This was the crowd for our first night back to home Bible study for the 2014-15 school year.

For almost seven years, my husband and I have helped lead a home Bible study for Harding students. This Bible study has been a central part of our time together. When we were students, we actually met and began our relationship at this same Bible study. Throughout our years, the students have changed, rotating in and out as seniors graduate and freshman enter, but our attachment to our home Bible study has stayed the same.

As a student, Bible study was a welcomed respite in the middle of the week, gathering in an actual home rather than a dorm room or classroom to sing, discuss, encourage and (of course) eat. It was wonderful to connect with other students who I might not meet within my major or class year and to develop bonds with the Bible study leaders who became mentors and friends, celebrating in the good times and comforting in the difficult ones.

As a leader, Bible study is still that welcomed break. Now I’m energized by the passion the students bring and am encouraged by their Christ-seeking hearts. I love to watch them talk and play with my son and how important they make him feel. They are role models, and even though he’s only 2, I see my son wanting to mimic them. I can’t imagine a better group for him to look up to.

I asked some other Bible study leaders about their group and what they take from their meetings each Wednesday night. Here’s what they had to say:

“I loved our home Bible study in college because of the relationship we formed with our small group leaders and the great discussion. I hope that this new study will do the same. We had more than 30 show up to our first meeting, and approximately 80 percent of them are freshmen. I am hoping that this will become a ‘home base’ for them while they are in college and that we can form some deep relationships with them.”

— Anessa Westbrook, assistant professor of Bible

“The students are amazing! They bring such vitality to our home. They are refreshingly honest, open and eager to find God’s will for their life! Our family is blessed far beyond our contribution to them.”

— Mike Williams, vice president for advancement

“In my intergenerational women’s Bible study, I personally love the time with all of the ladies, especially the college girls, because I don’t have a lot of connection with college students anymore. I taught in the communication department for several years and was adviser for the Bison and Petit Jean, which gave me lots of connection with students, but my current position keeps me pretty much out of the college loop. The college students bring so much zeal, energy and commitment to our time together, and they deeply appreciate and love the older women in our group.”

— Kay Gowen, director of Abundant Living

“One of the main things is that I am able to form closer personal relationships with the students than would be otherwise possible through the classroom alone. These relationships in many cases last for several years while the student is here at Harding and often last far beyond the time that they are here at Harding. Getting to know the students is a great benefit — to see in them the love for God and the desire to serve and to see how they nurture one another during good times and bad. It is a great inspiration and encouragement to both my wife and me.”

— Lambert Murray, professor of physics

For any student who hasn’t gotten involved with a home Bible study, I strongly encourage you to do so. The Office of Alumni and Parent Relations has a full list for you to choose from, or you can ask around and see where your friends go. However you choose one, you’re sure to find just what you need wherever you go.

Jennifer Hannigan, copy editor/writer


2000-108 Robinson Art Show-16

Don Robinson, 81, chair of the art and design department from 1978-98, died Aug. 20 in Searcy. His visitation will be Aug. 23 at 10 a.m. at West Side Church of Christ with his funeral to follow at 11.

I was his student in the late 1970s shortly before he became chair, and he was a teacher I greatly respected. Not only did he have tremendous abilities, he lived his Christianity. Perhaps one of the things I most respected him for was his constant striving to make his department better, asking visiting alumni for any ideas that would have strengthened their degrees.

In the winter 2001 edition of Harding, we featured his work on the cover and in the magazine pages after an exhibit, which filled both galleries with art that we described as “not only beautiful but also uplifting.”

He wrote an introduction for that piece which tells more about the man he was than my feeble attempts could.

“Art has been a major part of my life from my childhood. In elementary school, I entertained both myself and my peers by illustrating storybook characters in chalk on the blackboard. The encouragement of fellow classmates, teachers and family removed any doubt that may have been in my mind about whether I should be an artist. I considered going into advertising art but chose teaching art as a profession because it encouraged the concepts of discovery, integration of knowledge, application and sharing. Teaching art as a profession has allowed me to pursue my love of art while engaged in teaching and encouraging thousands of young people in the development of their talents.

“While I believe that art is self expression, I have found it to be much more than that. It is also sharing, informing, persuading, encouraging and uplifting. I have enjoyed exploring a variety of subject matter, forms and medium. Teaching in a relatively small art department has encouraged breadth. Yet, throughout this exploration, it has remained my conviction that art is at its best when it is done with unity of form and a positive goal in mind. I have tried to hold to a Christian ethic that seeks to lift the spirits of my fellow humans and honors the God who created us. I hope my work will leave the viewer with a greater sense of wholeness, peace and appreciation for the Creator and for the world he has made for us to enjoy.”

He served as an elder at West Side for many years. He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Shirley; two sons, Danny and Mark; a daughter, Kathy Crossman; and eight grandchildren.

