Archive for ‘School of Information Technology and Computing’

COBA is Saying Goodbye to Three Legends in the Classroom

by   |  06.05.19  |  Academics, COBA Alumni, COBA Faculty, Current Students, Faith Infusion, Human Resource Management, Internships, School of Information Technology and Computing, Uncategorized

The end of the academic year brings about the season of awards, recognition, and change whether it occurs in elementary school, high school, or college. While we celebrate our graduates and the next chapter of their lives, the College of Business Administration is not immune to transition, either. We are  saying farewell to three inspirational professors: Dr. Rob Byrd (Associate Professor of IT and Computing), Dr. Malcolm Coco (Professor of Human Resource Management), and Dr. Terry Pope (Professor of Finance) as they retire. Students, colleagues, friends and family joined to honor them at receptions on May 6th where tributes and well wishes were shared with each of the retiring professors.

Rob Byrd with SITC students Paula Berggren and Lauren Walker

Rob Byrd came to ACU in 2009 and was known for not only helping students dive deep into the world of Information Technology and Security, but also helping them develop a deeper faith and spiritual walk. Recent SITC graduate, Lauren Walker (’19) described Byrd as a passionate teacher who wanted to maximize students’ learning and push them to be their best selves. She said, “He never missed an opportunity to show us how the knowledge and skills we were gaining can transcend all areas of life. He never settled on just letting us ‘get by’ with our education. He constantly challenged us and pushed for excellence and innovation. As a mentor, he was a person who saw the best in his students. He wasn’t afraid to say the hard things, and encouraged us to go after the things in life we never thought we could achieve. ” Dr. Byrd baptized Lauren last October and she recounted that Byrd was “just simply himself”, never afraid to be transparent, witty, cynical, and show a genuine interest in his students. She said, “If anyone of us needed help with something school related, or even personal, it wasn’t a doubt that he was just one phone call or text away.”

Dr. Byrd

While some students might have been intimidated by a professor like Byrd, Walker said, “The last thing I guess I want to say is that like all of the SITC professors, Dr. Byrd is so special. Dr. Byrd is such a softy, but of course he would never say it. He has such a servant heart, and has touched so many students’ lives over the years, and of course I just happen to be one of them. He’s one of those professors I will end up telling my children stories about!”

Byrd is transitioning into a new career as Staff Technical Project Engineer with Collins Aerospace at their headquarters location in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He said, “This position will be a challenging adventure for me-just what I was hoping for. Working at this level will allow me to be involved and responsible for both the design/development and the budgetary/systems aspects of the assigned projects and programs. The nature of the work will be classified, but will be in support of national defense and will draw from my education, experience and certifications. I thank my colleagues for their support.”

Coco with students Grace Smith and Dayle Hayes

Malcolm Coco arrived at ACU in 1989. Coco was well known for helping students find jobs through his internship class, mentoring students through Human Resource classes and the Student Chapter of the Human Resource Management organization, his love for the outdoors, and playing the Beach Boys loudly during office hours.

Coco said that when he came to ACU, he only intended to teach for 2 or 3 years and then planned to pursue a career as a pilot for an airlines. Thirty years later, he says, “I’m still teaching and enjoying every minute. Associating with great Christian faculty and staff and having the opportunity to shape young lives has been a blessing to me. I’m wondering where the 30 years went to!”

Dr. Coco with his family

When asked what the best advice he would offer to students would be, he encouraged students to be the best you that you can be. Always strive to be your bosses “go to” person, meaning when there is an important project with a short turn around and it needs to be done correctly, you want your boss to always think of  you as the person he or she trusts to get the job done. He said, “Winners make it happen and losers let it happen.”

To his colleagues, Coco said, “It has been a blessing to me to have the fortune of knowing so many God fearing, Christian faculty. Your example and support for me and my family for these past 30 years has been tremendous. Thanks for the memories.”

Retirement for Coco will be a mixed bag. He will continue to teach as an adjunct faculty member and will continue to manage the COBA internship program. Coco has no plans to slow down. He said, “My children and grandchildren all live in Abilene, so I’m planning for some serious grandchild time. Hobbies of hunting and fishing will continue. I have already joined several civic organizations and intend to do volunteer work for several non-profits.”

