ACU Today Summer-Fall 2017

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Summer-Fall 2017

A bilene Chr isti a n Uni v er sit y

Aaron Watson Faith, family and fans bring energy to the career of a rising country music recording star

Vision in Action

Football Gameday on Campus

Alumni Awards

John Willis

Homecoming 2017


ACU Today is published twice a year by the Office of University Marketing at Abilene Christian University, Abilene, Texas.



he Texas Supreme Court convened in Austin on March 3, 2017, but for a different reason: to remember

Pope and Schubert on the judge’s last visit to campus in March 2013.

one of the state’s most respected jurists, the late Jack Pope, J.D., former chief justice and a 1934 ACU graduate. The eloquent words of current Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht, J.D., are on page 80 of this issue, eulogizing Pope for his legacy in the Lone Star State. Gary Thornton, J.D. (’72), one of the other tribute speakers at Pope’s memorial service, shared a rare look at his faith. “Judge Pope knew that his position in the judiciary prevented him from being too open and too telling about his spiritual beliefs,” said Thornton, an ACU trustee who once served as one of Pope’s law clerks. “To be blunt, he believed that the law was the minimal standard and that the divine, God-made ordinances were what really mattered.” Thornton read these words, authored by Pope before he died: “The law is just a set of rules, the creation of human minds, and the human mind changes and adjusts. It is not a foundation on which to base a meaningful life. The difference between a moral person and a true Christian is this: A moral-only person would not be caught dead on their knees like Jesus, washing the feet of others. A Christian believer may not be listened to by this world, but the world will yet see the actions of a Christian life. I believe with Benjamin Franklin that God moves in the affairs of men. I believe, like Jesus, we must go about doing good, and that most of us are being sweet when we need to be strong. I believe that God still reigns and that he will return one day soon, and when he does, he will look down on our pathetic, compromised beings, and he will grieve. But I also believe that God’s love is everlasting and at this moment, it is not too late. It is my abiding prayer that the Lord of all the ages become a reality in our lives, and through our lives, be a moving force in this world.”

With rock-solid leadership, Pope made a difference on our Board of Trustees for nearly three decades. He served the church wherever he lived for 103 years. He was a humble champion of those in need of help. And he was a lifelong advocate for his alma mater, where the Jack Pope Fellows program continues to shape students who have a heart for public service (see page 77). We celebrate his life, and see a part of him in all the alumni you read about in this issue of ACU Today – among them, recording artists who proclaim their faith on stage, surgeons who heal patients and spread the Good News about the Great Physician, godly coaches and school administrators, authors, scholars, teachers, missionaries, attorneys – professionals from all walks of life who share an educational legacy here. The sun seldom sets on places where ACU students and alumni are not present to serve with purpose and distinction. Thank you for empowering us with your support, and bringing our mission to life each day.

DR. PHIL SCHUBERT (’91), President The mission of ACU is to educate students for Christian service and leadership throughout the world.

Editor: Ron Hadfield (’79) Assistant Editor: Robin (Ward ’82) Saylor Associate Editor: Katie (Noah ’06) Gibson Sports Editor: Lance Fleming (’92) Contributing Writers This Issue: Sarah Carlson (’06); Judy Chambers; Katie (Noah ’06) Gibson; Nathan L. Hecht, J.D.; Chris Macaluso; Deana (Hamby ’93) Nall Contributing Photographers This Issue: Bill Albrecht, Museum of Modern Art, Shawn Best, Steve Butman, Amanda Carpenter, Bradford Coolidge, Lindsey (Hoskins ’03) Cotton, Steven Christy, Brandi Jo (Magee ’06) Delony, Jeremy Enlow, Joshua Gateley, Rodney Goodman, Rendi (Young ’83) Hahn, Lisa Helfert, Rachael Hubbard, Jim Kiihnl, David Leeson (’78), Kim Leeson, William Luther, Christi Lim (’17), Timothy Nwachukwu, Tim Nelson, Paramount Pictures, Clark Potts (’53), Samaritan’s Purse, Dr. Carson Reed (’95 D.Min.), Dr. Nil Santana (’00 M.S.), Sherri Scott (’96), Grayson Smith, Gordon Trice, Erin Turner, Paul White (’68) Contributing Graphic Designers/Illustrators This Issue: Ryan Feerer (’10), Greg Golden (’87), Holly Harrell, Todd Mullins, Amy Willis

ADVISORY COMMITTEE Administration: Suzanne Allmon (’79), Dr. Gary D. McCaleb (’64), Dr. Robert Rhodes Advancement: Jim Orr, J.D. (’86), Billie Currey, J.D. (’70), Sarah Carlson (’06)   Alumni Relations: Craig Fisher (’92), Jama (Fry ’97) Cadle, Samantha (Bickett ’01) Adkins Marketing: Jason Groves (’00)  Student Life: Chris Riley, J.D. (’00), Prentice Ashford (’13) Ex-officio: Dr. Phil Schubert (’91)

CORRESPONDENCE ACU Today: ACU Alumni Association: Record Changes: ACU Box 29132, Abilene, Texas 79699-9132, 325-674-2620

ON THE WEB Abilene Christian University: ACU Today Blog: Address changes and EXperiences: ACU Advancement Office (Exceptional Fund, Gift Records): ACU Alumni Website: Find Us on Facebook: Follow Us on Twitter: Follow Us on Instagram:

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Students take a mid-day break on the steps of Beauchamp Amphitheatre. (Photograph by Jeremy Enlow)


Aaron Watson (’00) performs March 7, 2017, as featured performer on opening night of the 87th annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in NRG Stadium. (Photograph by Bradford Coolidge)

Aaron Watson Stays True to His Roots Vision in Action Update Home Sweet Home Field Advantage 2017 Alumni Award Recipients Dr. John Willis 10 Questions With the Pattersons Homecoming 2017 36 ACU 101 38 #ACU 42 The Bookcase 44 Hilltop View 48 Academic News

52 Campus News 56 Wildcat Sports 61 Your Gifts at Work 62 EXperiences 80 Second Glance


ACU is a vibrant, innovative, Christ-centered community that engages students in authentic spiritual and intellectual growth, equipping them to make a real difference in the world


Summer-Fall 2017


Aaron Watson performs before a crowd of more than 50,000 people March 7, 2017, at the opening night of the 87th annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in NRG Stadium.



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imberly (Calkins ’01) Watson is happily married to her college sweetheart, who says he is “not a big awards show guy.” That would be her husband, Aaron (’00), who usually

declines ticket offers to the Academy of Country Music’s annual extravaganza and others like it, preferring to spend time on a rare open weekend with his young family at their West Texas country home. This spring the ACM awards show was in Las Vegas – not exactly a destination city for most church-going folks from south Taylor County – but her husband thought it would be a well-deserved weekend getaway for the busy stay-at-home mom: sleep in, order room service, hit the spa, shop a little, see the show. “We each said, ‘I’ll go if you go,’” Aaron said. The couple – she in an electric blue dress and he in boots, jeans, a white shirt, black jacket and





black Stetson – walked the red carpet April 2 while cameras flashed. Then they headed to their admittedly choice seats in T-Mobile Arena. Aaron noticed a wireless microphone in front of them and wondered why. The show began with high energy and quickly had the audience on its feet for performances by Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line and Carrie Underwood singing a medley of No. 1 hits. As a spotlight settled directly in front of the Watsons, heartthrob Keith Urban stepped out of the shadows and readied his guitar for the concluding song. With a live national audience watching on CBS, and just before singing a few lines from his hit Wasted Time, he turned slightly to the right and rocked Kimberly’s world. “Hey, what’s up, Aaron?” Urban asked while offering a quick handshake, then turning to the camera to perform. “Now, I don’t know Keith, but she is a huge fan of his,”



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rban’s nod to Aaron on live network TV was unrehearsed and easy to miss in the telecast. Aaron received no awards on stage that night, but little else that weekend could have defined his recent rise in the music business. The hardworking son of a custodian father and schoolteacher mother feels blessed beyond measure, but he’s every bit of an 18-year overnight sensation, the kind of memorable line on which many a country music hit song has been strung. Aaron was introduced on a recent national radio show as “an up-and-coming artist,” a sincere compliment that nearly put an unwelcome crease in his cowboy hat. “I was kind of flattered by those words,” he said. But he couldn’t help smiling wryly while reminding the live audience that if “up and coming” is how you define an artist after 18 years, 13 albums, 2,500 shows and an exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame, then those proverbial boots indeed fit his well-traveled feet. These days, Watson is riding a fast horse in the country music business, deftly using social media and racking up nearly half a million Facebook followers, bucking trends while carving a niche for himself, and eschewing the strategy on which Nashville has operated for decades. “Brad Paisley’s album last week [Love and War] debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts. My latest [Vaquero] sold 45 percent more than his in its first week. Since 2015, country music record sales have dropped 40 percent. Ours are up 48 percent,” Aaron said. “People ask me, ‘How are


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(FROM LEFT) The Watsons: Jack, Jolee Kate, Aaron, Kimberly and Jake

you selling all those records?’ ” His answer is quick, honest and often unexpected. “I give all the glory to God. He has opened doors for me that were not possible otherwise,” Aaron said. “I try to treat everyone with love and kindness. When people stop me in the store, I talk to them. I show hospitality.” In Abilene, his otherwise quick trips to the grocery story or gym can turn into long outings delayed by fan selfie requests and impromptu conversations that cause Kimberly to greet him with “Where have you been?” when he returns home. Abilene, after all, can’t help that it’s a friendly place. “I tell people that Abilene is where the West Texas plains and Hill Country meet,” said Aaron. I love the people, love being around ACU and its camps for kids, the sporting events. It’s home. The cost of living is low. I can drive to the airport and fly to DFW in less time than my friends there spend sitting in traffic on their way to the airport.” He is as unconventional as he is down-home. He wears a Jim Ned youth baseball team cap to network TV interviews. Using Facetime live, he sings songs joyfully with his daughter, Jolee Kate, and shares images of his sports-minded sons, Jack and Jake. He brags on and writes love songs to Kimberly. He asks online fans for advice about which Western shirt to wear at that night’s show. He performs a live acoustic


said Aaron, who was nearly as incredulous as his star-struck wife, who exclaimed, “Oh. My. Goodness. Keith Urban knows you!” “Of course, I tried to act cool like it was no big deal,” Aaron said, laughing.

cover for Facebook, at George Strait’s request, choosing a soulful Amarillo by Morning. And to answer fan inquiries about when he will finally sign with a really big record company, well, he started one. The new enterprise is titled BIG Label Records. Seriously. He performs in iconic Texas dance halls in places like Gruene and Luckenbach. He does concerts in hole-in-the-wall joints and revels in the good vibes they leave him, his sixpiece band and his fans. His growing reputation has taken him to the Troubadour club in West Hollywood and twice to appearances on the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. He just made his 10th trip to Europe to play for enthusiastic fans in Norway and Spain, who – like others in France, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland and Germany – love his music. “We are playing a lot fewer bars and honky tonks and more fairs, festivals and theatres,” Aaron said. He recently was the opening-night headliner at the 87th annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, singing for more than 50,000 people in NRG Stadium on a stage fit for a remake of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. How big was that gig? For starters, it meant Alan Jackson, Willie Nelson, Paisley, Bryan and other stars followed him on subsequent nights. Or to put it another way, next year, Garth Brooks will nab the coveted top spot Aaron filled in 2017. Aaron Watson is singing and laughing all the way to the big time, however you choose to define or measure it.


hat gives Aaron the biggest rush, however, is also what endears him to his growing legion of fans: He stays true to his roots. Few roots grow deeper than the ones the Watsons have at Abilene Christian. “ACU alumni show up wherever I play,” Aaron said. “It’s incredible the

amount of support I get. Last night [at a show in Charleston, South Carolina] an older man with an ACU cap showed up and I thought, ‘Man, that is so cool!’ But it happens regularly and always amazes me.” A native of Amarillo, he transferred to ACU after playing baseball in junior college for two years. An injury ended his dreams in the sport, and he began to pursue a career in music while finishing a composite interdisciplinary major. His Department of Music education didn’t start so well, although instructor Dan Mitchell became his guitar-playing mentor. He thought his first vocals class would be one-on-one with a professor. Instead, he walked into a room to find 12 women; he was the only guy. “We sure didn’t sing George Strait songs,” Aaron recalled. “It was all classical, ‘fa-la-la-la-la’ material and I thought, ‘Whoa! This is not what I signed up for.’ ” Mitchell asked Aaron why he enrolled in a class for guitar lessons. Aaron explained that he wanted to be a country singer-songwriter one day. “All right then,” Aaron recalled Mitchell saying. “We have a lot of work to do.” “He believed in me and became a musical hero to me,” Aaron said. “I don’t think I could have found another Dan Mitchell anywhere else in the world besides ACU.” Aaron’s first live performances took place as a student at the Hardwood Cafe outside the McGlothlin Campus Center’s World Famous Bean, where he relied on the three guitar chords he knew to play from a notebook of 100 songs. Fellow student and country music fan Robert Reid (’67), who was slowed by cerebral palsy, liked to pull himself in a wheelchair alongside Aaron to watch him play. The two became fast friends. “Robert encouraged me to get

out in the world and spread the good news of Jesus while singing country music,” Aaron said. Other faculty members did the same. “I was concerned I would be a black sheep in the ACU family, making a living playing music in bars and honky tonks,” Aaron said. His campus mentors convinced him those were genuine mission fields, places where people need to know about Jesus and might hear his call where a minister or missionary would never be given the time of day. “There couldn’t have been a better place in the whole wide world to prepare me for the music industry than ACU,” Aaron said. “Yet, God

“The prayer I pray before each show is for God to give me courage so I can get up there and let my light shine and bring the audience joy.” – AARON WATSON

had more in mind than that. He opened up my mind and heart and made me realize I could do what I love but share my love for Jesus at the same time.” Aaron said he is awed about the opportunity. “The prayer I pray before each show,” he said, “is for God to give me courage so I can get up there and let my light shine and bring the audience joy.” And put on one great show.


trong-minded and admittedly stubborn by nature, he is determined to build a music career without the benefit of a major record label. “When I first went to Nashville in 2001, the door was slammed in my face over and over again. I came home and told my dad, ‘They didn’t like me and didn’t think I could sing a lick.’ ” He set out to prove them wrong.

Redemption took a while but in February 2015, his album The Underdog lived up to its name – becoming the first by an independent artist to debut at No. 1 on Billboard Country Album charts. As an independent artist without the financial backing of a major label, it means a lot to Aaron to own the rights to his music – he writes most of the songs he records – but he also has to work harder for the exposure that fuels record sales. “The issue for independent country artists is really about how to break through the ceiling of country radio,” said James Hodgin, an artist manager for Be Music and Entertainment in Nashville, a leading agency whose president and founder is ACU alum Michael Blanton (’73). Hodgin said mainstream country music is “predominantly controlled by the major labels and still has a bit of the old system in place – not exactly pay-for-play, but leveraged.” Getting the right management team and venture capital in place takes time and requires a nimble artist poised to take advantage of the right opportunities when they arise. “What Aaron has done with his team over the years is a study in consistent build,” Hodgin said. “He’s built a fan base that will help him with the radio impact in each market.” Hodgin said Aaron’s fans get a kick out of rallying around an underdog artist whose music sounds great and message speaks to them. “Without question, Aaron is exhibiting the best of the new independent artist who is not only a fabulous artist, he’s also the CEO of his own entertainment company,” said Blanton, an award-winning producer who has for decades guided the careers of many successful artists. “I’m so very proud of what he does every day for his fans and his music, and his business.” 


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EXCEPTIONAL | ACU’s Vision to become the premier university for

the education of Christ-centered global leaders means building upon areas of strength and distinctiveness, and delivering a unique, Christ-centered experience that draws students into community.

The Halbert-Walling Research Center opened for classes in January 2017, providing a state-of-the art space for students in the sciences such as Sussan Talamas (inset), a senior biochemistry major from Torreon, Mexico.


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Halbert-Walling Research Center provides room for discovery



of Torreon, Mexico, living in West Texas with a Japanese roommate. She quickly learned not to greet her peers with a kiss on the cheek. She smiles when she talks about her biology and chemistry professors, men and women who know her by name and serve as mentors. And she smiles when she talks about the transformation she has encountered here, a 12-hour drive

from home. When she arrived, she considered herself agnostic and didn’t think her passion for science left room for faith. “I came here, and a lot of people, especially my friends and professors, brought me back to being a Christian,” Talamas said. “ACU opened doors to a faith I was lacking. I felt my empty heart become full.” The senior biochemistry major is one of the most energetic


ussan Talamas never stops smiling. She smiles when she talks about the culture shock she experienced when she first arrived at Abilene Christian – a native


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cheerleaders for the sciences at ACU you can meet. She’s excited for what is possible, from her research assisting Dr. Kathleen (Spivey ’06) Lee in synthesizing amino acids with certain compounds to form drugs that can battle underserved diseases, to her future in medical school and beyond. And she’s excited – and smiles – about the new facility she calls home as she studies, researches and prepares for what’s next: The Halbert-Walling Research Center. The 54,000-square-foot facility on the south side of campus opened for classes in January 2017 and houses the departments of biology, chemistry and biochemistry, and the Body & Soul program for pre-health professions students. It’s a fitting home for the world-renowned level of collegiate scholarship and discovery that have taken place in the sciences at ACU for generations, with large laboratories and classrooms boasting state-of-the-art equipment and modern designs. ACU launched its Vision in Action initiative in 2014 to transform the sciences, which then were centered in the 68-year-old Foster Science Building. Donors across the ACU community, including Kay Onstead with a gift of $10 million, gave $45 million for the creation of Halbert-Walling and the transformation of Bennett Gymnasium to the Engineering and Physics Laboratories and Foster to the Robert R. and Kay Onstead Science Center. Bennett’s new look was unveiled in 2015, the same year Onstead’s north entry was renovated. Now that building is undergoing an internal transformation scheduled for completion in January 2018. Halbert-Walling was the star attraction at its grand opening celebration in February 2017;


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With state-of-the-art facilities comes new equipment such as microscopes in this biology laboratory.

The new Walling Lecture Hall has seating for 150 students.

“Discovery at the Intersection of Science and Faith,” a large mural on the side of Walling Lecture Hall, pays tribute to trailblazing men and women of science. It spotlights several ACU alumni, including Kent Brantly, M.D. (’03), known for his work fighting the Ebola virus in West Africa, and B. David Vanderpool, M.D. (’52), a renowned pioneering surgeon and medical missionary.

Classrooms, laboratories, meeting rooms and offices are spread throughout three floors.

The space is more “reflective of the good

work that we do. We have a culture of research here, and the research opportunities students have are amazing. A lot of things my undergraduate students do, I was doing as a graduate student.” – DR. JENNIFER HUDDLESTON

Several collaboration areas are available for students to study, work and explore together.


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Senior biochemistry major John Swartout works with new equipment in the Inorganic Chemistry Research Laboratory.

The updated Organic Chemistry Teaching Laboratory provides more space for students to collaborate.

Dr. Qiang Xu, associate professor of biology, instructs a class in the Physiology Laboratory.

It shows the “investment ACU

Terri Aldriedge, R.N., works in one of the Body & Soul offices on the first floor. The program provides all aspects of pre-health professions student support. Aldriedge is director of recruiting and shadowing and Dr. Cynthia (Barton ’81) Powell is director of pre-health professions programs for Body & Soul.


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is willing to make in future practitioners and researchers. It means the world to me when someone makes an investment in me. This school believes in me. This school believes I can change the world.” – LOUIS SANCHEZ

Large windows in the three-story atrium provide beautiful new vistas of campus.

guests marveled at the facility’s floor-to-ceiling windows, crisp white walls and inviting common areas for students. A giant mural covering one side of the new Walling Lecture Hall contains quotes from well-known scientists extolling the virtues of studying God’s creation. As students like Talamas have learned, that desire – to excel in one’s work to honor God – is central to the sciences at ACU, as is the importance of research. Faculty and students needed a 21st-century environment to match their mission. “The space is more reflective of the good work that we do,” said Dr. Jennifer Huddleston, assistant professor of biology. “We have a culture of research here, and the research opportunities students have are amazing. A lot of things my undergraduate students do, I was doing as a graduate student.” It also provides space for its inhabitants to reflect on the nature of their work. “Scientists study what God has made,” said Dr. Greg Powell (’80), ACU’s M.E. Pruitt Professor of Chemistry. “There are many more windows in Halbert-Walling, so we can view much more of the campus. We feel less isolated, and it is nice to be able to see more of God’s creation.” Present at the grand opening among their many family members were David D. (’78) and Kathy (Gay ’78) Halbert of Colleyville, Texas, whose $15 million gift through the Caris Foundation spearheaded the facility’s creation. Halbert-Walling is named for David’s grandparents, the late Dean (’30) and Thelma (Bernard ’33) Walling. Dean Walling was an ACU trustee from 1976-83 and founding chair of the National Development Council

during Design for Development campaigns that built numerous iconic buildings on the campus in the 1960s and ’70s. David Halbert was effusive with praise for the new facility. “I couldn’t be more proud to be associated with this facility and [for it] to be associated with my grandfather’s name,” he said during the dedication ceremony. Like Talamas, sophomore Louis Sanchez from Austin gets excited when he talks about his new research labs and the opportunities he has as a biology major. In Huddleston’s microbiology lab, he and a peer are researching the development of antibiotics from bacteria, and Sanchez was awarded a scholarship to stay in Abilene during Summer 2017 to continue his studies. He chose to attend ACU based on the reputation of its science departments, he said, as well as the immediate community he felt with his professors. “They’re really here to open your mind up to the world and the work of God,” Sanchez said. “I was looking for a Christ-centered environment with a strong focus on the sciences. It’s hard to find, but ACU offers it.” He’s proud to be among the first students to research in Halbert-Walling. To him, it represents the endless possibilities he sees before him, in medicine and in life. “It shows the investment ACU is willing to make in future practitioners and researchers,” Sanchez said. “It means the world to me when someone makes an investment in me. This school believes in me. This school believes I can change the world.” 


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ou’ll be able to see it from miles away. Driving into or around the north side of Abilene, especially at night, you’ll look toward the Hill and will see its lights illuminating the West Texas sky. You may already be used to seeing the Tower of Light from a distance, serving as



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a marker for campus, even a beacon. But no one will be able to miss Wildcat Stadium. Follow its lights, and you’ll find your way home. The home team, home games, Homecoming – many athletics traditions are designed around the concept of “home.” Home field advantage is real: there’s just something to be said about playing on familiar ground in front of familiar fans and traditions. Home is where a group of people with a common goal return to time and again, a place where they belong. Abilene Christian University


hasn’t regularly hosted football on campus since 1942. A lot has changed in Wildcat football since then – from players wearing helmets without face masks and fans sitting on wooden bleachers at A.B. Morris Stadium, to today’s 1,600-square-foot LED video scoreboard towering over the new ever-green FieldTurf surface on Anthony Field below. The 75-year span includes 59 years of games played at Abilene’s Shotwell Stadium, which is home to the city’s high school football teams. But a new day in the sport at ACU dawns Sept. 16, 2017, when the Wildcats head home for good. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Lee De Leon,



ACU director of athletics. “Wildcat Stadium will inject pride, passion and school spirit on our campus unlike anything this university has experienced.” The opening game against Houston Baptist University, a day after grand opening activities including a free concert for the public by rock band NEEDTOBREATHE, marks a turning point in ACU’s history. There will be no mistaking when the Wildcats will be playing. Gameday culture is here, complete with tailgating in the Campus Mall before each home game. (Read more about tailgating on pages 18-21.) “Nothing says ‘welcome home’ like the center of campus,” said Samantha (Bickett ’01) Adkins, assistant director of alumni relations

and a member of the Wildcat Stadium planning committee. “We’re still the same school, with the same values and learning experience. We’re adding something to our culture that will build camaraderie and community.” “It’s not just about football,” said Jim Orr, J.D. (’86), vice president for advancement. “Wildcat Stadium has value for the entire community, from ACU to Abilene to the entire region. It’s an asset that will be a blessing beyond the borders of campus.” This community is quite literally a dream come true for April (Bullock ’89) and Mark (’86) Anthony. The need for an on-campus stadium felt apparent when they returned to campus for 2013 Family Weekend to visit their then-freshman daughter, Ashlyn (’17). Every event planned that weekend for families was on ACU TODAY

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campus – except the football game. The same was true when they returned for Homecoming. As she told ACU Today in 2014, April Anthony leaned over to president Dr. Phil Schubert (’91) during the Homecoming game and said, “I sure am tired of driving down the street from campus to get to the football stadium.” The Anthonys soon decided to make a cornerstone gift to build the stadium as part of ACU’s Vision in Action initiative and as a way to help build pride and participation among football fans. “ACU is in our DNA and we are proud to be ACU graduates,” Mark Anthony said at the groundbreaking ceremony Feb. 19, 2016. “We believe in having a first-class facility that matches the quality of our faculty, our staff and our students here on campus.” Wildcat Stadium’s grand opening comes about a month after the NCAA will vote on finalizing ACU’s transition to Division I affiliation, meaning teams will be eligible in 2017-18 for all Southland Conference and NCAA postseason tournaments. The move to Division I has brought an increased focus on academics among student-athletes, who are held to higher grade and graduation-rate standards than the Wildcats’ time in Division II. The Division I transition, coupled with the presence of Wildcat Stadium and all the Gameday activities, helps better integrate student-athletes into the campus culture. Athletics has the unique ability to unify a diverse community, De Leon said. “As a student-athlete, I know how awesome it is when you feel the support of your community,” said Sophie Morrow, sophomore communication disorders major from Hico, member of the women’s track and field team and a student director helping plan Gameday activities. “What’s not to get excited about these days at ACU? With construction finally finishing on many projects, I’m excited about starting new traditions and introducing the ACU community to fun opportunities. I want to see some Wildcat pride.” Appropriately, the theme for Homecoming 2017 is “The Cats Are Back,” with several events involving the new stadium. (For a complete schedule, see pages 40-41.) But that weekend, like ACU itself, will be a mix of familiar and new, from Homecoming Chapel to the parade to reunions spanning the classes of 1972 to 2012. Surely a balance can be found between the two, said Craig Fisher (’92), director of alumni relations and university relations. “It’s a different time and a different generation, but the core of the university is the same,” Fisher said. “We always want ACU to be a place people of all ages call home.” 

not to get excited about these days at “ACU?What’s With construction finally finishing on many

projects, I’m excited about starting new traditions and introducing the ACU community to fun opportunities. I want to see some Wildcat pride.


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he process of selling season tickets began in early June with priority given to select groups based on Wildcat Loyalty Points for members of the Wildcat Club, as well as season ticket deposit holders and others who invested in the stadium. Season tickets went on sale to the general public June 26. See the seating and price chart on page 15. • Any seats not sold on a season ticket basis will be available for purchase in August. Priority will be given to those with Wildcat Loyalty Points, which are earned by being a member of the Wildcat Club. • The Wildcat Club is open to anyone who gives $100 or more toward any area of ACU Athletics. To learn more about membership, visit • Unsold tickets will be available for purchase the day of the game. However, we recommend you purchase tickets prior to Gameday to ensure a seat. You can do so by visiting or calling 325-674-CATS (2287). • Pricing differs for ACU faculty and staff, who can learn more by contacting ACU Athletics at 325-674-2323 or 


Section Type

Minimum Season Donation* Ticket †

Total Cost







$250 Chair

205 and 207






$200 Chair

Seat Type



$75 + $75 = $150

Bench with back

105 and 107


$50 + $75 = $125

Bench with back

103-104, 108-109 Reserved 204 and 208

$25 + $75 = $100


110-111 General $0 + $75 = $75 Benches and berm 201-203, 209-211 Admission Child Ticket = $50 and Berm


Reserved for Big Purple Marching Band


Reserved for visitors



Student General Admission Free admission with current ACU ID


Reserved for special guests




* Minimum donation goes towards Wildcat Annual Fund. • † Season tickets include all five home games. ACU TODAY

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n recent years, the extent of football culture at ACU has been, for the most part, people wearing purple shirts on Fridays and carloads of fans snaking south on Judge Ely Boulevard and east on Highway 36 to cheer for their team in a stadium rented from the local school district. Members of the Wildcat Stadium planning committee have bigger ambitions, including multiplying those purple shirts and growing a campus culture on the Hill to make as big a difference as our very own venue has made on the campus skyline along Ambler Avenue. No longer will anyone on campus – much less the north side of Abilene – wonder, “Is ACU playing football today?” The answer will be clear as fans flock to the Hill for Wildcat Country Tailgating in the Campus Mall and to cheer on the team at home games. (Read more on pages 18-20.) An on-campus stadium means more than a change in location. It’s a change in campus and city culture, from how people commute in and around northeast Abilene, to how they plan their days. It’s a revolution in some ways and will take time getting used to, but those behind the planning promise it will be worth it. “We’re giving alumni and other fans a place to be proud of and to call home,” said Lee De Leon, ACU’s director of athletics. “I hope Wildcat Stadium will serve as a source of tremendous pride and a rallying point for the entire ACU community.” The new stadium provides permanent seating for 9,500 and berm seating above the north end zone for another 2,500 – a rightsized venue for ACU, compared to Shotwell’s 15,000-seat capacity. That means few empty seats and an electric atmosphere for games.


