Yankees MVP Richardson to speak April 29

Richardson 1New York Yankees legend Bobby Richardson, a national leader in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), will speak April 29 at a luncheon at Abilene Christian University.

The event is sponsored by ACU’s Center for Building Community, in partnership with the Big Country FCA and ACU Athletics. Tickets for the luncheon, which begins at 11:45 a.m. in the McCaleb Conference Center of the Hunter Welcome Center, are $30 each or $200 for a table of eight and can be bought by calling ACU Athletics at 325-674-2353 or the FCA at 325-795-0020.

Impact Player book coverRichardson will sign copies of his book, Impact Player: Leaving a Lasting Legacy On and Off the Field, following the luncheon.

An eight-time all-star and five-time Gold Glove winner from 1955-66, Richardson was a smooth-fielding second basesman who helped the Yankees to three world championships (1958, 1961 and 1962) in the eight World Series in which he played. He is the only player from a losing team to be named World Series MVP, winning the honor after hitting .367 with 12 home runs.

His banner season was 1962, when he led the American League in hits (209), won a Gold Glove, made the AL All-Star team and finished runner-up in AL MVP voting to teammate Mickey Mantle.

After retiring as a player, Richardson was head baseball coach at the University of South Carolina, leading the Gamecocks to a 221-92-1 overall record and a berth in the 1975 College World Series. He also coached at Liberty University and Coastal Carolina University.

A lay minister, Richardson was a spiritual confidant of Mantle who played a key role in the former teammate’s decision in 1995 to become a born-again Christian while the slugger was in the final stages of a battle with liver cancer. Later, Richardson officiated at Mantle’s funeral service.

Richardson’s visit during ACU’s first year of competition in NCAA Division I and the Southland Conference continues the involvement since 1990 of numerous former players and coaches from Major League Baseball in building the Wildcats’ intercollegiate program. Fundraising events in Arlington, Abilene and Sweetwater through the years regularly drew fan favorites such as Nolan Ryan, Bobby Murcer, Dave Dravecky, Claude Osteen, Jay Buhner, Allie Reynolds, Ferguson Jenkins, Rusty Greer, Mike Hargrove, Jerry Walker, Mitch Williams and others to dinners honoring Ryan and to celebrity quail hunts sponsored by the Justin Boot Company.

ACU student-athletes benefit from endowed scholarships named after Ryan and Murcer. Buhner’s son, Gunnar, is now a freshman infielder for the Wildcats. Ryan and Jenkins have been inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

What Si said: An unofficial Abilene travelogue

Uncle Si's WCAs Silas “Uncle Si” Robertson himself would say, 95 percent of the following is truthful and 5 percent has been added to spice things up. Or who knows? Maybe it’s the other way around. Regardless, here’s what the star of A&E’s hit TV show would be inclined to say about his trip to ACU for Sunday’s “Faith Calls: An Evening With Duck Dynasty” in Moody Coliseum:

