Staff Spotlight: Jane Clark

We’re excited to welcome Jane Clark to the COBA team where she will serve as the new Enrollment and Student Development Manager. Originally from Wichita, Kansas, Jane and her husband have recently moved to Abilene as her husband joined the ACU Football coaching staff.  We asked Jane to tell us a little more about her background, her family and herself. Welcome to ACU, Jane!

 

Where did you go to school?

I completed my undergraduate degree at Kansas State University and went on to complete my Master’s degree at Oklahoma City University. 

 

Tell us a little about your family:

I am so proud to be the daughter of Tom and Maggie Keehn of Wichita, KS. My mother still lives there and welove visiting when we are able, especially for holidays! She still has a way of magically transforming my childhood home and making it so special. My father passed away 4 years ago, but I am still a “Daddy’s girl” through and through. I have an older sister, Mary who is married to Jack. They have a brand new baby and our first nephew on my side of the family, Luke. They live in Denver, CO. My youngest brother and best friend, Paul, lives in Kansas City, MO with his fiance, Paige. I am happily married to Matthew who is a member of the ACU athletics staff and we are the proud dog parents of our ever-shedding, quirky pup, Max. I am fortunate to have a large extended family consisting of my wonderful aunts and uncles and numerous cousins and cousins-in-law that are considered as close as brothers and sisters. 

 

Where have you worked in the past? 

  • Adjunct professor in Early Childhood Education at Luna Community College
  • 2nd grade reading specialist in Lubbock, TX
  • Director of Campus Tours and Events at New Mexico Highlands University Lead Primary Directress at Parkway Montessori in Kansas City, MO

 

What drew you to the work of higher education? 

I am passionate about education at all stages – as a student as well as a teacher. I look to my collegiate experience as some of the most formative years of my young adult life – experiences, opportunities, relationships, and learning about myself and what I wanted to do with my life. To be able to support students through that journey academically, spiritually, and experientially is a professional honor. Being passionate about your work can be a rarity. 

 

What drew you to ACU?

Even in my short time on ACU’s campus, I have seen the vision and mission within COBA come to life through staff, faculty, and students and I look forward to promoting this opportunity to all potential students whom I am able to meet. 

 

Why do you enjoy working with college students? 

Education has always been a passion and through most of my adult life, a trade. I look at this position as an opportunity to pour into potential and current ACU students as they begin to explore their options for their future. I see such vision, optimism, and passion in college students and it is absolutely contagious! Seeing young people that are so convicted in their faith and their future is inspiring. 

 

Outside of teaching/work, what passions/hobbies do you have? 

Matt and I love being active within our community! Whether that is trying out to a local restaurant or coffee shop, walking our dog, or finding a new park to explore, we love venturing out on our weeknights/weekends. I am a bit of a sports fanatic. I look forward to cheering on our ACU Wildcats and enjoy participating in recreational sports as well – running, hiking, pickleball, tennis, golf, volleyball, yoga, and soccer. I enjoy cooking and baking (and eating) new foods! I am always up for a new recipe to attempt or sample. 

 

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

I live/d a very active lifestyle – I have broken both of my arms twice, my right leg, and dislocated my right ankle. I just went ahead and bought the crutches at this point. Renting was silly. I hope to keep my cap on all of these numbers. *knock on wood* 

 

What do you hope to accomplish in this new position? 

I look forward to showcasing all the amazing experiences that are going on throughout COBA in a given academic year! Research, internships, classes, guest speakers, study abroad opportunities, involvement on campus, departmental chapels, and philanthropic events…I want potential students to come to COBA thinking about a certain major but leave hearing about our vision and seeing themselves growing as people in all areas of their lives as a COBA graduate. 

 

University Scholar Spotlight: Tyler Merritt

Tyler Merritt, a junior double major in accounting and financial management from Abilene, TX, is one of 4 business majors recognized as a University Scholar this spring. To qualify as a University Scholar, students must maintain a 3.5 GPA or higher and show a demonstration of knowledge and skill in the research of their appropriate field. Students are nominated by faculty across the university and presented for selection to the Faculty Senate for the final decision. We asked Tyler to tell us what it means to be honored and share his best advice on how students can get the most out of their college experience. Congratulations, Tyler!

 

 

Being named a University Scholar is a great honor! What was your first reaction when you received the news?

I was excited and honored to be chosen as a member of this elite group of students.

 

What extracurricular activities/student orgs were you involved with on campus?

  • Treasurer of Frater Sodalis
  • Member of U-Chorale and the A Cappella Chorus
  • A/V live events technician
  • Teaching assistant
  • Library circulation desk worker

 

What are some of your favorite memories/experiences in your department?

