On September 16 Dr. Mike Williams was formally inaugurated as the University’s sixth president in nearly a century.


Learn more about President Williams

Inauguration was a historic event where our community came together to celebrate the beginning of Dr. Williams’ presidency. It was an exciting opportunity to hear from our new president and express gratitude for our rich heritage and hope for a bright future.

The inauguration was the culmination of a series of events celebrating the beginning of Dr. Williams’ tenure.

The Legacy Relay

Sept. 15, The Legacy Relay began in Morrilton, Arkansas, at Harding’s original campus. Nearly 40 students — led by the cross-country team — ran more than 70 miles to Searcy, just as the founders passed the torch of Christian education on to the next generation. Many students also were positioned at key points along the route to cheer on their classmates.

As the last runner, freshman Abby White, crossed the finish line at the Harding College arch, the University community gathered to welcome her home. Then, as one, everyone walked the final leg of the relay across campus to Bison Park.

Harding’s story has been shaped by men and women with resolute faith and unwavering tenacity who sacrificed greatly to build a school on the foundation of Jesus Christ. For the last century, each generation has been tasked with taking up the mantle and forging ahead, continuing to serve with compassion and boldness.

Many Spirit-led mentors have shepherded students throughout their experiences in the Harding community. Their sacrifices have brought the University into the present. This is the time for current students, faculty and staff, alumni, and administration to decide how the legacy will continue.

The Inauguration Celebration

On Sept. 16, we began the day in prayer, led by Dr. Mike Justus, Todd Gentry and Cade Williams at a prayer breakfast in Cone Chapel. The celebration in the Benson Auditorium was livestreamed so the entire Harding community could participate in the historic occasion of inaugurating our sixth president. In his inaugural address, Dr. Williams revealed his presidential motto: “Inspired Purpose.”

After the inauguration, a coffee blend, “Inspired Conversations,” was launched with a coffee reception in the C.L. Kay Plaza outside the Benson Auditorium. The day concluded with each academic college holding a celebration with alumni guests. Learn more about the 13 individual events that were planned by academic colleges. The entire community continued the festivities through Family Weekend.

Read excerpts from his inaugural address and quotes from other speakers in the fall 2022 issue of Harding Magazine.


Inspired Purpose

“A Harding education conjures up deep emotions and has lofty goals. After a time of prayer and reflection, I determined that my presidential motto would be: Inspired Purpose.

  • Inspired — Anchored in our historic Christian mission, we recognize the very source of our strength: the Spirit of the Lord — a dove to remind us of the one who saves, a fire to impassion us, a wind to refresh and guide us.
  • Purpose — The essence of the Harding experience extends far beyond career preparation. It is a quest for meaning and vision. It is a crucible to discover our values, convictions and direction.
  • Inspired Purpose — We aspire to restore the world to what God intended from the beginning.

As I begin my tenure as the sixth president of Harding University, may we be led, motivated and molded by Inspired Purpose.”

—President Williams



This self-guided tour was created for the inauguration but will continue to be used and expanded as we approach our Centennial Celebration.


