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The Inaugural Address of Dr. Phil Schubert (’91) the 11th President of Abilene Christian University


Dr. Phil Schubert

11th President of Abilene Christian University

Dr. Phil Schubert was inaugurated Aug. 23, 2010, as the 11th president of Abilene Christian University, his alma mater. Born Aug. 20, 1969, in Oklahoma City, he graduated from Westfield High School in Houston. Schubert received his B.B.A. in accounting from ACU, an M.B.A. from Duke University and an Ed.D. in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania. While an ACU undergraduate, he was a member of Alpha Chi Honor Society, served as president of Galaxy men’s social club, received the Young Achiever Award from the Abilene Optimist Club, was voted “Mr. ACU” by fellow students, and was named to Who’s Who Among American Colleges and Universities. A CPA, he worked in the audit division of accounting firm Arthur Andersen & Co. in Dallas following his graduation in 1991 and until he began his career at ACU. During Schubert’s 17 years on campus, he has served as development officer (1993-95), director of student financial services (1995-97), director of financial operations (1997-98), chief financial officer (1998-2000), and vice president for finance and administration (2000-02). From 2002-09, he served as executive vice president and was responsible for the development and coordination of university-wide strategic planning as well as the oversight of operational areas including ACU’s admissions and recruiting, marketing, university relations, finance, information services, facilities and human resources. He has led efforts to create ACU’s award-winning mobile-learning initiative that has put iPhones and iPod touches in the hands of its more than 3, 800 full-time undergraduates this fall. Abilene Christian is

recognized as a world leader in mobile learning, with a faculty research program measuring how these new technologies are transforming the academic disciplines at ACU and beyond. A spirit of collaborative innovation on campus makes the program a model for others in higher education. Schubert began work as president June 1, 2010, the day ACU’s 10th president, Dr. Royce Money, transitioned to the role of chancellor after leading the university for 19 years. Key themes early in Schubert’s presidency include:

• Achieving ACU’s 21st-Century Vision to become, by 2020, the premier university for the education of Christ-centered leaders. • Preserving an unwavering commitment to ACU being Christ-centered, honoring its heritage in Churches of Christ. • Building an unparalleled Christian faculty by retaining and attracting extraordinary teacher-mentors who are thought-leaders in their fields. • Attracting and retaining exceptional students, and embracing their diversity. • Making ACU mission-centered and market-smart, investing heavily in academic excellence and strengthening the university’s reputation.

Schubert serves on the Genesis Networks Solutions and Wylie Little League boards of directors. An active member of the Southern Hills Church of Christ, he enjoys golf, outdoor exercise and coaching youth sports. He has been married for 17 years to the former Jamie Rhoden, a 1994 ACU graduate with a B.S. degree in education. They have three children: Sydnie, Mason and Ella.


Dr. Phil Schubert 11th President of Abilene Christian University

Inaugural Address August 23, 2010

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istinguished guests, members of the Board of Trustees, friends, alumni,

faculty, staff, students: you honor ACU with your presence today at this historic event. To say that I am humbled to be standing before you in this capacity is such an understatement. What does it mean to outlive your life?

A man named Allen Booker Barret set out on a mission more than a century ago, and his determination to follow God’s call has had an impact on all of our lives in ways that we will never fully understand. On Dec. 23, 1905, A.B. Barret, our founder, boarded a train in Covington, Tenn., that was bound for Abilene, Texas. At the turn of the century, this dusty frontier town had a population just a little more than 6,000 and was not quite 25 years old. Barret brought with him a meager change of clothes and a bold vision to shape the lives of young men and women into the image of Jesus. He was determined to establish a Christian institution of higher education right here in West Texas. Barret was passionate about his vision; he spent the better part of the next nine months traveling by buggy The

