Harding magazine

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harding-mag-fall-cover-full-wrapThe fall 2016 magazine is coming your way very soon, and there’s a unique aspect to this issue — it’s the first time we’ve wrapped a picture around to the back cover.

From both inside and out, we are excited to share photos of the Ganus Activities Complex (formerly Ganus Athletic Center) highlighting the renovated, expanded and improved version of a campus mainstay. The facilities and equipment are truly impressive, and students are utilizing the much needed improvement to the recreation and wellness scene on campus.

In our other two features, Dr. Phil Thompson poignantly discusses the topics of suffering and death, and we share the stories of five staff members who play key behind-the-scenes roles on campus.

Homecoming’s alumni award winners are presented in more depth this year, and in our End Note, former Provost Larry Long gives advice to his successor.

Look for it in your mailbox and online soon. As always, let us know your thoughts.

Tom Buterbaugh, editor/designer


Mother's Day 2016Do you have any hobbies? “Well, I have a 13-year-old.”

While interviewing Lora Fleener, manager of student support and communication, for the upcoming issue of Harding magazine, I discovered several things for which she is passionate. After talking about her teenage daughter, I found one of those passions is for adoption.

“I love to talk about it,” Fleener said. “I love to talk about adoption because I feel like it’s an important thing. This is something dear to my heart.”

Fleener grew up with two adopted siblings in a home often filled with foster children. She always assumed she would one day get married, have kids and adopt. Time went on. As she remained single, she doubted whether she would be able to adopt until accompanying a friend adopting two daughters from Vietnam.

first look“When I saw them there, I thought to myself ‘I have got to do that,’” Fleener said. “I really think that the Lord put that on my heart. When we got back, I prayed about it for almost a year. I asked my family if I was crazy for doing it. But a year later I applied, and they were very supportive.”

The adoption took more than two years.

“International adoption is not for the wimpy,” Fleener said. “It takes a lot of paperwork and gut-wrenching decisions. During the process, Vietnam was closing its doors to adoption. I wasn’t sure that I would get a baby even though I had been waiting for two years. Then I found out about Lydia the day before Thanksgiving.”

On Jan. 22, 2003, Fleener’s adoption of 3-month-old Lydia was official. Like many others, Fleener spoke about how being a parent has shaped her life.

“I firmly believe that God put her with me specifically,” Fleener said. “You do a lot of praying when you have a teenager, when you have a child, and when you’re a single parent. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but it’s so much harder than I expected it to be. She makes me a better person because I want to be a better person for her, to give her an example, and to encourage her to be a woman of God.”

Look for more about Fleener and her role at the University in the fall issue of Harding magazine.


Shelby Dias, director of news services



Members of the Dactylology Club after their annual Christmas caroling.

For the spring issue of Harding magazine, I covered several student organizations. It was interesting to learn about what these clubs are doing and their varied interests. Another example of an awesome student organization is the Dactylology Club, which is one of the oldest organizations on campus.

The club traces its origins to a class started in fall 1949 by student Sam Roach, who was hearing impaired. He began leading classes in sign language. In a letter, Roach wrote that the purpose of the group was “to teach and train hearing people to preach the gospel and work among deaf people in any way they desired to serve.” The classes officially became the Dactylology Club in 1956.

Today, students meet weekly on campus for classes and plan occasional trips to visit Sylvan Hills Church of Christ in North Little Rock, Arkansas, to participate in the services and class for the deaf there. In December, they go to the homes of some deaf members of the community and perform Christmas carols in sign language.

The club also allows hearing students to get a taste of what being deaf is like.

“’It’s a Deaf, Deaf World’ is an activity that we do with members of Arkansas Rehabilitation Services and Arkansas Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Little Rock,” says sponsor and director of the McNair Program Linda Thompson. “This activity simulates what it would be like in a deaf world where the predominant language is silent, turning the tables on the hearing. It’s an eye-opening activity.”

