Spotlight on Sarah Easter

by   |  08.24.16  |  Academics, COBA Alumni, COBA Faculty, Current Students, Faith Infusion, Poverty and Development, Social Entrepreneurship, Uncategorized

We’re excited to welcome several new professors and staff members to COBA this fall and are continuing our COBA blog spotlight articles to introduce them to you. We’re glad they’re part of our team!


Dr. Sarah Easter

Dr. Sarah Easter


What is your educational background?

PhD in International Management and Organization (University of Victoria, 2016)

MBA, emphasis in International Business and Marketing (Rollins College, 2008)

BBA, Management and Marketing (ACU, 2006)


0606161116chosen (2)

Celebrating her PhD!


What is your work background?

After completing my undergraduate degree at ACU, I went on to complete an MBA designed for students with limited work experiences in Orlando, FL (where I am from) at Rollins. While I was in the program I starting interning at Correct Craft (Anyone into wakeboarding or water skiing? They produce the Nautique brand of boats.) in the marketing department. That internship turned into a full time job upon graduation as a Marketing Specialist, in which case I handled branding and marketing communications for the Nautique brand. After working at Correct Craft for a few years, even though I enjoyed my job, I was itching to move abroad and also to apply my skill sets within a socially focused organization. So, I ended up moving to Vietnam in 2010 through Volunteer Services Overseas to work with a social enterprise as a Business Development and Marketing Advisor for a one-year assignment. While in that position I had the opportunity to teach a business course to the staff (And loved it!) and also started asking a lot of questions about how these types of organizations balance social and financial tensions, etc. Collectively, these experiences in Vietnam led me to consider returning to school to obtain my PhD. When I returned from Vietnam, while I was considering PhD programs, I returned to Correct Craft as a Senior Strategy Analyst working with the senior leadership team and then moved to Canada to pursue my PhD about a year and a half later. I am living proof that God’s plans are far greater than anything we can ask or imagine  – I would never have pictured myself coming back to ACU 10 years after I completed my undergraduate to work as a faculty member, but I am so glad that He has led me here!


at graduation brunch with my parents, sister and brother-in-law (2)

At graduation brunch with my parents, sister and brother-in-law.


What do you teach at ACU?

This semester I am teaching the strategy capstone course. I am excited about the opportunity to work with students as they develop and hone their strategic thinking skills for today’s increasingly complex, ambiguous and dynamic environment – regardless of whether they desire to work in a for-profit, nonprofit or public organization. And, to do so, in a very discussion oriented and applied manner.


What drew you to teaching? Why did you want to work with students?

I have always been a bit of a school nerd and really enjoy and appreciate continuous learning, so the idea of having the opportunity to shape future generations of students and have focused time to continually learn through research and interacting with students is very attractive. However, I never really saw myself in a teaching role. It wasn’t until I lived in Vietnam and had the opportunity to teach a business class to the employees at the social enterprise I worked with that I began to see that as more of a possibility. It was a very challenging experience trying to take business knowledge I had learned in the US environment and contextualize it for Vietnam while also making it relevant and enjoyable for them. Yet, I really enjoyed the experience and it was such a joy getting to see them embrace and understand the material (after a bit of resistance at the beginning).


What’s the best part of working with students?

College is such a formative (and hopefully transformational) experience in a young person’s life not only academically but socially and spiritually as well. It is also such an exciting yet scary time of exploring the large multitude of possibilities as to where God would lead each student both professionally and personally in the future. I love getting to play a small role in students’ development to that end and I am very excited to be at a university that values education as a holistic experience which encompasses academic, social and spiritual components.


Have you ever given up any big opportunities to keep working with students?

When I decided to go back to school to pursue my PhD, I walked away from a lucrative career path. I moved to Western Canada (to a city that is the second most expensive city to live in across Canada) and received a stipend as opposed to the market salary I was used to – which was certainly an adjustment. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and while it was hard at times, I don’t regret it at all.


some of my dearest friends from ACU (2)

Some of my dearest friends from ACU.


Outside of teaching, what passions and hobbies do you have?

In addition to teaching, I am very passionate about my research that focuses on how people work across cultural differences in support of addressing major societal challenges such as homelessness. Outside of my profession, I enjoy spending time with family and friends – and I am excited to be much closer, geographically speaking, to many of those I hold dear (in comparison to when I was living on an island in Western Canada). I also love to read, try new and different restaurants (I’m a bit of a foodie) and travel (I always have many different places on my list!). As well, I love to go on new ‘mini’ adventures and to try new things – next up on my list is learning to play a musical instrument. I am also contemplating purchasing a motor scooter at some point – I rode one the year I lived in Vietnam and loved it!


