While the past couple of months have reached frenzied heights of planning and preparation for today’s inauguration events, here in the PR office, we’ve been working toward this for almost a year and a half between the selection process and getting ready for all the coverage, printed material and photographs that come with this historic event.
Since Dr. Bruce D. McLarty was announced as Harding’s fifth president in November, I feel as though I’ve earned a master’s degree in McLarty through all the profiles I’ve written and interviews I’ve conducted with him and his family. If he ever needs a ghostwriter for his biography, I think I could easily do the job. In the midst of my getting to know the McLartys in this way, I found myself wishing that everyone could see them as I have. I hope I’ve translated my experience well in the upcoming Harding issue about the first family, but there is so much more about them that I just couldn’t fit into the page or perfectly capture in words — the sarcastic banter between Dr. McLarty and his daughter Jessica was particularly funny. A common phrase for the McLarty girls seemed to be, “We would’ve gotten a much higher ACT score if we’d listened to Dad more often.”
The McLartys make you instantly feel at home and at ease. They remind me very much of my own parents, and the family’s teasing ways are a great reassurance that my family isn’t the only family that doesn’t let you live your embarrassing moments down — in a good way, of course.
Toward the end of his presidency, Dr. David B. Burks was seen by many students as a grandfather-figure, one of gentle discipline and dry humor. You could easily picture yourself sitting in his living room asking for guidance and listening to his sage advice. I think that Bruce and Ann could easily be viewed as parental figures for the campus because they exude a warmth and kindness that is sought after by students away from home for the first time and even the occasional homesick staff member.
That is one of the reasons why I think today is an exciting day. Dr. McLarty brings such a heart and passion for not only this job, but for the students in his care and for the God who links us all. Under his guidance, I know we’ll continue to say, “It’s great to be at Harding!”
Jennifer Hannigan, copy editor/writer