Harding University

May 27, 1943

George S. Benson, president of Harding College (now Harding University) in Searcy (White County), inaugurated the National Education Program to inform students and adults about America’s political and economic systems. Benson, who had served as a missionary teacher in China during the rise of communism and socialism, had an ingrained appreciation of free enterprise and was critical of New Deal programs. The National Education Program has been known as the American Studies Institute since 1952 and has brought outstanding national and international figures, including Dame Margaret Thatcher, former president George H. W. Bush, former first lady Barbara Bush, Mikhail Gorbachev, Lech Walesa, Colin Powell, and Alex Haley, among many others, as speakers to the campus. (more)