McCaleb’s guest speakers enrich campus life

Leading the WayThe recent visit of W. Mark Lanier, J.D., to campus was more than an opportunity for students, faculty and staff to hear from a difference-maker. The noted Houston trial lawyer was another example of thought-provoking leaders from all walks of life brought to ACU by Dr. Gary McCaleb (’64) and the university’s Center for Building Community.

McCaleb, who is executive director of the CBC and vice president of the university, has for years hand-picked notable people to come to Abilene to speak in Chapel, at CBC luncheons and to Lynay students.

During the 2013-14 school year, best-selling author Eric Metaxas and former New York Yankee great Bobby Richardson headlined CBC events. Others through the years have included William Bennett, U.S. Secretary of Education; Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan prime minister; Herman Boone, high school football coach from Remember the Titans; Ray Bradbury, science fiction novelist and Emmy Award-winning playwright; George W. Bush, Texas governor; Dr. James Dobson, best-selling author and Focus on the Family founder; Dave Dravecky, cancer survivor, author and former MLB pitcher; Alex Haley, Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling author of Roots: The Saga of an American Family; Dr. Charlton Heston, Hollywood film legend; James Michener, Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling author; Byron Nelson, professional golf legend and former ACU trustee; Marc Ravalomanana, president of Republic of Madagascar; Nolan Ryan, Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher; Dr. Joe Shirley Jr. (’73), president of the Navajo Nation; Kenneth Starr, former special prosecutor; and John Wooden, best-selling author and UCLA basketball coaching legend.

You can read more about the career of McCaleb in Leading the Way, a profile of him in the Spring-Summer issue of ACU Today magazine, by following this link or clicking on the image above. McCaleb began his 51st year of service to ACU this fall.

Lanier tackles questions with courtroom logic

Life presents tough questions. W. Mark Lanier, J.D., a prominent Houston trial lawyer and author of Christianity on Trial, offered answers to several of them during talks Monday on the Abilene Christian University campus.

Speaking in Chapel, Lanier posed two life-defining questions: “What really counts?” and “What are the two most important decisions you will ever make?” With a mixture of what he called “lawyer humor” and a sprinkling of free marital advice, Lanier offered his answers to the crowd in Moody Coliseum. (Watch the Chapel video here.)

Mark Lanier talks to students after Chapel.

Author Mark Lanier talks to students after Chapel.

And for the record, Lanier said, the most important decisions are “not the job you’re going to take and not where you’re going to live.”

Lanier spoke later at a luncheon sponsored by the ACU Center for Building Community, examining the topic of morality and the law with the same logic used by attorneys in a courtroom. (Watch the luncheon video here.)

“I will never have any trouble getting people to admit to me that what happened in Nazi Germany was an atrocity,” Lanier told the luncheon audience composed of students, faculty and members of the community. “What happened in Nazi Germany was evil; it was not just morally bankrupt, but morally horrendous. And as I look at those pictures and I read about it, there’s part of me that’s a lawyer that kicks in.

“What if a judge had said to me, ‘Lanier, I want you to represent Hitler for war crimes.’ How would I have done it? If I had no choice, if I were in a position to truly try and walk Hitler for war crimes, how would I go about doing it?” he asked himself. One of the first things he would do, he said, is try to empanel a jury of people who do not believe in God.

“If you don’t believe in God, there are some really, really tough arguments that exist that would run in support of walking Adolph Hitler,” said Lanier, who appears frequently on network TV news programs as a legal expert.

His talk was based on a chapter in his recently released Christianity on Trial: A Lawyer Examines the Christian Faith. “I’ve gotten more feedback – some of it flack – on this chapter more than any other chapter, including that on the resurrection,” Lanier said. “I believe the reason why is this really hits a nerve.”

Though Lanier has written several books on legal issues, Christianity on Trial is his first religious book. In it, he uses his legal experience to examine the plausibility of the Christian faith. Proceeds from book sales go to the Lanier Theological Library Foundation.

VIA News: Purple track is in the starting blocks

Seemingly overnight, the piles of gray and brown sand covering the site of Abilene Christian University’s new track and field/soccer stadium have disappeared beneath the ground.

About 400 tons of what is called root-zone sand was poured into an even layer nine inches deep and overlaid this week with sod, creating the first official soccer field in ACU history. Once crews finish installing irrigation lines, the site will look a lot more purple.

Soccer 1

Rolls of sod wait to be used to create the new soccer pitch Wednesday.

“Everything inside the track has to be complete before they start the running surface,” said John Mann, project superintendent for HOAR Construction, the contractor ACU has hired to build four of the five projects that are part of the Vision in Action initiative.

