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Historical Synopsis

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



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, which is thoroughly illustrated by the attached Hall of Fame brochure: 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.

American Studies Institute