Cox cited for community catalyst work

Reg Cox (’84), minister of the Lakewood (Colo.) Church of Christ, has come a long way since earning his psychology degree. He has served as an admissions counselor at Abilene Christian University, a campus minister in south Florida, then back to ACU for nearly 17 years in various Student Life leadership roles at his alma mater.

More recently he’s made a name for himself as a “community catalyst,” as he likes to describe his role. The 57-year-old church leader recently told the Denver Post that he relishes the mission he’s taken on: to bring leaders of various churches in the Lakewood community together so challenges can be tackled en masse, such as a struggling elementary school the group has helped turn around the past two years. The leadership Cox has provided has helped reverse declining enrollment and low achievement test scores, and raise nearly half a million dollars to build new sports fields to keep kids interested in school and out of trouble.

“I’m really kind of the connector,” Cox says. “I’m not necessarily making it all happen. I’m just connecting people who have opportunities, resources, influence and knowledge.”

Listen as Cox shares advice for fellow ministers and offers creative suggestions for making a difference right where they live while opening doors to share the Gospel with others through unconventional means.

New advancement VP Orr has deep ACU roots

EDIT_RGB_IMG_9158 400x400Each time James “Jim” Orr walks across campus, he’s potentially retracing a lot of family footprints along the way. Four generations of them, in fact.

The 1986 accounting graduate was announced today as Abilene Christian University’s new vice president for advancement, inheriting a key role in the development and funding of his alma mater’s growth strategies for its second century.

An experienced attorney who has served as an ACU trustee since 2002, Orr will lead a team of professionals in fundraising, alumni and university relations, university events, and the ACU Foundation.

He founded, along with Blair G. Francis (’75), the firm of Francis & Orr LLP in 1994, now known as Francis, Orr & Totusek LLP, with offices in Dallas and McKinney, Texas. Orr concentrates his practice in commercial and business litigation with an emphasis on healthcare, banking and creditor’s rights. In addition to appearing before numerous district courts throughout Texas, he also has presented cases before the Texas Supreme Court, the federal First Circuit Court of Appeals and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Orr also is a professional and court-appointed mediator.

“I am thrilled and thankful to be a part of the great work of Abilene Christian,” said Jim, who will begin to transition out of his law practice into his new role this summer. “I feel deeply connected to ACU because of the university’s significant impact upon me and my family through multiple generations, and in that sense, it feels like I am coming home.”

Orr grew up in Vernon and remembers trips to Abilene to see both sides of his extended family. His mother, Patsy (Etter ’54) Orr, and uncles Don (’55) and Frank (’58) Etter, were Abilene natives. His father, Robert Orr (’52), is the younger brother of Wilson C. “Dub” Orr (’50) and an uncle of Roland Orr (’68).

“Coming to Abilene, especially for holidays, was always special and usually meant making the rounds to see our relatives,” Jim said.

“My relationship with Dub grew out of these family trips to Abilene. And while I was in college at ACU, Dub helped me find part-time employment at E-Z Serve, where he worked. I have always appreciated and admired him,” Jim said of Dub, who served as an influential ACU trustee from 1970-98 and was named Abilene Christian’s Outstanding Alumnus of the Year in 1995.

“There are very few places I have been where someone does not ask about or know Dub, and speak of their respect for him. He is a great encourager, and has a unique ability to connect with people and bring them together. I think this ability emanates his deep love of, and for, others, who are constantly on his mind. Advancing a cause [ACU] that he dearly loved will be very rewarding.”

Jim said it also means a lot to know of his grandfather and grandmother Etter, and their service to Abilene Christian.

“As 1927 graduates of the college, they moved back to Abilene, and the Hill, not long after graduating,” Jim said. “Madge Etter taught English and was the librarian at the Campus School for many years, where my mother attended.”

He inherits the challenge of helping wrap up the $75 million Vision in Action initiative to build three new science buildings and two athletics stadiums on campus.

“My prayer is that our advancement team will build on the solid foundations developed by so many dedicated people to advance the cause of ACU,” Jim said. “The overwhelming generosity and expressions of good will are inspiring and a source of great momentum for us. Ultimately, my hope is that the team’s purpose and service will grow in proportion to the lives touched throughout the world by ACU, its alumni and friends.”

He is married to Elaine (Rainwater ’87) and the couple has two children: Caleb, an ACU freshman, and KayAnn, a high school junior.

