Theme dinner at 2013 Freshman Impact.

Theme dinner at 2013 Freshman Impact.

I remember it like it was yesterday: a house packed with college students; the smell of sweat filling the air; voices shouting, off-key singing, adrenaline pumping. We were bringing the house down. Like way down.

This may sound like the start of a frat party (well, at least the ones I have seen in stupid teenage movies — you know, the ones where the nerdy girl gets a makeover and the jock accidentally falls in love with her). But it wasn’t. It was spring break my sophomore year. I signed up for a mission trip to Long Beach, Mississippi. It had been a year since Hurricane Katrina, but the devastation in that area was still quite severe.

Before you write me off as an Angelina Jolie wannabe, I must be upfront that my motives were not all Mother Teresa. You want full disclosure? Here it is: the guys that signed up ahead of me were cute. Like “I will gut a house to be in your presence” cute. Sitting around my hometown all week also was not appealing.

But back to the packed house. I have never, before or since, been a part of such hard labor. They make demolition look so easy on TV, but it’s exhausting. I, along with several other girls on the trip, had been working tirelessly to bring down one of the walls. In order to rally the troops (and because I had been recently heartbroken), I said, “Girls, I want you to think of someone who has done you wrong. On the count of three, I want you to shout their name and sledgehammer this wall as hard as you can.”

One. Two. Three.

It was a scene out of the movie “300.” Even shy girls were charging the wall like they were seizing an enemy army. The wall came down before we could even think of a second ex-boyfriend. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time.

It’s memories like this that come to mind when I read articles like the one released this week naming Harding as one of the nation’s “lamest party schools.” I can’t say that I gasped in disbelief when I read this. I simply thought to myself, “The author of this study obviously never attended one of my karaoke parties on first floor Pryor.” A front row performance of my roommate singing the high part of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” would have been enough to drop us off the lame list.

When people ask about the idiosyncrasies of attending a private Christian university, I always tell them the same thing: “You will find exactly what you’re looking for. But Harding makes it easier to find the good.”

If you want to party, you will find a party. If you want to use your youth to make the world a better place, you will be stuffed in a 15-passenger van for hours with complete strangers.

Like life, college is what you make it. It can be a time of maximum growth; it can be a time of world travel; it can be a time to fully prepare for life beyond school. Or it can be four years you barely remember.

Lame is not bound by one definition; it is not measured by alcohol intake, lack of curfews and a lively party circuit. A lame college experience is completely dependent on the student’s chosen experiences.

And as for me?

I had the time of my life.

Ashton (Reely) Ray graduated from Harding in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in print journalism and in 2010 with a Master of Arts in Business Administration. 


A rendering of the new Office of Student Publications space. (Scott Ulliman, Columbus, Ohio, motion graphics animator.)

This summer, many changes are happening on campus. One big renovation is in the Reynolds Building where the former communication sciences and disorders speech clinic is being remodeled to become the new Office of Student Publications.

I joined the Student Publications staff in spring 2014, and I got to tour the new space last week. Though the office is unfinished, I quickly began picturing the finished product and the creations that would take place here. With every nail, loose tile or wire hanging from the ceiling, I saw a bustling room and familiar faces of friends —all with common deadlines and a shared understanding of exhaustion mixed with late night Chinese takeout to push us through. In place of paint splattered on the ground, I saw the quaint, new offices for editors and a wide, open work space for staff members. I could see the long hours, creativity, commitment and laughter that will fill these walls.


A shared, open work space for the newspaper and yearbook staffs. (Scott Ulliman)


An editor’s office. (Scott Ulliman)


A new photography and graphic arts studio. (Scott Ulliman)

A photography and graphic arts studio in the new space will provide student photographers and multimedia editors with space to spread out and expand their creative capabilities. The staffs of the Petit Jean yearbook and Bison newspaper will be working alongside each other for the first time in a shared space.

Among these advancements, students can expect to have a new and improved work experience and environment with a coffee station, seating area, and technology updates such as large monitors, projectors and computers.


A reception and seating area. (Scott Ulliman)

Additional updates are also underway in the department of communication side of the Reynolds and include a classroom renovation and a new paint color in the hallways. Photo displays showcasing TV16 news station as well as student awards, photography and artwork will also be a feature of this hallway.

