ACU Remembers: Richard Lunsford

Richard Weldon Lunsford (’55), a former longtime member of the Board of Trustees whose family gifts created popular contemplative landmarks on the Abilene Christian University campus, died July 1, 2017, at age 83 on his Praise the Lord Ranch in Olney, Texas.

Visitation with be 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, July 6, at Lunn Funeral Home (300 S. Ave. M, Olney, Texas 76374) and a memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. on July 7 at First Baptist Church (201 W. Main St., Olney, Texas 76374).

Lunsford was born Jan. 3, 1934, in Clovis, New Mexico, moving to a ranch near Olney in 1942. He graduated from Olney High School in 1951 and majored in agriculture at ACU, where “Fuzzy” played football for four years and was president of the Students’ Association.

He married Dema Jean Atkins (’57) on June 7, 1955, and worked on his parents’ ranch until 1962, when he began a career in the financial services industry that would span 45 years. He was active in his community, serving on the school and library boards, the Olney Hamilton Hospital Foundation, the Chamber of Commerce, and as president of the Rotary Club. He was minister of the Newcastle Church of Christ in Throckmorton from 1962-69 and served in the National Guard.

Lunsford was an ACU trustee from 1978-98, received a Distinguished Alumni Citation in 1972 and served on the search committee to name the university’s 10th president in 1990.

Richard and Dema provided The Quiet Place locations inside ACU’s Mabee Business Building (opened in 1986) and the Onstead-Packer Biblical Studies Building (1989). A plaque in one says the “rationale behind having an established setting such as The Quiet Place is that on a busy university campus all persons – students and faculty alike – need a place for meditation and renewal.”

One of their sons, Holt, chose the Lunsford Foundation Trail as a way to honor his parents and provide a gift to the Centennial Campaign in 2006. The more than two-mile-long trail encircles the campus and provides a convenient venue for students, faculty, staff and neighbors to exercise outdoors.

Lunsford was preceded in death by his parents, George Raymond Lunsford and Margaret Hardwick Lunsford; and Dema, his wife of 56 years.

Among survivors are three sons, Raymond Lunsford (’79), Holt Lunsford (’85) and Will Lunsford (’89); two daughters, Lynnette Lunsford (’81) and Lisa Lunsford (’83); 16 grandchildren; 12 great grandchildren; and a sister, Lynn Ellen Routon (’68).

ACU Remembers: W.C. ‘Dub’ Orr

Former longtime ACU trustee and respected church leadership consultant Wilson Clark “Dub” Orr (’50) died June 9, 2017, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at age 89.

Visitation is 5-7 p.m. Thursday, June 22, at Abilene’s Piersall Funeral Directors (733 Butternut, Abilene, Texas 79602). A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. June 23, at Highland Church of Christ (425 Highland Ave., Abilene, Texas 79605). A private family graveside service at Elmwood Memorial Park will occur earlier that day.

Orr was born Dec. 14, 1927, in Vernon, Texas, where he graduated from high school in 1946. He spoke fondly of his childhood during the Dust Bowl years with his brothers Graham, Forrest, and Rob and the challenges and rewards of growing up on a farm during that period surrounded by the support of his tight-knit family and church life. The four Orr brothers attended ACU and played center on the Wildcat football team.

After serving 18 months in the U.S. Army occupation forces in Japan, Orr earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from ACU in 1950, followed by an MBA from The University of Texas at Austin. He met Polly Chenault in Austin while doing graduate work, and they married Dec. 29, 1952.

He was briefly a teacher and football coach in Midland, Texas, then worked for Dow Chemical Co. before joining McWood Company in Abilene (secretary and treasurer, 1955-67) and later, teaming with Ray McGlothlin Jr. (’49) and G. Randy Nicholson (’59) in launching E-Z Serve Inc. He was vice president and secretary of the company from 1971 until its sale to Harken Oil in 1986.

Orr was a Bible school teacher and founding elder of Abilene’s South 11th and Willis Church of Christ for more than 25 years, and a spiritual counselor for people from all walks of life. He and Bible professor emeritus Dr. Paul Faulkner (’52) taught many weekend spiritual retreats for Christians. For more than 15 years, Orr and fellow elder Dr. Ian Fair (’68), professor and dean emeritus of ACU’s College of Biblical Studies, also traveled the world to teach seminars for church congregations needing help with conflict resolution and leadership development.

