Strategic Plan 2013-2018

The Mission of Harding University 

(The following statement of Mission was adopted by the Harding University Board of Trustees in May 2008, and reaffirmed in May 2011.)


Harding University was founded in 1924 upon spiritual convictions. 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.


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 recommit ourselves at this time to the distinctive practices that have always been central to Harding’s Christian mission: required Bible classes, daily chapel, and a lofty code of behavior for the board, administration, faculty, and students.


For many years it has been our motto that Harding University integrates and celebrates “faith, learning and living.” The Christian worldview is to be 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 chorus 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 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). 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 formation in the life of everyone at Harding. Consequently, it is our goal that every graduating senior 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 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).


Harding has always been deeply connected with churches of Christ, and we reaffirm this connection. Our goal will be to continue to hire only members of 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) we affirm on this occasion 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.


While we maintain our close ties with the churches of Christ, we 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.


This Statement of Mission is presented, and we offer it to God with the words of our Lord, Jesus: “Father…not (our) will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)



Guiding Vision

  1. Harding University is committed to providing a transformative Christ-centered university educational experience for all her students.
  2. Harding University is committed to being a vibrant and excellent academic community.
  3. Harding University is committed to liberal arts education as the best preparation both for a lifetime of learning and for a lifetime of employment in a rapidly changing workplace.
  4. Harding University is committed to strong fiscal stewardship with an emphasis on affordability for students.
  5. Harding University is committed to the ongoing process of developing policies, organization, and governance structures that are needed for a university of our increasing size and complexity.





  1. Commission each college or department to develop and implement a plan for engaging their alumni in the process of connecting academic programs with real-world marketplace needs.
  2. Establish an office to fund research and to encourage publications by faculty members who desire to research and publish.
  3. Conduct an ongoing campaign to inform students, faculty, and alumni of Harding’s academic excellence.
  4. Continue to be a leader in ongoing assessment for the purpose of constant improvement.
  5. Continue to examine and evaluate new programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional levels.



  1. Reach an 85% retention rate.
  2. Increase and enhance student social and recreational spaces on campus.
  3. Develop and implement a holistic First-Year Experience to address social, academic, and orientation needs.



  1. Continue to recruit athletes for all sports who embrace the Christian identity of Harding University.
  2. Continue to integrate athletics, academics, and campus life into a cohesive whole that reflects the Christian commitments of Harding University.
  3. Seek out new means to fully fund all scholarship sports.



  1. Refresh Harding’s web presence to reach a broad audience with services and clear information about the University.
  2. In partnership with Academics, expand faculty development in regard to learning with technology.
  3. In partnership with Public Relations, develop and implement a vibrant and effective social media policy.
  4. Expand the space, resources, and services of the Brackett Library.



  1. Create position for on-campus General Counsel.
  2. Continue to work to insure compliance to all OSHA requirements.
  3. Create a mission leave policy for staff to encourage mission involvement.
  4. Enhance development opportunities for staff.



  1. Reinforce the campus culture that views recruitment as the job of everyone.
  2. Identify and pursue ways to assist low-income students in their desire to come to Harding.
  3. Mobilize alumni and friends to assist in recruiting.



  1. Continue to train and encourage all faculty members to teach their specific academic discipline from a clearly Christian worldview.
  2. Develop an interdisciplinary Bible class for each college.
  3. Insure that every staff member is permitted to attend chapel at least once each week.



  1. Replace the current Ganus academic building with an enlarged structure to house two departments, classrooms, and the academic administrative offices.
  2. Expand and renovate the GAC for student recreational purposes.
  3. Develop and execute a long-term plan for green spaces on campus.
  4. Develop a comprehensive parking plan for campus.
  5. Develop a rotating maintenance schedule for all buildings on campus.



  1. Increase the percentage of alumni who give to Harding to 20%.
  2. Make alumni more aware of what is going on at Harding and the financial needs of the University.
  3. Pursue increased integration and synergy among the finance, advancement, and academic departments of the University.



  1. Develop a comprehensive Christ-centered curriculum plan that is aligned with national standards and incorporates effective assessments of student achievement.
  2. Pursue renovations and additions to existing facilities to meet current and future needs.
  3. Strengthen instruction and achievement through our iAcademy initiative.
  4. Continue to investigate opportunities to extend and deepen partnerships with Harding University.



  1. Successfully complete the ATS self-study by 2016 for submission in 2018.
  2. Add a full-time VP for HST to increase effectiveness in both recruiting and advancement, with the goal of over 225 students and eliminate the need for gifts from the university for operational expenses.
  3. Expand our services to churches through the Shepherd’s Network, apprenticeships and placement of graduates.