What is a good, early story about your teaching?

While I was working on my doctoral degree, I taught a few sections of Leading People and Organizations (also known as Organizational Behavior). Students at this particular institution tended to view this course as a “fluffy” one without a lot of practical value. It was really rewarding for me to see students in that course (even the more reluctant ones) embrace the material, reflect on how the concepts applied to their own situations and to actually have fun in the process of learning.


Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.

Since it is so recent and was such a significant and all-encompassing undertaking, I would have to say my dissertation. I conducted a 16-month ethnographic study of a coalition to end homelessness in Western Canada. I was really interested in how a diverse body of organizations and individuals from public, private and non profit sectors come together to address a significant societal issue over time, in this case homelessness. It was fascinating for me to hear all of the different perspectives and vantage points of the involved organizations and to develop a deep understanding as to how the coalition evolved over time in the presence of many and very different ways of working (e.g., different values, norms, goals).  It was also very rewarding to work closely with the coalition and to be able to provide feedback and recommendations to them based on the study. I love conducting research that also has strong practical implications and look forward to developing more similar partnerships in the future as I progress with my research.


Do you do any charity or non-profit work?

While I lived in Canada I was very involved in my church. I taught and mentored middle school girls for a number of years and my life group (also known as small group) volunteered regularly at a youth homeless drop in center. I am looking forward to getting involved in similar types of activities in Abilene as I get settled here.


on a bear tour on Vancouver Island with my parents and sister this summer (2)

On a bear tour on Vancouver Island with my parents and sister this summer.


Who is your role model, and why?

My parents – they are such amazing examples of living out the Christian faith in their lives. They invest in the people and spaces to which God has called them (which have varied greatly over the years) and truly try to fully grow and develop in each and every season. I have learned so much about hard work and perseverance as well as the importance of laughter and appreciating the journey from watching them over the years.


with my dissertation supervisor (2)

With my dissertation supervisor.


Who was your most inspirational professor and why?

It would be impossible for me to name the many, many individuals who have played an important role in my many, many years of higher education over the years. But, two, in particular, stand out as they both significantly influenced my development as a teacher and scholar:

  • My international marketing professor during my MBA program who helped to ignite my passion for using business for social good….which eventually resulted in my working with a social enterprise in Vietnam and then to my pursuing a PhD.
  • My dissertation supervisor for her patience and support throughout my PhD journey. She helped me to fully understand and embrace an interdisciplinary approach to capturing today’s complex organizational phenomenal.


If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?

I think it would be neat to teleport– that would make it much easier for me to travel different places quickly and on the cheap.


What is something that students might be surprised to find out about you?

I used to play lacrosse in high school (although I haven’t played in years). I played defense and was actually pretty aggressive. I was named MVP of defense and played in an all-state game my senior year.


What would you really want students and alums to know about you?

I believe very strongly in the mission and focus of ACU (it was such a formative part of my own development as an undergraduate) and I’m happy to be back as a professor



COBA Celebrates Graduates at May 2016 COBA Senior Dinner

by   |  05.17.16  |  Academics, COBA Alumni, COBA Events, COBA Faculty, COBA Staff, Current Students, Faith Infusion, Uncategorized

Every May, COBA holds a dinner to celebrate our graduating seniors as well as to honor outstanding students, faculty and staff. On Friday, May 6th, almost 300 people attended the event held at the Hunter Welcome Center. Dr. Andy Little welcomed the crowd and recognized students and their families for all of the hard work and sacrifice it took for them to reach the milestone of graduating from college.



Families gathering to celebrate their May graduates.


Dr. Andy Little greets the May 2016 graduates and their families

Dr. Andy Little greets the May 2016 graduates and their families.


Each year we ask a student representative from each department to provide an Au Revoir to their classmates and faculty, reflecting on their experiences in COBA and at ACU. This year’s student speakers were Hayley Griffin, management major from Quanah, Texas and Austin Cotton, financial management major from Keller, Texas. Each reflected on their time in the College of Business and thanked faculty and their parents for making a difference in their lives.



Hayley Griffin


COBA Graduates Hayley Griffin and Austin Cotton address the crowd

Austin Cotton


It is also a COBA tradition to ask a parent of one of our graduates to speak on behalf of all parents of the graduating class.  This year we were delighted to have Rick Lytle, former COBA Dean, current Director for the Lytle Center for Leadership and Faith Development, CEO and President of CEO Forum, and father of now three ACU alumni, as our parent speaker.  Rick is the father of Michelle Lytle, marketing major from Abilene, Texas.  Dr. Lytle encouraged the students to live lives both personally and professionally which make a difference for the kingdom of God in their workplace, community, and home. Dr. Lytle then had the pleasure of introducing the newly named Dean, Dr. Brad Crisp, as Dr. Crisp commended the students on the many activities and accomplishments they have achieved.



