Tolleson Scholars Awarded

In 2015, Tolleson Wealth Management, Inc. created the Tolleson Scholars COBA Endowment Fund to give scholarship awards in the amount of $5,000 each year to two deserving COBA students. To be considered, students must have completed 75 credit hours toward their degree, but also have at least 30 credit hours remaining to complete their degree. The award also is meant to be awarded to students recognized as top academic performers as well as excellent role models in terms of their Christian commitment and moral behavior. To be considered for the award, students submitted an essay reflecting on a time when they were a role model and exhibited commitment to their Christian faith. The recipients of this year’s awards are Brandon Gonzales, senior accounting major from Rowlett, TX and Megan Young, senior accounting major from Burleson, TX.

Brandon wrote about his experience volunteering with Operation Blessing, an international relief and development non-profit, after tornadoes destroyed much of the Rockwall, Rowlett, and Garland areas on December 26th of 2015. Brandon and his friends went door to door with the relief operation, asking residents what help they needed as well as consoling and praying with them. He said that, “It was eye opening to see everyone come together to help people they had never met and would likely never see again when they could have been spending their holiday break with family. I was only with my group for a couple of days and although we may not have been able to fix all the problems we came across, I learned how powerful even the smallest actions can be”. When asked about receiving the Tolleson Scholar Award, Brandon said, “Winning this scholarship was truly an unexpected blessing for my family and I. Being the first in my family to attend a university and with my graduation date on the horizon, this award is another reminder that I couldn’t have gotten this far without the help of the ACU community and the friends that I have made along the way.”

Brandon with team members from Operation Blessing

Megan wrote about serving with her church on an unexpected mission trip to Rio Bravo, Mexico during the spring break of her senior year. She told of how her church had been raising money for a kidney and liver transplant for the Rio Bravo congregation’s church liaison to the Burleson church, Jorge. Jorge and his family moved to Burleson temporarily while he received medical care. Megan said that they became “mi familia” as they grew very close to one another. During this time, the church raised half of the money needed but Jorge died two days after Christmas while waiting for a transplant. Megan said that the trip to Rio Bravo was the first time she would see Jorge’s family since his death and she was uncertain about the meeting. However, she and the Burleson mission team were greeted warmly by the family and the church and much healing happened as they worked side by side building an addition to the church building that Jorge once led. She said, “At the end of the week, the church threw a big party for our mission team. The church members and Jorge’s family were so grateful for all we had done. That’s when I realized the full scope of what God had planned for me that week. I wasn’t there just to do hard work; I was there to be part of the healing process. I was there to help this small church move forward after the death of Jorge. I was there to let his family know that we were still “familia”. Most of all, I was there to show God’s love and grace to our dear friends across the border”. When asked what receiving the Tolleson Award meant to her, Megan said, “I am so honored to be receiving the Tolleson Scholarship. This award will assist me in completing my BBA in accounting and start on my goal of attaining my Masters of Accountancy. Thank you to the donors for their generosity and support!”

Megan with the Rio Bravo Mission Team

Megan and Brandon represent well the student body that makes up the College of Business Administration (COBA). Our students serve in various volunteer capacities throughout the year, using the skills and lessons they’ve learned in the classroom to help organizations like non-profits and churches. Using business to do good – it’s a value COBA strives to integrate in and out of the classroom. Generous donors make college tuition scholarships and experiences like Leadership Summit or service trips to destinations like Mission Lazarus possible.  COBA has approximately 50 scholarship and endowment funds that, this year alone, provided financial help to over 120 COBA students. We are so thankful for the generosity of our friends and donors who help us continue our mission of educating business and technology professionals for Christian service and leadership throughout the world. If you would like to learn more about giving to COBA scholarship funds, please email

The Lytle Center hosts Brett Biggs at COBA’s annual Distinguished Speaker Series Luncheon

The Lytle Center for Faith and Leadership Development hosted Brett Biggs, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on October 25th, as the speaker at COBA’s annual Distinguished Speaker Series luncheon.

brett-biggs (2)

Brett Biggs, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Biggs is responsible for accounting and control, corporate strategy and development, business planning and analysis, internal auditing, treasury, tax, global shared services and several other key areas of the company. Before being appointed to his current role, Biggs was executive vice president and chief financial officer for Walmart International, where he was responsible for all global finance activities, including accounting and controls, business planning and analysis, financial services, and support for real estate, M&A and Strategy. Prior to that, Brett served as executive vice president and chief financial officer for Walmart U.S., where he was responsible for U.S. finance functions including strategy, merchandising, logistics, financial services, real estate, operations, and financial planning and analysis.

