ACU Remembers: Erma Jean Loveland

Erma Jean Loveland headshot 200x250 96Longtime Abilene Christian University library archivist Erma Jean (Alkire ’58) Loveland, 79, died June 22, 2016, in Abilene.

She was born Oct. 2, 1936, in Greene County, Ind., and graduated from Kimberly (Idaho) High School in 1954. She earned a B.S. degree in education with special emphasis on business from ACU, a M.S. in education from College of Idaho in 1966 and a M.L.S. degree from the University of North Texas in 1989. She married Charles Ray Loveland (’60) on May 31, 1959, in Twin Falls, Idaho.

Loveland was a teacher at Buhl (Idaho) High School (1958-59); Trent (Texas) High School (1959-60); Western Christian College in North Weyburn, Saskatchewan, Canada (1960-61); Burley (Idaho) High School (1966-69); Noodle Horn (Texas) High School (1969-73); Draughan’s Business College (1973-74); and Jim Ned (Texas) High School (1974-80). She was a special collections librarian in ACU’s Brown Library, and archivist for the Center for Restoration Studies, from 1984 until her retirement in 2003.

She was a member of Hillcrest Church of Christ for 47 years, the Daughters of the American Revolution (John Davis Chapter), Texas Library Association, Christian College Librarians, and ACU’s Centennial Photography Archivists Team. She assisted with the Restoration Serials Index and the Stone Campbell List.

Loveland was preceded in death by her parents, Orval Lyman Alkire and Elsie Lenore (Stevens) Alkire.

Among survivors are Charles, her husband of 57 years; a son, Brad Loveland (’84); a daughter, LeAnn (Loveland ’87) Littlefield; five grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and a sister, Norma (Alkire ’61) Harrell.

Alum finds kidney donor with heart for helping

Abel Alvarez 3 600x400 96Abel Alvarez (’82), the Abilene Christian University trustee profiled in this earlier blog post, is scheduled for a life-saving kidney transplant Friday, July 1, in San Antonio.

His successful search for a donor was boosted when the parent of an ACU student read our March 2 post about Alvarez’ need for someone with two healthy kidneys and rare O negative blood type. He responded within hours to the McAllen, Texas, minister.

In all, seven people came forward to volunteer shortly after the ACU Today post. A battery of medical tests of several prospects during the following weeks led Alvarez and his doctors to choose a 48-year-old North Texas man whose son was a freshman at ACU in 2015-16. He is not a graduate of Abilene Christian but was touched by watching a Moody Coliseum Chapel presentation on the internet and reading about Alvarez’ need.

A web page allows friends to help with the $75,000 tab not covered by Alvarez’ health insurance.

Watch this blog for news of the two men’s transplant surgery and the inspiring story behind their providential pairing.

Astros walk-off a win on ACU night in Houston

Don Bryan Jr. (’90) and his father, Don /Carlos Bryan (’59) attended last night's game with other alumni and fans of ACU and the Astros.

Don Bryan Jr. (’90) and his father, Don Carlos Bryan (’59) attended last night’s game with other alumni and fans of ACU and the Astros.

About 150 alumni and other fans of Abilene Christian University were on hand to cheer Tuesday night at Houston’s Minute Maid Park as the hometown Astros beat the Los Angeles Angels 3-2, thanks to a walk-off home run by shortstop Carlos Correa.

ACU crowds must be lucky charms for home teams; a June 7 game saw the Texas Rangers beat the Astros with about 700 Wildcats watching at Globe Life Park in Arlington.

This night, however, belonged to Houston. ACU friends and family from the area sported purple and white along with navy and orange. Willie the Wildcat also was on hand.

Check out more images from last night on the ACU in Houston Facebook page and find other Abilene Christian events in your area at

CWS field looks mighty familiar to Wildcats

A look at the 2016 field for the upcoming men’s NCAA Division I College World Series leaves Wildcat baseball fans with one conclusion: it looks a lot like Abilene Christian University’s schedule this season.

