Dr. Walter H. Adams, ACU’s first faculty member to hold an earned doctoral degree, received his first degree – a Bachelor of Arts in education – from Abilene Christian in 1925. He received a Master of Arts in education from Stanford University in 1927 and earned a doctorate in guidance from Columbia University in 1933.
Adams was named dean of Abilene Christian in 1932 at the age of 29 and served as an administrator until 1969. As dean Adams worked to upgrade the university library and helped ACU receive accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1951. This was no small task, as it required no fewer than 30 percent of the full-time faculty members to hold an earned doctorate. While attending ACU, Adams lettered four years in both basketball and baseball and debated for three years. He served as president of the Students’ Association, president of the “A” club, a member of the men’s social club Sub T-16, a member of the drama club, and was voted best all-around man.
Adams introduced ideas that have become ACU traditions, such as the freshman orientation program, the Dean’s Award, the Outstanding Teacher Award, and the tradition of hooding the seniors during commencement exercises.
Adams married Louise Harsh of Gallatin, Tenn., in 1927 and they had three children: Dewby Ray, Nancy Boone, and Walter Jr.
Adams served as president of the Abilene Rotary Club, director of the Taylor County March of Dimes, and a member of the Regional Boy Scout Executive Award.
Adams won a number of awards that brought recognition to ACU, including Who’s Who in America in 1947, Educators of the Southwest, Who’s Who in American Education, and Outstanding Educators of America in 1971. Adams also received the national honor of being named then-president George H. Bush’s 816th “Daily Point of Light” for his environmental participation.
In 1992, ACU announced the opening of the Walter H. Adams Center for Teaching Excellence, located on the ground floor of the Brown Library Complex.