Harding University is a private Christian institution of higher education committed to the tradition of the liberal arts and providing opportunities for a broad range of disciplines in undergraduate, graduate and professional programs. The University serves a diverse student body from across the United States and around the world, although the primary constituency for students and financial support is the fellowship of the churches of Christ. The board of trustees, administration and faculty believe that the freedom to pursue truth and high academic achievement is compatible with the Christian principles to which the University is committed. The faculty is dedicated to excellence in teaching, scholarship and service, and to their role as models of Christian living. The University community seeks to provide an environment that both supports students and challenges them to realize their full potential. Thus, Harding’s mission is to provide a quality education that will lead to an understanding and philosophy of life consistent with Christian ideals. This involves the following goals:
Generally, the integration of faith, learning and living (developing the whole person through a commitment to Christ and to the Bible as the Word of God, an emphasis on lifelong intellectual growth, and the encouragement of Christian service and world missions through a servant-leadership lifestyle).
Specifically, the development of Christian scholarship (while acknowledging dependence on God, stressing Christian commitment to intellectual excellence through a strong liberal arts foundation and effective professional preparation).
The promotion of Christian ethics (creating an atmosphere that emphasizes integrity and purity of thought and action).
The development of lasting relationships (fostering personal and social relationships through interaction among faculty, staff and students; and stressing a lifelong commitment to marriage and the Christian family).
The promotion of wellness (emphasizing that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and that lifetime health habits contribute to a better quality of life).
The promotion of citizenship within a global perspective (developing a Christian understanding of and respect for other cultures through an emphasis on liberty and justice).
Each Harding president has coined a motto for the school. Each motto was a concise phrase. But despite the simplicity of each motto, they codified the essence of the mission.
Enriched Character, Higher Ideals - President J.N. Armstrong
Liberty is found in doing good - Dr. George S. Benson
Educating for Eternity - Dr. Clifton L. Ganus
Integrating faith, learning and living - Dr. David B. Burks
Community of Mission - Dr. Bruce L. McLarty
Harding’s current motto, chosen by Dr. Michael D. Williams, is Inspired Purpose.
Inspired. Anchored in our historic Christian mission, we recognize the very source of our strength; the Spirit of the Lord. A dove to remind us of the One who saves. A fire to impassion us. A wind to refresh and guide us.
Purpose. The essence of the Harding experience extends far beyond career preparation. It is a quest for meaning and vision. It is a crucible to discover our values, convictions, and direction.
Inspired Purpose. It marinates the Harding ethos. It aspires to create the world God intended from the beginning.
The following statement of spiritual vision was adopted by the Harding University Board of Trustees in October 2020:
In 1924, Harding University was founded on spiritual convictions that remain the core of our Christian identity. The character, example and concerns of Jesus Christ are the bedrock standards that shape us.
We hold the Bible to be “God breathed” and central to spiritual formation in the lives of everyone at Harding. Required chapel and Bible class attendance emphasize Scripture as the basis of our teachings and our lives.
The Christian worldview stands at the heart of all academic disciplines and extracurricular activities on campus. Every professor, coach and administrator is commissioned to speak 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.
We believe that salvation is found only in Jesus Christ and that Christians are to “go and make disciples of all nations.” 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. We are determined to imitate His example by being a people who are “full of grace and truth,” sacrificing neither in the pursuit of both.
Because “God shows no partiality,” Harding University is committed to welcoming, accepting, respecting and loving students of every race and nationality. We stand opposed to racism in all of its insidious forms, and we require that everyone who walks on our campus be treated with the dignity and value that everyone deserves by virtue of being an image bearer of God.
Harding has always been deeply connected to churches of Christ. Though we live in a time of significant differences among our convictions, 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,” we hold to such distinctive practices as the teaching of baptism for the remission of sins and a cappella music and male spiritual leadership in public worship.
While we maintain our close ties with churches of Christ, Harding opens her arms to all. We welcome those who do not share our convictions, as we work tirelessly to offer an exemplary liberal arts education in an environment of kindness, fairness, respect and love.
Higher Learning Commission Criteria for Accreditation
Harding University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (www.hlcommission.org; 230 South LaSalle St., Suite 7-500, Chicago, IL 60604; 800-621-7440). The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) continued the accreditation of Harding in 2015 with the next reaffirmation of accreditation in 2024-25. HLC accreditation assures quality by verifying that an institution meets standards and is engaged in continuous improvement. The HLC Criteria for Accreditation reflect a set of guiding values and are the standards by which HLC determines whether an institution merits accreditation or reaffirmation of accreditation. The University is committed to continuous improvement and the aligning of the Strategic Plan with the Criteria for Accreditation and their core components.
The institution’s mission is clear and articulated publicly; it guides the institution operations
The institution acts with integrity; its conduct is ethical and responsible.
The institution provides high quality education, wherever and however its offerings are delivered.
The institution demonstrates responsibility for the quality of its educational programs, learning environments, and support services, and it evaluates their effectiveness for student learning through processes designed to promote continuous improvement.
The institution’s resources, structures and processes are sufficient to fulfill its mission, improve the quality of its educational offerings, and respond to future challenges and opportunities. The institution plans for the future.
Six Institutional Priorities are derived from the Mission, Motto and Spiritual Vision (collectively the Mission Documents) and guided by the HLC Criteria for Accreditation. Strategic Initiatives, which reflect these Institutional Priorities, have been developed within the major divisions of the University. Action Steps are specific tasks to be accomplished in order for the Strategic Initiatives-and thus the Institutional Priorities, HLC Criteria and Mission-to be realized.
- Harding University is committed to providing a transformative Christ-centered university educational experience for all students.
- Harding University is committed to being a vibrant and excellent academic community.
- 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.
- Harding University is committed to becoming an increasingly more diverse community that inspires a Christ-like understanding and respect for all people and prepares students to live in a global community.
- Harding University is committed to strong fiscal stewardship with an emphasis on affordability for students.
- Harding University is committed to the ongoing process of developing policies, organization and governance structures that are needed for a university of increasing size and complexity.