Richardson’s stories with Yankees inspire fans

Bobby Richardson 400x300Forging a star-studded career as a player for the New York Yankees in their glory days of the 1950s and ’60s may not have required divine intervention.

But don’t tell that to Bobby Richardson, who continues to lead a life after professional baseball as though his future depended on God’s continuing favor. And it does, as he readily explains to all who will listen.

At a April 29 luncheon sponsored by ACU’s Center for Building Community, the university’s athletics program and the Big Country chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Richardson shared stories about his faith and his career in Major League Baseball with some of the Bronx Bomber teammates who typified what may be the world’s most recognizable pro sports franchise.

Richardson was a teenager when he watched Gary Cooper’s portrayal of Lou Gehrig in the 1942 classic, The Pride of the Yankees, and wondered what it would be like to wear pinstripes and play in Yankee Stadium. At age 17, he had a pre-game tryout with the team but was reluctant to participate in batting practice until outfielder Mickey Mantle walked up to the cage and put a arm around him and said, “Come on kid, step in there and take some swings.” That began a lifetime friendship between the famous slugger and the young infielder, whose off-the-field lives couldn’t have been more different. Two years later, in 1959, Richardson and Mantle were teammates.

At age 28, Richardson received the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award from Gehrig’s fraternity at Columbia University and at age 31, became only the 10th Yankee to retire with a special day at the ballpark in his honor.  

Former ACU head baseball coach Bill Gilbreth (’69) and Richardson met at the ACU luncheon on April 29. Gilbreth played for the Detroit Tigers and California Angels during his MLB career.

Former ACU head baseball coach Bill Gilbreth (’69) and Richardson met at the ACU luncheon on April 29. Gilbreth played for the Detroit Tigers and California Angels during his MLB career.

Richardson became the only player from a losing team to be named World Series MVP (1960), played on three World Series champion teams (1958, 1961, 1962), won five Gold Glove Awards (1961-65), was named to the American League All-Star Team seven times (1957, 1959, 1962-66), finished runner up to Mantle as 1962 AL MVP, and played in a still-record 30 consecutive World Series games. He later served for 10 years as president of Baseball Chapel, was head baseball coach at three universities (South Carolina, Liberty and Coastal Carolina), and was narrowly defeated in a Congressional election in South Carolina (1976).

Richardson became Mantle’s spiritual mentor, playing a key role in the Hall of Famer’s decision to become a Christian while he was in the latter stages of a struggle with liver cancer. “We were close friends,” Richardson said of Mantle, who battled alcoholism. “He had some areas of his life he wasn’t willing to give up.” But Mantle eventually did.

While serving as a pallbearer at the funeral of teammate Roger Maris in 1985, Mantle asked Richardson if he would one day officiate at Mickey’s funeral. His friend agreed, and did in August 1995 when Mantle’s memorial service in Dallas was broadcast live to a national audience on two TV networks.

“When the accounts of my life are written,” Richardson says in the conclusion to his 2012 memoir, Impact Player, “I hope two things will be said of me. First, that I played baseball in a way that made my team better. Second, and more important, that I lived my life in a way that drew others to my Savior.”

Roberts’ first Boston Marathon was symbolic

Koy Roberts Boston Marathon 2014 400x600

Koy Roberts with his children Reese (left) and Kash (right)

Former longtime ACU media specialist Garner Roberts (’70) has documented countless sporting events in his career as a member of the College Sports Information Directors Hall of Fame. Last week, however, was his first to cover the Boston Marathon, and his son, Dr. Koy Roberts (’93), who was running in it for the first time. His account:

On a gorgeous Patriots’ Day in New England on April 21, 2014, Bostonians reclaimed their marathon from terrorists who interrupted last year’s celebration with murder and mayhem.

In the 118th running of the world’s most famous race, 239 years after American patriot Paul Revere made his famous midnight ride to warn his fellow colonists of the threat of British forces at Concord and Lexington – the first two battles of the Revolutionary War in 1775 – an American nightmare became an American dream.

Meb Keflezighi, a 38-year-old immigrant, became the first American man to win the famed Boston Marathon in 31 years. How appropriate. His triumph in two hours, eight minutes, 37 seconds (2:08:37) came a year after two bombs exploded near the finish line on Boylston Street – killing three people, wounding 264 others and changing the Boston Marathon forever.