Pope with daughter Abby Pimentel and wife Gayla

When he wasn’t teaching a finance class like STAR (Student Trading and Research), you could find Terry Pope on the golf course, working on his new baseball podcast with Tim Johnston, or in his shop working on his next furniture project.

Terry Pope answered the call by Jack Griggs to come and teach at ACU in 1992. Pope said that teaching at ACU has been a great experience, “When I came to Abilene, having already worked for twenty-three years in industry and academics, I was thinking that I would teach for about fifteen years. However, teaching at ACU was so rewarding that I just kept showing up, year after year. ACU is a special place to our family, since Gayla and I, all three of our children, and three of our grandchildren have attended.  Our other six grandchildren will likely follow in these steps.” Pope went on to say that it’s been great to be a part of the ACU community.  He said, “I felt that everyone on campus strove for excellence in what they did and sought to be pleasing to God.  Being a part of that environment made me a better person.”

Terry, Gayla, Beth, and Don Pope

When asked if there was anything he’d like students to know, he said, without question that the favorite part of teaching at ACU was getting to know so many students.  Pope estimates that he has taught about four thousand students and tried to get to know each one of them saying, “I have many great friendships today with former students.  Every student was different – different backgrounds, different interests, and different personalities.  That diversity made our community better. I hope that I communicated to my students that being a Jesus follower comes before all else.  While I taught Finance, I said ‘the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing’.  Brilliance in Finance is not the main thing, but only a compliment to following Jesus.”

Pope said that his colleagues at ACU were great and continue to be his close friends.  He recounted, “I remember telling someone early in my career at ACU that I had underestimated the joy of being able to work daily in a Christian environment.  I felt a closeness and shared purpose with colleagues all over campus, even though we might not have been well acquainted. To all of these colleagues, I say ‘keep it going’.  Investment managers must communicate to their clients that ‘Past performance is no guarantee of future results.’  Every day is a new day that requires our best efforts and a continuing renewal of our minds.”

Pope plans on staying in Abilene and continuing to be closely connected to ACU while spending time playing more golf and tennis, doing more woodworking, taking piano, traveling, studying, and volunteering. “There are many more things that I will want to do that time will allow.”

Combined, the three educators have almost 75 years of experience teaching ACU students. Their dedication to students and peers as well as their example of excellence in the classroom and in their faith walks will truly be missed. The words “thank you” seem inadequate for what they have meant to the lives of thousands of students.

Click on the highlighted links below to view pictures and video messages in tribute to each of the retiring professors.

Pics from the retirement reception

Rob Byrd video

Malcolm Coco video

Terry Pope video

COBA Celebrates December Business and Technology Graduates

by   |  12.14.18  |  Academics, COBA Faculty, COBA Staff, Current Students, Faith Infusion, School of Information Technology and Computing, Uncategorized

It’s graduation day for our December graduates and we wanted to take one more opportunity to celebrate this milestone in their lives. Last week, on December the 4th, COBA hosted a luncheon in their honor celebrating them and all of the hard work that has helped them reach this day. Faculty, staff and students enjoyed fellow-shipping with each other, learning more about students’ favorite experiences at ACU and what advice those that were a little older would give them as they go out into the world.

It’s our tradition for a faculty member to give a blessing over the graduates as we say goodbye to them. Dr. David Perkins, Professor of Accounting, did this in an unusual way this year. Known for his guitar ballads in class, he chose to sing the blessing over them with a David Perkins original song.

We hope you’ll enjoy hearing his message to the students as well as seeing some pictures from the event. To the class of 2018 we say thank you for choosing ACU, for investing of yourself in the process, and for making us all better people during your time here. May God bless you and give you wisdom and direction knowing that He has designed you for His purpose and good works, which he has planned and prepared in advance for you to do.

To view the video, click here.

To view all of the pictures from the luncheon, click here.

 

COBA Welcomes Rich Tanner

by   |  09.05.17  |  Academics, COBA Faculty, Current Students, School of Information Technology and Computing, Uncategorized

Rich Tanner

 

COBA would like to welcome Rich Tanner, new Clinical Professor of Digital Entertainment. Rich has taught for the School of Information Technology and Computing part-time for the past several years and will now be working with technology students on a full-time basis. Tanner has an A.A.S. in Computer Graphics and Programming from Missouri State University, a B.S. in Information Technology with a Concentration in Graphics and Game Development from Abilene Christian University, and a M.S. in Human Computer Interaction from Iowa State University. Rich was contracted as an iOS Developer and Consultant for the KAART Group, was contracted to develop a number of mobile applications for ACU, and worked as a Mobile and Senior Software Developer for USAA. Tanner teaches 3D Modeling, Animation, Mobile Application Development, Game Asset Creation and Texturing, and Character Creation in Maya, Photoshop, and Unity. Tanner brings skills and ingenuity to his classes that will instruct and develop technology students in new and exciting ways.