Dr. Rick Lytle gives the parent address as the father of COBA graduate, Michelle Lytle.


Dr. Rick Lytle and Dr. Brad Crisp

New COBA Dean, Dr. Brad Crisp.


Dr. Crisp also recognized sixteen students who were chosen by the COBA faculty that symbolize three COBA values: Competence, Character, and Community.  The criteria for choosing students who fulfill those qualities are listed below as well as the names of the 2016 graduates who received the awards.

Competence – Professional competence is a prerequisite for capable leadership.  These students have demonstrated that they understand how to create and deliver value in their work, think critically, communicate well, work in teams and understand the complexities of today’s global marketplace. COBA students to win this year’s award are: John Allen, Jaci Browning, Hayley Griffin, Evelyn Hernandez, Parker Mason, and Mandy Stratton.



From L to R: Mandy Stratton, Evelyn Hernandez, Parker Mason, Jaci Browning and Hayley Griffin.


Character – The intent of COBA is to graduate students who seek to glorify God in their personal and professional lives.  These students stand out as examples for being able to discern right from wrong, articulate what they believe and why they believe it and behave consistently with those beliefs regardless of personal consequence. COBA students to win this year’s award are: Christy Duke, Callie Kerbo, Griffin Pedigo, Jason Proctor, and Connor Steinmetz.



From L to R: Christy Duke, Connor Steinmetz and Jason Proctor.


Community – Successful business graduates give back by providing service and leadership in the workplace, their churches, homes and communities.  These students have demonstrated that they understand how to serve and lead in the ACU community. COBA students to win this year’s award are: Austin Cotton, Emily Dosa, Michelle Lytle, Alyssa Timmons, and Rebekah Wood.



From L to R: Emily Dosa, Michelle Lytle, Rebekah Wood and Austin Cotton.


Each year, junior and senior students in the College of Business vote for their favorite teachers of the year. One professor is selected to receive the award in each academic department.

This year’s Teacher of the Year in Accounting and Finance is known for teaching his students the basics of accounting while doing so in a manner that is logical and interesting, for his love of coffee, and for playing his guitar for students. One student said, “He’s always very enthusiastic about the subject and he’s very good at relating to students as well as showing his interest in what the student is looking to do in the future.”  Another student commented said, “He has a gentle, kind spirit and was always there to help, whether it be regarding accounting or just what’s going on in our lives. He was one of the best professors I have had in COBA.” The class of 2016 named Dr. David Perkins as Teacher of the Year in Accounting and Finance.



Dr. David Perkins, the 2015-16 Accounting and Finance Teacher of the Year.


This year’s recipient of the Management Sciences Teacher of the Year award went to a professor who is known as one of the most entertaining professors in COBA. One student commented, “I never expected to learn so much about how BLAW was related to Hot Pocket commercials! He was one of the most entertaining, fun teachers I have had in COBA. Never a dull moment!” Another student said, “When you come into college, you expect to be taught by professors but you don’t expect to have them engage with you and walk alongside of you in your learning. That is something he has done beyond what I could imagine. He’s become more than a professor. He’s become a friend.” The class of 2016 named Andy Little as Teacher of the Year in Management Sciences.



Dr. Andy Little, 2015-16 Management Sciences Teacher of the Year.


The dean also honored two COBA staff members in recognition of their service to COBA and COBA students. The first 2016 Dean’s Award for Service went to Nuria Hall, academic advising specialist, who continuously goes above and beyond expectations.  Nearly always she is among the first to offer help, create better solutions, and offer her Christ-like wisdom to enhance the overall experience for our students.



Dean’s Award for Service recipients, Nuria Hall and Karen Viertel.


The second Dean’s Service Award was awarded to Karen Viertel, manager of COBA student services and academic advising, for her many years of service to the students, faculty and staff of COBA. Karen is the definition of team player and is always one of the first to help in any situation, whether that’s advising a student in her office on or a co-worker in the college, always with a servant-leader heart.

The evening concluded with a blessing from Associate Professor, Jozell Brister. Following the blessing, Madison Haggerton, management major from Keller, Texas led the group in the long held tradition of singing “The Lord Bless You and Keep You.”



Associate Professor, Jozell Brister, reads a blessing over the graduates.



Madison Haggerton


Congratulations again, students! And to the students, their families and friends, we say thank you for allowing us to be walk alongsde with you over the last four years. May God bless each of you greatly as you enter into this new phase of your lives.



