2014-15 Petit Jean yearbook staff

2014-15 Petit Jean yearbook staff

Leonardo Da Vinci once said, “Realize that everything connects to everything else.” This is the quote that resonated with Petit Jean yearbook editor in chief Shelby Daniel and that inspired her to create the theme for the 2015 book —Connected.

As a former Petit Jean editor myself, I remember the excitement that yearbook distribution day brings. I couldn’t wait until I could officially unveil the central focus of my junior year to the Harding community. I couldn’t wait until my fellow students could see, read and feel the evidence of my staff’s contributions to sharing a year of Harding’s story. And today, I was so excited for the 2014-15 yearbook staff today as they were able to do just that.

As I opened the book this afternoon, the smell of fresh ink overtook my senses. I turned through each thick, matte page of the book, and, not to sound too cliché, I felt connected. I felt connected to the many students who I didn’t know who went to basketball games, who studied at the University’s international program in Florence, and who sat in the same seat as me in classes and chapel.

“I want people to understand that connections are everywhere,” Shelby wrote in her letter from the editor. “We are connected to so many people through mutual friends, common interests, similar studies and maybe even through a shared history. We can all relate because we called Harding home for a short period of time.”

I encourage you to pick up this book if you get the chance. Its unusual and intriguing design sets it apart. You can read stories about a student talented in the art of Origami, a student who was a personal intern of former first lady Laura Bush, a social club-wide game called “Assassins” that involves rubber bands, and so much more.

This impressive piece of Harding history will make you feel proud, and it will definitely make you feel more connected than ever to this place you once called home.

Hannah Beall Owens,
Director of News Services


An exciting event is happening on campus this weekend. The second annual ACTS Experience is an open forum event geared toward college students that features many speakers from a variety of professional backgrounds covering topics relating to arts, culture, technology and service. Check out this video from last year’s event as singer/songwriter Ben Rector speaks on his creative process.

The event is on Saturday, April 18 and has an impressive line-up of presenters. According to the ACTS Experience website, “We firmly believe there are ideas everyone should know and actions everyone can take. Our goal with the ACTS Experience is to encourage and empower individuals to gain greater knowledge and take wise action. We do this by providing information, challenges, voices and connection to exciting ideas and an endless list of actions in the areas of arts, culture, technology and service. When someone participates in the ACTS Experience, they will be welcomed into a premiere faith-based emotionally intelligent arena.”

One of the featured speakers this year is Jim White, a legendary California cross-country coach portrayed by Kevin Costner in the movie “McFarland, USA.” Though I haven’t seen the movie, I’ve heard that it’s an encouraging and inspiring film based on a true story, and his presentation will be one students won’t want to miss.

Tonight, The Mitchell Center for Leadership and Ministry is partnering with CAB to show “McFarland, USA” in the Administration Auditorium at 8 p.m. It is free for students and $5 for the public. There will also be a meet and greet with Coach White and his wife, Cheryl, at 7:15 p.m. before the movie.

Hannah Beall Owens, director of news services

04-14-2015-5634Today I was reminded once again that I don’t just work at an institution of higher education. I work at a place of deep faith and community, and I am thankful!

On Monday, March 23, I received a call from my college roommate and dear friend, Kirk Workman (’98). Kirk had just left a doctor appointment in the Dallas metroplex in which he learned he had brain cancer with the possibility of the cancer being present in other areas of the body as well. As you can imagine, the news was devastating, especially for his wife, Dana, and their three young children.

IMG_8556On Wednesday of that week, I was in a meeting with Chancellor Burks when I learned he would be traveling on the Harding plane with a few others to Austin, Texas, for a meeting that Friday. Now, I learned a long time ago that it never hurts to ask for a favor if you can accept that you might be told no, so I asked Dr. Burks if he thought the plane could stop in Dallas on its way to Austin and drop Dean Chad Joice and me off there so that we could be with Kirk at his follow-up visit on Friday. At first it looked like that wasn’t a possibility, but thanks to the help of a number of people, we were able to fly to Dallas that Friday.