“Few people have had a greater influence in church leadership among elders and Churches of Christ than Dub Orr,” Fair said. “He was a thoughtful, sensitive encourager who modeled the spirit of Christ in all his relationships. He understood and exemplified the example of shepherding seen in his Chief Shepherd.”

He served as a member of the ACU Board of Trustees from 1970-98, including nine years (1975-84) as board secretary. He received ACU’s Distinguished Alumni Citation in 1980, its Outstanding Alumnus of the Year award for 1995, and together with McGlothlin and Nicholson, named the College of Business Administration’s 1996 Distinguished Business Leaders of the Year.

“Dub was the leading influence in organizing annual summer retreats for our Board of Trustees, usually at a resort in the Texas Hill Country,” said ACU chancellor Dr. Royce Money (’64). “Those retreats – with trustees, spouses, and senior administrators and spouses – kept the board focused on the spiritual mission of ACU. Dub recruited outstanding resource people to engage us in dialogue about critical issues facing Christians in their current culture. Those experiences were a major influence in forming the Christ-centered focus the university enjoys today.”

After Polly’s death in 2001, he married Margaret Paas of Basalt, Colorado, in 2004.

He was preceded in death by his parents, William Clyde Orr and Clarice Roberts Orr; Polly, his first wife of 49 years; brothers Graham Orr (’40), Forrest Orr (’38) and Boyd Orr; and a sister, Edith Orr.

Among survivors are Margaret, his second wife of 12 years; his four children, Linda Orr (’78), Lee Orr (’80), Scott Orr (’84) and Stephen Orr (’87); Margaret’s two children, Susan Romero and Dale Paas; six grandchildren; four grandchildren-in-law; four great-grandchildren; and a brother, Rob Orr (’52).

Day of Giving largest in ACU history

The Abilene Christian University community came together like never before on our first-ever Day of Giving on May 23: ACU received 926 gifts totaling more than $140,000. That’s the most gifts given in a single day to the university in its 111 years.

“I am overwhelmed by the tremendous generosity shown by ACU’s friends and family,” said president Dr. Phil Schubert (’91). “This was our first Day of Giving, and to call it successful is an understatement. Wildcats from around the world came together to support our students, and we are so grateful.”

The day began with the goal of inspiring 500 gifts. That number was reached by 3 p.m., and a stretch goal of 750 was put in place, said Jim Orr (’86), vice president for advancement.

“We blew past our stretch goal by about 9 p.m., and the gifts kept rolling in,” Orr said. “It was extraordinary to watch.”

Gifts received will support students in one of three areas: the Exceptional Fund, which supports the university’s greatest needs; the Katie Kirby Student Care Fund, which helps students with basic life and health needs; and the John and Evelyn Willis Endowed Scholarship, which provides scholarships for students from all majors and is named for recently retired Bible professor Dr. John Willis (’55) and his wife, Evelyn (Forrest ’56).

“Seeing so many people show how much they care about students and this university is inspiring,” said Craig Fisher (’92), director of alumni relations, university relations and annual projects. “What a blessing it is to be a part of this community.”

Alumni, parents, faculty, staff and students alike posted on social media throughout the day using the hashtag #ACUgives and sharing their stories on why they support the university.

“The response was overwhelming,” Fisher said. “These gifts will help change students’ lives, and I could not be more proud to be a Wildcat.”

Willie Wildcat with Dr. John Willis and his wife, Evelyn

Ballards seek organ donor with rare blood type

Brent and Cheryl Ballard

An Abilene couple whose hopes were buoyed by the way ACU Today readers responded to another alum’s need for a unique kidney donor last year, has asked for their story to be shared as well.

Brent (’69) and Cheryl Ballard of Abilene are part of a multi-generational ACU family. Cheryl, 69, seeks a potential donor with rare A negative blood type who is interested in donating a kidney. She has been on dialysis for three years but a fall in February 2017 broke the arm through which she receives treatments. Surgery is needed to repair the break, but doctors are reluctant to operate and risk her dialysis options.

Cheryl has been approved to begin testing for a kidney transplant but without a willing donor, she faces a three- to five-year wait for a transplant from a deceased donor. About 6 percent of people in the U.S. have A negative blood. Ballard’s doctors advise that persons with A negative, A positive, O negative and O positive blood types can be her donors as well.