Beynon Sports Surfaces – the Maryland-based company whose previous projects have included NCAA Division I tracks for Baylor, TCU, Alabama, Texas and Florida State – will begin pouring the Wildcats’ new purple-colored track next week, likely on Wednesday, Mann said. A live webcam is recording the progress of the stadium.

The University of Oregon’s legendary Hayward Field – known as TrackTown USA – is one of the showcases for Benyon’s work. Hayward Field was the site of the 2008 and 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, the 2009 and 2011 U.S. Outdoor Nationals, and the 2010 NCAA Division I Outdoor Championships. In July, 129 records were set at Hayward during the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships and another nine during the 40th annual Prefontaine Classic. The 2015 NCAA Division I Outdoor Championships and 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials also will be held in Eugene.

Depending on weather, ACU’s installation process will take up to four weeks, Mann said. Once crews finish pouring the track, construction will begin on lighting, stands and press box, with most of that work expected to be complete by the end of January.

Track 1

Crews also began work Tuesday on a new track fieldhouse, to sit alongside the current one shared by the women’s soccer and softball teams. After underground utilities are installed, crews next week will pour the foundation. Projected completion for the fieldhouse is April 1, just in time for ACU’s first fully Division I track and field meet later that month. The second annual Wes Kittley Invitational on April 11 will feature teams from ACU, Texas Tech, TCU and New Mexico.

Vision in Action is the $75 million initiative that will lead to three new science facilities and two new stadiums, including the first on-campus football stadium in more than 70 years.

ACU Remembers: William F. Hooten

Bill Hooten 200x250Former longtime Abilene Christian University trustee William F. “Bill” Hooten of Johns Creek, Ga., died Oct. 2 at age 88.

He was born Aug. 13, 1926, in St. Louis, Mo., married Joanne “Jan” Jeans on Aug. 1, 1949, and graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in 1950. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1944-46 during World War II and for 18 months in the Army as a lieutenant during the Korean War.

Hooten’s career in the hardware-automotive retail and wholesale industry spanned 40 years. He worked his way from copy writer to corporate vice president and director of Western Auto Supply Co. Later, he was president of Liberty Distributors in Chicago before facilitating the merger of Liberty and Sentry Hardware Corporation into Distribution America, an organization of 4,500 hardware, lumber and building materials stores for which he served as president.

In 1991 he received the Leukens Leadership Award, the highest recognition of a distributor or manufacturer in the hardware industry.

After retirement from Distribution America in 1992, he and Jan traveled on several overseas assignments for International Executive Service Corps in which he was an advisor to developing- and emerging-market retail companies.

Hooten served as an elder in four congregations, including the North Atlanta Church of Christ. He was an ACU trustee for 29 years.

Among survivors are Jan, his wife of 65 years; a son, Bill Hooten III; daughters Marcy (Hooten ’76) Godfrey and Suzy (Hooten ’78) Brownlee; nine grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Memorials can be made to ACU’s Jan and Bill Hooten Biblical Studies Endowed Scholarship (Gift Records, ACU Box 29132, Abilene, Texas 79699-9132).

VIA News: Onstead groundbreaking scheduled

Kay Onstead

Kay Onstead

Donors have given more than $41 million of the needed $45 million to a trio of science projects on the south side of the Abilene Christian University campus, paving the way for groundbreaking on the Onstead Science Center next month.

A ceremonial groundbreaking event is scheduled for after Chapel on Monday, Nov. 10, outside the Foster Science Building, which will be transformed into a state-of-the-art center for ACU’s world-class science programs. The event is open to the public, with an invitation-only lunch to follow for major donors and supporters.

The Robert R. and Kay Onstead Science Center will be the third of five major projects to break ground as part of the $75 million Vision in Action initiative. The Engineering and Physics Laboratories at Bennett Gymnasium is scheduled to be complete by January, and a new stadium for the track and field and soccer programs is scheduled to open by April.

The science center’s name honors Kay Onstead, who made a $10 million cornerstone gift to the facility, and her late husband, Robert, a former ACU trustee.

Crews are expected to begin Phase 1 of the project – which comprises demolishing Walling Lecture Hall and constructing a new glass-walled lobby on the building’s north side – after the semester ends in mid-December.

As with the previously begun projects, construction on Phase 1 moved forward once enough money was raised to complete that phase. Construction of Halbert-Walling Research Center, the third of the three Vision in Action science projects, will begin once the remainder of the $45 million is raised. Fundraising also continues for Wildcat Stadium, Abilene Christian’s first on-campus football facility in more than 70 years.

Groundbreaking ceremonies for both of those facilities are expected to take place in the spring.

Former Walmart CEO talks faith, business

Mike Dukes at COBA 10-14-14Mike Duke’s five years as CEO of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. capped a nearly 20-year tenure with the retail giant but his influence over its operations may far outlive him. Duke spoke about faith and business at Abilene Christian University on Tuesday as part of the Distinguished Speaker Series hosted by ACU’s College of Business Administration (COBA).

