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Abilene Christian University

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Abilene Christian University

Abilene Christian University
Abilene Christian University Logo (Trademark of Abilene Christian University)
Established 1906
Type Private
Religious affiliation Churches of Christ
Endowment $300 million[1]
Chancellor Dr. Royce Money
President Dr. Phil Schubert
Provost Dr. Robert Rhodes
Academic staff 200
Students 4,427
Location Abilene, Texas, USA
Campus Urban, 208 acres (842,000 m²)
Newspaper The Optimist
Colors Purple and White         
Athletics NCAA Division ISouthland
Nickname Wildcats
Mascot Willie the Wildcat
Affiliations CCCU
Abilene Christian University Logo

Abilene Christian University (ACU) is a private university located in Abilene, in the U.S. state of Texas, affiliated with Churches of Christ. ACU was founded in 1906, as Childers Classical Institute. Abilene Christian University's fall 2014 enrollment is 4,427 students of which 777 are graduate students. The number of students enrolled breaks down to 1,112 freshmen, 806 sophomores, 762 juniors, 892 seniors, 78 “non-traditional” and 777 graduate students.

The retention rate, the percentage of last year’s freshmen returning to campus, went down to 75.1 percent from 79.4 percent, a 4.3 percent decrease. Six years ago, the university set a retention rate goal of 80 percent, but the average since has been 75.2 percent.

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Abilene Christian University grew from an idea held by A. B. Barret and Charles Roberson to form a school in West Texas. The Churches of Christ in Abilene agreed to back the project. J. W. Childers sold Barret land and a large house west of the town and lowered the price with the stipulation that the school would be named in his honor. Childers Classical Institute opened in the fall of 1906, with 25 students.[3] It initially included a lower school starting in the seventh grade.[4]

When Jesse P. Sewell became president of the institute in 1912, the school began using "Abilene Christian College" on all its printed material. In 1920, the school paid the Childers family $4,000 and formally changed the name.

The Optimist, the university's student-produced newspaper, was founded in 1912. The Prickly Pear, the school yearbook, was founded in 1916. The JMC Network, a converged student media operation, was created in 2008 to produce all student-led news media. The campus literary-arts magazine (now The Shinnery Review, formerly The Pickwicker) has been in production since 1933.

In 1927, with the help of a $75,000 contribution from the city of Abilene, the board of trustees purchased 680 acres (2.8 km²) northeast of Abilene. In addition, residents donated 75 acres (304,000 m²) of adjoining land. The new campus opened in the fall of 1929.

ACU's Onstead-Packer Bible Studies Building, Chapel on the Hill and Tower of Light seen from Faubus Fountain Lake

From the time of its founding to the present, the university has been governed by a board of trustees made up of members of the Churches of Christ. Abilene Christian University has historically been the largest organization in the United States that has time set aside each class day for chapel. Chapel attendance is required, absent an approved exemption, and those students failing to meet the requirement over a period of more than one semester may be subject to suspension.[5]

Abilene Christian College first received school accreditation in 1971 when it became an accredited member of the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.[6]

Amberton University, previously Amber University, was created as an extension campus of Abilene Christian University. It was launched in Mesquite, Texas in 1971, moving to Garland, Texas in 1974. It became a separate institution as Amber University in 1982, and was rechristened Amberton University in 2001. Like Abilene Christian University, Amberton remains affiliated with the Churches of Christ.

On February 22, 1976 the name was changed to Abilene Christian University. The university celebrated its centennial in the 2005-06 school year.

The school established an NPR station, KACU-FM, in 1986. Initially, the community was concerned that the school might use the station for proselytizing, and for the station's first 10 years, an advisory board composed of community members served to monitor the station against this possibility.[7] On October 18, 2008, the school hosted a live broadcast of NPR's long-running "A Prairie Home Companion" radio show from the campus' Moody Coliseum.[8][9]


  • Allen Booker Barret (1906–08)
  • H. C. Darden (1908–1909)
  • Robertson Lafayette Whiteside (1909–1911)
  • James F. Cox (1911–1912)
  • Jesse Parker Sewell (1912–1924)
  • Batsell Baxter (1924–1932)
  • James F. Cox (1932–1940)
  • Don H. Morris (1940–1969)
  • John C. Stevens (1969–1981)
  • William J. Teague (1981–1991)
  • Royce Money (1991 – May 31, 2010)
  • Phil Schubert (June 1, 2010–Present )


ACU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. ACU's business programs are professionally accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International). ACU is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU). ACU Graduate School of Theology is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS).


