Gabriel making most of NFL opportunity

Former ACU star Taylor Gabriel continues to outrun defenses in the NFL.

Former ACU star Taylor Gabriel continues to outrun defenses in the NFL.

At 167 pounds, he is often the slightest player on the field, but 5-foot-8 Cleveland Browns’ wide receiver Taylor Gabriel (’14) keeps making big plays to justify his coaches’ decision to give the speedy rookie from Abilene Christian University a shot in the National Football League.

With four catches for 97 yards, Gabriel was the Browns’ top receiver Sunday in their 29-28 comeback win over the Tennessee Titans. He leads his team in yards per catch (19.1) and has 10 receptions for 194 yards. Cleveland is 2-2 early in the 2014 season and cut NFL veteran Nate Burleson in August to give Gabriel a roster spot after the former ACU star led the Browns in receptions in the preseason.

He ran a 4.27 time in the 40 during ACU’s Pro Day in March but went undrafted in April. He finished his career ranked second in ACU history in catches (215), yards (3,027) and touchdown receptions (27), and fourth in all-purpose yards (3,880).

Proplayerinsiders.com has an interesting feature today about Gabriel that includes a podcast.

Gabriel represents a new generation of Wildcats in the NFL. The elder statesman in that fraternity is Wilbert Montgomery (’77), the running backs coach for Cleveland. This is Montgomery’s 27th year as a player or coach in the NFL. Other former ACU standouts are nine-year veteran safety Danieal Manning (’07) of the Houston Texans and running back Charcandrick West (’14), a member of the Kansas City Chiefs’ practice roster.

In the Canadian Football League, Aston Whiteside (’12) has risen to a starting role as defensive end for the Toronto Argonauts after brief stays with Dallas, Chicago and Cincinnati of the NFL the last two years. Whiteside, who was on the Bears’ practice squad for most of 2012 and the Bengals’ in 2013, was named to every major all-America team after his senior season in 2011 for ACU. His teammate on the Argonauts is backup quarterback Mitchell Gale (’12), ACU’s career passing leader. Tony Washington (’10) is an offensive lineman for the Edmonton Eskimos after playing for Toronto in 2012-13 and the Calgary Roughriders in 2011.


ACU Remembers: Jimmy Jividen

Jimmy JividenA memorial service was held this afternoon for 1951 Abilene Christian University graduate Delta “Jimmy” Jividen, 84, a longtime popular evangelist and author who died Thursday in Abilene.

Jividen was born Nov. 26, 1929, in Woodward County, Okla. He was Students’ Association president at ACU, where he met his wife, Shirley Jones (’54). The couple married June 30, 1951.

He earned a M.A. degree in New Testament from ACU in 1958, worked on a doctorate in religion at the University of Southern California from 1960-64, and taught Bible and Greek at York (Neb.) College, where he chaired the Bible department and served on the Advisory Board. Jividen was president of the ACU Alumni Association from 1975-76.

Jividen planted and/or preached in congregations in Texas, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Colorado, Nebraska, and California, and was minister to three in Abilene: Hillcrest Church of Christ, Baker Heights Church of Christ and Oldham Lane Church of Christ. He initiated The Discipleship Program at Hillcrest to mentor ACU students. 

He authored 10 books – including Miracles: From God or Man?, More Than A Feeling: Worship That Pleases God and Alive in the Spirit: A Study of the Nature and Work of the Holy Spirit – and numerous journal articles. Jividen spoke at many Christian university lectureships and gospel meetings, and served on the board of Restoration Quarterly. During a 1973 tour of Europe, Africa and South America, he preached 70 times in 13 countries.

Jividen served as director of the Abilene Kiwanis Club and was known for his land management expertise, having been named Outstanding Rancher in 1989 for the Middle Clear Fork Soil and Water Conservation District.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Harvey and Ruby Jividen, and brothers Hubert Jividen, Gary Jividen and Marlin Jividen. Among survivors are Shirley, his wife of 63 years; a son, Steve Jividen (’74); two daughters, Diane (Jividen ’75) Huff and Debbie (Jividen ’80) McCoy; nine grandchildren; and 19 great-grandchildren.


10 Questions with Amber Brantly

Amber Brantly thanks God and the Samaritan's Purse staff for praying for her husband. Photos courtesy Samaritan's Purse.