Duke, who is now retired, served on Walmart’s Board of Trustees; oversaw the logistics, distribution and administrative divisions; and was vice chair of Walmart International.

Dr. Rick Lytle, professor and dean of ACU’s COBA, interviewed Duke during Tuesday’s luncheon. Lytle spent the 2012-13 school year representing the university as a research fellow at the CEO Forum in Colorado Springs, Colo., and as a visiting marketing professional at Walmart headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., where he shadowed Walmart executives and joined them in strategy sessions. At the time, Duke was chair and CEO of the company.

Duke had 23 years of experience with Federated Department Stores and May Department Stores before joining Walmart. He has been on the Board of Directors of The Consumer Goods Forum, the executive committee of Business Roundtable and the executive board of Conservation International’s Center for Environment Leadership in Business. He also serves on the Board of Advisors for the University of Arkansas and the advisory board of the Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management in Beijing, China.

Brantly: Focus on stopping Ebola in Africa

Kent Brantly at ACU 600x600While this week’s developing news about a second diagnosis of Ebola in Dallas is worrisome to some Metroplex residents, the comments of local and federal health officials there are echoing what Samaritan’s Purse physician Dr. Kent Brantly (’03) said Friday at Abilene Christian University, his alma mater.

Nina Pham, a nurse among other healthcare workers who assisted with Thomas Duncan, the patient who died last week at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, has contracted the virus.

After his visit to ACU’s Homecoming this past weekend with his wife, Amber (Carroll ’06), Brantly was in Dallas on Sunday to donate plasma to Pham, a 2010 graduate of Texas Christian University, according to an ABC News report. On his way to Abilene a few days earlier, Kent stopped in Kansas City to do the same for video journalist Ashoka Makpo, who is hospitalized in Nebraska. Brantly said he was willing to do likewise for Duncan, but their blood types did not match.

Dr. Kent Brantly (left) and his wife, Amber (right) were interviewed by ACU theology instructor Randy Harris on Oct. 12 in Moody Coliseum.

Dr. Kent Brantly (left) and his wife, Amber (right) were interviewed by ACU theology instructor Randy Harris on Oct. 12 in Moody Coliseum.

“It’s a very serious disease for those who have it and for those who have come in contact with sick individuals. But I want to be very clear that for someone who is not in contact with a person who is sick with Ebola, there is no risk,” said Brantly, who while speaking at ACU described being “heartbroken” for Duncan and his family.

“For those children who were living in the household with Mr. Duncan when he was ill – before he was cared for in the hospital – the playmates and classmates of those children are not at risk, because those children were not sick when they last were around their playmates and classmates,” he continued. “For those people who are contacts of someone who is known to have Ebola, this is a very serious issue. We all need to be supporting those people, and those individuals need to be monitoring themselves and cooperating with the authorities and the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the CDC, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that healthcare professionals know how to stop Ebola. “It’s not going to spread widely in the U.S. for two basic reasons. We can do infection control in hospitals and we can do public health interventions that stop it in its tracks,” he said. On Monday, however, Frieden said he would not be surprised if others – such as the reportedly 70 who were on the healthcare team for Duncan – tested positive for the virus.

Despite the developments in Dallas, Brantly told ACU audiences on Friday that the world’s focus should be on stopping the virus more than 5,000 miles from Texas.

“But the rest of us, we need to be praying for the people of West Africa, for the family members of Mr. Duncan and the other individuals in America who are being treated in Atlanta and Nebraska right now.” he said. “We need to be finding practical ways to help in West Africa, not worrying that because we live 100 miles from a hospital that treated a patient, that we’re at risk.”

Brantly said he cannot overstate the urgency of the international response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

“What the United States and other nations have committed to doing is wonderful, but if it is not done in a timely manner, if it is not done immediately, it will be too little,” he said. “There is no magic bullet to stop the Ebola virus. It will take a multifaceted response. We need more isolation units. We need more medical personnel to staff those isolation units. We have to intervene now in the communities, in the villages, in the towns to stop the transmission of this disease from those who are infected to their caregivers. If the world does not respond adequately to this outbreak, we will all pay the price for it, but no one will pay a greater price than the people of West Africa.”

This morning, Dr. Bruce Aylward of the World Health Organization said 8,914 Ebola cases and 4,447 deaths had been reported to WHO thus far, although actual numbers are expected to be much higher. Aylward said that by December, 5,000 to 10,000 cases per week are anticipated in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Three thousand members of the U.S. military are participating in a $763 million American effort announced by President Barack Obama last month to take supplies to Liberia, where Doctors Without Borders and Samaritan’s Purse are providing expertise in treating patients. According to a report Sunday in The Washington Post, Liberia’s small native healthcare force is dwindling because physicians, nurses and aides have contracted the virus and died, or have become discouraged and left their jobs.