“Look. Me and Alan and Lisa went to this Faith Calls deal in Abilene on Sunday. OK? Not Kansas. I’m talkin’ A-Town: Abilene, Texas, Jack. The Lone Star State. Home of J.R. and Dallas, OK? Oil wells and pump jacks, Jack. Bigger than life. Bigger than all get-out. Twenty-five gallon hats. Rattlers everywhere. Fifty-point bucks and 10-foot-tall bullet-proof armadillos, OK? Home of Big Tex, Little Tex, Short Tex, Skinny Tex, Tex-Mex. Hey, there’s Texxes all over Texas, OK? Even in Abilene, where they say women don’t treat you mean. There’s so much sweet tea in Texas that they actually store it in those water towers around town, which is not a commonly known fact, so I brought my own jug, ’cause hey, I’m sugar-free and according to the ladies, sweet enough for three of me, Jack. And they have longhorn steers out there too, OK? Well, I saw one out by the airport and I have to tell ya they look like they’re old enough to vote and kinda scrawny-lookin’ ’cause it probably rains about as often as an election and there’s not much grass to eat to speak of so the brisket is a little on the lean side and you need extra Bar-B-Que sauce to loosen things up, OK? First time I’ve set foot in Abilene. Look, that’s where Abilene Christian University is, OK? Good ol’ A – C – C. I mean, A – C – U. Big coliseum out there on the prairie, kinda looks like a hamburger bun without the meat. Lots and lots of friendly people. We did two shows on ACU’s basketball court, one for students and one for grownups, OK? And let me be frank: I was a little disappointed ’cause they hid the baskets. What’s up with that? Si always stays for the hoops, Jack. Do you know the Globetrotters once called me but it was duck season and I told ’em no. Hey, I’d be playin’ in the NBA and jumpin’ out of the gym if it weren’t for my trick knee. I’d be slammin’ and jammin’ and stuffin’ that ball in yo’ face, even in yo’ momma’s face. Whoosh. Yo’ daddy’s face. Shoop. Yo’ nephew’s face. Yo’ third-cousin’s, sister’s face. Yo’ poodle’s face. Yo’ Chihuahua’s face. Whoosh. It’d be a Si-Slamma-Jamma all night, every night and twice on Sundays. In fact, there’d be nobody eatin’ brisket in Texas because they’d be too busy pickin’ basketballs out of their faces, OK? Anyway, that second show of ours had lots of grownups and lots of kids who stayed up way past some of their bedtimes, OK? But look, that’s OK, ’cause it was good for ’em. Anyway, it was – what do college kids say these days? The bomb. Yep, the bomb, Jack. I’d say “the cat’s pajamas” but no one would know what that means, OK? Except maybe some old folks young enough to know that. And maybe ’cause they have wildcats on every corner in Abilene, they’d probably know a cat’s pajamas if they saw a pair, ’cause cats only wear one kind of pajamas: spotted. Except for the striped ones. Now, if you take a cat’s pajamas, or be so unlucky as to corner one without his pajamas, then it’s Katie bar the door, Jack. Like ’ol Si when he’s backed in a corner, he’ll hurt you bad. He’ll hurt you physically and he’ll hurt you meta-physically. Hey, did I ever tell you about the time I actually became known as the first person to domestiskate a wildcat? It was a 300-pound wildcat, big as a pig, a state record, OK? I have the scars to prove it and that’s a fact, Jack. If a lesser human bean tried to do that, Jack, he’d be down like a rodeo clown. But not Uncle Si. In a flash, it was on like Donkey Kong and that wildcat left there a changed man when I was through with him. And that’s as true a story as there is, like the time I ran so fast my sneakers caught on fire. So hey, we told our best stories to those folks at ACU and Alan showed some slides and Lisa talked about her new book and ’cause it was Sunday, we preached a little, OK? And hey, they told us to bring some of our stuff to sell, but you have to understand that stuff is a very broad term. So we sold some books, OK? Some T-shirts, some iced tea cups, a few keychains, some stink bait, some duck calls, a few crappie rods, drink coasters, random stuff like that, OK? They said the ticket sales benefitted two charities, OK? Abilene Christian Schools and Global Samaritan Resources, OK? And look, I even showed their president, that Doctor Sherbert fella, how to take a Robertson Power Nap. And hey, play hard, nap hard: that’s my motto. You could say I showed ol’ President Shoobie Doobie how to put the Si in siesta. And then he showed me how to make a “W-C” with one hand, minus the vowels, of course, and you have to use your right hand ’cause if you use your left hand it looks like a “C-W” and that could give the wrong massage to people, OK? President Sherbert says they wave that W-C thing a lot in A-Town. And hey, it does take some emmanuel dexterity, which I have plenty to spare, OK? Look, there’s no trick you can’t teach this old fog. You could say a good time was had by all, and that’s a fact, Jack. This is Si Robertson reporting, and I’m tail lights, long-gone, 10-4, over and shout.”