What do you teach at ACU?

The cool stuff!  As a DET faculty, I get to teach 3D Modeling, Animation, and Mobile Application Development (a CS course).

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

I have been assigned as a Developer Mentor for Wildcat Software, our student run software company.

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

It’s what I do!  Even at USAA, I often found myself drawn to roles where I could teach and mentor new employees and interns.  My wife and I also spent 3 years as Youth Ministers while we were in Plano, and I’ve been practicing my teaching on my own children for the past 19+ years.  I love seeing people get excited about new ideas and material, and helping people realize their potential.  Plus, I just generally get excited about the kinds of things that I get to teach!  It’s only natural to share that excitement with a room full of people.

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

Obviously, I enjoy spending time with my family.  My wife and I have been married for almost 21 years, and we have four children. Richelle, who is 19, is a new transfer student to ACU, studying Elementary Education.  Kira is 15 and goes to Abilene High.  Xandra is 12 and is a student at Craig Middle School.  And Connor, who is 7, goes to Bonham Elementary.  Connor is the only boy, and was born here in Abilene right before I graduated from ACU.  We all enjoy watching lots of movies together and playing various games.  I spend my free time (when I have any) working on home renovations, playing video games (usually single player adventures), and doing lots and lots of reading.

Spotlight on Karen St. John

by   |  05.08.17  |  Academics, COBA Alumni, COBA Faculty, Current Students, Faith Infusion, School of Information Technology and Computing, Uncategorized

What is your educational background?

  • BBA in Business Computer Information Systems, UNT cum laude
  • MS in Information Technology, UNT

 

Karen St. John

 

What is your work background?

  • Worked as an Academic Advisor – ten years both graduate and undergraduate
  • Computer Audit Specialist training for IRS/ Treasury department for seven years
  • Started teaching at the University level in 2009

 

What do you teach at ACU?

Information Technology courses: Scripting, Networking, Database Administration

 

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

  • Board member for family business – Pinecrest Cemetery in East Texas
  • Wife, married 17 years (18 this May)
  • Mom to six kids

 

The St. John Family

 

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

I have always loved to learn as much as possible.  Working with students is enjoyable and rewarding.

 

What’s the best part of working with students?

Taking an intimidating concept, breaking it down and explaining it, and watching students have the “lightbulb” moment when it clicks.

 

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

Turned down opportunity to work at a major bank doing anti-money laundering.

 

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

I love to cook. We live in the country and have chickens, sheep, goats, and cattle.

 

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

I was recognized by the Treasury department for my contribution and efforts in working with the Regulatory Audit division, which was nice.  However, I am most proud that I have balanced having a big family with my career.  Most of the women I went to school with had to choose one or the other.

 

Who is your role model, and why?

I think my Dad is my biggest role model.  He has a strong work ethic, is smart, unselfish and one of the best examples of what a good Christian looks like.  His professional career was that of a programmer and database administrator.  He has been a song leader at church for as long as I can remember.  He has been happily married to my mom for over fifty years.

 

Who was your most inspirational professor and why?

I was incredibly fortunate to earn my degree at UNT.  I had several professors that taught me important lessons that I try to pass on to my students.  Dr. Steve Guynes taught me that the way to look good is to make everyone around you look good.

 

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

I learned handwriting analysis for a project in a government class once.  And I am colorblind.

 

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

I feel incredibly blessed to be working at ACU.  I love to come to work every day!  The students are fantastic.  The faculty and staff are wonderful to work with.

Visiting Committee Provides Insight To COBA Leadership

by   |  05.02.17  |  Academics, COBA Alumni, COBA Events, COBA Faculty, Faith Infusion, School of Information Technology and Computing, Uncategorized

On March 27th, COBA hosted Visiting Committee and Dean’s Council members on campus. The Visiting Committee provided feedback on each academic program to help evaluate and improve the learning experience for each major. Thirty-three alumni with careers in various disciplines traveled across Texas and represented accounting firms, Fortune 500 companies, fast-growing startups, and nonprofit organizations.