  • The Prickly Pear. Beginning in 1916, this was the title for Abilene Christian University's (formerly Abilene Christian College) yearbook. The Prickly Pear ceased publication in 2009.[10]
Jacob's Dream statue and display on the ACU campus. The artwork is based on Genesis 28:10-22 and graphically represents the scenes alluded to in the hymn "Nearer, My God, to Thee" and the spiritual "We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder" as well as other musical works.
  • Sing Song. Since 1956, this annual competition in mid-February has featured student groups of 30-100 people, singing themed a cappella medleys, usually satirical. Originating as a fundraiser for the school, the modern event has developed into a major show for which each group assembles costumes related to their act's theme, such as Peter Pan, the British Royal Guard, Coca Cola, Adam and Eve, or forest fires. Often the costumes involve a mid-performance quick-change to a second costume — such as the 1987 acts in which grapes turned into raisins or bananas peeled to reveal Carmen Miranda — or elaborate choreography within the risers, as when the 1983 freshman class act recreated a Pac-Man screen and manipulated their costumes so that the character appeared to move around the screen.[11][12][13]
  • Summit. Referred to as Lectureship until the 2008 school year. Begun in 1918, this annual program gathers thousands of attendees for lectures and workshops on religious topics connected with a biblical theme that changes each year. After many years of following directly after Sing Song, the lectureship moved in 2006 to a September event, in part to spread out the events that bring the most visitors to campus and also to take advantage of the more stable autumn climate, as winter storms and rain had hindered attendance on multiple occasions.
  • Spring Break Campaigns. Hundreds of students participate each year in missionary or community-service programs of 7–10 days in various parts of the United States and, some years, other nearby countries, a tradition that began with alumni Max Lucado in 1976.[12][14]
  • Welcome Week. This event for the integration of incoming first-year and transfer students provides small-group study programs, social activities, and information fairs in the week preceding the beginning of the fall semester.
  • Homecoming. Like most residential U.S. universities, the campus hosts a celebration each fall for musical theater.[12]
  • Chapel. ACU is one of the few Christian colleges that maintains daily required chapel for all undergraduate full-time students. Chapel is a 30-minute praise and worship time, usually with a featured speaker. The whole campus stops classes and activities for chapel.

Abilene Christian University Press

ACU is one of only seven faith-based institutions with a press.[15] ACU Press, founded in 1983 to print books about Churches of Christ theology, is now a member of the Association of American University Presses, printing books about Christian Higher Education, West Texas History and Christian Living as well as theology.[16] Along with its trade imprint, Leafwood Publishers, the press publishes an average of 36 titles per year. Among its notable authors are Rubel Shelly, Rick Ostrander, Darryl Tippens, Edward Fudge, Larry M. James and Walt McDonald.

ACU ConnectEd: Mobile Learning Initiative

On February 26, 2008, ACU announced that all incoming freshman classes would receive a free Apple iPhone or an iPod Touch. This decision was the result of a study to find out the viability of iPhone and iPod for academic purposes. ACU was reported as the first university in the nation to embrace this opportunity to further education through the use of the new generation of smartphone technologies.[17] In February, 2009, ACU hosted more than 400 academics and technologists from 31 states and 8 countries for its first ConnectEd Summit[18] on mobile learning. Attendees representing more than 90 schools participated in workshops designed to foster mobile learning programs on their own campuses.

In August 2008,[19]Campus Technology magazine named ACU "Innovator of the Year" in the mobile learning category for this "ACU Connected" initiative. On February 27, 2009, ACU received the award for Institutional Excellence in Information Communications Technology[20] from ACUTA and on March 4, 2009, Alcatel-Lucent named ACU a Dynamic Enterprise Award winner and awarded ACU with its first Analyst Choice Award[21] for its ACU Connected initiative. On June 13, 2009, the New Media Consortium presented ACU with one of three Center of Excellence[22] awards at its annual summer conference for ACU's efforts in mobile learning.


