Nike swooshes into town for ACU partnership

Director of athletics Lee De Leon and president Dr. Phil Schubert at a press conference this morning about the ACU-Nike agreement.

Director of athletics Lee De Leon (left) and president Dr. Phil Schubert at a press conference this morning about the ACU-Nike agreement.

Branding in intercollegiate athletics can be a two-way street, Lee De Leon inferred this morning in announcing that Abilene Christian University has signed a five-year athletics footwear, apparel and equipment contract with Nike, only the fifth Texas university to partner with the famous Swoosh.

Clearly, that proverbial street runs along Ambler Avenue and Judge Ely Boulevard, near where many of ACU’s 16 athletics teams practice and play during the third year of their four-year transition to NCAA Division I. The Wildcats have been a quick study in their move to the Southland Conference, becoming the only member of the league for which Nike is the exclusive manufacturer of game uniforms, practice gear, sideline apparel and other equipment.

ACU joins Texas, Baylor, TCU and SMU as the only Lone Star State universities to team with the sports apparel and equipment giant.

De Leon, ACU’s director of athletics, said Abilene Christian’s brand was attractive to Nike as well. The Wildcats represent one of intercollegiate sports’ longest-running success stories: 64 national championships, 216 conference titles and the growing reputation of ACU graduates in the business world, such as Emmy Award-winning CBS Sports golf and football producer Lance Barrow (’78).

Another ACU grad, former Wildcat pole vaulter Tobie Hatfield (’87), leads Nike’s design staff in the company’s Innovation Kitchen at its world headquarters in Beaverton, Ore.

The Nike contract begins July 1, 2016, and follows a current three-year agreement with Adidas. Student-athletes, coaches and staff cheered De Leon’s announcement at the conclusion of their Chapel program in Cullen Auditorium this morning, and at a press conference afterward in the Teague Special Events Center.

Only UCLA, Stanford, USC and Division III swimming/diving powerhouse Kenyon have won more NCAA national team titles than ACU.

U.S. News: ACU a leader in innovation, value

ACU ranked No. 2 in the West in a new category of the nation's most innovative academic Institutions.

ACU ranked No. 2 in the West in a new category ranking the nation’s most innovative academic institutions.

It didn’t take long for Abilene Christian University to land on the newest – and perhaps most distinctive – portion of U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings of top colleges and universities.

After being ranked first or second on the publication’s list of “Up-and-Coming-Universities” six of the previous seven years, ACU is No. 2 among regional universities in the West on the new “Most Innovative Schools” list for 2016. The ranking is the result of college presidents, provosts and admissions deans being asked to nominate institutions “making the most innovative improvements in terms of curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology or facilities.”

ACU was one of just 18 regional universities and 61 in the nation to be recognized, joining others such as Harvard, MIT, Duke, Davidson, Beloit, Butler and High Point.

“We are extremely grateful for that kind of recognition. But in one sense, this new ranking only confirms what others, including our students, have known all along,” said ACU president Dr. Phil Schubert (’91). “We believe we’ve been innovators for each of our previous 109 years. Innovation is something we encourage and honor on our campus, from studying the science of teaching, to being leaders in technology-driven strategies, and to providing the best undergraduate research opportunities in the world.”

Overall, ACU was ranked 17th among regional universities in the West and once again was on U.S. News best-value list of “Great Schools, Great Prices” and “Best Colleges for Veterans.”

At No. 17, ACU is the highest-ranked NCAA Division I Southland Conference-member institutions among 89 regional universities in the West, ahead of Houston Baptist (73rd), Incarnate Word (63rd) and Stephen F. Austin State (87th). Three other Southland members – Central Arkansas (68th), and McNeese State and Nicholls State (tied for 87th) – are ranked in the South region.

Abilene Christian also stood out recently in other “Best Colleges” editions authored by research from Forbes and The Princeton Review.

The university enrolled the second largest freshman class in its history for Fall 2016: 1,070 students (a 9.9 percent increase over 2014) among 4,527 overall.  Forty percent of the freshman class was ethnically diverse and the freshman-to-sophomore retention rate was 80 percent, tying an all-time high for ACU.

Share your medical missions photos, stories

Kyle R Stephens surgical pic Peru 600x400 96

Kyle Stephens, D.O. (’05 M.Div.)

It wasn’t by design that Kent (’03) and Amber (Carroll ’06) Brantly became Abilene Christian University’s best-known alumni couple. In fact, they will be the first to tell you “we are just regular folks seeking the Lord’s will for our lives,” as Amber said in an interview for the new Spring-Summer 2015 issue of ACU Today magazine.