Digital Program

Inauguration Celebration Order of Events

  • Processional
  • The History of Harding University
    • Live Narrators: Dr. Michael Claxton, Jason Darden, Jonathan Storment, Stacey Rodenbeck
  • Singing of the Alma Mater led by the Chamber Singers under the direction of Dr. Susan Shirel
  • Honoring our Community, Student Association President Megan Sledge
  • “We Are Harding,” featuring seniors Watkins Kelly and Emily Stinnett, juniors Carter Thweatt and Tressie Chapman, sophomores James Stone and Adele Duncan, freshmen Hudson Vaughan and Elizabeth Brown, the Thundering Herd Marching Band under the direction of Eric Colgrove, and the Harding University Cheerleaders
  • Message to current students from I Corinthians 9:24, Dr. Phil Brown
  • Reading from The Human Being as Nexus of World and Faith by Landon Saunders, presented by Mike Cope
  • This Is Your Time by J. Reese Norris, Combined Chorus under the direction of Dr. Susan Shirel
  • Personal remarks, Dr. Jean-Noel Thompson
  • Investiture, Dr. Bob Walker
  • Introduction of Harding’s sixth president, Lisa Williams
  • Inaugural Address, Dr. Michael D. Williams
  • Harding’s Global Mission, video featuring alumni:
    • Eddie Shewmaker (’44) — Westfield, New Jersey
    • Sujin Nelson (‘08) — Vienna, Austria
    • Katie Copeland (’09) and Jeremy (’09) Daggett — Arequipa, Peru
    • Rusty Campbell (’10) — Camp Bellevue in Tabacundo, Ecuador
    • Louis Bassay (’18) and Linda Behn Sangha Epse Bassay (’22) — Cameroon
    • Albert Cook (’93) — Bucharest, Romania
    • Dr. Steve Teel (’74) — Instituto Baxter, Tegucigalpa, Honduras
    • Nathan (’19) and Emily Reid (‘18) House — Turkey
    • Philip Matheny (’03) — St. Louis and Burkina Faso, West Africa
    • Derek (’20) and Jennifer Williams (’17) King — Vancouver Island, Canada
    • Maikon Borba (’20) — Coconut Creek, Florida
    • Matt Gulley (’04) and Nikki Roussos (’01) Gulley — Athens, Greece
    • Avyn Elizabeth Dodds (kindergarten student at Harding Academy)
  • Prayer, Dr. Greg Harris
  • Christ Be All Around Me by Michael W. Smith, Combined Chorus under the direction of Dr. Jay Walls
  • Recessional

Academic Delegates, College Presidents and Representatives

Academic Delegates

  • Dr. Robert A. McCready II, Université de Toulouse (Toulouse, France)
  • Dr. Robert Allen Diles, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
  • Dr. Rodney Richmond, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Dr. Ronald Smith, University of Tennessee Knoxville
  • Dr. Cheri Pierson Yecke, University of Virginia
  • Hannah Wood, M.A., The George Washington University
  • Dr. Julie Hixson-Wallace, Mercer University
  • Dr. Shawn Daggett, Boston University
  • Enrique Colón, MFA, University of Notre Dame
  • Dr. Mac Sandlin, University of Dayton
  • Melinda Huff, M.S., University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
  • Dr. Denise Fisher, Iowa State University
  • Dr. Ross Cochran, Boston College
  • Dr. David Adams, University of Kansas
  • Dr. Whitaker Jordan, University of Kentucky
  • Dr. Steven Breezeel, University of Illinois
  • Dr. James Huff, Purdue University
  • Dr. Cindy White, Colorado State University
  • Dr. Cliff Ganus, University of Colorado
  • Dr. Steven Moore, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
  • Dr. Ken Turley, The University of Texas at Austin
  • Dr. Dale W. Manor, University of Arizona
  • Jeanie Burt, MSN, Clarkson College
  • Dr. Laurie Diles, University of Oklahoma
  • Dr. James Burk, Washington State University
  • Mendy McClelland, M.A., Trinity International University
  • Dr. Jeanie Smith, Southwestern Oklahoma State University
  • Dr. Anita Killins, University of Central Arkansas
  • Dr. Jim Miller, Kappa Tau Alpha National College Honor Society
  • Dr. Jessica Moore, Middle Tennessee State University
  • Charles Robin Miller, MFA, The University of Memphis
  • Dr. Rich Brown, Delta Mu Delta International Honor Society
  • Dr. Debbie Duke, Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society
  • Michael Allen, MS, Sloan School at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Dr. Trixie Pittman, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Dr. Julie Harris, Phi Alpha Theta National History Honor Society
  • Lara Noah, B.A., Alpha Chi National College Honor Society
  • Dr. Kristi Bond, Phi Sigma Iota National Honor Society
  • Dr. Melanie Liann Gallagher, Texas Tech University
  • Dr. Lisa Ritchie, University of Arkansas at Little Rock
  • Dr. Frank McCown, Old Dominion University
  • Dr. Anessa Westbrook, Fuller Theological Seminary
  • Laurie Walker, M.S., Florida Institute of Technology
  • Dr. Zachary P. Muncy, UALR - William H. Bowen School of Law
  • Dr. Todd Patten, Chi Sigma Iota International Honor Society