The new Student Publications office and other department renovations should be completed by fall 2014. I can’t wait to be a part of the first group of students to learn, grow and communicate in this new space.

Taylor Gleaves, public relations intern

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There’s a calm on campus today. The last session of Uplift campers departed this morning, and Summer I classes finished just in time for the Fourth of July holiday. Even the remodeling of the cafeteria seemed to be in a quieter mode as I walked back into the Burks Heritage Building after lunch.

While there are no public firework displays in Searcy this year, the day marking the independence of our country should be beautiful for holiday activities with a forecast of sunshine and a high of only 83.

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July from Harding magazine.

Tom Buterbaugh, editor/designer


Jack McKinney.2011-171-5227I first met Jack McKinney in 1974 while traveling in Europe. My wife, Sherry, and I were on our way back to the states, and one place we visited was Zurich, Switzerland. It was on a Sunday, and we found the local church. To our surprise we met an American who preached that day and was leaving soon to teach at a college in Arkansas. I told him we were also on our way back to teach and discovered that we were going to the same place — Harding! Not only were we going to Harding to teach, but we also were both going to teach in the Bible department. That was the start of a long relationship with Jack and his wife, Joanne.

I did not know Jack before our chance meeting in Zurich, but I was not around him long before I recognized the brilliance of the man. He was a sharp, knowledgeable student of the Greek language. I, for one, quickly perceived that Jack had forgotten more Greek than any of us who also taught the language would probably ever learn! He was powerful and clear in his teaching, and his students thrived under his leadership.

Although focused on his teaching, Jack never forgot the mission field in Europe he had left. For many years during the summer he took students with him to Germany, Switzerland and other places. Several who knew firsthand of Jack’s preaching and teaching in the German language said that he was absolutely first rate. Knowing Jack, this did not surprise me, and it can truly be said that Jack was an extremely capable linguist and scholar. One day while visiting in his office, I noticed that he did not have very many commentaries on his shelves. When I mentioned this to Jack he said, “Well, as long as I know the original languages, I do not have to depend primarily on what others say.” This made a deep impression on me, and I took it to heart to know the Bible more directly through the Greek and Hebrew texts than to rely first and foremost on what various scholars were saying.

My other connection to Jack and Joanne came through our work with the local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Jack and Joanne were charter members of the group, and both devoted many hours to the cause. Recently in cleaning out my office after retiring in May of this year, I ran across some old pictures stuck away in a box. In several of these there was Jack at the finish line after running in our 10K race to raise funds for our chapter. Many years he won his age group! Jack was a good athlete and believed in taking care of his body, but he also kept his mind active. After retiring from Harding, Jack continued to teach Bible classes at the College church and to study. He was working on a commentary on Galatians when he started having strokes and unfortunately did not live to complete the task after having made substantial progress. Plans are being made to finish off what Jack started, and, knowing him, it will be an excellent piece of work.

My acquaintance with Jack came to an end this past Sunday, June 15, when I visited with him after the evening worship service at College Church of Christ. He was talking to the young man who had preached. I spoke to Jack for a few minutes — not knowing this would be my last conversation with him and that he would suffer a fatal stroke during another meeting that same evening. My acquaintance with Jack had come full circle — from meeting him in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1974 to talking with him nearly 40 years later only a few minutes before his death. In all those years, I can say I never met a kinder, gentler spirit than Jack McKinney or a more brilliant scholar. He was a true Christian brother and servant of the Lord. May his name be blessed and may he enter his eternal reward.

 Paul Pollard, friend and colleague

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Soccer sign.06-17-2014-70226

As any soccer fan knows, the FIFA World Cup officially kicked off June 12 in Brazil. America took a thrilling win yesterday over Ghana 2-1 as substitute John Brooks’ powerful downward header goal made the difference in the hard-fought contest.

But today, there’s a little extra soccer enthusiasm on the Harding campus as the new scoreboard is erected. It’s a considerable improvement over the old sign and will be a welcome addition to Bison and Lady Bison soccer this fall.

Until then, we’re soaking up the World Cup excitement and proudly chanting USA.

