Honors College

Faculty & Staff

Michael L. James

Michael L. James, Ph.D., (Florida State University)
Distinguished Professor and Dean, Honors College

Phone: 501-279-5432

About Dr. James

After beginning his Harding tenure in the office of public relations in 1973, Dr. James was added to the faculty and served as chair of the Department of Communication from 1993 until 2008. He was chosen as the first dean of the College of Communication in 2008. James agreed to become the director of Harding University in Greece (HUG) in the fall of 2010. He and his wife, Beth, co-directed the semester-abroad program in Porto Rafti, Greece, for almost five years. James returned to Searcy in 2015, when he was named dean of the Honors College. In addition to his role as Dean, James serves as Director of Fellowship Advising and as faculty sponsor to Alpha Chi and Omicron Delta Kappa.  He also is the developer of TEDxHARDINGU, and is faculty advisor of Chi Sigma Alpha men's social club. A native of Kennett, Mo., Dr. James received a B.S. degree in math from Harding, a MSMC from Arkansas State University, and a Ph.D. in communication from Florida State University. His specialty is interactive communication, especially those relating to photography. Among other hobbies, he is a commercially-licensed drone pilot. He and Beth have four children and eight grandchildren.

Dr. James teaches HNRS 201 and Honors sections of COMM 101. He also supervises upperclass students in research projects for HNRS 360 and 460, and directs independent studies for HNRS 410, a capstone project for students with a minor in Leadership Studies. Each semester, he evaluates all capstone courses for students completing "Honors College Graduate of Distinction" requirements.

Ross Cochran

Ross Cochran, Ph.D., (Boston College)

Office: McInteer 239
Phone: 501-279-4786
Ph.D Boston College
Practical Theology and Christian Educaion

About Dr. Cochran

Ross is a native of Hobbs, New Mexico. He has served churches in Ireland, Massachusetts, Tennessee and Arkansas. Ross met his wife, Nita, while they were students at Harding University. They were married for 35 years when she passed in May 2016. They have three children – Chris, Allen and Hannah.

Ross has taught at Harding since 1986 and loves the access to Harding students and the ministry opportunities that role provides. He has published one book: Not Off Limits: Questions You Wished You Could Ask at Church. The book is an attempt to foster more respectful dialogue around the numerous difficult and controversial issues we face today. A primary idea in the book is that unity has not occurred until we respect each other while we disagree. 

Ross is a CASA volunteer, and a shepherd at the Downtown Church in Searcy, AR.  

Ross teaches the freshmen Honors Scholars HNRS 202 “Life and Teachings of Jesus” course each fall term.

Pat Garner

Pat Garner, Ph.D., (University of Oklahoma)

Office: Reynolds C209
Phone: 501-279-4635

About Dr. Garner

Dr. Patrick Garner has taught communication at Harding for 47 years. Besides being a classroom teacher in the Department of Communication, he is also a teacher and one of the founding participants in the Honors College. Dr. Garner also directs the forensics program. His academic interests include interpersonal communication, nonverbal behavior, persuasion, small group communication, neuroaesthetics and the effects of technology on interpersonal behavior.

In the Honors College he teaches four different courses, including HNRS 201 (Communication and Critical Thinking), HNRS 203 (Human Situation I), HNRS 204 (Human Situation II), and COMM 101H (Archaeology of Communication). Topics in his classes include the nature of influence, neuroaesthetics, the development of postmodern thought, the effects of present and future technology on culture and contemporary ethical questions.

Dr. Garner has been married to the former Mona Lee Moore for 47 years, having four children and eight grandchildren. He is an elder at the Downtown Church of Christ.

Larry Hunt

Larry Hunt, Ph.D., (University of Georgia)

Office: Am Studies 317
Phone: 501-279-4168

About Dr. Hunt

Dr. Hunt's specialty is medieval literature, and his current teaching assignment includes courses in the Liberal Arts core as well as the Honors College, the nature and history of language, Old and Middle English Literature, and C. S. Lewis. He is a sponsor of the student organization Kolbitar (Coal-biters), a club inspired by the writings of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien that meets biweekly to discuss mythological and Germanic literature.

Dr. Hunt teaches the honors section of ENG 201 (World Literature) and HNRS 203 (Human Situation I).

Debbie Baird

Debbie Baird, B.A., (Harding University)
Honors College Administrator

Phone: 501-279-4157

About Mrs. Baird

Debbie Baird joined the Honors College team in 2001. Serving as the Honors College Administrator, she manages the day-to-day functioning of the Honors College.  Mrs. Baird serves as an academic advisor to honors students who have not yet decided upon a major and those who want to create a customized Interdisciplinary Studies major.  She enjoys developing relationships with students and encouraging them to discover the gifts God has given them.

Mrs. Baird is a graduate of Harding and is married to Tim Baird, a faculty member in Computer Science. Tim and Debbie have worshiped with the Cloverdale congregation in Searcy for more than forty years. They have three grown sons and two daughters-in-law.

Kristina Chance

Kristina Chance, B.A., (York College)
Assistant to the Dean

Phone: 501-279-4056

About Mrs. Chance

Kristina Chance will greet every student and visitor who enters the Honors House!  Kristina has been a member of the Honors College staff since 2018 and serves as the “Assistant to the Dean”.  She manages our Summer Academic Institute enrollment process and facilitates Honors College student activities.

Mrs. Chance graduated from York College in York, Nebraska, with a degree in Oral Communication Theory. Married to Jared, they have two school-age children, and are active with the Westside Church of Christ.

Contact Us

Fax: 501-279-4016

Mailing address:
Harding University
Honors College
Box 10782
Searcy, AR 72149-5615

Office hours:
Monday - Friday
8am-5pm (closed for the noon lunch hour)