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A fan guide has been created to help smooth the transition to a new stadium, such as detailing what is allowed at tailgating and in the stadium, and what needs to be left at home. (See pages 18-19.) Ticketing is another big change as ACU moves to a system similar to other Division I universities. Priority for season tickets is given to members of the Wildcat Club

as well as donors toto ACU Athletics and to the stadium. (See page 14.) However, it isn’t all about practical changes, such as parking (see the campus map on pages 19 to determine which lots will be available). Gameday culture is about the opportunity to build school spirit, and lots of it. Six student directors have been hired by the Wildcat Stadium planning committee to help coordinate Gameday activities, said Craig Fisher (’92), director of alumni relations and university relations. “These students will help drive Gamedays and be leaders,” Fisher said. “They will be our eyes and ears with the student body, making sure we have a good sense of the pulse of campus culture.” Trey Dennis, junior marketing major from Abilene, said he applied for the student director position because he wanted to be a part of creating new traditions. “It’ll be really cool some day for me to come back as an alumnus and remember the start of the new stadium and tell people I was a part of the makings of those traditions,”

he said. “I’m excited about the opportunities and potential we have to make this memorable.” Ask an alumnus what they loved about ACU, and chances are their answer will be its people. We’re a university built on relationships and community, Fisher said, and coming together to enjoy football and the new stadium is one way to build upon that community. “This is still a place you can call home and where you can be connected,” he said. “We’re also growing and

experiencing new ways to support ACU, showing our student-athletes we’re behind them, creating new opportunities for the future, and welcoming families to this great university. Our hope is that alumni will make the time to come and celebrate with us.” 

Wildcat Reign student members include graduate student Bryan Maier, sophomore Jalaiyah Chisholm, sophomore Shane Sargeant and senior Trey Jackson.

2017 ACU

WILDCAT FOOTBALL GAME • Print your tickets at home to avoid waiting in line. • All persons (age 2 and older) must present a ticket for admission to Wildcat Stadium. • Stadium gates will open 90 minutes before kickoff, unless otherwise noted. • Guests exiting the stadium and wishing to re-enter must have their original ticket stub and hand stamped prior to exit. • Fans may bring one sealed or empty water bottle into the stadium.





• Alcohol • Animals (except those used for service) • Artificial noisemakers • Backpacks • Bags or purses larger than 12” x 6” x 12” • Cans or glass bottles • Chairbacks or seat cushions (Chairbacks can be rented inside the stadium for use in all sections except 105-107 and 205-207.) • Coolers or ice chests • Drones • Fireworks or flares • Illegal substances • Outside food or drink • Poles for flags or banners (banners must be in good taste) • Professional photography and video recording equipment • Sunflower seeds • Tobacco of any kind (including e-cigarettes) • Umbrellas • Weapons 





GAME SEPTEMBER 16, 2017 • 6 P.M.




SEPTEMBER 23, 2017 • 6 P.M.




SEPTEMBER 30, 2017 • 6 P.M.



Visit to review the complete Wildcat Stadium Fan Guide.


OCTOBER 7, 2017 • 6 P.M.







OCTOBER 21, 2017 • 2:30 P.M.









NOVEMBER 11, 2017 • 6 P.M.






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ailgating is many things to many people – a fun time with friends, a way to pass the time, a place to meet new people or perhaps a tradition passed down through the family. Whichever category you claim, only one thing matters when it’s time for ACU’s turn at tailgating: Show up, and show your Wildcat pride. Now that football has returned to campus, Gameday organizers want to emphasize building upon ACU’s community at home. Beginning Sept. 16, on each home game Saturday, the middle of campus will be transformed into a sea of purple and white. Officially called Wildcat Country, the Campus Mall area from Moody Coliseum to McKinzie Hall will be filled with fans and their respective gear, from tents to propane grills. (See the list of items allowed at tailgating on the right.) Members of the Wildcat Stadium planning committee decided on the Campus Mall as the perfect spot after they visited and researched other private Texas universities’ tailgates, including SMU,


ildcat Country is the official tailgate for Gameday, sponsored by United Supermarkets. At Wildcat Country, fans can set up tents throughout the Campus Mall; see the map on page 19. Bring your own food or purchase items from available food trucks. United will have sample-sized food on hand as well as games with prizes presented by various sponsors of ACU Athletics.




Load-in using a vehicle for tailgating on Gamedays begins five hours before kickoff. You can load-in on foot (such as with a wagon or cart) at any time. You can load-out your tailgating area by foot at any time. Tailgating load-out by vehicle will take place immediately after the game ends and must conclude within one hour. Vehicles may only enter the Campus Mall from one location: the Library Lot between Brown Library and Don H. Morris Center. (See map on page 19.) Vehicles may drive onto the Campus Mall, circle the GATA Fountain, and exit using the same location. Gameday staff will direct vehicles on and off the Campus Mall.

• Propane grills and electric smokers • Tents or canopies (must be secured and may not use stakes penetrating the ground more than 12 inches) • Animals (must be kept on a leash no more than 6 feet in length) • Portable generators (unless they create excessive noise, emission hazards or other safety concerns)

• Alcohol • Tobacco (including e-cigarettes) • Illegal substances • Weapons • Charcoal grills or other open flames • Glass containers • Motorized vehicles (golf or gator-type carts, ATVs, mopeds, drones, etc.)  Visit to review the complete Wildcat Stadium Fan Guide.


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Cheerleader Madi Ray, a junior, and mascot Willie the Wildcat


East Ambler Avenue


ACU Drive

Campus Court

Wells Field


Anthony Field at Wildcat Stadium Crutcher Scott Field

hWildcat Way

Elmer Gray Stadium



Teague Special Events Center

Don H. Morris Center

Moody Coliseum Money Student Recreation and Wellness Center

Tailgate load-in and load-out

D E.N. 18th

Teague Boulevard Onstead-Packer Biblical Studies Building

McGlothlin Campus Center

Brown Library

J u d g e E l y B o u l ev a r d

Mabee Hall

Hunter Welcome Center

Campus Mall

E.N. 19th

Nor t h

Edwards Hall

E.N. 20th

Cullen Auditorium


Library Ct. Zellner Hall

Hardin Administration Building

Onstead Science Center

Phillips Education Building HalbertWalling Research Center

Campus Center Road

College Drive

The McGlothlin Quad

McKinzie Hall

E.N. 16th

GAMEDAY MAP Parking for Wildcat Club members with football season tickets

Wildcat Country in the Campus Mall

Wildcat Walk route

RV parking lot



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We have so much beauty “ and history in the center


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of campus. It’s the perfect location to bring alumni and students together to build energy for the game and be able to interact with each other. We’re a relational university, and we want our tailgating fun and family friendly. – CRAIG FISHER

haven’t really been a part of Gameday before. This will be a way to truly appreciate the special culture we have and find new ways to connect with each other.” One member of the committee to whom the others often turned to for advice is Garrett Sublette (’03), director of enrollment operations. Big Purple Marching Band drum majors for 2017 include (from left) junior Meghan Starteri, senior James Loera and junior Allison Bulkley.


Baylor and TCU. Committee members also visited Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, to see how its organizers manage tailgating on a dry campus; ACU is an alcohol- and tobacco-free campus, rules that will apply during Wildcat Country as well. What stood out most from the schools visited were tailgates conducted in one main location, said Craig Fisher (’92), director of alumni relations and university relations and member of the planning committee. “We have so much beauty and history in the center of campus,” Fisher said. “It’s the perfect location to bring alumni and students together to build energy for the game and be able to interact with each other. We’re a relational university, and we want our tailgating fun and family friendly.” Fisher likes to picture alumni returning to campus with children in tow, all getting to experience new traditions. Those include the Wildcat Walk, during which members of the football team will walk through the tailgating area on their way to the stadium as fans line their path and cheer them on. Members of the boisterous student group known as Wildcat Reign will get their moment in the spotlight as they lead fans to the stadium. The Big Purple Marching Band also will participate in tailgating. Student organizations including social clubs will have tents set up near Moody Coliseum, while alumni and friends will have the area beginning around the GATA Fountain and heading south to set up camp. “We anticipate seeing a cross-section of our campus culture,” said Samantha (Bickett ’01) Adkins, assistant director of alumni relations and a member of the Wildcat Stadium planning committee. “We’ll see social clubs that are used to tailgating as well as campus organizations that

He’s the type of person who has spent more than one Thanksgiving eating a full-course meal along with family members before the Texas Longhorns play a home game on their Austin campus. That level of dedication isn’t for everyone, but you don’t have to be a die-hard to have a good time, he said. “Tailgating can be very fun when done right,” Sublette said. “The stadium being here on campus has rejuvenated interest in football and building school spirit. People I know in the Metroplex are excited about coming back to campus to see what this will look like. With games at Shotwell, football could be out of sight, out of mind. That’s about to change in a big way.” 




he celebration for the grand opening kicks off at 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 15, with Chapel in the stadium instead of Moody Coliseum. Events pick up again at 8 p.m. with a concert featuring Grammy-nominated rock band NEEDTOBREATHE. The band’s sixth studio album, Hard Love, debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 in July 2016, and they were a favorite choice among NEEDTOBREATHE students to play at the grand opening. On Saturday, Sept. 16, the first ACU Gameday experience kicks off at 1 p.m. as parking lots open and tailgating load-in begins. See the complete Gameday timeline below. Be sure to stay until the end of the Wildcats’ game against Houston Baptist: A big fireworks show is in store.


Based on a 6 p.m. kickoff 1 p.m. – Parking lots open; Wildcat Country Tailgate load-in 3 p.m. – Wildcat Country Tailgating begins and Wildcat Ticket Center opens 3:30 p.m. – Wildcat Walk (football team walks to stadium) 4 p.m. – Suite and Club entrances open 4:30 p.m. – All gates open 5:43 p.m. – Wildcat Reign enters stadium 5:45 p.m. – Big Purple Band performs 5:52 p.m. – Prayer and National Anthem Football team intro video 5:54 p.m. – 5:57 p.m. – Coin toss 6 p.m. – Kickoff 9:30-10:30 p.m. (or one hour after game) – Tailgate load-out The Gameday timeline will change depending on the start time of the game, as well as on the Saturday of Homecoming weekend. See pages 40-41 for the Homecoming Gameday schedule.  Visit to review the complete Wildcat Stadium Fan Guide.

embers of the Wildcat Club who are football season ticket holders may park in the following lots/areas (they will receive parking passes with their tickets): A. Elmer Gray Stadium Lot (west of the track and field stadium) B. Stadium Lot (west of Teague Special Events Center and north of Moody Coliseum, Cullen Auditorium and Edwards Hall) C. Along ACU Drive (east of the stadium) D. Brown Library Lot (west of Brown Library and south of Mabee Hall) These lots will open four hours prior to kickoff on Gamedays. Paid parking will be available as space permits. Re-entry may not be available once you leave the lot. For more, visit All other campus lots will be available for free parking four hours prior to kickoff. Spaces cannot be reserved in these lots and are available on a first-come basis. You may only park in designated areas; parking on any type of grass or unpaved surface is not allowed. Additional off-campus parking is available at Hillcrest Church of Christ (Ambler Avenue, west of the stadium) and at University Church of Christ (East North 16th Street).

ACCESSIBLE PARKING A limited number of accessible parking spaces for those with a disability are available in Lot A, where accessible passenger drop-off and pick-up also will be available. A shuttle will run from there to the main entrance of the stadium starting 90 minutes prior to kickoff. See the campus map on page 19 for detailed lot information. 


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he last time the Wildcats played a home football game on campus, Dwight D. Eisenhower was U.S. president, a gallon of gas cost 25 cents and the most well-known Army soldier was a private with a highly public persona: Elvis Presley. Even though the Wildcats’ home venue in 1958 was across town in Fair Park, the final contest of that season – and the last played on campus since – took place Nov. 27 in ACC Stadium, later known as Elmer Gray Stadium for track and field. The game was played on a bitterly cold Thanksgiving Day with a familiar foe and unlikely location: a spot on campus where home games would return 59 years later in 2017. With about 1,000 fans watching in near-freezing temperatures, ACU head coach Nick Nicholson’s team intercepted seven passes, built a 29-0 first-half lead and coasted to a 49-30 win over Howard Payne University, one of its oldest rivals. The win over the Yellow Jackets was paced by Wildcat end Robert McLeod, who caught scoring passes of 21 and 56 yards from quarterback Don Harber. Fullback Bill Lovelace ran for touchdowns of 3 and 30 yards. Harber completed five of 10 passes for 125 yards, including a 35-yarder to Jim Armstrong for a third TD. Later, McLeod became the only person named on two All-Century teams at ACU: basketball and football. He was drafted in 1961 by two pro football franchises, choosing to sign with the AFL’s Houston Oilers instead of the NFL’s Chicago Bears. He was a standout receiver for six seasons with Houston. 

Wilbert Montgomery (’77) was Offensive MVP and a running back on ACU’s All-Century Team, set the school career scoring record, played and coached 29 years in the NFL, and is the only Wildcat to be inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame.


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Stanley Staples (’53) runs for a TD in a 1952 game for the Wildcats.



he last game played on campus was at ACC Stadium, which would become known as Elmer Gray Stadium. The last full season played on the Hill was in A.B. Morris Stadium, which was situated where today’s Mabee Business Building is located. Abilene Christian’s earliest home games were played at Wildcat Park, across the railroad tracks from its original campus on North First Street. As school officials began considering a move to northeast Abilene, nine acres for future athletics use were purchased in 1926

When he graduated, quarterback Jim Lindsey (’71) was college football’s career passing leader, and later voted the Southland Conference’s Player of the Decade (1960s).


Linebacker Chip Bennett (’70), Defensive MVP on ACU’s All-Century Team, was voted NCAA College Division Player of the Year for 1969.

on Masterson Street (known today as North 6th). ACU never developed the land, selling it in 1945. In 1955 it became part of the campus for Abilene High School. A few early ACU games were played on Simmons Field and at Tee Pee Park, but the principal venues have been Wildcat Park (1920-23), Fair Park (1923-27), Parramore Field (1925, 1929-30), Eagle Stadium (1933, 1941), A.B. Morris Stadium (1938-42), Fair Park Stadium (1947-58), ACC Stadium (1958, one game) and P.E. Shotwell Stadium (1959-2016). 

Wide receiver Johnny Perkins (’77) was ACU’s highest-ever NFL draft choice (second round), the first Wildcat to play in the Senior Bowl and Blue-Gray all-star games, and a standout for the New York Giants.



he Wildcats have won two national and 12 conference championships, and participated in three bowl games since they began playing football in 1919. Abilene Christian won Texas Conference titles in 1939-40, 1948 and 1950-53; the Gulf Coast Conference in 1955; and the Lone Star Conference in 1973, 1977, 2008 and 2010.

Bernard Scott (’10) is ACU’s single-game and career rushing leader who won the 2008 NCAA Division II Harlon Hill Trophy as the top player in the nation.



hile ACU’s record book is replete with memorable performances, these game records on offense are especially notable:

Halfback V.T. Smith Jr. (’49) was a veteran of the D-Day invasion at Normandy who enrolled at Abilene Christian, graduated in three years, became the first Wildcat to be named first team All-America, and played in three NFL title games for the Los Angeles Rams.

Most points scored: 93 vs. West Texas A&M, 2008 Most TDs scored: 7 Bernard Scott vs. West Texas A&M, 2008* Most TD passes: 7 John David Baker vs. Concordia, 2013 Most yards rushing: 292 Bernard Scott vs. West Texas A&M, 2008* Most rushing attempts: 40 David Bennett vs. Angelo State, 1996 Most yards passing: 564 Jim Reese vs. Angelo State, 1976 Most passing attempts: 63 Jim Lindsey vs. Arkansas State, 1970 Most yards receiving: 232 Johnny Knox vs. Angelo State, 2008 Most catches: 15 Taylor Gabriel vs. New Mexico State, 2013 Longest field goal: 69 yards Ove Johansson vs. Angelo State, 1976 Most yards, total offense: 810 427 rushing and 383 passing vs. West Texas A&M, 2008* Most yards, rushing offense: 444 vs. Texas-Arlington, 1963 Most first downs: 33 vs. Tarleton State, 1975 

Teams made postseason appearances in 1950, 1976, 1977 and 2006-11, including the 1950 Refrigerator Bowl in Evansville, Indiana; the 1976 Shrine Bowl in Pasadena, Texas; and the 1977 Apple Bowl in Seattle, Washington. Wildcat teams captured NAIA Division I national titles in 1973 and 1977, made appearances in the NCAA Division II playoffs six straight years (2006-11) and have won 11 games five times: 1950 (11-0), 1973 (11-1), 1977 (11-1-1), 2008 (11-1) and 2010 (11-1). The 2017 season marks their first to be postseason-eligible after a four-year transition to NCAA Division I.

* NCAA playoffs


Ove Johansson (’77) played just one year of college football but kicked a world record 69-yard field goal at Homecoming in 1976, a mark that has yet to be equaled at any level of the sport.

Danieal Manning (’07), one of college football’s most dynamic defensive backs and kick returners, was the Chicago Bears’ top draft pick in 2006, helping lead them to the Super Bowl that season.

Wally Bullington (’53) and Dewitt Jones (’65) were head coaches of ACU’s two national championship-winning teams in 1973 and 1977, respectively.


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Adam Dorrel is in his first year leading the Wildcat football program after winning three of the last four NCAA Division II national titles as head coach at Northwest Missouri State University. Dorrel was named American Football Coaches Association Division II National Coach of the Year in 2015 and 2016.

Q &A WITH HEAD COACH ADAM DORREL Q: When you think back over your first few months on the job, what’s been the biggest learning curve for you and your staff?

Q: In early August, your players report back for fall practice, and the season starts a month later. Where is your team in relation to where you need it to be entering the summer? A: That’s hard to say because I’ve never coached in the Southland Conference. But I’m cautiously optimistic about the season. The attitude of our student-athletes has been really good, and we’ve received a lot of positive feedback from them. We’re trying to get them out in the community and do more to raise awareness about our program. (Through the first of May, Dorrel’s players had performed more than 350 hours of community service.) 24

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Q: What kind of recruiting advantage will Wildcat Stadium provide to this program over others in the Southland Conference and beyond? A: You can feel the excitement building each day. I don’t know if I can quantify yet how big of a game-changer Wildcat Stadium is going to be, but it’s been a huge hit with every recruit we’ve brought to campus, including guys who have played at the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) level. Q: How does your team look entering the 2017 season? A: I was very impressed with (returning starting quarterback) Dallas Sealey in the spring. He was everything we asked him to be before

spring drills started, and we saw the growth we expected. I also was very impressed with running backs De’Andre Brown and Tracy James. They’re going to provide us with a great 1-2 punch in the backfield. We’re not where we need to be yet on offense, but we have skill players who can really make things happen with the ball in their hands. Defensively, we need to improve. Several guys were impressive in spring camp, but that’s the area where we’ve concentrated on this spring and summer in terms of getting help for the upcoming season. 


A: The academic criteria we have to meet in Division I to keep everything moving forward is not a challenge but constantly at the forefront of what we’re thinking about. On the field, the difference in the size and speed of the athletes is, for the most part, different than what we saw in Division II. The number of people in our organization is so much different. There are a lot more moving parts.



Returns after finishing second in the Southland Conference in passing yards per game (277.3) and total offense per game (302).


Will look to bounce back from injury-plagued junior season. Coaches loved his leadership and work ethic in the spring.


Voted 2017 team captain based on a vote by teammates in late June. Moore is making the move from safety to outside linebacker in 2017 to give the Wildcats more speed and playmaking ability in the front seven.





Returns for his senior season with a chance to finish as ACU’s all-time leader in field goals and second in career PATs made and attempted, and in career kicking points.






Two-time first team all-Southland Conference performer returns and is just 63 tackles away from becoming ACU’s all-time leader in tackles. Enters the 2017 season with 326 career stops. Ryan Boozer is the all-time leader with 388 from 1998-2001. ACU TODAY

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2017 Alumni Awards

Outstanding Alumnus of the Year

Provides timely recognition of the lifetime achievement of an individual who has brought honor to ACU through personal and professional excellence and service to the university, the church or the community.

Young Alumnus of the Year

Recognizes professional achievement and/or distinguished service to ACU. To be eligible, a recipient must not be over 40 years of age at the time of selection.

Distinguished Alumni Citation

Recognizes distinctive personal or professional achievement that has merited the honor and praise of peers and colleagues.


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owhere perhaps is the contrast between light and darkness so

evident as in the tiny island country of Haiti. When David Vanderpool, M.D., (’82) arrived on Jan. 14, 2010, Haiti had just experienced a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that left the country enveloped in a literal darkness – no electricity for lights, no running water, an estimated 200,000 Haitians dead, and more than 1.5 million left homeless. Though the physical darkness was easy to see, the surgeon from Brentwood, Tennessee, also encountered a spiritual darkness, one fueled by extreme poverty, unrelenting oppression and a voodoo tradition deeply ingrained in the Haitian culture. David and his two sons, John Mark and David Stallings (’10), were among the first to respond, arriving two days after the earthquake. The elder Vanderpool was soon joined by his wife, Laurie (Stallings ’81), and daughter, Jacklyn. From a base on the Dominican Republic-Haiti border, they began providing medical care that ranged from emergency amputations to treating wounds to administering antibiotics and vaccinations. David and Laurie were no strangers to medical missions. They had started doing volunteer medical work 22 years ago, providing care in third-world countries suffering from disasters, whether natural or man-made. In 2005, they founded a nonprofit called Mobile Medical Disaster Relief, which they later rebranded as LiveBeyond. But their 2010 trip to Haiti was a game-changer. They decided to sell their house, most of their possessions and David’s private medical practice, and in May 2013, they moved to Haiti full time.

They now live on a 63-acre compound near Thomazeau, built on land they purchased from a voodoo priest. There they run a medical clinic and school, and operate programs to provide maternal health care, clean water, food, education and jobs, all while sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Hundreds of volunteers each year, most from the United States, spend a week at a time at the LiveBeyond compound, providing additional manpower and expertise. What the Vanderpools brought to Haiti in January 2010 and in the seven years since was a sliver of light that has continued to penetrate the mountainous village where they now make their home. The analogy of light and darkness is one that appeals to Laurie, or “Mama Laurie” as she is often referred to by her Haitian neighbors. “Light pierces the darkness; the darkness never pierces the light,” she said. When the Vanderpools first moved to Thomazeau, the villagers were curious but not welcoming, Laurie said. “I used to walk into a village, and the darkness would show itself in the frowns and crossed arms and stares,” she said. “Now, we see just the opposite. People will run to me and pull me into their homes. We are seeing in a very real way how light pierces the darkness.” The volunteers who man the medical clinic or assist with the children’s programs often leave as transformed by the experience as the Haitians they came to help. That, many of them say, is why they feel the pull to return again and again. Tara (Studer ’05) Bailey, O.D., who has made two trips to LiveBeyond and is planning a third, says one of the most remarkable experiences for returning volunteers is the dramatic change they can see in a relatively short period of time. The Katy, Texas, optometrist made her first trip in 2014 and returned two years later. “I saw progress – lots and lots of progress,” she said. “I had a newborn baby with a double chin sit down next to me at worship on Sunday. I saw healthier-looking people. I heard that Dr. Vanderpool had not seen a cholera case in 2 1/2 years because they have clean water. The fact they can



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(CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT): Laurie is generous with hugs to children such as Kermichle Antilus. The Vanderpools and volunteers who visit LiveBeyond pray with residents of a nearby village. David baptizes Wendy Pavelus. Laurie and David began medical missions work together 22 years ago.

can now meet secondary needs like dental care, eye care and education, instead of only being able to save people from starvation, makes it abundantly clear that the Lord is working mightily in Haiti.” The transformation is not just physical, Bailey said. “I saw five people added to the Kingdom of God through baptism. I saw God’s children rejoicing and worshipping him with their whole body and soul, celebrating their freedom from Satan and his darkness. I saw people persecuted for their decision to follow Jesus, but standing firm in their faith and not afraid to live next door to a voodoo peristyle.” Ty Maddox, D.O., (’92), who practices internal medicine in Irving, Texas, is planning his fourth trip to Haiti in January 2018. He, too, has seen dramatic differences, especially among the children enrolled in the Ke Pou Timoun program, which is Creole for “Heart for Children.” “The change of the physical appearance due to improved nutrition and the nurturing love and education they receive is amazing,” he said. “One of the economic concepts that is important when considering developing countries is that you get more ‘bang for your buck’ when you focus on children. The children of 28

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today will be the leaders of Haiti tomorrow. These future leaders are getting the opportunity to know and love Jesus Christ.” In 2014, ACU’s School of Nursing began taking students on universitysponsored trips to LiveBeyond. The students gain valuable experience working alongside health care professionals, but beyond that they get to see the Vanderpools live out their calling in a tangible way. “The Vanderpools are very intentional,” said Averi Edwards, a senior nursing major from Edmond, Oklahoma, who has made two trips to Haiti. “Laurie, or Mama Laurie as many call her, is the epitome of kindness. She showers the Ke Pou Timoun children in God’s love to help them realize their worth in Christ. Dr. Vanderpool is a mentor and leader in the community. Working with him in the clinic was a privilege, and I was able to have many conversations with him throughout my time in Haiti. He is passionate about protecting and providing for the poor. He works hard to bring justice and love to Haiti.” The Vanderpools are quick to give God the glory for the changes taking place, and the volunteers who work alongside them do as well. “They have done so much in such a short amount of time, simply because they are filled

with the Spirit and they allow Him to work through them,” Bailey said. Haiti still carries the distinction of being the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. Voodoo priests and many of their followers still stand stony-faced with arms folded as the LiveBeyond crew travels through the villages. But an increasing number of Haitians, young and old, have been won over by the love they see in the entire Vanderpool clan. As ACU president Dr. Phil Schubert (’91) said in presenting the Vanderpools with the university’s 2017 Outstanding Alumni of the Year award in February, “They are truly a light in the darkness, and through them so many have come to know what it means to be loved completely and wholly unconditionally. They’ve come to know God.” Maddox agrees. “When I look at the Vanderpools, I see two people who are truly living out what Jesus has commanded us to do. In Matthew 28:19, Jesus told his disciples to ‘go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’ This Great Commission is being fulfilled in Thomazeau, Haiti.” 


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Chelsea Buchholtz 2017 YOUNG ALUMNA OF THE YEAR

helsea (Thornton ’01) Buchholtz, J.D., still can’t believe she’s

ACU’s 2017 Young Alumna of the Year. Just look at the previous recipients of the award, she told attendees at the Alumni Day lunch Feb. 19: 2016’s Gilbert Tuhabonye (’01), an inspirational speaker, author, running coach and philanthropist; and 2015’s Dr. Kent (’03) and Amber (Carroll ’06) Brantly, known for their work combating the Ebola virus in West Africa. Kent Brantly appeared on the cover of Time magazine and on NBC’s The Today Show. “The Today Show hasn’t called me,” Buchholtz joked as she accepted the award. “I sit in meetings and manage people all day.” The chief of staff for the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD) does a bit more than that, as was clear from who came to pay tribute to her at the ceremony: Jeffery Boyd (’83), justice on the Texas Supreme Court. The two worked together in Texas Governor Rick Perry’s office before Buchholtz moved to the justice department, where she serves as an advocate for the department’s employees who work with the children in the juvenile system. Buchholtz majored in advertising and public relations at ACU and earned her juris doctor degree from Pepperdine Law School. Her SHAWN BEST

California days, however, had her longing for Texas. She interned for Gov. Perry – she previously had interned for former U.S. Rep. Charlie Stenholm and Sen. John Cornyn – and eventually worked for four years as Perry’s general counsel. She then moved on to serve as one of his policy advisors and chaired the transition team overseeing the merger of the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission and Texas Youth Commission into the TJJD. When the sitting executive director of the TJJD called the governor’s office looking for lawyers, Boyd recommended Buchholtz. There, she has moved from deputy general counsel to general counsel to chief of staff. “That kind of success does not come easy in state government,” Boyd said. “The fact that Chelsea was able to move so quickly into her leadership roles attests to her character and effectiveness, and her ability to gain the trust and response of those with whom she works and leads.” The creation of the TJJD was part of an overhaul of the entire system, which had been plagued with corruption scandals, high turnover and low morale. She describes her primary goals as ensuring the department is trustworthy and creating a culture of healing and positivity among its workforce. “I really was drawn to the challenge of completing those reforms and helping this organization be healthy and robust and one in

which the legislature would have confidence,” she said. “I support those who support the kids in our system. I make sure they can do their jobs well. I want others to be able to trust in me and my instincts and know I will do my very best to do right by people.” She has come full circle in many ways and certainly is in her element in Austin. Not many people can say that as a child, they used to hang out with the late Jack Pope, J.D. (’34), former chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court. [Her father, Gary Thornton, J.D. (’72), clerked for Pope.] “Even as a Texas Supreme Court Justice he let me, as a 3-year-old, dance on his big fancy desk and comb his hair,” Buchholtz said. “And he instilled in me the belief that even the most important people can stop and love on children, just as Jesus did.” Being a member of the Jack Pope Fellows Program at ACU helped teach her how to be a public servant, she said, and she credits others at ACU including Dr. Gary (’64) and Sylvia (Ravanelli ’67) McCaleb for showing her what leadership looks like. “This award is really not about me at all,” she said. “It’s a reflection of my world, my circle of love. “Starting out at ACU, where so many beautiful Christian influences mold you, allows you to go out into the world and have the tools to model Christ,” she said. “That’s my foundation.” 