Most of the following video highlights and images of “Faith Calls: An Evening With Duck Dynasty” also are true.

Schubert-Robertsons Faith Calls

ACU president Dr. Phil Schubert (left) thanks Si, Alan and Lisa Robertson at the conclusion of “Faith Calls: An Evening with Duck Dynasty” in Moody Coliseum.

Lisa Robertson Faith Calls

Lisa Robertson, wife of Alan Robertson, talked about “The Women of Duck Commander,” the new book she and others in the family have written.

Alan is the eldest son of Phil and Kay Robertson and the former longtime minister of the Whites Ferry Road Church of Christ in West Monroe, La.

Alan is the eldest son of Phil and Kay Robertson and the former longtime minister of the Whites Ferry Road Church of Christ in West Monroe, La.

Metaxas expounds on grace, responsibility

Eric Metaxas in ChapelYou can count on one hand the best-selling authors who have spoken in daily Chapel at Abilene Christian University, and still have a few fingers left. Those writers who begin by leading the crowd in singing “Amazing Grace” is an even shorter list, and Eric Metaxas is likely at the top by himself.

The author of acclaimed biographies of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and William Wilburforce also displayed some pretty good pipes last Friday, April 11, in leading a soulful version of the timeless hymn that also serves as the title of his account of Wilberforce in Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slaverya companion to the 2006 film of the same name.

“You guys are pretty good,” he admitted afterward, complimenting the faculty, staff and students who followed his a cappella lead. “I really sense a spirit among you.”

Metaxas spoke later at a luncheon sponsored by the ACU Center for Building Community, using the opportunity to explain how he sees Americans’religious freedoms being threatened by new legislation and government-mandated programs such as the Affordable Care Act.

Metaxas signing books at luncheonBonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy is a hefty 608-page book about the German-born Lutheran theologian who stood and spoke up to criticize Adolf Hitler in his homeland, and lost his life as a result. It reached No. 1 on the The New York Times’ best-seller list in 2010.

“Because he took the Bible seriously, he changed the world,” Metaxas said of Bonhoeffer, who was executed in 1945, two weeks before allied forces liberated the Nazi concentration camp where he was imprisoned. “We need to know more about these Christian heroes.”

Metaxas used his Chapel presentation to tell his faith story, which included growing up as the son of immigrants and regularly attending the Greek Orthodox church but “never having the gospel communicated to me. We were just ‘religious’,” he said. By the time he graduated from Yale University and moved back in with his parents – an experience he didn’t recommend to students – Metaxas admitted to being adrift in his life and faith, unsure of what he believed. A co-worker at Union Carbide led him to Christ. A friend introduced him to Bonhoeffer’s classic book from 1937, The Cost of Discipleship, and he was hooked on New Testament Christianity.

“The world is not like this place,” he said in complimenting ACU, yet describing it to college-age students, whom he encouraged to make sure they go through the trials of their lives after graduation with Jesus alongside them. “Jesus is alive and overnight he changed my life.”

McCaleb to be honored for 50 years at ACU

Abilene Christian University, Gary and Sylvia McCaleb.He’s not retiring. And he’s not a relief pitcher throwing in the ninth inning of a 50-year career at his alma mater. But a baseball-themed luncheon April 21 will nonetheless celebrate Dr. Gary McCaleb (’64) for a remarkable milestone and his rare, ongoing tenure of service to Abilene Christian University.

Few people in ACU’s 108-year history have worked a longer span than McCaleb, whose career has included administrative leadership of nearly every aspect of Abilene Christian: alumni relations, fundraising and development, public relations, student life and athletics. The Anson native began shortly after graduation in 1964, taking leave only to work on M.B.A. and doctoral degrees at Texas A&M University. Today he is vice president of the university, executive director of the Center for Building Community, and professor of management.