Amber Brantly thanks God and the Samaritan’s Purse staff for praying for her husband. Photos courtesy Samaritan’s Purse.

When Dr. Kent (’03) and Amber (Carroll ’06) Brantly accepted a call to the medical missions field in Liberia in 2013, they had no inkling their lives might one day be the making of international headlines.

“It still feels bizarre to me that people know about us, that it even mattered to so many people – complete strangers – that Kent had Ebola,” Amber said in a recent interview for ACU Today magazine. “I don’t even know how the world found out. Why was it such big news for Kent and Nancy [Writebol, a fellow missionary] to come down with the disease, when hundreds had already died from it in Liberia?”

Those are questions the Brantlys still ask themselves as they attempt to raise awareness of the Ebola crisis in West Africa, now the deadliest on record.

Kent and Amber Brantly with their two children.

Kent and Amber Brantly with their two children.

The couple had moved to Liberia as part of the World Medical Mission Post-Residency Program, an arm of Samaritan’s Purse, which aims to match a newly graduated doctor to a seasoned missionary doctor on the field for two years of mentoring.

“When we were accepted to this program, we also met a physician working in Liberia and felt the Lord paired us together for this program and orchestrated the whole thing,” Amber said. Incidentally, that physician, Dr. Rick Sacra, is himself recovering from Ebola, as is their friend and colleague Nancy Writebol. That all three have survived a disease that has up to a 90 percent fatality rate is in itself remarkable.

Millions have followed the story of Kent’s battle with Ebola and his amazing recovery. The experience has given the couple a platform to tell their story at the highest levels of government – including a private meeting with President Obama in the White House last month and two days of testimony before Congress on the Ebola crisis in West Africa.

“I can see how through Kent’s getting sick, the consciousness and awareness of millions of people were raised toward the epidemic in West Africa,” Amber said. “For this I am grateful.”

In their first public speaking engagement since their ordeal, the Brantlys will be on the Abilene Christian University campus during Homecoming weekend. They will speak jointly at a public event at 4 p.m. Oct. 10 in Moody Coliseum, sharing their story of faith and healing.

“For us, this is not just one of many speaking engagement requests we got,” Kent said. “ACU really is important to us. It has been formational in our lives, and we are honored and humbled and pleased to get to be there for Homecoming.”

The Brantlys’ story spans the lowest of lows to the highest of highs. Amber shares her perspective in this Q&A:

Was the decision for you and Kent to stay in Liberia after the Ebola outbreak a difficult one to make? How did you navigate that decision?

This is an interesting question to us. We didn’t really think about it. A disaster, a crisis had come to our home and the only thing we could do was respond. The Lord called us to Liberia clearly for “such a time as this,” and to abandon those we had come to serve during their time of need wasn’t an option.

There was one day early in the outbreak when Kent spent over an hour deliberating whether it was safe for him to come home to us or not. He had seen a patient in the hospital with pretty typical symptoms: fever, headache, runny stomach. He sent him to the lab for a malaria test. But later in the day, he had a terrible sinking feeling. “What if this guy has Ebola, and I’ve missed it?” he wondered.

He spent some time trying to find the man’s lab results, but the gentleman had not gone to the lab after all. He tried calling the phone number listed on the chart, but the line was dead (out of battery). He just couldn’t shake the feeling and the doubt he felt. After a long walk home and talking with his colleagues, he decided he could come home to us because even if he were exposed to the Ebola virus that day, he would not yet be contagious. You only become contagious when you have fever.

The man came back the next day for his lab work, and he did not have Ebola; he had malaria. But I knew how much Kent carried the burden and the stress of his work home.

Would you take us through those first few days when you found out that Kent had been infected with Ebola?

Prayers came in many forms while Kent battled Ebola.

Prayers came in many forms while Kent battled Ebola.

It was Thursday when Kent told me he was home sick with a fever. He had to remain isolated in our home until he had an Ebola test after 72 hours. So I waited. On Saturday morning they drew his blood and carried it to the national laboratory an hour down the road. I knew it would take several hours to run the test, so I tried to stay calm and carry out my regular activities.