Summer-Fall 2017



hen Dr. Shaun Casey (’79) was growing up, family conversation around the dinner table often centered on two topics: religion and politics. “I’ve always been intrigued by the public implications of religious belief and practice,” Casey said. “For a lot of Americans, belief is a matter of consumer choice. But I’ve always thought there was more than that. There also are public implications.” On July 1,2017 Casey began a new position as director of the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University. This is the most recent step in Casey’s decades-long career of bringing together faith and government. Through his roles at Wesley Theological Seminary, the Center for American Progress and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Casey has been able to confront issues in academic and political arenas that he believes Christians are called to address. During the Barack Obama administration, Secretary of State John Kerry invited Casey to establish the Department of Religion and Global Affairs in the U.S. State Department. Casey’s responsibilities included advising Kerry when religion cut across his portfolio – which Casey said happened on the majority of the issues – and increasing the capacity of the State Department around the world to sense religious dynamics. “Our diplomacy can be smarter if we understand how to interpret


Summer-Fall 2017





Dr. Shaun Casey

religion,” Casey said. Casey described his four years in the State Department as “amazing.” “I worked for a Secretary of State who called us to fight extreme poverty and work for human rights,” he said. “He called us to reduce conflict around the world and promote peace, and that’s not a bad occupation to have.” As a student at ACU, Casey received an education providing an ideal springboard for eventually continuing his education at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and Harvard Divinity School. He learned to write in the journalism classes of Dr. Charlie Marler (’55), while Drs. LeMoine Lewis (’36) and Thomas Olbricht taught him how to think theologically – and encouraged him to attend Harvard for graduate school. “When they said they thought I could go to Harvard, I trusted them,” Casey said. “It was a little scary going from West Texas to Harvard at 22, but I realized that no one is the smartest guy in the room all the time. I learned how to learn collaboratively at ACU.” In his new position at the Berkley Center, the premiere organization of it’s kind in the world of religion and politics, Casey will lead a team of scholars who research and write on ethics and global affairs. “The Berkley Center wants to promote peace, train a new generation of leaders, understand poverty, promote human rights, and address global refugee crises and climate change,” he said. “We are an academic research center, but ultimately we want to effect change on the ground all around the planet. And the center has a great perch here in Washington to shine a bright light on these issues.”

Tasha Lemley


e was there every day. Tasha (French ’02) Lemley walked past the same bench every morning on her way to work. Day after day, the same homeless man was sitting there as she hurried by. She had graduated from ACU with a photojournalism degree, but had become interested in graphic design, moving to Nashville to look for work. But so far, she had only managed to land a job at a downtown Kinko’s. “I did not have a good attitude about that,” Lemley said. “I didn’t move to the big city to work at a copy store.” And every morning, he sat as Lemley quietly walked past him. “Because I perceived him as different, it never occurred to me to talk to him,” she said. Lemley resolved to change this, and the next day she approached the man, and in a shaking voice said, “I’m Tasha.” He replied, “I’m Don.” The moment changed both of their lives. Through her interaction with Don, she got to know more homeless people. She eventually found work as a designer, art director and communications coordinator in and around Music City. By 2007, Lemley had an idea to start a “street” newspaper in Nashville with content focusing on the homeless community and poverty-related issues. From her journalism classes at ACU and her experience with The Optimist and photography, Lemley began The Contributor, a newspaper featuring the writing and other

2017 DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI CITATIONS used for much more. “That is something that has been really amazing to me,” said the 2011 winner of a JMC Gutenberg award for distinguished career achievement. “I made my living from my education, but not from the name of my degree.”


contributions of members of the homeless community. The Contributor started as an every-other-month publication, eventually became a weekly newspaper providing income, independence and a voice to many. Lemley and her staff discovered that after 90 days of selling newspapers, vendors (homeless people who sell the copies) were able to get into housing. Today, 6 million copies of The Contributor have been sold, and some of the content has won national and international awards from the International Network of Street Papers. Eventually, Lemley realized something else The Contributor was doing. The newspaper was providing what introduced her to Don and other homeless Nashvillians in the first place: face-to-face interaction between homeless and non-homeless people. “It was changing lives on both sides of that socioeconomic divide,” she said. When Lemley realized her role as executive director had taken her away from that interaction, she stepped down from the job. On a trip to India, she and her husband, Mark (’00), fell in love with authentic Indian chai, and after returning home, learned how to make it themselves. She remembered how the homeless people of India make and sell chai on the streets, so why not make this opportunity available to those in Nashville? In 2013, Tasha and Mark launched Chai Wallah, a tea-based social enterprise producing a chai concentrate sold to coffee shops primarily by homeless women. And now she is working toward empowering refugees through a food-service training program. Lemley initially moved to Nashville determined to get a job in graphic design. But through the homeless community there, she realized her skills could be


Kevin Starks


n Fall 1993, when Kevin Starks (’98) was an incoming ACU freshman on the men’s basketball team, he encountered a question about his personal ambition on ACU’s Athletics Publicity Questionnaire. His answer was nearly prophetic: “To become a coach or preacher or maybe do both.” Almost 20 years later, Starks serves as associate head of school, director of athletics, basketball coach and executive vice president of Harding Academy in Memphis, Tennessee. While “minister” is not officially part of his title, ministry is at the heart of his career. His pulpit is his office, the basketball court and the hallways of the school he once walked as a student. “I’m actually getting to do what I think God has put on my heart to do,” Starks said. He and his teams are no strangers to winning. The Lions have captured a state title three times in five tournament appearances, and Starks has multiple state and national awards as Coach of the Year and been named the top A.D. in his district. But to Starks, basketball victories start long before the end-of-game buzzer. Coaching a team to a win requires a solid relationship with players, as well as the realization on each teammate’s part of playing for something much bigger than themselves. “I tell them, ‘I wore the uniform before you,’ ” Starks said. “ ‘And when I played, I played for the guys who

came before me.’ Team situations teach you a lot of things classroom settings can’t.” When Starks wore a Lions basketball uniform at Harding Academy, he was new to his faith. He started at the school in seventh grade, and his family had not attended church much. Religion classes are required every year at Harding, and by the time Starks graduated, Bible was his favorite subject. He never dreamed he would go far away for college, but ACU offered him a basketball scholarship, and before he knew it, he was making the long trek from Memphis to West Texas. “I was scared to death when I first went to school at ACU,” Starks said. “But I think ACU was a godsend. Up to that point, I had spent most of my life with other people taking care of me. ACU helped me grow up.” Starks lettered four times at ACU, and a couple of years after graduating found himself doing something else he never envisioned: returning home to Tennessee to coach at his high school alma mater where he met his wife Becky, who is now the head girls’ basketball coach. “Becky was the reason God sent me home to Memphis,” he said. “The job was a way to get me here.” The couple goes to work together every day, and has two children: Kellen and Skylar. Starks is still close friends with teammates from his years at ACU. “ACU was what God had planned for me,” he said. “I believe in God’s plan and his will for our lives. I wouldn’t change a thing about it.” 


Summer-Fall 2017


Student-focused Bible professor Dr. John Willis retires after 61 years in Christian higher education

oody Coliseum was brand new and half the buildings on campus today had not been built when Dr. John Willis (’55) returned to

his native Abilene in 1971 with his wife, Evelyn (Forrest ’56), and four school-aged children. He brought with him 15 years of experience on the faculty at Lipscomb University and a scholarly vitae that included publications in professional journals of international standing. Two years later, he was honored as Teacher of the Year. Willis retired in May at age 83 after 61 years in Christian higher education, 46 of those in ACU’s College of Biblical Studies. No one who has known Willis in the intervening 44 years is surprised when they see Teacher of the Year among his many honors. Willis was theprofessor who for decades knew every student’s name in huge sophomore-level Old Testament classes – and remembered their birthdays. In the 1970s, students stood in long lines during registration in Moody Coliseum to get the coveted data-punch cards that reserved their seats in courses such as Genesis-Esther or Job-Malachi, or as Willis liked to say it, “Gen-eeee-sis through Esther, and Job through Ma-lah-chee.” If they came for the cookies he handed out at the beginning

Dr. John Willis in 1971



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By Dr. Cheryl Mann Bacon

of every class, they stayed for the wisdom and wit. For years he and Evelyn filled their home on Campus Court every Sunday night with students, serving spaghetti or some other student-loved but low-cost meal. These days they’re regularly seen hosting students at Cracker Barrel. Dr. Ken Cukrowski (’84), dean of the College of Biblical Studies, said that when Willis transitioned two years ago to senior scholar with a half-time load his only question was, “Will I still be able to teach students and have an office up here where I can see the students?” He did. It has always been about the students. By the time he retired, Willis had given away somewhere between a half million and a million cookies. A conservative estimate of 200 students per year would seat more than 16,000 in his classrooms – whether the old Roberson Chapel in the Hardin Administration Building or one of the lecture halls in Onstead-Packer Biblical Studies Building. Even those who never took one of his classes knew the diminutive man with the twinkle in his eye and slow, thoughtful way of speaking. Adored by undergrads, Willis was feared and admired by graduate students. “It was different as a grad student because he sort of bled all over your papers,” Cukrowski recalled. “He was meticulous with grad students – he made voluminous comments. He went over every

line of your paper. He invested a lot of time. Just indefatigable.” Often unknown by those sophomores, but not by faculty colleagues or fellow scholars around the world, is the depth and duration of Willis’ scholarship. He has written approximately 30 books and 100 scholarly articles in Old Testament studies and has been associate editor of Old Testament Abstracts for many years. He remains an active scholar even as he enters retirement. Dr. Mark Hamilton (’90 M.Div.), professor of Old Testament, and Willis’ son, Dr. Tim Willis (’81), Blanche E. Seaver Professor of Religion and divisional dean of religion and philosophy at Pepperdine University, edited a collection of his articles two years ago. This year he is publishing Images of Water in Isaiah and has other research under way on the promises to David in 2 Samuel. When colleagues honored Willis at a retirement reception in April, Hamilton was traveling to a scholarly conference himself. In remarks for the event, read by Cukrowski, he said, “He demonstrates with his life that a rigorous scholar can serve the church, that an engaging teacher can have substance, and that a caring person can also correct when needed. We know that the integrated life is possible because it is happening right in front of us.” Beginning with his dissertation on Micah, Willis helped pioneer a major shift in the field of Old Testament studies, Hamilton said. “He continues to participate in the long-running seminar on the book of Isaiah held

at the annual Society of Biblical Literature meeting,” Hamilton said. “There, he is – I assure you – a luminary. One of the sages of old, yes, but also one who continues to write and present.” Cukrowski credits Willis with putting ACU on the map. “Dr. Willis, Dr. Abe Malherbe (’54) and Dr. Everett Ferguson (’53) were kind of pioneers – Dr. Lemoine Lewis (’36) got it started. We have more than 200 folks who have graduated from CBS who have gone on for doctorates – more than any other program on campus. That began with that crew,” Cukrowski said. Yet Willis never expected special treatment, never complained about course load, never angled to get the best classes. “He loved teaching and loved students, so it didn’t really matter for him whether it was undergrad or grad,” Cukrowski said. Thus, when given the opportunity to make a final Chapel talk, the international Old Testament scholar just stuck with the theme for the semester, spiritual disciplines, and chose the discipline of listening. “Pay attention to the words of God and the words of Christ,” Willis told the audience. “Hearing, listening, giving heed, yielding to advice, is a fundamental Christ-led discipline.” “If we would just be willing to listen to what Jesus said, Jesus can change our hearts,” Willis said. “While we thoughtlessly set our minds on things on earth, Jesus guides us to set our minds on things that are above.” 


Summer-Fall 2017



The Pattersons pick up the pieces of their lives following deadly Texas twister Many breathe a sigh of relief now that the peak of another tornado season has passed in the Lone Star State. One alumni family in Rockwall, Texas, knows the feeling all too well. It’s taken nearly two years, but Mike (’90) and Michelle (Kehoe ’90) Patterson have put the pieces of their lives back together after an EF-4 tornado with 200-mph winds on Dec. 26, 2015, surprised people in the northeast Dallas communities of Rowlett and Garland. While twisters can occur any month of the year, they were the last thing on the family’s mind the day after Christmas. Eleven of the 52 people killed nationwide during Winter Storm Goliath were residents of North Texas. Some 1,800 houses and businesses were damaged, including the Pattersons’ house, which they share with sons Blake and Cameron.

Where were you and your family when the tornado hit? We had driven to Atlanta to visit friends after spending time in Duluth, Georgia, with Michelle’s family at Christmas.

How extensive was the damage? It was bad. Our street, Harbor Drive, was hit hard. We were squarely in the path of the tornado. Three houses around ours were leveled. Wet sheet rock and insulation covered everything. Thankfully, only one family in those four houses was home. They had to be dug out of the rubble, but they survived. Our roof was ripped away. The wall of our living room was torn open like two outward-opening doors. A wall in Blake’s room was gone and most of his furniture and bed ended up outside. It rained for the next 24 hours, so there was a lot of water damage. All four of our cars were at home. Two were totaled and the other two had extensive damage.


Summer-Fall 2017



How did you find out and how did that news make you feel? It’s funny how your life can turn upside down on something so mundane as a text message. When a friend back home asked, “Y’all all right?” I immediately had an idea why. We had heard the weather was a bit crazy that day with a chance of severe weather in east Dallas County. Then I got similar texts from other friends who knew where we lived. I walked to a nearby room to tell Michelle, “We might have a problem.” Within 10 minutes she received a call from one of her close friends. She and her husband had made it to our house. She could barely talk but told Michelle our roof was gone and our house was destroyed. They told us if we had been there we probably would not have survived. I was stunned and calm at the same time, but the first thought was profound: “We were not there.” I knew without a doubt that was God’s doing.

(FROM LEFT) Cameron, Blake, Michelle and Mike Patterson in their Rowlett house after a powerful Christmas-week tornado destroyed it in 2015.

How did friends come to your aid in the first 24 hours? Two of our closest friends are couples who lived a mile or less away. They both managed to arrive within 30 minutes of the storm’s arrival. They were able to salvage photo boxes, my computer and some valuable documents before they sustained further damage. It continued to rain most of the next day, so a lot that might not have been damaged already was ruined by water. The day after the storm (and before we got home), emergency crews started blocking off roads and not letting anyone into the neighborhood. Fortunately, two of our friends at church are local firefighters. As first responders, they were able to bring their spouses with them and help gather more of our belongings. They put a tarp over part of our roof to shield it from the rain. Several other friends left church that morning to salvage what they could of our things. Several were looking for our cat, Bella. We found her under a wall two days after the storm, unhurt. As far as I know, we never had a problem with looters, probably because we had so many friends on site at various times.


Friends salvaged the Pattersons’ house number from the storm debris and presented it as a keepsake. They display it in their new house as a reminder of God’s care for them.

What were you able to salvage from the storm damage, and how long did it take to find them? We saved some things, but not much: a few wall hangings, some clothes and more photos than you might think. Today, I look around our new house and while nearly everything is new, some items bear scars from the storm that add extra meaning for us. While I don’t think any of our belongings were found away from our property, a lot of debris in the front and back yards was not ours. How did your employer, church, community, etc., rally around you and your family? Michelle’s employer allowed us to use it’s warehouse for storage. My employer had a bake sale and accepted donations for us. Numerous people from Saturn Road Church of Christ, our home congregation, helped clean, sort and pack things. We received support from Dallas Christian School where Cameron attended. A group of Blake’s social club brothers from Oklahoma Christian University drove down from Edmond and helped us move into our new apartment. Many people took our clothing home and washed it for

us. People at church handed us checks, gift cards and cash. Some close family members paid for an extended-stay hotel the first week. We had multiple offers of places to stay and cars to use. A close friend at church put us in touch with her sister, who was the property manager at a nice local apartment complex; we were able to sign a lease four days after the storm, and they kindly waived deposits for tornado victims. People in the community came by with water, food, clothing and basic necessities. Other local churches staffed support centers providing food, water and staple goods. An ACU alum started a GoFundMe page to raise money for us. Blake and Cameron’s friends rallied around them in many ways. Our church youth minister and his wife spent time with Blake and Cameron, and our other ministers and shepherds loved and supported us any way they could. I could go on, but suffice to say there was more help than we could ever use. We were really blessed. What surprised you the most during the days and weeks following the storm, and why? We were surprised at the overflow of love and support. We knew friends would rally around us, but it was so much more than we ever expected. Random strangers would drive by and offer gift cards. So many people wanted to help any way they could. It was overwhelming to the point that we did not know how to accept it. When you’re in crisis, it’s not always easy to see how desperate you are. Letting others help was difficult but we had to learn to set our pride aside. It was comforting to have so many people – from our closest friends to perfect strangers – be there for us. On the downside, it was hard to figure out how to move forward. We knew of people going through much worse situations. We were thankful we were not at home when the storm hit, and were kept safe. We expected our CONTINUED ON PAGE 79 ACU TODAY

Summer-Fall 2017


ACU101 Known in its early days as the Wildcat Pep Squad, College Band and The Wildcat Band, ACU’s marching musicians hit their stride in the mid-1930s when their ensemble earned the nickname “March Kings of West Texas” under the tutelage of D.W. Crain Sr. The name Big Purple Marching Band finally stuck in 1959, thanks to director Douglas “Fessor” Fry, whose proteges have built on a tradition of performance excellence. This fall the approximately 150 members of the Big Purple will occupy two sections in the southwestern corner of the new Wildcat Stadium, where they will continue to provide the musical heartbeat of the campus.

Elementary education major Wylene (Freeman ’59) Williams was a majorette and a member of the Homecoming Court during her busy senior year.

Musical tastes Big Purple halftime shows have featured virtually all styles of music, including Beethoven, The Beatles, Gloria Gaynor, Snarky Puppy, Frank Sinatra, Bruno Mars and Destiny’s Child. Performances in recent years have included a few dance steps (known as choreography to older alumni) when the music moves them.

Primetime performances The band has performed at halftime of three pro football games in long-gone NFL venues: Cowboys Stadium (Irving), the Astrodome (Houston) and Mile High Stadium (Denver). Twice the ensemble has played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, the current home of the Dallas Cowboys, when the Wildcats played in the Lone Star Conference Football Festival, and FC Dallas Stadium during another ACU game. Big Purple parade appearances have included the 1939 inauguration of Texas Gov. W. Lee “Pappy” McDaniel, the West Texas Fair and Rodeo and, of course, at the university’s Homecoming each fall. The group has been a regular at ACU events, such as Opening Assembly, presidential inaugurations, groundbreakings and annual Veterans Day programs. From state UIL high school exhibitions to Texas Music Educator Association conventions (see page 50), the band’s reputation is known far and wide.

Dance moves enhance a Big Purple performance from time to time.

Y’all come The Big Purple attracts students from across the university; 80 percent are not music majors but simply talented musicians who enjoy the band’s camaraderie. All members receive a participation scholarship and can even use one of their semesters as a course providing P.E. credit.

The band performed at halftime of a Houston Oilers game in the Astrodome on Oct. 10, 1976.

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40 Summer-Fall 2017



Darin Johns (’90), a music major and sousaphone player, rides his motorcycle up Campus Court to Big Purple Band practice in Fall 1987.

Voice of the Big Purple Today, associate professor of music Dr. Rick Piersall (’90) narrates the band’s halftime shows over the public address system, but for years the voice of the Big Purple belonged to the late Dr. Rex Kyker (’43), professor and chair of communication.

Dr. Rex Kyker

Big Purple Stompin’ Grounds A sure sign of fall – and another season of Wildcat football – is hearing the Big Purple play outdoors at noon on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The marching band’s practice sites have included a parking lot north of Gibson Physical Education Center (1968-81), the newly named Stadium Lot north of Edwards Hall (1968-81), and the front lawn of Williams Performing Arts Center (2003-present).

The band performed in AT&T Stadium in 2007 when ACU played in the Lone Star Football Festival.



ACU Fight Song – Originally called the Wildcat Victory March and first played on a broadcast by the Wildcat Band on Oct. 7, 1939. Let’s Win This Game (second half of the ACU Fight Song) – First played Oct. 15, 1955, at a game against McMurry University. March Grandioso – Written in 1901 by Roland Forrest Seitz, Grandioso is performed at many college football games each week. Oh, Dear Christian College – ACU’s official school song was sung a cappella by the group for many years. Band accompaniment was added by music professor emeritus Dr. M.L. Daniels (’55) for outdoor and other performances.

Fred J. Allen (’76) directs a band practice in 1990.


Traditions • Christmas for Kids is an annual opportunity to help less fortunate children in Abilene. • A devotional at the beginning of summer band camp includes reading I Corinthians 13 and singing the traditional hymn Fairest Lord Jesus. • “Yay Big Purple” is a colloquialism started by band member John Carroll (’77) that quickly grew into a greeting, as well as the YBP award given annually to a band member who exemplifies spirit and service to the ensemble. • Each summer the band participates in an epic beach volleyball game at Sonic on Judge Ely Boulevard near campus and an annual retreat is held at Heart of Texas Bible Camp in Brady, featuring the Itinerary of Doom. • Recognition at the annual year-end band banquet includes Outstanding Musician Award; YBP Award; and the Bill Reese Award and Scholarship, in memory of the late Reese (’67), a drum major who died while serving his country in 1968 as a Marine in Vietnam. • Graduating seniors with multiple semesters of membership in the band receive a coveted purple Big Purple blanket embroidered with his or her name. • Powered by a catchy percussion cadence, “It’s Great to Be An ACU Wildcat” is a cheer the band does at the end of each rehearsal. • At the end of each football game, the band leads the team, cheerleaders and the crowd in Oh, Dear Christian College, and closes the evening by singing The Lord Bless You and Keep You. ACU TODAY

Summer-Fall 2017



We love our followers on social media. Here are just a few of the posts by and about Wildcats.

Caley Chessher March 8

A guy who works in the Bean just told me and Hope that Jesus loves us and then sang in Swahili #daymade #ACUdifference

Johanna Baker February 14

Chapel dates are a real thing y’all #ACUDifference

Lee De Leon February 17

The Board of Trustees praying over @ACUFootball Head Coach Adam Dorrel during their February meeting. Only at ACU!! #ACUDifference

Ashley Mae March 27

Don’t use your left hand or that would be cats wild #ACU21

Carlie Walters April 7

I put exceptional, innovative, real, for my list of personal skills on my resume. #acudifference #alumni

Jacob Corona September 24

“Ways to rebel as an ACU student” 5. Date someone with opposing views on social clubs 4. Mezamiz > Monks 3. Wear a Baylor shirt on Friday. 2. Clap off-beat in chapel 1. Make up your own harmonies to songs #ForEducationalPurposesOnly #ACUdifference #Humor #sotheresthat

Mindy Clark March 23

They both wore their ACU shirts to the campus today, so of course I snapped a pic. Charlie’s still trying to master the WC with his hand, but Willie Wildcat is his homeboy, so I’m sure he’ll figure it out soon #2clarkbrothers #futurewildcats

Bailey Strahan November 22

Just now realizing that Schubert is a doctor. Named Phil. Dr. Phil. #ACUdifference

Emelyn Reyes March 11

Julia Teel March 10

College is weird bc within 20 mins I’ve seen one girl walking around barefoot & another wearing roller skates in chapel & this seems normal

Articia Hunter September 3

My girls reppin #ACUFootball #ACUWildcats #ACUvsAirForce


February 14 I am super stoked for Valentines day! I’ve got a date His name is Sing Song. #acudifference


Summer-Fall 2017


We found the UAE flag in ACU, that is sooo cool in #missinglifeinabudhabi #abilenechristianuniversity #texasusa

Macie Liptoi March 28

Had an ACU alum come into Union this morning. When I told him I was a recent graduate, he pulled out his Olympic gold medal from the 1960 Olympics in Rome, which he’d won while he was a sophomore at ACU. Y’all, THAT is the ACU difference! – at Union Coffee Shop, Dallas

Ryan Cobb

September 28 You know you have adjusted to college when the lady at the ice cream station knows your name and the flavor you want! #freshman15comingquick

Each year, the Student Alumni Association asks current and former Wildcats to share what they love about our university. Here are some favorites from this year’s #ILoveACU Day:

Cindy Chessher February 18

Family Sing Song face!!!

Hailey Rotenberry


March 27

Johnny Manziel January 22

You been waiting for this @TGdadon1 all those days after practice perfecting your craft. From Abilene Christian to the big stage let’s EAT!

Kayla Lane August 21

Wildcat week was no doubt one of the best weeks of my life. Thank you God for ACU and the people here #ACU20

Matthew Tidmore January 23

When you find out @JManziel2 mentioned ACU in a tweet and it’s the greatest moment of your life. #ACUDifference

There are so many reasons why #iloveACU but top of mind today are all of the friendships I’ve made with ACU alumni post-graduation. As we start a new chapter in a new city soon we have already had countless alumni reaching out and offering us jobs, places to stay, church visits and friendships. We are forever grateful for the friendships we made while at ACU but thankful for the new bonds we are continuously creating with the ACU family! – with Erin Michelle Coldewey, Sarah Davis and Tara Souder.

Roxane Richter March 27

#iloveacu As a parent, ACU has “loved” my son spiritually into a Christian man; “hugged” him with kindness from its professors and administrators (even physically on exam days!!); “taught” him through not only academics but through mature mentorship; and “held” him as he has struggled through the formative years to grow up to one amazing Wildcat.

April Brannan March 14

Joshua Timothy Fellows

We were pretty pumped to get the ACU Wildcat boat! – at the Abilene Zoo with future Wildcats Caden Brannan and Emberly Connor

April 1

Had a blast helping out my longtime friend Taylor Gabriel @tgdadon of the Atlanta Falcons at his football camp for the Dallas youth today. He’s a testament to what being humble, working hard and putting God first looks like and for that I am proud! #life #friends #mybrotherskeeper #acuwildcats #teamturbo #hehasmydreamjob #myjourney #support – at Memorial Stadium (Mesquite, Texas)

Destiny Wadewitz September 27

So Sharron, a lady who works at the Bean, gave me a hug because she knew I was tired. Day. Made. #theacudifference #Jesusblessings #acu20

Stan Lambert March 27

So many ways this Dear Christian College has shaped me and my life! Thank you ACU, I am proud to be an alum and serve you in the Texas House of Representatives. Four ACU grads and a wonderful prospect for the Class of 2037! #ILoveACU!


Summer-Fall 2017


y! Gameda

THURSDAY, OCTOBER THURSDAY, OCTOBER 19 19 FRIDAY, OCTOBER FRIDAY, OCTOBER 20 20 Gutenberg Celebration Hunter Welcome Center, 6:30 p.m.

Chapel Moody Coliseum, 11 a.m.


Candlelig ht De vo

Open House: Anthony Field at Wildcat Stadium Wildcat Stadium, 2-3:30 p.m. Carnival South lawn of Moody Coliseum and Money Student Recreation and Wellness Center, 5-8 p.m. Homecoming Candlelight Devo Beauchamp Amphitheatre, 8:15-8:45 p.m. ACU Sports Hall of Fame Celebration and Lettermen’s Reunion

Parad e ks r o w Fire


Dinner and Induction: Hunter Welcome Center, 6:30 p.m.

Lettermen’s Reunion: Hunter Welcome Center, Atrium, 8 p.m.

Musical: Cats Abilene Civic Center, 1100 N. 6th St., 8 p.m.

1972 • 1977 • 1982 • 1987 • 1992 • 1997 • 2002 • 2007 • 2012 40

Summer-Fall 2017


THE CATS ARE BACK! SATURDAY, OCTOBER SATURDAY, OCTOBER 21 21 Social club breakfasts Various locations and times; please see extended schedule at

Load-out tailgate South lawn of Moody Coliseum, 6-7 p.m. (or one hour after game) Reunion class dinners Various locations, 6:30 p.m.