The May 2016 COBA graduating class


You can find more pictures from the evening on our COBA Facebook page. We will be hosting a separate event to honor December graduates at the end of the fall 2016 semester. Stay tuned for more details!

COBA Celebrates Our 2016 MAcc Graduates

by   |  05.09.16  |  Uncategorized

COBA has a long-standing tradition of honoring our graduating seniors with a dinner. In 2015, Dr. Curtis Clements and Dr. John Neill initiated the idea of a MAcc (Master of Accountancy) graduation luncheon as the Accounting faculty and the COBA administration felt it was important to honor this high-achieving group of students and to celebrate their launch into the accounting world. On April 28, 2016 COBA held the second annual luncheon, sponsored by EY (Ernst & Young) honoring this year’s MAcc graduates.



Beginning another new tradition, the faculty presented the inaugural award to the “Outstanding MAcc Graduate of the Year”,  Bradley Schultz. Brad has an undergraduate degree in Political Science from ACU and has excelled in the Master of Accountancy program.  After graduation, Brad will work for EY (Ernst and Young) in their Austin office.


Brad Schultz receives MAcc award from Curtis Clements

Brad Schultz receives MAcc award from Curtis Clements


All students received a graduation gift and were inspired to begin their new career by guest speaker and MAcc alum, Angela Darden, who works for EY. Angela urged the graduates to work hard, have fun, and always be “the one” who volunteers to do the little things for your co-workers, like picking up dinner or the coffee when the team is working long days. She said she learned this lesson from Associate Professor of Accounting, Bill Fowler.



Darden said that Fowler exhorted students to show your boss and co-workers that you aren’t afraid of hard work, to show initiative, and to be a team player. Angela said that this was an important skill that has helped her meet new co-workers, learn new skills and advance in her job. Fowler closed the luncheon by sharing a blessing with the students, encouraging them with these principles:

  • You cannot serve God and mammon–  Don’t let money be your master.  Not in choosing your work, not in being the source of your encouragement, not having the power to discourage you.  Matthew 6:24
  • Do not be deceived, bad company corrupts good morals.  Choose friends that will make you better.  I Corinthians 15:33
  • Do not be weary in well-doing.  Do the next good thing.  Galatians 6:9
  • Set your sights on things above.   Look for the good things in each day.  Colossians 3:2
  • God’s mercies are new every morning. One day at a time.   (Lamentations 3:23)
  • Your goal may be just to make it through the day. Exhausted, tired, uncertain, confused,  just make it through the day.
  • And on the other side- God’s mercy is fresh. It never runs out. It will carry you through, it will nourish you, it will redeem you, No matter what you did yesterday, No matter what you think you can’t be in today, no matter what you think you can’t handle tomorrow- God’s mercies are new every single day.



MAcc Class of 2016


Congratulations to the Master of Accountancy graduating class of 2016! May God bless you richly as you enter into your career.

COBA Names Crisp as New Dean

by   |  05.06.16  |  Academics, COBA Alumni, COBA Events, COBA Faculty, COBA Staff, Current Students, Dean Chronicles, Uncategorized

COBA is excited to announce that Dr. Brad Crisp has been named as the new Dean for the College of Business Administration.


Dr. Brad Crisp

Dr. Brad Crisp


In a statement from the Provost’s office, Dr. Robert Rhodes said, “Based on the recommendation of the search committee, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Brad Crisp as the Dean of the College of Business Administration effective May 9, 2016.

During his 10 years on the faculty at ACU, Dr. Crisp has served as director of the School of Information Technology and Computing, which earned ABET accreditation under his leadership; and he launched the online Master of Business Administration as its first director.

I am confident in his ability to lead the College of Business Administration. He is committed to supporting faculty and to preparing students well through his continued commitment to academic excellence and his sharp focus on intentional Christian spiritual formation.

Dr. Crisp is a 1993 COBA graduate and holds an MBA and a Ph.D from the University of Texas. Brad is married to Jennifer, and they have two sons, Jon and Caleb.”

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Crisp as he begins his tenure as Dean.


Spotlight on Don Pope

by   |  04.26.16  |  Uncategorized

What is your educational background?

B.S. in mathematics from Oklahoma Christian University, Masters of Engineering and Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from Texas A&M University.

Dr. Don Pope

Dr. Don Pope


What is your work background?

I worked 20 years in the aircraft industry with Lockheed in Fort Worth and Northrop Grumman/Vought Aircraft in Dallas.  My specific job was in the planning, analysis, simulation modeling and economic justification of technology modernization projects for the factory.
What do you teach at ACU?