While I was a student at ACU, I spent Saturday mornings at my grandparents’ house for coffee. I wanted to go there this Saturday to carry on the tradition and take my kids over for a visit. My parents joined us, along with my aunt and a few of my siblings. I tried to engage that morning, but I was truly sick with worry. My parents were the only ones there who knew Kent was sick and the implications of what that would mean.

So I waited for Kent’s phone call. And in the afternoon it came. He had tested positive for Ebola. I wept. I think all I could say to him was, “I am so sorry. I am so, so sorry.”

I cried for a while alone in my room, then I texted my dad who was in another part of the house. “Daddy” is all I said. He and mom came and held me like a baby. I have never seen my dad cry like that.

Somehow, undoubtedly empowered by the Holy Spirit, we made it through the next few days. The kids reminded us that they needed to eat. My heart was too sick to eat anything. I barely slept. We were surrounded by friends who brought us meals and drinks and provided a quiet home for the kids and me to stay in.

You and the children had come to Abilene a few days earlier for your brother’s wedding. As a nurse, you knew the implications of this illness. What was your first thought when you received Kent’s phone call telling you he had tested positive for Ebola?

Oh, no. This is awful. Please, Lord, give him strength to fight for his life. I need him. My kids need him. They need their daddy.

What was your second thought?

How can I get to where he is so I can take care of him?

What were those days like while you were waiting for news about Kent’s condition? 

Prayers came in many forms while Kent battled Ebola.

Prayers came in many forms while Kent battled Ebola.

Long. I was on pins and needles waiting for his calls, or a call from anybody in Liberia who could update me on his condition. The first call of the day was the most anticipated; I needed to know he survived the night.

I started talking with people at Samaritan’s Purse about the possibility of evacuating Kent for care outside Liberia. That was a complicated process. Obviously, nobody had ever transferred an Ebola patient across international borders or oceans before. We met a lot of opposition and closed doors.

I finally heard on Thursday, July 31, that Kent would be evacuated to Emory in Atlanta, and I was elated. I may never know or fully understand all the pieces that came together to make that happen, and that is OK, but I am forever grateful to Samaritan’s Purse, the U.S. State Department, and the private airline who agreed to fly Kent home for treatment.

What kept you going? What helped you most throughout those days?

Emails and messages from friends who did not ask for a reply, but just wrote to encourage me, including snippets of scriptures and hymns. I could barely come up with a prayer on my own, so to have Psalms sent to me that friends were praying for me was a big encouragement.

You mentioned a desire to tell the “greater story” of what the Lord has done for you and Kent. Are there any moments when you were particularly aware of the Lord’s presence?

Stephen and Ruby Brantly

Stephen and Ruby Brantly

Other than Kent’s surviving Ebola, my favorite part of the story is how the Lord worked in and through my children. From our coming to Texas from Liberia, they were covered in a shield that protected them from the trauma of the events of the week. They were flexible, oblivious, easily entertained, happy, cooperative, and all-around good. I have pretty good kids anyway, but this was a particular gift from the Lord that they were above and beyond well behaved. I left them with my sister-in-law for three whole weeks. I know the Lord was protecting them from harm, and that He was comforting me by caring for my children.

Your children are so young now. When they grow up and hear the stories told about this time in your family’s life, what do you hope they will take from it?  

My prayer for my children is the same as it always was. I hope they can see how good and faithful the Lord is and that He will never stop loving us or give up on us. I pray that my children will love Him with their whole hearts, souls, minds and strength.

What do the next few weeks – or months ­– hold for you and Kent?

We honestly do not know. We plan to celebrate the upcoming holidays with our families, which is a surprising blessing since we thought we would be in Liberia for several years. We still plan on doing full-time career mission work, but we do not know where the Lord is calling us next. Kent is still physically recovering. His body took a big hit, but with a little work and exercise, he should be as healthy as he ever was.

What, more than anything else, would you like people to know about this experience?

I want people to know we are just regular folks seeking the Lord’s will for our lives. We only did what we felt He asked us to do, and because we had already died to ourselves in order to follow Him, we didn’t think much of it when he called us to Africa. The Lord has a calling on your life, too. I want people to know that when you seek the Lord’s will, obey Him and follow Him, He will always, always give you what you need to be faithful to Him.


ACU alum leading NCTC through bus tragedy

Abilene Christian University knows all too well the effects a tragic bus accident can have on an academic community. It’s been a little less than three years since a busload of students and faculty from ACU’s Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences was involved in an accident that killed sophomore Anabel Reid and injured 15 others, some critically.