Brent’s great-grandfather, James S. Manly, was one of the five trustees of Childers Classical Institute when it was founded in 1906, when A.B. Barret began what would become Abilene Christian University. Brent’s great-uncle, Hollis Manly (’19), was secretary of the ACU board while serving as a trustee from 1929-70. Brent’s late parents, Manly (’39) and Louise (Giles ’43) Ballard, worked for legendary bursar Lawrence W. Smith (’29) in the university’s Business Office.

For many years, the Ballard family business has centered around being State Farm insurance agents. Cheryl earned a B.A. from Harding University and did graduate work at ACU in speech therapy. She taught English at Abilene’s Franklin Middle School in the 1970s.

“Cheryl’s orthopedist says it is improbable she will ever have full use of her arm without surgery,” Brent said. “We agree: no surgery on that arm until the fistula (a port for dialysis) is no longer needed. That can happen only after she has a new kidney.”

Despite his rare O negative blood type, McAllen minister and ACU trustee Abel Alvarez (’82) had seven donors step forward to offer a kidney after we shared his urgent need with readers in a blog post March 1, 2016. He eventually received one from Greg Hendrix, the father of ACU financial management major Grant Hendrix.

The Ballards are hopeful readers can help put them in touch with a person who can fill her need for a kidney and shorten her wait for surgery to repair her arm as well. If you can help, send a private Facebook message to them at or by clicking here.

In an effort to bring together readers inspired to assist others, we are introducing Wildcats Helping Wildcats, a new Facebook Group through which those in the ACU community who are looking for ways to help others can connect with those needing help. Join the group here.

Kirby fund a resource for students in need

Katie Kirby

Glasses. Diapers. Groceries. Rent.

Staff members in the office of Student Life at Abilene Christian University each year encounter students who need help paying for all of these life necessities as they encounter difficult situations and personal hardships during their time here.

For example, one student paying her and her brother’s way through school needed assistance with a utility bill so they could have water in their apartment. Another couldn’t afford a $40 textbook not covered with financial aid.

Another student, who had recently lost both of his parents to illness, couldn’t afford to replace his broken pair of glasses. His eyesight was so bad, he was unable to drive and concentrate in class.

Without a support network of family and friends, students like these often struggle to succeed. They are determined to be self-sufficient, but they lack relief of their immediate burden and access to opportunities to not only survive, but thrive.

That’s why Student Life created the Katie Kirby Student Care Fund, through which the student was able to receive two new pairs of glasses.

The Katie Kirby Student Care Fund provides critical, immediate resources to students in need who have been referred to the Student Opportunities, Advocacy and Resources (SOAR) Program by themselves or others. Led by Shannon (Buchanan ’07) Kaczmarek, director of student advocacy programs, SOAR staff work with students to find solutions to barriers in their lives, connecting them with campus and community resources, serving as advocates in discussions with faculty and staff, and providing a safe, caring environment where they can find support.

“Soon after I lost my glasses, I reached out to the SOAR program on campus, a program designed to advocate on behalf of students and walk with them through difficult seasons, and asked for help,” the student who received glasses wrote in a thank you email. “Thankfully, my request for help was granted and I now own two pairs of quality glasses that assist me in my learning and daily life. The gift of vision is not something that I take for granted, and I am very thankful for SOAR’s generosity.”

Not all students referred to SOAR require financial assistance, but some do. Through careful consideration and significant interaction with the student, Kaczmarek said, money from the fund is used to pay bills or purchase food, clothing, personal hygiene items, or books and basic school supplies not covered by financial aid.

Previously called the Student Success Relief Fund, it was renamed in Fall 2016 after 19-year-old Katherine “Katie” Laura Kirby, a sophomore from Friendswood, died unexpectedly.

“This is a way to honor Katie’s life and the spirit of what she was about here at ACU and beyond,” said dean of students Mark Lewis (’95 M.M.F.T.).

“Through the fund, students are able to get assistance to address their immediate situation, but they’re also worked with in order to look at ways to find solutions moving forward,” Lewis said. “In other words, this is meant not to be a handout, but a hand.”

Here are several messages sent to SOAR staff from students who have received support:

“Life has been overwhelming of late. This situation as well as recent distress started to break my morale and positive outlook on life. [Your help] truly showed me the love and compassion ACU offers and the realness of God’s presence on campus. That is why I chose your university. … Yes, you all helped me with this financial burden, but you also showed me that people do care and that I am not alone in this fight (something that I struggle with believing on a daily basis). For that, I am forever grateful.”

“Thank you so much for helping me. This is a very scary time for me. I hope you know how much I appreciate this. I am just trying to push through to get my degree. I am so close, and I don’t want to lose this opportunity to succeed.”  

