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Dr. Sandra S. Harper

The inaugural celebration of Dr. Sandra S. Harper as the 12th president of McMurry University will take place March 17-20, with the inauguration ceremony set for 11 a.m. Thursday, March 20, in Radford Auditorium.

A variety of events, including a Women’s Leadership Luncheon, an Inaugural concert, art displays and opportunities for alumni and students to participate will take place during the inauguration celebration.

The inauguration festivities will kick off Monday, March 17, with the opening of the 100 Women, 100 Words art exhibit in the Furr Welcome Center. 100 Women, 100 Words is a mixed media exhibit featuring the art and words of Texas women (artists and non-artists). The display will be open throughout the Inaugural week activities.

Dr. Harper will join McMurry students at Chapel at 11 a.m. and at a celebration at the McMurry Intramural field at 4 p.m., on Tuesday, March 18.

The Women’s Leadership Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 19, will feature speakers Sarah Ragle Weddington, attorney, former Texas legislator and McMurry Distinguished Alumna; Pam Benson Owens, Director of Creativity for Leadership Women, and Dr. Harper, the first woman president of an Abilene university. For more information on the luncheon, go to Later on Wednesday, the McMurry Band will perform an Inaugural concert at 6 p.m. in Radford Auditorium. The free event is open to the public.

The inauguration ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. Thursday, March 20, in Radford Auditorium. A reception will immediately follow the ceremony in the Garrison Campus Center Mabee Room.

For more information and a calendar of inaugural events, go to the McMurry homepage and follow the link to the inaugural coverage.

Dr. Sandra S. Harper Biography:

Dr. Sandra Harper, a native of Dallas, Texas, began serving as the President of McMurry University on October 1, 2013. Prior to her McMurry appointment, Dr. Harper served as the President of Our Lady of the Lake College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana from 2006-2013 and as the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of Communication at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi from 1998 to 2006. Harper’s other administrative posts included serving as the Vice President for Academic Affairs at Oklahoma City University and as the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at McMurry University. Harper began her service at McMurry College in 1985 as an assistant professor of communication. During the next ten years, she was awarded tenure and rose through the academic ranks to professor of communication.

Harper received her B.S. degree from Texas Tech University and her M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of North Texas. Harper also completed the Harvard Management Development Program and the Governor’s Executive Development Program at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas. Dr. Harper is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Commission on Colleges.  She also serves on the Abilene Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and chairs the Board of Directors for the Patty Hanks Shelton School of Nursing Consortium.

In 2011, Harper was named a Distinguished Alumna by the Texas Tech University College of Education. She is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who of American Women, and Who’s Who in American Education. Harper has received the Management Excellence Award from the Society for the Advancement of Management, the Y Women in Careers Award from the Corpus Christi YWCA, and the Outstanding Faculty Award and the Outstanding Administrator Award from McMurry University.

She is married to Dave Harper, who coached at Abilene High School for nine years and other high schools in Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. The couple has two sons, who spent most of their childhood in Abilene. Justin Harper, a major in the United States Army, recently moved his wife and four children to Ft. Riley Kansas, where he is on the division staff of the First Infantry Division. Jonathan Harper is the Assistant Director of Equipment Operations in the athletics department at the University of North Texas.