I teach, or have taught the following:  statistics, management science, quality management, logistics & supply chain management, operations management, project management, and enterprise resources planning systems (SAP).
What committees/other duties do you have at ACU aside from teaching?

I currently serve on the university faculty athletics committee which functions as a bridge between the faculty and the athletics department. In the college, I serve a role working with assessment and accreditation issues.


What drew you to teaching? Why did you want to work with students?

After working in the aircraft industry for 20 years, I felt that teaching at a Christian university was an opportunity to utilize and apply my academic training, on-the-job real world lessons learned, and my Christian faith mission.  Professors were important in my own life, and I feel that I can play an important role in the lives of students.
What’s the best part of working with students?

The best part of working with students is that you can get to know them as people, pray for them, and help shape their values for eternity.

The Pope Family

The Pope Family


Have you ever given up any big opportunities to keep working with students?

I left a great job/career/future retirement, but it was worth it.
Outside of teaching, what passions and hobbies do you have?

My hobbies and interests include walking, home renovations (within a limited supply of time and funds), and disc golf.


What is a good, early story about your teaching?

I remember, that first year, making a passing reference to the Vietnam War.  (The Vietnam War had been a defining event in my generation’s college years.)  When I received a bunch of blank stares at the mention of this seemingly important historical event, I did the mental math about the student’s ages and year of birth, and then realized that I had been talking “ancient history” and not “current events” to them.


Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.

I had a role in the implementation of large, complex systems in my company in the aircraft industry.  At ACU, I have played a role in the introduction of technology and related course options for business students, including hands-on use of the SAP software.



Do you do any charity or non-profit work?

Besides church related activities such as teaching and serving as an elder, my wife Beth and I have been weekly Meals on Wheels drivers for about 15 years.  This experience has been my connection to the reality that defines the lives of a large portion of our society.


Who is your role model, and why?

That is a hard question.  As the youngest child in my family, I always looked up to my parents and my siblings and admired their character.  My wife is a role model of selfless giving energy for others.  I tend to admire no-nonsense personalities who speak simply and plainly, who are quietly serving and not tooting their own horn or trying to impress someone.  I try to emulate that in my own life.



Who was your most inspirational professor and why?

That is another difficult question.  I suppose that it was Dr. Robert McMillan, mathematics professor at Oklahoma Christian University, and Dr. Bailey McBride, English professor and Provost, also at OCU.  They were great teachers, caring people, and devoted Christians and important influences during my undergrad years.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?

That is another hard question.  You always wish you had the power to make sick children well, to make the elderly comfortable, to make people stop fighting, etc.



What is something that students might be surprised to find out about you?

No real surprises.  I am, at heart, a rather plain guy.  What you see is what you get.


Donald for President. He's the Prankster in Chief in COBA!

Donald for President. He’s the Prankster in Chief in COBA!


What would you really want students and alums to know about you?

That I really care about them and the kind of person that they are becoming.  I pray that they will be people of the 5Cs:  character, courage, compassion, clarity, and callouses (from working hands).

College Field Trips; AKA Networking Opportunities!

by   |  04.21.16  |  Academics, COBA Faculty, Careers In..., Current Students, Human Resource Management, Uncategorized

Field trips aren’t just for elementary school students. Many professors find taking students on field trips gives them insight on careers and industries they may have never known about, as well as building networking opportunities for students and employers at the sites that they visit. On Wednesday, March 30th, Dr. Malcolm Coco took 7 of COBA’s Human Resources track students on a field trip to the TSTC campus in Sweetwater, Texas. Their guide for the day was Hannah Love, Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources. Ms. Love has responsibility for the HR function for eleven of the TSTC campuses located across Texas. She presented to the students on the functions of HR and the challenges faced by having so many different campuses located in eleven different geographic locations. She also discussed the challenges TSTC faces in providing training programs for businesses across the state of Texas tailored for their individual company needs.  The group enjoyed a tour of TSTC’s wind turbine and electromagnetic systems technology training facility.

Following the presentation and tour, Dr. Coco and the students were treated to lunch with the TSTC staff.  Dr. Coco said, “This was a very informative trip and the interaction with the students was outstanding. Too many times, students are unable to connect textbook learning with a real world application.  Having the students personally hear from professionals in their field really adds a new and current perspective to the subjects we are studying. I have found that HR professionals are more than willing to share their time and expertise with students and that is greatly appreciated.  TSTC is no exception.  The other added bonus is that field trips help to establish networks that foster job and internship opportunities.”