The luncheon on Monday, April 21, begins at 11:45 a.m. and the celebration resumes at 3:15 p.m. at Crutcher Scott Field, where McCaleb will throw the ceremonial first pitch prior to a game between ACU and McMurry University. Tickets for the luncheon are $50 each or $500 for a table seating eight people and can be purchased online. Proceeds benefit the McCaleb Family Endowed Lynay Scholarship at ACU.

A former Wildcat baseball letterman, McCaleb led the effort in 1991 to bring the sport back to the Hill following a 11-year absence. He directed plans for fundraising dinners in Arlington and Abilene that feted Nolan Ryan at the apex of his career as a pitcher with the Texas Rangers; for Justin Celebrity Quail Hunts that brought professional athletes to West Texas for hunting, trap and skeet shooting, and silent auctions of sport memorabilia in the 1990s; and for other efforts that helped build Crutcher Scott Field, and raise operational and endowment funds at ACU. Wildcat players now benefit from scholarships named for Ryan and former New York Yankee great Bobby Murcer, among others.

Outside intercollegiate athletics, McCaleb is known for teaching and mentoring students in the nuances of leadership, and for directing the Lynay program that prepares students for service and leadership in their families, church, professions, and the larger communities in which they will live and work.

McCaleb had a prominent career in public service, including two terms on the Abilene City Council, three terms as mayor, and leadership roles in the Texas Municipal League, advisory boards of the National League of Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and as the U.S. representative to the World Executive Committee of the International Union of Local Authorities. He has served on the boards of the West Central Texas Municipal Water District, United Way of Abilene, Friends of the Abilene Public Library, Abilene Psychiatric Center, Day Nursery of Abilene, and in roles with many other civic organizations.

Lucado to be inducted into TIPA Hall of Fame

Abilene Christian University Max Lucado speakerMax Lucado (’77) will soon become the fourth Abilene Christian University graduate to be added to the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association (TIPA) Hall of Fame, joining an esteemed group of journalists and media pioneers with higher education roots in the Lone Star state.

Lucado, a former writer on The Optimist newspaper in the late 1970s at ACU, will be inducted at the organization’s 2014 conference April 10-12 in San Antonio. The minister of preaching at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, he is a best-selling Christian author of 30 books that have sold more than 82 million copies while inspiring readers to lives of faith. He was ACU’s Outstanding Alumnus of the Year for 2003.

TIPA is the nation’s oldest student press association and its Hall of Fame recognizes career achievement including the fields of journalism, journalism education and student media.

“Basic journalism training in writing has been such a great benefit – creating strong leads, being concise. As I look back, that was of great benefit to me. Other disciplines in theology and English encourage people to be more expansive,” Lucado said. “If I hadn’t been called to missions and ministry, I could have seen myself as a journalist.”

Lucado’s honor will be accepted on his behalf by Dr. Cheryl Mann Bacon (’76), professor and chair of JMC at ACU, as he will be traveling in the Holy Land.

Others with ACU backgrounds in the Hall of Fame are Dr. Charles Marler (’55), David Leeson (’78) and Jody Dean (’82). Marler is professor emeritus of journalism and mass communication who was a longtime department chair and advisor of The Optimist. Leeson won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news coverage of the invasion of Iraq for The Dallas Morning News. Dean is an award-winning radio host in Dallas.

Previous TIPA Hall of Fame inductees and their Texas alma maters include Walter Cronkite (Texas-Austin), Dan Rather (Sam Houston State), Bob Schieffer (TCU) and Scott Pelley (Texas Tech) of CBS News; Sam Donaldson (Texas-El Paso) of ABC News; Jim Lehrer (Victoria) and Bill Moyers (Texas-Austin) of PBS; and President Lyndon B. Johnson (Texas State) and his wife, Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson (Texas-Austin).

Lucado was the featured speaker at ACU's Centennial Graduation Celebration in 2006.

Lucado was the featured speaker at ACU’s Centennial Graduation Celebration in 2006.

Marrs named Pepperdine’s next provost

Rick MarrsFor the third time in its history, Pepperdine University today named a scholar with an Abilene Christian University background to be its chief academic officer.