  • Listening to all of Dr. Fowler’s extremely entertaining auditing stories
  • Dr. Perkins bringing his guitar to class and singing a Willie Nelson parody
  • Somehow passing Dr. Neill’s bonds exam

 

What has grown you as an individual the most in your time at ACU?

Seeing and experiencing the tightly bonded community that is ACU, especially through the men of Frater Sodalis.

 

What is your favorite thing about ACU?

The kindness and care that the professors put into their lectures and interactions with their students

 

Do you have any advice for future students?

Don’t be afraid to try new things, but also don’t fill your plate up too much.  And always leave the biggest space for God and your faith life.

 

What will you be doing after graduation?

I will pursue a Master’s degree in accountancy and begin studying for the CPA certification exam.

 

University Scholar Spotlight: Destanie Crist

Destanie Crist, a financial management major from Valley Center, CA, is one of 4 business majors recognized as a University Scholar this spring. To qualify as a University Scholar, students must maintain a 3.5 GPA or higher and show a demonstration of knowledge and skill in the research of their appropriate field. Students are nominated by faculty across the university and presented for selection to the Faculty Senate for the final decision. We asked Destanie to share her best advice on how students can become involved on campus and gain experience for post-graduation life. Congratulations, Destanie! 

  

Being named a University Scholar is a great honor! What was your first reaction when you received the news? 

I was extremely grateful and honored that ACU faculty and staff picked me! It is a special reminder that God blesses, and that hard work always pays off.

  

What extracurricular activities/student orgs were you involved with on campus?

  • Heacock Scholars
  • LYNAY
  • Financial Management Association
  • Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy
  • STAR
  • AMA
  • CEO Chapel
  • Off-campus, I served as a mentor for 11th and 12th grade girls through Beltway Church

  

What are some of your favorite memories/experiences in your department?

Managing the Student Investment Fund (STAR) was by far one of my favorite experiences at ACU. I have invested from a very young age, and I enjoyed being hands-on in class with real day-to-day investing activities. Leading as the Fund Manager taught me how to bring together teams and people with many different talents. The fund also did exceptionally well that year, and I loved working with everyone in the class.

Working at the Griggs Center was such a great career-developing experience. Whether as President of Enactus or the Director of Student Competitions, there was always a task and challenges ahead that I got to help with and improve. It is a great place to learn soft skills and meet incredible leaders like Mindy, Amanda, and Jim.

 

What has grown you as an individual the most in your time at ACU?

The groups and organizations I am involved in have helped me grow the most during my time at ACU. As a leader or a learner training to be one, I was challenged in ways outside of normal academics to strengthen my soft skills and leadership abilities. Working at the Griggs Center, in COBA, and at JP Morgan Chase are all exceptional work environments which have allowed me to take the skills I learned on campus and in the classroom to an actual workplace.

 

What is your favorite thing about ACU?

My favorite thing about ACU is the people. The professors, students, faculty and staff make ACU an amazing community. ACU is unique in so many ways, but the professors and peers that I have been blessed to be friends with have brought abundant wisdom and joy into my life.

 

Do you have any advice for future students?

The best piece of advice would be to seek God in all things: school, career, relationships, and your day-to-day living. Enjoy your time at school, be involved, and try new things, but also make sure to think about your next steps and life after school.

 

What will you be doing after graduation?

After graduation, I will start working full time as a Commercial Real Estate Analyst for J.P. Morgan Chase and I will get married in August!

University Scholar Spotlight: Jose Rodriguez

Jose Rodriguez, a senior finance, accounting, and political science major originally from Reynosa, Mexico is one of 4 business majors recognized as a University Scholar this spring. To qualify as a University Scholar, students must maintain a 3.5 GPA or higher and show a demonstration of knowledge and skill in the research of their appropriate field. Students are nominated by faculty across the university and presented for selection to the Faculty Senate for the final decision. We asked Jose to talk about his experience thus far at ACU and give current and future students advice on how to make the most of their time here. Congratulations, Jose!

 

Being named a University Scholar is a great honor! What was your first reaction when you received the news? 

After receiving the email saying that I was nominated as a University Scholar, I immediately shared the news with my parents. I do not think that I would be the person who I am today without their sacrifices, support, and love. My parents trust my capabilities and know that I can take care of business. However, I always keep them up to date with my academic performance. 

 

What extracurricular activities/student orgs were you involved with on campus? 

I am the current Vice President of Frater Sodalis. I am part of LYNAY (a community service group), I am a tour guide for ACU Admissions, I am part of Chess Club, and I am a member of Financial Management Association chapter here at ACU. 

 

What are some of your favorite memories/experiences in your department? 

