Well into his third year as president of Harding University, Dr. Bruce McLarty said he has thoroughly enjoyed the job and feels comfortable in his leadership position, due largely in part to his comfort in the Harding community.
“Since day one, I have been surrounded by wonderful people who are wonderfully competent,” McLarty said.
The two and a half years have brought few surprises and no regrets, according to McLarty; however, he recognizes that there are circumstances in which he will know how better to handle certain situations in the future.
According to McLarty, while higher education leaders today wrestle with many concerns, it is important for students not to be afraid. McLarty said that while there is certainly a long list of things people in higher education are concerned about today such as federal regulations, student loans and Supreme Court rulings, it is vital that we not be afraid.
“I think that would be one of my biggest messages to the community,” McLarty said. “There’s no reason for fear. We need to be vigilant, engaged and involved, but we don’t need to be afraid.”
The university is in the process of implementing the strategic five-year plan crafted at the end of Dr. David Burks’ presidency, according to McLarty. He said that while he will take a leading role in its execution, the plan is not simply “Bruce’s five-year plan.”
“The cabinet’s consensus was that the strategic plan of Harding is much more than and much bigger than the presidency,” McLarty said. “It is a plan of the university, and it has the input and the buy-in from students, alumni, faculty and all these folks we work with.”
Most notably, the strategic plans include the demolition and reconstruction of the Ganus building, a project which has not yet started. According to McLarty, the new three-story building will be rebuilt in its current location next to the Administration building and will house modern foreign language, history and political science departments, and likely the office of the Provost.
While ideas like an expansion of the Brackett Library or a renovation of the Hammon Student Center may become reality in the future, McLarty’s focus reaches beyond structural growth and development.
“My big vision would be that Harding continues to deepen and to grow as a community of mission,” McLarty said. “My job is to make sure we stay on key and on mission. My job is to make sure that the things that are at the core of Harding University are the most attended to. Then, as we are on key, on point and on the mission of God, with these creative, talented people that I am surrounded by here, together we hammer out where we go. We dream new dreams together.”
As his presidency continues, McLarty said he looks forward to continuing a resolute community of mission among the already strong and thriving Harding family.
“The state of the university is blessed and highly favored,” McLarty said. “It’s a good time to be at Harding. The university is in a strong position to meet the challenges of the future.”