Dr. Rick Marrs (’73), dean of Pepperdine’s Seaver College since 2008, was named to succeed former ACU faculty member Dr. Daryl Tippens as provost, effective Aug. 1. Veteran administrator Dr. William Adrian (’59) was Pepperdine’s provost from 1983-96 and provost emeritus the last 18 years.

Marrs has been a member of Pepperdine’s Religion Division faculty since 1987, including tenure as the Blanche E. Seaver Professor of Religion from 2001-06. An Old Testament scholar, his academic expertise includes the literature of the ancient Near East and study of the Dead Sea Scrolls, with Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, Phoenician and Ugaritic language skills.

After 13 years at Pepperdine, Tippens retired as provost to return to ACU this fall as University Distinguished Scholar of Faith, Learning and Literature. His new role will combine his talents as a teacher, writer, researcher and scholar in an advisory role to ACU administrators. Before heading to Pepperdine, Tippens taught at ACU from 1987-2000 as the James W. Culp Distinguished Professor of English.

ACU Remembers: Dr. Alvie Davis

Alvie DavisA memorial service will be held at 2:30 p.m. Saturday for professor emeritus of chemistry Dr. Alvie Lee Davis (’55), one of Abilene Christian University’s longest-tenured professors and the namesake of its biochemistry research lab. He died March 20 at age 83 after a struggle with cancer.

His service will be at the University Church of Christ, where he was a longtime member. Visitation will be today from 6-8 p.m. at Elmwood Funeral Home (750 Hwy. 277 South).

Davis was born Jan. 22, 1931, to a dry-land cotton farming family in Richardson, Texas, and married Jana Showalter (’64) in 1961.

Classes taught at ACU by Dr. Floyd Dunn (’44) convinced Davis to change his major from agriculture to chemistry, and he went on to earn a doctorate in the subject in 1960 from The University of Texas. As an ACU faculty member, he taught all but one of the full-time professors on the faculty of today’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, including Dr. Eric Hardegree (’80)Dr. Perry Reeeves (’65)Dr. Kim Pamplin (’91), Dr. Bruce Hopkins (’80), Dr. Greg Powell (’80) and his wife, Dr. Cynthia (Barton ’81) Powell, Dr. Brian Cavitt (’98) and Dr. Sarah (Moore ’05) Lee.

Davis joined the ACU faculty in 1959, retired after 42 years of full-time teaching in 2001 but taught classes part time until 2009 – 50 years in all. Colleagues remember him as quiet, selfless scholar with a near-encyclopedic memory who studied chemistry textbooks in his spare time simply to discover errors. His office door was always open, often at late hours, to students who needed extra instruction or counsel.

Teaming with the late Dr. Tommy McCord (’54), the two partnered for almost 30 years on research funded by the Robert A. Welch Foundation. Their work included efforts to synthesize new amino acids such as lysine and phenylalanine, two of the building blocks of human protein. In 1965, they received a research grant of $45,000, at the time the largest ever received by ACU professors. Davis served on projects for the National Science Foundation, wrote and presented dozens of scholarly papers, and helped the department earn its first accreditation by the American Chemical Society  in 1971.

Among survivors are his wife of 52 years, Jana; two sons, Jeffrey S. Davis (’90) and Jay Davis (’06); a daughter, Dr. Lisa (Davis ’94) Dudley; six grandchildren; and three brothers, John Caleb Davis Jr. (’54), John Wesley Davis (’56) and Oliver Leamon Davis.

Spring Break focuses on academics, missions

Big Bend 2013 Biology on River

Dr. Tom Lee’s biology class traveled to Big Bend to do field work in mammalogy.

A number of groups of Abilene Christian University students and faculty, and some alumni, devoted their Spring Break week March 9-15 to travel for academic experiences, often with missions opportunities. Several shared their experiences and images with us.

Big Horn Sheep the group tracked in Big Bend National Park

Bighorn sheep the group observed in the desert mountains of southwest Texas.