My first ever Departmental Chapel was special because I got to meet most of the faculty in my department. I thought that I would never get to know them all but now I can say that I have had a conversation with every one of my professors. Secondly, the COBA networking event that happened during the fall of 2021 was a great way to meet ACU alumni and to get internship/job opportunities (fun fact: that is how I got my summer internship for summer of 2022). Finally, just studying in the Griggs Center and getting to know all the COBA students is truly a blessing and something I enjoy of being a finance/accounting major.

 

What has grown you as an individual the most in your time at ACU? 

First, being able to do jail ministry has been a blessing. God has used me in a way that glorifies His name and has allowed me to serve others who need Him. Moreover, I have met great people who are in desperate need of love. All they want is to be heard and they want to know that there is someone praying for them, regardless of the conditions they are in.

Furthermore, finding the right group of friends at ACU has had a huge impact on me because I know I can rely on them and they can trust me. I have made so many good friendships that I would not otherwise have made if I had not stepped out of my comfort zone and wanting to meet new people. 

 

What is your favorite thing about ACU?

Spending time with my fraternity, with my closest friends, and the community are things that I cherish and I take pride in here at ACU. Additionally, being able to know my professors outside of the classroom has been something I enjoy doing because of how my professors care about me and about what is going on in my life outside of the classroom. 

Finally, the community at ACU is welcoming and hospitable. I found a group of friends who I could hang out with all the time and it easy to get plugged in into the dozens of student organizations on campus.

 

Do you have any advice for future students? 

My advice to future students is:

  • Be disciplined. You will thank yourself down the road when you graduate and take these skills into the workplace. Find a routine that works for you and that is efficient and stick to it—sometimes it’s okay to change it around. 
  • Make study groups. It is a great way to enhance your knowledge and to help each other out. 
  • Get to know your professors. They care about you, they are for you, and they want to be resources for you.
  • Enjoy yourself and give yourself time for fun! Sometimes it is so easy to get caught up in our busy schedules that we forget that we are entitled to have fun in college. Go to the gym, go on a walk, hang out with friends, or do something that gives you energy.

What will you be doing after graduation? 

Although I graduate on May 2023, I will be preparing for the CPA exam. I hope to land a job in accounting somewhere in the DFW metroplex.

University Scholar Highlight: Isabella Maradiaga Molina

Isabella Maradiaga Molina, a double major in marketing and graphic design from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, is one of 4 business majors recognized as a University Scholar this spring. To qualify as a University Scholar, students must maintain a 3.5 GPA or higher and show a demonstration of knowledge and skill in the research of their appropriate field. Students are nominated by faculty across the university and presented for selection to the Faculty Senate for the final decision. We asked Isabella to reflect on her time at ACU and how it’s shaped who she has become. Congratulations, Isabella!

 

Being named a University Scholar is a great honor! What was your first reaction when you received the news?

I’ve looked up to many people who received this award in the past and feel extremely honored to be named a University Scholar. This is the best way to culminate my college career at ACU!

 

What extracurricular activities/student orgs were you involved with on campus?

  • Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society
  • International Students Association
  • COBA Ambassador Team
  • COBA Marketing Team
  • WorldWide Witness
  • Alpha Chi National Honor Society
  • American Marketing Association
  • Ko Jo Kai
  • Student Government Association
  • Wildcat Ventures
  • Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society

 

What are some of your favorite memories/experiences in your department?

The community I’ve built through the College of Business Administration has carried me through the highs and low of my college career. I’ve been mentored, supported, and prayed over by many professors and peers in this department. Additionally, working in COBA Dean’s Suite has been one of my favorite experiences at ACU. I’ve had the opportunity to see the work that faculty and staff put into elevating our college experience as business students. And the student ambassador team makes me look forward to coming to work every day!

 

What has grown you as an individual the most in your time at ACU?

During my time at ACU, I’ve met incredible people that inspired the vision I have for my life moving forward. The Lord placed mentors and friends who stood next to me during challenging times and prayerfully encouraged me to push forward. All the growth and accomplishments of my college career have been a communal effort. This has been one of the greatest lessons I learned at ACU. We are meant to do life with one another.

 

What is your favorite thing about ACU?

My favorite thing about ACU is the lifelong connections we get to build. In the last few years, I’ve seen how many alumni return to campus with eagerness to connect with current students. I’m humbled by the generosity of these people and their desire to give back to our campus – with their time, wisdom, and experience. As I leave ACU, I finally understand what drives these Wildcats to come back home: community. I’m incredibly grateful to be a part of this.

 

Do you have a favorite memory you’d like to share of your time in your department?

My favorite memories in the College of Business are the ones in the Enrollment and Student Development office with Lindsay Palmer and our student ambassador team. These people made the Mabee Business Building feel a lot like home. I will always remember the meaningful conversations I had with Andy Little and M.C. Jennings – thank you for all your support. I’m also thankful for the dinners with Dr. Jennifer Golden and the hours we spent together navigating the challenges of life. I have a deep sense of gratitude for the professors, staff, and students in this department.