Parade Beginning at East North 16th St., 9:30 a.m.

Musical: Cats Abilene Civic Center, 1100 N. 6th St., 8 p.m.

Tailgating load-in begins Designated areas, 10:30 a.m.

Post-reunion Concert and Dessert Celebration Hunter Welcome Center, 8:30-10:30 p.m.

Homecoming Chapel Moody Coliseum, 10:45 a.m.

Fireworks East lawn of Hunter Welcome Center, 9:15 p.m.

Departmental/organizational events Various locations and times; please see extended schedule at


Gameday: Tailgating begins (Campus Mall) and Wildcat Ticket Center opens (Main Entrance, Anthony Field at Wildcat Stadium), 11:45 a.m.

Reunion class worship services Various locations and times; please see extended schedule at

Wildcat Walk (Football team walks to stadium) South lawn of Moody Coliseum, noon

Brunch in The Bean World Famous Bean, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Suite and club entrances open Anthony Field at Wildcat Stadium, 12:30 p.m.

Musical: Cats Abilene Civic Center, 1100 N. 6th St., 2 p.m.

All gates open Anthony Field at Wildcat Stadium, 1 p.m. Wildcat football game ACU vs. Southeastern Louisiana, Anthony Field at Wildcat Stadium, 2:30 p.m.





Summer-Fall 2017



Selections of books about Abilene Christian University or those written, edited, compiled or contributed to by ACU alumni, faculty, staff and students

Heart on the Line

On Evil, Providence, and Freedom

By Karen (Gaskin ’93) Witemeyer ISBN 978-0764212826 • 336 pages


When Grace Mallory receives a telegram warning that her hiding place in Harper’s Station has been discovered, her best chance to save herself and unravel the mystery surrounding her father’s death involves trusting a man she’s only ever known over the telegraph line. Can blind trust lead to true love?


By Karen A. Longman ISBN 978-0891124542 • 336 pages Dr. Jennifer (Wade ’92) Shewmaker, ACU professor of psychology and associate dean of teaching and learning, is a contributing author in this important book about diversity on the campuses of Christian colleges and universities.

A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale By Penny Parker Klostermann (’77) ISBN 978-1101932322 • 40 pages Another book for young readers by the award-winning author and poet is a mash-up in which a well-meaning chef accidentally cooks with ingredients essential to famous fairy tales.


By Klaus Dannenberg and Bruce Black (’77) ISBN 978-1539853398 • 262 pages A practical Christian perspective on the medical, financial, emotional and spiritual aspects of being a care-giver for aging parents, one of the most important responsibilities any son or daughter will be asked to fill.


Edited by Dr. Wendell Willis (’67 M.A.) ISBN 978-9781498282925 • 206 pages Representatives of the Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant traditions discuss the relationship of Eucharist and church. Dr. Everett Ferguson (’53) is an esteemed scholar who has published often on this subject; the LeMoine G. Lewis Professor Emeritus of Church History and Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence taught from 1962-90 at ACU.


Summer-Fall 2017


By Mark B. Wiebe (’02) ISBN 978-0875807522 • 180 pages Wiebe explores, develops and defends Luis de Molina’s 16th-century work about the reconciliation of divine providence, grace and free will.


By Ron Holifield (’80) ISBN 978-1634920377 • 186 pages The roots of great leadership are healthy relationships, but the fruit of great leadership is the ability to thrive in a rapidly changing world while managing the constructive tension between healthy relationships and dynamic change.

Hometown Texas By Joe Holley (’68) ISBN 978-0890989135 • 304 pages Explore three dozen stories about small-town Texans who take the hand they’ve been dealt – fate, family, circumstance, luck – and craft a life for themselves. Holley’s “Native Texan” column appears Sundays in the Houston Chronicle, where his editorial writing earned him a 2017 Pulitzer Prize nomination (See page 66.)


By Frankie Yandow (Jonathan Kuiper, ’11 M.A.) AISN B01M1D04PF • 280 pages Book 2 in The Fox and the Girl series is a coming-of-age tale written for middle grade/young adult readers. Kuiper, who earned a master’s in conflict resolution from ACU, teaches at an international school in Brindisi, Italy.


By Andrea Lucado (’08) ISBN 978-1601428950 • 240 pages The daughter of best-selling Christian author Max Lucado (’77) recounts her own journey through graduate school in Europe, wrestling with faith, doubt and spiritual identity during a time of significant personal growth.



Summer-Fall 2017



For the latest visit


Williams succeeds Archibald as Abilene mayor


ACU president Dr. Phil Schubert (left) and provost Dr. Robert Rhodes (right) present Eddie Lee with his diploma.

Eddie Lee, superintendent of Midland Christian School, received one of ACU’s highest honors at May Commencement. Lee was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree for distinction in education and contributions to society, making him the 85th person to receive such an award during the university’s 111-year history. At a May 1, 2017, ceremony at Midland Christian, president Dr. Phil Schubert (’91) extolled Lee’s career in education. “Eddie has devoted more than 40 years to private, Christian education, teaching and mentoring thousands of

students and effectively managing hundreds of educators and employees in multiple disciplines,” Schubert said. “The impact he has made on the growth and development of private school education in Texas and nationally has been tremendous.” Lee earned his bachelor’s degree from Lubbock Christian University in 1976, his master’s degree from The University of Texas of the Permian Basin in 1982, and his superintendent certification in 1985. 

Dr. Norman Archibald



MCS leader Eddie Lee receives honorary doctorate

Anthony Williams, executive community relations officer for ACU’s Office of Advancement, Williams become the new mayor of Abilene after winning a runoff election June 17 with 57 percent of the vote. He succeeds Dr. Norman Archibald (’76 M.S.) who holds the distinction as the city’s longest-serving mayor since ACU vice president Dr. Gary D. McCaleb (’64) in 1990-99. Williams has served on the Abilene City Council since 2001. He and his wife, Lynette, also own Southwest Direct, a mailing and printing service. One of Williams’ notable accomplishments as councilman was establishment of the Abilene Neighborhood Institute, a program designed to address issues in certain neighborhoods such as crime. He has served on numerous community boards including the African Leadership Council West Texas, United Way of Abilene, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Christian Homes and others. 


1,600 Square footage of Wessel Scoreboard in Wildcat Stadium, making it the fourth-largest structure of its kind at a Football Championship Subdivision university football stadium, and fifth-largest overall at the FCS level. The LED-powered scoreboard is a gift from Rick (’81) and Debbie (Rains ’80) Wessel of Westlake, Texas.


Summer-Fall 2017


926 Years served as mayor of Abilene by Dr. Norman Archibald (’76 M.S.), whose fifth and final term ended in June 2017. At ACU, he was director of campus life (1981-82), associate dean of students (1982-88), director of volunteer development (1988-89), assistant vice president for development (1990-91), and the popular announcer “voice” of men’s home basketball games in Moody Coliseum.

Number of gifts received May 23, 2017, on ACU’s first Day of Giving, making it the largest single day of individual gifts in ACU’s 111-year history. Totaling more than $140,000, the gifts will benefit students through the Exceptional Fund, the Katie Kirby Student Care Fund and the John and Evelyn Willis Endowed Scholarship.

Third-annual TEDxACU draws speakers from far and wide


ith topics ranging from making a better cup of coffee to building better schools, a dozen speakers tackled the question “What’s Next?” at the third annual TEDxACU conference on campus March 24, 2017. The speakers came from such diverse fields as art, science, history and business, all sharing their perspectives on how the challenges facing one industry inevitably impact the next steps taken by another. “This year’s conference was our best yet,” said organizer Dr. Lauren (Smith ’05) Lemley, assistant professor of communication and TEDxACU director. “We had an exciting variety of talks and performances, featured two great student speakers, and even hosted a coffee tasting that got local coffee shops involved in putting one of our talks into action.” The coffee tasting followed a presentation by Chandler Graf, a junior biochemistry major from Georgetown,

on “How Science Can Help You Brew a Better Cup of Coffee.” Other speakers were Dr. Amber Straughn, astrophysicist, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Dr. Cara Jacocks, communication professor, Southern Methodist University; Dr. Bonnie Feldman, chief collaboration officer, DrBonnie360; Jackie Beth Shilcutt (’04), adjunct professor of dance, ACU; John Trischitti, director, Midland County Public Libraries; Madeline Dayton, freshman global studies major at ACU; Knox McCoy and Jamie Golden, The Popcast; Paul Munshower (’11), physics teacher, Abilene Wylie High School; Daniel Rangel, founder, Creativum; Dr. Brandon W. Jones (’06), assistant director, Academic Success Center, Clemson University; and Jarrod Brown (’00), president, Mission Lazarus. 

Bee-friendly campus abuzz

Videos of the 2017 talks can be viewed at


Dr. Brandon W. Jones of Clemson University

Number of participants in the 2017 ACU Intramural Rodeo, a competition for students of all majors who enter events ranging from mutton dressing to steer riding. The Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences coordinates the annual event, which it promoted April 10, 2017, on campus by allowing students such as junior teacher education major Ashlynn Crandell (right) to meet pajamas-clad baby goats in the Campus Mall.



ACU has been designated a Bee Campus USA for its environmentally friendly practices helping preserve the bee population. By planting pollinator plants throughout the 260-acre campus, the university provides a healthy habitat protecting bee populations, said Corey Ruff, executive director of facilities and campus management. Gayenell Rainwater (’91), landscape and grounds manager, was instrumental in obtaining the designation. “I am from a farm family, and I think it’s important to recognize how important pollinators are to our food sources,” she said. “Bee Campus helps us get the word out that we care and want to promote, not only ourselves, but protect the environment as well.” In addition to planting pollinator-friendly plants, ACU hosted an information booth during Earth Week and has placed bee boxes on the new Parker Hill Nature Trail. ACU is one of 29 campuses across the U.S. to achieve the designation. 

176,797 Gross square footage of three major facilities built or renovated for the sciences at ACU, thanks to donors to the Vision in Action initiative: Robert and Kay Onstead Science Center (84,584), Halbert-Walling Research Center (68,134) and Engineering and Physics Laboratories at Bennett Gymnasium (24,079). Renovations to the Onstead Science Center are scheduled to be complete by January 2018. ACU TODAY

Summer-Fall 2017


“Faith is not something that makes you safe. You had to face death in the eye and decide, ‘Who am I going to be today?’ ” – Kent Brantly, M.D. (’03), commenting on the new Samaritan’s Purse documentary, Facing Darkness, about his near-fatal struggle with Ebola in Liberia. The film will be one of several shown at ACU’s Summit this fall. See pages 54-55.



Never stop reflecting on and refining what you do. Do not be afraid to pursue plans that differ from those you have today. Be open to new ideas, to new paths and new opportunities. They will present themselves to you, and you can be open to them if you’re OK embracing some uncertainty.” – May 2017 Commencement speaker Brittany Partridge (’12), co-founder of the Red Thread Movement, an international effort to combat human trafficking.

She is what she preaches, and she preaches excellence. … This award encompasses everything she is. She is a true hero of Abilene and ACU.” – ACU senior basketball forward Sydney Shelstead regarding her head coach, Julie Goodenough, receiving the Kay Yow Heart of a Coach Award in April 2017 from the national Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Association. See page 60. STEVEN CHRISTY

I decided to exercise my own term limits and move on to something else.”

– The late Dr. Gary Thompson (’60), explaining to The Optimist in August 1995 why he resigned from the Texas House of Representatives to become director of governmental affairs for the Teachers Retirement System of Texas. Thompson, who died April 16, 2017 (see page 78), had been elected to four consecutive terms in the state legislature when he left it in 1986. He returned to ACU in 1995 and resumed his career teaching political science, retiring in 2011. He was followed as District 79 state representative by Dr. Robert D. “Bob” Hunter (’52), who served 10 consecutive terms in Austin.

Dr. Gary Thompson (left) and Pete Laney, Speaker of the House, discuss legislation on the House floor in Austin early in Thompson’s four terms as a Texas state representative.


Summer-Fall 2017



Brittany Partridge (’12), a former Marshall Scholar and now a consultant at Dalberg Global Development Advisors in Washington, D.C., delivered the Charge to the Class at ACU’s Commencement on May 13, 2017.

Former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow was the featured speaker at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes fundraising event Feb. 12, 2017, in the McCaleb Conference Center. Tebow also spoke that morning at worship services of Beltway Church in Abilene.

(From left) Senior Matt Williams, Dr. Brent Reeves (’80), Senior Henry Touchton, junior Ty Fitch and Dyess AFB Col. David Benson

Jay Moore (’94), author of Abilene History in Plain Sight and producer of the popular video series History in Plain Sight, was the featured speaker March 30, 2017, at the annual Spring Banquet benefiting Friends of ACU Library. Dr. Meredith Clark of the University of North Texas led a Race and Media Colloquium on March 4-5, 2017, for students from the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Honors College. Clark is assistant professor in UNT’s Mayborn School of Journalism. U.S. Olympian Bradley Adkins, a high jumper who competed in the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, spoke at a fundraiser for the Katie Kirby Student Care Fund on April 25, 2017, sponsored by the student organization Lucky 13. Kirby, a sophomore, died Nov. 6, 2016.

Frank (’92) and Amber (McElyea ’96) Peck and their son, Sutton, met Tim Tebow at the FCA event in the Teague Special Events Center.

Dyess Air Force Base Col. David Benson spoke to students Feb. 22, 2017, in an Honors Colloquium taught by Dr. Brent Reeves (’80), associate professor of computer science and management sciences. Benson is commander of the 7th Bomb Wing at Dyess. TIM NELSON

Justice Week, sponsored by the International Justice Mission on March 20-24, 2017, brought speakers to campus to address “Careers for the Common Good,” including Tim Yandell (’85), vice president and director of development

for Disability Resources of Abilene; Mark Rogers (’03), president of Abilene Big Brothers Big Sisters; and Susanna Lubanga (’05), resettlement director for the International Rescue Committee.


Chapel speakers during the spring semester included Ian Nickerson, evangelist at Abilene’s Minda Street Church of Christ, Jan. 18, 2017; Sean Palmer, teaching pastor at Ecclesia Houston, Feb. 20; Kelly Edmiston, student minister at First Colony Church of Christ in Sugar Land, Texas, Feb. 27; Chad Higgins, worship minister at Highland Oaks Church of Christ in Dallas, Texas, March 6; Danny Sims (’85), former executive director of Global Samaritan Resources, Abilene, March 24; and Geoffrey Turner, campus pastor of Beltway North Church in Abilene, April 17.


Seven choirs from Church of Christ-affiliated colleges and universities joined the A Cappella Chorus to perform Jan. 7, 2017, at the Christian College Choral Festival in Cullen Auditorium. Jeff Goolsby, director of choral activities, said the festival started in 1966. This year’s event featured 350 students from Harding University, Lipscomb University, Freed-Hardeman University, Faulkner University, Rochester College, Florida College and Crowley’s Ridge College. Guest clinician was Dr. Richard Bjella, director of choral studies at Texas Tech University.

Australian biblical scholar Dr. Claire Smith discussed her book, God’s Good Design: What the Bible Really Says About Men and Women, at a March 27, 2017, event sponsored by ACU’s Center for Heritage and Renewal in Spirituality. John L. Whitwell (’65), director of bands emeritus at Michigan State University, directed the ACU Wind Ensemble in an April 27, 2017, concert on campus. Whitwell directed bands at Abilene Christian and Stephen F. Austin State University before joining the faculty at MSU.


Center for Building Community luncheon events in the Hunter Welcome Center featured former trustee Dale Brown and his wife, Rita, on March 7, 2017, to talk about his role as executive producer of the Martin Scorsese film, Silence; and Doug Ferguson (’83) on March 27 to speak about his longtime work as lead golf writer for Ferguson Associated Press. ACU TODAY

Summer-Fall 2017



For the latest visit


20/20 initiative cultivates educational innovation Innovation is at the heart of a new faculty grant program that allowed Dr. Stephen Baldridge to take two of his traditional classroom courses and redesign them into intensive learning retreats. Baldridge, director of the Bachelor of Science in Social Work program, reformatted two upperlevel courses into weekend retreats at CitySquare in Dallas, Texas, where students had the opportunity to meet with professionals and city leaders, learn about issues related to poverty, and work on solutions in a way that mirrored real-world problem-solving. Baldridge was one of five faculty members to receive an ACU 20/20 Teaching Innovation Grant during its first year. The others were Dr. David Kneip (’03), assistant professor of Bible; Dr. J.D. Wallace (M.A. ’89), professor of communication; Dr.

Andrea Lucado


Summer-Fall 2017


Students’ Association president Abbey Moses is following her recently completed senior year to serve as a Fulbright English teaching assistant in Malaysia in 2017-18. She will join more than 100,000 Moses Fulbright U.S. Student Program alumni who have undertaken grants since the program began in 1948. ACU’s Fulbright tradition began in the 1950s with fields of study representing journalism, management, English, physics and education. Eleven scholars teaching or studying at ACU have been recipients of a total of 13 fellowships during their academic careers, and twice there have been two in the same year. 

Lucado advises students about starting writing career



SA president Abbey Moses receives Fulbright honor


Debbie (Jay ’80) Williams, professor of language and literature; and Dr. Paul Roggendorf (’99), assistant professor of language and literature. The idea for the grant program was conceived during a conversation between Dr. Jennifer (Wade ’92) Shewmaker, director of the Adams Center for Teaching and Learning; Dr. Laura (Bolin ’97) Carroll, director of faculty development; and Dr. Kyle Dickson (’92), director of the AT&T Learning Studio, who wondered what would happen if faculty were allowed to totally reimagine their classrooms. “A lot of universities come up with plans from the top down. But faculty are the people who understand best how students learn and what the possibilities are in the classroom,” Shewmaker said. “The 20/20 program is so exciting because it’s full of possibilities. It’s an opportunity to take what we know about how students learn and use that information to create a whole new experience.”

ndrea Lucado (’08) was the visiting writer on April 11-12, 2017, for the Department of Language and Literature, speaking to several ACU classes and Alpha Chi National Honor Society students. Lucado, an Austin-based freelance writer and daughter of international best-selling author Max Lucado (’77) and his wife, Denalyn (Preston ’79), recently published her first book, English Lessons: The Crooked Path of Growing Toward Faith (see page 42). She came to ACU to study journalism but quickly realized she wanted to be more creative than that field allowed, so she switched to English. She discovered her own writing voice when she took a creative nonfiction workshop with Al Haley, professor of language and literature, and ACU writer-in-residence. After graduating from ACU, she spent

a year at Oxford-Brookes University earning a master’s degree. Described as a spiritual memoir, English Lessons is a collection of heartfelt essays taken from her experiences there, including the people she met and the insights she gained. In it, she talks about what it was like to come from a family with a strong heritage of Christian faith only to wrestle with doubts as she ventured away from home. “It’s about one year of my life in which I questioned my faith and my own identity a lot,” Lucado wrote on her blog. “Which goes hand in hand because, you know, when you’re in Christ, he is your new identity. So if you’re questioning the whole Christianity thing, you will, undoubtedly, question yourself also.” English Lessons was released May 2 by WaterBrook Press and can be purchased at and major bookstore outlets. 

UNDE RGR A DUAT E RE SE A RC H Students such as Abby Needham (right) travel the world to learn about missions and service.

Global missions, service find a home in Halbert Center

Learn more about the Halbert Center at


an we call the president?” a child asked senior Courtney Tee on her last day at his school. In 2015, Tee was researching 20 fourth-graders who were rallying against child abduction at their school in South Dallas, Texas. It was so important to them, they thought then-President Barack Obama should know, so they wrote letters to him describing their efforts. “They insisted we call them ‘world-changers,’ ” Tee said. “They weren’t cute, they were inspiring.” Two years later, Tee didn’t call the White House, but she did present her research to members of Congress, including the representative for the district where the children lived. She presented at Posters on the Hill, a national undergraduate research event in Washington, D.C., on April 26, 2017, when she met other researchers and policy advocates. She said she did it for the students in South Dallas and because she knew their story needed to be told. Tee’s success came at the price of sacrificing a traditional sophomore year in Abilene to study social issues in a community 180 miles away. She joined the Justice and Urban Studies Team (JUST), a group of Honors College students at ACU at CitySquare in Dallas, Texas, for two semesters studying urban poverty. Tee grew up in a middle-class family in Houston, Texas. Although her circumstances made it easy not to think about poverty, she developed a passion for justice and chose to study sociology at ACU. She put theory into practice with JUST’s cornerstone project, partnering with a class of fourth-graders in the international Design for Change program that teaches students how to build their own character by creating a solution for a problem they see in their community. In her research, Tee found this helped the fourth-graders take hold of their education because they felt they could do something to make a difference. It also helped them learn problem-solving and behavior-management skills: At the end of the year, they presented an hour-long rally for their school without help from adults. “It was an incredible thing to PAUL WHITE

The Halbert Institute for Missions has a new name and an expanded role. Now called the Halbert Center for Missions and Global Service, it will serve as the hub for all short-term missions trips at ACU. For years the center has overseen the influential WorldWide Witness summer-long missions internships. Now it will coordinate all ACU short-term missions trips, which will be known as Global Service Trips. They include those sponsored by academic departments and student groups, and will involve students from many areas, including nursing, pre-health professions, engineering, education, business and others. Under the Halbert Center’s guidance, participants will be provided with consistent missional and cross-cultural training, along with administrative planning support, including travel, safety protocols, insurance and more, said associate director Dodd Roberts (’86). “Jesus told us to make disciples and serve in His name,” Roberts said. “This new process provides more ACU people opportunities around the world to fulfill those commands.” The center also will continue to oversee the GAP Year program, long-term missions training and care, Missions Chapel, Missions Week and the new Missions Students’ Association. The center carries the name of the late Jo Ann (Walling ’54) Halbert, who dedicated her life to supporting and serving alongside missionaries.

Tee’s time in Dallas rewarded by a capitol experience watch,” Tee said. “They conducted themselves with such professionalism, grace and intelligence.” A key research finding for Tee was that the children no longer saw themselves as kids in a struggling school, but instead as difference-makers in a major U.S. city. Tee returned to Abilene for her junior and senior years and stayed heavily involved in campus life. She directed two Sing Song acts and was a production manager for Freshman Follies. She also helped with Justice Week, served as a resident assistant in a residence hall and joined several academic clubs. She minored in Bible and public service and received a Jack Pope Fellows scholarship. The summer after she lived in Dallas, Tee studied abroad Tee in England, Spain and Ghana as part of the Justice Along the Meridian program. While in Spain, she met a Catholic monk who had degrees in quantum physics, philosophy and theology. Tee focused on her passion for justice by remembering the words of the monk. “What is the work of God in the world?” Tee asked him. “The work of God in the world is to sustain our hope,” he replied. “Hope is a fire that God puts in us so we may work to overcome injustice and war and pain and suffering.” His words stayed with her when she heard about Posters on the Hill, an event hosted by the Council on Undergraduate Research. She remembered the hope of the fourth-graders in South Dallas and decided to submit her research paper to the conference. While she was at the Capitol, she met congressional representatives and policy advocates. She told the story of the young world-changers as she presented her poster in the Rayburn House Office Building. “Stories of hope never go out of style,” she said. Tee graduated in May and plans to work with Teach for America. She will serve at YES Prep Southeast in Houston, teaching high school social studies, coaching varsity volleyball and looking for the next class of students ready to change the world.  – HALEY REMENAR


Summer-Fall 2017


Vocal performance major Mikalia Bradberry (’17) is ACU’s most recent selection for the six-week-long Opera Viva! vocal school for opera prodigies, held each summer in Verona, Italy. Gabrielle Thompson (’16), a Sing Song hostess whose voice coach was associate professor of music Samuel Cook, was selected in 2016.



Dr. Qiang Xu, associate professor of biology, received the Auburn University College of Agriculture Outstanding Alumnus award at a ceremony Feb. 8 at the Auburn campus, where he earned his Ph.D. in 2007.

dedicated to promoting informed practice regarding children’s spirituality. It sponsors a bi-annual Children’s Spirituality Conference at Lipscomb University. Dr. Jeff Childers (’89), Carmichael-Walling Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity in the Graduate School of Theology, presented “Finding a Voice for Chrysostom: the Syriac Versions of a Greek Preacher” at a Feb. 21-22, 2017, conference at Universita Tre in Rome, Italy. His research showed how Syriac translators naturalized the Greek orator Chrysotom into a “native” semitic speaker through the art of translation. RYAN FEERER

Texas-themed emoticons designed by Ryan Feerer (’10) are available in the Apple Store through a project by TexMessages. Ryan, assistant professor of art and design, was one of six Texas artists invited to participate in creating the stickers for use in social media.


A $675,000, three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Energy has been renewed for ACU physics professors Dr. Donald Isenhower (’81), Dr. Rusty Towell (’90) and Dr. Michael Daugherity (’02) to continue work on “The Spin and Anti-Quark Structure of the Nucleon.” The grant makes possible the continued opportunity for ACU undergraduate students to contribute to groundbreaking research at national laboratories such as Brookhaven (Long Island, New York) and Fermi (Chicago, Illinois).

Dr. Dana (Kennamer ’81) Pemberton, professor and chair of teacher education, has been named a board member of The Society for Children’s Spirituality. SCS is an ecumenical organization of academicians and practitioners

Professor of theology Dr. Fred Aquino (’89) gave a keynote lecture March 4, 2017, at the annual Aquinas Colloquium, “Aquinas and Newman on Conscience,” at Oxford University in Oxford, England.

(From left) French horn players Mason Kelley, Cole Spears and Allison Whiddon


Summer-Fall 2017



Wind Ensemble spring tour includes showcase performance at TMEA convention in San Antonio The ACU Wind Ensemble performed Feb. 9 at the 2017 Texas Music Educators Association convention in San Antonio, the group’s seventh appearance at the conference since the 1970s. Music included the Texas premiere of John Mackey’s Liminal, Dr. Eric Wilson’s (’88) arrangement of Ola Gjeilo’s Sanctus, and the second movement of David Maslanka’s Concerto for Clarinet performed by clarinet instructor Kristin (Behrends ’93) Ward. The San Antonio performance was the culmination of the ensemble’s 2017 TMEA tour across Texas, which included stops in the Dallas-ForthWorth metroplex and Austin. Dr. Steven Ward (’92) is director of the ensemble. 

ACU’s second annual MakerFest was held March 30, 2017, in the Maker Lab in Brown Library, featuring quadcopter races, a birdhouse-building workshop and a three-dimensional zoetrope of galloping horses, created on a 3-D printer. Dr. Chris Monroe, Distinguished University Professor and Bice Seci-Zorn Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland, presented “Quantum Technology: Putting Weirdness to Use,” a public lecture on March 21, 2017, sponsored by ACU’s Department of Engineering and Physics. A quantum physicist, Monroe explored how information theory and quantum mechanics are linked in 21st-century science. Dr. Richard Beck’s (’90) book Reviving Old Scratch: Demons and the Devil for Doubters and the Disenchanted (Fortress Press, 2016) won the 2017 Academy of Parish Clergy’s Book of the Year Award. Beck is professor of psychology. Award-winning interactive media designer Andy Pratt presented a workshop April 6, 2017, to students majoring in art and design. He is executive creative director for Favorite Medium, a global design and technology agency with offices in Seoul, South Korea, and Singapore. Texas Psi, the ACU chapter of the Alpha Chi National College Honor Society, was named Chapter of the Year from among the 328 member colleges and universities in the nation. The President’s Cup award was announced at the national convention in Louisville, Kentucky, April 6-8, 2017. For the second year, ACU has earned a No. 27 ranking on The Princeton Review’s list saluting the top 50 undergraduate schools to study game design for 2017. The program is taught in the university’s School of Information Technology and Computing. The Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences launched an Equine Association Club so students and their horses can compete in barrel and pole racing, among other events.

ACU online grad programs

Illustration class project lands Goodman’s design in Museum of Modern Art annual catalog


What started as an illustration class assignment has turned into a money-making opportunity for Katelyn Goodman (’17) of Abilene, who graduated in May 2017 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Her art and design professor, Dan McGregor (’97), submitted to the Museum of Modern Art in New York his students’ 3-D Christmas card Goodman mock-up entries created during his Fall 2015 Introduction to Illustration course. McGregor heard about the competition through an ACU alumna, Erin Holland (’07), who works in art direction and design at the MoMA Design Store. The contest provided a considerable challenge, McGregor said, “because it’s not just creating an appealing commercial image that folks will want to buy; it involves paper engineering – making mechanical features move and deploy smoothly and repeatedly – and making these features fold up into a card. It’s hard enough to create a flat image that looks good; it’s exceptionally challenging to make one look good in three dimensions. In many ways, this assignment for what’s traditionally a 2-D class crossed the boundary into sculpture.”


