In true presidential fashion, Lu Hardin didn't wait to begin familiarizing himself with Palm Beach Atlantic University's campus on Tuesday.
Following his introduction to about 200 faculty members, staff and students at the DeSantis Family Chapel, Hardin and his wife, Mary, attended a reception in their honor in Weyenberg Center. The couple then had lunch with Dr. David W. Clark, outgoing president, and cabinet members. Afterward, Hardin spent his afternoon sharing his excitement about the University with reporters.
|University President Lu Hardin and his wife, Mary, speak with two faculty members who served on the presidential search committee: Dr. David Horkott, left, assistant professor of philosophy, and Dr. Don McCulloch, right, associate professor of psychology.|
Today is Hardin's first official day as Palm Beach Atlantic's seventh president, ending the presidential selection committee's nine-month effort. The University Board of Trustees voted unanimously Tuesday morning to approve the committee's recommendation.
Calling him a spearheading visionary leader, R. Marshall Jones, University trustee and chair of the nine-member presidential search committee, described Hardin as having the 'it' factor.
Some people have it. Some people don't, Jones said. Lu has it.
Speaking during the chapel event, Jones said the committee began with a pool of more than 75 candidates and narrowed the field to 12. Committee members evaluated candidates in four areas: Vision, leadership, academic commitment and fund-raising, he said.
What we were looking for in a new president is someone who aligns with our values, someone who is committed to the mission and vision of Palm Beach Atlantic and someone that has the experience and skill to lead Palm Beach Atlantic to be one of the preeminent Christian universities in our country. In my opinion, the committee has done just that, said Board of Trustees Chairman John P. Greene III.
Hardin, who served as president of the University of Central Arkansas for six years, spoke of raising Palm Beach Atlantic's stature among the nation's top universities.
The name of Palm Beach Atlantic University will be recognized nationally as school that not only offers a good education but where students will be prepared for a Christ-centered life as well, he said.
At the University of Central Arkansas, Hardin not only guided the school out of academic probation, but he also increased enrollment and boosted the university's endowment from $9 million to $36 million.
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Hardin, who has a juris doctorate from the University of Arkansas School of Law and who taught at Arkansas Tech University for nearly 20 years, said he looks forward to working with students. He said he hopes possibly to teach a course and to lead chapel services.
Prior to Hardin's remarks, outgoing President Clark initiated a symbolic transfer of power by fastening on Hardin's lapel a pin featuring the University logo. Dr. Clark said the pin, designed by his wife Lois, was a gift from the Clarks to the board of trustees during their second Christmas at PBA. Only the trustees and the president have the pin, he said.
Tuesday's program concluded with the song Shout to the Lord, which was chosen at Hardin's request.
Dr. David Horkott, an assistant professor of philosophy who served on the search committee, said he was impressed by Hardin's human touch.
He has a very ambitious vision for PBA to become a premier Christian university, and he has the skills and the passion to bring us there, Dr. Horkott said.
Also, he is a good fit theologically, he said. That was really important to me, that we don't depart from our foundation.