from town to town, telling his story. He talked about students, and money. He met with ranchers, and farmers and merchants – anyone who would listen. He told them about the importance of educating students for lives of purpose and meaning. Then, without hesitation, he would ask them for their money. Barret received $3,347.20 from 193 inspired individuals in 43 towns surrounding Abilene – the gifts ranged from 50 cents to $250. From those meager beginnings, the doors to what we now know as ACU opened on Sept. 11, 1906, with eight committed faculty and 92 students eager to find out how God would change their lives. Over the last 104 years, God has shown his favor on ACU and on the important work that takes place here. Men and women of great faith, determination and hope, across multiple generations, have pledged their time, their talent and their treasure to further what my great friend and mentor, Dr. Royce Money, calls “kingdom business.” Today, ACU is the fourth largest private university in the state of Texas, enrolling nearly 5,000 students from 48 states and provinces and over 40 nations from across the world. More than 500 staff and 250 faculty have chosen this as their life’s work, and our alumni base is nearly 90,000 strong. The impact of ACU literally spans the globe. ACU’s purpose has never been merely to educate students for careers and professions. Instead, we educate them for a lifetime of service and leadership throughout the world, just as our mission statement reflects. Paths of intellectual discovery and spiritual growth intersect here of Dr. Phil Schubert

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in powerful ways. Our commitment is to create a unique environment where students are not only challenged to learn, but they’re challenged to live critically, globally and missionally. In the words of ACU president Dr. Don H. Morris nearly 40 years ago, “this is no ordinary college.” It wasn’t then, it isn’t now, and I can assure you – it will not be in the days ahead. We have no ordinary vision. Our students are taught by no ordinary faculty. We dream of no ordinary future, live with no ordinary hope, and serve no ordinary God. Students, I want to speak to you directly for a few minutes. For most of us, this is a day of new beginnings. Life is filled with them. A little over two weeks ago – for the very first time – I stood here on this stage. I shook the hand of every graduate as they headed out for a new beginning of their own. I wasn’t ready for how deeply that experience would move me – it was very different than the Commencements I had experienced over the past 17 years. This time, I was able to look into their eyes and see the emotion and the energy that they brought to this moment. I knew they were ready and I knew they were headed for great things. It was an awesome, humbling feeling. That experience caused me to see them, and you, in a new light. Never have the possibilities of your lives seemed so enormous, nor your passion to follow God’s call so real. I believe in each and every one of you and I am proud to serve you as your president. At ACU, we love the Pageantry of days like today … Opening Assembly and the Parade of Flags, the Big Purple Band and the Grand Chorus, the sights and sounds of yet another new school year. But, we live for days like Commencement, when as hard as it is to say “good bye” to you for just a little while, we know that our mission is complete, our Promise is delivered, and the next amazing adventure of your life is about to begin. There wasn’t time to do it, of course, but I so desperately wanted to ask each of those graduates as they crossed the stage, “What’s next?” “Where do you go from here?” “Where is God leading you?” And most

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importantly, “How are you going to make a difference in the world?” I love the truth behind a soon-to-be-released book from best-selling author and ACU alumnus Max Lucado. It’s entitled Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make a Difference. Max recently let me read an advance copy, and it impacted me deeply. It reminded me of people like Blake Mycoskie, the founder and CEO of TOMS Shoes – he’s definitely living the “Outlive Your Life” principle. Blake will be on our campus in just a few weeks to share how his passion fuels his profession, and how a simple pair of shoes is changing the lives of needy children all around the world. We used to buy shoes because of what they did for our feet. But TOMS’ kind of purposeful philanthropy does good things for our heart. I know; that’s why I’m wearing a pair of TOMS this morning. I think they’re pretty legit. And I’m going to be wearing an even cooler pair tomorrow, so be sure in chapel not to miss that! (There wasn’t much you could do with the whole robe getup.) But more importantly, I like that this new pair of shoes – through TOMS’ “One for One” program – means that a needy child on the other side of the world gets a new pair of shoes, too. And I like the message that bringing people like Blake to our campus should send to you: that at ACU, we’re serious about helping you hear and follow God’s call for your life, discovering how to lead and serve, and in so doing, make a real difference in the world. The “Outlive Your Life” principle gets right to the heart of our ACU Promise: We make a Promise that ACU will be 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. When we humble and allow ourselves to become God’s hands and feet in this world, we can move mountains, eliminate disease, feed the hungry, put shoes

