“He is the wisest person I’ve ever met,” said freshmen Sophie Lutz, an opinion of Dr. Lawrence T. McHargue that is shared by many at Providence Christian College.
Although students now enjoy his presence as a visiting Professor of Science, Dr. McHargue’s association with Providence began in 2002 as a member on the board of directors. He was involved in the college in its early stages, and when asked what keeps him here, he replied, “the mission of the college. I’m in whole hearted support of it.” Sophomore Candace Janzen agrees, saying, “Dr. McHargue really brings an attitude of complete selflessness, and I would say he’s one hundred percent devoted to Providence and its students.”
He also said that he wanted to see a Reformed institution on the west coast even though he was not always Reformed. Dr. McHargue did not grow up in Christian home, but was converted through Young Life in High School. He met his wife, Marcia Lynne, at the church they both attended, and as they were the only eligible singles in the entire congregation, they were married in 1966. They spent the following years attending different churches, but were unable to find one they liked. On the advice of his botany professor, Dr. McHargue went to an Orthodox Presbyterian Church for the first time. He said that he heard a sermon that he completely agreed with on the sovereignty of God, talked to the pastor and joined the church. Dr. McHargue has been in the OPC ever since and has served as a ruling elder almost every year since 1971. Three years after their marriage the McHargue’s had their first daughter. They now have three daughters and four granddaughters.
When asked why he chose science, Dr. McHargue said, “I felt called to it from a very young age. I was always interested in plants. I can remember growing plants when I was four and five.” Dr. McHargue did his undergraduate studies at Occidental College and graduate studies at CSULA. He then went on to earn his Ph.D. in botany from the University of California at Irvine. Dr. McHargue had wanted to teach ever since he was in college. He taught one year of junior high school science, but decided it wasn’t for him and has been teaching at the college level ever since. Although he has taught at many institutions, Dr. McHargue spent most of his time as a professor at Vanguard University.
Retired in 2004, Dr. McHargue continues to teach on an occasional basis. He has taught six or seven classes at Providence and says that he really enjoys the experiences he has had with the students here. “I’ve found the students are eager,” he said. “They learn. They have a very close sense of community.” The eagerness of the students just might be based on the exceptional amount of knowledge Dr. McHargue has to offer them. “He’s one of the smartest individuals I’ve ever met,” said Janzen, “and being in a class with him makes me realize that I don’t know as much as I think I do.”
Dr. McHargue also enjoys the Christian College atmosphere. “One thing about teaching here is that I can teach the way I want. I would not have that freedom in a secular school.” But this is not the only thing that is different about Providence. McHargue says, “There has been a successful attempt to create a culture of study among the student body.”
Although he generally likes teaching, Dr. McHargue also has other interests and passions. “I have a lot of interest in theology and so on. But I’m passionate about plants, their distribution and classification, and certainly about my wife.”