 

What will you be doing after graduation?

After graduation, I will join The Marketing Arm as Jr Art Director in their Dallas office.

 

Do you have any advice for future students?

From Glennon Doyle: “Each of us was born to bring forth something that has never existed: a way of being, a family, an idea, art, a community—something brand-new. We are here to fully introduce ourselves, to impose ourselves and ideas and thoughts and dreams onto the world, leaving it changed forever by who we are and what we bring forth from our depths. So we cannot contort ourselves to fit into the visible order. We must unleash ourselves and watch the world reorder itself in front of our eyes.”

Faculty Spotlight: Nancy Kucinski

Dr. Nancy Kucinski
College Professor of Management and the Online Business Programs Director

Dr. Nancy Kucinski might be the definition of homegrown talent. Not only is she an Abilene native, but she comes from a family of professors instilling in her a calling to Christian Higher Education. “My father was a professor when I was born and I essentially grew up on a small university campus. Plus, both of my brothers are retired professors, so academia has always been part of my life.”

Kucinski comes to ACU from Hardin-Simmons University where she has been a Professor of Political Science and Management, as well as a former Dean of Graduate Studies. She graduated from Hardin-Simmons University with a Bachelor of Political Science and went on to receive her Masters of Public Administration from Texas Tech. Nancy holds not one, but TWO PhDs — a Ph.D. in Organizations, Strategy, and International Studies from UT Dallas and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Texas Tech.

Nancy began leading ACU Online and COBA’s online programs last fall when she was named a College Professor of Management and the Online Business Programs Director. She is currently leading her first ACU online course: Management and Organizational Behavior and is excited to teach the Graduate Leadership course next term.

As with many people, the pandemic provided a turning point in her career. “Over the last two to three years, I can see how God has been working in my life to make this opportunity at ACU the exact right place for me to be. Even though I had been teaching online for several years, it wasn’t until the pandemic that I began to really study and learn how to be the best professor I could be in the virtual learning environment. I also have been interested in new research areas, like environmental sustainability that align with the Christian mission of ACU as we are stewards of His creation. Besides God drawing me to ACU, the people here are so supportive and inspiring. And, as they say… life is better as a Wildcat!”

While online education may seem anonymous, Dr. Kucinski does her best to interact with and view each student as their own person. “My approach to teaching is to see each student as an individual. Each has different needs and styles of learning. My desire is to provide the best possible learning opportunities for my students and I’m always open to learning from them.”

Kucinski’s position is a joint appointment with COBA and ACU Online. COBA Dean Brad Crisp is enthusiastic about the future of the online programs saying, “We are so excited to have Dr. Kucinski lead our online business programs. She is an experienced administrator who knows what it takes to build and grow high-quality academic programs that serve Christian business professionals.”

Outside of work, Nancy loves to hike with her husband, Dale who is a retired airline pilot, and their Weimaraners, Maya and Marci. She also enjoys traveling, especially to Salzburg, Austria where she often teaches in an international studies program and to visit her son Neal who lives in San Antonio. It might surprise her students to know that she has a private pilot’s license, learning to fly when she was in college.

Being an adventurer is a trait that enables her to cast a vision for what she’d like to accomplish in this new role. “My dream for our Online Business Programs is to reach even more students. We provide quality learning opportunities and because our programs are offered online, more students are able to access our programs.”

Click here to learn more about ACU’s online programs and how they could change your professional future.

Internship Spotlight: Isabella Maradiaga

Isabella Maradiaga

Have you ever heard the saying “getting a view from 50,000 feet?” Isabella Maradiaga, senior marketing and graphic design major from Tegucigalpa, Honduras quite literally did just that.  Last summer, Isabella completed an internship as a Junior Design Intern with Chicago based independent global brand consultant and creative agency, 50,000feet. As their website describes, 50,000feet “develops integrated experiences for the world’s most respected brands.”

Maradiaga was able to spend part of her internship at the agency in Chicago while also working remotely. She worked alongside disciplinary teams to develop and support client brands as well as assisting designers and creative directors on a daily basis using software like Adobe Creative Suite, Figma, and MailChimp. Additionally, she contributed in client and agency initiatives through strategic exploration and design assets.

In this role, Maradiaga was able to see how her double major could be integrated into her future work saying, “Pursuing a dual degree in college has been a challenging process. Through this internship, I was able to see how strategic business concepts merge with the creative practice of graphic design. My position as Junior Design Intern was an opportunity to narrow the career path I’m choosing post-graduation. Most importantly, I experienced a work environment that I can only aspire to have in the future. Designers, developers, writers, and all team members collaborate for a shared vision. The people at 50,000feet inspired and motivated me, and I am beyond thankful for the experience they provided.”

