The President’s Council was created in the 1960s by Chancellor Emeritus Dr. Clifton Ganus. The purpose of forming the council was to create a circle of people who had a passion for Harding and its mission. To be on the council, the members contribute to the university at a certain level. The council now has more than 1,200 members. The Council provides an avenue for people to express their support to students and to the university.
“Historically the president will solicit the President’s Council members on various issues,” assistant vice president for advancement Steve Lake said. “The Council members do this through online polling, focus groups, etc. The President’s Council doesn’t make any decisions, but they do have the opportunity to offer feedback and suggestions for the President.”
The President’s Council offers four levels of giving that are named after the previous university presidents, ranging from $600 to $10,000 annually.
Harding gives away approximately $26 million in scholarships each year with the Harding Fund. To offset this gift to students, the advancement office works to raise $2-3 million.
“It was evident that Harding made a difference in lives on campus and this continued even after graduation,” President’s Council member Pat Rice said. “It was Christian lifestyles and education that you wanted to support financially. As a friend once said, ‘I f you don’t, who will?'”
The advancement office has different categories in which they raise money for the university.
To show appreciation to donors, Generation HU and the Advancement office have created “Say Thanks Day” which takes place every spring semester. This is an opportunity for students to not only thank donors but to also make students aware of the blessings they do not realize they are receiving.
“I chose to be a part of the President’s Council because Harding has given me so much and I wanted to give back,” senior Jake Tansey said. “I have been awarded scholarships and opportunities that have helped me succeed, and none of these would have been possible without the gifts from the President’s Council members. Getting involved early as a student or young alumni will keep our Harding family strong and connected for years to come.”
The only buildings on campus that students contribute to financially are the dorms.
Lake said that Sarah Bobo, the young alumni associate, is working on developing a program to find young alums who will continue to stay connected with their graduating classes.
They will volunteer to engage with their classmates to include giving and continued engagement with the Harding community.