Dr. Brent Wallace

Dr. Brent Wallace

So our thoughts and prayers are with North Central Texas College in Gainesville, where a prayer vigil was held earlier tonight to help its community begin to heal in the wake of a truck-bus accident Friday night in Oklahoma that killed four student-athletes and hospitalized three others. ACU graduate Dr. Brent Wallace (’03 M.A.) was recently appointed president of NCTC – the state’s oldest continuously operating public two-year college – after having served as its vice president of instruction and chief academic officer.

In the NCTC accident, an 18-wheeler crossed the median of Interstate 35 near the Texas-Oklahoma border and hit the bus, which was being driven by the college’s head softball coach. He was transporting his team home after the Lady Lions played Southern Nazarene University in a Friday scrimmage in Bethany, Okla. As of Saturday night, two Lady Lions were still hospitalized and one was in critical condition.

Brooke Deckard, Jaiden Pelton, Meagan Richardson and Katelynn Woodlee died in the accident. Woodlee was a freshman and the others were sophomores who were part of NCTC’s 2014 team that won the National Junior College Athletic Association regional championship and advanced to the NJCAA national tournament for just the second time in history.

Wallace earned a master’s degree in human communication from ACU and graduate certifications in conflict resolution and family dispute mediation.

NCTC’s main campus in Gainesville has about 2,500 students with additional locations in Bowie, Corinth, Flower Mound and Graham.

You can leave messages of condolence and prayers on the NCTC Facebook site.


Brantlys seek to raise awareness of Ebola

Dr. Kent Brantly and wife Amber meet with President Obama


President Barack Obama meets with Dr. Kent Brantly and his wife, Amber, in the Oval Office on Tuesday. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

It was a whirlwind week in Washington, D.C., for Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly (’03) and his wife Amber (Carroll ’06).

The ACU alumnus testified before congressional committees Tuesday and Wednesday about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The couple also met privately with President Obama in the Oval Office.

Brantly contracted the deadly virus while serving as a missionary doctor in Liberia for aid organization Samaritan’s Purse.

“As a survivor, it is not only my privilege but also my duty to speak out on behalf of the people of West Africa who continue to face unspeakable devastation because of this horrific disease,” he said Tuesday, speaking at a joint Senate hearing on the Ebola crisis.

On Wednesday, he testified again, this time before a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee. Throughout the week, he also met with major media outlets in the nation’s Capitol, including the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post.

Amber Brantly's parents, Donnie ('77) and Lisa (Spann '79) Carroll, talk about the week their son-in-law was diagnosed with Ebola. This video was part of a sermon Sunday at Southern Hills Church of Christ, where the Carrolls are members.

Amber Brantly’s parents, Donnie (’77) and Lisa (Spann ’79) Carroll, talk about the week their son-in-law was diagnosed with Ebola. This video was part of a sermon Sunday at Southern Hills Church of Christ in Abilene, where the Carrolls are members.

Brantly’s core message was the same: The people of West Africa are suffering greatly from a horrific disease that is raging out of control, and it will require swift and coordinated action by the global health community to keep the disease from spreading further, perhaps even to the United States.

“I hope that the devastating impact of the current epidemic will result in new discoveries for treatments and vaccines in the future, but we cannot wait for a magic bullet to talk the spread of Ebola in West Africa,” Brantly told congressmen. “The current epidemic is beyond anything that we have ever seen, and it is time to think outside of the box.”

Brantly’s battle with the virus left him with a perspective few other physicians share. “Ebola is a scourge that does not even allow its victims to die with dignity,” he testified.

“I came to understand firsthand what my own patients had suffered,” he said. “I was isolated from my family, and I was unsure if I would ever see them again. Even though I knew most of my caretakers, I could see nothing but their eyes through their protective goggles when they came to treat me.”

As the Brantlys look to the future, the people of Africa remain on their hearts and minds.  Brantly told the LA Times that he would like to return to Liberia, “Lord willing,” and encouraged other healthcare professionals considering traveling to West Africa to help with the Ebola outbreak to go now. “For people who want to go, I say, ‘Don’t delay.’ ”


McLaughlin opens Summit program Sunday

Abilene Christian University’s 108th annual Summit begins tonight when Don McLaughlin, pulpit minister at North Atlanta (Ga.) Church of Christ, is the 7 p.m. theme speaker. More than 130 top preachers and teachers are scheduled to present Sunday through Wednesday on the theme “Earthed: Discovering Our Origin in God.”

