American Studies Institute
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
The American Studies Institute traces its roots to a program at Harding University that began in 1953 as the School of American Studies. Initiated to work toward bringing about a better understanding of the American way of life, the program had an impact on the education of every student. In the ensuing years, the program of American Studies at Harding has become one of the most-honored programs of its kind in the nation.
The American Studies Institute is to be an educational bastion to the broad countercultural trends that we see sweeping our nation from one decade to the next. Its answer is to go back to the fundamental values that made this country great. As Dr. George S. Benson, the late president in Harding University, first articulated as Constitutional Government, Capitalism, and Christianity. From these three C’s, American Studies Institute can see a multitude of values flow such as a respect for authority, respect for human life, the work ethic, and discipline.
This long-established tradition continues to be highlighted by its marquee, Distinguished Lectureship Series, and emphasis on educational programs, such as the National Leadership Forum and the Belden Center for Private Enterprise Education. For the future, efforts are being explored, such as the Sino American Studies Institute.
Harding University will always uphold and study America’s role it plays in making this country and the world a better place in which to serve our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The American Studies Distinguished Lecture Series has had 500+ distinguished lecturers on campus over all of these years. An example of the quality of the lectures in illustrated by the following list: Gerald Ford, William Crowe, Dan Quayle, Lynne Cheney, Helmut Schmidt, Benazir Bhutto, Henry Kissinger, Dick Cheney, Margaret Thatcher, George Bush, John Major, Colin Powell, Lech Walesa, Mikhail Gorbachev, Barbara Bush, Malcolm S. Forbes Jr., and Brian Mulroney. Further evidence of the American Studies Institute program being the marquee program of the university, it has been awarded Freedom Foundation medals from the very earliest to date to a total of over 45, for contribution to the community and country.
1925 Dr. George S. Benson goes to China as a missionary and personally experiences Communism and Socialism
1936 Dr. George S. Benson returns to Harding University as the university’s second president; Dr. Benson established his National Education Program (NEP), emphasizing Godliness and Patriotism and his three C’s of Constitutional Government, Capitalism, and Christianity (over 25 million people a week came in contact with Dr. Benson’s thoughts on these through his radio program and publications)
1936 Dr. Kimmerer of Princeton University; first American Studies speaker
1949 First Freedom’s Foundation medal awarded to Harding University by General Dwight D. Eisenhower
1952 School of American Studies established; Dr. Clifton L. Ganus named Dean
1953 First educational tour for students
1954 American Studies for Teachers program begun
1956 Youth Citizenship Seminar began for High School juniors and seniors
1965 Dr. Billy Ray Cox named Director of the American Studies program
1973 Management Seminars begun as a part of the American Studies program
1979 The Dell Belden Center for Free Enterprise Education was established
1982 Lecture Studio Library was begun; Dr. David B. Burks, Dean of the School of Business, named director of the program
1985 The Walton program was established
1987 American Studies Program changed to American Studies Institute and an advisory board was formed with Co-Chairmen Jack Stephens and Sam Walton
1987 Dr. Jim Carr named Director of the American Studies Institute and Dr. Bob Reely named Executive Associate Director
1988 American Studies Institute Conference Center was established
1988 Arkansas American Legion Auxiliary Girls’ State
1990 American Studies Distinguished Student upper level Honors program formed
1992 Arkansas State Special Olympics hosted by the American Studies Institute
1992 Stephens Scholars Program begun
1993 Youth Citizenship Seminar (YCS) changed to National Leadership Forum (NLF)
1993 Summer Economics Institute for Teachers had begun, graduating approximately 25 teachers a year for seven years totaling of 175 graduates, influencing as many as 150 students per year, giving a multiplier of possibly thousands of students to be influenced in Economic Education
1999 Arkansas Home School Conference hosted by Conference Center
2004 Sino/American Studies Institute began. Presently, 16 Chinese scholars have graduated from Harding University and there are 36 that are currently enrolled
2006 National Leadership Forum celebrating its 50th Anniversary with approximately 10,000+ High School students influenced over these years in godliness and patriotism
2015 Kim Kirkman named Executive Associate Director and Dr. Reely returns to teaching in the College of Business.
2016 National Leadership Forum celebrating its 60th Anniversary and Dr. Reely celebrating his 30th working with National Leadership Forum.
2017 Kim Kirkman named Executive Director as Dr. Carr transitions to part time before his retirement in June 2019.
EVALUATING THE RESULTS
The benefits of the American Studies Institute have been visibly significant. Unequaled educational opportunities have been provided to students in many disciplines. The program has a long-standing tradition of recognition from the Freedoms Foundation in Valley Forge, Pa., receiving numerous awards in the area of community service. The program itself, along with faculty and administrators at Harding have won a Freedoms Foundation award every year for the past 44 years.
Harding's continuing emphasis on the principles of freedom has made an indelible mark on students through the years. Their influence continues to permeate and influence those around them.
The American Studies Institute at Harding University is truly unique, bringing national opinion leaders in business and politics to local constituents. Harding was a pioneer, and continues to be a leader, in the promotion of free enterprise education, preparing students to build a better nation. The expanded services of the American Studies Institute assure that these goals will continue to be achieved.
PATRIOT'S ENDOWMENT CLUB
As a member of the Patriot Endowment Club, the donor and nine guests will be invited to the ASI Presidential reception and host a table of 10 for the dinner before each distingished lecture in the series and have reserved seats in the distingushed lecture.
As member of the America's Club, the donor and five guests will be invited to the ASI Presidential reception and dinner before each distingushed lecture in the series and have reserved seats in the distingushed lecture.
As member of the Liberty Club, the donor and three guests will be invited to the ASI Presidential reception and dinner before each distingushed lecture in the series and have reserved seats in the distingushed lecture.
As member of the Constitutional Club, the donor and one guest will be invited to the ASI Presidential reception and dinner before each distingushed lecture in the series and have reserved seats in the distingushed lecture.
FREE ENTERPRISE CLUB
As member of the Free Enterprise Club, the donor and one guest will be invited to the ASI dinner before each distingushed lecture in the series and have reserved seats in the distingushed lecture.
As member of the Freedom Club, the donor and one guest will have reserved seats in the distingushed lecture.
American Studies Institute Sponsors 2018
Matt and Emily Bell
Dennis and Saide Leggett
Unity Health (WCMC)
White River Flooring
B-B Oil Company Inc.
Drs. Debbie and Richard Duke
Kelly and Anna Koonce
Ozark Information Services
Searcy Industrial Products Inc
The Bug Man Inc.
Free Enterprise Club
Dr. Finis and Bette Bailey Jr.
Dr. Kaci and Lee Bohn
Richard and Lisa Cargile
Dr. Jim and Susan Carr
Charlie's Auto Paint & Body, Inc.
Colton's Steak House and Grill
Dr. Jared and Casey Cox
Dr. Mark and Penny Davis
Edward Jones: Amy Daniels
First Community Bank
Rick and Susan Harper
Jim and Sue House
J.R. and Kathy Howard
Dr. Mike and Elaine Justus
Brett and Kim Kirkman
Steve and Edna Lake
Carl and Dottie Lindsey
Paul and Jan Morgan
Joel and Mona Pritchett
Dr. Porter and Carol Rodgers
Simmons First Bank
Bill Spear III
Dr. Mark and Connie White
Arkansas Testing Labs
Dr. Arthur and Sheri Shearin