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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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I always feel like I’m giving birth each time a magazine comes off the presses. Right now another “baby” is about to arrive. The stitcher at Magna IV in Little Rock is getting quite a workout assembling the last of the spring magazines.

In our largest issue each year, the University says thanks to our donors by publishing the 2010 honor roll. We hope your name is among them.

One of our alumni profiles for this issue came by campus today on his way to Texas. Tim Frakes (’84) hasn’t been back since he graduated as a broadcast media major. Photographer Jeff Montgomery got to have coffee with him and show him around a campus that has changed significantly since student days 27 years ago.

It’s always enjoyable to meet those people in person we write about in the magazine. Tim’s career is his passion, and while Kylie Akins is not the one who shares his story in this magazine, she does share why she feels blessed writing about passionate people in our “End Note.”

You can look forward to learning what Tim’s passionate about, reading Kylie’s column, seeing what is on our “bucket list,” and other campus happenings as the magazine heads to the mailer and your mailbox very soon.

Let us know what you think.

Tom Buterbaugh, editor