The following was Kirk’s Facebook post that Friday: “So, it’s true. Sitting in freshman orientation 21 years ago at Harding University, they said, ‘Look around this room; it’s filled with the people that will be your lifelong friends; they’ll be standing with you at weddings, etc…’ It meant so much for me to see my brothers Andrew Baker and Chad Joice. We met up with Lathan Watts for lunch. I needed these guys today, and without me knowing they were coming, they showed up early this morning to wait with me for my tests and spend the day with me.”

Since our time in Dallas, things have not moved in the direction we had all hoped. I have shared with my classes all along about Kirk, Dana, and their children, asking them to join me in praying for a miracle. On Monday, April 13, this part of a message was posted by Kirk on his Carebridge page: “They also did a CT scan Friday afternoon focusing on the orbits (eye sockets) to develop a definitive plan for the treatment of the tumors there. The eyes and their surrounding structures are delicate, and they are trying to preserve as much function as possible with the ultimate goal of eradicating the cancer. I am wearing an eye patch daily now due primarily to double vision. My right eye is the one most affected with tumors, and it can be painful for my eyes to constantly be adjusting to find the same image. I’m hopeful that after we’ve treated the tumors, I’ll be able to find eye correction to help. The kids have all joined me today by going to get their own eye patches at Party City.”

After reading that update and dropping my children off at school, I stopped by Walgreens to buy an eye patch to wear that day in support of Kirk. I wore it to class and, through tears, read Kirk’s full Carebridge post to my freshman class. Later Monday night, I received a message from one of the students asking how many people were in the class. Because another student had purchased chicken biscuits for the entire class the week before, I thought this student might be going for chocolate chip cookies or something like that and didn’t think much about it.


Instead, to my surprise I walked into class on Tuesday, April 14, to see every single student wearing an eye patch that read, “You Are Not Alone.” After calling every possible place in Searcy, two students in the class had made a special trip to Little Rock to buy patches. I have had the great honor of teaching at Harding for 15 years, and I have never had an experience like that in a classroom. The men and women in the room were no longer merely students, they were friends willing to walk faithfully alongside my friend as he battles for his life. If you look in the dictionary for the word “dad,” I think you will find Kirk Workman’s picture. But you if you looked under “faithful witness,” you would find it there as well.


As the end to his Carebridge post shows: “I honestly can’t be happier about our life. I still wouldn’t trade with anyone. It is easy for us to see how God has prepared me and Dana for this specific journey since before we knew one another. While optimistic, we’re starting to see reality creeping in, and we believe we’re as ready as we can be. For that, we’re thankful.”

I ask that you join us in #kwprayingforamiracle and let the Workman family know #youarenotalone. Many are praying, and please keep those prayers coming. If you would be willing to help financially, you can go to http://www.gofundme.com/rxzxrw.

I am grateful not only to work at a place of higher education but to be a part of an amazing community of faith!

Andrew Baker, director of the Mitchell Center


In January 2014, I traveled to a beautiful ranch in West Plains, Missouri, with photographer Jeff Montgomery and my colleague Brian Harrington from the Office of Advancement. Our trip was for a story I was writing for the winter edition Harding magazine. As we were getting in the car to leave, I started writing the story in the car. My story begins:

“The scent of freshly cooked breakfast blows through the entryway of the house as the front door opens. The home’s warmth is a comfort after traipsing through the snow out front. Coming into view is the family dinner table and a sign above the back window that reads: ‘As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.’”


Every experience that I had at the ranch overtook my senses. The sight of a beautiful farmhouse, the smell of winter and fresh breakfast, the warmth in the sunlight coming through blind-less windows, and the sounds from a secluded farm are still fresh in my memory.