Half of the eight-team field to begin play later this week in Omaha, Neb. – Oklahoma State University (41-20), TCU (47-16), Texas Tech University (47-18) and the University of Arizona (44-21) – were ACU opponents this spring.

Another four in the 64-team regionals field – Texas A&M University (48-15), Dallas Baptist University (41-18), Southeastern Louisiana University (39-20) and Sam Houston State University (41-21) – also were 2016 ACU opponents. SELU and SHSU are members with Abilene Christian of the Southland Conference.

The bottom line: Division I baseball in the Southwest will always be a Land of the Giants.

“Playing schools like these has made us better and will help us get better in the future,” said head coach Britt Bonneau, whose ACU teams have won more than 700 games in 20 seasons, including a March 29 upset of Dallas Baptist. “With one more year to go on our Division I transition and no opportunity for postseason play until then, we are committed to facing the top Division I teams whenever we can.”

The Wildcats (16-27 in 2016) had narrow losses this spring to TCU, Texas Tech and Sam Houston State.

ACU opens the 2017 season by hosting a four-game series with Big Ten Conference power Michigan State University, and the Wildcats will make road trips to Kansas State University of the Big 12 Conference and Oregon State University of the Pac 12 Conference.

Other non-conference games again are scheduled with TCU, Texas Tech, Texas A&M and Dallas Baptist. All but the Aggies will be in Abilene to play ACU at Crutcher Scott Field during the season.

“Our teams and young players grow when they face the best competition,” Bonneau said.  “We have to schedule at a high level. It will make us better in the long run and also really helps us with recruiting.”

Texas rally tops perfect night for baseball, ACU

The Texas Rangers ensured Abilene Christian University’s 700 fans would go home happy tonight when Ian Desmond’s two-run homer in the eighth inning helped beat the rival Houston Astros 4-3 and cap another successful Wildcat alumni event in Arlington.

Women’s head basketball coach Julie Goodenough – recently announced winner of the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches’ NCAA Division I Women’s College Coach of the Year – took the mound to throw the ceremonial first pitch at Globe Life Park. Her ACU team won the Southland Conference regular season championship for 2015-16 and played in the Postseason Women’s National Invitational Tournament.

Previous Wildcats to share that honor in recent years are Dr. Phil Schubert (’91), Olympic gold medalist Earl Young (’62), former ACU star and MLB pitcher Bill Gilbreth (’69) and director of athletics Lee De Leon.

Fans gobbled up all of the university’s ticket allotment, donning ACU purple and Rangers’ blue and red to watch the game from the upper deck All You Can Eat Porch in right field.

The next ACU baseball gathering is scheduled for June 21 at Houston’s Minute Maid Park to watch the Astros host the Los Angeles Angels at 7:05 p.m. Tickets are $25 and include a $15 food credit.

Purchase tickets on the Alumni Association website.

ACU Remembers: Bonnie Bailey

Bonnie Mignon (Pitt) Bailey, 68, a former longtime administrative assistant at Abilene Christian University, died May 30, 2016, in Abilene.

A visitation with the family is scheduled for 5-7 p.m. on June 3 at Piersall Funeral Directors (733 Butternut St., Abilene, Texas 79602). A memorial service will be held 10 a.m. on June 4 in the Hillcrest Church of Christ (650 E. Ambler Ave., Abilene, Texas 79601), followed by a graveside service at Elmwood Memorial Park.

Bailey was born Jan. 29, 1948, in Memphis, Tenn., where she graduated from Harding Academy in 1966. She attended Harding University from 1966-68 and Freed-Hardeman University in 1976. She met Dr. Fred Bailey while the two attended Harding, and married Aug. 22, 1968.

She and Fred began work at ACU in 1984, with Bonnie retiring in 2013 after a nearly 30-year career in the Provost’s Office, Information Services and the Department of Biology. The Baileys lived for a year in China in the mid 1990s while Fred, a professor of history, served a teaching fellowship at Nanjing University.

Bonnie was preceded in death by her parents, Andrew Martin Pitt and Janice May Pitt.