Thompson was a Dactylology Club member when she was a student. Her group had traveled to a church in Little Rock, Arkansas, to sign for the deaf members. “My husband, [Dean of the College of Sciences] Travis Thompson, who was my boyfriend at the time, tried to tell the deaf members that we were going to be married, only the sign for ‘marriage’ and the sign for ‘hamburger’ are very much alike, and he told them we were hamburgers! They just laughed, and when we figured out what he had done, we laughed, too.”

To learn more about a few of the other campus organizations in our spring issue, click here.

Jennifer Hannigan, copy editor/writer

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The spring 2016 Harding magazine is now online and coming to a mailbox near you very soon. In addition to the latest news, sports and alumni notes, we have some really great feature stories in this issue.

Toria Parrett, a May 2016 graduate, was a student writer for our office and wrote a story on the University’s department of public safety. The story focuses on how technology has impacted how the department functions now and features services it offers to the University community.

The second feature tells the story of two student groups who visited Tuba City, Arizona, for a spring break mission trip. Jeff Montgomery and I traveled to a Navajo reservation in Tuba City and spent the week with students from the kinesiology club and department of communication sciences and disorders. This is the longest time anyone on staff has ever spent on a story assignment, and I can’t even begin to describe how rewarding it was to see this story up close and experience things firsthand. We made relationships with students and faculty on the trip, and we couldn’t have told as strong of a story had we not been there.

Jennifer Hannigan wrote about seven different University organizations for our third feature and provides a snapshot of their place in student life. “My favorite kind of stories to write are the ones that open me up to a part of the University that is new to me, and this story did that,” she said. “For some of these organizations, I knew what they were but not what they did, and for some of them, I knew nothing at all. Learning about these students and their varied interests just proved to me once again what an incredibly gifted group of students Harding has.”

We’re so excited for you to see all of the work that we’ve put into the new issue. You can see the full online version here: http://www.hardingmagazine-digital.com/hardingmagazine/spring_2016?pg=1#pg1. Let us know what you think!

Hannah Owens, director of digital media

Worry photo.2016-010-4977If I could go back, the one thing I would want to reassure myself in college is a phrase I truly believe: “God’s got this.”

I came to Harding from western Pennsylvania extremely ready for new beginnings in a Christian environment. I found I wasn’t as ready as I thought. Homesickness and a heavy class schedule soon had me bogged down. My first trip home at Christmas finally came, and my house and family never looked better to me.

The trip back for spring semester arrived all too quickly, and before I knew it, I had had enough and wanted to quit. A rare long-distance call to my mom left her reminding me of the reassurance from Matthew 6 where Jesus tells us not to worry but to seek his kingdom and righteousness, and everything we need will be given to us.

Those words eventually sunk in. When I quit worrying about what I could handle and let him handle things, my semester got so much better. That was followed by three wonderful underclassmen years here.

Today, when the burdens get heavy and despair sets in, I know it is because I’m not turning it over to the one who can ease the way. When it comes to my earthly concerns, he’s truly “got this.”

Now if I just had the faith to put this in practice all the time.

Tom Buterbaugh, editor/designer


When I graduated high school, I saw my life mapped out in milestones, the life events that would mark my growth and that plotted my path to adulthood. Life was a lot of “when I finally do this, then I will be an adult.” In many ways “adult” was code for “having it all together.”

When I graduate college, then I will be an adult, I thought. Even though I had gotten married in college, another one of those things I thought would magically make me an adult, I really felt that the biggest marker of adulthood was a diploma. As I stood in line waiting to go into the Ganus Athletic Center, I didn’t feel like an adult, though. I didn’t feel like I had it all together. I didn’t have a job lined up, I wasn’t moving to a new city, and I didn’t know where I was headed. But even with a job, I still felt like I wasn’t quite there yet.