We know countless other students and alumni may consider themselves “regular folks,” while they serve in extraordinary ways as the hands and feet of Jesus throughout the world.

The current issue of ACU Today spotlights several of these, among them: Lesca Hadley, M.D. (’92); Randy (’94) and Anda (Adams ’94) Brown; Taylor Tidmore, M.D. (’99); Kyle Stephens, D.O. (’05 M.Div.); Ray (’80) and Star (Light ’82) Ferguson; David M. Vanderpool, M.D. (’82) and his wife, Laurie (Stallings ’81); David Jr. (’10) and Devin (Anderson ’11) Vanderpool; Shepherd Mbumwae (’95) and his wife, Ruhtt Jaime (’96); and Danny Sims (’85) and his wife Suzanne (Michna ’89).

Lesca Hadley, M.D. (’92)

Lesca Hadley, M.D. (’92)

We’d like to spotlight others.

Whether you serve as a full-time medical missionary or devote your vacation days to volunteer, we ask you to share your favorite photos online with the hashtag #ACUmissions. Include a sentence or two telling us about the photo and why it is meaningful to you.

Or you can email your favorites to Robin Saylor,

We will share the best images with our readers on this blog, in the next printed issue and via our social media channels. We look forward to seeing the ways you are working to bring healing and the Gospel to others in need.

Return to Fresno takes football into primetime

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Dewitt Jones was a junior standout for the Wildcats in 1963, the last time they played Fresno State University in football.

Boone is the radio-TV voice of the Wildcats

Boone is the radio-TV voice of the Wildcats

The last time Dewitt Jones (’65) boarded a plane for Fresno, Calif., before Wednesday, he was a member of the 1963 Abilene Christian University football team heading west for the second time in a week. The Wildcats were scheduled to play their season finale against Fresno State University on Saturday, Nov. 23. But when their plane landed in Phoenix the day before to refuel, they were greeted with the grim news that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas.

Like virtually every event across America that weekend sporting and otherwise the game was postponed. ACU was given the option of returning to Fresno the following week or canceling it all together. The vote to return was unanimous. It was worth the trip.

Jack Griggs played the game of his life against Fresno State in 1963.

Jack Griggs played the game of his life against Fresno State in 1963.

Led by a career-high 17 tackles from Academic All-America Jack Griggs’ (’64), the Wildcats edged the Bulldogs, 32-29, on Nov. 30, in what would be the last meeting between the two teams until tonight. For anyone from that era, the Kennedy assassination remains one of the top two where-were-you-when moments in American history. The other is 9/11, which this year’s ACU team is barely old enough to remember.

A lot has changed since that fateful fortnight in 1963.

Fresno State rose in the ranks of college football, from what was known as the NCAA’s College Division (akin to the Football Championship Subdivision, of which ACU is a member) to become a perennial bowl contender with a legacy and litany of superstars who have gone on to NFL glory.

Griggs later served as professor and dean of ACU's College of Business Administration.

Griggs later served as professor and dean of ACU’s College of Business Administration.

ACU, on the other hand still Abilene Christian College at the time – opted to leave the NCAA and the Southland Conference in 1973 for the Lone Star Conference of the NAIA, an alliance of small schools of similar size and athletics budget. (When the Wildcats won the national championship in their first NAIA season, the decision certainly seemed to make sense.) ACU returned to the NCAA in 1982, along with the rest of its league as a member of Division II and remained there through the end of the 2012-13 season.

Though ACU has already competed against and beaten teams from college football’s highest level (the Football Bowl Subdivision or FBS) since its transition to Division I, Thursday night’s game in California in many ways kicks off a new era for the program. Fresno State may well be the best football team ACU has ever played; not necessarily right now, but historically.

ACU played Florida State University three times in the 1950s, but that was before FSU became the juggernaut that won three national titles behind Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks. Perhaps the best opponent ACU has ever faced at the time was the University of Arkansas in 1948 in what was the first game played at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, Ark.

If Fresno State isn’t the most decorated team ACU has ever played, it’s on a very short list.

Jones led the Wildcats to the 1977 NAIA Division I national championship in a game played in Seatttle's Kingdome.

As their head coach, Dewitt Jones led the Wildcats to the 1977 NAIA Division I national championship in a game played in Seatttle’s Kingdome.