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on feet and clothes on backs, educate and enlighten, build houses, fund nonprofits, make movies, write books, comfort mourners, and save souls. We can outlive our lives. We’ve been living that out here at ACU for 104 years. But we can do it better and more intentionally. Part of equipping you means that we must ensure that you receive a world-class education: one that will open doors throughout your life, allow you to move in and out of all kinds of circles of influence, earn a place among the leading experts and scholars in your field, and create the kind of opportunities in which you can truly make that real difference. From a seat in one of the world’s finest graduate schools to a seat in Congress …

from a Dallas urban ministry to a home church in Ghana … from an Abilene nonprofit on Fannin Street to a Fortune 500 company on Wall Street … and everywhere in between … we want to ensure that you’re ready. We will push you to be exceptional, to think innovatively, and dare to make a real difference. We’ll challenge you to set aside your fear and to press on! But we’ll love you and nurture you as God loves you, each and every step of the way. When you graduate, we’ll pray that you will know Christ and that you will commit your life to making him known. Whether God is calling you to become

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a professor or a pastor, a scientist or a social worker, an accountant or an athlete, the important truth to remember is this: He is calling you! I believe that He is calling you and me to be people determined to “rock the world with hope” and carry the life-saving gospel of Jesus to all those who so desperately need it. Your call to outlive your life may take you to a scientific laboratory. Every summer, our undergraduate students have unprecedented opportunities to work in the finest physics labs in the world, and alongside the nation’s top physicists. One of them is our very own Dr. Rusty Towell, a 1990 alumnus and professor of physics, who works with his students to build test detectors for the nuclear collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Long Island, NY. However, their influence doesn’t stop once they leave the lab, as Dr. Towell and his students are difference-makers for the small Patchogue Church of Christ, where they teach classes and lead worship, help with building and landscape maintenance, assist with youth activities, and energize the congregation with their faith in action. ACU alumnae Leah Jones-Knippel and Kara Ulmer heard the call to outlive their lives and they’ve answered by fighting human trafficking in places like Ghana and Thailand. Dr. Jack Scott, a 1954 ACU graduate, could be enjoying retirement at age 77, but instead he accepted an appointment by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to be chancellor of the California Community College System, which oversees 109 colleges serving 2.6 million students. Dr. Scott spoke to us in chapel not long ago, and he said, “That the very essence of Christianity is that you are called to serve … regardless of your chosen profession. The truth is, every occupation should be a ministry. Serve, serve and serve again.” I could go on and on about all the ACU students, faculty, staff and alumni who are choosing to make a real difference in the world. Yet I believe that God is calling each of us – not just our students – to dream even bigger, work even harder and reach even higher. I believe he’s calling ACU to deliver a world-class,

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Christ centered education that is second to none! Never has the world so desperately needed men and women of great intellect and exceptional training, but who also have a heart for Jesus. We must ensure that ACU remains a place to welcome the best and the brightest learners who desire more from their lives … who seek a cause bigger than themselves. To do so, we must be innovative and collaborative. We must be prepared to meet and surpass their expectations for an exceptional education, knowing that such commitment – such excellence – done in the name of Jesus, and empowered by the Spirit, is to truly answer God’s call for this university. What does a world-class education look like? It’s undergraduate students engaging in cutting edge research, and graduate students who are authoring articles in top-tier research journals. It’s faculty who refuse to teach from yellowed notes but bring to their students the most current and relevant information in their fields. A world-class education means students will not only hear brilliant and inspiring lectures but they will engage faculty and one another using the latest technologies, whether on this campus or on another continent. It’s students serving in schools, businesses, labs, clinics and churches while they’re still students, right alongside those who are doing the most amazing work in their fields: asking questions, listening, rolling up their sleeves, getting their hands dirty, thinking, teaching, analyzing and producing, learning away from campus in the very places where they will work when they graduate. It’s a university committed to excellence that is not just for the sake of excellence but for the glory of God. That and much more is what you should expect at ACU. When I walked across campus this morning, I couldn’t help but wonder what A.B. Barret would think if he were here today. I think he would be pleased. In fact, I think he would be overcome with emotion to consider the lives that have been changed and the