Biggs began his visit to ACU with a Q&A meeting with approximately 30 COBA students. The students had unfettered access to ask Biggs questions about his career path, how Walmart works and his best advice on how to jump start their own careers. After the private gathering with students, he then addressed the luncheon crowd of about 200 guests, talking to them about Walmart’s corporate philosophy as well as his own beliefs on what it means to be a Christian leader in the workplace.

students with Brett Biggs

Mr. Biggs meeting with COBA students

Biggs stated that the “Joy of working at Walmart is that it is a company that stands for things: take care of your people, do your best, and take care of the people that come through your door.” Biggs also said that he believes, “The world needs places that stand for something. I love ACU’s mission. If you can combine your passion and your vocation with your mission, that’s where it’s at. Sometimes being a person of faith is tough. You have to stand your ground when others around you aren’t. Rosa Parks said it well when she said, ‘Stand for something or you will fall for anything. Today’s mighty oak is yesterday’s nut that held its ground.’ Matt 5:14 says, ‘You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.’ I know that’s what this university is about and I appreciate that.”


Biggs also gave a personal anecdote when he told a story about meeting Sam Walton, who he described as a once in a lifetime kind of man and the greatest entrepreneur of all time. Biggs said that he met Walton on a field trip in college. Biggs happened to be carrying around a very big notebook while studying for the CPA exam. Sam Walton asked what the book was for and Biggs explained to him that he was intensely studying for the exam. Walton then told him that, “If you study hard and work hard you never know what you’ll be able to achieve.” Biggs said that today, his office is next door to Sam Walton’s former office. 

Biggs encouraged students to find a company that fits your values, to be intentional about your faith and to stay grounded and focused on your faith. He also exhorted the audience to know who you are before you are faced with big decisions. He stated, “You have to know what you would do and make a choice ahead of time. You have to really know who you are. Students, take advantage of your time here and form that person now. Take advantage of all the spiritual opportunities you have here.”

faculty visit (1 of 1)

Mr. Biggs meeting with COBA Faculty

Biggs wrapped his trip to ACU up with a private meeting with some of COBA’s faculty, where they discussed current markets and opportunities for students. COBA would like to thank Brett Biggs for so graciously giving of his time and energy to our students, faculty, staff and community.

For pictures from the event, please click on this link for COBA’s FaceBook page.

Spotlight on John Neill




What is your education background?

Ph.D., University of Florida, 1990 – major in Accounting and minor in Finance

M.S., Abilene Christian University, 1984 – major in Religious Education

B.B.A., Abilene Christian University, 1980 – major in Accounting


Dr. John Neill

Dr. John Neill


What is your work background?

I began my career as a Programmer Analyst and Corporate Accountant with Pennzoil Company, working for them from 1980-1983. I spent a year as an Accounting Instructor for ACU from 1984-1985, moving from ACU to the University of Florida as a Research and Teaching Assistant from 1986-1990. I then began my work in academia, serving as an Assistant Professor at Florida State University from 1990-1997, as an Associate Professor at Chapman University from 1997-2000, and then moving to ACU where I began in 2000 as an Associate Professor. I now serve as the Chair of the Department of Accounting and Finance and am a Professor of Accounting.


What do you teach at ACU?

I teach Intermediate Accounting II and Advanced Accounting.


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

I am the Chair of the Accounting and Finance Department and the Director of the Master of Accountancy Program.



John, Natalie, and Karene Neill


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

In 1984 and 1985 I was working on a master’s degree in Bible at ACU. During that time, I was asked to teach one sophomore level accounting course per semester. I was surprised to learn how much I enjoyed that experience and it caused me to want to get a Ph.D. in accounting so I could continue to teach accounting at the university level.


What’s the best part of working with students?

I think the most rewarding aspect of teaching is that I get to see students grow up and mature over time.


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

No, I have never considered doing anything else in the last 25 years.


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

I am a graduate of the University of Florida, and I really enjoy watching Florida sporting events on TV. I also like to travel. In my younger days, I was an avid runner and I ran three marathons and a number of half marathons. I still enjoy exercising, but injuries have caused me to stop running.


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

I was invited to be a panelist at the Bentley University Global Business Ethics Symposium in Madrid, Spain in 2007. I also feel a sense of accomplishment every time one of my research papers is published.


Do you do any charity or non-profit work?

My wife and I deliver Meals on Wheels on Thursdays. We have had the same route for many years.


John and Karene Neill

John and Karene Neill


Who is your role model and why?

I can’t think of a specific individual who I would consider my role model. However, I have great respect for anyone who takes pride in their work and lives their life with integrity.


Who was your most inspirational professor and why?

I have always had great respect for Dr. John Willis. When I was in his classes, I could tell how much he cared for his students. His mastery of the subject matter always impressed me also.


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

I mentioned this earlier, but I think most of my current students would be surprised to know that I ran the Chicago (2002), Marine Corps (2003), and the New York City (2004) marathons. Sadly, age and injuries have now forced me to exercise on an elliptical while watching Netflix (I especially like BBC shows) on my iPad.


