Academic Support Services

McNair Program

The McNair Scholars Program, made possible through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, supports undergraduate students’ scholarly activities throughout the academic year and summer.  Harding University has been funded at $230,000 annually and will serve 27 students per year.

The objective of the program is to provide academically enriching experiences and mentoring to prepare students for graduate school admission and eventual doctoral study.

Special Aspects of the Program

Workshops and Activities.  McNair Scholars will participate in workshops, seminars, classes, and other scholarly activities designed to enhance their academic abilities.  They will also complete a research course prior to a summer research internship. In addition, they will participate in activities designed to build personal skills that will facilitate their transition to graduate school.

Research and Mentorships.  Each McNair student will select a faculty mentor from the discipline in which he/she hopes to pursue graduate study and will receive a stipend after conducting research under the guidance of that mentor.  Students may also have the opportunity to attend professional conferences with their mentors, where they may meet distinguished scholars and learn more about their chosen fields.

Graduate School Admission Preparation
McNair Scholars will receive individual and group services to facilitate their successful entry into graduate school.  Included in this will be extensive Graduate Record Examination preparation and help with the graduate school application process.  Scholars will also receive financial aid counseling, career counseling, and personal counseling.

Letters of recommendation from faculty mentors and research experiences listed on the resumé will enhance the student’s standing in the competition for graduate school admission.

Many graduate schools waive application fees and offer special fellowships to McNair Scholars.

McNair the Man

Ronald E. McNair, Ph.D.

Dr. Ronald E. McNair was America’s second black astronaut in space and one of seven crew members killed in the space shuttle Challenger explosion on January 28, 1986.

Ronald McNair graduated as valedictorian from Carver High School in Lake City, South Carolina, in 1967; graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in physics from North Carolina A & T State University in 1971; and received a Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976, at the age of 26.

His academic and professional achievements are many.  He was a Presidential Scholar, Ford Foundation Fellow, National Fellowship Fund Fellow, and Omega Psi Phi Scholar of the year.  He was also the recipient of many honorary degrees and numerous commendations.

As the first in his family to graduate from college, his academic and career successes serve as a shining example to the current generation of college students who, for many reasons, may feel that graduate school and a doctoral degree are inaccessible.

To honor his lifetime of accomplishments, the U.S. Department of Education, with funding from Congress, established the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program. This program is dedicated to instilling in college students the high standard of achievement represented by the life of Ronald E. McNair.



Eligible students are U.S. citizens or permanent residents who have successfully completed at least one year of college with a GPA of 2.75 or above, and who are either low-income and first generation college students or from minority groups underrepresented in graduate schools.

How to Apply for the McNair Program

Interested students must complete an application form, which includes an essay describing academic and career objectives as well as tentative plans for research.  The student must also ask two faculty members to submit recommendation forms.

Program Requirements for Students

After being selected for the program, students will sign an agreement detailing the requirements of the program, which include:

- participating in meetings, workshops, seminars, and other scholarly activities
- achieving and maintaining a 3.0 GPA
- completing a summer research internship under the guidance of a faculty mentor
- preparing and presenting a research paper and poster session based on the summer research
- attending the prep sessions and taking the Graduate Record Examination
- releasing grade reports, financial aid notices, and any other required information to the McNair staff
- completing periodic program evaluations
- cooperating with follow-up surveys 

For More Information

Please contact the McNair staff for more information or to obtain an application package. The McNair office is located in the Student Center, Room 222. Or call 501-279-5269.

Meet our Staff

Linda Thompson

Linda R. Thompson, Ed.D.
Director, McNair Scholars Program
Harding University

Linda Thompson is Director of the McNair Scholars Program and Professor of Psychology. She holds the Ed.D. in Higher Education from the University of Memphis. She received her M.Ed. in Counselor Education from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville in 1976 and her B.A. in Music from Harding University in 1972.

Dr. Thompson came to Searcy, Arkansas, in 1985 from Northeast Louisiana University, where she served as a counselor in the Counseling Center. She began working at Harding in 1986, where she initiated and directed the ADVANCE program, the Learning Resources Center, the TRIO Student Support Services Program, and the McNair Scholars Program. She has presented workshops and webinars locally and nationally on communication skills and multicultural awareness and on uses of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator in tutor training, counseling and teaching. She regularly presents webinars and training seminars on assessment and certification of programs in Development Education.

She is a Fellow of the American Council of Developmental Education Associations and coauthor of the chapter, "Factors Influencing the Teaching/Learning Process Guide" in the 2009 revision of the NADE Self-Evaluation Guides, 2nd Edition: Best Practice in Academic Support Programs. She is a past president of the National Association for Developmental Education (NADE) and currently chairs the NADE Certification Council.

Dr. Thompson is also active in community affairs and serves on a community leadership committee through the Searcy Chamber of Commerce, where she developed the curriculum for the leadership class. She sponsors the Dactylology (sign language) Club on campus and signs for the deaf at the College Church of Christ. She is married to Dr. Travis Thompson, Dean of the College of Sciences and Professor of Mathematics, and they have one son, a Harding graduate, and two grandsons.

Barbara Cole

Barbara Cole, Ed.D.
Assistant Director, McNair Scholars Program
Harding University

Barbara Cole earned her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Memphis in 1993. Her graduate research focused on two separate areas, business ethics and cooperative learning, and she has published articles in both areas. Before joining the McNair Program at Harding, Dr. Cole taught for 31 years at the high school, college, and vocational levels.

Dr. Cole has always enjoyed helping students reach their full potential in learning and in preparing for future careers. She especially enjoys working with the McNair students and helping them prepare for graduate school and the ultimate goals of earning a doctorate and becoming a college professor. She is married to Dr. David Cole, Chair of the Chemistry Department, and they have two daughters (also graduates of Harding) and four grandchildren.

Karen Hadwin

Karen Hadwin
Administrative Assistant, McNair Scholars Program
Harding University

Karen Hadwin has served as Administrative Assistant for the McNair Program since it began at Harding. Previously, she served as Administrative Assistant for the Trio Student Support Services Program at Harding. Before coming to Harding she lived in central China and taught English at Central South University in Changsha, Hunan. She and her husband are actively involved with Chinese students at Harding. Dr. and Mrs. Hadwin have two children and two grandchildren.

Contact Us

Fax: 501-279-4974