My daughter's Instagram post on June 3 reads "We never took breaks, only appreciation stops. mount Olympus was almost as amazing as the people I climbed it with!" She is shown on far right with Haley Smith , Kassandra Fetz and Brad Dodick.

My daughter’s Instagram post on June 3 reads “We never took breaks, only appreciation stops. Mount Olympus was almost as amazing as the people I climbed it with!” Becca is shown on far right with Haley Smith, Kassandra Fetz and Brad Dodick.

When your child goes overseas to one of Harding University’s international programs, he or she isn’t the only one learning and experiencing different cultures.

You are, too.

My daughter is studying at Harding’s program in Greece this summer. It is a totally different experience for my wife and for me than it was when our son studied at the Florence, Italy, campus in fall 2011. We didn’t have iPhones in those dark ages. We may have Skyped twice the entire semester, so we felt rather disconnected.

Not this time. We text often, she sends photos anytime, we usually Facetime over the phone once a week, and Instagram and Facebook are providing lots of pictures.

When communicating I just have to keep in mind the eight-hour time difference as she is waking up when I am heading to bed.

One of the best things about this semester in Greece has been that the students write about their trips and take turns emailing the parents, along with sending amazing videos they have made. One of the directors, Loren Beason, is a strong blogger, and her posts on on their recent excursion to Israel have helped keep me so connected, I almost feel that I have been there with them.

As a parent, the initial expense made me wonder whether it was worth it. After seeing posts just a few days into the summer, I had no doubt it was worth every penny. I’m not sure how one puts a price on experiences such as visiting the Holy Land and climbing Mount Olympus. I believe God’s word is now more real to her than it has ever been.

My wife and I discussed on a recent walk that when she returns, she will not be the same person. How could she be? She has seen and experienced so much in such a short time.

This semester is an investment that I believe is and will continue to pay big dividends. While I’m anxious for her return, I am loving the opportunities to share her experiences along the way.

Tom Buterbaugh, editor/designer

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Harvard University, Nashville, Montana and England. What do all of these places have in common? They’re all places President Bruce McLarty will have visited when summer 2016 comes to a close. But despite the travel, one of McLarty’s most cherished summertime memories unfolds much closer to home.

“One of the highlights of the summer is having the grandkids at our house one at a time,” McLarty said. “And one of my wife’s greatest pleasures in life is spoiling grandchildren. So to have them come for several days at a time with the one-on-one attention is about as good as it gets.”

For McLarty, his summer travel is a mix of business and family. He just arrived back in Searcy from a trip to Harvard University where he was attending the Advancement Leadership for University Presidents conference. Earlier in the summer, he traveled to Nashville with family to celebrate his mother’s birthday, and at the end of this month he’ll travel to Montana to visit his daughter.

Perhaps the biggest trip on McLarty’s summer travel agenda will be his trip to England in August, where he’ll explore the life and history of William Wilberforce — the central character of the University’s yearlong Harding Read book, Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas.

“As the University prepares for Harding Read this year, we thought it would be really timely to go to England and just do nothing but Wilberforce things,” McLarty said. “We’ll go to Westminster Abbey and see where he is buried, the National Portrait Gallery and see the pictures of him there, and the Bodleian Library at Oxford and see where his papers and journals are. Then we’ll wrap up by going to the town of Hull where he was born and lived and where his museum is. It’ll be a quick trip, but it’ll be fascinating to touch these spots in his life.”

On campus during the summer, McLarty gets to focus on bettering the University for the coming year, but he also takes time to enjoy in the campus’s summertime beauty.

“Right now the crepe myrtles are out, and the flower beds on campus have been cared for in just a magnificent way,” McLarty said. “When you just open your eyes and look for it, there is magnificent color on this campus during the summer.”

So when classes begin in the fall, you’ll find Dr. McLarty well traveled and well loved by his grandkids. And you’ll find him eagerly awaiting his opportunity to welcome you back to Harding.