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

I want students and alums to know how much I enjoy teaching at ACU. I believe in Christian education and in our mission in COBA.



Spotlight on David Perkins

What is your educational background?

PhD – Texas A&M; MBA – University of Memphis; BBA – Harding University

David Perkins

David Perkins

What is your work background?

While getting my MBA I had a chance to teach and loved it…I knew one day I wanted to make that my career. I worked in public accounting for three years with Arthur Young & Co. in Dallas, TX, and then returned to Harding to teach full time. One additional note: I sold books for five summers to pay my way through college.

What do you teach at ACU?

Undergraduate: Financial Accounting – the introductory accounting course for all business majors

Graduate: Governmental and Not-for-Profit Accounting; Financial Statement Analysis

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

I enjoy writing songs and playing the guitar. I also enjoy travel and hiking. When traveling, I love to drive with the windows down (but with the A/C cranked up!). My wife, Karla, is pretty cool about that…she enjoys it, too…like I said, she’s pretty cool!

David and Karla Perkins

David and Karla Perkins

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

I think the most significant thing I’ve done in my career is to have a part in preparing students to begin their own. My intent is for them to feel competent and confident, knowing that they have as much to offer as anyone else. I hope I’ve encouraged them to be persons of character and to lean on Christ as their hope and confidence.

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


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

I love what I do. I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to teach.

COBA Announces the Establishment of the Brister and the Fowler Professorships

At the annual COBA faculty/staff retreat, Dr. Rick Lytle announced the creation of two professorships established by Mark and April Anthony to honor two COBA faculty of significant influence, Jozell Brister and Bill Fowler. Dr. Lytle stated that, “Each of these professors have had a profound impact in the lives of students over the course of their distinguished careers at ACU. Bill and Jo are legends in COBA history and these named professorships will help establish their names in the minds of faculty and students for years to come. “

Bill Fowler and Jozell Brister

Bill Fowler and Jozell Brister

Jozell Brister was hired as a part-time instructor in the fall of 1979 and joined the business faculty full-time on January 15, 1980 having been a highly regarded business teacher at Abilene High School before that. She has served as the Assistant and Associate Dean for deans Petty and Lytle and is now an Associate Professor of Management Sciences. Of notable achievement, she worked with Dean Bill Petty, traveling from the west coast to the east coast researching business buildings and assisting in the university-wide effort to raise money for the Mabee Business Building and helped, as she puts it, “with odds and ends while the building was in the construction phase.” Jozell directed accreditation efforts for ACBSP and AACSB, was awarded the COBA Master Teacher award, and has a teaching enrichment fellowship established by Dr. Bill Petty in her name. In addition, she was the first director/advisor of COBA’s inaugural COBA Connections advising office.

Jozell Brister participates in the groundbreaking ceremony for the Mabee Business Building

Jozell Brister participates in the groundbreaking ceremony for the Mabee Business Building

When asking her about her advising role, she says that, “In the fall of 1980, I was assigned to be the academic advisor for all the business students and we had around 1,200 students.  At registration time I had to approve their schedules.  One semester I had a bad cold during the registration period.  I had such a long line of students waiting for me to approve their schedules, that I didn’t even have time to blow my nose between students.  Needless to say, I was not very good at that job.  I don’t remember how many semesters I served as academic advisor to the business students.  Dr. Faubus had been doing the advising in addition to teaching 4 or 5 classes each semester.  After maybe two or three semesters, Bill Petty re-assigned the advising, and I began serving in the Dean’s Suite.”

Dr. Monty Lynn stated that “Jozell has been a constant friend and capable economics teacher for thousands of students passing through ACU, shepherding students through what is a challenging subject for many. She often meets with students in her office as a guide and friend and would win the college’s ‘Best Organized’ award if we ever minted one. She served as an administrator during the college’s formative years and many of her accomplishments – including the advising center and coordinating accreditation efforts – continue as COBA distinctives today. Several years ago, economist Alan Blinder published a book title, Hard Heads, Soft Hearts. That title describes Jozell well as she can do econometric calculations and graphing with the best, and she has dep convictions about economic fairness and justice. While I was still in graduate school, Jozell agreed to join me on a research project on labor union recruiting. Since that publication, she has co-authored research with several COBA faculty members on downsizing, teaching and learning, lifetime giving, non-profit management, and other topics. Jozell is an exceptional colleague, loved teacher, frontier Texan, and occasional humorist – and she has blessed this college through a lifetime of leadership.”

Jozell visiting with incoming freshmen during Wildcat Week

Jozell Brister visiting with incoming freshmen during Wildcat Week

When asked what having a professorship named after her means, she said, “It means a great deal to me. I am deeply touched and honored to have this professorship named for me.” Brister said that, “I would like to be remembered as a teacher who loved her students and who also delighted in being on the faculty at ACU. I would also like to be remembered as someone who had a sense of humor and who loved to make people laugh.”

