APRIL 18, 2008



In developing this Strategic Plan for 2008-2013, board members, faculty, staff, students, President's Council, University Builders Circle, and alumni have been given an opportunity for input.  Appreciation is extended to all for their valuable help. 

Members of the committee include David Burks, chair, Bryan Burks, Jim Carr, David Collins, Monte Cox, Keith Cronk, Glenn Dillard, Tony Finley, Greg Harnden, Larry Long, Bruce McLarty, Dennis Organ, David Ross, Mel Sansom, Cathie Shultz, Travis Thompson, Charlie Walker, and Mike Williams.

Any strategic plan for Harding University must be founded upon our spiritual convictions and vision.  The Preface which follows states these essential values.  Specific opportunities/strategies are then listed for Spiritual Life, Academic Programs, Student Life, Athletics, Information Systems and Technology, Human Resources, Enrollment, Physical Resources, and Advancement and Finance.      


We are, at our core, a Christian university.  The character, example, and concerns of Jesus Christ are the standards that shape us and chart the course for our future.  Because of this, an all-encompassing love for God and a corresponding love for people are at the heart of who we are. 

As we look toward the future, we are committed to retaining the Christian identity of Harding University.  Realizing that there is a powerful, almost overwhelming tendency for Christian institutions to drift toward secularism, we intentionally recommit ourselves to the distinctive practices that have always been central to Harding's Christian character: required Bible classes, daily chapel, and a lofty code of behavior for the administration, faculty, and students. 

For many years our mission statement has affirmed that Harding University integrates and celebrates "faith, learning and living."  This statement acknowledges that the Christian worldview is at the core of every academic discipline and every extracurricular activity on campus.  Every professor who stands in front of a class, every coach who stands in front of a team, and every director who stands in front of a cast or a music group is to speak and lead as a man or woman of God.  They are to confess, both in words and actions, that God created the world, that He redeems us through the blood of His Son Jesus, that He fills his children with His Holy Spirit, and that He calls us to be holy as He is holy.  Such core themes will continue to be emphasized in chapel services, in faculty meetings and throughout the university. 

The Gospel of John states that "the Word became flesh and lived for a while among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son who came from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14, NIV).  Grace and truth were perfectly blended in Jesus.  He spoke truth, but always in a gracious way.  He extended his hand in grace, but never betrayed the truth in doing so.  However, Christians constantly struggle to demonstrate that same sacred balance.  Gracious people are easily tempted to compromise truth, and truth-seeking people often communicate ungraciousness.  Recognizing this challenge, we are determined to be a people who are "full of grace and truth," sacrificing neither in the pursuit of both.  Cheap grace and harsh truth are two extremes we will seek to avoid.  Our hope is that when people think of Harding University they will think of both grace and truth.

Another important aspect of our institutional identity is our belief in the Bible as the fully inspired and authoritative word of God.  We hold it to be "God-breathed" and the basis of our teaching and life.  The Bible is central to our goal of spiritual transformation in the life of everyone at Harding.  Consequently, it is our goal that all graduating seniors leave our university with a greater level of confidence in Scripture than they had when they first arrived on campus.

Harding University has always been a leader in world missions.  Nearly one-third of the missionaries who have gone out from the Churches of Christ have graduated from Harding.  We believe that at this critical point in history it is important that we renew our commitment to participate fully in the mission of God, both at home and abroad.  While the pluralism of our postmodern culture denies the need to preach the gospel, we continue to believe that salvation is found only in Jesus Christ and that Christians are to "go and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19, NIV).

Harding has always been deeply connected with the Churches of Christ, and we reaffirm this connection as we move into the future.  In keeping with this commitment, we will continue to hire active members of the Churches of Christ as faculty and administrators.  Though we live in a time of significant confusion over our brotherhood's identity, we are determined that Harding University will become captive to neither a rigid legalism on the Right nor a formless liberalism on the Left.  "With gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:16, NIV) we continue to affirm such distinctive convictions of the mainstream Churches of Christ as baptism for the remission of sins, a cappella music in worship, and male spiritual leadership in congregations.

While we maintain our close ties with the Churches of Christ, we also make clear that Harding opens her arms to all.  Those who do not share all of our convictions are always welcome, and we will work hard to see that they are always treated with kindness, fairness and respect. 