Because of the diversity of industries and career experience among our alumni, COBA was able to obtain a wide range of insight. Tim Johnston, Assistant Dean, stated that “The visiting committee was pleased to hear that ACU has sustained our long-standing advantage of personal attention and instruction by professors who excel in their discipline and are committed Christians.”

The visiting committee reviewed business and technology degree plans, met with students, talked to faculty members, and offered their recommendations for improvement in all areas of the student experience. This helps keep COBA in-tune with the expectations that employers and companies have for our graduates, and helps us clarify our priorities and goals. The members are deeply committed to the mission of ACU, Business and Technology education and their advice will strengthens our strategic plan.

The visiting committee talked to students directly about their experiences in COBA. The most outstanding aspect of COBA, according to the students, was the personal attention received from prepared professors who care about their scholarship and students as individuals. Leah Montgomery, junior marketing major, had the opportunity to talk with committee members. Montgomery values “being included in the conversations about our classes and majors” and appreciates COBA’s measures to include and place weight upon student input.

The visiting committee also met with students to network at a root beer float mixer held in the COBA atrium. Students were able to meet with professionals in their field, ask questions about careers and opportunities, and solicit advice from our experienced alumni. Bethani Culpepper, sophomore management major, said that she “received valuable advice from accomplished and professional individuals who have been in her shoes” and that the networking event was her favorite part of the day.

COBA would like to thank the Dean’s Council and Visiting Committee for giving of their time and talents to help us continue to improve and provide distinctive offerings to current and future students.

COBA Meet the Dean Tour stops in Texas and Silicon Valley

by   |  11.18.16  |  Academics, COBA Alumni, COBA Events, COBA Faculty, COBA Staff, College Decisions, Current Students, Distinguished Speakers Series, Entrepreneurship, Faith Infusion, Griggs Center, Internships, MAcc, MBA, School of Information Technology and Computing, Uncategorized

Dr. Brad Crisp officially began his tenure as the Dean of the College of Business Administration in June and has been building an agenda since for his new role. One of the items on that agenda has been to reach out to and connect with alumni from the College of Business and the School of Information Technology and Computing, giving alumni and friends an opportunity to meet or reacquaint themselves with Dr. Crisp as well as learning more about the state of our college and what our plans are for the future. Thus, the idea for the “Meet the Dean Tour” was born and implemented in partnership with the Alumni Relations Office.

Dr. Brad Crisp, Dean of the College of Business Administration

Dr. Brad Crisp, Dean of the College of Business Administration

The tour began in Abilene with 56 alumni and friends and at each stop, Dr. Crisp illustrated ACU’s long standing success in business education and our recent path of progress with our School of IT and Computing.  Along with our first event in Abilene, alumni and friends gathered in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and Silicon Valley at networking breakfasts and lunches. Alumni who graduated within the past 10 years were invited to join Dr. Crisp for a “Beat the Dean” event at Top Golf in several of these cities, as they attempted to best the new Dean. It was a fun time of networking and Dr. Crisp was able to withstand the challenge brought by our young alums.

Young Alums in Dallas

Young Alums in Dallas

Dr. Crisp aims to win

Dr. Crisp aims to win

COBA Beat the Dean at Top Golf in Dallas

COBA Beat the Dean at Top Golf in Dallas

Not only were we able to reconnect with alumni, but we also met with parents of current students as well as prospective students and their families as they sought to learn more about the College and our programs and opportunities. Recent graduates were hard at work at these events, helping us connect students to internships and job opportunities in their organization. Alumni who have risen to leadership roles in their companies expressed their desire to create and sustain pipelines of ACU talent to their organizations. Many of our alums shared stories of the encouragement and strengthening they received both professionally and personally while attending ACU. They were encouraged by Dr. Crisp’s consistent reference to our heritage of business excellence, rooted in our personal commitment to living out the mission of Christ and bringing this mission to the workplace.