“Thanks so much for helping me, Shannon. I really do appreciate you working so graciously with me. I also appreciate your willingness to help students, especially those who might be struggling a little more.”

Every cent donated to the Katie Kirby Student Care Fund goes directly to students, and ACU highlighted this fund as part of its first-ever Day of Giving on Tuesday, May 23, 2017. You can still make a donation to the fund by clicking here.

Lee presented with honorary doctorate

ACU president Dr. Phil Schubert (’91), Dr. Eddie Lee and ACU provost Dr. Robert Rhodes

Eddie Lee, superintendent of Midland Christian School, on Saturday received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree for distinction in education and contributions to society.

Lee was awarded the degree, one of Abilene Christian University’s highest honors, at May Commencement in Moody Coliseum. He is the 85th person to receive such an award in the university’s 111-year history.

Midland Christian School has seen exponential growth under the direction of Lee, who has served as superintendent for 32 of his 42 years at the school. At a ceremony at Midland Christian on May 1, president Dr. Phil Schubert (’91) extolled Lee’s career in education.

“Eddie has devoted more than 40 years to private, Christian education, teaching and mentoring thousands of students and effectively managing hundreds of educators and employees in multiple disciplines,” Schubert said. “The impact he has made on the growth and development of private school education in Texas and nationally has been tremendous.”

During his tenure, Midland Christian’s enrollment has grown from 330 to more than 1,250 students.

“Many of his students make their way to Abilene Christian to continue their education and bring with them the qualities we look for in Wildcats: Strong character, exceptional academic ability and a passion for serving God,” Schubert said. “No doubt Eddie’s guidance plays a role in the formation of these remarkable young men and women.”

Lee earned his bachelor’s degree from Lubbock Christian University in 1976, his master’s degree from The University of Texas of the Permian Basin in 1982, and his superintendent certification in 1985.

He and his wife of 40 years, Carol, have two children, Jared Lee (’03) and Cari King, and two grandchildren. Lee also has served as an elder for 16 years at the Golf Course Road Church of Christ in Midland.

Lost Lobo: ACU says goodbye to the Wolf

One of Dewitt Jones’ biggest hugs following the 1977 Apple Bowl win in Seattle’s Kingdome was for Jerry Wilson (right). Jones was head coach and Wilson was defensive coordinator of the Wildcats, whose victory that day captured the NAIA Division I national championship.

The old guard came home to huddle one last time around the one they called Wolf. To do for him, once and for all, what he’d never done for himself.

Jerry “Wolfie” Wilson (’71) died April 25 at the age of 69 after a brief battle with cancer. His nickname came from Ron Willingham (’54), whose work in leadership development with the ACU football team, among other contributions, earned him induction into the ACU Sports Hall of Fame last year. In a session with players in 1968, he asked each to introduce himself. He thought Wilson said “Wolf.” The moniker stuck. And so did Wilson.

Boone is the radio-TV voice of the Wildcats

His resume says he played football at Abilene Christian University for Wally Bullington (’53) from 1968-70 then became an assistant for him and five other ACU head coaches in three different decades. And that he was also the Wildcats’ head baseball coach from 1973-75 and coached football at a handful of high schools across West Texas.

But it doesn’t explain what brought, by the dozen, men he had led into battle on gridirons and diamonds for nearly 30 years and across multiple generations back to Abilene this week to say goodbye through tears. To understand that, you might have to get in the car for a 1,200-mile round trip from Abilene to Greenville, Miss., the very voyage Wilson made each Thanksgiving and Christmas during the mid-1970s to make sure the Montgomery boys were home for the holidays.

“Those drives back and forth were special to me,” says older brother Wilbert (’77), whose 76 touchdowns made him ACU’s career leading scorer. “I think about those drives a lot, especially now when I’m taking my kids different places. I think about Jerry driving me and [younger brother] Cle (’78) up and down the road and leaving his family behind. The time he gave up to make sure that we were happy tells you everything you need to know about Jerry Wilson.”

Or grab a spoon and notepad and sit in with the coaches for an all-day film session, week after week, the way Wilson did with his fellow ACU Sports Hall of Fame member Don Harrison (’75) when they coached together.

“Most coaches watching film would be surrounded by beer bottles,” Harrison laughs. “ ‘Wolfie’ and I would have empty cartons of Blue Bell ice cream. On Sundays, we’d go to the Bean and get all their leftover brownies and potato chips and munch on those while we broke down the tape of the next week’s opponent.”