Tom Buterbaugh, editor/designer

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Kevin Kehl freshman

Kevin Kehl, freshman year (Petit Jean yearbook)

I don’t know if fall 1979 set any heat records in Searcy, but I do recall that one of the first things I did was purchase a fan to put in the window of my room on the third floor of Armstrong Hall. It was warm to be sure, but the slight breeze created by the fan meant I could concentrate on the intramural softball games being played across the street. I’ll confess that during that first week I probably looked forward to getting out on the intramural field more than attending my classes. When orientation had ended and classes began, I remember teachers holding me to a higher standard than I was used to which was both frightening and refreshing at the same time.

My memory of that first week of school might best be described as snapshots that come into clear focus again and again during this time of the year. Here are a few of those snapshots:

• Guys hanging around the landline phone located in the middle of the hall anticipating a call from home or, better yet, from the girls’ dorm
• A roommate sharing homemade brownies he had received from home
• A letter from dad with a small amount of gas money inside
• Singing at night around the lily pond for hours.
• Daily chapel meeting in the Administration Auditorium.
• A mixed feeling of loneliness, anxiety and excitement as I longed for the familiar, dreaded the unknown and anticipated the possibilities.
• And finally, a keen sense of being in a special place with special people by which God was going to shape me

Kevin Kehl, director of first year experience and academic resources

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Liz Howell freshman

Liz Howell, freshman year (Petit Jean yearbook)

Remembering my first day at Harding is easy because I relive it each time I walk across campus. A calm, sweet spirit fills my soul as I walk under the canopies of oak trees and remember how quickly 40 years have passed. I lived in Kendall, and my best and oldest friend from home, Rhonda Brown Wilson, lived in Cathcart. We decided not to room together because we didn’t want to take a chance on hurting our friendship. We had a well-worn trail between our dorms and were inseparable during our first semester. As a girl from a small town in Southwest Arkansas, Searcy was a big city with many food choices that included pizza and cheese dip. I loved going to church camp, and I felt like going to Harding was better than church camp and a glimpse of heaven. I lived on the third floor and ran those stairs numerous times a day, and there was no air conditioning. I think I took two or three showers a day because it was so hot! We only had one phone on each wing, and miraculously that worked. That had to be some kind of divine intervention. Marcy Helton Allison, from Bossier City, Louisiana, lived across the hall from me. We became friends on my first day in the dorm. Rhonda and Marcy are the type of friends who I don’t see often, but they are life-long friends because of our Harding experience.

Liz Howell, assistant to the president for alumni and parent relations

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Zach Neal freshman

Zach Neal, freshman year (Petit Jean yearbook)

It was fall 1997. I was accomplishing a goal from a list I made in sixth grade: “Graduate high school and major in Bible at Harding University.” I remember having butterflies in my stomach as I walked out of Armstrong 213 thinking, “Yes, it is finally here.” My grandmother was a dorm mom in Kendall in the 80s, so I was on campus a lot as a kid. Add basketball camp and Uplift to the mix, and I spent many summers walking these sidewalks. My brother was an upperclassman while my sister and parents were already alumni, so I was definitely ready to add to the Harding tradition. If I remember correctly, more than 20 students of my high school graduating class were freshman at HU, so I knew it was going to be a lot of fun.

My brother gave me some practical advice: “1) Save your new clothes for the second week or you might as well write ‘freshman’ across your chest. 2) Order burgers without pickles at the Student Center Burger King so you won’t have to get one from under the heating lamps. And 3) Buy a large umbrella because you never know when you may need to walk a girl across campus.”

I remember thinking I was one of the few students who ate breakfast before 8 a.m. in the cafeteria. I remember thinking what an honor it was to be sitting in Dr. Neale Pryor’s New Testament Survey. I was amazed when he listed the names of my parents and siblings including where they sat in class. I remember thinking Dr. Ken Neller made Greek look a lot easier than it is. I remember going to bed that night looking forward to the next day.

As I think back to that first day I am reminded again what an honor it is to experience a “first day” every year with all of our new students.

Zach Neal, assistant vice president of student life


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Beckie Weaver freshman

Beckie Weaver, freshman year (Petit Jean yearbook)

I arrived on campus in September 1969. I may have been the most excited freshman on campus that year. Being a student at Harding College had been my goal for the last three years, and I came ready to join every club, participate in every mixer or devotional, and meet every other student on campus (and attend class). The idea that the majority of students at this college shared the same faith as me was the most exciting and joyful notion that I could imagine. I came to Harding College expecting to feel like I had felt at church camp, Camp Sunset, all year long. Harding did not disappoint me. It was heaven on earth.

Those first few days, I met friends who I still treasure. From the laughing short, blonde girl from Mississippi to the tall, quiet boy from Little Rock, to the group of sophomore Sub-T members who gave all the freshmen girls a fake name, they are all still part of my world. Harding College gave me what I was looking for; it gave me a string of human pearls of friendship. I will wear that necklace close to my heart forever.