Some of the greatest lessons that Isabella learned during her internship were centered on creativity in the business world. “Creativity looks different for everyone. I honestly believe that we have mistakenly identified creatives as the people who pursue careers in art and design alone. There is creativity in design. There is creativity in strategy. There is creativity in business.”

Internships often give students experience and insight that they can take into their future careers. Isabella was no exception. “This internship exposed me to the agency environment that I desire to be in after graduation. I learned more than I could have imagined during the three months of this internship. Now, I can say with confidence that I plan to pursue a career in brand consulting/management.”

A great internship helps students grow and mature as they are stretched beyond what they have learned in the classroom. Isabella’s experience tested her in new ways. “Learning requires an abundance of humility. The College of Business has done an outstanding job at providing opportunities and courses that prepare students for their careers. However, putting all four years of education into practice is challenging. Starting any kind of job means developing new skills, adapting to an environment, understanding company culture, and many other learning opportunities. Approaching new seasons with humility is vital to our personal and professional growth. Most importantly, it is with this same humility that we should approach others as they begin their careers.”

Maradiaga has some advice for students as they look for their own internships. “Don’t be limited by the job postings you see online. Just because you don’t see something, it doesn’t mean it’s not there. I contacted numerous agencies that were not actively hiring for internships and heard back from most of them. Whether they have open positions or not, you are already making yourself available. Do your research, find companies you love, and pursue them intentionally.”

Isabella takes a “first day at work” pic

Isabella felt well prepared for her internship as she became involved with COBA’s professional development program and did her part to grow and develop herself by becoming involved on campus. “The professional development opportunities at ACU are endless. This place provides experiences that most people don’t get until they are out of school. Besides the academic excellence that is provided in the College of Business, I’ve benefited from many roles at ACU that have shaped my work ethic. During my time at ACU, I’ve served as Vice-President for the International Students Association, President of the American Marketing Association, Marketing Director for the Student Government Association, Design Director for Ko Jo Kai, President of Wildcat Ventures, and student ambassador for the College of Business Administration. All of these experiences have been crucial to my growth as a Christian professional.”

Inspired by “the standard of excellence that we communally pursue” at ACU, Isabella says that the glory belongs to God. “The Lord truly deserves all the glory for every opportunity, experience, and achievement in life. He’s been gracious at placing me in the right place, at the right time.”

Current and prospective students can learn more about the professional development program in the College of Business by contacting Steph Brown at stephanie.brown@acu.edu.

COBA Vision Keeper: Randy Nicholson

If you didn’t know Randy Nicholson’s (’59) story, you might never suspect that the entrepreneur, benefactor and influential former ACU trustee faced extreme adversity and obstacles from the beginning of his life. Yet those circumstances that were beyond his control shaped the man he became – someone who helped others and lived generously.

At 18 months old, Nicholson and his siblings were placed in Boles Children’s Home in Quinlan, Texas after their parents could no longer care for them. There, he began learning about Christ, generosity, gratitude and the value of working hard. Regular chores at Boles Home taught responsibility and included working in the fields, tending to the animals and milking cows. Nicholson was also active in FFA and worked for Safeway supermarkets as a stocker, sacker and checker.

Nicholson’s college decision was heavily influenced by one of his Boles Home dorm supervisors, Abilene Christian College alumnus Robert Harold “Tex” Williams (’50). As for his major, Nicholson developed an early interest in accounting while working with Claude Covey, who did the accounting for Boles Home, during high school. 

Nicholson chose not to accept the free tuition offered to Abilene Christian students who grew up in an orphanage. He felt he had been given much during his time at Boles Home and that it was time for him to start paying his own way. He worked full time at an Abilene Safeway and still managed to graduate in four years with a degree in accounting. 

While at ACC, caring mentors and friends continued to shape Nicholson’s faith and character. His friendship with Hal McGlothlin (’58) led to multiple work experiences and partnerships with McGlothlin family businesses such as Radio London, United Network, Bank of Commerce, Locus Homes International, LaJet and even an attempt at forming a new television network. Nicholson also gained experience in the self-serve gasoline business as founder, president, chief operating officer and board member of E-Z Serve, and he also helped pioneer pay-at-the-pump equipment as chair and CEO of AutoGas Systems Inc. 

Nicholson remained very active with his alma mater until his death in December 2020 because he felt strongly that a quality Christian education should be affordable and accessible to all students who want to learn in a Christ-centered environment. He served on the ACU Board of Trustees for 29 years. He also chaired the investment committee from its inception in the 1980’s until February 2010. When ACU established a separate entity to handle its endowment – the Abilene Christian Investment Management Company (ACIMCO) – in 2009, Nicholson served as the first chairman of the board.

