Abilene Christian University

Abilene Christian University
Type Private
Established 1906
Religious affiliation
Churches of Christ
Endowment $380 million[1]
Chancellor Royce Money
President Phil Schubert
Provost Robert L. Rhodes
Academic staff
Students 4,427
Location Abilene, Texas, U.S.
Campus Urban, 208 acres (84 ha)
Colors Purple and White[2]
Athletics NCAA Division ISouthland
Nickname Wildcats
Mascot Willie the Wildcat
Affiliations CCCU
Website www.acu.edu

Abilene Christian University (ACU) is a private, non-profit university in Abilene, Texas, affiliated with Churches of Christ. ACU was founded in 1906, as Childers Classical Institute. Abilene Christian University's fall 2014 enrollment was 4,427 students of which 777 were graduate students.


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.[4] It initially included a lower school starting in the seventh grade.[5]

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 (280 ha) northeast of Abilene. In addition, residents donated 75 acres (30 ha) 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.[6]

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.[7]

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. In July 2015, the university signed a lease for an expansion campus located in Addison, Texas.[8] Called ACU Dallas, the new campus began offering several new graduate programs, including an MBA and Ed.D. in organizational leadership.[9]

The school established an NPR station, KACU, 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.[10] 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.[11][12]



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), the Social Work programs are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, the Education programs are accredited by Teacher Education Accreditation Council and the Marriage and Family Therapy programs are accredited by Commission on the Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education. The ACU School of Nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). ACU Graduate School of Theology is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). ACU is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU).


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.

Abilene Christian University Press

ACU is one of only seven faith-based institutions with a press.[19] 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.[20] 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.[21] In February, 2009, ACU hosted more than 400 academics and technologists from 31 states and 8 countries for its first ConnectEd Summit[22] 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,[23] 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[24] 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[25] for its ACU Connected initiative. On June 13, 2009, the New Media Consortium presented ACU with one of three Center of Excellence[26] awards at its annual summer conference for ACU's efforts in mobile learning.


Abilene Christian Athletics wordmark

Formerly a charter member of the Division I Southland Conference, Abilene Christian joined the Lone Star Conference (LSC) of Division II of the NCAA in 1973, but have since rejoined the Southland Conference as of 2013. In 2007, the conference included 33 ACU current and former student athletes in its 75-member all-sports team commemorating the conference's 75th anniversary.[27] Through 2009, ACU is fourth in NCAA history in team national championships won with 57, trailing Division I schools UCLA, Stanford, and USC, and tied with Division III school Kenyon College.[28]

In 2012 Abilene Christian had received NCAA permission to compete in Division I FCS and was under consideration for reattachment to the Southland Conference.[29] 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.

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.[33] Clubs also participate in intramural sports and Sing Song.

Current social clubs

There are a total of thirteen social clubs for both men and women.[34]

Men's social clubs

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

Women's social clubs

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


University rankings
Forbes[35] 513
U.S. News & World Report[36] 18 (West)
Master's University class
Washington Monthly[37] 255