Kaleb Turner, public relations intern

PokestopThere are a surprising number of people wandering the campus in July. Is it because of Honors Symposium? Maybe summer session? Or is it Pokémon Go? My experience suggests the latter as an explanation for the increased foot traffic on campus these last few days.

I’ve been hooked since downloading Pokémon Go on Thursday, and campus has turned out to be one of the best places to play for a few reasons.

From dorms and academic buildings to Uncle Bud and the McInteer Fountain, there are Poké Stops everywhere. When playing on campus, you won’t have to miss catching a Snorlax by the Student Center clock because you ran out of Poké balls. When you get tired of trekking all over campus, set a lure at the Poké Stop right next to your dorm and reap the rewards without leaving your room.

With five Pokémon gyms on campus, there are plenty of places Abrato stake a claim for your team. Over the past few days, I’ve seen all of them shift to blue, red, yellow and back again. Now that it’s a Pokémon gym, people may finally know where to find the Lee Building!

My favorite part of Pokémon on campus is the sort of community that it has formed. Wherever you are playing Pokémon Go, you have likely experienced this same sort of kinsmanship with other trainers. There’s some kind of affirmation when you all show up at the same hot spot (between Cone Hall and Harbin Hall), when you draw a crowd of 50 to a cluster of lures by the Lily Pond, or when you wander past a stranger and he knows exactly what you’re looking for — “Eevee is just around that corner.”

There are plenty of other Searcy locations for Pokémon trainers like the courthouse square or Berryhill Park, but none are quite as vast as Harding’s campus. Some are saying that the novelty of the game will have worn off by the time students arrive for the fall semester, but I disagree. Truly, playing on campus is a sort of novelty in itself. And as for the dedicated trainers, it may be well into the school year before we catch them all.

Shelby Dias, director of news services


If you ask around, many students attend Harding for a succinct, precise reason. Their parents attended Harding. They attended Uplift and fell in love with the campus. Attending a Christian university was top of their list.

Neither of my parents attended Harding, and I didn’t know what Uplift was until last semester. Attending a Christian university was definitely a plus for me, but it didn’t top my must-haves-for-a-college checklist.

Honestly, I wanted to get further away from home, and the 20-minute drive from my hometown of Pangburn to campus wasn’t what I had in mind. For the longest time, I said I wouldn’t go to Harding, but I know now it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.

I came to Harding because on my list of three colleges I might be interested in, the other two didn’t overwhelm me. Was it the people? Was it the facilities? Was it the campus? It was all three, definitely, but I couldn’t exactly put my finger on it. The other options just weren’t Harding.

All this to say: I guess I don’t have a grand story about why I decided to attend Harding University. I didn’t desire to continue a family legacy or call Harding home after years of visiting as a young lad.

And I think that’s OK.

Since I made my decision to attend Harding, my relationships have flourished and my life has gained more precious memories. My story is greater, and my love for others is more profound all because I made a decision to attend Harding.

So, whether your decision to attend Harding was one of grandeur or one more like mine, we all have a story to tell about why we chose Harding. And now we have an even greater story about how our lives have changed here in the foothills of the Ozarks, midst hill and plain, at our beloved Harding.

Kaleb Turner, public relations intern

2016-224 Hannah Wood-candid-003

She’s the queen of throwback Thursday and your number one ally in a national treasure hunt on Harding’s campus.

Archives and Special Collections Librarian Hannah Wood is charged with documenting and archiving the decades of history made by thousands of Harding students, faculty and staff.

“This past semester I was looking for a couple of books that were missing, and I picked up this really old Bible that I stumbled across,” Wood said. “In the middle it had a section where you could list births, deaths and marriages, and I realized that it was James A. Harding’s family Bible. That really reminded me that this job is so interesting because I get to make these connections to big events and big people in Harding history.”

Like most places on campus, Wood said the summer pace is definitely slower, but the library staff stays just as busy. From assessing the previous school year to figuring out ways to make students’ research and studying easier, the library staff doesn’t take a break during the summer.