“In approaching the assignment, I wanted to combine my more traditional lens with the modernity that the competition might be looking for,” Goodman said. “For those reasons, I chose to do a more classic North Pole scene, but approached it with shape and color to give the card a more clean and angled contemporary look.” Several of the ACU entries advanced through rounds of approval, including Goodman’s. “After the first round I thought my card had been dropped, only to find out a few months later that it was moving on to the final round. I was thrilled when I found out I was chosen,” she said. “I’m thrilled for her,” McGregor said. “It couldn’t have happened to a nicer, more humble and hardworking student.” Goodman’s card will be sold at the museum’s Design Store beginning in September for the MUSEUM OF MODERN ART Christmas season. She will receive royalties from one of the most prestigious markets in the art world, and it can be purchased through MoMA’s catalog as well as its brick-and-mortar design store on West 53rd Street in New York City. “I wouldn’t say that I think of it solely as a money-making opportunity, although that aspect is definitely a benefit,” she said. “Just to be mentioned in the same sentence as the MoMA was an honor for me.”

• Certificate in Conflict Resolution for Educators – Online • Certificate in Enrollment Management – Online • Certificate in Medical Family Therapy – Online • Doctor of Nursing Practice –Online • Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership – Online • Graduate Certificate in Conflict Management and Resolution – Online with residency • Master of Arts in Christian Ministry – Online with residencies • Master of Arts in Conflict Management and Resolution – Online with residency • Master of Arts in Global Service – Online with residencies • Master of Business Administration – Online • Master of Divinity – Online with residencies • Master of Education in Higher Education – Online with residency • Master of Education in Instruction and Learning – Online • Master of Healthcare Administration – Online • Master of Marriage and Family Therapy – Online • Master of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders – Online hybrid • Master of Science in Management – Online • Master of Science in Organizational Development – Online

Learn more about ACU’s graduate programs at


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For the latest visit



V.P. McCaleb receives Sing Song Encore Award


Participants in the Golden Anniversary Reunion included Virginia (Palmer ’68) Chambers (left), and Becky (Beeman ’68) and J.W. “Jim” Killingsworth (’67).

Golden Anniversary Reunion brings ’67 grads home Patty (McCarty ’67) Mitchell has flown passengers around the world as a commercial pilot for United Airlines. But when she “flew” to Abilene for her Golden Anniversary reunion, she was in a different type of cockpit. “I drove down from Columbus, Montana, in my red Mustang, enjoying the trip of 1,200 miles each way,” she said. Mitchell was one of 83 alumni and their guests who were on campus April 26-28, 2017, for the Class of 1967 reunion. Other alumni were from Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina, Washington, New Mexico, Florida, Nebraska and Texas. For the first time, the Golden Anniversary class was invited to participate in the Candlelight Sendoff for seniors, held at the

Beauchamp Amphitheatre. The timing of both events being on campus at the same time made for some sweet moments, said Jama (Fry ’97) Cadle, assistant director of alumni relations, who organized the reunion. Mike Calvert (’67), former ACU trustee and 2012 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year, led a prayer of blessing over the Class of 2017, asking God to “empower them to use the education they have received to serve others, and to become leaders in your kingdom.” “To watch them return to see this place they love and rekindle their relationships is a powerful testimony of what this university is all about,” said director of alumni and university relations Craig Fisher (’92). 

Vice president of the university Dr. Gary McCaleb (’64) was honored with the second-ever Encore Award at Sing Song 2017. The award was introduced in 2016 as part of Sing Song’s 60th anniversary celebration with McCaleb the intention of honoring someone who has made significant contributions to the university through Sing Song. The first recipient was Dr. Robert D. “Bob” Hunter (’52), creator of the annual a cappella extravaganza. McCaleb oversaw the event from 1964-72 and was one of the longest-tenured directors in the show’s history, leading Sing Song through several transformations to its modern-day concept, said Tom Craig (’89), director of student organizations and productions. “When he joined the Sing Song office, the show took place in the Abilene High School auditorium,” Craig said. “He helped create the modern-day host and hostess role, created the atmosphere for adding live musicians to accompany the hosts and hostesses, added celebrity guests to the Sing Song experience, and he ushered the show back to campus in 1968 to relocate Sing Song to the newly built Moody Coliseum. The first year in Moody, the freshman class added movement to their singing, creating Sing Song choreography. Dr. McCaleb said the crowd went wild.” The Encore Award is an “at will” honor made when the director recognizes merit worth special recognition. 


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Erica Robbins in Broken Views of Unbroken People CHRISTI LIM

OMA video projects bring misunderstood diversity issues to light Christi Lim, president of the International Students’ Association, hoped to challenge misconceptions about cultural differences when she launched an online photography project called “Broken Views of Unbroken People.” The idea was conceived after Lim, a senior graphic design/advertising major from Malaysia, sat in a meeting where someone said all of ACU’s multicultural student organizations were “basically the same.” She set out to show how each culture – and each individual – is unique. “I was taking a photography class and happened to be experimenting with portrait photography. I decided the best way to really put this in everyone’s line of sight was visually,” she said. Lim and fellow photographer Jesse Anyaegbu, a junior interior design major from Nigeria, captured the stories of more than two dozen students for the Office of Multicultural Affairs Facebook page. Each story highlights a student sharing a “broken view” or misconception, represented in the photos by broken glass, alongside a story of who they really are. “This project serves to provide a reminder that we are all unique, even beyond our culture, labels and status,” Lim said.

Course taught by biologist and theologian helps prepare pre-health professions students for career challenges


or students who major in the natural sciences, much of their course material follows the scientific method: a series of logical steps to test a hypothesis or discover an answer. But when those principles of biology are applied to real-life medical situations, tricky questions often arise. For the past 13 years, Abilene Christian undergraduates from various departments have engaged with those questions in a Biomedical Ethics course. The course addresses issues at the intersection of science and faith, and is team-taught by Dr. Jim Nichols (’66), professor of biology, and Dr. Vic McCracken (’99 M.Div.), associate professor of Bible, missions and ministry, “I think students are really hungry to wrestle with these questions,” said McCracken, who has been Nichols’ co-teacher since 2008. “We do our students a disservice when we give them pat answers. If there were easy answers, we wouldn’t spend any time wrestling with them.” The course syllabus is broad and deep, covering beginning-of-life issues such as abortion, cloning and stem-cell research; the effects of health care systems on communities; multicultural medicine; health care policy and social justice; and end-of-life issues. Through readings, case studies and discussion, Nichols and McCracken urge students to consider not only their own moral positions on a variety of issues, but the ways in which health care policy can be crafted to deal with complicated questions.

The course is open to students of any major, which helps broaden the perspectives offered in class discussions. “Hearing my co-teachers’ perspectives has been enlightening and the student comments are sometimes incredibly perceptive,” Nichols said. The course also has informed his work as a hospital and hospice chaplain. “I tell students there are very few truly common human experiences,” Nichols noted. “But everyone will get sick and die and have people they love get sick and die. In these few common experiences is where our stances as God’s people in community need to distinguish us.” “Many students have emailed us after going to medical school to thank us for this course,” McCracken added. “They tell us the ideas we explore in this class put them ahead of the curve. The course gives them space to wrestle with questions they might have to face as doctors that are not technical in nature: they’re moral questions, ethical questions.” While the course material has always varied, the particular discussions have changed over the years in response to issues in the news, such as the health care debate on Capitol Hill, or advances in medical technology. “The critical moral questions are the same, but the context in which they are considered does constantly change,” McCracken said. He and Nichols will continue to help students address them from a biomedical and an ethics perspective. 

See the project at

Nichols and McCracken


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Gloves used by doctors and nurses dry in the sun in Facing Darkness, a Samaritan’s Purse film about saving Kent Brantly, M.D. (’03), and other patients from Ebola.

Learn more about Summit at

Andrew Garfield (Father Sebastiao Rodrigues) and Shinya Tsukamoto (Mokichi) in the award-winning film Silence starring Garfield, Adam Driver and Liam Neeson



Summit includes film festival, all-day tracks An Academy Award-nominated film and a documentary about one of ACU’s most notable alumni will be shown at a new film festival as part of the 111th annual Summit, set for Sept. 17-20, 2017. This year’s theme is “Ancient Scripture, Future Church: The Choices We Make and the God We Serve,” focusing on Deuteronomy. Summit will offer more than 100 classes and a variety of special events, including a Global Refugee Medical Mission experience. • Summit will open with a concert by the ACU Alumni Chorus at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at University Church of Christ, adjacent to campus. The concert will lead into worship and the opening lecture at 7 p.m. by popular speaker

Landon Saunders, the founder and president of Heartbeat, a nonprofit organization he started 45 years ago with a radio program that has reached millions. Other theme speakers are Sean Palmer (’96), teaching pastor at Ecclesia Houston in Houston, Texas; Dr. James K.A. Smith, internationally known philosophical theologian from Calvin College and author of You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit; Josh Ross (’03), preaching minister at Sycamore View Church of Christ in Memphis, Tennessee; Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis, minister, psychologist and associate professor at Pepperdine University; Chris Seidman (’92), senior minister at The Branch Church in North Dallas, Texas; and Dr. Jeanene Reese (’74), associate Bible professor at ACU and director of the Center for Women in Christian Service.

• The new Summit Film Festival will offer two screenings of Silence, a 2016 motion picture directed by Martin Scorsese. Silence tells the story of Jesuit priests suffering for their faith in 17th century Japan. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography and appeared on numerous critics’ Top 10 lists for the year. Former ACU trustee Dale Brown served as executive producer of Silence. Also featured will be Facing Darkness, a 2017 documentary about the gripping story of efforts to get Kent Brantly, M.D. (’03), and his colleague Nancy Writebol home from Liberia after they contracted Ebola. The festival includes several documentaries and video series designed for church small groups, said Summit director Dr. David Wray (’67). Each screening will be followed by a talkback session with one of ACU’s film scholars.

C A MP U S DIGE S T University Marketing won two regional video awards in April 2017 from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education in its annual Accolades competition among professionals in marketing, alumni relations, advancement and communications at colleges and universities in the Southwest. A silver award went to Scott Delony (’06) for “Day in the Life” in video-student recruitment and a bronze to Blake Condra (’97) for “Texas Supreme Court at ACU” in video-general information. ACU has won 140 regional and five


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international awards from CASE in the past 22 years.

Alumni Conference Room in Hunter Welcome Center named for Reeves The Reeves Alumni Conference Room on the second floor of the Hunter Welcome Center was dedicated March 6, 2017. The room was recently renovated with updated technology and furniture thanks to a gift from Dr. Phil (’98) and Kayla (Reeves ’04) Marzolino in honor of her parents, Kay (Pierce ’94 M.S.) and H.P. (’73) Reeves. H.P. and Kay Reeves


University Marketing wins CASE awards

• Four all-day tracks will focus on Business and Mission; Ministering in the Small Church; Congregation Leadership, hosted by ACU’s Siburt Institute for Church Ministry; and The Ancient-Future Bible, hosted by ACU’s Center for the Study of Ancient Religious Texts. • ACU Press will bring several of its most popular published authors to speak on topics from their books. • Two Conversation Corners will explore cultural issues, one highlighting Christian

Randy Harris to teach Spiritual Retreat on campus The Siburt Institute for Church Ministry will offer its popular Spiritual Retreat, a two-day on-campus seminar Aug. 4-5, 2017, featuring Randy Harris speaking on “Christian Ethics in a World Gone Mad: How to Cope and Even Thrive.” Harris is instructor of Bible, missions and ministry, and spiritual director of the College of Biblical Studies and the Siburt Institute. Cost is $50 and registration is online at


James K.A. Smith is author of You Are What You Love, and professor of philosophy at Calvin College.

Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis is an associate professor of psychology at Pepperdine University.


• The Global Refugee Medical Mission experience will feature a simulated camp offering a glimpse of a typical day in the life of a refugee. Refugees who have resettled in Abilene will serve as guides and conversation partners. The camp will be created with the help of ACU’s Maker Lab, as well as representatives from the departments of journalism and mass communication, theatre, biology and chemistry. Wray said the experience will not focus on politics but rather on a theological approach to the refugee situation based on the “plight of the stranger” from Deuteronomy 10.

faith in contemporary politics and the other addressing bullying. For the second year, an ACU Summit mobile app will provide detailed, interactive information. Program booklets will be available at the event. Also, sessions will be recorded and available for free download from iTunes. 

Ministers’ salary survey results available The 2017 Ministers’ Salary Survey, compiled by ACU’s Siburt Institute for Church Ministry, is now available. The survey provides comparative pay information for staff in Churches of Christ nationwide. The results provide a useful tool for church leaders seeking to build competitive compensation packages for their ministry leaders. Download the survey results at



Lewis, Eager added to board Cecil Eager (’71) of New Braunfels, Texas, and Guy “Mojo” Lewis, D.D.S. (’78) of Houston, Texas, have been added to ACU’s Board of Trustees. Eager is owner of the historic Gruene Mansion Inn and Gruene Cottages in New Braunfels. He earned his M.Ed. degree from Baylor University in 1972 and formerly served as ACU’s head tennis coach and director of athletics. He is chair of the board for the Comal County Water Recreation District No. 1, was founding chair of the New Braunfels Area Community Foundation board, and has served on the boards of New Braunfels Young Life and Chamber of Commerce. His company was named the city’s Small Business of the Year in 2009. He and his wife, Judi (Hines ’87 M.M.F.T.), are members of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio. Lewis is president and CEO of the Texas Center for Cosmetic and Implant Dentistry and an innovator in developing porcelain veneers. He is a founding and accredited member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He earned his D.D.S. degree from Baylor College of Dentistry. He previously served as a university trustee from 1995-2010 and also has served on the University Council and Alumni Advisory Board, and on the board of Northland Christian School. Lewis and his wife, Holly (Levack ’80), are members of Bammel Road Church of Christ. 


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Wildcat SPORTS

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Adams family values: Henry and Sarah thrive in Hutton Jones’ Wildcat tennis program Like her brother Henry, Sarah Eleanor Adams was a Top 10-ranked high school player in Texas.

The Texas youth tennis scene is one of family, and the children who play tournaments across the Lone Star State compete against one another so frequently that a sincere relationship often develops between parents, players and coaches. The Adams family of New Braunfels can relate to this environment better than most. As former collegiate tennis players, Donald (Texas Tech University) and Cynthia (Oklahoma Christian) have watched all six of their children rise up through juniors to become successful college student-athletes. Their oldest son, Henson, played one season at ACU before attending OCU, and daughters Alex and Samantha went on to play, respectively, at Incarnate Word and Texas Tech. Son Harrison became the first of his kin to play at Texas A&M, while the two youngest siblings, Henry and Sarah, returned the Adams family to ACU. The Adams’ decades-long association with 21-year Wildcat head coach Hutton Jones (’81) factored into Henry’s commitment, as did the school’s move into NCAA Division I. But more than that was the program’s focus on “winning the right way.”


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“We’ve known Hutton since we were youngsters,” said Henry Adams, who recently finished his junior season winning the Ojai Valley Invitational doubles championship, “and we’ve always shared his Christian values. He relates Christianity to tennis because that’s our platform, and so he charges us to live a good life, do things right and enlighten others.” “Hutton’s so much more focused on the big picture,” added Sarah Eleanor Adams, who just completed her freshman year with a team-best 21 singles victories. “It’s so much more than about winning. It’s about playing for God and encouraging your teammates to do well. And I’ve found it’s more enjoyable to do that rather than try to please myself.” Because Jones oversees the ACU tennis program, there exists a great deal of closeness between the teams – a luxury many other Division I universities cannot provide. The men and women travel together, share a spiritual mentor in Jones, and when they’re not scheduled to compete, serve as each other’s cheerleaders. For Sarah, one of her most memorable moments of this past season came as a spectator when the men hosted the University of Idaho.



Henry Adams twice won Texas 5A state titles in high school.

Sarah Eleanor Adams, seen here as a youngster with Hutton Jones, has known the ACU head coach most of her life.

The Wildcats twice trailed but after junior Hunter Holman won his match at No. 4 singles, everyone turned their attention to the No. 6 court where Henry was in a seesaw battle with Guilherme Scarpelli. Henry won the first set, 7-5, but quickly found himself down 5-0 before making a stirring comeback. “It was crazy,” recalled Sarah Eleanor, “to see his (Henry’s) spirit but yet be in control of his emotions as he came all the way the back, it was very inspiring … a moment all athletes dream about. We all rushed the court, and Hutton used him as an example the rest of the semester.” Henry won’t soon forget that victory either, but he feels it pales to ACU’s year-end victory April 18 over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi – a triumph that paved the way for the Wildcats’ first Southland Conference championship in men’s tennis. “Seeing the team fight its way to a 4-3 win and beat the Islanders for the first time in history was something we’ve all been working toward,” he said. “Tennis is such an individual sport but this year we really came together, and having both teams there to support one another, even when we didn’t have to be, speaks volumes about this program.” 


Hedrick becomes softball career home run leader

Wildcats hope redshirting pays off for promising teams


Those who attended the Friday night softball game vs. Stephen F. Austin on May 5, 2017, saw more than their fair share of history. Outfielder Taylor Brown became the Wildcats’ all-time hits leader, pitcher Hannah Null reached 400 career strikeouts and shortstop Peyton Hedrick set the career home run mark after a solo shot to left-center field. “I knew I tied the record some weeks before so I just wanted to be done with it,” Hedrick said. “Sometimes stats affect your mind and other times they don’t mean much, but I think my contributions helped us win some games. It feels good being part of this team’s success.” ACU finished 33-22, 20-7 in the Southland, and earned its first-ever Division I postseason appearance in the National Invitational Softball Championship. Hedrick’s 39 career home runs broke the program record of 38 held by Katie Bryan (’05). A native of Forney, Texas, Hedrick received first team all-conference honors after hitting .374 and leading the league in homers (15), total bases (137), slugging percentage (.765) and RBI (52). 


Peyton Hedrick

ith the Wildcats nearing Fall 2017 when they will become eligible for NCAA Division I postseason championship competition, ACU track and field head coach Lance Bingham and his staff reviewed their roster to determine which student-athletes might benefit from a redshirt season. In Division I, student-athletes have five calendar years to complete their four-year eligibility. “Saving a season of competition” – as the NCAA describes sitting out from official competition while still enrolled and on scholarship – can help a student-athlete heal from an injury, refine skills to compete at a higher level, even get a head start on graduate school. ACU’s 2017 list of potential redshirts in track and field was exceptional, particularly among throwers and distance runners. The women’s cross country team, which won the 2015 Southland Conference title, redshirted its four leading scorers in Fall 2016: seniors Alexandria and Michaela Hackett and Diana Garcia Munoz, and sophomore Carnley Graham. Alexandria redshirted the entire 2016-17 academic year in cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field. Michaela redshirted all but 2017 indoor track and field, where she was arguably the Southland’s top performer (see page 60). The throws group, meanwhile, redshirted several student-athletes during the 2017 outdoor season, including junior Morgan Knight. “This has been a season of growth, patience and humility,” said Knight, a kinesiology major who now will be able to qualify for two NCAA postseasons by redshirting in Spring 2017. The wait can be hard. “We’re running on our own against good competition, but mostly it’s been spent working on our techniques,” Knight said. While Knight only missed half a season, all-conference harrier Munoz has not run competitively for ACU since Spring 2016. The original idea was for the Phoenix, Arizona, native to only redshirt her 2016 cross country season, but that plan changed after she decided to pursue a Master of Accountancy degree, which she expects to earn in May 2018. The Hacketts are enrolled in the same graduate

program, and while Garcia Munoz has kept pace with them in the classroom, she has not been able to do that on the track since experiencing a series of injuries related to her hip. Those injuries cost her the opportunity to compete unattached at several meets, but recently she was able to complete a 1,500-meter run at ACU’s Elmer Gray Stadium. “I forgot what it was like to be racing,” she said. “I loved experiencing that adrenaline rush as I tried to finish alongside my teammates.” Garcia Munoz will be engaged in summer workouts that differ from her teammates (high intensity, lower mileage) while recovering, but she plans to be ready for the 2017-18 season. Her coaches have hailed her as a strong competitor who will continue to be a pacesetter in the cross country and distance events. While redshirting is more common in football and basketball in Division I, it is a useful tool in all sports to help student-athletes and their teams reach full potential. Time will tell if it pays off for the Wildcat men’s and women’s track and field and cross country teams and their talented competitors – inside and outside the classroom – but there are high hopes on the Hill for everyone involved in the race.  – CHRIS MACALUSO

Diana Munoz Garcia



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The Wright Stuff: Wildcat freshman point guard helps senior-powered team excel Breanna Wright

games were played at full speed.” The seniors would break Wright down and build her back up. There was no time for doubt or mistrust. They needed her to possess full confidence even as the speed and physicality of the game continually tested her skills. One of Wright’s toughest foes was Texas-Rio Grande Valley, a hardscrabble bunch unafraid to pressure and scrap for the ball. ACU shot a hair more than 30 percent from the field during a tumultuous first half and the Vaqueros scored 13 points off 10 Wildcat turnovers to enter halftime down 32-31. “We were struggling, and it felt like they trapped me in the back court the whole time,” Wright said, “and during a timeout I looked over to coach (Julie Goodenough) and she said, ‘We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t trust you.’ The trust was in me to get the ball down court and play good defense versus their primary scorers.”


Expectations were sky-high for the women’s basketball team throughout its 2016-17 season. The Wildcats were picked to repeat as Southland Conference champions with four returning seniors, even though few knew who would be running their high-paced offense. Enter freshman point guard Breanna Wright, a Class 3A all-state honoree from Jarrell, Texas, population 1,097. Wright won the job during offseason workouts and was soon thrust into the spotlight, playing all 40 minutes of her collegiate debut at 24th-ranked University of Missouri. Then came No. 25 Texas A&M, No. 2 Baylor and a host of mid-majors. None of those opponents, however, were as demanding as the seniors on her own team: forwards Lizzy and Suzzy Dimba, center Sydney Shelstead and guard Alexis Mason. “There was a tough lesson learned every day,” Wright said. “They wanted to bring everyone up to their level and pushed us to our breaking points. Even pickup

That shot of confidence helped ACU flip the script, and the Wildcats went on to win the game, 70-54. Wright finished with seven points and seven rebounds in 36 minutes. ACU’s remaining non-conference slate wouldn’t get easier, and the Wildcats began Southland play at 6-6 after falling to Missouri-Kansas City, Texas-San Antonio and Wichita State. But just like the season before, they slipped into high gear once Southland play rolled around, and in early March they hoisted their second regular-season conference championship trophy with a 16-2 record. Wright stood off to the side in the impromptu team photo in Houston Baptist’s Sharp Gym, wearing a wide headband and an even wider smile. She looked in shock, a feeling that still resonates today. “This was the best start to a college career I could have asked for,” said Wright, who led her team in minutes played. “Being in that environment is the reason why I love basketball. I wanted so badly to win for our seniors and see them go out on top. Because of the leadership they brought to this team I had no problem being their follower, and now I feel ready to lead our newcomers.” 




Sam Denmark


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Suzzy Dimba 


Denmark, Dimba win Paul Goad Awards Junior linebacker Sam Denmark and senior basketball forward Suzzy Dimba were recognized May 1 as winners of the Paul Goad Award as ACU’s top male and female student-athlete for 2016-17. Denmark is the 12th football star to receive the Paul Goad Award in its 39-year history. This past season he earned first team all-Southland Conference honors after finishing second in the league in total tackles (111) and tackles per game (10.1) and tied for third in solo tackles (48). He now has 326 career tackles and will enter his senior season of 2017 needing just 63 to

break the record of 388 by Ryan Boozer (’02). He was the first football player in three years to win the Paul Goad Award since quarterback John David Baker (’14), a short wait compared to women’s basketball, which went 13 years between honorees Melanie Carter (’04) and Dimba. Carter won the award twice in her four-year career with the Wildcats. No single player in the Southland this past season had more of an impact on the basketball court than Dimba. She ranked among league leaders in seven categories, including scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and blocks, and was voted first team

SP OR T S ROUNDUP Women’s Basketball • ACU won its second straight Southland regular-season title in 2016-17 (16-2 in league play), and again qualified for the postseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament. The Wildcats beat Oklahoma State in Stillwater in the opening round, 66-56, before dropping a second-round game in Dallas, Texas, to SMU, 59-52, for a 23-9 overall record. • In December, Julie Goodenough received the national Kay Yow Heart of a Coach Award. Named for Yow, the late North Carolina State coaching icon, the award is presented annually by Fellowship of Christian Athletes to honor a basketball coach who has exemplified biblical principles throughout the course of his or her career.

Lawrence was the first ACU international student-athlete to win an Olympic medal (silver in 1984 for Jamaica).

Sixteen inducted to Sports Hall of Fame

• For the second straight season, the Wildcats had the Southland Conference Freshman of the Year as redshirt freshman forward Jalone Friday won the award in 2016-17, following on the heels of teammate Jaylen Franklin. And just like Franklin in 2015-16, Friday was a candidate for the College Court Report Mid-Major Freshman of the Year, reaching the semifinals of national voting. • Friday also was voted third team all-conference, the only Wildcat honored by the Southland after ACU finished 13-16 overall and 7-11 in league play. Friday tied Jaren Lewis for the team lead in scoring at 13.7 points per game, the top freshman scoring mark in the league. Friday also led freshmen in free throw percentage (82.4), 3-point field goal percentage (45.6 on 36 of 79 shooting) and blocks per game (1.3). • Following the season, ACU director of athletics Lee De Leon announced that Golding had signed a two-year Jalone Friday


ACU Athletics will add 16 more student-athletes to its Sports Hall of Fame with two separate ceremonies this fall, the first tied to the opening of Anthony Field at Wildcat Stadium and the second in its traditional spot the night before the Homecoming game. The first on Sept. 15, 2017, will feature nine former ACU football players, while the second on Oct. 20 will honor seven other former Wildcat student-athletes. The nine inducted in September were former first team All-America selections at the NCAA Division II level: defensive back Mark Wilson (’84), offensive lineman Richard Van Druten (’87), offensive lineman John Layfield (’89), defensive lineman Junior Filikitonga (’01), defensive back Victor Burke (’98), linebacker Jay Jones (’93), offensive lineman Britt Lively (’05), defensive end Clayton Farrell (’05), and offensive lineman Nathan Young (’07). In October, the inductees will be football standout Kirby Jones (’79), men’s basketball star James Wright (’85), men’s track and field two-time Olympian Albert Lawrence (’85), softball standout Katie (Bryan ’05) Thomas, golf all-America Donny Darville (’91), and volleyball all-America Lindsay (Martin ’05) Campbell. Lance Barrow (’77), a longtime producer for CBS Sports, will be inducted as the 24th recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Men’s Basketball

all-conference for the first time and named to her fourth conference All-Defensive Team for the 23-9 Wildcats, who won the Southland’s regular-season title for a second straight year. Suzzy appeared on stage a second time at the annual Student-Athlete Awards Banquet. She was honored along with her senior classmates – Alexis Mason, Sydney Shelstead, and her twin sister, Lizzy Dimba – in receiving the coveted Horizon Award, which has periodically been presented to marquee ACU student-athletes throughout the past decade. The Horizon Award is given to those whose

single-season efforts result in noteworthy career achievements, and in 2008, its first recipients were cross country / track and field All-America Nicodemus Naimadu (’08) and NFL draft pick Bernard Scott (’10). Women’s soccer standout Andrea Carpenter (’14) is the only other Wildcat to win it in the last nine years. Lizzy Dimba also was named Comeback Student-Athlete of the Year. Dimba missed the last month of the 2015-16 season with a torn ACL but recovered in time to start all 32 games in 2016-17, setting career bests in several categories, including points, rebounds and 3-point field goals made.

Men’s tennis senior Nico Agritelley received the second annual Hudson Wade Fighting Heart Award. Eight of his 17 wins this spring came while playing the No. 2 singles position for his team, which won its first Southland championship. The second annual Wildcat Club Student-Athlete of the Year award is presented to those who excel in athletics, academics, service and faith. Men’s basketball player Parker Wentz (’16) was the inaugural recipient last spring, and this year it was given to senior golfer Kyle Karnei and senior defender Kelsie Roberts of the women’s soccer team.


Summer-Fall 2017


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Men’s Tennis




contract extension through at least the 2018-19 season. • The Wildcats had some of their best wins of their four-year Division I transition period this year with non-conference road victories at New Hampshire (20-11 and in the America East Conference semifinals) and Charleston Southern, and also played well in losses at New Mexico, Oklahoma and Sacramento State. ACU also beat Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston State for the first time since returning to the Southland in 2013-14.

