Our purpose, values and culture

image

Our mission is to educate students for Christian service and leadership throughout the world. We do so by providing a Christian environment in which we foster academic excellence through progressive education, real-world learning opportunities, and faculty-guided research. Along with on-campus learning environments such as the Maker Lab and the Learning Studio, we also provide practical application opportunities and study abroad programs in several countries.

Almost 100 campus organizations give students various venues for involvement and leadership. Aside from the important social aspect, these organizations also often provide service opportunities for students.

We believe in the overall development of our students, including physical health, along with spiritual and intellectual development. The $21 million Royce and Pam Money Student Recreation and Wellness Center encourages wellness of the whole individual - body, mind and spirit.

As a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA Division I) and the Southland Conference, ACU competes in football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, men’s golf, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s track and field, women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s tennis, women's soccer and women’s softball.

Traditions

A Cappella Music

Abilene Christian was once known as “The Singing College,” thanks to the unbeaten 1950 Wildcat football team, which belted out heavenly tunes such as “When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder” on radio shows when it wasn’t smashing foes into the next county. Visitors to Chapel and athletics events are always taken aback by what must sound like the world’s largest glee club.  

Candlelight Devotional

The Candlelight Devotional is one of the highlights of each Welcome Week when students gather in Beauchamp Amphitheatre to sing praises to God by the light of a thousand candles. Another is held just before May Commencement each year, when the graduating senior class gathers once more – often with faculty, staff and local alumni – to share a memorable time together.

Chapel

Few larger universities in the world expect students to attend Chapel as ACU does each weekday. The centerpiece of Chapel is a brief time of  devotion, a cappella singing, praise and fellowship. The whole  experience lasts only 30 minutes but makes a lifelong impression.  Besides the devotional experience, students learn about ACU traditions, hear guest speakers, share announcements, and generally remind each other that they’re as much a family as a university.

Freshman Follies

First-year students barely have time to learn the combination to their mailboxes before being thrust into ACU’s music-happy environment. They get an early chance to display their creativity in a free-wheeling performance called Freshman Follies each fall, showcasing their amazing talents and abilities during an ACU Open House.

Homecoming

This busy weekend in October each year is full of a whirlwind of traditions: a waving, sometimes weeping queen crowned at halftime at the football game; an early-morning parade, sort of a Sing Song on wheels; the Homecoming Musical spectacle at the Abilene Civic Center; food, and games for kids. Alumni of all ages converge on campus to hug a friend, eat some barbecue, watch the leaves fall and wonder where the years went.

Opening Assembly

ACU’s Opening Assemblies have become an icon – a Texas-sized international celebration of pomp, parade, spirituality and patriotism. A processional of administrators and faculty in full academic regalia
marches in to the Big Purple’s strains of “The Twenty-third Olympiad.” Cheers cascade during the Parade of Flags as each state and nation represented in the student body is announced. A student from each country and state carries his or her flag, often dressed symbolically incultural attire. A time of devotion is marked by the traditional singing of “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name,” the reading of Paul’s sermon on Mars Hill, and prayer. Then, a special speaker presents a brief message. The university president/provost pronounces the school year to be “officially in session!” and the Big Purple sends everyone scurrying to lunch or class with “March Grandioso.” All in all, it is 60 minutes of soul-stirring stuff to celebrate the start of another school year and reinforce why we do what we do. Guests will tell you that few universities do it better than ACU.

Purple Fridays

This tradition began in the mid-1990s with employees wearing “Game Day” purple-and-white shirts on the Fridays before ACU football games. It has grown into an every-Friday tradition as more faculty, staff and students choose to show their school pride and Wildcat spirit by donning purple.

Sing Song

On Thursday, Feb. 14, 1957, in Sewell Auditorium, Dr. Robert D. Hunter (’52) directed ACU’s first Sing Song. In a Chapel announcement, it was described as “the giant Sing Song contest which will be free and open to the public and is designed to encourage club participation and to demonstrate that we are truly ‘the Singing College.’ ” For years, students stood on risers in choral style and sang songs as they were originally written. Then they started wearing simple costumes, moving with the music, and, eventually, changing the words to songs to fit the times. Now, of course, Sing Song is a major production featuring every club and class and several hosts and hostesses. It sells out nearly every year, with Saturday night finale tickets as hard to find as parking places within a block or two of Moody Coliseum.

Summit

For the past 110 years, with the exception of 1945 when it was cancelled due to World War II, this major event previously known as Bible Lectureship occurred in February just after Sing Song. One of its best-known former features was a giant Lectureship tent, big enough to fill a parking lot. Guests would spend hours there, looking for Christian books and videos, seeking shelter from the wind, and visiting with friends. Today, exhibitors sell their wares indoors in the Teague Special Events Center, and the event has moved to September. Major announcements and critical speeches that changed church history have been made at Summit, which focuses on preaching, equipping Christian servant-leaders, singing and fellowship.

“The Lord Bless You and Keep You”

The most-sung piece of a cappella music on campus, often sung at the end of special events, including Sing Song and Homecoming Chapel.

The Lord bless you and keep you
The Lord lift His countenance upon you,
And give you peace, and give you peace;
The Lord make His face to shine upon you,
And be gracious, and be gracious;
The Lord be gracious, gracious unto you.

