It seems like everyone who blogs and is my age or younger and attended there has an opinion about the choice of Bruce McLarty as the new president of Harding University, or about the institution’s direction or mission or future.
I can’t say that I really do.
I wish the University well and Bruce McLarty well and that’s just about it.
Sorry if that violates hopes or expectations.
I am grateful for the fine education I was offered and received at Harding from 1973-1977; for the wonderful friends I met and made there; for the experiences one cherishes for a lifetime.
But I must confess I was never really comfortable there.
I think I was too young to perceive the politics or religious convictions attached to the university then, but I was not too young to perceive that a little freedom was regarded as a dangerous thing.
From the way the dorms were locked and bed-checked at night (some without fire doors back then) to the ominous restrictions on attire, decor and behavior, it was pretty obvious that deviation from a well-described norm would not be tolerated. Individualism would be frowned upon. Self-expression would be patrolled.
I’m sure that many of these restrictions have been removed, loosened, or modified to become more socially-acceptable in modern society.
But Harding and I have gone separate ways, and awkwardly since I vacated my dorm room. We have an unspoken deal: They don’t send me any alumni publications or e-mails, and I don’t send them any money, children, or home addresses.
Mostly because, at the heart of it, I think that a really excellent education requires a little bit more freedom for students and trust in their ability to think, provide, and act for themselves than I could have ever hoped to experience there at that time.
That made it, in some ways, a very long four years. Back then – as I’ve shared before – Harding’s motto was “Educating for Eternity.” And one of my roommates observed, “It’s really just four or five years. It just seems like an eternity.”