Watch live major presentations here by featured guest presenters and theme speakers at 7 p.m. tonight and Monday-Wednesday at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Featured guest presenters:

Barbara Brown Taylor 250x350

Dr. Barbara Brown Taylor was featured in the April 28 cover story of Time magazine. She was named in 1996 by Baylor University as one of the 12 most effective preachers in the English-speaking world, along with Dr. Fred Craddock, Billy Graham and Dr. Charles Swindoll. Hauerwaus’ book, A Community of Character: Toward a Constructive Christian Social Ethic, was named one of the 100 most important books on religion of the 20th century. She is the Butman Professor of Religion at Piedmont College in rural northeast Georgia. An Episcopal priest since 1984, she is the author of a dozen books, mostly on the preaching life, including The New York Times best-seller An Altar in the World, acclaimed and award-winning Leaving Church, and most recently, Learning to Walk in the Dark. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in religion from Emory University, a Master of Divinity degree from Yale University and has received several honorary doctorates. She and her husband live on a farm in the foothills of the Appalachians.

0846/02 #22©Duke University Photography by Jim Wallace

Dr. Stanley Hauerwas is professor emeritus of divinity and law at Duke University, where he has taught in the Duke Divinity School since 1984. A native of West Texas, he earned a degree from Southwestern University, four graduate degrees – including a Ph.D. – from Yale University. Hauerwas taught at the University of Notre Dame from 1970-84. He was named “America’s Best Theologian” by Time magazine in 2001 and his 25 books include A Community of Character, The Peaceable Kingdom, Resident Aliens, and Hannah’s Child: A Theologian’s Memoir. For 40 years, Hauerwas has been considered a leading voice on the importance of lived theology, of character and virtues, of narrative, and of the church’s role in Christian formation and moral reflection.

Andrea Dilley

Andrea Palpant Dilley is an author published in Christianity Today, Beliefnet, Her.meneutics, Huffington Post, CNN Belief Blog, and Faith and Leadership, a journal of the Duke University Divinity School. As a documentary producer, her work has aired nationally on American Public Television. Dilley has written Jesus Girls: True Tales of Growing Up Female and Evangelical and Talking Taboo: American Christian Women Get Frank About Faith. Her memoir, Faith and Other Flat Tires: Searching for God on the Rough Road of Doubt describes her childhood in Kenya as the daughter of Quaker medical missionaries. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and their three children.

Theme speakers in Moody Coliseum:

  • SUNDAY, 7 P.M. – Don McLaughlin, “God’s Earthed Words”
  • MONDAY, 11 A.M. – Dr. Barbara Brown Taylor, “Abraham’s Unchosen Blessing”
  • MONDAY, 7 P.M. – Dr. Lawrence Murray, assistant professor of psychology and family studies/liberal arts at Oklahoma Christian University, Edmond, Okla., “Believing God Leads to Righteousness”
  • TUESDAY, 11 A.M. – Sam Barrington, pastor of Living Stones Church in South Bend, Ind., “God Blesses Outsiders”
  • TUESDAY, 7 P.M. – Dr. Stanley Hauerwas, “The ‘God Wrestlers’ ”
  • WEDNESDAY, 11 A.M. – Sam Gonzalez (’93), campus minister of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, “The Strange Strength of a Matriarch”
  • WEDNESDAY, 7 P.M. – Randy Harris, popular author and speaker, and instructor of Bible, mission and ministry at ACU, “Abandoned to the Power of God”

Read the online Summit program booklet:


VIA coverage includes a look back at Bennett

Bennett has been gutted and is awaiting installation of a new steel infrastructure that will be used to construct labs and project space.

Bennett has been gutted and is awaiting installation of a new steel infrastructure that will be used to construct labs and project space.

Since 1930, one of the workhouse buildings on the Abilene Christian University campus has been Bennett Gymnasium, which is receiving new life this year as the future home of laboratories for the Department of Engineering and Physics.