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good that has been done through Abilene Christian. That’s the real story, isn’t it? Being able to envision what people can do when they have ears to hear God, the faith to listen, a desire to learn, and an unquenchable passion to follow Him to the ends of the earth. Heaven knows no bounds to the good that can be done. I think once he composed himself, Mr. Barret would say, “Press on, there’s so much still to do.” I believe he’s right. ACU’s legacy is no longer in the hands of A.B. Barret. As much as I’m honored and humbled to serve as your 11th president, ACU’s legacy is not in my hands either. No, ACU’s legacy is in our hands! Together, we are forever learning what it means to outlive our lives. Just look at the 192 individuals from those 43 towns that provided those initial gifts that gave this institution its life. So it will take all of us to forge its future. I have no doubt that we will rise to the challenge and steward our legacy well. We have history and the Holy Spirit on our side. Our mission is compelling. Our Promise is bold. And our 21st-Century Vision is clear. There is simply no room for mediocrity. We must bring our best to the table each and every day. God deserves it. The future demands it. And the world is desperate for it! May God guide our efforts and may He continue to bless Abilene Christian University.

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The University Mission: The mission of Abilene Christian University is to educate students for Christian service and leadership throughout the world. Promise: 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. 21st-Century Vision: By 2020, ACU will become the premier university for the education of Christ-centered, global leaders. ACU at a Glance: ACU was founded in 1906 as Childers Classical Institute. While ACU is affiliated with the Churches of Christ, the university welcomes all students who value the strong Christian environment and exceptional academic programs offered on the campus. More than 4,700 students attend ACU from 50 states and territories, and more than 40 nations. They are served by more than 230 full-time faculty members who focus on high-quality teaching, scholarship and service. Ninety-seven percent of tenure-track faculty hold terminal degrees, and the student/faculty ratio is 16:1. ACU is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees, and is an active member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. The Choice of Education Experts: ACU is recognized in the “America’s Best Colleges” rankings of Forbes and U.S. News & World Report, in The Princeton Review’s “Best in the West,” as a “College of Distinction” by Student Horizons, in “America’s 100 Best College Buys” and “America’s Best Christian Colleges,” on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, and among the John Templeton Foundation’s Colleges That Encourage Character Development.

Academic Excellence: Students are served by faculty members who focus on exceptional teaching, scholarship and service. Undergraduates regularly participate in significant research projects alongside faculty, and ACU is a national leader in producing graduates who go on to complete their doctorates in education and a number of other fields. Students may choose from 67 baccalaureate majors that include more than 125 areas of study, 25 master’s degree programs and one doctoral program. The university includes the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Biblical Studies, Business Administration, Education and Human Services, the Graduate School, the Graduate School of Theology, the School of Information Technology and Computing, the School of Social Work, and a School of Nursing. A World Leader in Mobile Learning: The incorporation of cutting-edge technology into learning has positioned Abilene Christian as an award-winning leader in the integration of mobile-learning technology. As the first university to provide an iPhone or iPod touch to incoming freshmen, ACU continues to explore ways to enhance learning through technology. These mobile devices play an important role in the university’s innovative academic and social experiences. International Study: ACU’s Study Abroad programs take students for semester-long and short-term experiences in Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa. Nearly 25 percent of graduating seniors have studied abroad. Where Champions Are Made: During the past decade, ACU has consistently been ranked by the Learfield Director’s Cup competition as having one of the best overall NCAA Division II athletics programs. Only five universities have won more NCAA team national championships than ACU, including UCLA, Stanford and USC.


Our Promise 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.

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ACU Inaugural Address Booklet  

The Inaugural Address of Dr. Phil Schubert ('91) the 11th President of Abilene Christian University

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