“When the bombs exploded, every day since then I’ve wanted to come back and win it,” the four-time NCAA champion from UCLA and Olympic Games silver medalist told reporters. “I kept thinking, Boston strong, Boston strong.”

There is nothing on the sidewalk at 671 Boylston Street in front of Marathon Sports – maybe 50 feet from the marathon finish line – to mark the spot where the first bomb exploded last year. Bostonians are looking – and running – forward, not backward, while still honoring and remembering last year’s victims.

The marathon and Patriots’ Day are symbols of American freedom, and Bostonians and Americans refuse to cower to terrorism. In the years since 1973, when a running boom hit the U.S. after Frank Shorter’s victory in the 1972 Olympic Games marathon, the Boston Marathon evolved from quaint and charming to corporate and commercial.

But Monday it made a giant step back to its original spirit of people and place and competition – qualities that made it special at its beginning in 1897, inspired by the marathon at the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896.

Running with Keflezighi and the other 35,753 entries this year was Dr. Koy Roberts (’93), of the DFW suburb of Double Oak, Texas, 43-year-old graduate of Abilene Christian University, University of North Texas and Abilene High School. It was his eighth marathon but first Boston after qualifying with 3:11 last July in Seattle.

Garner Robert Mug

Garner Roberts

It was impossible among the hundreds of thousands of people and increased security that lined the course for his two children – 11-year-old Reese and 7-year-old Kash – and me to get to the finish line. People began lining the course five hours before the finish, and by noon they were 10 deep in some places.

We waited in nearby Boston Public Garden – near the statue of George Washington – for Koy to finish in 3:13. He placed 4,890th in the top 14 percent of the entries, and his time qualifies him for next year.

The field was expanded by 9,000 this year from 26,839 last year to accommodate people who were denied finishing last year (police stopped runners still on the route when the bombs exploded) and hundreds of people running to raise money for charities. The 102 members of Team MR8, running to honor last year’s youngest victim, 8-year-old Martin Richard, reportedly raised more than $1 million.

It was the second largest Boston field ever after only the 100th running of the Boston Marathon in 1996 when 38,708 entered.

Koy went through the first half in 1:32+, but his 5k splits gradually became slower in the second half from a low of 21:24 to a high of 25:09 as the hills – including Heartbreak Hill, the fourth in a series of four hills in Newton – and the warm weather began to take their toll.

“Heartbreak Hill was heartbreaking,” Koy told his inquisitive first-grade son Kash.

Temperatures were in the 60s with bright sunshine. And although there are trees on the course, there was no shade because leaves have yet to appear after the New England winter. Koy’s second half was 1:40+.

“People were chanting ‘Boston strong, Boston strong,’ ” Koy said. “The people were so loud, and in the last couple of miles it was a deafening roar. The people were crazy. They were going ‘bananas.’ The National Guard was trying to hold them back. They were trying to get to us, give us food and Power Bars, and ‘high five’ us.”

“It was hard not to smile and get pumped with the crowds going bonkers,” Koy added.

He is not the first person in his family to run Boston. His wife, Bj (Conner ’96), ran here in 2010.

My ACU track and field jacket and cap did attract some notice. Upon arrival Friday at Logan Airport we met the husband of Carmel Pace of Rule, Texas, a former Wichita State student-athlete returning to Boston after she was denied a chance to finish last year in her fourth trip here.

And at the pre-race pasta party, a gentleman from Independence, Kansas, sitting next to me, simply said, “Abilene Christian University. Bobby Morrow.” He’s a veteran of 34 Boston Marathons, and we had an enjoyable conversation about track and field.

An estimated one million people lined the course Monday. And hours after Keflezighi finished, hundreds of people were still at the finish line near the John Hancock Tower in Copley Square in this historic city cheering the final finishers.

“This is a take-back-our-marathon kind of marathon,” Wellesley College student Molly Tyler told Sports Illustrated. “It’s just going to be huge. So loud.”

Indeed, it was. Huge and loud. And patriotic and exhausting and exhilarating.

Yankees MVP Richardson to speak April 29

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Si said: An unofficial Abilene travelogue

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

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

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

Schubert-Robertsons Faith Calls

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

Lisa Robertson Faith Calls

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

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

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

Metaxas expounds on grace, responsibility

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


McCaleb to be honored for 50 years at ACU

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucado to be inducted into TIPA Hall of Fame

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marrs named Pepperdine’s next provost

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

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

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

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