Meet the Dean lunch stop in Austin

Meet the Dean lunch stop in Austin

Today, Dr. Crisp leads a College offering 5 business degrees and 4 technology degrees at our Abilene campus, the Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy which is leading the nation in student engagement for entrepreneurship programs, and the new Lytle Center for Leadership and Faith Development which is continuing our Distinguished Speaker Series and Leadership Summit course.  The reach of ACU’s mission to educate Christian servants and leaders has expanded with the on-line MBA program, offered through the ACU Dallas campus in addition to our residential Master of Accountancy program and additional on-line graduate programs are in the discussion phase. The College of Business enjoyed an enrollment of exactly 1,000 total students this fall and is positioned for additional growth.  Our Master of Accountancy and Computer Science programs supply a steady stream of employers coming to campus to interview for talent as the changing landscape of business is driven by technology and entrepreneurship, demanding ethical leaders in this rapidly transforming environment.

alums top golf

Young alums at Beat the Dean in San Antonio

Young alums at Beat the Dean in San Antonio

The opportunity to begin Dr. Crisp’s tenure by connecting with alumni was emphasized by an intentional effort to listen to and involve alumni and friends in our efforts to develop the next generation of business and technology servant leaders. All in attendance were encouraged to give us feedback via an on-line survey. If you were unable to attend one of the stops but would like to give feedback as we continue to shape the direction and future of ACU’s College of Business and School of Information Technology and Computing, please fill out the survey by clicking on this link.

Your support of our work to educate business and technology professionals for Christian service and leadership throughout the world is a great encouragement to us and we cannot achieve our goals without support from alumni and friends. Thank you!

 

 

Meet the Dean Tour Launched

by   |  10.17.16  |  Academics, COBA Alumni, COBA Events, COBA Faculty, Dean Chronicles, School of Information Technology and Computing, Uncategorized

Dr. Brad Crisp officially began his tenure as Dean of the College of Business Administration in May and has been building an agenda since then for his new role. One of the items on that agenda has been to reach out to and connect with alumni from COBA. Thus, the idea for the “Meet the Dean Tour” was born and is now in full swing.

Dr. Brad Crisp, Dean of the College of Business Administration

Dr. Brad Crisp, Dean of the College of Business Administration

 

Starting in Abilene with 56 alumni and friends, Dr. Crisp described ACU’s long standing success in business education and our recent path of progress with our School of Information Technology and Computing, Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy, Lytle Center for Faith and Leadership, and a new online MBA program.

 

Meeting with COBA alumni in Austin

Meeting with COBA alumni in Austin.

 

Along with our first event in Abilene, alumni and friends gathered in Austin and San Antonio October 11-12th for a Meet the Dean lunch in each city.  The opportunity to network with business and technology professionals and learn about the growing opportunities with our academic programs was enjoyed by 28 attendees at each event.  Alumni who graduated within the past 10 years joined Dr. Crisp for a “Beat the Dean” event at Top Golf in San Antonio as they attempted to best the new Dean. It was a fun time of networking with about 20 alums, and Dr. Crisp was able to withstand the challenge.

 

COBA Alum at the Beat the Dean San Antonio event

COBA Alum at the Beat the Dean San Antonio event

 

The next stops for the tour are Dallas on October 27 and Fort Worth on October 28, followed by a tour stop in the Silicon Valley on November 2.  The tour will finish on November 7 and 8 in Houston.  We want to give a big thank you to our tour sponsor, Steve Green and Anvil II Management. We are also very grateful for sponsorship of the following city stops:

 

Abilene: David Swearingen and Johnson & Johnson

Austin: Bill & Jan McClellan and Gary Skidmore

Dallas: Heritage Christian College and Partner Source

 

To our alumni and friends, your support of our work to educate business and technology professionals for Christian service and leadership throughout the world is a great encouragement to us.  We hope that you’ll register to attend one of the remaining dates on the Meet the Dean tour.  For information on the dates and to register, please click this link.

Spotlight on Jeremy St. John

by   |  09.28.16  |  Academics, COBA Faculty, Current Students, School of Information Technology and Computing, Uncategorized

We’re excited to introduce you to one of our new professors, Dr. Jeremy St. John, coming to ACU from East Texas (Texas A&M University – Commerce). Jeremy grew up and attended school in Denton, Texas and Munich, Germany traveling every year between the US and Germany. He is fluent in German. Through junior high and beyond high school he worked in residential housing construction (non-management, all manual labor). Over the years he also worked as a property manager managing family rental properties (his family founded Chris Craft which was at one time the largest privately owned company in the U.S., but was sold in the late 60s).