Consider that since 1982, the Bulldogs have been to 21 bowl games, including 14 in the last 16 years. Under former head coach Pat Hill, they routinely wrecked ranked teams’ seasons; in 2001 alone, Fresno State opened the season with successive wins over the University of Colorado, Oregon State University and the University of Wisconsin. That team was led by quarterback David Carr, who would later be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 NFL draft and win a Super Bowl ring with the New York Giants as the backup to Eli Manning.

Carr’s younger brother, Derek, was even better in Fresno, throwing for more than 12,000 yards and 113 touchdowns. He is now the starting signal caller for the Oakland Raiders. Before the Carr brothers, Trent Dilfer led Fresno State to conference titles three straight years and was the starting quarterback for the 2000 Baltimore Ravens team that won a Super Bowl.

And the non-conference competition only gets stiffer from here. Next season, the Wildcats open at Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. The 2017 campaign begins with games against the University of New Mexico and Colorado State University. In 2018, the Wildcats visit nascent national championship contender Baylor University in the jaw-dropping jewel on the Brazos River, McLane Stadium. And a game is in the works for 2020 that, were it to happen, would no doubt cause a bit of a, shall we say, hullabaloo?

The ACU volleyball team plays in a tournament at Texas A&M University this weekend and has already taken on the University of Arizona. The Wildcat soccer team has played Arizona, too, this season and has matches coming up in the next 10 days against both A&M and The University of Texas at Austin. In fact, every ACU head coach has met this transition to Division I head-on, scheduling some of the toughest, most celebrated teams in all of college athletics.

Our dear Christian college will likely never live at the level of these NCAA Goliaths. And given what we’ve seen befall some of them lately, I’m not sure we even want to be. But it sure is fun to share these big stages with them from time to time. And if we’ve come this far, why not go ahead and steal the show?

Watch ACU vs. Fresno State tonight at 9 p.m. CST on the Mountain West Network (online only).

2015 Summit program booklet now online

Abilene Christian University’s 109th annual Summit is quickly approaching, and the program booklet is available online to help you plan your visit. This year’s summit, Sept. 20-23, will explore the theme “Same Mind: United in Imitating Christ,” based on Philippians.

summit 2015In addition to seven theme speakers, more than 130 classes will address topics and issues related to culture, ministry, missions, worship, spiritual formation and congregational leadership.

Theme speakers are Dr. Brady Bryce (’95), ACU director of contextual education; Dr. Richard Beck (’90), chair, ACU psychology department; Dr. Chris Smith (’08), pulpit minister, Harpeth Hills Church of Christ, Brentwood, Tenn.; Amy Bost Henegar, minister, family life and spiritual formation, Manhattan Church of Christ, New York City; Dr. Raymond Carr, professor of religion, Pepperdine University; Phil Brookman, pulpit minister, Memorial Road Church of Christ, Edmond, Okla.; and Mike Cope, senior minister, Golf Course Road Church of Christ, Midland, Texas.

Kent Brantly, M.D., a 2003 graduate of ACU, will be on campus for a book signing after the Mission Alive luncheon Sept. 21 in the McCaleb Conference Center. Copies of Called to Life: How Loving Our Neighbor Led Us into the Heart of the Ebola Epidemic, written by Kent and Amber (Carroll ’06) Brantly, will be available for purchase.

Featured presenters will cover a variety of topics, among them:

  • “What Will the Universal Body of Christ Look Like in the Next 25 Years?” with Dr. Andrew Hairston, minister of Simpson Street Church of Christ in Atlanta, Ga., and Dr. Royce Money (’64), ACU chancellor, for a conversation about racial reconciliation.
  • “Finding Their Voices: Women Preaching in Churches of Christ,” an opportunity for conversation about what our future holds for women speaking and preaching in our churches.
  • “Establishing a Still Point,” at the importance of contemplative and spiritually forming practices in our busy lives.
  • “The Minister Support Network,” offering participants opportunities to network with other couples in a four-day weekend retreat that allows time for rest, discernment, worship, recreation and spiritual reflection.

Other Summit events include late-night concerts, and meals and receptions for various interest groups.

You can register here.

Stanley Shipp’s influence spanned generations

Stanley Shipp and Max Lucado

Stanley Shipp and Max Lucado

It was an easy decision to seek an author from the Lucado household for a Second Glance essay about the late Stanley Shipp (’46) in ACU Today’s Spring-Summer 2015 issue.

But the call went to Andrea (’08), middle daughter of Max (’77), the San Antonio minister and best-selling author who is her dad. She quickly said “yes.”