Abilene Christian Wildcats athletics logo

Formerly a charter member of the Division I [24]

In 2012 Abilene Christian had received NCAA permission to compete in Division I FCS and was under consideration for reattachment to the Southland Conference.[25] On August 25 Abilene Christian's Board of Trustees accepted Southland's invitation to rejoin the Conference effective with the start of the 2013 academic year.

  • The men's track and field program has won 32 NCAA National Track and Field Championships: 19 NCAA outdoor and 13 indoor.[24]
  • The women's track and field program has won 22 national championships: 12 indoor and 10 outdoor.[24]
  • The Wildcats were NAIA national football champions in 1973 and 1977.[26]
  • Before the NCAA invalidated its 2007 season, nine ACU football players were included in the LSC's 75th-anniversary list of top players in conference history.[23] The school's 2007 victories were vacated by the NCAA in 2009. The NCAA charged "two assistant football coaches helped a pair of players find an English correspondence class to take, enroll in the same course, allowed them to use the coaches’ school computers for writing papers and paid to mail the assignments."[27] The school had scored more than 40 points in 11 of its 13 games and more than 50 points in 7 games and 70 or more points in two games including a 73-76 three overtime loss to Chadron State in the second round of the NCAA playoffs.
  • In 2008, the Wildcats "set a record for points in an NCAA (football) playoff game, beating West Texas A&M 93-68 in the second round of the Division II playoffs."[2]
  • Ove Johansson kicked the longest field goal in college football history (69 yards) in 1976, 6 yards longer than the current NFL record. As of 2009 it remains the longest field goal ever kicked in any level of football competition and is an unbroken world record.[28]
  • Olympic athletes from ACU include Bobby Morrow, three-time 1956 gold medal winner; Earl Young, 1960 Olympic gold medalist in the 4x400 relay; Billy Olson, who made the 1980 and 1988 U.S. teams but did not compete in 1980 due to President Carter's decision to boycott the Games; Yolande Straughn, who competed in 1988 for Barbados; and *James Browne, 1988 competitor for Antigua.[23]
  • ESPN and NFL Network analyst and author Sean Adams is a former NCAA All-American athlete for ACU.

Social clubs

The school has a number of student organizations called "social clubs" that are equivalent to a fraternity or sorority on other college campuses; chapters of national Hellenic societies, however, are not permitted. The main goal of these social clubs is to help in service to the surrounding communities and the school itself.[29] Clubs also participate in intramural sports and Sing Song.

Current Social Clubs

Men's Social Clubs

  • Gamma Sigma Phi
  • Galaxy
  • Sub T-16
  • Trojans
  • Frater Sodalis
  • Pi Kappa

Women's Social Clubs

  • Sigma Theta Chi
  • Alpha Kai Omega
  • Ko Jo Kai
  • GATA
  • Zeta Rho


  • Ranked 5th on Guide to Online School's "2012 Online College Rankings".[30]




  • Everett Ferguson, Patristics scholar and noted author
  • Douglas A. Foster, Professor of Church History, editor of the Stone-Campbell Encyclopedia
  • Gary D. McCaleb, vice-president of ACU, professor of management, and founder of Center for Building Community; former mayor of Abilene
  • Michael A. O'Donnell, (former) Professor of Family Studies and Founding Executive Director of the Southwest Center for Fathering



  • When James Cox's wife became ill, his brother, Alonzo B. Cox, filled in for him to finish the term.


