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Abilene Christian University (ACU) is a private university located in Abilene, Texasmarker, affiliated with Churches of Christ. ACU was founded in 1906, as Childers Classical Institute. ACU has an annual enrollment of about 5,000 students from across the United Statesmarker and 60 nations.


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.

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 Bible Building and Bell Tower

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.

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.

Amberton Universitymarker, previously Amber University, was created as an extension campus of Abilene Christian University. It was launched in Mesquite, Texasmarker in 1971, moving to Garland, Texasmarker 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. 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.

An extensive history of the university and its involvement in the world has been consolidated into a single volume work by Dr. John C. Stevens, a former ACU president. The book is called No Ordinary University. As part of the university's Centennial celebration, a coffee-table book called The ACU Century was compiled. It contains images and stories from the university's first 100 years.


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).

Mission statement

"The mission of Abilene Christian University is to educate students for Christian service and leadership throughout the world."


  • Sing Song. Since 1957, 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 weight loss, 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.
  • 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 Statesmarker and, some years, other nearby countries.
  • Welcome Week. Modeled on a program at Baylor Universitymarker, 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 alumni to return for a parade, class-year and organizational reunions, and musical theater.
  • Chapel. ACU is one of the few Christian colleges that maintains daily required chapel for all 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.

ACU Connected Mobile learning initiative

On February 26, 2008, ACU announced that all incoming freshman classes would receive a free Applemarker 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. In February, 2009, ACU hosted more than 400 academics and technologists from 31 states and 8 countries for its first ConnectEd Summit 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, 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 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 for its ACU Connected initiative. On June 13, 2009, the New Media Consortium presented ACU with one of three Center of Excellence awards at its annual summer conference for ACU's efforts in mobile learning.


  • Abilene Christian has been in the Lone Star Conference (LSC) of Division II of the NCAA since 1973. 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. Overall, ACU is fourth in NCAA history in team national championships won with 53, trailing only UCLA, Stanford and USC.
  • The Wildcats were NAIA national football champions in 1973 and 1977.
  • 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. 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." 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."[793581]
  • The men's track program has won 15 outdoor national track championships: four when competing in the NAIA and eleven in NCAA Division II. In indoor competition, the program has won nine national championships: one in NAIA and eight in NCAA Division II.
  • 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 over kicked in any level of football competition and is an unbroken world record.
  • Olympic athletes from ACU include Bobby Joe 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 Barbadosmarker; and *James Browne, 1988 competitor for Antiguamarker.
  • 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. Clubs also participate in intramural sports and Sing Song.

Current social clubs include the men's groups Pi Kappa, Gamma Sigma Phi, Frater Sodalis, Galaxy, Sub T-16, and Trojans; and women's clubs Ko Jo Kai, Sigma Theta Chi, Alpha kai Omega (not to be confused with Alpha Kai Omega), Delta Theta, and GATA.


  • Allen Booker Barret (1906-08)
  • H. C. Darden (1908-09)
  • Robertson Lafayette Whiteside (1909-11)
  • James F. Cox (1911-12)
  • 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-present)

Notable alumni

Notable former students

Notable professors

File:ZonaLuceBuilding.JPG|Zona Luce Building - original 1929 school house, now home of the Department of Agricultural and Environmental SciencesFile:ACUPolice.JPG|ACU Police Headquarters on Campus CourtFile:SewellAuditorium.JPG|Sewell Auditorium - built in 1929, original home of daily chapelFile:UniversityCOC.JPG|University Church of Christ on EN 16th StFile:McDonaldHall.JPG|McDonald Hall for freshman womenFile:NelsonHall.JPG|Nelson Hall for freshman womenFile:GardnerHall.JPG|Gardner Hall for freshman womenFile:ACU_SikesHall.JPG|Sikes Hall for sophomore womenFile:WillPAC.JPG|Williams Performing Arts Center, built in 2003File:WillPAC2.JPG|Williams Performing Arts Center glass atriumFile:WillPACPond.JPG|A view of the WPAC and the Business Building from across the pondFile:MoodyColiseum.JPG|Moody Coliseum, home of daily chapel and Sing Song, as well as sporting events and concertsFile:BrownLibrary.JPG|Brown LibraryFile:TowerofLight.JPG|ACU Tower of Light and Bible Building Atrium


  1. Attendance Policy - Abilene Christian University
  2. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools: Abilene Christian University institutional profile
  3. Brian Bethel. "Local NPR station turns 20, looks to hi-tech future," Abilene Reporter-News, June 2, 2006. Retrieved 2008-10-19.
  4. "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 ... ."
  5. Archived recording of October 18, 2008, A Prairie Home Companion broadcast from ACU's Moody Coliseum
  6. "ACU Traditions, from A to Z," ACU Today, Fall 2000.
  7. Sing Song official site.
  8. "ACU first university in nation to provide iPhone or iPod Touch to all incoming freshmen," February 26, 2008.
  9. [1] ConnectEd Summit
  10. "2008 Campus Technology Innovators: Mobile Learning" August 2008,
  11. [2] Institutional Excellence in Information Communications Technology
  12. [3] Analyst Choice Award
  13. [4] NMC Center of Excellence award
  14. "Wildcats lead way as LSC honors all-time top performers," ACU Today, Summer 2007, p.32. Retrieved 2008-09-22.
  16. Times Record News - Wichita Falls, Kansas - February 13, 2009
  17. How Swede it was - Love and soccer led to longest field goal ever
  19. Antwone Fisher: About the Cast and Crew, Retrieved 2008-09-22.
  20. List of Gutenberg Award winners, Abilene Christian University. Retrieved 2008-09-22.
  21. Nelson Coates in Internet Movie Database
  22. 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.
  23. ACU press release. "Pulitzer Prize-winning alumnus David Leeson wins Murrow, Headliner awards," July 19, 2004. Retrieved Aug. 6, 2007.
  24. ACU Centennial: Billy Olson
  25. Ted Dunnam. "Coaching by Hood vaulted ACU over top," Abilene Reporter-News, June 25, 2000.
  26. All-Time U.S. Rankings — Men’s Pole Vault, ranked #1 in the world for 1982.
  27. 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).
  28. Al Pickett. "Abilene has produced more than its share of stars," Abilene Reporter-News, December 24, 1999.
  29. "Carry on, Jeev," The Telegraph (Calcutta, India), November 4, 2006. Retrieved 2008-09-22.
  30. Ross Registry

External links


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

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