He also played a large role in the land purchase to expand ACU in 1981 and was one of four individuals who contributed money to establish Student Trading and Research (STAR), a student-managed fund in the College of Business Administration. Nicholson worked closely with the past deans of COBA to help the college equip its graduates to be influential Christians in the business world. Most recently, he was on the advisory board for the Nuclear Energy eXperimental Testing (NEXT) Lab. 

Nicholson’s greatest partnership was with fellow ACC student Barbara Hart (’59), and they married in 1957. The pair were married 59 years until Barbara’s death in January 2017. Those who knew Randy knew how much his wife, daughter Randa (Nicholson ’88) Upp, son-in-law Jeff Upp (’86) and grandson Braden (’17) meant to him. 

Nicholson’s presence continues to be felt as he generously gave to others for causes that were dear to his heart. One of the legacies is the Nicholson-Upp Family Endowed Scholarship for the College of Business. “Dad felt compelled to help others, especially those who started from a disadvantaged place in life,” said his daughter, Randa Upp. “He knew the importance of having someone believe in you and being given a chance.” Randa recently told us about her father and the legacy he left behind.

Who inspired him?

Coach Garvin Beauchamp (’41) formed a relationship with Dad during his freshman year at ACC when Dad stayed with him until the new residence hall, Edwards, was ready for students to move in. Later, at the beginning of Dad’s sophomore year, Coach Beauchamp encouraged him to find a new group of friends. This advice changed the path that he was on. Early in Dad’s career, Hal McGlothlin (one of those new friends) encouraged him to sell his accounting practice and come to work for the McGlothlin family business, which placed Dad in a position to have many unique business experiences. Hal treated people with kindness regardless of who they were. This impacted Dad deeply. H.E. Hart, the father of Barbara Hart, inspired him in several ways. Mr. Hart was a man of integrity. He was the spiritual leader of his home and a man with an incredible work ethic. Nick Nicholson, Dad’s cousin who was the head football coach at ACC while he was there, was a wonderful example for Dad in the way that he lived his life, cared for his family and treated others. W.C. “Dub” Orr (’50) and Ray McGlothlin Jr. were two men who inspired him in his approach to business. Dr. Overton Faubus made a huge impact on Dad. He gave Dad advice about building credit which later put him in a position to be able to borrow the money needed to purchase an accounting firm. 

What was his favorite ACU memory? 

Many of Dad’s favorite memories came from times with friends that spanned six decades of experiences together at ACU. Some of those memories were from the first mixer as a freshman in 1955, Sing Song and socials with Sub-T-16 and Chapel in Sewell Auditorium. Other favorite memories included seeing myself, nieces and nephew, future son-in-law, and grandson attend ACU. He was so proud to see his grandson, Braden, participate in STAR with Dr. Terry Pope and work with Jack Rich and the endowment.

A special memory for Dad was when he, Ray McGlothlin Jr., and Dub Orr were named the College of Business Administration’s Distinguished Business Leaders of the Year in 1996. That honor focused on something very special – three humble, godly men who relied on God and each other.

How did his faith impact his work and personal interactions?

Dad was often heard saying he knew what it was to be at the bottom of the social ladder. He also knew what it was like having everything given to him by people he would most likely never meet. This not only formed a spirit of humility in him, but also created a compassionate and generous heart.

He knew that nothing makes one person better than another person. He treated people the same whether they were a busboy at a restaurant or a powerful politician, a brilliant CEO or a famous celebrity. Dad had three families: his physical family, his spiritual family and his work family. Relationships were very important to him. He cared deeply for people. As Dad looked back on his life, he realized that the times that were hard – when he felt he was facing the greatest adversity – those were the times when God was placing him on a path for blessing. He was an encourager, and he looked for ways to be a part of the blessing for others who were facing adversity.

COBA’s vision is to inspire, equip and connect Christian business and technology professionals to honor God and bless the world. How do you think your dad lived out that vision in his work? 

He wanted the quality of education in COBA to be top-notch while also providing practical application and experience. Dad felt that it was very important for professors to develop relationships with their students and for them to provide a godly example in and out of the classroom. He was constantly introducing people to each other. He would host luncheons and other gatherings to introduce people. He strongly believed in networking and relationships. He always wanted time with the students to encourage them that it didn’t matter where they started – what mattered is where they finished. He wanted them to know that their work and determination was important. He was always willing to encourage and mentor others.

What advice do you think Randy would give to current students to prepare them for their future? 