  1. As of 2015."U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2014 Market Value of Endowment Assets and Change in Endowment Market Value from FY2014 to FY2015" (PDF). National Association of College and University Business Officers. 2016. Retrieved June 21, 2016.
  2. "Colors of Master Logo - Office of University Marketing". Acu.edu. Retrieved 2016-01-09.
  3. "NAICU – Member Directory". Naicu.edu. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
  4. Texas State Historical Commission. "Abilene Christian University, Texas State Historical Marker".
  5. The Childers Classical Institute: Catalog 1906–1907. Abilene, Texas: Taylor County News Press. 1906. p. 17. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
  6. "MWF Moody Chapel". Acu.edu. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
  7. Archived October 3, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  8. "Abilene Christian University campus to open in Addison". Acu.edu. 2015-07-21. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
  9. "New Abilene Christian University campus planned for DFW area | News – Home". Ktxs.com. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
  10. Brian Bethel. "Local NPR station turns 20, looks to hi-tech future," Archived July 16, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Abilene Reporter-News, June 2, 2006. Retrieved 2008-10-19.
  11. "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, AbilenePublicRadio and Abilene Christian University are hosting the event ... ."
  12. Archived recording of October 18, 2008, A Prairie Home Companion broadcast from ACU's Moody Coliseum
  13. "The Prickly Pear, Yearbook of Abilene Christian College, 1916" "The Prickly Pear, 1916", 1916
  14. No author. "Seniors' Sing Song to unite work, fun," The Optimist (Abilene, Texas), Vol. 73, No. 38, Ed. 1, February 7, 1986, page 1.
  15. 1 2 3 "ACU Today | The alumni magazine of Abilene Christian University". Acu.edu. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
  16. "Sing Song | Abilene Christian University". Acu.edu. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
  17. "Past Winners". acu.edu. Abilene Christian University. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  18. "Spring Break Campaigns » About". Blogs.acu.edu. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
  19. "ACU Press, Leafwood Navigating Book Publishing Tides". ACU Today. Retrieved 20 June 2013.
  20. Directory 2013. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. 2013. p. 21. ISBN 978-0945-103295.
  21. "ACU first university in nation to provide iPhone or iPod touch to all incoming freshmen". Acu.edu. 2008-02-25. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
  22. "ConnectEd Summit 2009". Acu.edu. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
  23. "2008 Campus Technology Innovators: Mobile Learning". Campus Technology. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
  24. "ACU's innovation celebrated by ACUTA". Acu.edu. 2009-03-04. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
  25. "Alcatel-Lucent Dynamic Enterprise awards honor organizations using communications to improve learning, share knowledge, save power and improve driver safety". Alcatel-lucent.com. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
  26. "NMC News | The New Media Consortium". Nmc.org. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
  27. 1 2 3 4 "Wildcats lead way as LSC honors all-time top performers," ACU Today, Summer 2007, p.32. Retrieved 2008-09-22.
  28. 1 2 3 Archived June 27, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  29. Briggs, J. (2012-01-18). "Market size to provide boost for UIW's Southland hopes". My San Antonio. Retrieved 2012-06-04.
  30. "ACU Today | The alumni magazine of Abilene Christian University" (PDF). Acu.edu. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
  31. "NCAA penalizes Abilene Christian – Times Record News, Wichita Falls, Texas". Timesrecordnews.com. 2009-02-13. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
  32. Curtis, Jake (2008-10-17). "How Swede it was". SFGate. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
  33. "Local Fraternities and Sororities". Acu.edu. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
  34. "Social Clubs, Student Organizations". Acu.edu. Retrieved 2016-01-09.
  35. "America's Top Colleges". Forbes. July 5, 2016.
  36. "Best Colleges 2017: Regional Universities Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. September 12, 2016.
  37. "2016 Rankings - National Universities - Masters". Washington Monthly. Retrieved September 6, 2016.
  38. "2012 Online College Rankings". Guide To Online Schools. Retrieved 26 December 2012.
  39. "Gov. Perry Appoints Boyd to the Supreme Court of Texas". Retrieved 2012-12-01.
  40. "Jeffrey Boyd Appointed to Texas Supreme Court". Archived from the original on 2012-12-28. Retrieved 2012-12-01.
  41. "Antwone Fisher : About The Cast". Cinema.com. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
  42. "More Gutenberg Recipients". Acu.edu. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
  43. Nelson Coates in Internet Movie Database
  44. Sara Morris. "Christian perspective and talent help ACU grad excel in Hollywood," Abilene Reporter-News, July 22, 2009, page Z-5.
  45. "Verna Elisha Howard (1911–2000)". therestorationmovement.com. Retrieved July 12, 2013.
  46. 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.
  47. ACU press release."Pulitzer Prize-winning alumnus David Leeson wins Murrow, Headliner awards," July 19, 2004. Retrieved Aug. 6, 2007.
  48. "Information about Abilene Christian University". Acu.edu. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
  49. Ted Dunnam. "Coaching by Hood vaulted ACU over top," Abilene Reporter-News, June 25, 2000.
  50. All-Time U.S. Rankings — Men’s Pole Vault, ranked #1 in the world for 1982.
  51. 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).
  52. Al Pickett. "Abilene has produced more than its share of stars," Abilene Reporter-News, December 24, 1999.
  53. "Carry on, Jeev," The Telegraph (Calcutta, India), November 4, 2006. Retrieved 2008-09-22.
  54. Archived August 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.


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Coordinates: 32°28′10″N 99°42′29″W / 32.46944°N 99.70806°W / 32.46944; -99.70806

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