 

Dr. Jeremy St. John

Dr. Jeremy St. John

 

In the early 90s he began serving on the Denton Chamber of Commerce as the 21 year old owner and manager of a retail pet store. Isaac Asimov and the importance of the computer for a small retail store were major factors for Jeremy’s choice of MIS as a major.  He went on to earn a BBA in Business Computer Information Systems from the University of North Texas, a Master of Science degree in Information Technology, and a PhD in Business Computer Information Systems from the University of North Texas. Jeremy (and his future wife Karen) were instructors for the Treasury Department’s Computer Audit Specialist training program for five years. Instruction was on auditing large organizations with a focus on COBOL, computer forensics and the mainframe environment. In 2008 – 2009 he worked at Tyler Junior College as the program development manager for Science and Technology where he developed a petroleum Landman training program. From 2009 – 2011 he taught at the University of Texas at Tyler. He has served as an Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University – Commerce from 2011-2016 including a stint as interim department head from 2013-2014.

Courses Dr. St. John has taught include information systems and programming at the University of North Texas (six years). Managerial Decision Making, Operations Management, Quantitative Analysis, Database Information Systems and Management Information Systems at the University of Texas at Tyler (two years) and Business Research, Process Analysis & Design, Networking & Security at Texas A&M University Commerce (five years). Recent projects include writing the textbook Excel for Landmen and the design & manufacture of the Critter Cutter, a unique multi-tasking tool . The Critter Cutter reflects a new research interest into Crowdfunding. Recent research includes two articles published in the top MIS journal Information Systems Management.

Jeremy volunteers as the faculty sponsor for Weekend Campaigns at Abilene Christian University. This is a student volunteer group on campus who have a desire to serve other communities. They travel to many children’s homes and to disability communities over the semester, spend time with the residents there and help build different things, as well as complete any other tasks their host needs them to do. They recently traveled to the Boles Children’s Home to help build a fence and driveway for their new nursery, and to spend time with the kids there.

The Boles Children’s Home is a Christian not for profit organization that provides a safe haven for children and single mothers in need. They also reach disadvantaged children in their neighborhoods through their outreach ministry programs. They help families and orphaned children avoid homelessness, poverty, abuse and neglect and lead them to sustainable and productive lives where they can attend public school, universities, trade schools, and participate in church and school activities. They do not receive state or federal grants but rely on donations and volunteers.

Jeremy stated that the Weekend Campaigns organization is a great group because it helps students get connected with other students, and learn to enjoy volunteering and helping others during a time where most people think about themselves. He said the students at Abilene Christian have been able to be a friend, helper and mentor to kids and adults in need. Jeremy is looking forward to the next Weekend Campaign trip which will be a Thanksgiving trip to Oklahoma to hand out food to the poor.

 

The St. John Family

The St. John Family

 

Jeremy’s wife of 17 years, Karen, will start in the spring at ACU as an IT Instructor and is currently teaching at A&M Commerce. They have six children who attend Abilene Christian Schools and live on 158 acres in North Abilene. Please help us welcome the St. John family to COBA!

 

Spotlight on Jenni Williams

by   |  02.24.16  |  Academics, COBA Alumni, COBA Staff, Careers In..., College Decisions, Current Students, MBA, School of Information Technology and Computing, Uncategorized

What is your educational background?

I received my bachelors in Public Relations and Advertising from Hardin-Simmons University and I will complete my masters in Higher Education from ACU in 2016.

 

Jenni Williams

Jenni Williams

What is your work background?
My first job was in PR for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. This was an amazing opportunity and had a great impact on my life. I learned so much from the wish kids and will always be grateful for that opportunity.

Following that role, I began working in Higher Education in 2004. I have worked in several areas of Higher Ed at two universities, including campus visits, financial aid, admissions, student life, retention, recruiting, event coordination, and student services.

 

What do you do at ACU?
I manage the recruiting process for SITC and assist in bringing new students to ACU. Additionally, I manage marketing communication to current and prospective students. I also play a role in other areas in SITC, including coordination of special events, SITC news, and staff contact for Women in Tech.

 

What’s the best part of working with students? 
I love working with students! It is so amazing to watch students transition from their first visit to campus through to their graduation. I play a small role in their ACU experience and I love being able to share in this transformational process. I enjoy being able to encourage and cheer on students as they take on new challenges, navigate their demanding schedules, and ultimately, interview for jobs. We are able to witness the process of development from the front row. While it is sometimes painful, there is nothing quite like sharing in the moments when they realize that they are capable of more than they imagined.

