16, 2022
The men and women of 1924 who founded this institution were visionaries with inspired purpose. It awakened their imaginations and aspirations to envision a Christ-centered institution. It anchored their faith in God and the teachings of Jesus Christ. It propelled perseverance and tenacity as they overcame significant challenges and barriers. It fostered their courage in the midst of uncertainty. It gave birth to generosity that led the founders to mortgage their livelihoods to see this school established and flourish. This inauguration represents a signature moment in the life of this institution. It is a momentous occasion where we reflect on the vision, heroic sacrifice and unwavering resolve of the founders of Harding University.
We want the blood of our founders to run in our veins. The torch of inspired purpose has been passed on to us. Each generation has faithfully carried their vision. This is our moment to carry the torch together.
We carry the torch of inspired purpose in the midst of a culture labeled “post-Christian”; a time of moral ambiguity; a moment where rage, anger and hatred rule the day; a point in which religious liberty is under attack; a society that disregards human dignity. We carry the torch in the midst of chaos.
But piercing through this cultural upheaval, the torch of inspired purpose is guiding our way, thrusting us into exciting frontiers. In the midst of this turbulence, I believe there is a fresh wind blowing through this emerging generation. I believe God is raising up a new generation to confront the challenges of our time.
Harding students have an unquenchable desire to be relevant and are passionate about serving impoverished people. I believe they may be the first generation in a long time that actually believes in the priesthood of all believers. They are prompting us to redefine and re-imagine what it means to be a Christ-centered university in 2022. A Harding education has to be more than a required Bible class, daily chapel and a lofty code of conduct. It extends far beyond ethics and integrity. We should measure the value of a Harding education based on the contribution we make to broken humanity.
Our university pursuit extends far beyond a commitment to academic excellence. Our measures of success cannot be merely quantified by job placement or graduate school admission. We believe Harding reaches the pinnacle of our existence when we produce graduates who are builders, lovers, forgivers, listeners and givers.
Our first president, J.N. Armstrong, stated, “Our chief aim is to send each boy and girl home with a tenderer heart.” May his words live on as we prepare graduates who run toward broken humanity with love, compassion and mercy.