I keep moving through the milestones — house, car, one kid, two kids, turning 30 — and still sit here feeling very unadult, very much like I don’t have it all together. And that is what I would tell post-grad Jennifer: “Having it all together” is a myth. Being an adult isn’t a ruler made up of milestones you measure yourself by and then, one day, you reach the adult line.

Seniors Rachel Brackins and Zach Hailey of The Bison newspaper staff recently posed this same question to the class of 2016: Do you feel like an adult? University professors, deans and even the president spoke about the millennial generation and gave their views on this graduating class.

Associate Professor of Education Steve Warren says in the video that “failure is most certainly a requisite to anything of value.” It is not success that defines you but the trying that defines and matures you. I’m not trying to have it all now but instead trying to give it my all. And that has made quite a difference.

Jennifer Hannigan, copy editor/writer

ShelbyDiasAs my mother will attest, I have always been a planner. Whether it be small scale to-do lists or elaborate musings of my future life, I have been working toward an evolving set of defined goals as long as I can remember. Of course, for someone as practical and type A as this, the unknown and unplanned are things to be avoided as much as possible.

Over the years I’ve encountered many verses painting God as the ultimate planner and offering a reminder that I am not as in control as I like to think. “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps” (Proverbs 16:9). “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21). Although ideas such as these have been present in my mind for many years, it was only in the last 10 months, in a particular season of jilted plans and personal unknowns, that I was truly able to take the lesson to heart.

Originally from Ashville, Ohio, I found Harding through some alumni at my church and submitted my application immediately after my first visit for Spring Sing. I landed in the department of communication and graduated in May 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in public relations.

Approaching graduation, I was growing increasingly uneasy about my future. I had been fruitlessly job hunting for several weeks. The opportunity to pursue my MBA presented itself, and I was at first reluctant to take it because I had determined that a full-time job was the only appropriate step for me post degree. I had sometime previously decided that further education was not necessary or desirable to me. However, after encouragement from my parents and some faculty, I reconsidered and began master’s courses full time immediately after graduating. A couple months went by, and I took a couple part-time jobs. I felt I was biding my time until my next graduation when I could then pursue plans of a new city and a grown-up job.

By December 2015, I was looking toward the spring and seeking jobs out of state. The moment I found myself thinking long term, I was brought back to reality. For reasons we hadn’t expected, my husband discovered he wouldn’t be able to complete his degree in his original timeline. I was devastated. Nothing was panning out the way I had intended.

Looking back now, it is a little more obvious to me that God was at work and that his timing is infinitely better than mine. After almost a year of curveballs and uncertainty, I find myself about to finish my master’s degree and working a job that I had previously considered as an opportunity that was too good to be true. It’s not the way I planned it. It’s so much better.

Shelby Dias, director of news services



25 years.02-18-2016-2908“Oh How the Years Go By” may seem trite, but it is oh so true on my 25-year anniversary this week as publications director at Harding.

For a quarter of a century, I have edited and designed Harding magazine and, before that, its predecessor, the Harding University Bulletin.

The Bulletin takes me fondly back to the days of mechanicals, light tables, rubber cement and tool tape. Although PageMaker software was out and being used some when I left my position as art director at Jostens to come to Harding, it was still a curiosity more than a way of life.

I’ll never forget the planning and excitement of preparing our very first issue, which debuted in January 1993. It was only 24 black and white pages with a four-color cover, but we were thrilled to no longer be a tabloid on newsprint. We produced it using PageMaker, but photos were still film, which were shot and stripped into negatives. My photographer buddy, Jeff Montgomery, was already home in Memphis, Tennessee, for Christmas when we received the first copies, so my wife, son and I met him and his wife for lunch on our way east for the holidays. Christmas came early for the Public Relations office that year!

A year later, we thought we were uptown as we added full color to a few pages. We added a second color to the remainder beginning in fall 1996. Coordinating the spot and full color could prove quite challenging at times, especially when a color page matched up with a spot-color page. About that time, Quark became the publishing software of choice so we made the switch.