I did attend class and acquire a degree, but the relationships that were established here have been educating me for eternity.

Dr. Beckie Weaver, dean of the College of Allied Health

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Glenn Dillard freshman

Glenn Dillard, freshman year (Petit Jean yearbook)

It’s been 34 years since I started as a freshman at Harding University, but I remember it well. The nervousness of meeting guys in my residence hall, the uncertainty of living full time with an assigned roommate whom I had just met, and the anticipation of all the life-changing experiences I had heard about from current students made each day exciting. It seemed like I was living on adrenalin for the first couple of weeks and then it hit me … I was 21-hours away from my parents and the home where I grew up, and I hadn’t even realized it!

Having attended public schools all my life, it was refreshing to be at a distinctively Christian university where classes would commonly start with a prayer or song — a university where it was obvious that there was something much deeper to grasp than becoming more proficient in my English or communication skills or attempting to understand an historical event. I appreciated then, and still do today, Harding’s intentional mission to combine faith, learning and living into every academic discipline.

As I think back on my Harding days I don’t initially think of the fantastic lectures I had in the College of Business Administration (although I’m sure there were many!). Instead I immediately think of the guys who were in my wedding, and the crazy (yet clean and harmless) things we did in the residence hall at 2 a.m. It’s the people, the friendships and the relationships that I miss the most.

As the new student class arrives and begins their Harding experience, it’s easy to be somewhat envious of what’s in store for them. I only hope and pray that their Harding experience is as positive as mine was. Welcome to the Harding family!

Glenn Dillard, assistant vice president for enrollment management

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Little Rock Central High School (photo by junior Brooke Kehl)

Today is the first day of Student Impact on campus, and while incoming freshmen began arriving as early as Tuesday, this year’s resident assistants have been on the scene since Monday, ready to receive three days of RA training.

Training typically includes learning the process of checking students in and out of the dorms, being introduced to the residence life coordinators (more commonly known as “dorm parents”), being introduced to campus resources, learning how to address specific situations that may arise during the year, as well as team-building activities.

This year included a trip to Little Rock Central High School, famously known as the school of the “Little Rock Nine.” The RAs were then led on a guided tour by a Harding alumnus from National Park Services who presented practical applications from the school’s history that the RAs could implement in their residence hall responsibilities.

Junior Jenna Montgomery, an RA for Searcy Hall this year, felt that visiting LRCHS and learning about the Little Rock Nine was a great reminder of the importance of reaching out to students.

“I think I can speak for all of the RAs when I say that their courage and bravery inspired all of us to look for opportunities where we can make a difference in the lives of the students on our halls and around campus.”

RAs were later presented with special demonstrations from public safety, the counseling center, the Searcy Fire Department and other campus resources.

In the afternoons, break-out sessions were led by the residence life coordinators for team-building activities and more specific training.

Wednesday night concluded RA training with a devotional, and RAs are now busily checking in students as they arrive for a new year.

Bethany Aspey, web content manager

Cathcart Hall

Cathcart Hall

I was a freshman at Harding moving into Armstrong Hall 40 years ago this month.

Fast forward those 40 years and you will find this dad moving his freshman daughter into Cathcart Hall, the ladies version of Armstrong. It seemed she had a lot more stuff to move than I did as a freshman but then again, my room didn’t look like it belonged in a magazine like hers does either!

Athletes have been arriving on campus since Saturday, and on Thursday, this campus will be bursting with freshmen moving in.

Parents who are alumni like me will be struck by all the many wonderful changes and additions they will see at Harding — although Armstrong and Cathcart are really not much different!

Perhaps the biggest change, though, is how communication has evolved in that 40-year stretch as we can talk or text with our children almost anytime through cell phones. There is no more trying to catch them when that hall phone isn’t busy. Social media also makes keeping up with them simpler.

But even though advanced communication makes staying in touch easier, some things never change, including fighting back tears as goodbyes are said, and our children embark on this blessed, new, nervous and exciting adventure called Harding University. Life is forever changed.

I’m the lucky guy who works on the same campus his daughter attends, and we’ve already planned to have weekly daddy/daughter lunch dates. But the silence from that room on the end of the house is a deafening reminder that a new phase of our lives has begun.

And it is going to be a good thing.

Tom Buterbaugh, editor/designer

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I stay busy for the first part of the summer with Special Olympics, Girls State and other groups that come to campus. But the end of the summer is a really slow time, and I don’t have much to photograph. So I turn my lens toward the beautiful blooms that are all over campus. I am not good with the names of all the flowers, but I do love to shoot all of the various blooms we have around campus. I hope you will take a second and soak up the beautiful blooms of summer where you are.06-17-2014-70205 08-01-2014-2731 06-25-2014-5485 06-25-2014-5480 06-25-2014-5506 06-25-2014-5500

Jeff Montgomery/photographer

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