This semester welcomed more than just new students to the Harding campus; it also brought a new position to the Office of Church Relations. Beginning in August, former admissions counselor Alex Jamerison became Harding’s director of diversity.
“This new position is a move on our part to do a better job of connecting and networking with racially diverse groups of Christians with the goal of making Harding a more inclusive community,” President Bruce McLarty said.
As director of diversity, Jamerison will be working with various minority churches around the U.S.
“The position is all about building new and maintaining current relationships, which is something I am very passionate toward,” Jamerison said. “In this position I will interact with both churches, students, faculty, staff and various organizations represented at Harding.”
According to Dr. Timothy Westbrook, a sponsor of the Black Students Association and a member of the Diversity Committee, the need for this position came from a longstanding divide between races in churches of Christ.
“Generally speaking, we are white on Sundays, or black on Sundays, Latino on Sundays or Korean on Sundays,” Westbrook said. “We haven’t integrated very well. One of the initiatives we hope to have at Harding is to overcome that historical divide at least on this campus.”
The position was added to the Office of Church Relations in the hopes of reaching out to minority churches and increasing diversity.
“The Office of Church Relations exists to strengthen and develop relationships with Harding to our constituent churches,” Dr. Dan Williams, vice president of Church Relations and co-chair of the diversity committee said. “(Alex) will be working on a wide variety of things with the Office of Church Relations, but his specific focus is on minority churches. (His job) includes making potential students of those communities aware of Harding University and what it has to offer.”
The hope is not only to increase diversity among churches, but inside Harding as well.
“Through the inclusive community, students will be able to further their level of awareness, sensitivity and ability to live in unity with people from backgrounds outside of their own,” Jamerison said. “The primary goal of this position is simply to reach out in hopes to draw in.”
This desire to “reach out and draw in” is founded in Harding’s Christian principles, according to Westbrook.
“We recognize that the kingdom of God is not divided up according to race,” Westbrook said. “Anything we can do to help our school and our churches reflect that multi-ethnic kingdom we belong to, we’re trying to do.”
Jamerison will be a keynote speaker for the 2017 Harding lectureship. He will be speaking Thursday, Sept. 27, at 9 a.m. on the topic “more than conquerors.”
Written by features editor Raianne Mason and student writer Macy McClung