• The Wildcats finished 17-9 overall and 4-1 in the Southland to win the league’s regular-season co-championship, along with Lamar and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. • Hutton Jones (’81) won league Coach of the Year honors, and the team earned its second straight Freshman of the Year award with Jonathan Sheehy following in the footsteps of his sophomore brother, Joshua Sheehy. • The team concluded its season at the prestigious Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament in California, where it won all four men’s and women’s independent college singles and doubles titles. Nico Agritelley and teammate Henry Adams won the doubles championship over the Sheehy brothers in an exciting three-set match, 4-6, 7-6, 13-11. In the singles championship, Joshua defeated his younger brother, Jonathan, 7-5, 6-2.




Women’s Tennis • The Wildcats finished 17-6 overall and 8-3 in the Southland, tying Lamar and Central Arkansas for second place. • Juniors Lucile Pothier and Whitney Williams were voted first team all-conference at No. 1 doubles after going 7-0. Williams won all 10 of her league doubles matches and also was 3-0 alongside senior Erin Walker. • As they were for the men’s team, The Ojai singles and doubles championships were all-Wildcat affairs. Pothier and Williams beat Walker and Adams for the doubles crown, 6-4, 6-2, and Pothier won the singles title over Williams, 6-1, 6-2.


Summer-Fall 2017


• The team finished its final year of transition to NCAA Division I affiliation at 13-43 overall and 3-27 in league play. ACU ended its season in Corvallis, Oregon, with a four-game series against No. 1-ranked Oregon State. • Senior outfielder and second baseman Russell Crippen became the first Wildcat voted first team All-Southland in baseball since 1969, when first baseman Perry Scott (’70), shortstop Tommy Knight (’70) and pitcher Craig Collier (’69) were honored. Also earning all-conference in 2017 were junior designated hitter Luis Trevino (third team) and sophomore outfielder Derek Scott (honorable mention). • Crippen finished his career as ACU’s NCAA Division I era leader in runs scored, hits, doubles, triples, home runs, RBI, total bases and stolen bases, and in the Wildcats’ all-time top 10 in hits and total bases.

Men’s, Women’s Track and Field



Softball • The Wildcats were 32-20 in the regular season, including 20-7 as runner-up in the Southland, good enough to earn an at-large berth to the inaugural National Invitational Softball Championship. ACU was 1-2 in postseason play, beating Texas-Arlington before dropping games to Lamar and Louisiana-Monroe to finish 33-22 for the season. • ACU finished second in the 12-team Southland and had eight players named to all-conference teams, including four first-teamers: pitcher Sidney Holman, centerfielder Taylor Brown, shortstop Peyton Hedrick and second baseman Holly Neese.

• The Wildcats finished eighth at the Southland tournament. ACU carded rounds of 325 and 323 on the first two days before shooting 22-over-par 310 during a blustery final round to finish at 958 on the par-72, 7,219-yard Dye Course at the Stonebridge Ranch Country Club in McKinney, Texas. • Senior Kyle Karnei won the league’s Steve McCarty Citizenship Award, which recognizes student-athletes who exhibit outstanding qualities in citizenship, sportsmanship, leadership and community service. Karnei did that and more during his four years on the Wildcat golf team. He also was president of ACU’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee as a sophomore, junior and senior.

• The Wildcats completed their respective seasons at the Southland outdoor championship meet in New Orleans by posting 34 lifetime bests, 22 scorers, eight all-conference performances and one champion: Josh Hunter in the men’s discus throw. ACU’s collective efforts gave the men a sixth-place total of 51 points, while the women placed ninth of 13 teams with 37 points. • During the indoor season, Michaela Hackett was the star of the conference as she won the 5000 and 3000 meters at the indoor championship meet with the 3000 title in a school and conference meet record time of 9:30.75. She was later voted the league’s Outstanding Running Events Performer and Indoor Student-Athlete of the Year. • Lonnie Smith captured the men’s conference title in the weight throw, helping a Wildcat team that finished fifth on the women’s side and eighth on the men’s side.


Number of miles students traveled to New York City to audition for casting directors, thanks to donors who gave to ACU Theatre’s Lights Up! program.


Students, faculty and staff who participated in missions for the 2016-17 academic year through the Halbert Center for Missions and Global Service, thanks to donors.


Square feet of turf installed on the Larry “Satch” Sanders Fields, which are used for intramural sports. Donors from men’s social club Frater Sodalis gave $50,000 in 2015 for the project named for Sanders (’76), a longtime Frats sponsor.


Students (approximately) each semester who use four classrooms in the Mabee Business Building that were remodeled in 2014, thanks to College of Business Administration alumni donors.

Recent scholarship endowments created • Abel Alvarez Endowed Scholarship • Eager Family Endowed Scholarship • Bruce and Jane Evans Endowed Music Scholarship • Max Lucado Endowed Scholarship for Creative Writing To create your own endowed scholarship or contribute to an existing one, see or call 800-588-1514.



Affinity campaigns pair donors, heartfelt gifts Students in the Department of Art and Design didn’t hesitate to make themselves at home in their new Student Commons in the Don H. Morris Center. All of the furniture hadn’t even arrived when the department chair, Mike Wiggins (’93), came upon a group of students who had already settled in. “I came in on a Sunday afternoon to find five or six working around the conference table with an episode of Friends playing on the 72” HD display. It was fantastic,” Wiggins said. “I told them how proud I was to see Friends was still entertaining college kids.” Favorite sitcom mileage may vary, but some things about college life are constant: Students need spaces of their own. ACU’s 21st-Century Vision states as much: “We will create additional community spaces across campus that allow students with similar interests to work, play, plan and study.” Wiggins and his colleagues designed plans for the Student Commons, and thanks to several key donors spearheading the $30,000 campaign, it opened in 2016. Located in the department’s main office, the space that was essentially a large closet is now an open and contemporary area for students. Graphic designer Jeff Rogers (’02) even returned from New York City to paint a mural for one of the walls. “Many students have a deep desire to connect socially with others but struggle to,” Wiggins said. “The amount of work we ask students to produce is intense, and the support of friends who can identify can be crucial. A space like this allows students to create opportunities to cross paths and begin conversations in an informal, light atmosphere. “It can seem frivolous, but when you think about the long-term importance of the bonds made in college, it can highlight the true function of the space.” The Student Commons is just one of many small affinity campaigns members of the ACU community have supported during the past several years that represent ways they can give back to specific areas of interest, said Craig Fisher (’92), director of alumni relations and annual projects. “To be able to direct your support to areas you are passionate about, be it a social club or academic department, provides a great connection to the university,” Fisher said. “It gives you the opportunity to see the direct impact your gift provides.” “This space and the part it plays in our community are important for reasons beyond paint, walls and furniture,” Wiggins said. “Our donors’ gifts mean a great deal to us. The space is now a reminder that others support what we are doing and want to be a part of it.” If you’re interested in giving to or creating an affinity campaign, please contact Rendi Hahn, campaign coordinator for advancement, at – SARAH CARLSON 


Summer-Fall 2017




Submit your news online at or use the EXperiences card in each issue of the magazine. Deadlines: ACU Today is published two times a year. Because of printing deadlines, your news could be delayed by one issue. In Memoriam: It’s best for a member of the deceased’s immediate family to submit notification, preferably with a copy of the official published obituary. Contact information: To help ensure the privacy of our alumni, ACU Today no longer shares email and postal addresses of those whose self-reported news appears in EXperiences. If you would like contact information for someone listed here, call 800-373-4220 or email for assistance.


Dr. John Webb, the husband of Nancy Wilson-Webb, died in late 2016. He retired after 35 years as an administrator of the Azle (Texas) ISD, then served as a part-time administrator with the Fort Worth ISD. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Whitworth University, and a master’s and doctorate from TCU. Nancy, who retired after 47 years as a school administrator, lives in Fort Worth and runs a cattle ranch. The Webbs were married 50 years.


Professor emeritus of music Dr. M.L. Daniels is composer-in-residence for the Williamson County Symphony Orchestra. He and his wife, Elaine (Smith ’57), live in Georgetown, Texas.


Dirk and Joyce (Branch) Higginbotham celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary May 31, 2016. They have four children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, and live in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.


Dr. Preston and Marsha (Winn) Harper have moved to Franklin, Tennessee. He is professor emeritus of English who taught 47 years at ACU, and she is director emeritus of library science who led Brown Library for 18 years.


Varden and Sherry (Simmons) Vincent celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary Sept. 1, 2016. They live in Kingsbury, Texas.


Russell O. Vail won the 3000-meter race walk for the men’s 75-79 age group in the March 6, 2016, USA Track and Field Michigan Open / Master’s Indoor Track and Field Championships


Summer-Fall 2017


Dr. James Crusoe, who earned an M.S. in ministry and evangelism from ACU, graduated in December 2015 from Union University with a Doctor of Ministry degree in expository preaching. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee.


John “J.B.” and Janis (Young) Barnhill celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on Dec. 18, 2015. The couple has three grown children – Becky (Barnhill ’97) Foster, Randy Barnhill and Charles Barnhill – and live in Gatesville, Texas.

Timothy Shea authored a book, A Day Like Any Other: All American Tales, featuring accounts of chance meetings with strangers, and remembrances of friends and family. It is available through Tim lives in Chelsea, Massachusetts. Dr. John Baldwin (’84), a longtime professor in the School of Communication at Illinois State University, was named ISU’s 2017 Outstanding Teacher of the Year. He and his wife, Kim (Bush ’85), live in Normal, Illinois He has taught communication at ISU for 22 years, and Kim teaches psychology at Lincoln Christian Seminary. Carlton Tidwell is now a Certified Economic Developer. He is president of the Chamber of Commerce in Terrell, Texas, where he lives. Tidwell also serves on the boards of PrideRock Wildlife Refuge, Star Transit, and Kaufman County Crimestoppers, and is the Kaufman County representative on the North Central Texas Workforce Board.



in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He also finished third in the shot put. In 2015, Vail set a national record (28:11.03) for the men’s 70-74 age group in the indoor two-mile race walk.


Dallis and Lu Ann (McCoy ’71) Douglas moved to the Smithville/Bastrop area of Texas in 2015. He is a retired teacher and she is a retired teacher/librarian.


Mark Aldriedge was elected 2016-17 president of the Abilene and Big Country Home Builders Association. His wife, Terri, is an R.N. who is director of recruiting and shadowing for ACU’s Body & Soul program for pre-health professions students. They have two children – Shay Aldriedge (’10) and Jace Aldriedge (’15) – and live in Abilene.


Gene and Candy (Parker ’81) Henderson have a new address in Lucas, Texas. Gene is a member of ACU’s University Council.


Ron Holifield has published a book, 4th Dimension Leadership: A Radical Strategy for Creating an Authentic Servant Leadership Culture (see page 42). He is CEO of Strategic Government Resources and lives in Keller, Texas.


Harry and Bette Eppes Colter have a new address in Memphis, Tennessee.

Bruce Heyen has a new address in Bourbonnais, Illinois.


Jay and Wendy (Clayton) Howe moved in 2012 to Grapevine, Texas, and have three children.



Jimmy Brazell and Elizabeth (Ashton) Ralston, October 2012. She is a special education teacher for Harmony Public Schools. They live in Garland, Texas.


ADOPTED By John and Tonda (Madden ’92) Kuhn,

foster children Clayton, Sarah and Anthony. They have five other children. John is a hearing aid technician and Tonda is a homemaker. They live in Madison, Alabama.


Frank Loyd has been owner/operator of Neighbors Emergency Center-Tyler since 2015. He is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve at Carswell Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, Texas. He is married to Andrea,

ALUMNI CONNECTIONS a family nurse practitioner, and they have two children. The family lives in Tyler, Texas. BORN

To Brian and Heather (Robertson) Fortner, a girl, Oakley Anise, Dec. 9, 2016. Brian is national sales manager for Bartell Global and Heather is CCO and COO for SignatureFD LLC. They live in Acworth, Georgia.

M.D., a girl, Evelyn Camille, Jan. 28, 2017. He is a vice president for Citi and she is a physician for Caring for Women. They live in Flower Mound, Texas. ADOPTED

By Adam and Kristi (Cooke) Barney, a boy, Graham, in July 2016. Graham was born in September 2015. They live in Brownsboro, Alabama.



To Chad and Angela (Heironimus ’07) Allen, a girl, Dakota Sage, Oct. 7, 2014. He is employed by the Abilene Police Department and she works for Premier Women’s Healthcare of Abilene. They live in Trent, Texas. To Clifton and Allison (Parnell) Nunnally, a girl, Clara Nan, April 11, 2016, in Honolulu, Hawaii. Clifton is a research associate for Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium. They live in Houma, Louisiana. To Scott and Alycia (Brown) Pendleton, a girl, Abigail Grace, Feb. 27, 2016. Scott works for Cornerstone Home Lending and Alycia is employed by Blue Cross Blue Shield. They live in Dallas, Texas.

To Calvin and Marci (Senterfitt) Whitney, a girl, Kaylee, Oct. 12, 2016. They live in Graham, Texas. To Nick and Leslie (Espinoza ’03) Scott, a girl, Madeleine Elise, April 5, 2016. Nick is corporate accounting manager for Dean Foods and Leslie is administrative assistant for Prestoncrest Church of Christ. They live in Richardson, Texas.


1999 BORN

To Justin and Julie (Thigpen) Grimsley, a boy, Jameson Kent, Jan. 14, 2015. They have two other children and live in Fort Worth, Texas.


Casey and Emily (Berry ’01) Whittle live in Wylie, Texas, where both are employed by the Wylie ISD. They have two children.



To Jeffrey and Kimberly Michelle Francis, a son, Ryker Barrett, April 4, 2016. They live in Georgetown, Texas. ADOPTED

By Shane and Holly Copher, a boy, Kase Brayden, in July 2016. Kase was born June 13, 2014. They have four other children and live in Abilene.

2002 BORN

To Jonathan and Lisa (Meehan) Harshman, a girl, Anna Elise, Feb. 18, 2017. They live in Bakersfield, California. To Mark and Jocelyn (Reese ’03) Wiebe, a girl, Isla Jean, Aug. 14, 2016. The couple has one other daughter. Mark is assistant professor of theology and church history at Lubbock Christian University and Jocelyn is director of development for Carpenter’s Church. They live in Lubbock, Texas.

2003 BORN

To Timothy Ingram and Rachel Osborn,



Michelle Lessly graduated with a doctorate in law and public policy from Northeastern University in Fall 2016. She earned a B.A. and M.Ed. from ACU, and works for Massachusetts Institute of Technology. BORN

To Parker and Allison (Wright) Polidor, a girl, Cora Olive, Jan. 27, 2017. They live in Nashville, Tennessee. To Tyson and Elizabeth (Canarsky) Schroeckenthaler, a girl, Edith Ann, May 28, 2016. They have one other child and live in Madison, Wisconsin. To Brandon Smart and Soo Kim, a boy, Cameron Lee, Feb. 13, 2017. They live in Seattle, Washington. To Chase and Denisse Gardner, a girl, Eleonor, Dec. 22, 2016. He is a technical sales representative for Trinkote Industrial Finishes. They live in Weatherford, Texas. To Jason and Mandy (Nelson ’06) Donnelly, a boy, Oliver Keith Ronald Eldon, Nov. 10, 2016. They live in Alvin, Texas. To Bryan and Julie (Swart ’08) Sickles, a girl, Reese Elliott, March 17, 2016. Bryan works for the Amarillo Fire Department and Julie is employed by Pantex. They live in Amarillo, Texas. To Matt and Leslie (Sensing ’07) Keathley, a boy, Lincoln Matthew, Oct. 3, 2016. Matt is assistant controller at Jetta Operating Company and Leslie is an analyst for Luther King Capital Management. They live in Fort Worth, Texas. To Eric and Kylie (Webb) Lyons, a boy, Coen Dean, July 20, 2016. His older brother, Joah Blaise, born in August 2013, was adopted from the Democratic Republic of Congo in May 2016. The family lives in Edmond, Oklahoma. To Jay and Andrea (Brewer) Lambert, a girl, Elizabeth Grace, Nov. 12, 2015. Jay is a property tax consultant and Andrea is an interior designer. They live in Gainesville, Texas.


ur relationship began after I watched Larry and Suzanne tearfully say goodbye to their son, Andrew, at Wildcat Week one warm West Texas day in late August. It was before the traditional Candlelight Devotional, at which freshmen and transfer students are welcomed by members of the ACU community through song and prayer. Fisher Families had spent the day moving students into residence halls, and now it was almost time to go. I was used to seeing this rite of passage through the lens of an alumnus and staff member, but something changed that night. I noticed the three of them huddled together and was struck by their level of emotion and clear bond as a family. It was a private moment, but I felt the need to approach. I introduced myself – “Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help with this transition,” I said. That was almost two years ago. I never imagined the friendships I’d form with Larry, Suzanne and Andrew – the phone conversations my wife and I would have with them, praying for each other, and the times Andrew and I shared meals together and he spent time at home with my family. Change can be hard, and even though this family knew ACU was the right place for them, they needed support. They needed the level of connection – the type of life-changing relationships that bring us closer to each other and closer to God – that occurs so often in our community. And I needed to be reminded of it. What a blessing to have been a vessel for this change, and to be part of this family’s story. I know why I walked over to them that night – I know who wanted me to walk over to them. I am thankful for them, and Him, and this special place.  – CRAIG FISHER (’92)

Director of Alumni Relations Director of University Relations ACU TODAY

Summer-Fall 2017


BORN TO BE A WILDCAT The Alumni Association will send a FREE Wildcat BabyWear T-shirt (12-month size) to the alumni parents of each newborn or adopted infant in your family! Complete the EXperiences news card and mail it to us, or complete the info online at In-focus, high-resolution digital images (minimum file size of 500kb; use your camera’s highest quality setting) of alumni children wearing their Wildcat BabyWear should be emailed to Call 800-373-4220 for more information.

James and Jonah Faulkner, twin sons of Chris (’05) and Rebecca (Herrington ’08) Faulkner of Carrollton, Texas.

Quinn Lackey, daughter of Dustin and Misty (Willcox ’05) Lackey of Colleyville, Texas.

Nolan Miles, son of Casey (’03) and Tenille (McDonald ’03) Miles of Scarsdale, New York.


Cole Runyan, son of Houston (’10) and Melanie (Speck ’10) Runyan of Fort Worth, Texas.

Emma Jean Gudgel, daughter of Jeremy (’07) and Katie (Rich ’10) Gudgel of Carrollton, Texas, and Micah Thomas Rich, son of Clay (’05) and Jessica (Masters ’06) Rich of Grapevine, Texas.

Blair Elizabeth Guinn, daughter of James (’11) and Chelsea (Pierce ’12) Guinn of College Station, Texas.

Geneva Katherine May, daughter of Dallas (’06) and Sarah May of Dallas, Texas.

LeeMarie Kreck, daughter of Jake (’08) and Lanna (Armstrong ’10) Kreck of Garland, Texas.

Beckett Reid Sloan, son of Connor (’08) and Kelly (Harper ’04) Sloan of North Richland Hills, Texas.

Summer-Fall 2017


Declan Riley Luongo, son of Josh (’09) and Amber (Wiard ’06) Luongo of Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Clark Levi Goodwin, son of T.J. and Caitlyn (McCoy ’11) Goodwin of Celina, Texas.

Lane Wesly Lambert, son of Wesly and Kasey (Moore ’12) Lambert of Hawley, Texas.

Juddson Ford Walker, son of Jody (’09) and Kristee (Davidson ’08) Walker of Fort Worth, Texas. Crew Cawyer, son of Chase (’08) and Taryn (Chisholm ’07) Cawyer of Birmingham, Alabama.

Cousins Bruce Power, son of Chase (’08) and Erin (Snowden ’08) Power of Kingwood, Texas, and Elizabeth Power, daughter of Cliff (’06) and Kellie (Ethington ’09) Power of Kingwood, Texas.

Linde Jordan Robel, daughter of Austin and Shannon (Morgan ’09) Robel of Greeley, Colorado.

Lilly Joline Gibbs, daughter of Josh (’04) and Taya (Owens ’01) Gibbs of Escondido, California. Blakely Thomas, daughter of Kyle (’10) and Emily (Plemons ‘09) Thomas of Cedar Park, Texas.

Reese Elliott Sickles, daughter of Bryan (’05) and Julie (Swart ’08) Sickles of Amarillo, Texas.

Evelyn Grace Freeman, daughter of Michael (’09) and Debra Freeman of Georgetown, Texas. Reagan Lee Duncum, daughter of Cody (’11) and Christina (Peterson ’12) Duncum of Abilene.

Kyler James King, son of Ryan (’03) and Erin (Ikler ’13) King of Ovalo, Texas.


Summer-Fall 2017


Blanton was inducted with fellow Reunion Records co-founder Dan Harrell, contemporary Christian music artist Steve Green, gospel legend Yolanda Adams and southern gospel group Gold City Quartet.


Dave Dalzell (’70) was named Texas Realtor of the Year by the Texas Association of Realtors at its annual Epps meeting Feb. 13, 2017, in Austin. The award is given annually to a Realtor who has made outstanding contributions to the industry through involvement in his or her national, state and local associations. Dalzell is founder of Abilene’s Dalzell Realtors with a diverse career spanning advertising, media, education and community service.


Joe Holley (’68) was named a finalist for a 2017 Pulitzer Prize in editorial writing along with Evan Mintz. Both are staff writers for the Houston Chronicle. Holley, who earned a B.A. in English and played baseball at ACU, writes the paper’s “Native Texan” column and is a former editor of the Texas Observer and a regular contributor Holley to Texas Monthly.



Sharon (Johnston ’84) Epps was named one of America’s Top 20 Women in Philanthropy and Civic Engagement, a list that also includes Oprah Winfrey and Melinda Gates. Epps is co-founder of Women Doing Well.

Music industry executive Michael Blanton (’73), president of Be Music and Imagine One, was inducted May 9, 2017, to the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in ceremonies in Nashville at Lipscomb University. The Gospel Music Hall of Fame includes another ACU alumnus, songwriter-singer Brown Bannister (’75), and a who’s who of the music genre, including Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Pat Boone, Dolly Parton and the Oak Ridge Boys, among others.

Dr. Joey Cope, executive director of ACU’s Duncum Center Solutions and interim dean of the College of Graduate and Professional Studies, has received the Justice Frank G. Evans Award, the highest honor from the Alternative Dispute Resolution section of the State Bar of MARK REIS

Summer-Fall 2017


“Hospice Access for Undocumented Immigrants,” an article about the research of Nathan Gray, M.D. (’05), of Duke University School of Medicine, was published in the Feb. 6, 2017, issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine.

Janice Massey, M.D. (’68), was honored in November 2016 with the Distinguished Alumna Award from the Duke Medical Alumni Association. Massey is a recognized pioneer in the field of Massey neurology and has the distinction of being Duke University School of Medicine’s first female professor of neurology. She was a member of ACU’s Board of Trustees from 1990-2011.

ACU trustee Berto Guerra was named San Antonian of the Year by the North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.


Leticia Ann (Guzman ’90) Ingram received the 2017 Grover C. Morlan Medal award from ACU’s Department of Teacher Education. Ingram, named 2016 Colorado Teacher of the Year, was honored at a March 23, 2017, dinner



in the Hunter Welcome Center. She is an English language development coordinator who teaches history and math at Basalt High School in Aspen, Colorado.


David Ramsey (’81) was named one of the nation’s top 10 sports columnists for newspapers with circulations between 30,000 and 75,000. His winning entries in the annual Associated Press Sports Editors competition featured pieces he wrote for the The Gazette in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Ramsey has finished in the Top 10 of APSE writing competition 11 times in his career.

Texas. The award honors individuals who have made exceptional efforts in furthering the use or research of alternative dispute resolution in Texas.

Jasmin Richardson (’09) is playing the role of Nicki Marron in the national tour of The Bodyguard. The musical, based on the 1992 Warner Bros. romantic thriller film starring Kevin Costner and the late Whitney Houston, is playing a tour of major U.S. cities that began in late November 2016.

Jeffries (left) and Gibson

PAVLOV Advertising agency in Fort Worth, Texas, is home to two ACU alumna making headlines. Brenna Jefferies (’14), PR/social media coordinator, was named a “Rising Star” by the Greater Fort Worth Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. Amanda Gibson (’00), director of account service, has been recognized by the Fort Worth Business Press as one of Fort Worth’s “40 under 40,” the annual awards program saluting individuals under the age of 40 who are making their mark with professional success and community involvement.


Dr. Jack Griggs (’64), an ACU trustee and Overton Faubus Professor Emeritus of Business, was inducted April 27, 2017, to the Texas Bankers Hall of Fame. The organization was established by the Smith-Hutson Endowed Chair of Banking at Sam Houston State University to honor bankers who have served their industry, community and state with distinction. Dr. Marcus Nelson (’94) has been named superintendent of the Waco (Texas) Independent School District. Nelson, who was Texas Association of School Boards Superintendent of Nelson the Year in 2014, has overseen Laredo (Texas) ISD for the past eight years. He received the Grover C. Morlan Medal award in 2009 from ACU’s Department of Teacher Education and was the university’s 2013 Young Alumnus of the Year. Mark Meador (’89), former Abilene Christian director of alumni relations and most recently

Landon Cook (’14) is among officers featured in the second season of Lone Star Law, a reality TV show about Texas game wardens seen each week on the Animal Planet network. ERIC GUEL / BAYLOR LINE FOUNDATION



Former ACU running back Gerald Todd (’89) was the head coach of placekicker Becca Longo, the first woman to sign an NCAA Division I or II football letter of intent. Longo was a standout for Basha High School in Chandler, Arizona, and signed recently with Division II Adams State University in Alamosa, Colorado. Todd guided the Bears to the state playoffs the last three seasons, but now focuses on teaching physical education and history for BHS. His brother, Everett, was an assistant coach in 2002 at the University of New Mexico when walkon Lobos kicker Katie Hnida became the first woman to appear in a Division I game.

senior director of development at Lipscomb University, has been named a full-time executive national advancement officer for ACU. Meador will be based in Nashville, Meador Tennessee, while meeting ACU-related needs including alumni events, networking, admissions and fundraising.

Sharron (Owen ’72) Drury was recently honored when Southwest Christian School in Fort Worth, Texas, named one of its Lakeside Campus venues the Sharron Owen Drury Building. Drury A former ACU trustee who is chair of Snelson Oilfield Lighting Company Inc., Drury has served SCS for more than 30 years as a teacher, coach and president.

Dr. J. William Petty (’64), ACU trustee and former COBA dean who is now professor of finance and W.W. Caruth Chair of Entrepreneurship at Baylor University, is highlighted in The Baylor Line magazine as a Master Teacher who inspires a love of learning.


Summer-Fall 2017


SERVING YOU ADVANCING ACU Do you want to recommend a future student, volunteer, host an event or just learn more about how you can be involved with ACU where you live? To help foster relationships with alumni and future students, ACU has assigned personnel from its Advancement and Admissions offices to major markets in Texas as well as Nashville, Tennessee. A university relations manager (URM) focuses on establishing relationships with churches, schools, alumni and other friends; an admissions counselor (AC) reaches out to future students and their parents; and an advancement officer (AO) assists prospective donors seeking an opportunity to contribute funds to ACU. Through this territory team approach, these dedicated professionals can provide exceptional service to those who contribute so graciously to ACU’s mission and 21st-Century Vision.

