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Dr. Ganus received his 70-year pin from the University in April 2017.
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Cliff Ganus, former Harding president, longtime preacher and globe trekker, dies at 97

His passport looked like a pocket-size New Testament, thick with additional, sewn-in pages filled with stamps from around the globe.

“I’ve been to 115 countries. It’s wanderlust” Clifton Ganus Jr. told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in 2012.

Clifton Ganus Jr.

Clifton Ganus Jr.

He had just turned 90 and continued to maintain a regular schedule as chancellor of his alma mater, Harding University. He and his son had recently traveled 700 miles down the White and Mississippi rivers to New Orleans, camping along the way. He also had traveled to Eastern Europe with the Harding University Chorus, and had lectured in the Caribbean, Africa and Alaska.

Ganus, who served as the third president of the Searcy, Ark., university associated with Churches of Christ, died Monday night, his family reports.

He was 97.


Born in Hillsboro, Texas, Ganus enrolled at Harding College in 1939 and studied Bible and history. As soon as he arrived on campus, he met Louise Nicholas, a second-year student at Harding. It was love at first sight.

“School didn’t even start until the next day, and I already had my wife,” Clifton Ganus told a Harding publication in 2017. “That’s pretty good for a freshman. We went together the next four years.”

Ganus graduated in 1943 — and married Louise an hour and a half after he walked across the stage to receive his diploma.

He preached for a Church of Christ in Charleston, Miss., and later earned a master’s and doctorate in history from Tulane University in New Orleans.


He began teaching Bible and history at Harding in 1946 and served as vice president from 1956-65. Then he was named president, succeeding George S. Benson.

He created the President’s Development Council and Associated Women for Harding to recruit students and raise money for Harding. During his tenure, the college attained university status in 1979 and launched initiatives including a Christian Communication program for preacher training, a nursing program, a Doctor of Ministry degree through Harding School of Theology in Memphis, Tenn., a study abroad program in Italy and the Walton Scholars Program.

He oversaw Harding’s resumption of intercollegiate athletics in 1957 and was an ardent supporter of Bison athletics. When he stepped down from the presidency in 1987, Harding’s board of trustees named the physical education complex the Ganus Athletic Center.

That same year, Ganus became the university’s first chancellor.

Ganus’ son, Cliff Ganus III, is a professor in Harding’s music department and director of the university’s chorus.


Filed under: Christian education Cliff Ganus Harding School of Theology Harding University Obituaries Partners People Top Stories

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