Max has spoken and written widely about the influence of Shipp, whom he calls his “father in the faith,” after a year he spent as an intern with him in the late 1970s in St. Louis, Mo.

As a senior at Abilene Christian University, Andrea was my student editorial assistant. She was an unflappable English major with an eye for detail who was a quick study of the Associated Press Stylebook and a valuable member of our award-winning team in Creative Services.

Andrea Lucado

Andrea Lucado

She earned a master’s degree in English from Oxford (England) Brooks University in 2009 and worked as a proofreader, editorial assistant and publicist for publishing giant Thomas Nelson. Now she is forging her way as a full-time freelance writer whose blog, English Lessons [], is gaining readers every day.

Andrea said the Shipps became de facto members of the Lucado family while she was growing up, with memories still strong of Marie Shipp’s cooking and kindness. She observed her father’s faith and his relationship with Stanley from close quarters as well as from afar, and offers this excellent look back at his influence:

Former Wildcats pursue pro football careers

Taylor Gabriel has made a big impression with the Browns.

Taylor Gabriel has made a big impression with the Browns.

It’s always crunch time, so to speak, in National Football League training camps.

But with the 2015 regular season just three weeks away and only two preseason games remaining, many of the men toiling in the late August heat are playing not only for a job but perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Four former Wildcats are on NFL player rosters as of today:

Gates – who is in his fourth NFL season – was signed by the Cowboys on Aug. 20 and made a brief appearance in last week’s game with the San Francisco 49ers. Richardson is in his third season, having played the first first two with the St. Louis Rams.

Second-year players Gabriel and West are drawing rave reviews from their teams for their speed and work ethic. Gabriel caught 37 passes for 629 yards and one TD for the Browns last season, when he and West were undrafted rookie free agents.

Other former Wildcats among NFL newsmakers:

  • Lance Barrow (’77), an ACU trustee and former Wildcat football player, is longtime executive producer for CBS golf and the network’s coordinating producer for the lead NFL game of the week. He has won multiple Emmy Awards for his work.
  • Wilbert Montgomery (’77) begins his 29th year in the NFL this fall, including his second as running backs coach for Cleveland. Thanks to his tutelage last year, the Browns became the first NFL team since 1967 to have two rookie running backs (Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West) rush for more than 600 yards in a season. Montgomery is a former All-Pro player and career standout with the Philadelphia Eagles who has been an assistant coach for the St. Louis Rams, Detroit Lions and Baltimore Ravens.
  • Veteran Houston Texans defensive back Danieal Manning (’07) retired this summer, ending a nine-year career that began by playing in Super Bowl XLI as a rookie with the Chicago Bears. He earned first-team All-Pro honors in 2008.
Ottawa Redblacks' Aston Whiteside moves in to knock the ball from the hand of Calgary Stampeders' Bo Levi Mitchell during second quarter CFL football action in Ottawa on Friday, July 24, 2015. Whiteside gained possession of the ball to make an interception. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Ottawa Redblacks’ Aston Whiteside moves in to knock the ball from the hand of Calgary Stampeders’ Bo Levi Mitchell during CFL football action in Ottawa on July 24, 2015. (Photo courtesy of The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick)

Further north in the Canadian Football League, two other former ACU stars are forging careers where the regular season runs from July to November to avoid the most harsh portion of winter in places like Winnipeg, Edmonton and Montreal.

Quarterback Mitchell Gale (’12) is a backup quarterback for the Toronto Argonauts and defensive back Aston Whiteside (’12) is making headlines for the Ottawa Redblacks.

Whiteside, a ball-hawking defensive end, was one of three CFL Top Performers for Week Five of the season after his season debut consisted of two tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in leading Ottawa to an upset win over the defending league champion Calgary Stampeders. He forced a fumble in overtime to set up his team’s winning field goal.

Gale is in his third year with the Argos, who won the 2012 Grey Cup – the CFL’s version of the Super Bowl – the season before signing ACU’s career passing leader.

Brantly urges students to pursue discipleship

On the first day of classes of Abilene Christian University’s 110th year, perhaps its most well-known graduate called more than 4,400 students to the kind of discipleship to which he also aspires.

“God wants you to be a disciple of Jesus Christ,” said Kent Brantly, M.D., (’03) during ACU’s annual Opening Assembly in Moody Coliseum. The family physician told students in the standing-room-only crowd that God’s calling on their lives is much bigger than career or occupation.

Brantly reflected on his experience with Ebola while delivering the Opening Assembly address at his alma mater.

Brantly reflected on his experience with Ebola while delivering the Opening Assembly address at his alma mater.