As a graduate assistant fresh off the playing field, Harrison was devouring more than the snacks.

“I didn’t know how to be a coach, so I watched Jerry,” he recalls. “How to chart film, how to recruit – making relationships over the phone over and over. And the characteristics of loyalty and dedication and work ethic; I learned that from Jerry Wilson more than anyone else. And that has served me well the rest of my life.”

Or maybe to understand why Wilson was so beloved you need to get up in the middle of the night when you think no one is looking to do something for someone else.

“I rolled back in to campus from playing Kingsville around 3 a.m. one morning, and there was Jerry,” remembers ACU head baseball coach Britt Bonneau, who delivered a moving tribute Wilson at Tuesday’s memorial service. “Even though the city was under water rationing restrictions, he’d decided to reseed the bare spot between the two fields before spring football started. You couldn’t run sprinkler systems but were allowed to use a hose during certain times of the day. So there he was, at 3 a.m., hand watering the grass.”

All the while, Wilson was planting and watering seeds of faith in players and coaches, including Bonneau. As Wilson began to succumb to the effects of dementia in recent years, baseball became a fountain of his youth where plays and players of old would splash along the banks of his memory. Bonneau made him an honored guest at practices and games and had him throw out the first pitch at a game at Crutcher Scott Field on Feb. 28. When Wilson was hospitalized after his cancer diagnosis in February, Bonneau visited him often to talk baseball and to say thanks. He was with Wilson the day before he passed.

“I’m so glad that yesterday I got to spend … to spend …” Bonneau’s voice cracked in a pregame radio interview just an hour after news of Wilson’s death reached the dugout. “Got to spend a morning with him. Talking about a big win we had Sunday and holding his hand and getting a little response out of him. He never missed a practice. He loved being out here and being part of the team. And the guys loved being around him.

Some are legends because of what they achieved in a single moment. Wilson became a Wildcat hero in miles and meals and months. The hard way has no shortcuts.

Dub Stocker (’74) played with Wilson, then played for him. When I asked what made Wilson special, he answered with a question of his own: “Who have you ever known who gave like he did?” queried Stocker, one of many who traveled long distances to visit Wilson in his final days. “No one. He gave and never once wanted anything in return.”

It’s possible Wilson never wanted anything because of what he felt like he already had. Born in Sausalito, California, and raised in Big Spring, Texas, Wilson found family at ACU – literally and figuratively. He married Diane Stevens (’70) and, thus, joined one of the university’s most influential clans. Diane’s father, Dr. Clark Stevens, was the chair of the ACU biology department; her uncle, Dr. John Stevens (’38), was Abilene Christian’s eighth president. Football connected Wilson with all-time ACU great Bullington, his head coach and first boss. He was grafted into the assistant coach fraternity alongside men like Don Smith (’53), Ted Sitton (’54) and K.Y. Owens, whose focus on building men helped build a national powerhouse.

“He’s everything ACU is about,” says Bonneau. “A true believer in teaching young men how to grow up one day to be Christ followers. I don’t know how many people have impacted my life like he did.”

The ultimate self-demoter, Wilson often characterized his career in coaching as having never worked a day in his life and described his half-century association with ACU by saying he was the luckiest man in the world.

‘Wolfie’ was wrong. We were the lucky ones because we knew him.

Wilson was a coach of ACU’s national championship football teams in 1973 and 1977.

Candlelight devo tradition burning bright

Some traditions at Abilene Christian University begin quite intentionally but others have inauspicious roots. The Candlelight Devotional at ACU is a little of both, and this fall celebrates its 25th anniversary on the Hill.

Devotionals – devo for short – are no strangers to our landscape. A Tuesday night one for decades was held on the steps of the Hardin Administration Building. But candles were not introduced until Amy (Nichols ’92) Boone and Chris Seidman (’92) were tasked in 1991 with the spiritual life component to Welcome Week (now known as Wildcat Week), the multi-day event introducing freshmen to ACU each August.

Boone recounts the backstory of their adventure in the Second Glance essay of our new Winter-Spring 2017 issue (click on the reader above).

Candle-lit devotionals like it have since been started at Homecoming for alumni to enjoy. Tonight, a “send-off” version for graduating seniors takes place at 8:30 p.m. in the same Beauchamp Amphitheatre where Boone and Seidman’s idea first bloomed into what has since become a signature experience for tens of thousands of students.