Finally, we present this strategic plan with a heart of humility, realizing that God alone is sovereign.  While we can survey, discuss, dream and plan, God controls the future.  So, as we present our vision for the future of Harding University, we offer it to God with the words of our Lord Jesus: "Father...not (our) will, but yours be done" (Luke 22:42, NIV).

Spiritual Life

  • Increase the number of students majoring in Bible to 10 percent of full-time equivalent undergraduates by 2013   
  • Increase the number of students who become involved with local congregations while they are students at Harding
  • Initiate campus-wide discussions that involve participants from all disciplines in addressing many of the difficult ethical and moral issues of our time
  • Continually train faculty and staff to understand the values, needs, experiences, and perspectives of our students
  • Increase the emphasis on spiritual transformation in the Bible curriculum
  • Increase the number of faculty and staff members who lead short-term mission trips at home and abroad 

Academic Programs

  • Formalize an overall faculty development process for both full-time and part-time faculty
  • Link full-time faculty hiring, facilities, and other resources to the strategic plan
  • Enhance current and develop new undergraduate courses, programs, and degrees
  • Enhance current and develop new graduate, professional and adult courses, programs, and degrees
  • Revise the overall academic organizational and governance structure to reflect growth in undergraduate, graduate, professional, and adult education programs
  • Implement the revised Liberal Arts program

Student Life

  • Expand resources dedicated to student retention, increasing freshman retention to and maintaining at 85 percent
  • Initiate a First-Year Experience program that will afford students opportunities to transition into successful university life, engaged in the Harding experience
  • Continue to evaluate Club Week and make it a richer experience
  • Establish specific code of conduct policies for graduate/professional students
  • Evaluate on-campus housing requirements, particularly of seniors in good standing
  • Consider adding a physician and/or a physician assistant or nurse practitioner to Health Services


  • Continue our outreach and community service involvement as demonstrated by each athletic team's service projects
  • Continue to pursue and consider athletic competitive opportunities with likeminded institutions and conferences
  • Finish at the top of the Gulf South Conference in all academic categories while excelling in athletic competition as measured by the GSC All-Sports Trophy point total, as well as the NCAA Director's Cup by finishing in the top 4 each year
  • Consider adding women's softball 

Information Systems and Technology

  • Provide opportunities for faculty, staff, and students to strengthen their IT competencies which will enable them to excel in the workplace
  • Further enhance the Brackett Library to make it the hub for student scholarship and research, by expanding student work areas and modernizing the library operation and environment
  • Implement a campus wireless network
  • Implement campus-wide electronic document storage and retrieval
  • Comprehensively review the Tech Fee allocation process
  • Expand the e-commerce and other uses of www.harding.edu and portals for hotel reservations, ticket sales, alumni and parent portals, etc.
  • Develop and implement campus-wide data standards, policies, and procedures 

Human Resources

  • Increase faculty and staff salaries by five percent above CPI by 2013 to adequately reward our people
  • Increase ethnic diversity within our faculty and staff
  • Consider cost effective measures to contain health care costs
  • Establish an annual performance review system for staff members
  • Provide more staff development opportunities 


  • Continue to recruit students who support Harding's spiritual mission
  • Increase freshman and transfer enrollment by one percent annually
  • Increase graduate enrollment by 6 percent annually by targeting mission-oriented, cost-effective program growth
  • Intentionally increase diversity (ethnically and internationally) of the undergraduate student body
  • Continue to evaluate scholarships and discounts available to our students at undergraduate and graduate levels
  • Develop a more unified and efficient plan for recruiting graduate students in all disciplines 

Physical Resources

  • Renovate Sears, Stephens, and Allen Halls and Benson Auditorium
  • Expand Mabee Business Center, Ganus Athletic Center, and McInteer Center north wing
  • Build new facility for College of Nursing
  • Build new apartments for male undergraduate students
  • Adopt specific, uniform building policies which reflect need for green space and trees on campus, energy efficient
    materials, handicap access, maintenance needs, drainage, etc. 

Finance and Advancement

  • Raise $2.5 million annually in unrestricted Scholarship Fund support to help students attend Harding
  • Increase percentage of alumni giving to 27 percent annually
  • Raise $20 million in capital gifts by 2013 to pay for new facilities and renovation projects recommended in this report
  • Expand endowment to $175 million by 2013 to assist in keeping Harding financially viable in the long run
  • Continue to implement the tuition pricing philosophy of affordability with emphasis on more need-based scholarships
  • Continue to improve food services provided on campus and evaluate meal plan options
  • Consider options which could reduce textbook costs to students