“Whatever else you’re studying, whatever else you’re learning, whatever accomplishments you’re pursuing, I urge you: take advantage of this time to learn what it means to be a follower of Jesus because the role of disciple will inform and change and impact every other role you will ever have in your life,” he said.

Brantly, medical missions advisor for Samaritan’s Purse, became the 83rd recipient of an honorary doctorate from ACU, which began the custom in 1938. Previous recipients have included actor Charlton Heston, Dallas Cowboys head coach Tom Landry, pro golf legend Byron Nelson, and a host of legislators, business leaders, educators, scientists and other accomplished professionals from all walks of life. Brantly’s degree was an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

Kent and his wife, Amber (Carroll ’06), were honored in February 2015 as their alma mater’s Young Alumni of the Year. Earlier, Kent was Time Magazine’s 2014 Person of the Year as one of “The Ebola Fighters” who helped West Africa overcome an epidemic of the deadly disease that nearly took his own life last summer.

Before heading home to Fort Worth, Kent signed copies of his and Amber’s new book, Called for Life: How Loving Our Neighbor Led Us Into the Heart of the Ebola Epidemic.

Provost Dr. Robert Rhodes (left) and president Dr. Phil Schubert (right) presented Brantly with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

Provost Dr. Robert Rhodes (left) and president Dr. Phil Schubert (right) presented Brantly with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.


A doc named Callan served Rotan for 107 years

One of the keepsakes of Maurice Callan, M.D., was a horse-drawn doctor's carriage similar to the one his grandfather likely used to call on patients in rural Fisher County. This image of Maurice appeared in the  Winter 2000 issue of ACU Today magazine.

One of the keepsakes of Maurice Callan, M.D., was a horse-drawn doctor’s carriage similar to the one his grandfather likely used to call on patients in rural Fisher County. This image of Maurice appeared in the Winter 2000 issue of ACU Today magazine.

A family physician – as well as an era – has passed in West Texas’ Fisher County with the death Aug. 10 of Chester Maurice Callan, M.D. (’52).

He represented the third generation of Callans to deliver babies, perform surgeries and see to the health care needs of grateful people in the farming community of Rotan, about 30 miles from Sweetwater. His grandfather, W.W. Callan, M.D., began practicing medicine there in 1907, when the town was less than a year old. He was followed by Maurice’s father, Chester U. Callan, M.D. (’24), who mentored his son.

Deana (Hamby ’94) Nall profiled Maurice in the Winter 2000 issue of ACU Today magazine:

As Rotan’s third Dr. Callan, he has done everything from delivering babies to performing orthopedic surgery. “And I took out a jillion pair of tonsils,” he adds.

After being cared for by three generations of Callans, some of Rotan’s citizens wouldn’t think of going to anyone else.

“His daddy and his grandfather were doctors for as long as I can remember,” says Edna Gattis, longtime Rotan resident and a patient of Callan’s. “I think he’s wonderful.”

Like Gattis, the people of Rotan have been appreciative of Callan’s work.

“I’ve been treated a lot better than I deserved,” he says.

After graduating in 1956 from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston – where his father attended – he returned home to join his dad’s practice.

“Residencies for family practice were unheard of,” Callan says. “Really and truly, I did my residency under my dad.”

Maurice practiced medicine in Rotan with his father, the late Chester U. Callan, M.D.

Maurice practiced medicine in Rotan with his father, the late Chester U. Callan, M.D. (’24), who was an ACU trustee for 50 years.

Working with his father in Rotan was tough at first, Callan recalls. “People would say, ‘No, I don’t want you – I want the real Dr. Callan.’ ” Despite being like a prophet without honor in his hometown, Callan cherished the opportunity work with his father. When asked why he didn’t choose to practice in a larger city and possibly make more money, he smiles.

“That’s a good question,” he says.

For this Rotan boy-turned doctor, family ties played a major role in this important decision.

“I really wanted to work with my dad. That was one of the greatest things in my professional life,” he says. “He was very wise and a very good teacher. We learned to really work together. I still miss him,” he says about his father, who passed away in 1987.

The people of Rotan eventually warmed to the younger Dr. Callan. They trusted him for an array of medical service, including delivering countless Rotan babies.

“I thought delivering babies was real rewarding because that was one reason people came to the hospital – they wanted to be there,” he says.