Tom Buterbaugh, editor/designer

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To many, Harding University is a place to call home, or the home in between you might say. Harding is a place where students build new lives in their college chapter and are daily challenged with new things. In 1984 Uplift camp was born and has been a time for kids from 7th to 12th grade to come to Harding for a week to experience this “summer camp on a college campus.” Training for counselors kicked off on Thursday for Uplift. Being a counselor for the first time, it’s going to be a new and exciting experience for me and for everyone. Uplift has many new changes this year, and I am exhilarated to join the team.

Friends have been telling me about Uplift since I first came to Harding as a freshman. Many of them grew up coming to Uplift and marked it as one of the main reasons they chose to come to Harding. Its impact has been heard all the way to the ears of someone who didn’t even know what Uplift was until a few years ago. Yet, I am here.

The theme this year is, “You Are Here.” In our first night of training, the counselors split into groups and walked all around campus to the buildings and areas where activities would be happening throughout the next three weeks. We walked to each building and prayed that these places will be present with God’s spirit and that Satan will be far from it, for Uplift is a harness for big things to happen — spiritually big things. We walked around campus praying in the student center for conversations and connections. We prayed in the Administration Auditorium that our worship would be pure and on fire, and through this moment of prayer, I began to see that my school emanates such a different light — a new light.

There’s no better theme for Uplift than one centered on being you and recognizing that God meets you where you are. Through the many different stages of our faith, God is ready and able to hold you in his hand, and that is why I am here.

Taylor Gleaves, public relations intern


Soon-to-be Harding freshman pose with Buff the Bison in the Stampede photo booth.

Soon-to-be Harding freshmen pose with Buff the Bison in the Stampede photo booth.

It is hard to believe that almost 10 years ago to the date, I arrived on campus at Harding University for Summer Stampede prior to my freshman year. I drove the three and a half hours all by my lonesome from the rural Arkansas town of Horatio. As I sat alone in my white Chevrolet truck, cruising down the interstate, I was filled with anticipation, nerves and uncertainty. Little did I know that I was about to solidify one of the best decisions of my life.

Now, as I stand on the other side, as an assistant director of admissions at Harding, I am eager to see the excitement, nerves and incertitude on the faces of those joining our student body this fall. For I know what wonderful opportunities they have in front of them.

For the first time in my life I feel old. I know that others are even further removed from their Summer Stampede experience (they must feel ancient), but I am definite that they remember it like it was yesterday. I know that I do. Transitions in life are truly memorable, and the one from high school to college is certainly no exception. As someone who is not an admirer of change, I am filled with relief when a change is transformed over time to become the new normal. However, the transition from high school, moving away from home and leaving the only life I had ever known to come to Harding is a change that I would eagerly experience again. Nothing compares to starting over, making new friends, uncovering unknown opportunities and developing your own faith.

While Stampede serves as an orientation for incoming freshman, preparing them for their first semester on campus, it also serves as stepping stone to an exciting new chapter in life. Even though many of these students were probably gifted a copy of Oh, The Places You’ll Go! for graduating high school, I doubt that any of them will view Stampede now with as much depth and fondness as they will when they reflect back on it decades later. Dr. Seuss writes, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go …”

On the surface, Stampede is a schedule of breakout sessions, presentations and paperwork, all purposefully designed to springboard students to a great and worry-free start to their university career, but at its heart it is a time for connections: the development of new life-long friendships, meeting your academic mentor and friend, and just maybe meeting that special someone. This is a wonderful opportunity for the Harding family to welcome these students and their families with open arms to fuel the fire of excitement, to calm and extinguish the nerves, and to provide certitude in their decision to attend Harding. “Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to great places! You’re off and away!”

Scott Hannigan, assistant director of admissions


President Bruce McLarty meets a first year student and his family after a session during Summer Stampede 2013.

President Bruce McLarty meets a first year student and his family after a session during Summer Stampede 2013.

Campus is about to be full of first year students as the first session of Summer Stampede kicks of Thursday. We are preparing for approximately 500 students and their parents as they visit campus for the two-day informational orientation.

My Summer Stampede experience was an unforgettable one. Though I had visited Harding many times before, this event made things more real than anything else. I was officially a Harding University student, and leaving home to live in this new place was finally drawing closer.