Bill Fowler came to ACU with an accomplished resume having been a Senior Accountant at Deloitte from 1975-1977 and then Vice President for Finance at Rochester College from 1978-1983. He began working at ACU in January, 1984 as the Assistant Vice President for Finance. In that job, he was responsible for University Financial Reporting, Budgeting, Administrative Computing, Campus Stores and Auxiliary Services, and Physical Plant. In the fall of 1984, he began teaching one section of Accounting Principles and in the fall of 1987, began teaching one section of Auditing. Fowler began his full-time role as a COBA faculty member in the fall of 1991 and was the chair of the Department of Accounting and Finance from 1992-2014.

Bill Fowler in the early days of his ACU career

Bill Fowler in the early days of his ACU career

In his previous administrative role with ACU, Bill was on the building project team for the Mabee Business Building and recounts the many great stories about the construction of the building and the people involved with that project. He stated, “During my tenure as department chair, we added the degree in Financial Management and created the Master of Accountancy degree. The number of students increased from about 135 in 1991 to approximately 250 today. I am proud to have led in the hiring process of 7 of our current Accounting and Finance faculty members. I am especially proud of the role I was able to play in enhancing our relationship with many accounting firms to increase employment and internship opportunities for our students. Since 1991, we have more than tripled the number of firms that come to campus to recruit our students.”

Fowler says that having a professorship named after him is, “Humbling and rewarding. We have so many great professors at ACU. I am honored to represent them and I am grateful for the generosity of the Anthony’s in making this gift.” When asked what he would like his legacy in COBA to be, Bill stated, “I am not sure I am comfortable with the idea of legacy, but I can tell you what is important to me as a professor.

  • I always try to be the best professor I can be. I stay current in my discipline, I connect with our profession, and I work on improving my teaching skills. I learned a long time ago that there was a difference in being a good teacher as compared to just being somebody who talked about what they knew.
  • I always expect the best from my students.
  • I enjoy being in the classroom and try to have some fun along the way.
  • The relationships I have made with students are the best part of my work. They have enriched my life.
  • It is important that we learn that no matter what we do, whether we are accountants or not, that our mission in life is to use our talents in ways that serve others and give glory to God.”
Bill and Carol Fowler

Bill and Carol Fowler

I think Dr. David Perkins summed up Bill Fowler well when he said, “Bill is the kind of leader who watches out for the best interest of those he represents, both students and faculty.”

These funds will be used by the respective departments, in honor of Bill and Jozell, to reward, nourish, and enhance faculty excellence in COBA through salary stipends and faculty research and development dollars. The dean and a select group of faculty will establish objectives, processes, and timelines for the selection and awarding of these professorships in this academic year. Dr. Rick Lytle says, “We are delighted to have these professorships in our college. Indeed, it is a privilege to be able to use these dollars to reward notable faculty for their accomplishments among us and to enhance their teaching, scholarship, and learning into the future. Jozell Brister and Bill Fowler are the ACU difference! They are individuals who share a great passion for students and their intellectual and spiritual development. They both are great talents in the classroom – among the best in COBA. For decades they have been faithful keepers of the ACU mission in business and share a common faith in God which helps them clearly and logically define right from wrong. As I begin my 25th year in COBA, I thankfully reflect on the blessing they have both been to me in this place we call the College of Business Administration. It has been my privilege to serve alongside two awesome colleagues: Jozell Brister and Bill Fowler.”

Three COBA Students Receive Accounting Scholarships


COBA is proud to announce that three of our Accounting students, including David Legler, Amy Morris, and Courtney Richardson, received scholarships from the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants (TSCPA). The Accounting Education Foundation of TSCPA has established a program to provide scholarship assistance to accounting students who plan to become Texas Certified Public Accountants and enter the accounting profession. In order to be considered for these scholarships, students must attend a university which participates in Accounting Education Foundation programs and be nominated by the chairperson of the accounting department, have completed 110 semester credit hours of college-level courses by August 31, have a GPA of 3.6 or higher, and have completed 21 semester credit hours with a B or higher in accounting courses required for accounting majors.

The scholarship recipients are currently in the MAcc program, and each student has accepted job positions with one of the “Big 4” public accounting firms and will start after graduation in May. David Legler is originally from Austin, TX and will start with KPMG in Fort Worth. Amy Morris is from Richmond, TX and will work with PwC  in Oklahoma. Courtney Richardson will complete her MAcc degree in May and then will go on to work with EY in Fort Worth, TX. Dr. John Neill is extremely proud of these students, stating that they have consistently practiced excellence inside and out of the classroom. Congratulations to David, Amy, and Courtney on their well-deserved scholarships.  COBA wishes you the best with your future career paths!


Courtney Richardson


David Legler


Amy Morris