“I was always amazed,” he adds with a smile. “These parents would have visions of grandeur for their babies. ‘Our son will be the president of the United States’ or ‘There goes our daughter – Miss America.’ Then I’d go visit those same people 16 years later and all they’d be trying to do was the get the child grown and without him killing himself or someone else – if the parents didn’t kill him first.”

Chester Callan served on ACU’s Board of Trustees from 1928-78, and was honored by the American Medical Association and featured in the Saturday Evening Post in 1948 as “the Model Country Doctor.” When Rotan citizens voted in 1930 to use Works Progress Administration funds from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program to construct a community swimming pool rather than a hospital, Callan built his own.

Maurice was a longtime elder at Rotan Church of Christ, where he established Operation Starfish to feed orphans in Zimbabwe and educate people there about AIDS. He served on Abilene Christian’s Advisory Board, was a member of the Science and Mathematics Visiting Committee and retired from his medical practice in 2015 after 58 years.

Callan told ACU Today 15 years ago that he probably would never retire, needing to work to support his passion for helping others. “I need the money to go to Africa,” he said.

His memorial service was Aug. 13 in Rotan. Read his obituary here.

Halbert gift tops science capital campaign

VIA-Youtube-Email-500x281-ImageA recent gift of nearly $3 million from alumni Jon (’82) and Linda (Ellis ’83) Halbert has helped Abilene Christian University reach its capital goal in the Vision in Action (VIA) initiative to build three major science facilities.

Linda and Jon Halbert

Linda and Jon Halbert

The generosity of the Dallas couple means ACU has raised $45 million to build the 54,000-square-foot Halbert-Walling Research Center, the 85,000-square-foot Robert R. and Kay Onstead Science Center and 22,000-square-foot Engineering and Physics Laboratories at Bennett Gymnasium.

The university launched the $75 million VIA initiative in February 2014 with an ACU-record $55 million in gifts. Fundraising continues for science equipment and operational endowments, as does fundraising for Wildcat Stadium, a proposed on-campus venue for football. ACU has completed two of its five VIA building projects: new Elmer Gray Stadium for track and field, and women’s soccer, and a renovation of historic Bennett Gymnasium for undergraduate research by its internationally respected Department of Physics and Engineering.

Among earlier donors to the Halbert-Walling Research Center were Jon’s brother, David D. Halbert (’78) and his wife, Kathy (Gay ’78), who contributed $15 million from their Caris Foundation.

“We are extraordinarily grateful to Jon and Linda for their difference-making gift,” said ACU president Dr. Phil Schubert (’91). “The Halbert brothers believe in the importance of providing world-class science facilities for our students and faculty. David and Kathy stepped up with the first gift for a research center and Jon and Linda capped our fundraising goal for it. We accomplished this in record time for ACU, and I believe it will inspire other people to team with us to finish the rest of the Vision in Action initiative strong.”

The late Dean Walling, Jon and David’s grandfather, was an ACU trustee and founding chair of the university’s 21-year, three-phase Design for Development campaign that led to the construction of numerous major facilities in the 1960s and 1970s. A landmark gift in 1962 from Dean and his wife, Thelma (Bernard ’33), was the first to help build Moody Coliseum.

“Jon’s family has a long legacy of supporting and loving Abilene Christian,” said Linda Halbert. “We always loved Walling Lecture Hall and want to honor Dean Walling’s commitment to the school. We are enthusiastic about how these new facilities are changing the campus so dramatically.”

“Supporting the sciences at ACU is definitely a family legacy we want to carry on,” said Jon Halbert. “We are excited and inspired by the changes taking place and feel blessed to be a part of them.”

Jon said the couple did not make their gift for personal recognition but to advance a Halbert legacy through their family foundation and philanthropic interests.

“We are committed to healing disenfranchised people around the globe,” Jon said. He and Linda were founding contributors for ACU’s Halbert Institute for Missions, which honors the memory of Jon and David’s late mother, Jo Ann (Walling ’54) Halbert. “She loved to help people and build churches,” said Jon, who believes his alma mater has long espoused the kind of missional thinking permeating all its academic programs.

“It takes high-quality facilities to attract the best and brightest students and faculty,” Linda said. “What we’re helping build will make ACU as highly respected as any campus that educates future scientists and physicians to make a real difference in the world.”

Jon is board chair of Dallas fundraising and creative agency Pursuant and vice chair of Dallas poverty-fighting partner CitySquare. Together, the Halberts run the Jon and Linda Halbert Family Foundation. In 2012, they were co-executive producers of Rising From Ashes, a critically acclaimed documentary film about the Rwanda national cycling team.

Visit for more information about VIA projects.