Beloved professor leaves lasting impact at Harding University

Local News

SEARCY, Ark. – All teachers tend to have an impact on the lives of their students but some, like Harding University Professor Dr. Mike James, leave an impression that inspires generations.

In almost 50 years at Harding, Dr. James had a hand in just about every aspect of campus. He built the communications department, ran international programs and became the Dean of the Honors College.

“Dr. James was one of the most beloved professors on campus without a doubt,” Harding University Center for Charitable Estate Planning Director Ken Bissell said.

From professor and mentor to co-worker and friend, Bissell said Dr. James was one of a kind.

“He had this unique gift of making every single person who knew him feel like they were the most important person to him,” Bissell said.

Communications Associate Professor Jim Miller also started off as a student of Dr. James in 1993, then was hired by him just a few years later.

“He specifically taught me how to be a good teacher, how to love students, how to inspire students,” Miller said.

He was also able to influence students’ lives beyond the classroom.

“The place I got to know Dr. J the best was at Wednesday night bible study,” former student Alicen Wilcox said. “What set Dr. J apart was how much he invested in people.”

At the beginning of July, Dr. James was diagnosed with cancer and passed away Saturday.

“I can’t imagine life here without Dr. J,” Wilcox said.

Even after his passing, students and staff remember the legacy he leaves on this campus.

“He was just an example of someone who lived life to its fullest,” Miller said. “He was full of joy, full of goodness, just a light to so many people.”

They say that light isn’t extinguished, instead, it lives through every student he came in contact with.

“Investing in those that come after us and being part of other people’s lives, serving them the way he served us,” Wilcox said.

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