Among survivors are Fred, her husband of 47 years; a daughter, Amber (Bailey ’97) Perez; sons Alex Bailey (’03) and Stan Bailey (’02); a brother, Paul Pitt; six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

ACU Remembers: C.E. ‘Doc’ Cornutt

CE Doc Cornutt 2004 PCD 600x600 96Former Abilene Christian University trustee and board chair Clarence Edward “Doc” Cornutt (’71) died in Dallas on May 28, 2016, at age 67 following a long illness.

Visitation with the family is May 31 from 5-6:30 p.m. at Sparkman Hillcrest Funeral Home (7405 West Northwest Highway, Dallas, TX 75225). A memorial service will be held June 1 at 1 p.m. at Skillman Church of Christ (3014 Skillman St., Dallas, TX 75206), with a reception to follow.

Cornutt was born April 18, 1949, in Pampa, Texas. He graduated in 1967 from Pampa High School, where he was active in many organizations while excelling in football and track and field. He turned down a football scholarship to Oklahoma University to enroll at ACU, where he majored in accounting and marketing. He married Linda Core (’70) on March 13, 1971.

He became a CPA while working as a senior accountant at Arthur Anderson and Company, before serving as executive vice president of Woodbine Development Corporation and overseeing development of Hyatt Regency Dallas, Reunion Tower, Hyatt Regency Fort Worth and the renovation of historic Union Station. He was chair of Hunt Oil Company (1983-93) and Hunt Refining Company (1984-97), and president of Hunt Realty Corporation and Hunt Financial Corporation (1993-97). From 1997 until an illness forced his retirement, he served as chair and CEO of Argent Property Company, an organization he formed in partnership with an affiliate of Hunt Realty Corporation in Dallas to develop and invest in strategically located business/industrial parks, industrial properties, and industrial portfolio companies.

Cornutt was a trustee of Abilene Christian from 1989-2010, including three years as board chair (2007-10). He co-chaired the university’s $100 million “To Lead and To Serve” and its $150 million Centennial campaigns, received a Distinguished Alumni Citation in 2005, and chaired the College of Business Administration Advisory Board. Cornutt also was a trustee and board chair at Dallas Christian Schools. 

His civic involvement included United Way, Leadership Dallas, the Strategic Issues Committee of the Dallas Chamber of Commerce, the Dallas Economic Development Advisory Board, Goodwill Industries of Dallas (board chair), Dallas Summer Musicals (executive board) and the National Association of Office Parks (trustee). Cornutt also was a deacon, elder and teacher at Skillman Church of Christ, and active in youth scouting organizations.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Jim and Dona Cornutt. Among survivors are Linda, his wife of 45 years; daughters Sara (Cornutt ’99) Boucher and Shelly (Cornutt) Goguen; a son, Chris Cornutt (’01); five grandchildren; a sister, Molly (Cornutt ’71) Goodwin; and a brother, Dr. James Cornutt (’72).

Remembering the fallen: An ACU story

WWII service flag

This World War II service flag in Sewell Auditorium honored ACU students, alumni and faculty who served in the military. Gold stars represented those who lost their lives.

World War II remains the deadliest conflict in military history in terms of lives lost in combat. Few American lives were untouched in some way, and the Abilene Christian University community was no exception. The mood of the campus, and its demographics, shifted as male faculty members and students went off to war. Gold stars – representing students, faculty and alumni who lost their lives – began to appear among the blue ones on a service flag displayed in Sewell Auditorium.

Here’s a poignant story about one such student from Like Stars Shining Brightly, the 1953 history book by ACU’s seventh president Dr. Don H. Morris (’24) and Max Leach:

Among the many A.C.C. ex-students to lose their lives during this second world war was Paul Sherrod.

Paul was one of the many A.C.C. students who had their schooling interrupted to answer what they deeply felt to be the imperative call of duty. Because of the emergency of the moment, they were given a minimum of training, and almost before their friends and loved ones realized they were in the service, were in a combat zone.

