By David B. Burks, president
For 47 years, I have experienced the special blessings of this community.
I came to Searcy, sight unseen, from New Mexico with intentions of only staying one year. The Harding family soon changed that mindset. I earned my way through Harding as Petit Jean photographer. Dr. Joe Pryor blessed me as he became much more than just my yearbook adviser. My accounting professor, Dr. James Hedrick, was a father figure to me. After taking his classes for 33 hours, I knew what he was going to say before he said it.
During my tenure as president I have been blessed by godly men and women who serve on our board, such as James Cone who, in my early years as president, would tell me, “David, just do what’s right; you’ll be fine,” and Paul Carter who made such a tremendous difference in this University.
People in the Harding community reach out and serve. I think of so many people who have been helped. Above that, they pray. And prayer changes things.
Our people working in commonality allow us to do great things, from our physical resources team renovating a dorm in just 90 days, to exploring the western hemisphere tracing the route of coffee, to tours of our beautiful campus encouraging prospective students to be a part of this place we call Harding.
We used excerpts from Dr. Bruce McLarty’s dissertation as the background material for our conference before the start of the fall semester. His last section entitled “Community” contains this paragraph that I believe says it well.
“Love is the central ethic of a community in which the reign of God is realized. Near the end of his earthly ministry, Jesus announced, ‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’ In a Christian university setting, this is a reminder that loving relationships authenticate in the eyes of our students our claim to follow Jesus. Our words of faith mean so much more when our actions are demonstrations of our love.”
Harding is truly a remarkable community. May it always be such a loving kinship that others will see God through us.