Dr. Tom Lee, professor and chair of ACU’s Department of Biology, took his General Mammalogy class to the Big Bend region of Southwest Texas. The group of 18 stayed at the Elephant Mountain Wildlife Management Area, where they experienced rare sightings of desert bighorn sheep and pronghorn antelope herds maintained there. “We studied the desert habitat, including the vegetation, but focused mainly on the mammal population,” said senior Rachel Ritchie. “We observed the species of rodents living in that environment, including kangaroo rats, pocket mice and ground squirrels. We also spent a day at Big Bend hiking and discussing the unique geology of the park.”

Throughout the week each student kept notes about what they saw and learned in a journal on which they will be graded. “This was my third trip with a biology department class,” said Ritchie, who plans to study biology at the graduate level. “Field trips like this one are a priceless opportunity for students to observe and learn field techniques.”

Three students accompanied Dr. Alan Lipps (’93) of ACU’s School of Social Work to the Chickasaw nation on Native American lands near Ada, Okla. They were hosted by former ACU marriage and family therapy professor Dr. Waymon Hinson, who is executive officer of the Chickasaw’s Division of Family Resources.

Senior Abbie Rose, freshman Casey Ellis and sophomore Astrid Tzoc met longtime Chickasaw nation governor Bill Anoatubby; discussed history, culture and language with Joshua Hinson (’01), director of the tribe’s language revitalization program; experienced cultural sites; visited with Department of Family Services secretary Jay Keel; met local social work clients; and gained an understanding of how local, state and federal programming intersects on the Chickasaw nation.

ACU faculty, students and alumni at LiveBeyond in Haiti

ACU faculty, students and alumni assisted with medical clinic work at LiveBeyond in Haiti.

Nine pre-health professions majors were joined by Dr. Greg (’80) and Dr. Cynthia (Barton ’81) Powell from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry on a trip to Haiti to serve as support staff at LiveBeyond, a multi-facted humanitarian relief effort coordinated by trauma surgeon David M. Vanderpool, M.D. (’82) and his wife, Laurie (Stallings ’81), and their family. Students from Texas A&M University and a group from the Clifton (Texas) Church of Christ also were a part of the team.

LiveBeyond, formerly known as Mobile Medical Disaster Relief, is based in Thomazeau, about a two-hour drive from the capital city of Port-au-Prince. The nonprofit organization provides medical care, clean water and nutritional support to those who are devastated by natural and man-made disasters. Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere and was devastated by a major earthquake in 2010 that killed hundreds of thousands of people. Since then, infrastructure repair has moved slowly, and the country has been plagued with the highest cholera rate in the world.

About every three weeks, a medical clinic trip to Haiti is organized by LiveBeyond for volunteers who assist Vanderpool and his staff. The ACU group helped with intake of patients, assisted at a scabies clinic and in general, provided “an extra pair of hands” to physicians and nurse practitioners. They also filled bags with rice and beans they later handed out to Haitian families, and visited an orphanage.

The first week in April, ACU nursing students and faculty will participate in the next medical clinic trip to LiveBeyond.

“Students who visit Haiti have the opportunity to be challenged about the way they think about nearly everything, and to consider how to use their gifts to help others in need. It’s an eye-opening experience to be in a third-world country so near to our own, and see the challenges everywhere you look,” said Cynthia, associate professor of chemistry and health professions advisor at ACU. “I was very impressed by the comprehensiveness of the Vanderpools’ plans. David and Laurie are people willing to follow their passion and make sacrifices to do what they think is right. They are great role models for our students.”

Students, faculty and alumni at Clinica Ezell in Guatemala

Students, faculty and alumni volunteered at Clinica Ezell in Guatemala.

About 30 students majoring in nursing and other health professions gained some valuable hands-on experience when they joined physicians and nurses from Abilene and across the nation in a Guatemalan “medical evangelism” mission sponsored by Health Talents International.