A major undertaking for the library staff this summer is implementing a program where each student on campus will have a personal librarian at their disposal for research and resource tips within the library.

“We know the library isn’t a scary place and that librarians are some of the coolest people on campus, but we also know that the library can be intimidating to those unfamiliar with it, and we hope the personal librarian program will help dispel some of that intimidation,” Wood said.

Among other changes, Wood said the library will have new stand-up desks, stationary bike desks and Windows 10 all on computers when students return in the fall.

If you recognize her face but can’t remember where from, here’s a hint: Searcy Summer Dinner Theatre. When she’s not busy being the gatekeeper to Harding history, you might find Wood on stage — something she has loved doing since she was a high school student in Searcy.

“The program produces great shows with great-quality people in the production,” Wood said. “We have so much fun, and I think that shows in the productions themselves. We all enjoy doing what we do and doing it together. It’s kind of like a second family during the summers.”

While students are away, Wood also spends more time making a dent in her reading list. She confirmed that librarians are there because they really like books, but she said there’s more to it than just that.

“We have a passion to help students find what they need to further their education,” Wood said. “There’s so much information out there to get your hands on, and we’re here to make your research easier.”

Kaleb Turner, public relations intern

BobBarnettWhen dealing with wild animals or strays in Searcy, you can call animal control. But when those animals wander onto Harding’s campus, we call physical resources – specifically Bob Barnett.

In his time at the University, Barnett has encountered a variety of animals. He has trapped and released cats, opossums, foxes, skunks and many, many raccoons.

“I get all the weirdo stuff,” Barnett said. “I began dealing with raccoons a few years ago. As civilization has expanded, we’ve driven raccoons out of the woods and into the cities where they make an easy living eating garbage. They are bad to get in your house, and they are bad to get into places where they aren’t supposed to be because they can do tremendous damage.”

Barnett has caught 48 raccoons to date. Many find food and shelter by the trash compactor near the physical resources yard where all campus garbage is taken. At one point in time, Barnett said he would trap one to two a week at that location.

According to Barnett, it was only a matter of time before raccoons found their way into some old campus buildings. Repairs were made to a hole in the outside wall of the American Studies Building’s machine room but not before Barnett trapped two adult raccoons inside. Barnett knows that “a pair means a family,” and he was later called back to trap three more in the building’s ceiling.

“I caught one in there recently that was the scariest critter that I had to deal with,” Barnett said. “I had to pick the trap up, turn it up on its end to lower it down through the ceiling grid. I had to get it out with him snarling and growling and snatching at me through the trap. They make a fearsome noise when they’re angry and you’re in their face.”

Barnett said the trap angered the raccoon so much that the animal clawed two holes in the tiles and tore away a 3-foot section of insulation from a water pipe before being removed from the ceiling.

But no matter how feisty they behave in the trap, Barnett says he releases all the captured animals at a location off campus.

“I just don’t have the heart to kill any of them,” Barnett said.

Shelby Dias, director of news services


On Monday, July 1, 1776, a thunderstorm swept through Philadelphia. Peals of thunder shook the Pennsylvania State House where several dozen anxious and angry men had gathered to decide the fate of the colonies. As lightning flashed, a steady rain beat down on the tall windows of the old, brick building.

Inside, the men were anguished over the decision before them. It had taken some months to finally reach this moment. Pennsylvania’s most respected speaker and jurist, John Dickinson, argued for two hours for reconciliation — not to stop fighting, but to continue to fight until the colonists had secured equality as Englishmen.

Massachusetts’ John Adams stood at the end of Dickinson’s long and eloquent exposition, and in the thunderstorm, the man Thomas Jefferson referred to as “the colossus of that Congress” made his plea — not for reconciliation, but for independence. At the beginning he said he “wished for the Talents and Eloquence of the ancient Orators of Greece and Rome, for [he] was very sure that none of them ever had before him a question of more Importance to his Country and to the World.”