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2009. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2009 Endowment Market Value and Percentage Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2008 to FY 2009" (PDF). 2009 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments. National Association of College and University Business Officers. Archived from the original on 1 April 2010. Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  2. ^ NAICU — Member Directory
  3. ^ Texas State Historical Commission. "Abilene Christian University, Texas State Historical Marker". 
  4. ^ The Childers Classical Institute: Catalog 1906-1907. Abilene, Texas: Taylor County News Press. 1906. p. 17. Retrieved 27 September 2014. 
  5. ^ Attendance Policy - Abilene Christian University
  6. ^ Southern Association of Colleges and Schools: Abilene Christian University institutional profile
  7. ^ Brian Bethel. "Local NPR station turns 20, looks to hi-tech future," Abilene Reporter-News, June 2, 2006. Retrieved 2008-10-19.
  8. ^ "Austin360 bets" (upcoming events column), Austin American-Statesman, September 3, 2008: "Garrison Keillor and 'A Prairie Home Companion' are coming to Abilene in October for a live performance. Tickets are now on sale and expected to sell quickly. Public radio station 89.7 KACU -FM, AbilenePublicRadio and Abilene Christian University are hosting the event ... ."
  9. ^ broadcast from ACU's Moody ColiseumA Prairie Home CompanionArchived recording of October 18, 2008,
  10. ^ "The Prickly Pear, Yearbook of Abilene Christian College, 1916" "The Prickly Pear, 1916", 1916
  11. ^ No author. "Seniors' Sing Song to unite work, fun," The Optimist (Abilene, Texas), Vol. 73, No. 38, Ed. 1, February 7, 1986, page 1.
  12. ^ a b c "ACU Traditions, from A to Z," ACU Today, Fall 2000.
  13. ^ Sing Song official site.
  14. ^ Reyes, Mireya, "SBC History", ACU Blog. Retrieved July 12, 2013.
  15. ^ "ACU Press, Leafwood Navigating Book Publishing Tides". ACU Today. Retrieved 20 June 2013. 
  16. ^ Directory 2013. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. 2013. p. 21.  
  17. ^ "ACU first university in nation to provide iPhone or iPod Touch to all incoming freshmen," February 26, 2008.
  18. ^ [4] ConnectEd Summit
  19. ^ "2008 Campus Technology Innovators: Mobile Learning" August 2008,
  20. ^ [5] Institutional Excellence in Information Communications Technology
  21. ^ [6] Analyst Choice Award
  22. ^ [7] NMC Center of Excellence award
  23. ^ a b c d "Wildcats lead way as LSC honors all-time top performers," ACU Today, Summer 2007, p.32. Retrieved 2008-09-22.
  24. ^ a b c [8]
  25. ^ Briggs, J. (2012-01-18). "Market size to provide boost for UIW's Southland hopes". My San Antonio. Retrieved 2012-06-04. 
  26. ^
  27. ^ Times Record News - Wichita Falls, Kansas - February 13, 2009
  28. ^ How Swede it was - Love and soccer led to longest field goal ever
  29. ^
  30. ^ "2012 Online College Rankings". Guide To Online Schools. Retrieved 26 December 2012. 
  31. ^ : About the Cast and CrewAntwone Fisher, Retrieved 2008-09-22.
  32. ^ List of Gutenberg Award winners, Abilene Christian University. Retrieved 2008-09-22.
  33. ^ Nelson Coates in Internet Movie Database
  34. ^ Sara Morris. "Christian perspective and talent help ACU grad excel in Hollywood," Abilene Reporter-News, July 22, 2009, page Z-5.
  35. ^ "Verna Elisha Howard (1911-2000)". Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  36. ^ Jay DeFoore. "Leeson, Diaz Meyer Of DMN And LAT's Cole Win Photo Pulitzers," Photo District News Online, April 5, 2004. Retrieved Aug. 6, 2007.
  37. ^ ACU press release."Pulitzer Prize-winning alumnus David Leeson wins Murrow, Headliner awards," July 19, 2004. Retrieved Aug. 6, 2007.
  38. ^ ACU Centennial: Billy Olson
  39. ^ Ted Dunnam. "Coaching by Hood vaulted ACU over top," Abilene Reporter-News, June 25, 2000.
  40. ^ All-Time U.S. Rankings — Men’s Pole Vault, ranked #1 in the world for 1982.
  41. ^ Frank Litsky. "Billy Olson is inching ahead on way to a 19-foot vault," The New York Times, February 22, 1982, page C6, column 1 (late city final edition).
  42. ^ Al Pickett. "Abilene has produced more than its share of stars," Abilene Reporter-News, December 24, 1999.
  43. ^ "Carry on, Jeev," The Telegraph (Calcutta, India), November 4, 2006. Retrieved 2008-09-22.
  44. ^ Ross Registry
  45. ^ "Gov. Perry Appoints Boyd to the Supreme Court of Texas". Retrieved 2012-12-01. 
  46. ^ "Jeffrey Boyd Appointed to Texas Supreme Court". Retrieved 2012-12-01. 


External links

  • Official website
  • Official athletics website

Abilene Christian University


This category has the following 2 subcategories, out of 2 total.

Pages in category "Abilene Christian University"

The following 8 pages are in this category, out of 8 total.

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