Paul Sherrod from the 1942 Prickly Pear yearbook

Paul Sherrod from the 1942 Prickly Pear yearbook

And as each new report of the death of one of the “boys” came in, the faculty and students were shocked anew, and grieved again with the surviving loved ones.

Paul was killed on Leyte in December of 1944.

Among the personal effects taken from his body and returned to his family was a clipping from The Optimist that Paul had been carrying with him. It read as follows:


Since the past has gone, and the future is yet to be, this promise is to you, student of the present.

Believing first that the Christian life is the only life to be lived, I will do all that is in my power to help you to live as a Christian.

Believing that the greatest characters that have ever lived are the humble, the serving, the unselfish, I will do my best to inspire you and to educate or mold your life around these qualities. … 

… Believing that not riches, nor power, nor worldly glory, nor fame, nor pride of life constitute success nor contribute to the happy life, I will keep these things foreign to your knowledge and your way of living.

Believing that there is more to be learned than can be taken from books, I will not try to make of you a stuffy intellectual nor a learned snob, but will give you an education that is useful in the living of life among men, and towards spending eternity on the banks of the River of Life.

Believing that you are an individual, having your own hopes and fears, abilities and limitations, talents and defects, I will treat you as such – loving you, cherishing you. You will not be just a number nor a name in my roll book. Believing that your soul is precious in the sight of God, I will help you in every way I can to seek that which will aid your development as a Christian and cause you to be well pleasing to Him.

The article was written by Leach and originally appeared in a news bulletin issued by Abilene Christian while Leach was director of public relations. It was later reprinted in The Optimist. The copy Sherrod carried was returned with his personal effects, framed and displayed in Morris’ office, a memorial of the sacrifice made by so many. 

Seidman: Live from the blessing, not for it

Chris Seidman AM May 2016 600x600 96Chris Seidman (’92), senior minister of The Branch Church, a multi-site fellowship in Dallas, was the featured Commencement speaker May 4 in Moody Coliseum at ACU. One of the most involved students to ever study on the Hill, he co-founded the memorable Candlelight Devotional experienced by freshmen each August during Wildcat Week. He began his career in ministry soon after graduating in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science degree in broadcast journalism and marrying Tara McKnight (’92). He served as campus minister for the Southern Hills Church of Christ in Abilene (1992-93), singles and associate preaching minister for The Hills Church in North Richland Hills (1994-97) and preaching minister for Gateway Church of Christ in Pensacola, Fla. (1997-2000). He earned a master’s degree in biblical studies from ACU in 1995. Seidman also has authored three books – Little Buddy: What a Rookie Father Has Learned About God From the Birth of His Sons (Leafwood), Before Stones Become Bread (College Press) and Heaven on Earth: Realizing the Good Life Now (Abingdon).

On this Mother’s Day weekend I’m mindful that there are seasons in a mother’s life where it’s a struggle to feel a sense of value, worth or significance amidst the day-to-day grind of raising children. When Peggy Campolo, the wife of noted author and sociologist Tony Campolo, was at home with their young children, and would attend events with her husband – she began to dread the inevitable question – “And what is it that you do, my dear?”

That is – until she formulated her answer. She learned to respond, “I am socializing two Homo sapiens into the dominant values of the Judeo-Christian tradition in order that they might be instruments for the transformation of the social order into the kind of eschatological utopia that God willed from the beginning of creation.”

Then Peggy would ask the other person, “And what do you do?”

While asking somebody “what they do” can be a harmless icebreaker for a question, the fact is we live in a world that often assigns significance and worth to a person on the basis of what they do. And today, many of you are one step closer to being fully immersed in this world.

I’ve come to encourage you today to dig in and lean into another story and allow it to shape the story you’re writing.

Human Beings Not Human Doings

At the beginning of time when God created humanity, there’s something He did before He ever gave human beings something to do. Genesis 1:27 says that upon creating male and female, He blessed them and then He said be fruitful. That word “bless” can mean to “verbally bow the knee in adoration … to speak well of … to praise … to eulogize.”