  • Your relationship with Jesus is the most important thing. Surround yourself with people who will always encourage you in your walk with Christ.
  • Foster a spirit of gratitude. No matter what your situation – you are blessed. Focus on your blessings. “Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  1 Thessalonians 5:18
  • Dedication and hard work go a long way. Don’t expect people to hand things to you. Go out and look for opportunities. 
  • Remain humble and treat everyone with respect. 
  • Seek out mentors and listen to their advice. Surround yourself with people who constantly challenge you to be a better person. “The way of the fool seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.” Proverbs 12:15 “Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end, you will be counted among the wise.” Proverbs 19:20
  • Learn from your mistakes and don’t forget to forgive others of their mistakes
  • Don’t forget to give back. No matter where you are in your life, you can always give back. You can give your time, your talent and/or your money. You can mentor those who are younger than you, and you can help people connect with each other and build a stronger network of relationships.
  • Be content. Find a way to be happy regardless of your circumstances. Remember, looking to others to complete you is always a mistake. Find happiness in your relationship with God.

 

Alumni Spotlight: Dustin Marshall

When Dustin Marshall (’07) graduated from ACU with an undergraduate degree in accounting and a Master in Accountancy in 2008, he wasn’t sure how the work he was going to do would allow him to put his faith into practice in the workplace. Thirteen years later, the answer is clear. 

One of the tenets of the College of Business Administration is encouraging students and alumni to see all work as ministry. Marshall, now a CPA and Assurance partner at Ernst & Young LLP, can see now that the size of the firm along with the flexibility he has at the company allows him to do Kingdom work both inside and outside of the office. 

“One of the things I really struggled with right out of college was feeling as if what I was doing for a living did not have a direct or significant impact on the world or even my community, so it was hard to feel like I was honoring God or blessing the world,” Marshall said. “After much prayer and self-reflection, it was revealed to me that God gave me the gifts he did for a reason and that there are numerous ways that I am able to honor him and bless others in my day-to-day activities at work.” 

Faith is important to Marshall in his day-to-day interactions. 

“So much of my work is building relationships,” he said. “There are multiple opportunities to connect with individuals on both a professional and personal level, and though I cannot openly discuss my faith unless directly asked, it is ever-present in every interaction that I have. One of my values is building relationships based on doing the right thing. My faith is the basis for living out that value.” 

Marshall understands that his success in the business world is built on interacting with others, whether it be building professional relationships with co-workers and clients or the apprenticeship-like model that is public accounting. Not only did COBA give Marshall the foundation of knowledge to enter the business world, but his time at ACU and in the college helped shape him. 

“COBA gave me the solid business foundation to confidently carry out those interactions and helped develop me as a person to do so with compassion, kindness and caring for those I interact within a business setting,” he said. “It is impossible to build up without having a firm foundation, and ACU provided that foundation.”

Marshall advises current students to get plugged in at ACU and build their support system, saying, “Don’t be shy! There are so many opportunities at ACU to get plugged in and involved. Find your spot and allow yourself to grow. Join a fraternity/sorority. Join other clubs on campus. Play every intramural sport possible. I was lucky enough to make friends at ACU that I have been able to rely on heavily after graduation.”

The friends and mentors Marshall gained at ACU have created lasting memories for him. 

“I enjoyed every second spent with my fraternity,” Marshall said. “Sing Song was a great experience – not so much Sing Song practice. The long study sessions that were spent in the COBA atrium while taking numerous breaks to talk to friends walking through. Time spent in the Quiet Place. The most specific memory I have is my last semester in the MAcc program when it was difficult to stay motivated and I felt like I couldn’t wait to graduate, only to spend my very last class at ACU sitting in Dr. Perkins’ class listening to him play his guitar and read Oh, the Places You’ll Go! to us and wishing that class would never end because I did not want to leave.”

Marshall gives special mention of two professors who greatly impacted him. 

“I enjoyed all of the accounting professors but I would have to give specific acknowledgment to Mr. (Bill) Fowler and Dr. (John) Neill,” Marshall said. “Fowler was invaluable in helping us keep everything in perspective and always taking the time to discuss topics outside of accounting. Dr. Neill was a great teacher and his jokes always kept me laughing. I still talk to both of them on a fairly regular basis.” 

Marshall says he “could not recommend ACU highly enough” and touts the university as being the perfect size where the opportunities are boundless. ACU became the place where he grew his own faith. He encourages current students to be introspective and active in their spiritual journey.

“Growing in your faith-life is hard after school,” he said. “Reflecting back, I was essentially ‘spoon fed’ faith from the day I was born. I grew up in the church, and I was surrounded by like-minded individuals, which only increased when I stepped on ACU’s campus. At ACU, you have daily Chapel, you pray before class and Bible studies are plentiful. It was a huge adjustment after graduation when I became a lot more responsible for my own faith walk.”

While the adjustment outside of the ACU campus might have been hard, Marshall is living out his faith in the workplace as a quiet ambassador for COBA alumni who “honor God and bless the world.”