 

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

No. I’m right where I want to be.

 

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

So many things. First and foremost, I have an amazing husband and two precious daughters that I love very much. Our girls keep us extremely busy and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I also love baking and have a sugar cookie business. This hobby-turned-business started out by making cookies for my daughters’ class parties. I really love the creative and artistic outlet!

 

IMG_6470

The Williams Family having fun

 

Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.
At this juncture, completing my masters will be a huge accomplishment. I have enjoyed the entire process and love how it has cultivated a passion for learning.

 

Do you do any charity or non-profit work? 
I am on the parent council at Alliance for Women and Children.

 

Who is your role model, and why?
I have a strong network of men and women in my life, who have taught me a great deal about living life. They have served as spiritual, professional, and personal mentors. They have guided me in times of uncertainty and doubt, as well as times of joy and success. I have learned what it means to love others, how to be a better parent, how to walk through challenges and failures, and how to live a life worthy of the calling placed on my life.

 

Who was your most inspirational professor and why?
Several professors come to mind, but one of the most inspirational was Dr. Susan Piggott. She was one of my Bible profs and I had her for Theological Research and Writing (I was a Bible major at one point).  That course was easily one of the most challenging courses I had in undergrad. Dr. Piggott had a reputation of being a pretty tough teacher. When it came time for me to take her course, I experienced this first hand. However, I learned so much from her about questioning preconceived ideas and learning to think on my own. Some of her ideas conflicted with mine, allowing me to examine why I believed what I believed. This experience strengthened my faith and propelled my spiritual development.

 

If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?
Power over time, hands down. Primarily to slow down time. Obviously, this would be helpful for accomplishing a lot. However, I think it would be more useful for the ability to slow down and cherish the priceless moments that are over too quickly.

 

The Williams Family

The Williams Family

 

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

I love Christmas and have a sizable collection of Christmas paraphernalia, which nearly fills up our entire storage shed, seven Christmas trees, and over 700 Christmas songs in my iTunes library. It’s absolutely my favorite time of the year.

 

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

I have spent 11 years in higher education working with students in some facet. In this time, I have learned that there is so much more to college than awarding degrees. I view this as a calling. I have the opportunity to impact students in a measurable way, by simply being here. I am committed to the holistic development of students as they explore their identity in relation to others and to God. I will not have all the answers, but I am always available to listen, encourage, and pray for students.

 

Spotlight on Orneita Burton

by   |  09.22.15  |  Academics, COBA Alumni, COBA Faculty, Current Students, Faith Infusion, School of Information Technology and Computing, Uncategorized

What is your educational background?

BSChe (Chemical Engineering) – University of Arkansas, MS Management Science – University of Central Texas (now part of Texas A&M system), PhD Arizona State University in Information Systems.

Dr. Orneita Burton

Dr. Orneita Burton

What is your work background?

Petrochemicals and oil and gas industry – Phillips Petroleum, Dow Chemical, Union Carbide, Mobil Oil/Chemical Division.

What do you teach at ACU?

Operations Management, courses in Information Systems (ERP, E-Commerce, Business Intelligence/Data Analysis), and Microeconomics online.

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

Faculty Senate; United by Faith and Racial Unity community efforts with Jerry Taylor and Doug Foster, SAP University Alliances faculty coordinator, recent Gen Ed Committee, support AIS (Association of Information Systems) students.

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

I tutored peers in math while in college and they would say I should be a teacher. I was an intervention tutor for students in elementary school when they struggled in math and reading during their early years. I would work with them to bring them up to grade level. All of my life, people would ask me why I was not a teacher. One day, I told someone that if I was given the opportunity to teach at a Christian university, I would change career paths. Dr. Jack Griggs, who was then Dean of the College of Business called a few months later. I could not turn down an answer from God.

What’s the best part of working with students?

In every student, there is a desire to learn. Many students have not tapped into this energy because of grade competition and standardized tests. I love the opportunity to reignite the desire to learn that God has placed in each of us. This is important, as why would we seek salvation without this motivation to learn about the God who created us? It compares to taking a multiple choice exam to pass the Salvation test. What do we learn about God?