Adams told his countrymen that it was time. “Sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish,” he said. “I give my hand and my heart to this vote. It is true, indeed, that in the beginning we aimed not at independence … But ‘there’s a Divinity which shapes our ends.’ The injustice of England has driven us to arms, and blinded to her own interest for our good, she has obstinately persisted, till independence is now within our grasp. We have but to reach forth to it, and it is ours.” One onlooker called Adams the “Atlas of American Independence” and another “fancied an angel was let down from heaven to illumine Congress.”

Adams’ words stirred the debate, and it went long into the night and began early the next day. At that very moment British General William Howe’s massive invasion fleet arrived off the coast of New York with some 100 warships, 400 transports and perhaps 35,000 men. It was the largest fleet ever seen in America up to that time. The very campaign designed to capture the Hudson River and split the colonies commenced even as Congress debated.

At length the assembly voted. It was then July 2, 1776. Twelve colonies voted for independence; New York abstained, waiting for permission from its state assembly. Congressional President John Hancock and Secretary Charles Thomson signed the document.

With some changes, it was approved by Congress on July 4. On July 5, the new Declaration was circulated on the streets of Philadelphia and the citizens gathered to applause and gave three loud cheers “God bless the Free State of North America!” Church bells “rang out joyously” and every citizen lighted a candle in every window in their homes.

Despite the joyous celebration on July 5, Adams felt that July 2 would “be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival.” As it turned out, the “approved” declaration was dated as July 4, and that date has become fixed as Independence Day. In reality, however, it was July 2 in which the fateful decision was reached — and it was not until Aug. 2 that all the signers affixed their signatures.

American independence was truly a new epoch, one in which the birth of a new republic wrested for all men the torch of liberty from the despotism of monarchy and one in which simple human dignity stood above the pompous claims of titled nobility. Free people everywhere should celebrate the birth of a nation dedicated to those ends. Benjamin Franklin, writing to his countrymen from France, would later say, “It is a common observation here, that [the American Revolution] is the cause of all mankind; and that we are fighting for their liberty in defending our own.” Years later, after the French Revolution, the Marquis de Lafayette sent his friend George Washington the key to the French prison The Bastille as a symbol of this signal American contribution to liberty around the world.

And though it was a great new epoch, it was not the greatest of them all — that one came long before, with a humble birth in a stable, which marked the arrival of a true savior for all mankind.

Dr. Shawn Fisher, assistant professor of history

Name: Kendra Stevenson
Classification: Junior
Major: public relations / Spanish minor
Hometown: Dexter, MO
Studying at: HUG

HU: What is your current location?
KS: We are in Rome catching a flight back to Athens after a week of free traveling all over Europe.

HU: What has been the most interesting thing that has happened on your journey so far?
KS: It started on day two in Barcelona. Our next stop was Dublin, and we were catching a flight to London then connecting to Dublin. Our first flight became delayed six hours because the plane was literally broken, and this would cause us to miss our flight from London to Dublin. We had no idea what to do. We had two nights stay, a tour scheduled in Dublin, and our next flight leaving from Dublin. We looked up flights directly to Dublin from Barcelona just to see what came up, and sure enough, there was a flight straight there that didn’t depart until 10:50 p.m. with eight empty seats. God has a good way of showing us He’s really in control and looking out for us. We took off scrambling through the airport to purchase, print and check-in (for the second time) for our flight. We eventually made it on a plane, and we all slept straight through that flight. We arrived in Dublin around 1 a.m., and we could not have been happier. We laugh about it now, but at the time it was complete chaos.

HU: How many pictures do you think you’ve taken as of now?
KS: 2,500 — easily.

HU: What is your favorite photo you’ve taken so far?

