First Ladies Garden dedicated at Harding University Homecoming

Harding University is celebrating its past, present and future first ladies with a unique green space on campus.

During its recent Homecoming week festivities, Harding hosted a dedication ceremony for its First Ladies Garden. In addition to honoring Harding first ladies, the garden also recognizes women who have made a difference at the university.

“The First Ladies Garden began as a desire to honor Leah Burks, expanded to include all five HU First Ladies, and has come to be a celebration of the enormous impact that countless other women have had on and through HU,” said Harding President Bruce D. McLarty. “The FLG is, aesthetically, a beautiful green, pedestrian corridor through the heart of the Harding campus.​

“Each piece of the FLG has been funded by a person or a family who feel a deep connection with the people the garden honors."

The garden includes a technological feature that sends information about the area to mobile devices in range. Using Bluetooth and an app called Beaconsage, visitors of the garden can learn more about the five first ladies of the university and the history behind various spots of the garden.

“After you install the app, run it and get within 100 meters of a beacon, the app will pop up a message that will take you to the Web page,” said assistant vice president of information systems and technology Mike Chalenburg. “It actually behaves quite a bit like a QR code except you don’t take a picture.”

Women for Harding announced plans for the garden in April 2013 at their annual national council luncheon. Construction began this summer, and money for the project has been fundraised from almost exclusively female graduates.

The garden incorporates a water feature with a sculpture, a colonnade, benches, five distinct gardens for the first ladies and a Legacy Wall of Honor with plaques commemorating women from Harding’s history. There are specific beacons installed in the distinct gardens for Woodson Armstrong, Sallie Benson, Louise Ganus, Leah Burks and Ann McLarty.

“The garden starts by Legacy Park and ends at the parking lot of Pattie Cobb women’s dorm,” said Liz Howell, vice president of parent and alumni relations. She added that many relatives from the families of the first ladies attended to be a part of the ceremony to honor and remember the women who have sacrificed and made a difference.

Legacy Park phase three was also dedicated in the ceremony. For more information, contact the Office of Alumni Relations at 501.279.4276.