I stayed in the dorm with my roommate, whom I had met the day we arrived, and I made vital connections with other students who became my classmates and friends. Remembering back on my own experience, I’m so excited for these new students and the Harding memories they will begin to make this week.

Students will explore academic paths through adviser breakout sessions and learn how to ease into college life socially, financially and academically. Parents get to be formally introduced to campus, some for the first time, and learn about University resources and how to transition with their new college student. Summer Stampede is an exciting prologue of hundreds of new Harding stories, and it only gets better from here.

Hannah Owens, news director


Studying essentials

Studying essentials

On May 10, I walked across the Benson stage, smiled proudly and grabbed an important black folder from Dr. Bruce McLarty while telling myself, “Don’t trip. Don’t trip. Don’t trip.” In other words, I graduated. And while I took pictures with friends and family outside after the ceremony, that euphoric feeling of being completely done with college was overshadowed by the realization that I would be back in the classroom the following Monday morning. I had signed up for an Intersession earth science course. Each time I told someone that was my plan, I got the same response: disappointment and confusion. So I started to join the doubters in their game. I heard horror stories about the intensity and workload that Intersession exudes. I saw faces visibly droop at the sound of the word science, as if to say, “Well, good luck with that.” I regularly fielded questions about how is it possible to take another class after having graduated.

So I walked into the science building May 12 with a little less confidence in my steps, hearing the repeated whispered warnings of my predecessors in my head. I mentally prepared for the next two weeks — 40 hours spent in a classroom and countless hours spent studying. But after I timidly sat in my seat that first day, I looked up and was overcome with joy. I saw several familiar faces and realized that six of my close friends were in the same predicament I was. We were “all in this together,” if you will. (“High School Musical,” anyone?)

The next pleasant surprise was how much I was interested in the material and genuinely enjoyed learning about weather, geology, astronomy, rivers, topographic maps, plate tectonics (which sounds like some sort of kitchen-themed techno music), and the Earth in general. I found myself tuned in to the class lecture and discussion, which is something I did not expect to experience in a gen ed class.

That fact carries a lot of weight coming from me. Here’s a brief synopsis of my scientific history. I avoided any sort of science in high school like it was the plague. At Harding, I took an honors course that covered a biology credit, and then, of course, I put off my physical science credit until the afterthought that is Intersession.

So my interest in material involving science was as surprising to me as anyone else. And that, coupled with the design of Intersession, was a euphoric combination (maybe that’s overstating the experience). But I loved the structure and quick pace; the material was always fresh on our minds because we would be tested the following day after learning it. And that’s no exaggeration. During the first week, our first test was Wednesday, our second test was Thursday, and our third test was Friday. But that instant relaying of information process proved to be effective.

I walked out of the last day of earth science today with a long-anticipated feeling of “done-ness.” I have officially earned my public relations degree (through learning about the structure and function of a river?). And I can now add “Pro-Intersession” to my political views section on Facebook. In fact, I wish the whole college experience was outlined in the Intersession format or something close to it. It is much easier to take in one subject at a time so you can focus solely on the material at hand and keep track of just one teaching style.

So now I can confidently tell you why the sky is blue, and some sunsets are red orange. I can read a weather map and predict storms. And I will never look at a river the same. But I will also sleep well tonight knowing that I will never have to fill in a Scantron again or set an alarm for 6 a.m. in order to cram for a test.

Holly Bohnett (’14)

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Spring 14 coverWith the latest edition at the mailer and the online version almost ready to go live, the spring Harding magazine will soon be coming your way.

Our cover story travels to Zambia with physical therapy’s first medical missions practicum as four students share journal entries providing an intimate view into the adventure. On the online version, 1504 Pictures’ video provides more insight into the impact of this trip on the program’s first graduating class.

Writer Hannah Beall Owens and photographer Jeff Montgomery give you an up close look at Spring Sing, and there is a time-lapse video of the show included on the online version.

Essays by Dr. Dale Manor and sophomore Mary Vickers explore the spiritual impact of their visit to the Western Wall during their spring semester overseas in the Greece program.

Readers share stories from road trips during their Harding days, and in the End Note, notable ladies from Harding’s history give sage advice to Bessie Mae Ledbetter two days before her wedding to Dr. Joseph Pryor in 1946.

As always, let us hear from you.

Tom Buterbaugh, editor/designer

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