In our world today we wait to speak well of people until after they die, when in fact we’re to speak well of a person while they’re alive. Because God does. But I digress.

What I want us to lean into is this – Before God ever gives human beings a command or instruction of any kind to carry out – He speaks well of them – He pronounces a blessing over them – He assigns us significance and value. And He does this before He tells us to be fruitful.

Your significance, value and worth have nothing to do with what you do but who you are as a person created in His image. We’re human beings not human doings. And every now and then our hearts testify of this to us.

A Memorial for a Miscarriage

There are moments when our hearts testify to us of the story which we were made to live in and live out of. Not too long ago, a family in our church experienced a miscarriage rather late in the pregnancy. The grief was profound. They asked me to officiate a memorial service for the life which ended within the mother’s womb. More than 300 people attended.

I was struck by how many were weeping during the service. It was comparable to services I had done for small children and young adults who had passed away. But this child had never been born. She have never accomplished anything. She died in the womb. Given the outpouring of grief, though, you would have thought this was a teen or a 20-something that had suddenly passed.

Our hearts were testifying to us. They knew better. Our significance, our worth, our sense of meaning isn’t tied to what we do but who we are. The tears of many testified to the significance, value and meaning of the baby apart from her achievements or accomplishments.

Leaning Into Your Intrinsic Value

I’m calling you today to lean into your intrinsic value as you enter into a world of “ascribed” value. There’s such a difference between living from the blessing of God and living for the blessing of others.

We live in a world that ascribes value, significance, worth, on the basis of what you do or what you have, or what you accomplish or how you look, as opposed to who you are. We’re only as secure as that to which we are tied.

If our sense of identity, meaning, value, worth is tied to what we do or have, or accomplish, or our appearance – then it’ll never be very secure. Because all of those things fluctuate and fade.

Some people’s sense of worth is tied up in proving their superiority but then they have an experience of inferiority and they’re rocked, angry, despairing and that’s when the real trouble starts and they begin to speak and act out of it.

Some people’s sense of worth is tied up in notoriety but then they have an experience of obscurity and they’re rocked, angry, despairing and that’s when the real trouble starts and they begin to speak and act out of it.

Some people’s sense of worth is tied up in being successful but then they have an experience of failure and they’re rocked, angry, despairing and that’s when the real trouble starts and they begin to speak and act out of it.

Knowing your intrinsic value will help you navigate this world of ascribed value. It’ll help you weather seasons of inferiority, obscurity, and failure without allowing those seasons to hijack your life. You’ll have them but the difference is they won’t have you.

There’s such a difference between living from the blessing of God and living for the blessing of others. It’s a blessing that’s declared at creation and it’s demonstrated at the cross.

As I John 3:16 says – “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us.” You’re worth creating and you’re worth dying for.

Learning to live from the blessing of God and not for the blessing of others will set you free.

It’s set you free to risk failure.

If our sense of value is tied to batting .1000, being perfect, or always being successful then chances are we won’t take many risks. But failure is an event, not a person. And often times failure is necessary when it comes to discerning what your calling is and even being innovative in your life.

It’ll set you free to receive counsel and correction.

When we realize that we’re valuable, we’re significant, we’re worth something apart from what we do, we’re then in a healthier place to receive feedback when it comes to what we do.

When our identity is our work we’re not in a good place to receive feedback. We tend to take any counsel, correction or constructive criticism as a personal attack.

Some people never grow their effectiveness in what they do because their insecurity interferes with being able to receive counsel, correction or constructive criticism.

It’ll set you free to lead.

I’ve heard of leadership as the art of disappointing people at a pace that they can stand. The conductor at some point has to turn his or her back to the crowd and lead. In some cases, it’s difficult to do what’s best for others if we’re consumed with being blessed by others.

It’ll set you free to be who we were made to be.