The ranch we visited was no ordinary ranch. To put it simply, Whetstone Boy’s Ranch is a boarding school for at-risk and troubled boys, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a home where character is sharpened and hard work is expected daily. It’s a place to grow through mentoring and education and a place to learn through manual labor and caring for the ranch’s animals, among many other tasks. At that time, it was a quiet farm that was home to five energetic, teenage boys that I had the honor of meeting.

It broke my heart this week when I learned that it is now an empty home heavily damaged by a tornado that hit the ranch last Friday. I was relieved to learn that everyone, boys, staff and animals, was safe and unharmed. The ranch posted a Facebook update of the condition of the house and land and included photos of the damage.




Contrary to what I saw last January, the ranch was severely damaged. Trees were ripped apart, vehicles were destroyed, and windows and frames were blown out and boarded up. There’s no electricity, no water, limited furniture, and no garage, barn or shed to care for animals or equipment. And still, this team of Harding alumni that started Whetstone is praising God through and after the storm and putting their faith in him that he will provide.

A quote from the Facebook post says, “The old cliché goes that when God closes a door, he always opens a window… We just weren’t expecting him to open it so wide. I guess that just makes it easier to climb through.”



The five boys are currently with their families. Please join me in praying for the Whetstone Boy’s Ranch team as they work hard to prepare the ranch for the boys’ return. A tornado relief fund has been set up through their website here, and if you are able to give, I know firsthand that you will be enabling this dedicated team of people to continue their incredible work in sharpening the character of some pretty awesome young men.

For my story, I interviewed Whetstone Executive Director Jeremy Thompson, and at the end of my interview he pulled out an actual whetstone and asked if I knew what it was. After I said no, he explained, “A whetstone is used as the traditional way to sharpen a knife blade. To do it effectively, you have to have it at the right angle and the right amount of pressure. Not too soft. Not too hard. Not haphazard. Intentional,” he said.

“That’s what Whetstone is. We push these boys, but we don’t grind them down into the stone because that wouldn’t be effective. But we have to give it enough pressure to achieve the desired result: a sharp blade — a sharp character.”

Hannah Owens, director of news services


With the theme “Famous For Fifteen,” Spring Sing was a wonderful show.


I love athletic celebration photos, and Spring Sing celebration photos are no different. TNT and Zeta Rho and friends won the John H. Ryan Award this years with their show “Charlie and the Chocolate Tragedy.”


Each club picks a charity to support with their winnings and “Charlie and the Chocolate Tragedy” won $2000 for Jacob’s Place, a homeless shelter in Searcy.

Jeff Montgomery, photographer


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One of my jobs at Harding is being responsible for the content that goes on the Harding Instagram page. Last week we started using the #SpringatHarding hashtag on our photos to promote community and hopefully get students involved in sharing their photos. I love shooting the campus flowers in the spring. The pansies like the red one above have been here all winter, but after the snow and ice, they can look a little sad. As the temperatures warm up, they revive, and the colors of the blooms are just amazing.

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I have to admit that the photography teacher in me took this photo. Nothing like some warm-cool color contrast to make an image jump off the screen. Visually speaking the bright warm color of the daffodil seems to come forward in the image while the cool dark colors recede even deeper into the background.

enhanceThe weeping cherry tree blooms only for a few days but what an amazing show it puts on.
Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 9.07.45 AMThe Bradford Pear trees are all around the campus.

04-01-2015-Dogwood trees are my favorite spring bloomer on campus. and they seem to bloom overnight.

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 9.18.12 AMHannah Owens used this dogwood photo for this week’s Friday photo verse that we put out on Facebook and Twitter.

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 9.08.25 AMLots of other things happen in spring beside flowers blooming. This week we had several home baseball and softball games and those events also fall under #SpringatHarding.


This weekend we add #SpringSing15  to the hashtag list.  I have already seen the show twice, and it is outstanding.

I hope you will come to campus and enjoy the spring flowers and Spring Sing and also that you will use the hashtags and share your photos with us.

Jeff Montgomery, photographer

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Today, Harding launched its biggest website redesign in the history of the University’s Web presence, which began in 1996 when a computer science faculty member created harding.edu.


