ACU hires dean, initiates new first-year program
For immediate release
August 19, 1999
Dr. Dwayne VanRheenen, provost of the university
Dr. Mark Davis, dean of the first-year program
ABILENE - Abilene Christian University has hired Dr. Mark
Davis as dean of ACU's First Year Program, a new initiative
beginning this semester. Davis has been serving as an
associate dean at Pepperdine University in Malibu,
Davis will provide leadership for the implementation of
the First Year Program, said Dr. Dwayne VanRheenen, ACU
provost. The purpose of the program is to provide integrated
learning experiences inside and outside the classroom for
students who are in their initial year at ACU.
Creating a better first year for students should improve
personal student achievement; a secondary benefit should be
better student retention rates, VanRheenen said.
"The position of dean of the freshman year, what we're
calling 'the first-year program,' has been common in highly
selective Ivy League colleges," said Dr. Royce Money, ACU
president. "They know that student success depends a great
deal on building a strong foundation for learning during the
first few months of college."
VanRheenen said this model is particularly relevant in
Christian higher education, which focuses on the development
of the whole student - mind, body and spirit.
"In classrooms and residence halls, we are committed to
transforming minds and hearts," VanRheenen said. "The
development of students must be approached as an integrated
experience where all teaching and learning activities
complement each other and are designed to help students to
grow intellectually and spiritually."
Davis received his doctoral degree in counseling and
student development from Purdue University in 1995. He holds
a master of divinity degree from Harding University Graduate
School of Religion and a bachelor's degree in psychology
from Harding University.
He has served as a dean of students at Pepperdine
University since 1995, where he has directed convocation and
student ministries and supervised Pepperdine's volunteer
center, service-learning center, academic advising center
and career center. He has served on significant task forces
that addressed general education, spiritual development,
academic strategic planning and Christian scholarship. Davis
also taught freshman Bible and social science courses, and
he served as campus minister at Purdue University for seven
"We are pleased that Dr. Davis will be joining us,"
VanRheenen said. "He is a gifted administrator and talented
teacher who brings to these roles an understanding of
academics, a knowledge of student development, experience in
the integration of the curriculum and co-curriculum, and a
commitment to Christian higher education.
"Dr. Davis' knowledge and experience will enable us to
advance our Centennial Vision of enhancing student
achievement and graduating more students who are prepared to
serve and lead throughout the world," VanRheenen said.
In accepting the position, Davis said, "ACU clearly
places the student at the center of the educational
enterprise. This is evident in many ways, but most recently
in the creation of this position. I look forward to working
with faculty and staff to provide a rich, challenging and
integrated experience for students in their initial year at
ACU. Michele and I and our three children are eager to join
hands with the ACU community."
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- Last update: August 19, 1999
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