Judith Morales, senior management major from Fort Worth, Texas, said, “We spoke with the HR manager and she talked to us about the experiences she has had and how they benefited her in her career. One of my favorite parts of the trip was socializing with the other students in my major and getting to know them, as well as getting to know Dr. Coco, a little better.”

We’re grateful to TSTC for their hospitality and to Dr. Coco for getting the students out of the classroom and into the working world. Opportunities like this enable our students to grow and develop as well as connect with potential employers as they pursue their career goals.



Dr. Coco with students: Judith Morales, Abbie Hamilton, Sarah Stone, Allison Barton, and Kee Ana Ward

Spotlight on Cheryl Steffins

by   |  04.19.16  |  Uncategorized

What is your educational background?

B.S  from Harding University (’83)

D.C. from Parker University (’06)


Cheryl Steffins Final


What is your work background?

I spent a good portion of the 80’s working with my husband, Jon, in both Caracas and Valencia, Venezuela, planting and growing churches.

From 1990 till 2003, I taught school at the elementary level and raised 4 children.

From 2007 til 2015, I practiced as a chiropractic physician in Tulsa, OK.


What do you do at ACU/COBA?

I work with the professors and leadership of COBA to plan, organize and manage the travel programs of COBA, Leadership Summit and Study Abroad.


The Steffins Family

The Steffins Family


What drew you to work at ACU? Why did you want to work with students?

Three of my four children have, or are, attending ACU and have been blessed tremendously.  I wanted to be a part of that blessing for other students.


What’s the best part of working with students?

I love new beginnings and that’s where students are…. on the threshold of a new beginning, a fresh start to the next chapter of their lives.  Having an opportunity to plant seeds for a positive, healthy mindset in a student is fulfilling for me.  My “office” is in the waiting area of COBA Connections and that allows me lots of chances to visit with students as they wait to see their academic advisors.  I truly enjoy asking questions and listening to their perspectives.


Outside of ACU, what passions and hobbies do you have?

My newest passions are my four grandbabies!


grandmama steffins


Do you do any charity or non-profit work?

Our family has supported a child in the Dominican Republic for the last 8 years though Compassion International.


Who is your role model and why?

My role models are 3 entrepreneurial women that I’ve met through business connections over the last 5 years.  They are strong, confident leaders who are willing to give their time to mentor me.


Who was your most inspirational professor and why?

Neil Pryor was most inspirational to me not only because of the way he taught Bible but also because of how he valued people.


Cheryl and Jon Steffins

Cheryl and Jon Steffins


If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?

It would be the power to discern clearly whether someone is speaking truth or falsehood.


What is something that students might be surprised to find out about you?

Some are surprised when they learn that I speak Spanish.





Springboard Ideas Challenge broadens competition

by   |  04.14.16  |  Uncategorized

The Springboard Ideas Challenge, sponsored by ACU’s Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy, has undergone a restructuring for the upcoming competitions.




According to a recent ACU press release, Springboard, which launched in 2007, was created to allow local college students and members of the community a chance to pitch their ideas to local investors and possibly walk away with thousands of dollars in startup funding and other resources. Over the last nine years, the competition has awarded more than $400,000 in winnings to aspiring entrepreneurs.

For 2016, the program will make significant changes to the overall process.

“One of the biggest changes has been moving from a business plan to a business model competition,” Karen Heflin, Springboard program coordinator, said. “A business plan, which is what we’ve required in the past, is a lengthy report. A business model is more of a storyboard presentation with initial research done by participants. It gives aspiring entrepreneurs valuable information before they ever launch their business, helping them be more successful.”

In 2016, the Springboard Ideas Challenge made it easier for entrepreneurs across the Big Country to compete. These first round elevator pitch events for the Springboard Ideas Challenge-Community Division were hosted in Sweetwater, Brownwood/Early, Haskell, Abilene and Snyder, partnering with the Chambers of Commerce in each location to host the event. Participants presented a two-minute elevator pitch instead of submitting a plan or written application. Training and mentors were made available to teams that advanced past the first round of the competition. These resources help to prepare contestants to take their initial idea, and transform it into a working and applicable business model that investors would be interested in.

From those five first rounds, 15 teams advanced to the next round.  They attended a business model training workshop at ACU on February 28th and are currently in the process of researching and preparing their business model.

They will present to another panel of live judges on Tuesday, May 10th. The competition will end in May with the top three teams presenting their final business model to a group of local investors for a chance to win $15,000. The top three teams will be chosen and will advance to the final round.  The final round will be held at the Investors Lunch on Tuesday, May 24th at the Abilene Civic Center, from 11:45am-1:00pm.  The teams will present their business models at the luncheon and a panel of local angel investors will determine the Grand P$2rize winner as well as the 2nd and 3rd place winners. Prizes to be awarded are: Grand Prize: $15,000, 2nd Place: $2,500, and 3rd Place: $2,500. Guests at the luncheon will include members from the area Chambers of Commerce, Economic Development Centers, Small Business Development Centers, and the Springboard Regional Entrepreneur Network.