Bennett in 1957 was a beehive of activity, from intramurals and P.E. classes to men’s intercollegiate basketball games and pep rallies, to  Lectureship events.

Bennett in 1957 was a beehive of activity, from intramurals and P.E. classes, to pep rallies and men’s intercollegiate basketball games, to Lectureship events.

Paul Anthony (’04), ACU’s advancement communication coordinator, described the transformation in our new Spring-Summer issue as “trading in hardwood and basketball for stained concrete and the hum of robotic experiments.” That’s a pretty good assessment.

Right now Bennett is a mere shell of its former self – the exterior is being largely retained – but soon its interior will be transformed into two stories of labs and project space that will become a showpiece for the fast-growing engineering program and a physics program that has long yearned for lab space to complement its ongoing world-class research work at places like Fermilab and Brookhaven national labs.

Bennett's most recent use was a venue for intramural basketball. The last wooden court was not original to the building, which opened in 1930.

Bennett’s most recent use including being a venue for intramural basketball. The last wooden court was not original to the building, which opened in 1930.

ACU Today’s cover story features 14 pages of stories and images about the exciting Vision in Action initiative that will build three science facilities and two stadiums on campus.

In the weeks and months to come, we’ll be profiling here and in the print edition the donors, faculty members, history and impressive programs represented by the university’s largest construction phase in 50 years.

Bennett will be the first of the five projects to be completed later this fall, and we look forward to showing you images of its earlier days and telling some fascinating stories about what was widely considered the finest gym between Fort Worth and El Paso.

Via-SpreadView “Building the Future,” our cover story in the new online issue


ACU Remembers: Ken Rasco

Ken Rasco 250x300After 23 years (1927-50), Clara Bishop was a hard act to follow as registrar of Abilene Christian University.

But Kenneth Hugh Rasco (’48) bettered her longevity mark in the Registrar’s Office with a record career spanning 35 years (1950-85). And if you were one of the tens of thousands of students to attend ACU during those three-and-a-half decades, his thumbprint was on your transcript and he personally approved your Commencement credentials.

Colleagues and students alike spoke of the kindness, humility, grace, patience and eye for detail with which Rasco carried out a role crucial to the success of any university and its academic endeavors. Those attributes also describe his life outside the tedious work he did in the Hardin Administration Building and the profession to which he dedicated his career.

Rasco died today in Abilene at age 93. A memorial service will be held at University Church of Christ on Saturday, Sept. 20, at 11 a.m., conducted by Piersall-Benton Funeral Directors, with burial afterward at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Abilene. Visitation with the family will be 5-7 p.m. Friday at Piersall-Benton (733 Butternut, Abilene, Texas 79602).

Ken was born Jan. 23, 1921, in Tyler, Texas, and graduated from Tyler High School in 1939. He was a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army Air Corps, serving from 1942-44 as a left-waist gunner on a B-17 in World War II. He earned four Air Medals with four oak leaf clusters, and the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism during his 35 missions over Germany and France. Ken Rasco registrar

He married Marianna Yarbrough (’53) on Jan. 1, 1954, in Fort Worth. Later, she retired from ACU as professor emerita of family and consumer sciences after nearly 40 years of service to her alma mater.

He graduated from Tyler Junior College with an Associate of Arts degree in English in 1941 and from ACU in 1948 with a Bachelor of Arts in English. He earned a Master of Arts degree in 1949 from Northwestern University and also did graduate studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder and DePauw University.

Ken joined the ACU faculty in 1949 as an instructor of English, retiring in 1986 as assistant professor emeritus of English and registrar. He was active in the Texas Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers and the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.

He served as a deacon at Abilene’s University Church of Christ, where he and Marianna have been longtime members.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Hugh and Berta Lou McGlathery Rasco; brothers Edwin Rasco and Alvin Mack McCary; and a sister, Ethlene Buffington. Among survivors are Dr. Marianna Rasco, his wife of 60 years; a daughter, Dr. Amy Coffey (’79); a son, Kern Rasco (’80); five grandchildren; one great-grandchild; and a sister, Merle Holmes (’54). Memorials may be made to the Ken and Marianna Yarbrough Rasco Scholarship at ACU (Gift Records, ACU Box 29132, Abilene, Texas 79699-9132).


VIA News: Track/soccer stadium progresses

This view from a live webcam atop Edwards Hall shows progress on the new stadium for ACU's soccer and track and field programs.