Christian College and other college representatives

  • Dr. Michael Turner, President of Amridge University
  • Dr. Richard Johnson, President of Crowley’s Ridge College
  • Dr. Milton Sewell, Chancellor of Freed-Hardeman University
  • Dr. Kirk Brothers, President of Heritage Christian University
  • Dr. Jennifer Methvin, Chancellor at ASU - Beebe
  • Dr. James Krall, VP of Advancement at John Brown University
  • Dr. Jay Brewster, Provost at Pepperdine
  • James Wiser, Dean of Library Science and Educational Technology at Abilene Christian
  • Dr. Mitch Henry, President of Faulkner University

Government Representatives

  • Jonathan Dismang, Arkansas Senator
  • Keith Brooks, Arkansas Representative
  • Daryl Bassett, Secretary of Labor

Alumni Delegates

1940s Harding Alumnus

  • Eddie Shewmaker (’44)

1950s Harding Alumni

  • Mary Ellen Swain (’50) Searcy, Arkansas
  • Glenn Boyd (’52) Searcy, Arkansas
  • Joan Hacker (’52) Searcy, Arkansas
  • Kent Rollmann (’53) Searcy, Arkansas
  • Norma Lou Rollman (’53) Searcy, Arkansas
  • Corene Stevens (’53) Searcy, Arkansas
  • Bobby Coker (’56) Searcy, Arkansas
  • Johnice Hearn (’56) Searcy, Arkansas
  • Marilee Coker (’58) Searcy, Arkansas

1960s Harding Alumni

  • Harold A. Valentine (’61) Searcy, Arkansas
  • Dee Kernodle (’64) Jonesboro, Arkansas
  • Nancy Banta (’65) Searcy, Arkansas
  • Ronald L. French (’65) Tipton, Oklahoma
  • Dwight Pierce (’66) Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • Dorothy Ann Pierce (’66) Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • Karla French (’67) Tipton, Oklahoma
  • Linda Byrd Smith (’67) Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Ann Dixon (’68) Searcy, Arkansas
  • Dr. Jan C. Morgan (’69) Searcy, Arkansas
  • Dr. Sheri Shearin (’69) Searcy, Arkansas
  • Nancy Ashley Lamb (’69) Maumelle, Arkansas
  • David Cole (‘69)

1970s Harding Alumni

  • Dr. Arthur Shearin (’70) Searcy, Arkansas
  • Donald Miller (’71) Searcy, Arkansas
  • Don Sandlin (’73) Beebe, Arkansas
  • Timothy J. Hacker, DDS, FAAID, D-ABOI (’74) Searcy, Arkansas
  • Tim Holder (’79) Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Mackye Sandlin (’75) Beebe, Arkansas
  • Liz Howell (’78) Searcy, Arkansas
  • M. Kathryn Robison (‘79) Harding University College of Pharmacy

1980s Harding Alumni

  • Patti Jo Dillard White (’80) Ferndale, Arkansas
  • Dennis R. Bacon (’80) Lee’s Summit, Missouri
  • Sherry Nossaman (’83) Benton, Arkansas
  • Kathy Louise Coley Greenman (’83) Searcy, Arkansas
  • Michael B. Wood (’84) Searcy, Arkansas
  • Matthew Ford (’85) Searcy, Arkansas
  • Joanne Ford (’85) Searcy, Arkansas
  • Michele Roder Griffith (’89) Memphis, Tennessee
  • Robin Wenger Riddick (’89) Searcy, Arkansas
  • Lance Riddick (’89) Searcy, Arkansas