ABILENE AND THE BIG COUNTRY Darci Halstead • AC • 325-674-2970, Anthony Williams • AO • 325-829-4328,

WEST TEXAS AREA John Mark Moudy • Senior AC (Amarillo, Midland, Odessa) 325-674-2969, Anthony Williams • AO • 325-829-4328,

AUSTIN AREA Tunisia Singleton • URM (Austin / Central Texas) 512-450-4329 • Charles Gaines • AO • 512-713-0067, Allison Self • AC (Austin / Central Texas) 325-674-2654,

FORT WORTH AREA Brent Barrow • URM • 817-946-5917, Jacob Groves • AC (Erath, Hood, Johnson, Somervell, Tarrant counties) 325-674-2687, April Young • AC (Collin, Denton, Palo Pinto, Parker, Wise) 325-674-2814, Nino Elliott • AO • 817-845-2260,

DALLAS AREA Toni Young • URM • 214-402-5183, April Young • AC (Collin) • 325-674-2814, Ashley Hickman • AC (Dallas, Rockwall, Ellis, Kaufman) 325-674-2079, Don Garrett • AO • 325-674-2213,

HOUSTON AREA Carri Hill • URM • 713-582-2123, Lindsay Palmer • AC • 325-674-2434, Eric Fridge • AO • 713-483-4004,

SAN ANTONIO AREA Kerry Stemen • URM • 830-388-0615, Jesse Luna • AC (San Antonio / South Texas) 325-674-2807, Charles Gaines • AO • 512-713-0067,

NASHVILLE AREA / EASTERN U.S. Mark Meador • AO • 615-815-4360,

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ACU Moms provide a lifeline for each other and the students they support in Abilene Gina (Gomez ’85) Harrison is pretty sure she sees Marlene Mattox more often at ACU events than she does around their San Antonio, Texas, neighborhood. Mattox’s son, Christian (’20), attended high school with Harrison’s daughter, Kennedy (’19), and the families would interact occasionally. But they didn’t truly share a connection, Harrison said, until they became ACU Moms. That’s both a distinction and a program – a way for mothers and mother-like figures of future, current and former ACU students to identify with each other and the name for the events at which they regularly gather for a time of fellowship, networking, encouragement and prayer. They come from different areas and upbringings, even different churches. But they are united by the fact they are raising Wildcats. “ACU Moms events have a special way of connecting and intertwining lives,” said Harrison, who also is mother to Hunter (’13) and Marshall, a 2017 graduate of Texas A&M University. “Whether it is through common friendships, common experiences or even common trials, it has been an encouragement for me to know that there are believers experiencing some of the same things I am.” A group of Waco-area mothers kicked off ACU Moms several years ago after being inspired by similar groups at other Texas universities. Events are generally coordinated by local university relations managers (URMs) in the Texas cities of Austin, Dallas, Houston, Fort Worth and San Antonio, and often are hosted at one of the participating mom’s homes. Sometimes, the moms gather for an activity, such as attending a painting class or watching an inspirational movie. At the end of each semester, they pack finals care packages for their students (and often their student’s roommate or two), which the URMs or ACU Moms deliver to campus to hand out to students in time for studying. Students might say the care package creation is the most important thing that happens at ACU Moms events, joked Kerry (Smith ’89) Stemen, URM for San Antonio. But the purpose is much deeper. “The goal for ACU Moms is to fellowship and support each other,” said Stemen, mother of senior Emily (Stemen) Hughes and junior Darby. “I love that we are a group of mothers who come from all different backgrounds, but we share a common bond. We talk about how our children are learning, developing wonderful relationships and growing in their faith. We laugh together, cry together and pray together.”

ACU Moms who recently gathered in San Antonio include Joanna (Gomez ’87) Anderson, Jennifer Benac, Marlis Buchanan, Denise Burke, Sheryl Crites, Shannon Fikes, Elizabeth Ford, Gina (Gomez ’85) Harrison, Becky Hernandez, Pamela Howell, Laura Jenkins, Tina King, Jean Kruse, Lydia Maldonado, Marlene Mattox, Suzanne McGregor, Kimberly Mullen, Belinda Pearce, Cindy Rowe, Emily Scherrer, Kerry (Smith ’89) Stemen, Judy Steubing, Ann Thompson and Julie (Crane ’88) Young.


Tunisia (Sekhon ’81) Singleton, URM in Austin and mother to Justin (’07), Mason (’09) and Rebekah (’13), said she makes it a point to discuss ACU culture and traditions at the beginning of each academic year to provide context for moms who aren’t ACU alumni. And all moms and their students, she said, benefit from the network that is created, from helping students find rides home from campus to finding a doctor in town. She also shares the latest news from campus and lets the parents know about available resources, such as the Student Opportunities, Advocacy, and Resources (SOAR) Program for students struggling while at school. ACU Moms, just like other URM-hosted events, provides parents with a direct link to campus, said Craig Fisher (’92), director of alumni relations and university relations. “These families have entrusted ACU with their

Moms devote time to pray for students each time they gather.



FROM LEFT: Gina (Gomez ’85) Harrison, Judy Steubing and Ann Thompson show some of the finals care packages they assembled to send to students.

children, and it can be hard to be away from them,” he said. “Events like ACU Moms provide an opportunity to connect with the ACU community outside of Abilene. Parents come together and pray about campus and their students and the experiences they’re having, which is such a blessing.” At a March event in Austin, Singleton said, one mother of a graduating senior told her peers how much their gatherings meant to her. Attending that night was the mother of an incoming freshman already finding a support network – “The circle continues,” Singleton said. “I would encourage all ACU Moms to give these events a try,” Harrison said. “Sometimes, it’s for your benefit; sometimes, it’s for the benefit of others. But either way, God works it all for His good and His purposes, not only for your life but for your child’s life.” 



Summer-Fall 2017


PURPLE PEOPLE Whether flashing the WC, handing out hugs or simply enjoying time together, Wildcats gather on campus and around the world to share their stories and celebrate their common love for each other and for ACU. Here are just a few images we’ve saved since our last issue. Share others with us at 1) In April 2017, six alumni with degrees from ACU’s Doctor of Ministry program presented research from their studies at the annual meeting in Chicago, Illinois, of the Academy for Religious Leadership. Those presenting included (from left): Drs. Carson Reed (D.Min. ’96), Randall Carr (D.Min. ’15), Jimmy Hensley (D.Min. ’16), Jason Locke (D.Min. ’11), Ben Pickett (D.Min. ’13) and Stephen Shaffer (D.Min. ’12). Reed was elected to serve as a co-editor for the academy’s peer-reviewed publication, the Journal of Religious Leadership, and serves on the board of the ARL, an international academic guild of professors, scholars and practitioners. DR. CARSON REED





2) Senior Allison Brown (center), 2016-17 editor of The Optimist student newspaper, was present when her grandparents, Dale (left) and Rita (right) Brown, spoke at a Center for Building Community event March 7, 2017 in the Hunter Welcome Center. Dale, a former ACU trustee, is executive producer of the award-winning film Silence, starring Liam Neeson and directed by Martin Scorcese.


Summer-Fall 2017


3) (From left) ACU vice president for advancement Jim Orr, J.D. (’86), ACU president Dr. Phil Schubert (’91), SMU president Dr. R. Gerald Turner (’68) and his wife, Gail (Oliver ’69); SMU vice president for advancement and external affairs Brad Cheves, J.D. (’84); and former ACU trustee Michael Boone met up March 20, 2017, at the postseason Women’s National Invitational Tournament basketball game in Dallas between the Wildcats and Mustangs. Boone is current chair of the SMU Board of Trustees. 4) Eight ACU classmates who enrolled in 1966 have maintained close ties, including traveling together, for more than 45 years. Eleven years ago the self-described Chicks of ’66 decided on one of its trips to also commit time to community service, choosing the North Central Texas Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association as a beneficiary of a joint project. The result is an annual Steppin’ Out for Memories event attracting several hundred people to a fundraising dinner, dance and auction at Abilene’s Taylor County Expo Center. The 2017 event was held March 18 and generated more than $100,000 for the cause. The Chicks of ’66 include (standing, from left) Ann (Sosebee ’70) Blann, Linda (Zimmerman ’70) Steele, Jeanie McDonald (’70), Mary Ann (Trice ’70) Ratliff, Connie (Bagley ’70) Adams, Mitzi (Masters ’70) Tull and (seated, from left) Nancy (Coffee ’70) Vannoy and Joy Kay Moore Missildine (’70).




Mike Calvert (’67) was one of many members of the Golden Anniversary Reunion Class of 1967 to participate in the university’s Senior Candlelight Sendoff devotional April 27, 2017, in Beauchamp Amphitheatre. Calvert is a member of the ACIMCO board and a former ACU trustee from Houston, Texas. (See story on page 52.)

5) Wildcats attending the Aaron Watson concert March 8, 2017, at the 87th annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo included (from left) Adam (’04), Adalyn and Jennifer (Blankinship ’04) Brennen; Sherri Scott (’96); David (’95) and Jennifer (Prill ’96) Meredith; and Charlene and trustee Dr. Ralph Draper. (See story about Watson on pages 2-5.) 6) [CORRECTION OF A PREVIOUS PHOTO/CAPTION] Vice president emeritus Dr. Robert D. “Bob” Hunter (’52) photographs Debbie (Jackson ’91) Weems and Cecilia Abbott (left), wife of Gov. Greg Abbott, at ACU’s Opening Assembly on Aug. 22, 2016, in Moody Coliseum. Texas’ First Lady attended the event with Weems, her longtime friend.



5 6








8-9) High School Scholars Day at ACU on April 21, 2017, brought a number of alumni and their prospective students to campus, including the Heyen family – FROM LEFT: Abby (’19), William, Wynn (Bradley ‘92) and Don (’90) – and Riley and Cara Lee (McCaleb ’89) Cranford.


Summer-Fall 2017


2006 BORN

To James and Kristina (Anderson) Abarquez, a boy, Anderson Joseph, March 5, 2017. They live in Jupiter, Florida. To Chad and Bethany (Scroggins) Crouch, a girl, Lily Kathleen, May 11, 2016. Chad is a software developer for Broadcast Music Inc. They live in Madison, Tennessee. To Aaron and Debbie (Ortiz ’06) Castellanos, a girl, Jan. 25, 2015. They have two older daughters. To Joshua and Audrey (Maxwell ’09) Lively, a girl, Annalyn Joy, Sept. 11, 2016. Joshua is employed by MBL Metals and Audrey is a physician’s assistant at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. They have one other child and live in Spring, Texas. To Sean and Lindsay (Walter) Cagle, a girl, Addyson Grace, Dec. 19, 2016. Sean is a project manager for Hoar Construction and Lindsay is a senior financial analyst for the Seton Family of Hospitals. They live in Dripping Springs, Texas.


MARRIED Jason Pitts and Candice Wood, Oct. 28,

2016. They live in Edmond, Oklahoma. Darien Clark and Brooke Johnson, June 18, 2016. They live in Plano, Texas. Mitch Holt and Jennifer Bass (’05) in November 2015. He is demand generation manager for Lifesize, a video and web conferencing software company, and serves on the Board of Directors for Skillpoint Alliance, a workforce development organization. She is a wealth strategy associate at UBS Financial Services and serves on various committees for the Junior League. They live in Austin, Texas. BORN To D.R. and Malia (Plumlee) Coleman,

a girl, Keira Lani, Jan. 27, 2017. They have one other child and live in Kerrville, Texas. To Tanner and Kami (Eldredge) Noble, a girl, Finley Grey, June 10, 2016. Tanner is a realtor for Progressive Properties and Kami is a speech language pathologist for Care Options for Kids. They live in Lubbock, Texas. To Brandon and Kelly (Kercheval ’09) Mann, a girl, Merritt, May 11, 2016. They have two other children and live in Abilene. To John and Kim (Leedy ’09) Garrett, a boy, Rhodes, July 28, 2016. They also have a daughter. John is employed by Outokumpu Stainless and Kim works for Victory Health Partners. They live in Mobile, Alabama.


BORN To Rodnisha Yvonne Pierce, a boy, Gavyn

Maxwell Pierce, July 7, 2016. She is a teacher in the Arlington ISD and lives in Fort Worth, Texas. To Chase and Taryn (Chisholm ’07) Cawyer, a boy, Crew Robert, March 1, 2016. They have two other children and a new address in Birmingham, Alabama, where Chase is completing his maternal fetal medicine (high-risk obstetrics) fellowship.


Summer-Fall 2017


To Ben and Kara Laine (Yeary ’07) Maynard, a boy, Asher Bennett, Oct. 31, 2016. Ben is an analyst for Houston Mercantile Exchange and Kara is an auditor for Weaver & Tidwell. They live in Katy, Texas. To David Berthiaume and Jenna Gillit, a boy, Aiden James, Aug. 1, 2016. They live in Lindale, Texas. To Barret and Tiffany Brown, a boy, Mason, Nov. 30, 2016. Barret teaches in the Temple ISD and the Browns have another son. They live in Temple, Texas.

To Brian and Amy (McLean) Patterson, a girl, Rose Elizabeth, Nov. 23, 2016. They live in Richardson, Texas.


a girl, Vivian Grace, Feb. 27, 2017. They have one other child and live in Livonia, Michigan. To Joshua and Amber (Wiard ’06) Luongo, a boy, Declan Riley, May 10, 2016. They live in Colorado Springs, Colorado. To Jordan and Sara (Beckett ’11) Bunch, a girl, Hattie Lou, May 7, 2016. They live in Pflugerville, Texas.

a boy, Camden Rogers, Oct. 6, 2016. Riley is administrator of Baylor Surgicare at Mansfield and Courtney is a stay-at-home mom. They live in Coppell, Texas. To T.J. and Caitlyn (McCoy) Goodwin, a boy, Clark, Oct. 10, 2016. They live in Prosper, Texas. To Graham and Jennifer (Gorenflo ’11) Sensing, a boy, Caleb, June 3, 2016. Graham is a project manager for PFSweb Inc. They live in Garland, Texas. To Craig and Natasha (Bailey) Stone, a girl, Scarlett Wren, Oct. 16, 2016. They live in Pampa, Texas. To Danny and Lezli (Parrish) Boren, a girl, Lainey Grace, Jan. 10, 2017. They also have a son. Danny works in IT Tech at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and Lezli teaches at Frenship High School. They live in Lubbock, Texas.



Davies, a boy, Logan Robert William, Nov. 4, 2015. They live in Denver, Colorado. To Daniel and Emily (Hood ’11) Burgner, a boy, Quincy, Jan. 18, 2017. They live in Woolforth, Texas. To Ben and Whitney (Pinson ’13) Gibbs, a boy, Cooper, Jan. 4, 2017. They live in Bedford, Texas. To Lance and Lauren (Briscoe) Claborn, a girl, Lyla Elizabeth, Aug. 27, 2016. They have one other child and live in Wylie, Texas.

Temple, a boy, Korey James. He works for Frost Bank and she is employed by Neiman Marcus. They live in Fort Worth, Texas. To Dominique and Madison (Reyes) Ryals, a boy, Westyn Ryals, March 23, 2016. Dominique is a QA analyst for Aperia Solutions. They live in Richardson, Texas.

Rev. Megan Thomas-Clapp was interviewed for NPR’s “Here and Now” in November 2016 and was featured in Baptist Women in Ministry’s “This is What a Minister Looks Like” in February 2017. She is married to Rev. J. William Thomas-Clapp and lives in Falls Church, Virginia, where she is minister to youth and young adults at McLean Baptist Church. BORN To Mike and Blythe (Peden ’10) Miles,

BORN To James and Loren (Pedersen ’08)



Samuel Dobbs and Kailey Miller, September 2016. They live in Springtown, Texas. BORN To Michael and Savannah (Shelton)

McCully, a boy, Luke Sawyer, Sept. 8, 2016. They live in North Richland Hills, Texas. To Michael and Michelle Lynn (Neese ’10) Reno, a girl, Harper Rose, Oct. 3, 2016. He is employed by the Abilene ISD and she works for Hendrick House Calls. They live in Abilene. To Michael and Kristen (Benton) Hall, a boy, Ethan Lee, Oct. 2, 2015. They live in Fort Worth, Texas. To Jacob and Taylor Canada, a girl, Ezra Quinn, Feb. 21, 2017. Jacob is an information security analyst for USAA. The family lives in San Antonio, Texas.

ADOPTED By Philip and Amy (Parker) Loeffelholz,

twins Aiden and Caiden on Nov. 20, 2015. They were born in July 2006. The family lives in Yukon, Oklahoma.


BORN To Riley and Courtney (Garner) Orr,

BORN To Jordan Geary and his fiance Kiambria


born To Alec (’18) and Claire (Johnson) Egan,

a girl, Roosevelt Wilder, Jan. 30, 2017. They live in Lubbock, Texas. To Justin and Lindsay (Lowe) Dugger, a girl, Jaci Violet, July 10, 2016. The family has a new address in Aurora, Colorado. To Darian and Kalynne (Allen ’13) Hogg, a son, Jaxson James, Oct. 16, 2016. Darian is an officer for the Waco Police Department and Kalynne is an executive consultant for Rodan + Fields. They live in Woodway, Texas.


married Ryan Boyd and Abby Altom, Nov. 26, 2016.

Ryan is attending the Abilene Police Department Academy and Abby is an HR generalist at Abilene Regional Medical Center who is enrolled in graduate school at ACU. The couple lives in Abilene.


The Davises and their renovated farm house, which features tables made from wood salvaged from the old ACU bowling alley in the McGlothlin Campus Center.

Remodeling homes is right down their alley Fixer-upper-type home shows may be all the rage on cable TV these days, but John (’81) and Nancy (Morgan ’81) Davis have been busy bringing old houses to life for years. Their latest is a renovated farm house about 30 miles north of their primary home in McKinney, Texas. The house’s dramatic makeover earned them a profile in the February 2017 issue of Country Living magazine. Readers gained insights into the ambitious project for Nancy, an antiques dealer and product designer, and John, executive vice president of the energy lending group at Independent Bank. One of the prized furnishings of the remodel is a table utilizing wood from the old bowling lanes in the lower level of ACU’s McGlothlin Campus Center. “The bowling alley was very sentimental for me,” Nancy said, “not because I am good at the game but because I grew up just a few blocks from the university and attended Abilene Christian Schools, which was on campus at that time.” Nancy, the daughter of Clyde Morgan, M.D. (’48) and his late wife, Birdie, recalls many afternoons and summer days spent exploring the campus center with young friends Mindy (Robbins) Lemoine and Sherry Ratliff Felts (’81). Mindy’s grandfather, Richard Robbins (’47), managed the bowling lanes on the lower level and

Sherry’s father, Dick Felts (’53), ran the cafeteria upstairs. “Mindy’s grandfather would let us go back behind the lanes and help him when the pins would get stuck. There was a door for access at the back of the pool table area,” said Nancy, who later bowled there with John and with their children, Ryan (’04), Leah (’07) and Morgan (’11). Lantz Howard (’05), executive minister of High Pointe Church of Christ in McKinney, salvaged some of the wood from deconstruction of the bowling alley when he dropped off youth campers at ACU during the campus center renovation in 2014. Lantz uses reclaimed wood for projects around his house and sold tables featuring pieces of the old lanes to help raise money for an adoption planned by he and his wife, Jessica (Turner ’05). The Davises were pleased to become one of their customers. One table Lantz made with the wood is featured in ACU Students’ Association offices in the campus center, not far from where thousands of alumni like the Davises took bowling classes, dates and kids for more than 40 years. 


Summer-Fall 2017



Willa B (Sloan) Patterson, 104, died Jan. 9, 2017, in Abilene. She was born Aug. 2, 1912, in Roscoe, Texas, and taught elementary school in Roscoe and Brownfield both before and after graduating from ACU. She married Vester Lee Patterson in 1939. After his death in 1962, she managed the farms he had left her in addition to teaching, until she retired in 1978. Willa B traveled extensively and was a longtime church and community volunteer in Abilene, as well as a lifelong donor to ACU. Survivors include a son, Johnny Patterson (’62); a daughter, Ann (Patterson ’63) Little; seven grandchildren, Lee Pat Patterson, Erin (Patterson ’92) Hughes, Karin Patterson (’92) Munro, Ellen (Little ’92) West, Alicia (Little ’92) Walls, Jan (Little ’94) Cohu and Andy Little (’97); and 12 great-grandchildren.


Lona (Johnson) Riemenschneider, 99, died July 31, 2016. She was born April 10, 1917, in Lott, Texas, and grew up in Crowell, Texas. She worked as a newspaper reporter and a teacher, and married Marshall Riemenschneider, a school band director. He preceded her in death, as did her brother, Paul Johnson, D.D.S. (’57), a former ACU trustee. Survivors include two daughters, Joan “Jo” (Riemenschneider ’64) Gidley and Mary Reid; a son, John Riemenschneider (’69); a sister, Jeanie Johnson (’63); a brother, Taylor Johnson (’68); eight grandchildren; and 17 great-grandchildren.


Cecil V. “Cy” Young, 98, died March 24, 2017. He was born Oct. 2, 1919, in Bowie, Texas, and received a football and academic scholarship to ACU. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy after the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941 and served in the Pacific theatre during World War II. He earned a master’s degree from the University of North Texas and resumed his teaching and coaching career. Cy founded the Possum Kingdom Relays track meet and also was active in many educational, veterans’ and other community organizations. He married Evelyn Cohron in 1946, and she preceded him in death in 1973. He married Estelle Donald in 1981. Survivors include a son; two daughters; three grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.


Imogene Louise (Carr) Crawford, 92, died March 3, 2017. She was born March 23, 1924. Survivors include her husband of 68 years, Don Crawford; a daughter, Cindy (Crawford ’85) Gallaher; three sons, Matt Crawford (’78), Mark Crawford and Ross Crawford; and four grandchildren.


Summer-Fall 2017



Edna Ruth (Williams) Brown, 89, died Nov. 10, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. She was born Dec. 25, 1926, in Burnet County, Texas, and married Dr. Ed Brown (’49) on Dec. 15, 1946. They spent five years in Japan before returning to the U.S. Edna worked as a staff psychologist for West Texas Rehabilitation Center and was active in community organizations. Survivors include her husband, Ed; a daughter, Aleta (Brown ’73) Caraway; three sons, Marcus Brown (’72), Byron Brown (’76) and Hiram Brown (’80); 11 grandchildren, 10 of whom attended ACU; and eight great-grandchildren.


Eddie “Leon” Sharp, 88, died Jan. 6, 2017, in Austin, Texas. He was born Oct. 9, 1928, in Keller and graduated from Grapevine High School. He married Billie Ruth Woodle (’52) on Feb. 4, 1950. Leon worked in full-time ministry for 45 years, working with congregations in Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. Billie preceded Leon in death Nov. 8, 2016. Survivors include a brother, Bobby Joe Sharp; a sister, Donna (Sharp) Papagno; three sons, Dr. Eddie Sharp (’73), Mark Sharp (’76) and Bryan Sharp (’81); nine grandchildren, eight of whom attended ACU; and four great-grandchildren. Grady D. Lobley, 83, died Aug. 29, 2015. He was born Dec. 29, 1921, in Fort Sumner, New Mexico. He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II and received numerous honors. He later worked in the oil business as a landman and oilfield equipment salesman after graduating from ACU. He is survived by his wife, Marianne Lobley; three brothers, Stanley Lobley (’52), Jerry Lobley (’59) and Larry Lobley (’64); a sister, Jean Puckett; a daughter, JoAnn (Hunt ’75) Tannich; two sons, Eric Hunt (’76) and Andrew Hunt (’84); four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.


Billie Jo (West) Paine, 86, died Dec. 7, 2016. She was born July 4, 1930, in Galveston, Texas, and studied physical education at ACU. She married Willard Paine (’48), a World War II veteran and college football player, before moving to Tulia, Texas, where he started his career as a banker. Later, he served as a trustee of ACU from 1956-83 (including 1967-74 as chair). She also lived in Snyder, Monahans and Lubbock, where she was secretary for the Sunset School of Missions and head librarian at the Sunset International Bible Institute. She was a published author, well-known for her hospitality and public speaking. She served on ACU’s Alumni Advisory Board and enjoyed visiting missionaries around the world. Among survivors are her daughter Pam (Paine ’74) Henderson; sons Rod Paine (’72), Russ Paine (’81) and Rex Paine (’80); nine grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and two great-great-grandchildren.


Ann Lowell Hamby King, 85, died Feb. 17, 2017, after a brief illness. She was born Jan. 21, 1932, in Port Arthur, Texas, and graduated from South Park High School. She taught first grade in public and private schools in Beaumont, Texas, for many years. She was preceded in death by her husband, Sidney Allen King Sr., and a brother, Winston Hamby (’57). Survivors include a daughter, Karen King (’78); a son, Sidney King Jr.; three grandsons; and other relatives. Billie Ruth (Woodle) Sharp, 86, died Nov. 8, 2016, in Austin, Texas. She was born July 26, 1930, in Bogota, Texas, and grew up in Dallas. She married Eddie “Leon” Sharp (’49) on Feb. 4, 1950. They worked in full-time ministry together for 45 years in Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. After her retirement, Billie developed an antiques and glassware business in Canton, Texas. Survivors include Dr. Eddie Sharp (’73), Mark Sharp (’76) and Bryan Sharp (’81); nine grandchildren, eight of whom attended ACU; and four great-grandchildren.


Anita Myrthalene “Myrt” (Kelly) Davidson, 86, died April 18, 2017. She was born Nov. 30, 1930, in Farwell, Texas, and grew up in Muskogee, Oklahoma, and Abilene. She married Bob Davidson (’52) on Dec. 23, 1952. The couple served as missionaries in Thailand for seven years. Later, Myrt worked at Texas A&M University for many years, managing campus dining facilities and an athletics dormitory. Bob and Myrt were honored with ACU’s Christian Service Award in 1997. He survives her, as do two sons, Kelly Davidson (’77) and Kenny Davidson (’81); three daughters, Ruth Rickaway, Debby (Davidson ’82) Napoli and Sarah Davidson (’91); two brothers; 12 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. Joe Loyd Curby, 85, died Nov. 7, 2016. He was born Sept. 12, 1931, in Maypearl, Texas, and graduated from Waxahachie High School. He married Sally Jo Pannill (’53) on Oct. 6, 1955. He had a long career in banking, which included working at Citizens National Bank and serving as executive president of Red Oak State Bank. He was a member of Lake Cities Church of Christ. He was preceded in death by his parents, Loyd and Elizabeth Curby. Survivors include Sally, his wife of 61 years; sons Kerry Curby and Kyle Curby (’89); a daughter, Kim (Curby ’84) Wasner; six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.


Eris Alton Ritchie Jr., 80, died Jan. 17, 2016. He was born April 18, 1935, in Mobile, Alabama. Eris was drum major for the Big Purple Marching Band during his time at ACU, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He taught

high school band in Trent and Cisco, Texas, and also worked at Cisco Junior College. He was the owner and director of summer camps for twirlers, drum majors and cheerleaders, which he later expanded into Southwest Enterprises. Ritchie served as mayor of Cisco from 1981-86 and was active with World Christian Broadcasting, the Rotary Club and other organizations. He was preceded in death by his parents, Eris (’32) and Mary Ethel (Tackett ’31) Ritchie; and two sisters, Judy Ritchie (’64) and Janelle (Ritchie ’62) Lowrance. Survivors include his wife, Annita (Hartsell ’61) Ritchie; two sons, Matthew Ritchie (’87) and Michael Ritchie; two daughters, Robin (Ritchie ’90) Pearce and Holly (Ritchie ’97) Williams; a brother, Dr. Joe Ritchie (’59); and 11 grandchildren. Robert Don Brooks, 85, died Oct. 18, 2016, in Houston, Texas. He served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War and later earned a degree in education from ACU. Survivors include his wife, Carolyn (Kilgore ’61) Brooks; a son, Greg Brooks (’83); a daughter, Carla (Brooks ’86) Mahle; and four grandchildren.


Troy Leon Morrow, 76, died March 7, 2017, in Abilene, Texas. He was born Dec. 18, 1940, in San Benito, Texas, and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from ACU. He taught science courses in several school districts in Texas and later worked for 26 years at St. David’s Cardiopulmonary Lab in Austin. Survivors include his wife, Sandra Kay (Johnson ’66) Morrow; two sons, Paul Morrow (’01) and Kile Morrow; and two grandsons. Jenny Lou Massie Felkins, 75, died Jan. 9, 2017, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She was born March 7, 1941, in Blackwell, Oklahoma. She served as a social worker and Spanish teacher. Among survivors are her husband, Larry Felkins; two sons; a daughter; a brother, John Massie (’81); and four grandchildren.


Anthony “Charles” Lycan, 73, died Sept. 17, 2016. He was born June 12, 1943, in Harrisburg, Illinois, and grew up in Colorado. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from ACU, where he played on the golf team, and earned his Ph.D. from the University of North Texas. He later taught biology and chemistry at ACU-Dallas and Tarrant County College. Among survivors are his wife, Linda (Harris ’68) Lycan; a son, Russ Lycan; a daughter, Julie (Lycan ’01) Kiser; and four grandchildren.


Dana Berry Nichols, 72, died Nov. 6, 2016. She was born Oct. 23, 1944, in Corpus Christi, Texas, and earned a degree in education from ACU. Among survivors are her husband, James Nichols (’68); two brothers, Bruce Berry (’67) and Glen Berry (’70); a son; two daughters; and three grandchildren.


Patricia Ann “Pat” Vannoy Miller, 69, died March 26, 2017, in Brownwood, Texas. She was born March 15, 1948, in Akron, Ohio, and graduated from Fort Stockton High School. She married Emmett Miller (’70) on Aug. 24, 1968. Pat taught elementary and high school for many years. Among survivors are her husband, Emmett; a daughter, Tanya (Miller ’94) Glasscock; a son, Terry Miller (’00); two brothers, Gary Vannoy (’69) and Rick Vannoy; nine grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter.