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

Definitely. Money is always a temptation in the oil and gas industry, even during market downturns. At times, I have been concerned about my children and their futures based on my choice. However, I believe I was called to be at ACU. I therefore allow God to unfold His daily purpose for our being here, both at ACU and in Abilene. I compare my walk to when Satan tempted Jesus with hunger (worry associated with need), seeking safety in peril and being offered the world and its riches. These are the same temptations each of us face – if we are willing to let God take the lead. It has been an adventure being here, and I have humbly found the answer to each of these choices: Jesus – plain and simple.

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

I love to read, which, as I get older, motivates me to write. I believe I will one day write the story within that shapes the external and eternal “me.” I also have developed the worthwhile hobby of truly enjoying my marriage relationship. Marriage is a challenging experience in many ways. It takes an untraditional view of life to value relationships, particularly the marriage relationship. I enjoy the love of my life and have made loving others a daily “hobby.”

What is a good, early story about your teaching?

My mother always wanted to be a teacher. Contrarily, none of her children wanted to become teachers. Out of her 12 children, four are engineers, two are accountants, three are scientists of some type – invariably none became teachers by profession. Not until I was called to do so in the spring of 2000. Because of financial and family reasons, both my mother and father only finished the 9th grade. However, my mother always valued the teaching profession. When she was young, her best friend was a teacher. She decided to name me after her best friend. Therefore, I often think I was somehow “spirited” into the profession because God honored my mother’s dream.

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

Hard to say. We have been in Abilene almost 9 years. I think being here has created multiple project opportunities in community service. Abilene is a good place because the presence of God flows through so many people. Yet, for my family, being here has been the most difficult time in my life. Despite efforts by others for us to move on and move away, God has been our shepherd throughout the years; He has provided green pastures and laid a table before us time and time again.

Do you do any charity or non-profit work?

We created an ACU endowment in honor of my mother and father to fund scholarships for students; we provide two housing environments that promote human flourishing for people who may be homeless because of life’s circumstances. We also support the International Justice Mission (IJM) and a global academic community that works to integrate management, spirituality and religion as a way of doing business.

Who is your role model, and why?

My mother. She walked with God through the challenges of life, and was faithful until the end; then she went home to live in the mansion she never had while on earth – one built especially for her by Jesus. My mother loved geese. I think she is on a farm surrounded by geese and probably some generic form of duck.

Who was your most inspirational professor and why?

Dr. Charles Thatcher. He wrote the book I used at the University of Arkansas for foundations in Chemical Engineering as an undergrad. Through Dr. Thatcher, I was able to see what it looked like for someone to live and breathe what they taught. Inspirational, no doubt, and note-worthy. However, not yet sure if this is always a good thing.

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

The power to reveal truth, create justice and show mercy all in the same breath, and ensure that everyone acted with pure and unselfish motives for the common good.

Dr. Burton and Dr. Pope teaching COBA students in Oxford.

Dr. Burton and Dr. Pope teaching COBA students in Oxford.

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

That I was raised by a practicing atheist. My father lived between agnostic beliefs and an atheistic walk – i.e., a defacto atheist. Was this all bad? Consider the following: a practicing atheist has no reason to lie or hide behind falsehood. Because of this, I was raised in a home where neither my mother nor father smoked, drank or engaged in anything traditionally regarded as wrong. My father in fact was very deliberate about what we as girls wore and how we presented ourselves as young women. He had a keen eye for falsehood and insisted that we avoid both the “vices” and “hypocrisies” of life. For me as a young person, this resulted in no real foundation and a true void that I ultimately had to choose how to fill. Despite our backgrounds, we all choose. Consider I Corinthians 3:10-15: “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames. My advice to any student is to choose a solid foundation. Then, build a lifestyle that can sustain the trials of life, because the trials will surely come. When they do, don’t give up. You’ll be a better person on the other side.

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

I believe that truth and right-living are found by searching with all your heart. Because of my family structure, I had to search for truth and learned the art of “research” and knowledge discovery early in life. Without a university experience, I would have missed experiencing the generic value of learning as a higher calling. Therefore, when I teach, I do so without political, personal or social agenda, and I work to show the natural design of God in all things. There are foundational truths that exist. Learning in any discipline should be all about coming to know truth. That is why I think teaching comes with great responsibility, and that is also why I think college is an important investment we should all make to provide this opportunity for everyone.