Members of the Golden Anniversary Reunion Class of 1967 are in town this week and will be invited to participate. Other faculty, staff and alumni also are welcome to help send off another class of Wildcats into the next stage of their lives with a worshipful blessing.

As it did when they were freshmen a few short years ago, a small candle lights the way.

ACU Remembers: Dr. Gary Thompson

Dr. Gary Thompson (’60), Abilene Christian University professor emeritus of political science and former Texas state representative, died April 13, 2017, in Blacksburg, Virginia, at age 80 following a brief illness.

Visitation will be at 1-3 p.m. on Saturday, April 22 at Cook-Walden Funeral Home (6100 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin, Texas 78752). Interment will be at 4 p.m. at the Texas State Cemetery (909 Navasota St., Austin, Texas 78702), with a reception to follow.

Thompson was born June 15, 1936, in Vernon, Texas, and graduated from Tyler (Texas) High School in 1954. He earned a B.S.E. degree in history from ACU (1960), an M.A. in political science from the University of Arkansas (1964), and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of North Texas (1974). He taught and coached junior high and high school students in Lovington, New Mexico (1960-63), and Chinle, Arizona (1964-67), before moving to Abilene.

Texas Gov. Bill Clements and Dr. Gary Thompson

He worked for the Teacher Retirement System of Texas from 1986-95; otherwise, he taught political science at ACU from 1967 until retirement in 2011, serving as the first chair of the department. He chaired the Faculty Senate, and directed ACU’s American Enterprise Forum and Taft Institute for Teachers. Thompson was an insightful and popular teacher who taught future Congressmen, judges, professors, federal and state employees, teachers, journalists and others who loved public service.

Elected in 1978 to the first of four terms in the Texas House of Representatives, Thompson served on numerous committees and commissions, including Ways and Means, Sunset Advisory, State Affairs, and County Affairs, which he chaired.

In 1958, he wed Nancy Thomas (’59), a fellow student at ACU. She was his beloved companion in marriage and as longtime members of University Church of Christ in Abilene, where he served as elder and for many years in the prison outreach ministry. They established the Gary and Nancy Thompson Endowed Scholarship for political science students at their alma mater.

Thompson was a member of Kiwanis International, and served in leadership roles on the boards or advisory councils of the Heart of Texas Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, West Central Texas Council of Governments, Meals on Wheels, Agape for Children and Youth, Hospice of Abilene, Boys Club of Abilene, and Texas Mental Health Association. He chaired Leadership Abilene in 1982-83.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Virgil and Floy Thompson; and Nancy, his wife of 56 years.

Among survivors are a son, Dr. Tom Thompson (’85); a daughter, Jane (Thompson ’88) Koble; six grandchildren; two step-grandchildren; and a brother, Dr. James Thompson (’64).

Nike innovator Hatfield is a master maker

For someone with an impressive clientele of world-class athletes and products to his credit, Nike’s Tobie Hatfield (’87) keeps a bit of a low profile.

That changed a bit with our new issue of ACU Today magazine, which takes a look at the “Master Maker” whose work as senior director of athlete innovations at Nike has helped a who’s who of the sporting world make headlines. A short list includes Michael Johnson, Mary Decker Slaney, Troy Polamalu, Maria Sharapova and Tiger Woods, among others.

Hatfield, the son of a legendary Oregon high school and Olympic track and field coach, was one of the stable of standout vaulters tutored by Don W. Hood (’55) at Abilene Christian University for more than three decades. Wildcat teams on which Tobie competed won NCAA Division II national titles in 1984, 1985 and 1986, and he was an assistant coach of ACU teams winning national championships in 1987 and 1988.

The writer of Hatfield’s profile – former longtime sports information director Garner Roberts (’70) – was a natural for the assignment. Roberts is a member of the ACU Sports Hall of Fame who chronicled Hatfield’s accomplishments when Tobie was a student-athlete at the university.

Our front cover featuring Hatfield was illustrated by Ron Finger of Brainerd, Minn., an award-winning artist who also produced the Spring-Summer 2015 cover portraying Kent Brantly, M.D. (’03).

The feature concludes with a look at ACU’s Maker Lab, which director Dr. Nil Santana (’00 M.S.) describes as “a place where innovation and creativity converge.” The venue, housed on the first floor of the John and Ruth Stevens Wing of Brown Library, helps learners of all ages develop innovation skills, whether local elementary school students or graduate occupational therapy program students from ACU.