Most of us probably know Ted Giannoulas even if we’ve never heard his name. He has been the San Diego Chicken for 30 years. At age 50, being the San Diego Chicken has been his life and his whole identity. But it’s come at a price. Not too long ago, he confessed to having lost much of his life in that chicken suit. As he put it, ‘I’m realizing I have plenty of Chicken stories, but no Ted stories.’ ”

Living for the blessing of others can lead to life in a lot of chicken suits. Lean into living from the blessing of God – declared at creation – demonstrated at the cross.

And in the end may you have plenty of your own stories, for the good of the world around you and the glory of God above you.

Duo qualifies for FLW collegiate championship

Blake Harruff and Tanner Sanderson's top four fish from Fort Gibson Lake.

Blake Harruff and Tanner Sanderson’s top four fish from Fort Gibson Lake.

While he was a biology major at Abilene Christian University, Kelly Jordon (’94) cut his bass fishing teeth on Big Country lakes where water was muddy, winds were high and largemouths grew big. He’s made a living as one of the world’s top professional bass fishermen for the last 20 years, finishing in the top 10 35 times and winning five B.A.S.S. tournaments. Early last month he finished third at the Winyah Bay Elite Series, one pound behind the winner, the best finish in seven years for the 46-year-old who lives in Mineola, Texas, not far from famous Lake Fork.

Tanner Sanderson, a sophomore interdisciplinary major from El Paso and Blake Harruff, a graduate business major from Abilene, could be following in Jordon’s boat shoes.

The pair finished 10th last weekend at a FLW Southern Conference tournament, qualifying to fish in the 2017 national collegiate championship at a date and location to be announced later. The FLW held its 2016 championship at Lake Murray in Columbia, S.C.

Last Saturday they weighed a five-fish limit of 13.10 pounds (winning weight was 18.1 pounds) on Fort Gibson Lake near Tulsa, Okla., a hydroelectric-power reservoir that rose 18 inches the night before, thanks to some typically unpredictable April weather. Sanderson and Harruff arrived Friday to pre-fish and scout the lake but had to seek shelter from thunderstorms several times.

The rough weather, strong winds and rising water of springtime are enough to drive most weekend anglers mad, but the ACU duo kept its cool and found success.

“The night before, three inches of rain fell and caused the whole lake to rise overnight,” Sanderson said. “The fishing was very tough Saturday and we could not find the same numbers of fish we found during practice. We were able to catch our first three keepers in the first 2 1/2 hours throwing a topwater lure, a square-bill crankbait and some soft plastics. After those first couple hours we were unable to get any more bites on our spots. At about noon (weigh-in was at 3 p.m.) we decided to just go fish some new water and try to stumble on a new pattern.”

The pair nearly exhausted its fuel supply exploring the lake’s new water, deciding to return to a cove near the weigh-in site for the rest of the day. That’s where they landed a fourth keeper (6 pounds) and a 14-inch bass to fill out their five-fish limit.

Sanderson said he fishes 15-20 hours a week each semester with Harruff or one of the other 20 students in the four-year-old ACU Fishing Club, which practices on area reservoirs like O.H. Ivie, Leon and Coleman. And he’s found success, ranking sixth in Angler of the Year competition in the local Christian-themed Still Waters Bass Club prior to the FLW tournament.

Five regions of FLW College Fishing competition host three tournaments each and one open tournament each year. National tournament spots are up for grabs in each event. FLW tourneys pit schools in Northern, Central, Southeastern, Southern and Western conferences.

“You can either get a top 20 finish at the open tournament where anglers from all divisions can compete, or you have to get a top 10 finish in one of the three regional tournaments for your conference,” said Sanderson, who teamed with Harruff at a previous FLW regional tourney at Lake Somerville near College Station. The pair found eventual success on Fort Gibson, a lake neither of them had seen before.

The site of the FLW national tournament is kept a secret as long as possible in an attempt to maintain a level playing field for the more than 80 two-person teams who qualify.

“Once the lake is announced there will be a lot of rules and an off-limits period to try to make it a more difficult tournament,” said Sanderson, who expects it to require at least a 10-hour drive from Abilene.

Follow the team’s adventures on its Facebook site.