ACU hires dean, initiates new first-year program

For immediate release
August 19, 1999

Dr. Dwayne VanRheenen, provost of the university
(915) 674-2024

Dr. Mark Davis, dean of the first-year program
(915) 674-2228

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, Calif.

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 years.

"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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