Since that time, the website has continually been updated, and content has been added to create what you now see.

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There are a number of new features to the website, including a responsive design component that allows for compatibility on all devices. Today, I’ve been looking at the website on my phone, and it’s just as beautiful there as it is on my computer screen.


Some of my favorite new additions to the website include the interactive map on the home page that shows locations around the world of mission trips, study abroad programs and alumni. I also really love the Harding People page, which highlights a number of student, faculty and alumni stories spanning a wide range of topics and interests. You can see that page at www.harding.edu/people.

Today is a day of excitement across campus as everyone is enjoying this impressive piece of Harding’s identity. Today also is a day of celebration for the talented and creative professionals who have been working diligently to complete this monumental project. Explore the new site, and let us know what you think about the result of all the hard work these individuals have contributed.

Hannah Beall Owens, director of news services

Famous for FifteenThis morning on the way to work, “The Final Countdown” started playing on the radio. How appropriate. While our alma mater is typically the anthem associated with Harding, this next week is a different story — next week is “The Final Countdown.”

It’s crunch time for many on campus involved in Spring Sing to get the final details of choreography cleaned up, to finish the final touches on props and costumes, and make sure lighting, sound and graphics are perfected.

On another side of campus is another final countdown: the new Harding website. While the countdown to the website involves more coding than excess glitter, Spring Sing and the website both bring visitors to our campus, so I’d make the claim that they both serve an important purpose.

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 11.53.06 AMBut through my time on The Bison newspaper staff, in my internships and now in the Office of Public Relations, I’ve learned that strenuous deadlines are when people amaze you the most. It could be a project that has moved along like molasses until that deadline sneaks up on you, and then magically all the brilliant ideas you’ve been waiting for come out of the woodwork. It’s then when you see that every person involved has enough motivation and determination to run a marathon while playing the guitar and conducting an orchestra.

Please note: If you actually know someone who can do these three things at once, please send their information. I’d like to interview them.

Regardless — it’s go time, and exciting things are happening on Harding’s campus.

Stay tuned for the website redesign launch coming March 31, and join us for Spring Sing “Famous for Fifteen” April 2-4.

Bethany Aspey, web content manager

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An artist's rendering of the trellis in the proposed First Ladies Garden

Rendering of the trellis in the proposed First Ladies Garden

Spring’s growth can be seen across the entire campus as everything seems to be in bloom. The growth is not limited to the foliage though as seen in last week’s announcement of $11 million worth of renovations set to take place within the next year. One of those additions is a first ladies garden that will be between Shores and Stephens Halls. This garden will honor the five first ladies of Harding: Woodson Armstrong, Sallie Benson, Louise Ganus, Leah Burks and Ann McLarty.

All of these women have been important to the legacy of Harding, but I feel a special kinship to Harding’s first first lady, Woodson Armstrong. I learned a few years ago that my home congregation in Nashville, Tennessee, Woodson Chapel, is named for Mrs. Armstrong, who also was the daughter of James A. Harding. J.N. Armstrong preached a gospel meeting for the Christians gathering there in 1890, and when they were able to build a building that was completed the next year, the congregation chose to name it after Armstrong’s wife since the couple was much beloved by the group.

It seems that Woodson Armstrong has been a part of the two places that have had the biggest impact on my spiritual and personal growth, and I’m happy to see her honored along with the other Harding first ladies.

Jennifer Hannigan, copy editor/writer

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03202015 Pro Day Luckett

Eight Bison football players including Donatella Luckett (above) and Romo Westbrook (below) went through the drills March 20 for professional football scouts, including representatives from the Saint Louis Rams, the San Fransico 49ers and the Canadian Football League. The Harding athletes were trying to impress the scouts to enhance their status in the pro football draft or their chances for free agent contracts. Luckett had participated in the 2015 NFL Combine and was looking to improve his 40-yard time.

03202015 Pro Day WestbrookDavid Crouch, director of public relations


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