This view from a live webcam atop Edwards Hall shows progress on the new stadium for ACU’s soccer and track and field programs.

With new engineering and physics labs still being built on the south side of campus, attention also has turned to the north, where crews have begun work on constructing a new stadium for ACU’s successful soccer and track and field teams.

A live webcam is tracking the progress of the stadium, which is the second of five facilities to begin construction in the historic Vision in Action initiative.

Fundraising continues for Vision in Action, but ACU’s Board of Trustees has given approval to use funds already received to begin work on the Engineering and Physics Laboratories at Bennett Gymnasium and the as-yet-unnamed new stadium. Groundbreaking on larger projects – construction of Wildcat Stadium and Halbert-Walling Research Center, and the transformation of Foster Science Building into the Robert R. and Kay Onstead Science Center – will not begin until money for them has been raised.

James “Jim” Orr (’86), J.D., vice president for advancement, told the Optimist this month that about 75 percent of the projects’ $75 million budget has been raised thus far.

The new track/soccer stadium also will feature space for some field events, with other venues to be located north of Ambler Avenue, and a new track and field fieldhouse alongside the current fieldhouse shared by the soccer and softball teams. Construction is projected to be complete in the spring, in time for a mid-April NCAA Division I track meet to be hosted at the stadium.

Along with closing Oliver Jackson Boulevard and a portion of the parking lots surrounding the site, construction has displaced the soccer team, which is playing home games in Shotwell Stadium this fall and practicing at Action Zone.


Spring-Summer 2014 issue is here

2 Science Buildings for BlogIt’s a little later than originally planned, but we wanted to be sure you received the most recent news about some exciting developments at Abilene Christian University.

Although it’s in the mail, you don’t have to wait for the Spring-Summer 2014 issue of ACU Today magazine to arrive. You can sneak a peak now at its 130 pages (84 from the printed issue and another 46 of Bonus Coverage you can only read online). 

New Stadiums for Blog

It’s been a busy spring and summer at ACU getting the Vision in Action (VIA) initiative started. It’s a massive project that will see three new science buildings and two stadiums built on the Hill – the most transformative growth in facilities since the Design for Development campaign built Moody Coliseum, Brown Library, McGlothlin Campus Center, Don H. Morris Center and other landmarks in the 1960s and 1970s. The $75 million initiative began with the announcement in February of $55 million in gifts, including an ACU-record $30 million from Mark (’86) and April (Bullock ’89) Anthony of Dallas.

The Anthonys made an historic gift to their alma mater.

The Anthonys made an historic gift to their alma mater.

VIA coverage in ACU Today includes a look at the latest architectural renderings for the Robert R. and Kay Onstead Science Center, Halbert-Walling Research Center and the two stadiums, which are in some cases a good bit different than those you may have seen back in February. Wildcat Stadium will allow home football games to be played on campus for the first time in decades. There also are profiles of major donors, details about the five building projects, and some fascinating history. Other major stories this issue:

  • Profiles of ACU’s 2014 alumni award winners, led by minister Rick Atchley (’78), who preaches for the largest Church of Christ congregation in the U.S.
  • “High Hopes for H2O,” a profile of Abilene mayor Dr. Norman Archibald (M.S. ’74) and his work to secure reliable, long-term water resources for ACU’s hometown;
  • A Q&A with Rep. Janice Hahn (’74), a California congresswoman who loves representing her constituents and her alma mater, has a family legacy of public service, and fond memories of ACU;
  • “Leading the Way,” a look at Dr. Gary McCaleb’s (’64) 50 years of leadership at ACU, an achievement the campus celebrated in April;
  •  “For the Least of These,” stories and images of alumni dedicated to caring for orphans in Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda;
  • Bonus Coverage: an expanded look back at Sing Song and Wildcats wrapping up their first year in NCAA Division I;
  • “The Great Commission’s Greatest Friend,” a Second Glance essay reflecting on the amazing influence of the late Dr. Clyde N. Austin (’53); and
  • Other ACU news, including the latest from your classmates in EXperiences, plus a profile of attorney Lori (Halstead ’01) Windham, who successfully argued Hobby Lobby’s case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Watch this blog in the days to come for backstories of some of these major articles in the new issue.

View the new online issue