ACU Remembers: Gayle Taylor

Gayle Taylor 200x250A memorial service will be held today at 2 p.m. in Abilene Christian University’s Chapel on the Hill for Linda Gayle Taylor, 68, who died Oct. 12 in Abilene.

Taylor, who endeared herself to tens of thousands of students while working at ACU for 20 years, was born Sept. 22, 1946, in Abilene. She graduated from Merkel High School and married Spencer Taylor (’65) on Nov. 13, 1965.

She was first employed at ACU in October 1984 and served full time from 1984-99 and then part time until 2004 in various roles in Campus Life, Student Life, Health Services, Student Productions and the Department of Theatre.

Taylor was preceded in death by her father, Oscar Ray Gladden. Among survivors are her husband of 25 years, Spencer; a son, Shae Taylor (’94); a daughter, Teena G. Taylor (’89); her mother, Fena Gladden; a brother, Doug Gladden (’67); a sister, Becki Pack; and two grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to ACU’s Students’ Association or social clubs (Gift Records, ACU Box 29132, Abilene, Texas 79699-9132), or a favorite charity.

Brantlys’ journey takes unexpected detour

The Brantlys' trip to Abilene took an unexpected detour, as explained in this "Today Show" story.

“Where are you right now?”

That question came in an urgent phone call yesterday to Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly (’03).

Brantly and his family happened to be on a road trip to Abilene where he and his wife, Amber (Carroll ’06), are scheduled to speak Friday on the ACU campus.

Doctors from Nebraska were calling to see if Brantly would donate blood to a freelance journalist stricken with Ebola in hopes that Brantly’s antibodies could boost the sick man’s immune system.

A few minutes later Brantly was able to stop at a nearby hospital and provide blood that was flown to the Nebraska hospital where video journalist Ashoka Mukpo is being treated, according to the Associated Press and NBCs “Today Show.”

The trip interruption is another chapter in the Brantlys’ incredible story, which they will share at 4 p.m. Friday in ACU’s Moody Coliseum.

“Surviving Ebola: A Story of Faith and Hope” is free and open to the community. The conversation-style presentation will be facilitated by Randy Harris, popular author and speaker and a member of the ACU Bible, missions and ministry department faculty. This will be the couple’s first public speaking engagement since Brantly recovered from the virus he contracted while working as a medical missionary in Liberia.

After the Brantlys’ talk, visitors are invited to stay for the Homecoming Carnival and JamFest, beginning at 5 p.m. on the Williams Performing Arts Center north lawn.

Other events scheduled for Homecoming weekend include a golf tournament, the musical Big Fish, Wildcat football, fireworks and, of course, class reunions.

More information about the Brantlys’ visit is available here. See the complete schedule of Homecoming activities here.

Graham recovering from hiking accident

Abilene Christian University sportsDuring his star-studded career as a distance runner in college, Drew Graham became known for amazing sprints from far back in the pack during cross country and track and field meets. Online videos of his races show a blond-haired young man repeatedly making thrilling runs – often on the back stretch of the last lap – to take the lead and cross the finish line ahead of everyone else.

Graham was named all-America 15 times during his four years at Adams State University in Alamosa, Colo., and his teams won NCAA Division II national titles in cross country in 2008, 2009 and 2010. A native of Newcastle, England, he was the Division II individual national champion in the 1500-meter run outdoors in 2011 and 2012 and in the indoor mile in 2012. Before enrolling at ASU, Graham was one of the top 800- and 1500-meter runners in England.

He is in his second year as assistant coach for cross country and distance events in track and field at as Abilene Christian University, one of Adams State’s fiercest rivals in those sports the past three decades.

Today, he is in a hospital in Aurora, Colo., fighting to recover from a serious accident suffered Sept. 20 while hiking with his wife, Laura. Graham’s C4 vertebra was damaged during a dive into a lake, and prompt action from Laura saved his life. He underwent emergency spinal surgery and is learning how to breathe again on his own, and to overcome other complications caused by his injury. He began working with physical and occupational therapy staff last week. Drew hopes to be transferred soon to Craig Hospital, a world-renowned facility in Denver for neuro-rehabilitation and research of patients with spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries. [UPDATE: Drew was moved Oct. 7 to Craig Hospital and is making excellent progress.]

You can follow his progress online here, and contribute to a fund to help with his medical expenses.

A world-class athlete in his own right, Graham has a strong will, sense of humor and fierce determination to overcome any adversity. He is in one of the toughest races of his young life, but inspiring others with his courage and drive to again return to coaching the sports and student-athletes he loves. No one who knows him would bet otherwise.