Digital photography arrived on the scene next, and my early experiences with low-resolution digital photos left me with doubts as to its quality. In winter 2001, Jeff encouraged me to try a digital cover, and the rest is history as the office became totally digital in 2002. Now the cameras on our phones take much higher resolution photos than high-end cameras were capable of then.

The all-digital environment allowed us to become full color throughout in winter 2003. Spring 2004 saw a total redesign which was updated in 2010 with our switch to InDesign software, and that led to 2015’s redesign, with a new size, look and feel we hope you are enjoying.

One of many highlights for me editing the magazine has to be the handwritten note I received from former First Lady Barbara Bush thanking me for the copy I sent her featuring her April 11, 2002, speaking appearance at the University. I was so surprised as I didn’t recognize the return address (no name was on the envelope) when I opened her Kennebunkport note card, which is framed in my home.

As I thumbed through past editions, I saw so many great photos and stories, all centered around this place we love called Harding. I’m like the little kid in the toy store when the new edition arrives even though I’ve been involved in every step of its production.

As we move forward telling the Harding story, let us know what you think. Email hardingmag@harding.edu.

Tom Buterbaugh, editor/designer


Christmas lights.2014-1889-9489The fall semester has swiftly drawn to a close, and our beautifully lit and decorated campus is now quiet. University offices will be closed from the 24th through the first of January.

The closing words of the familiar carol “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” based on the 1863 poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, offer hope and comfort in a country torn by civil war, much the same as they still do in this often crazy world we live in today.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

God is not dead, nor doth he sleep:

The wrong shall fail,

The right prevail,

With peace on earth, goodwill to men.”

These beautiful words offer a reminder of who is in charge and what is truly important — not just at this special season but throughout the year.

The staff of Harding magazine sends you its wishes for a very Merry Christmas. May we all be promoters of peace and goodwill in the coming year.

Tom Buterbaugh, editor/designer

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Some of the original nameplate designs are shown before we dropped magazine off the title.

Some of the original nameplate designs are shown before we dropped magazine off the title.

I still have the agenda for Sept. 16, 1992 — the meeting to plan the first issue(s) of Harding.

The agenda contained such topics as what to call it, how to produce it, what should go in it, and how we wanted it to look.

We were replacing the Harding Bulletin, the newspaper that preceded the magazine. While much had been done to improve the Bulletin, including the use of some color and better paper, it was time for an upgrade to a magazine.

The Bulletin was done in the typesetting, paste-up method, and the first magazine was produced in the Mac program of choice at the time, Pagemaker. Times were changing, but this was still before digital photos entered the picture a few years later. Film was still being developed in the dark room next to my office, and in the early days of digital, we wondered if the quality would ever be as good as film. Laughable today, isn’t it?

We struggled at first with what to call it and finally decided one word says it all: Harding. That’s not to say we didn’t hear it called the Bulletin for many years. Old habits are hard to break.

We got down to business pretty quickly because we were able to proudly hold that first issue in our hands right before Christmas. The feedback I most remember came from Shirley Birdsall Alexander (’54) whose reaction when it came in the mail was to send me a note saying, “Is that ‘my Harding?’ and yes, it really was. Congratulations on a truly beautiful new magazine! I’ll be one of your most eager readers from now on.”

We’ve gone from Pagemaker to Quark to InDesign and from black and white with a color cover to a totally four-color publication. Technology makes so many things possible today that still were being developed when we produced that first issue. But the main goal remains to share the Harding story with our readers.

As President McLarty said in his most recent column in our redesigned spring issue, “This magazine will continue to tell the Harding story — stories of our amazing and talented students, alumni, faculty and staff who are part of the wonderful Community of Mission. May the stories in this publication continue to connect you with that mission.”

We hope every issue will tell the Harding story better than the last.

Tom Buterbaugh, editor/designer


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