Senior biology major Andrew Tate was accompanied to Guatemala by his father, Mark Tate, D.D.S. (’80), on one of the 10 surgical team trips HTI conducts annually. “Being able to do medical missions with my father and watch him use his skills was incredible,” Andrew said. “I know it was a rare opportunity to assist him while learning skills I can apply one day to my own career. We’ve been blessed with a fantastic friendship and being able to serve together did nothing but build upon it.”

Other ACU students assisted orthopedic surgeons or ophthalmologists during surgery at Clinica Ezell or on HTI mobile medical/dental clinics in surrounding communities. Students also prayed with patients, read scripture and sang for them, and played with children.

“Here in the U.S. it is so easy to take for granted all of the physical blessings we have, like houses to shelter and keep us comfortable, clean water, smooth roads, readily available food, consistent electricity, and so on,” said Andrew. “I had a pretty good preconception of what we were going to see in Guatemala but it was still a slap in the face to experience it first hand. The people we met were unbelievably joyful and grateful about everything, yet they had nothing. The Guatemalan people showed me that joy is not dependent on your situation but on your decision to choose happiness and contentment.”

Alumna’s firm arguing Hobby Lobby case today

US Supreme CourtAbilene Christian University political science alumna Lori Windham (’01) is on a legal team today at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., where her firm is representing Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. in a historic case challenging the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate.

Windham – who earned her law degree from Harvard in 2005 – is senior counsel for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing the David and Barbara Green family of Oklahoma City in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. The Greens are being assisted by the Washington-based civil rights law firm that focuses on defending the free expression of religion against government interference.

David Green is CEO and founder of Hobby Lobby, and his son, Steve, is president. The arts and crafts retailer has 602 stores in 41 states. Kathleen Sebelius is secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“While the Green family has no moral objection to providing 16 of the 20 FDA-approved drugs and devices that are part of the federal mandate, providing drugs or devices that have the potential to terminate a life conflicts with their faith,” according to The Becket Fund’s summary of the case.

The Greens initially filed suit in 2012, and in June 2013, the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the religious right of a family business to conduct business in a way consistent with their religious beliefs. In July 2013, a preliminary injunction was granted by a federal court, upholding the appeals court ruling. Last fall, the federal government asked the Supreme Court to review the case. Oral arguments are being heard this morning, with a ruling expected in June.

Watch this blog for further coverage of Windham’s role in the case.

Students meet Uruguayan president Mujica


Lindsay Urban, Anna Beasley and Elise Brimberry with Uruguayan president Jose Mujica.

Abilene Christian University students participating in Study Abroad programs around the world gain some memorable experiences each semester.

Last week on a public street in the Uruguayan oceanside capital of Montevideo, ACU students Lindsay Urban, Anna Beasley and Elise Brimberry ran into the unconventional president of their host country.

Jose “Pepe” Mujica has been the elected leader of his South American nation since 2010. He leads a casual, offbeat lifestyle, refusing to reside in the lavish house provided for the country’s leader and choosing instead to stay at his wife’s farm outside Montevideo, guarded by two policemen and his three-legged dog. He drives a 1987 Volkswagen Beetle and gives away most of his $12,000-a-month salary to charity.

He once served 14 years as the political prisoner of a Uruguayan president who had suspended constitutional democracy. Mujica went on to become a senator, and later, a cabinet member under former President Tabare Vazquez. He was a finalist for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2013 and has been nominated again this year.

Mujica told the BBC he is simply exercising his freedom of choice by eschewing the customary trappings of political royalty, leading some to name him “the world’s poorest president”:

“I’m called ‘the poorest’, but I don’t feel poor. Poor people are those who only work to try to keep an expensive lifestyle, and always want more and more. This is a matter of freedom. If you don’t have many possessions then you don’t need to work all your life like a slave to sustain them, and therefore you have more time for yourself. I may appear to be an eccentric old man … But this is a free choice.”

Learn more here about Study Abroad’s ACU in Latin America program.