1990s Harding Alumni

  • Todd D. Kempton (’90) Van, Texas
  • Bryan Grover Jackson (’91) White Hall, Arkansas
  • John T. Scott (’93) Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Robin M. Hill (’94) Sherwood, Arkansas
  • Dana Marie Martin (’95) Searcy, Arkansas
  • Caroline Clements Smith, MD (’96) Hillsborough, North Carolina
  • Briana Cunningham (’98) Plummerville, Arkansas

2000s Harding Alumni

  • Patrick Bewley (’00) Carrollton, Texas
  • Jason McGlawn (’00) Searcy, Arkansas
  • Katie Towell (’02) Beebe, Arkansas
  • Micheal Felker (’03) Mansfield, Texas
  • Dr. LT Daniel McGraw (’04) Bentonville, Arkansas
  • Andy Goodman (’04) Greenbrier, Arkansas
  • Nate Copeland (’06) Mobile, Alabama
  • Ivy Wang (’08) Searcy, Arkansas

2010s Harding Alumni

  • Dr. Jake Brownfield (’11) Searcy, Arkansas
  • Adam Brown (’12) Brentwood, Tennessee
  • Franklin Franks (’12) Cabot, Arkansas
  • Melinda Johnson (’13) Searcy, Arkansas
  • Courtland Hemphill (’14) Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Sierra Chaney (’16) Bald Knob, Arkansas

2020s Harding Alumni

  • Spencer Wright (’20) Searcy, Arkansas
  • Ethan Brazell (’21) Duluth, Georgia
  • Covington Crain (’23) Little Rock, Arkansas

Inauguration Committees

Inauguration Committee

  • Candice Moore, chair
  • Luke Humphrey
  • Cindy Hunter
  • Heather Kemper
  • Britt Lynn
  • Stephen Martin
  • Dr. Travis McNeal
  • Zach Neal
  • Emily Roberts
  • Megan Sledge
  • Megan Stroud
  • Dr. Jean-Noel Thompson
  • Hannah Wood

Inauguration Subcommittees

Legacy Relay Subcommittee

  • Britney Finley
  • Wayne Westerholm
  • Don Hood
  • Justin Bland
  • Tia Stone
  • Mark Prior
  • Jessica Moore
  • Kara Abston
  • J.D. Yingling
  • Kevin Davis
  • Madison Meyer
  • Zach Neal
  • Megan Sledge

Prayer Breakfast, Coffee Launch and Board Reception Subcommittee

  • Emily Roberts
  • Cindy Hunter
  • Sharon Williams
  • Sydney Bryant
  • Laurel Shearin

Video Production Subcommittee

  • Britt Lynn
  • Hailey Pruitt
  • Megan Stroud
  • Jake Ward
  • Hannah Wood

Audio Visual & Technical Crew

  • Jonathan Aders
  • Hannah Dodson
  • Britt Lynn
  • Bryan Davis
  • Mark Prior
  • Sullivan Hickman
  • Levi Huddleston
  • Kylie Jones
  • Kat Ream
  • Maggie Tackitt
  • Hayden Bailey
  • Hannah Haddix

Music Subcommittee

  • Dr. Eric Colgrove
  • Dr. Susan Shirel
  • Dr. Jay Walls
  • Dr. Warren Casey

Media Relations Subcommittee

  • Katie Clement

Graphic Design and Marketing Subcommittee

  • Luke Humphrey
  • Cherisse Gregory
  • Tim Cox
  • Todd Kiles
  • Kendal Escue

Extra Mile Party and Concert Subcommittee

  • Meg Sledge
  • Abby Stinnett
  • Zach Neal
  • Heather Kemper
  • Rachel Luallen

Volunteer and Ticketing Management Subcommittee

  • Kara Abston
  • Joanna Crisco
  • Cindy Hunter
  • Heather Kemper
  • Rachel Luallen
  • Britt Lynn