The Springboard Ideas Challenge-ACU Division participants attended a business model training in early February,  researched and then submitted a video presentation of their business model canvas on April 8th.  The top teams presented their ideas to a live judging panel on April 14th.  Winners will be announced at the Entrepreneur Fellows Program Lunch on April 20th in the Hunter Welcome Center.

For more information, visit, call Karen Heflin at 325-674-6485 or email

griggs center small crop




Spotlight on Kyle Tippens

by   |  04.12.16  |  Uncategorized

What is your educational background?

PhD in Finance (Texas A&M University, 2012)

Master of International Business Studies (University of South Carolina, 1997)

Bachelor of Arts in International Studies (ACU, 1991)


Dr. Kyle Tippens

Dr. Kyle Tippens


What is your work background?

Before getting my PhD, I worked for 13 years in various finance-related jobs at Dell, EDS (now part of HP), Swiss Bank Corporation–Germany (now part of UBS Germany), and Agency Management Services (now Vertafore). For these jobs we have lived in Round Rock, Plano, and College Station, Texas; Wellington, New Zealand; Frankfurt, Germany; and Rochester, New York. My wife can fill you in on the details and number of all our moves. (I need an emoticon here.)


What do you teach at ACU?

I usually teach courses in Personal Financial Planning (open to students of all majors) as well as Investments (usually for financial management or accounting majors). I have also taught a course in International Finance for study abroad, and I recently co-taught a graduate course called “Biblical Perspectives on Stewardship.”



What committees/other duties do you have at ACU aside from teaching?

I am on two research committees, one for COBA and one for ACU. I also try to visit with prospective students and answer their questions about COBA and ACU when they visit campus. Throughout the semesters and during the summer I try to carve out some time to move my research along. Finally, one of my favorite roles is helping coordinate “ACUFIFA,” which is a group of faculty, staff, and students who play football (i.e., soccer) twice a week. We often field one or two intramural teams each semester as well.


What drew you to teaching? Why did you want to work with students?

Teaching is in the blood in my family: my great-grandfather, grandfather, and father have all taught students in secondary or higher education. Initially I had no plans to follow in their footsteps and pursued a career in business. Over time, however, my desire to do deeper research and to help students understand more about business, finance in particular, led me to follow a call to further education and a career in teaching and research. A handful of mentors in my life (including former COBA Dean Rick Lytle) also encouraged me to make that decision.


Kyle working with his dad, Dr. Darryl Tippens on a non-scholastic project

Kyle working with his dad, Dr. Darryl Tippens on a non-scholastic project


What’s the best part of working with students?

Working with students means that no two days are ever the same. I love to learn, and as any teacher knows, there is no better way to learn than to teach. I learn from students as well. When students are open to it, I really appreciate the discussions and relationships that can form among us inside and outside of the classroom as we seek to learn and grow.


Have you ever given up any big opportunities to keep working with students?

My biggest (and my family’s biggest) sacrifice came in the middle of my finance career when I quit a good job with Dell in 2007, we sold our house, and we moved to College Station in order for me to embark on a five-year PhD degree with little income. It was a tough experience on all of us, and more than once I had second thoughts about the plan.


The Tippens Family

The Tippens Family


Outside of teaching, what passions and hobbies do you have?

I spend a lot of time with my family. My wife and I have two daughters, a 15-year-old and an 8-year-old. My parents now live in Abilene also, and we often try to visit with my in-laws from Corpus Christi, Texas. Our family loves to travel, both domestically and internationally, and we sometimes go camping. Our church life is important to us as well.

I like to play soccer (both indoor and outdoor); I’m currently on the “Ten Plagues” intramural team. In the past I also enjoyed racquetball and squash. I enjoy going to concerts of many different kinds, but I don’t go as often as I’d like.




What is a good, early story about your teaching?

I was blessed to hear back from a student I had in my very first semester at ACU. He took my Personal Financial Planning class, then graduated and moved to another state for his first full-time job. He wrote me back a couple of months later and told me how specific topics and assignments had been a blessing to him in his new career. I always appreciate hearing back from students.


Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.