KS: It’s so hard to choose a favorite photo from this trip because I have seen so many places that are absolutely beautiful. I’ve also seen so many places that speak to me in such beautiful ways as well. I think this picture best describes the beauty of Greece. This spot is known for the best sunset in Greece. It’s located in Sounio where the Temple of Poseidon is also located. It is definitely the most spectacular sunset I have ever seen, and I try to constantly remind myself how blessed I am to have this opportunity. Whenever God paints pictures for us to enjoy, I try to stop and reflect on my experiences and remember what our overall purpose is in this life. This was one of those opportunities, and I am continually reminded of how great our God really is.

HU: What is the most delicious thing you’ve eaten so far?
KS: Lemon gelato. I cannot get enough.

HU: What are you looking forward to the most about coming back to the U.S.?
KS: Flushing toilet paper

HU: What has this experience studying abroad taught you?
KS: I am not in control of anything. I love knowing what’s going on at all times everywhere we go. I love controlling all the tickets, times, information — everything. But all airports, all train stations, and pretty much everywhere in Europe runs on its own time. I have had to learn to let things go, to trust others in knowing what they are doing, to be more flexible and to roll with the punches, and more importantly to be thankful for this opportunity because so few are able to have it.

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Photo courtesy of University of Tennessee athletics

Photo courtesy of University of Tennessee athletics

I usually wear my black and gold on Friday to show my Harding support.

But tomorrow I will wear orange and hope you will too.

As you are probably aware, legendary Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt died Tuesday from Alzheimer’s disease at 64. She will be honored tomorrow by wearing orange wherever you are.

Of course I didn’t know her, but my family did spot her on the beach at Seacrest in Florida several years ago while on an evening stroll. She was hard to miss with her tall figure in her blue swimsuit with orange stripe walking her dog by the water. We debated whether to speak but respected her privacy.

I am not a big sports fan, but I do know this remarkable woman did more to advance women’s athletics than any other. As I read her tributes, I am most impressed not with her tremendous basketball coaching skills but that she was an even better coach in the game of life.

I will wear my orange proudly for Pat. Her humility would prevent her from expecting that.

Tom Buterbaugh, editor.designer


06-29-2016-4173While most students are taking advantage of the summer months by spending their beloved vacation on sandy beaches or in the crisp forests of national parks, you can still find Harding staff busy at work around campus, eagerly awaiting students’ return in late August. You can still pick up packages at the post office, buy an Asiago bagel at Einstein’s, and check out books at Brackett Library.

And you can find Executive Vice President David Collins working hard to make Harding a better place when classes begin in the fall.

“Nothing compares to the school year,” Collins said. “That’s when our whole purpose is here. If you think about it, our purpose is missing. But during the summer we’re reflecting on our purpose, and we’re looking forward to the new year.”

Collins’ role on campus is multi-faceted. His duties include assisting President Bruce McLarty in the daily operations of the university and providing leadership over six university divisions — the Center for Student Success, counseling center, health services, international programs, public safety and student life. His role is an important one, and it’s one that doesn’t take a break.

“Any summer for us is definitely a different pace, but there’s just as much work to be done,” Collins said. “We’re able to do a little more reflecting and thinking about how we did this past year and then begin thinking strategically about the next year.”

Assessment, adjustment and planning tops the summer to-do list for Collins and those with whom he works alongside. Whether it is policy assessment or reviewing senior exit surveys, Collins said summertime is all about taking to heart students’ concerns and then applying them to make the upcoming school year the best it can be.

“Like everybody, we look forward to the break and the change of pace, but about halfway through the summer, we all start getting anxious and energetic about the school year starting,” Collins said. “All the momentum is building — making sure the residence halls are ready and making sure everything is in place for the students to arrive.”

When he’s not in his office or on campus working during the summer, you can find Collins fishing for rainbow trout on the cool currents of the Little Red River or spending some cherished time with his family. Collins’ summertime message to the student body is simple — the staff is in constant prayer and steadfast preparation for students and their return.

“We’re working diligently to make this next year at Harding the very best its ever been,” Collins said. “We want them to forget about us for a little bit and take a break, but at the same time, we want the students to know we’re not taking a break from them. We’re here for them.”

Kaleb Turner, public relations intern


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