Alumni Spotlight: Chris Clark

“See a need, fill a need.” That’s a phrase used often when talking about leadership, particularly servant leadership. It’s a phrase Chris Clark (’01) has put into practice since graduating from ACU as a management and marketing major. 

As the co-owner of TimelyMD, an online telehealth provider focusing on colleges and universities, Clark has searched for ways to serve others while offering help and healing to often marginalized communities. Along the way, he’s continued to show his gratitude to his alma mater saying, “ACU helped us and now we want to give back.”

TimelyMD might never have been born were it not for ACU. Founded by alumni Clark, Luke Hejl (’01) and Dr. Alan Dennington (’01), the university not only brought the three partners together but offered the opportunity to see their idea launched. The company’s seed investors were all alumni. ACU was the first client, signing a contract for what is now known as “Wildcat Care” before the company’s operational launch and encouraging other institutions to engage the company’s services. 

Now TimelyMD serves almost 100 institutions and half a million students. Not only has its growth been exponential, but what started as a medical-only company five years ago has pivoted to serve students in a broader way, adding mental and behavioral health services.

In the beginning, behavioral health wasn’t even on the partners’ radar, Clark said. However, when they started canvassing colleges, the message from higher education institutions was clear: “It’s great that you can treat pink eye, but our real needs are on the behavioral health side.” 

Pre-pandemic, 60 percent of TimelyMD visits dealt with medical issues and fewer than 40 percent involved behavioral health. When the pandemic hit, the numbers were reversed; two-thirds of the visits now involve behavioral or mental health and one-third are medical.

Stressors brought on by the pandemic served to accelerate the business’s growth. As a former pharmaceutical sales rep, Clark understood how long it could take to build relationships with potential clients. Pre-pandemic, the sales cycle with colleges was generally 12 to 36 months before a decision would be made to engage the company’s services. 

When COVID-19 hit, many students were sent home as institutions turned to online learning. As students returned to their home states, colleges and universities that wanted to continue offering health services faced a dilemma: How would they provide care in a state in which their campus providers might not be licensed? 

At the same time, students’ anxiety levels increased, compounded by social isolation and loneliness, as they worried about their academic performance and their future. As many institutions remained closed for the remainder of the academic year in 2020 and into 2021, telehealth came into the spotlight.  

TimelyMD was ready for the challenge and the much-shortened sales cycle. The company had already been working on a national infrastructure plan for expansion. The blueprint was in place and allowed the company to rapidly deliver short-term, customized solutions for institutions such as Duke and Johns Hopkins. 

Although TimelyMD was founded initially to fill a gap in the higher education healthcare system, Clark says his fulfillment and inspiration comes in seeing how the lives of students are transformed. 

“People are so passionate about what we are doing,” he said. “I realize we truly may be saving a life, intervening in crises or changing the world in a positive way. We’re working with some institutions with a very high percentage of first-generation college students who aren’t accustomed to the level of care we’re providing, especially on the mental health side. It’s definitely what makes me wake up in the morning, knowing we are truly improving the health of students.”

As TimelyMD continues to grow, Clark sees an opportunity to reach marginalized communities in a way virtual health has not been able to do before. “When I was in school, behavioral health was swept under the rug; today we are dealing with it in a different way,” he said. It’s been especially fulfilling to see the mental health services embraced by students and institutions alike, he said. 

The lessons Clark learned on the ACU campus have equipped him for marrying his academic knowledge with his faith as he has grown his business. 

“In COBA, specifically, learning how to lead and learning from Christian leaders is probably what equipped me to help lead TimelyMD today,” Clark said. “The presentations we had to give, the debates, position papers and learning to stand behind our position were all really helpful.”

He especially appreciates the lessons he learned at COBA’s Leadership Summit. 

“Leadership Summit was really about servant leadership,” he said. “I can’t tell you the content that was shared, but what I do remember is that faith was important to the business leaders who came in. They talked about how they incorporated their faith into their daily lives in leading an organization and it was really powerful for me. I don’t do a perfect job of that but I try to lead in that way, too. While I won’t shove it down anyone’s throat, for people to know that my faith is important to me, that it does guide me in what I do and how I do it, is important.” 

Aside from meeting his wife, Merry (Lacy) Clark (‘00), his favorite memories from his time at ACU involve the student opportunities offered to him. Clark encourages current students to look at their college experience holistically. 

“It’s much more than going to class and group projects,” he said. “It’s things like participating in committees, going to Leadership Summit, going to professors’ homes for meals. It was an amazing experience to be able to do that. Outside of class, I would say it’s getting as involved as you can. I was involved with SGA serving as the freshman and sophomore class president. Whatever it may be, Sing Song, Wildcat Week, etc., it’s important to find all the different ways to build community.”