W-C

Students show their support for the Wildcats with a hand symbol formed by creating a “C” with the thumb and forefinger, with the other three  fingers forming a “W.” The W-C is used during the singing of O, Dear Christian College and in other situations to indicate Wildcat loyalty and celebration. According to Jama Cadle, assistant director of alumni relations, the W-C was begun by alumni relations officer Mark Meador in 1999, pre-dating the symbol’s use at other universities with the same mascot, including Arizona and Kansas State.

Interesting places and events

Chapel on the Hill

This 350-seat, second-story auditorium in the Onstead-Packer Biblical Studies Building has two special features – east and west windows of 280 shades of faceted glass and a north wall of huge Leuders limestone blocks. The latter is evocative of the western wall of the Temple in Jerusalem, which is used as a prayer site.

Chopper landing

In the spring of 1951 U.S. Army helicopter pilot Joe Cox, stationed at Mineral Wells, flew his chopper to the Abilene Airport, picked up his sister, student Mona Cox, and flew her to the ACC campus, landing at Morris Stadium, where Mabee Business Building is today. The commotion of the chopper landing drew a large crowd of students to see the excitement. Mona married Jerry Mullins, who is today a retired ACU coach and financial aid director.

Women first

Dr. Callie Mae Williams Coons, class of 1920, was the first ACC graduate or former student to earn a doctorate. She earned her doctoral degree from the University of Chicago in 1929.  

Fire station theatre

This building at East North 19th Street and Avenue D, formerly an Abilene fire station, is operated by the Department of Theatre. It serves as the department’s costume and prop storage facility after being used for several years as a black-box theater.

Goetz-Beauchamp bell

This bell was donated by B.C. Freddie Goetz Goodpasture, Mandy Goetz Myers and Marky Goetz Pace in 1980. For more than a decade, freshmen rang the bell continually during Homecoming Weekend, against the efforts of upperclassmen, especially the sophomore class. The bell-ringing was cut short in 2001 when the tradition escalated out of control. In 2012 the bell was found in storage and restored to its place in the Beauchamp Bell Tower by the Royce and Pam Money Student Recreation and Wellness Center. Now the King of Campus Court rings it after his coronation in Homecoming Chapel to start the annual weekend’s festivities.  

Jacob’s Dream

Created by Jack Maxwell, professor of art and design, this sculpture is a Centennial Celebration project dedicated Sept. 9, 2006. Located southeast of the Onstead-Packer Biblical Studies Building, the sculpture is inspired by the Genesis 28 story of Jacob’s dream and is located in a meditative park.

Lueders limestone

The limestone used in the Onstead-Packer Biblical Studies Building, Jacob’s Dream and other campus facilities was quarried at Leuders, 30 miles north of Abilene on the Clear Fork of the Brazos River.  

Monarch butterflies

Abilene is on the migration route of hundreds of thousands of monarch butterflies in March-April and September-October. They spend the winter in Mexico. Often the butterflies will swarm over trees in front of the  Administration Building. The larvae feed on milkweed. The scientific name for the migrating butterflies is Danaus plexippus.

Page Flag

The Airman George Merritt Page Jr. was serving as a door gunner with the Helicopter Attack (Light) Squadron Three Navy Seawolves when in April 1969, he was seriously wounded in action in the Mekong Delta region of South Vietnam. About two months later, Page died from his wounds. The San Diego, Calif., sailor intended to attend ACU after his Vietnam duty. His parents gave the flag that adorned his casket to ACU, and it is displayed high above the south side of Moody Coliseum as a memorial to Airman Page and other ex-students who have sacrificed their lives for their country. Military honors awarded to Page were the Purple Heart Medal, Air Medal and Combat Aircrew Wings, Combat Action Ribbon, Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation Ribbon with Palm, Vietnam Service and Campaign Medals, Vietnam Civil Actions Honor Medal Unit Citation Ribbon with Palm and National Defense Service Medal.

Student stunts

Students through the years have created unique stunts, mostly under cover of night, that have been the cause of chuckles, head-scratching, some consternation on the part of student deans, and atonement on the part of some stunters. The top five unique stunts have been:

1. Numbering consecutively with white shoe polish all cars parked on campus.

2. A student turning 100 baby chicks loose in Moody Chapel at Eastertime.

3. Hauling a small car to the top of the Administration Building.

4. Overnight trading of all accessories and books in two Bible faculty offices.


5. Conversion of the Graduate School of Theology into the "Hogwarts School of Theology" by replacing signage for each professor and common room with the names of characters and places from the Harry Potter series.

Radio Homecoming

Students through the years have created unique stunts, mostly under cover of night, that have been the cause of chuckles, head-scratching, some consternation on the part of student deans, and atonement on the part of some stunters. The top five unique stunts have been:1. Numbering consecutively with white shoe polish all cars parked on campus.2. A student turning 100 baby chicks loose in Moody Chapel at Eastertime.3. Hauling a small car to the top of the Administration Building.4. Overnight trading of all accessories and books in two Bible faculty offices.
5. Conversion of the Graduate School of Theology into the "Hogwarts School of Theology" by replacing signage for each professor and common room with the names of characters and places from the Harry Potter series.

Quidditch

Members of the ACU Honors College have staged an annual quidditch match each Dead Day--a day off for students preceding finals week--for the last few years. The campus often comes alive with students and games on this day, and quiddiitch has been a long-running favorite. But, don't just look for it on Dead Day. Impromtu quidditch matches have been known to crop up every now and then.   

SHARE THIS ARTICLE

Featured events