Dr. David R. Worley Jr., 67, died Feb. 9, 2017. He was born Nov. 18, 1949, in Lubbock, Texas. He earned M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees from Yale Divinity School, and taught Bible at ACU and Pepperdine University. His deep commitment to missions, education and philanthropy made a difference in the lives of many people around the world. During his career he was chair of the Christian Resource Center in St. Petersburg, Russia, an organization dedicated to equipping and nurturing congregations in that region; president and chancellor of Austin (Texas) Graduate School of Theology; chair of Brentwood Christian School; and president of Thelese Management. His work to help distribute Bibles to Russians helped open doors for World Christian Broadcasting in the former Soviet Union and also in China. He utilized his love for a cappella music as a worship planner and Bible school teacher in various congregational leadership roles wherever he lived. He was preceded in death by his parents, David Worley and Iva Lea (McKay) Barton, and a step-father, Dr. Fred J. Barton (’37). Among survivors are his wife, Melinda (Slone ’71) Worley; three daughters, Heatherly (Worley ’97) McDaniel, Christiana (Worley ’00) Peterson and Elena (Worley ’08) Coggin; sisters Janet Drake and Gay Barton (’68); a brother, Brock Barton (’66); and 10 grandchildren.


Marsha (Jennings) Allred, 62, died Dec. 25, 2016, in Abilene after a long illness. She was born March 29, 1954, in Paducah, Kentucky. Marsha was active in student organizations during her time at ACU, including Ko Jo Kai women’s social club, and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She married Ed Allred (’76) on June 6, 1981. Marsha taught chemistry and biology at Abilene Cooper High School for 36 years – including 20 years as science department chair – and was an active member of Highland Church of Christ, where she served on the Missions Committee, Worship Committee and Tables and Chairs Committee. An active ACU alumna, she was a sponsor for Ko Jo Kai for 38 years, a member of the biology department Visiting Committee and received the teacher education department’s Lucy Hatch Mentor Award. Among survivors are

her husband, Ed; a daughter, Lauren (Allred ’06) Collins; two brothers; and a sister.


David Leon Lugar, 59, died Nov. 18, 2016. He was born Oct. 18, 1957, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and married Lajan (McConal ’75) Lugar on July 2, 1988. She survives him, as do his mother, Joy Lugar (’50); three daughters, Kellise (Lugar ’02) McLaurin, Kylie Horn, Kori Lugar; a son, Kole Lugar; a sister, Tanis (Lugar) Cornell; a brother, Steve Lugar (’77); and nine grandchildren.


Landon Wren Powell, 22, died Dec. 4, 2016. He was born April 30, 1994, in Denver, Colorado. Among survivors are his parents, Dan (’87) and Lisa (Gomez) Powell; a sister, Gabrielle Powell (’15); and his grandfathers, Bob Powell (’59) and Bob Gomez.


Dr. Bobby Joe Sims, 85, died March 4, 2017. He was born Aug. 18, 1932, in Texarkana, Arkansas, and earned degrees from Freed Hardeman College, Murray State University and Southern Illinois University. He taught political science and government at the University of Southern California, Pepperdine University, Murray State, Texas Christian University and ACU. He and his wife, Olivia, co-owned Texas Educational Services, a pre-licensing educational services company. Bobby Joe is survived by his wife, Olivia; four sons, David Sims (’80), Philip Sims (’80), Perry Sims (’82) and Danny Sims (’85); three daughters, Patty (Sims ’81) Traweek, Lesley Cano and Paula Morris; a sister, Elizabeth Eaton; and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Ulysses Grant Baldwin, 89, died May 11, 2016. He was born Dec. 20, 1927, in Tift County, Georgia, and graduated high school in 1945. After serving in the U.S. Army, he attended Bethune-Cookman University, ACU and the University of Washington. He taught in Seattle public schools for 25 years, owned dry-cleaning businesses and was a master tailor. He also was a Church of Christ minister in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Rome, Georgia; and Seattle, Washington; and also preached in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana. He was preceded in death by his parents, General Grant and Hannah Baldwin; a brother, George Baldwin; and a son, Andrew Grant Baldwin. Among survivors are Geraldine (Pace) Baldwin, his wife of 67 years; three daughters, Geraldine Richardson, Ellen Crigler and Elaine Twaites; two sons, Dwayne and Carl Baldwin; a sister; four brothers; 10 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.


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Wendell Broom was a missions patriarch


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Wendell Broom (’45), missionary pioneer, mentor and educator, died Feb. 17, 2017, in Dallas, Texas, at age 93. During a career spanning six decades, he and his wife, Betty (Billingsley ’45), lived and worked in mission fields such as Nigeria, Cameroon, Hawaii and Siberia. But equally important was Broom’s stateside work in which he mentored and equipped others who were headed to the mission field. “He played the role of walking alongside missionaries and encouraging them and broadening their vision,” said Gailyn Van Rheenen (’69 M.S.), former professor of missions at ACU who served as a church-planting missionary to East Africa for 14 years. “He was one of the most significant people in my life.” The Brooms joined the mission field themselves in 1955, when the couple began a five-year mission to Nigeria. At the time, Churches of Christ were experiencing a wave of post-World War II missionaries who had deep passion for the work but lacked training resources. Early on, Broom saw a need for people to receive mentoring and training to equip them for effective work in other cultures. After the Brooms returned from Nigeria, and after Broom served preaching stints at two domestic churches and completed his master’s degree at Fuller Theological Seminary, he and Dr. George Gurganus worked together to create the missions department at ACU – the first of its kind among Church of Christ-affiliated colleges. Because of their work, and through the annual Seminar in Missions and other missionary-training events, ACU became the primary training grounds for missionaries in Churches of Christ. “Wendell was one of the early prime movers of missions as an academic discipline,” said Dr. Chris Flanders (’87), ACU associate professor of missions, director of the Halbert Center for Missions and Global Service and former missionary to Thailand. “He’s a hero for that. I look at him as having a pivotal role in the development of the academic study of missions in Churches of Christ.” While on the missions faculty at ACU, Broom also wanted to reach students who were not missions majors with his vision of encouraging all Christians to view the church globally. As part of this effort, he created the World Christians course, which students could take as an elective Bible credit. “That class was designed for the non-missions person to grasp the scope of the call of God’s work and to call people to be global Christians,” Flanders said. “Wendell was trying to help everybody embrace what we’ve always believed: that everyone is a missionary.” Dr. Lynn Anderson (’90 D.Min.), author and former

minister, recalled first meeting Broom at the Summer Missions seminar at Harding, where Broom and Gurganus were featured speakers. Anderson and Broom became friends, and, as Anderson planted churches in his native Canada and later became a longtime minister at Highland Church of Christ in Abilene, Broom helped him grow in his passion for ministry at home and in other cultures. “He bubbled with enthusiasm and joy,” said Anderson, founder of Hope Network Ministries, a mentoring organization for ministers in Churches of Christ. “He led me to study missions and cross-cultural communication.” One of Broom’s most important teaching tools was the use of metaphors to make a point. Similar to the parables of Christ, Broom would communicate challenging concepts through simple stories. He became known for this style of teaching. “He was a person who would cast God’s vision and spin it through these metaphors,” Van Rheenen said. Among the many lessons Anderson has carried from Broom is the importance of being open to interruption. “He said that Jesus was forever being interrupted,” Anderson said. “Following God and Jesus, your plans are going to be interrupted. You can be so focused on not being interrupted, that you’ll miss an appointment from God.” Broom lived this exhortation. Even though he and Betty kept their modest home near Smith-Adams Hall for many years, he traveled, mentored and taught around the world long after his retirement from ACU. Abilene served as a home base, but as long as the Brooms were able, they kept following God’s “interruptions” around the globe. His spirit continues to live on through the missionaries he mentored, the churches he planted and the lives he and Betty have touched through the decades. “He didn’t feel a need to beat up on people to make them feel guilty,” Anderson said. “He just lived in a way that made you want to see the joy from living that way.” Among survivors are his wife, Betty; sons Wendell Broom Jr. (’74 M.A.), David Broom (’75) and Jonathan Broom (’83); daughters Mary Beth (Broom ’72) Best; Margaret Broom Adams (’77) and Kathryn (Broom ’80) Mick; 11 grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren. 

Pope was a pace-setting Texas chief justice Andrew Jackson “Jack” Pope, J.D. (’34), retired Texas Supreme Court chief justice and 103-year-old giant of Lone Star State judicial history, died Feb. 25, 2017, in Austin. Flags across Pope’s beloved home state flew half-staff March 3-7 in his memory, at the request of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. Pope was born April 18, 1913, in Abilene and graduated from Abilene High School. He was a speech major who starred on the Abilene Christian debate team, played intercollegiate tennis and was elected student body president. He earned his juris doctor degree in 1937 from The University of Texas at Austin. He met Allene Nichols in Austin and they wed June 11, 1938. Pope’s law practice in Corpus Christi with his uncle, W.E. Pope, was interrupted when Jack enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve during World War II. He served on military legal staffs in Corpus Christi; Washington, D.C.; and San Diego, California, returning to Corpus Christi following the war. He went on to serve as judge of the 94th District Court (1946-51), as justice in the 4th Court of Civil Appeals (1951-64), as associate justice on the Texas Supreme Court (1964-83) and as the 23rd chief justice (1983-85) in state history. Hailed as “the father of Texas water law,” Pope served longer than any Texas Supreme Court justice, authoring what is believed to be a record 1,032 opinions across his distinguished career. Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht considers Pope a judicial icon [See his eulogy of Pope on page 80.]. “His hard work, scholarship, common sense, humor and integrity are legendary. No Texas judge has ever been more committed to serving the rule of law and the cause of justice. He was my mentor, role model, counselor, and most especially, my friend. Texas has lost a great, great man,” Hecht said. Pope was committed to law reform, initiating new procedures for handling grievances against attorneys, changing venue rules and promoting the Texas Rule of Judicial Education. He was responsible for helping bring computer technology to all state appellate courts, wrote the first Jury Handbook for jurors, sponsored the creation of the State Law Library, and helped draft the first Judicial Code of Conduct. In 1984, he helped implement Texas’ IOLTA (Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts) program, which provides free legal service in civil matters to more than 100,000 needy families a year. In 2012, Gov. Rick Perry signed the Chief Justice Jack Pope Act (HB 1445/SB 635) to honor Pope’s IOLTA work more than three decades earlier. “He devoted his life not only to the efficient

administration of justice, but also to ensuring that justice is available to all,” former Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson said. “Jack Pope will be remembered as second to none in the annals of Texas law.” Pope is a beloved figure at Abilene Christian, where he served on the Board of Trustees from 1954-83. The interdisciplinary Jack Pope Fellows Program at ACU was established in 1989 after proceeds from a gala fundraising dinner in Austin created an endowment to teach students about public service in the classroom and allow them opportunities to attend special lectures, gain practical experience, and volunteer in community-shaping projects. He received many honors, including the top alumni


award at ACU and The University of Texas School of Law. The Texas Center for Legal Ethics, which Pope co-founded in 1989, gives an annual Chief Justice Jack Pope Professionalism Award, presented to an appellate lawyer or judge who epitomizes the highest level of professionalism and integrity. In 2010 the judicial section of the State Bar of Texas presented Pope with its inaugural Judicial Lifetime Achievement Award. On April 18, 2013, Pope was honored by the Texas House of Representatives with a ceremony at the capitol recognizing his 100th birthday, including the passing of a resolution in his honor. He also served on the boards of Pepperdine and Oklahoma Christian universities, and was a church elder, deacon, and Bible school teacher. He was preceded in death by his parents, A.J. and Ruth Taylor Pope; and his wife of 66 years, Allene. Among survivors are his two sons, A.J. Pope III (’63) and Allen Pope (’65); three grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. 


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ACU Remembers: Rutherford, Marshall, Griggs, Gibbs, McKissick, Avinger, Thompson, Wilson Ruby “Atriel” Mason Rutherford, 74, died Nov. 19, 2016, in Abilene. She was born May 4, 1942, in Lynn County, Texas, and grew up in Abilene. She married Wayne Rutherford Aug. 12, 1959. Ruby worked as an administrative coordinator in ACU’s Department of Mathematics for 22 years until her retirement in 2007. Rutherford Among survivors are her husband, Wayne; three sons, Dee Rutherford (’86), Bob Rutherford (’89) and John Rutherford (’94); and five grandchildren. Wilma Lois (Russell ’50) Marshall, 90, died Nov. 27, 2016. She was born in Crosbyton, Texas, on July 27, 1926. She was valedictorian of her graduating class at Littleton (Texas) High School in 1944. In 1945, she moved to Flagstaff, Arizona, where she worked for the Social Security Administration. While there, she met Dr. Joe Marshall (’50) Marshall and they married July 20, 1947. The couple moved to Abilene and both graduated in 1950 from ACU. She later earned a master’s degree from Hardin-Simmons University. Wilma taught at local public schools before becoming an associate professor of English at ACU. During her 24 years on faculty, she taught English, business and professional writing, and children’s literature classes. She was instrumental in beginning the children’s literature section of ACU’s Brown Library. She was preceded in death by her parents, Ernest Alvin Russell and Amy (Heathington) Russell; and a sister, La Verne (Russell ’44) Taylor. Among survivors are her husband, Joe; a son, Mike Marshall (’73); daughters Pam (Marshall ’75) Porter and Julie (Porter ’82) Neill; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Waymond E. Griggs (’58), a member of ACU’s Sports Hall of Fame died Nov. 30, 2016, in Abilene at age 80. Griggs was born March 25, 1936, in Benton, Arkansas, and graduated in 1954 from Camden (Arkansas) High School. He married JoAnn Boley (’57) on Sept. 1, 1956. As an ACU student he ran on 440-yard Griggs relay teams with Bill Woodhouse (’59), James Segrest (’59) and Bobby Morrow (’58) that set three world records and won 16 titles


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at major collegiate meets such as the Texas, Drake and Penn relays. With Griggs typically assigned to open each relay event because of his quick starting ability, the Wildcats posted a record of 36-4 in the 440-yard and 880yard relay events. His individual bests were 9.6 seconds for 100 yards and 20.8 for 220 yards. Griggs earned a master’s degree from Southwestern Oklahoma State University and taught and coached in Odessa, Kermit and Midland, Texas, public schools during a long career. His Odessa Permian High School teams won 13 district and five regional championships, and a 1993 state title. He also was a member of the Arkansas Track and Field Hall of Fame. Preceding him in death were his parents, Lonnie W. Griggs and Dixie Belle Beard Griggs; and an infant brother, Norman Eugene Griggs. Survivors include JoAnn, his wife of 60 years; sons Michael Griggs (’82) and Mark Griggs; two grandchildren; a sister, Patricia Kiser; and a brother, Tommy Griggs. Winnie (Creel ’53) Gibbs, 86, died Dec. 29, 2016, in Abilene. She was born Feb. 9, 1930, in Athens, Alabama. She married J.B. Gibbs in July 1952. He preceded her in death in 2009. Winnie earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from ACU and worked as a teacher and coach in the Abilene ISD, later serving as dean of Gibbs women at ACU. She is survived by three sons, Bryan Gibbs (’77), Steve Gibbs (’79) and Jonathan Gibbs (’83); two daughters, Julie Gibbs (’83) Wilson and Rebekah (Gibbs ’84) Zeller; 12 grandchildren, 10 of whom graduated from ACU; and eight great-grandchildren. Joseph Herschel “Joe” McKissick Jr. (’91 M.S.), died Jan. 10, 2017, at age 90. He was born Feb. 21, 1926, in Tamaha, Oklahoma. He began preaching at age 17 and attended college at Freed Hardeman and Murray State universities. He married Mary Lou Stach (’07) on May 20, 1952. The couple served as missionaries McKissick in South Africa, and he later preached in Churches of Christ in the U.S. and Canada. He earned a master’s degree in gerontology from ACU, and served as a minister-in-residence from 1989-2001. Among survivors are his wife, Mary Lou; a daughter, Sherry Stein; a son, Jim McKissick (’83); six grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. Dr. Juanita Hunt Avinger, 97, died March 23, 2017. She was born Jan. 4, 1920, in

Brownwood, Texas, and graduated from Early High School. She married Dr. Herschel Avinger in 1939. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Texas Tech University and an Ed.D. from Avinger Baylor University. She taught for 11 years in the Lubbock ISD, then became a professor of education at ACU from 1966-85. She also worked as a consultant for the Texas Education Agency and many school districts. Among survivors are two sons, James Avinger and John Avinger (’69); a sister; and five grandchildren. Dr. Gary Thompson (’60), ACU professor emeritus of political science and former Texas state representative, died April 13, 2017, in Blacksburg, Virginia, at age 80 following a brief illness. Thompson was born June 15, 1936, in Vernon, Texas, and graduated from Tyler (Texas) High School in 1954. He earned a B.S.E. degree in Thompson history from ACU (1960), an M.A. in political science from the University of Arkansas (1964), and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of North Texas (1974). He taught and coached junior high and high school students in Lovington, New Mexico (1960-63), and Chinle, Arizona (1964-67), before moving to Abilene. He worked for the Teacher Retirement System of Texas from 1986-95; otherwise, he taught political science at ACU from 1967 until retirement in 2011, serving as the first chair of the department. He chaired the Faculty Senate, and directed ACU’s American Enterprise Forum and Taft Institute for Teachers. Elected in 1978 to the first of four terms in the Texas House of Representatives, Thompson served on numerous committees and commissions, including Ways and Means, Sunset Advisory, State Affairs, and County Affairs, which he chaired. In 1958, he wed Nancy Thomas (’59), a fellow student at ACU. They were longtime members of University Church of Christ in Abilene, where he served as elder and for many years in the prison outreach ministry. They established the Gary and Nancy Thompson Endowed Scholarship for political science students at their alma mater. Thompson served in leadership roles on the boards or advisory councils of the Heart of Texas Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, West Central Texas Council of Governments, Meals on Wheels, Agape for Children and Youth, Hospice of Abilene, Boys Club of Abilene, and Texas Mental Health Association. He chaired Leadership

Abilene in 1982-83. He was preceded in death by his parents, Virgil and Floy Thompson; and Nancy, his wife of 56 years. Among survivors are a son, Dr. Tom Thompson (’85); a daughter, Jane (Thompson ’88) Koble; six grandchildren; two step-grandchildren; and a brother, Dr. James Thompson (’64).

Barbara Jean (Hart ’59) Nicholson, 79, died Jan. 23, 2017. She was born March 23, 1037, in Dallas, and graduated from Abilene High School in 1955. At ACU she was active in A Cappella Chorus, The Melodettes, the Women’s Sextette, and Delta Theta social club. She met G. Randy Nicholson at ACU, marrying Nov. 18, 1957, and graduating together Nicholson in 1959. She taught typing, bookkeeping and shorthand at Anson (Texas) High School and was founding chair of the business department at Abilene Cooper High School. She was active with the ACU Alumni Chorus and an accomplished painter. In 2007 she began a Helping Our Heroes program to send care packages to military stationed overseas, and led ministries to care for widows and widowers at Highland, University and Oldham Lane congregations in Abilene. The Nicholsons have been generous benefactors to their alma mater. She was preceded in death by her parents, H.E. and Charlotte Hart; a sister, Betty (Hart ’55) Waldron; and brothers Lee Hart and Horace Hart. Among survivors are Randy, her husband of 59 years; a daughter, Randa (Hart ’88) Upp; a grandson; and a brother, Bob Hart (’52).


Longtime ACU coach Sidney Jerrold “Jerry” Wilson (’71), died April 25, 2017, in Abilene after a brief battle with cancer. He was 69. Wilson was born Feb. 25, 1948, in Sausalito, California, and graduated from Big Spring (Texas) High School in 1966. He married Diane Stevens (’70) on June 14, 1969. He earned bachelor’s (1971) and master’s (1991) degrees Wilson in education from ACU, where he played football. Wilson coached football and baseball for 43 years, 15 at Texas high schools in San Angelo (Central), Abilene, Amarillo (Caprock) and Graham. He was inducted into the ACU Sports Hall of Fame in 2013 following a 27-year career (1972-90 and 2000-07) as Wildcat head baseball coach (1973-75) and an assistant football coach on two NAIA Division I national championship teams in 1973 and 1977, the latter as defensive coordinator. Wilson participated in numerous mission trips to the Rio Grande Valley and to Mexico, and was a member of Hillcrest Church of Christ. Preceding him in death were his parents, Sidney and Mary Wilson, and a sister, Gloria Nunn. Among survivors are Diane, his wife of 48 years; sons Greg Wilson (’93) and Jimmy Wilson (’97); five grandchildren; and brothers Tom Wilson and Bruce Wilson.

The Pattersons in the living room of their new home.

Ten Questions with the Pattersons CONTINUED FROM PAGE 35 “new normal” would just fall into place, but the anxiety and grief from the trauma of losing our house came upon us subtly. We had never been through anything like this and didn’t know what to expect, but we could also see how God prepared us for this time with prior struggles and experiences. It was hard on each of us in different ways, and we didn’t always know how each other was doing. We underestimated how it would affect each of us. We have all done remarkably well, but it’s been hard and there are scars. Was the decision to rebuild or move a hard one to make? It was a pretty easy decision to move on because ironically, we had been planning to relocate anyway. We were able to sell our lot to a longtime family friend who has since rebuilt and sold the house to a young family. We ended up building a new house in Rockwall, about 15 minutes from where we lived in Rowlett. What runs through your mind when you drive through your old neighborhood today? For the most part, we avoid it. I did visit regularly for about a year, mainly because I was fascinated to see the transitions to our home and the neighborhood. It was good to see our house rebuilt and become a new home for someone else. But the neighborhood will never be the same. Many did not have insurance and have not been able to rebuild. How do you look at life differently today? We never take a severe weather warning lightly. We cherish our family, friends and extended community family for what they did for us. We are watching for opportunities to help others going through their own catastrophic loss. God put us back together better than before, but it has changed us each in unique ways. Times of trial refine us and in so doing, help us learn to depend on God and trust him to lead us through the dark places. I’m thankful we have scarred reminders hanging on the walls of our house. They remind us to not forget the good times of the past, and to trust God to guide us and one day bring us home. 


Summer-Fall 2017



Remembering Jack Pope, a giant in the Texas judiciary EDITOR’S NOTE: The following essay is adapted from the March 3, 2017, eulogy of Jack Pope, J.D. (’34), by Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht, J.D. See Pope’s obituary on page 77.

We all need inspirational figures in our lives – people we watch, hear and admire. We need role models. As a young lawyer in the 1970s I revered the giants who roamed the Texas judiciary, judges like Robert Calvin, Joe Greenhill, Jack Pope and Tom Reavley. They towered over the legal profession, making us proud we do what we do. And as a new judge in 1981, I wanted, if ever I could, to be like them. I first met Jack Pope at a meeting of trial judges not long after he was appointed chief justice. We had all seen from his confirmation process that he had exactly what we wanted in a chief justice – strength of character, properly mixed with humility and service. I did not expect his sense of humor. In that first encounter he was encouraging trial judges to be students of the law. I’ll never forget his firm higher-pitched voice, Pope stern expression, snow-white hair cut short, deliberate hand gestures, and the twinkle in his eye as he looked over the room. “Never forget,” he said, “there is nothing worse than a dumb judge who works hard.” I have never forgotten what he said. Chief Justice Pope helped establish formal judicial education for Texas judges. A recognized scholar who would eventually write more than 1,000 opinions, profoundly shaping Texas law, he wanted continuing education to be a judicial responsibility. And ethics, he believed strongly, should be the centerpiece of that education. As the youngest district judge in Texas he had vowed to himself to be his own person. When he sought support for his bid for the Court of Appeals from a divided Democratic party, he did not try to finagle, but laid everything on the table to both camps and came away with both of their endorsements because he had shot straight with them. As a judge and a man of faith, Jack Pope believed in the straight and narrow way. At his insistence the Code of Judicial Ethics was created and made mandatory and enforceable. I called on Chief Justice Pope at his home in 1988 to seek his counsel for my own election campaign for the Supreme Court. He discussed that with me for a few minutes and then for hours he graciously showed me his carefully kept library, his typewriter we’ve heard about, and the work he was continuing to do. 80

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He talked about his approach to deciding hard cases, about how he always tried to follow the law, to follow precedent, but as a common law judge – a label that he claimed with pride – to develop and clarify the law when necessary. He told me of the importance of writing opinions explaining the decisions clearly to the parties, the bar, and the public. But also on a collegial court, much of a judge’s effectiveness is measured in dialogue with colleagues around the conference table. I came away treasuring having had the opportunity to learn from the master. Mentoring was his nature, and time and again when he and I would visit he would offer sound advice, and just as importantly, unfailing encouragement. He courageously and effectively campaigned for equal access to justice for the poor. Initiating the Texas IOLTA Program was a bold visionary step, and a later statute was named in his honor, the Chief Justice Pope Access to Justice Act. When we had the Pope Act signed, we went to the governor’s office, and several of the people who worked on passing this legislation were standing around. Gov. [Rick] Perry said, “Let’s take a picture.” So we put Chief Justice Pope in the middle, and the governor stood on one side of him, and I was way over to the other side. We were all gathered around him, and the governor looked over at him and said, “Chief, your tie is crooked.” Gov. Perry walked around the group, stood in front of Chief Justice Pope, and stooped down, because he is kind of tall, and Chief Justice Pope was short. He got down on one knee and reached up to straighten Chief Justice Pope’s tie. With Gov. Perry bowed down before him, Chief Justice Pope looked over at me and said, “I have reached the highlight of my political career.” He was an icon for the Texas Judiciary: a judge of enormous character and uncompromising integrity. Judicial ethics incarnate. A fascinating storyteller with a distinct voice, sparkling eyes, and wry sense of humor; a strong and humble leader; a wise and patient mentor; and a good and dear friend. He was greatly loved and will be sorely missed. But his memory will continue to inspire Texas judges for years to come. On the front of the Texas Supreme Court bench, where Jack Pope sat for 20 years, is inscribed the Latin phrase, sicut patribus sit deus nobis – may God be with us as he was with our fathers. May God be with us as he was with Jack Pope. 

Growing the Wildcat family


ark and Nancy Waldron, of Huntsville, Texas, have deep family connections to the university; Hart Auditorium in the Onstead-Packer Biblical Studies Building is named in honor of Mark’s grandparents, Horace Eugene and Charlotte Hart. Their appreciation for ACU grew deeper, however, once their daughter, Lisa (Waldron ’04) Mahaffey, chose to attend. As Wildcat parents, the Waldrons witnessed firsthand that ACU is a truly special place. “ACU offered our daughter something different than every other university,” Mark said. “Not only did she receive individualized attention and an amazing education from the faculty, she also was blessed with lasting, Christian friendships that remain to this day.” Watching their daughter’s life be enriched here inspired the Waldrons to give back financially to ACU.

They used the opportunity of selling a family business to make a lasting impact toward making college more affordable for students. Working with The ACU Foundation to establish a trust, the Waldrons created a gift that would benefit the university while providing them with an immediate tax savings and additional annual income. “It is truly a gift that continues to give back,” Nancy said. “Even though Lisa graduated several years ago, we are proud to still be connected to this wonderful school.” The ACU Foundation is available to work with your family to help achieve both your financial and philanthropic needs. From trusts and annuities that provide lifetime income back to the donor to working with families during a business or property transition to avoid unnecessary taxes, please contact The ACU Foundation today to see how we may be able to help your family.

Hunter Welcome Center ACU Box 29200 Abilene, Texas 79699-9200

800-979-1906 • 325-674-2508 • •

Nonprofit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Abilene Christian University

Abilene Christian University ACU Box 29132 Abilene, Texas 79699-9132 ADDRESS SERVICE REQUESTED

C OMING UP Wildcat Week .................................................................................. August 22-26 National SAT Test Dates ........ August 26, October 7, November 4, December 2 Opening Assembly .............................................................................. August 28 National ACT Test Dates ....................... September 9, October 28, December 9 Wildcat Preview Day .................... September 15, September 22, November 20 Grand Opening Weekend for Anthony Field at Wildcat Stadium Sports Hall of Fame Reception: Special Football Class Induction .September 15 Concert: NEEDTOBREATHE ....................................................... September 15 Football: ACU vs. Houston Baptist University .......................... September 16 111th Annual Summit ................................................................. September 17-20

Family Weekend and Freshman Follies .................................. September 22-23 Admitted Student Visit Day ..................... October 9, November 13, December 1 Homecoming 2017 ......................................................................... October 19-21 JMC Gutenberg Celebration .......................................................... October 19 Sports Hall of Fame Dinner and Lettermen’s Reunion ................ October 20 December Commencement ............................................................ December 15 2018 Admitted Student Visit Day ......................... January 26, March 2, April 13 2018 Sing Song ............................................................................. February 16-17 2018 President’s Circle Dinner .......................................................... February 17 2018 High School Scholars Day .............................................................. April 20 LYDIA LAWSON

‘Lower angel’ earns his wings Only after Jack Maxwell’s (’78) iconic Jacob’s Dream was dedicated at ACU in 2006 did longtime Bible, missions and ministry professor Wendell Broom (’45) learn that he was the inspiration for one of the four angels in Maxwell’s sculpture. The likeness of the “lower angel” ascending and descending a ladder to heaven was based on Broom, the missions patriarch who died Feb. 17, 2017, at age 93. See page 76.



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