Although you may mean my current career, I am going to reach back to a career I had much longer than this one. There is something about a shared, difficult experience that bonds people together. When I worked for EDS in New Zealand, I was on a project team that was bidding on a 10-year, $800 million contract to manage Telecom NZ’s information technology infrastructure. I was on the finance team that was running all the numbers, putting all the pieces together and rolling it into the high-level proposal. We were on conference calls at weird hours of the night with senior management (due to time zone differences) and often stayed very late other nights. It was the most intense work I have ever done, but it was also great to work with a team like that. EDS won the contract and I was able to stick around for a few more months as the deal became reality. Although I would not be physically and emotionally able to work like that for long periods of time, it was an incredible, fun, and satisfying experience.


Do you do any charity or non-profit work?

I am the treasurer for our widows’ and widowers’ ministry at church, and I am on the stewardship team (elsewhere known as the “budget committee”). My wife and I lead middle school small groups on Sundays. This summer the whole family will be volunteering for a few days at Best Friends Animal Society in Utah. (I confess that I am the least excited of the group.)


Who is your role model, and why?

While I want to be Christ-like more than anything else, I have a composite role model: I want to emulate certain things about some very important people in my life.


Who was your most inspirational professor and why?

Two in particular come to mind. I had Physics with Mr. Steve Mathis my senior year in high school in Edmond, Oklahoma. He made the subject so incredibly fun and interesting that I came to ACU as an Engineering Physics major. (I later changed majors after getting tired of studying electrons.) He was extremely knowledgeable and demanding but at the same time was very humble and likeable. It probably helped that I was (and am) in complete awe of the power of physics as a discipline.

The next year as a freshman at ACU, I had Dr. Tony Ash for “Life and Teachings of Jesus.” I had never experienced the gospels in the way that he taught them. I found it exhilarating. He also spent a lot of time going through information about each student at the beginning of each class. He did his best to find some special connection with each student: “I had your aunt in class.” “I used to preach in Podunk, Texas. Did you know Betty Wilson there?” That was amazing also.


If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?

The kind of answer I might have come up with as a 12-year-old still seems appealing: I’d like the power to be able to switch superpowers at will. Maybe I’d like to be able to fly today, but tomorrow I might want to be invisible. The day after that I might want to be able to keep everyone in a warm room just after lunch from falling asleep. (Purely hypothetical, of course!)




What is something that students might be surprised to find out about you?

I really enjoyed playing the tuba in high school and college. I was in All-State Band and All-State Orchestra in high school, and I was in the Big Purple and the Abilene Intercollegiate Orchestra in college. One of these days I wouldn’t mind getting back into it, if I can find the time.

What would you really want students and alums to know about you?

Although ACU is much different today than when I chose to come here as a student in 1987, I still appreciate ACU and what it stands for. I love working with the students here and I have never enjoyed working with colleagues more than I do here.

The Ruth Allen Griggs Scholarship Donor Luncheon Honors Donors and Receipients

by   |  04.07.16  |  Academics, COBA Alumni, COBA Events, COBA Faculty, COBA Staff, College Decisions, Current Students, Faith Infusion, Uncategorized

On Tuesday, March 29th, generous donors and scholarship recipients enjoyed a luncheon in memory of Ruth Allen Griggs. Ruth’s children, Jack Griggs and Ann Griggs Berger, along with their respective spouses Ann Griggs and the late Bob Berger, established an endowment in 2015 to honor their mother and her spirit of generosity by having a yearly luncheon bringing together COBA donors and students. The goal for the endowment is to honor and thank donors for the scholarships given to the College of Business that allow so many students to attend ACU and to participate in many of the experiential learning opportunities that COBA offers.


Berger table


COBA students Bailey Thomas, senior marketing major from Lubbock, and Jack Oduro, junior accounting major from Garland, spoke to the audience about what receiving COBA scholarships has meant to them and the impact that it has had on their education and experiences at ACU. Jack said, “A relationship with a donor is usually one with some distance; however, it was humbling to be in deeper conversations with the men and women who have sacrificed time, money and energy in making my experience at COBA great. It (the luncheon) was one of the most effective avenues to allow donors to meet who their resources are developing and to give students the opportunity to express our profound appreciation. ”


Thomas and Oduro


Don Crisp, accounting alumnus (class of 1964) from Dallas, spoke about he and his wife, Carol’s experiences as young college students at then Abilene Christian College. Mr. Crisp encouraged donors to continue to pour into the lives of students at ACU and exhorted current students to give back to students in the future.


Cummins table


Dr. Brad Crisp, interim Dean for the College of Business, said “COBA’s donors make so many things possible. Their generosity eases the burden of tuition on our students and enables us to constantly innovate in our goal to consistently provide high quality educational experiences. We’re so thankful for their support and giving spirit.”