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ACU president appoints vice president for university relations

Executive vice president transitions to manage investments

Dr. Michelle Morris

For immediate release
Feb. 19, 2005

Abilene Christian University's executive vice president, Jack Rich, will become senior vice president and chief investment officer, effective Sept. 1, said Dr. Royce Money, ACU president.

"Jack has provided tremendous leadership to ACU in the past 13 years," Money said.  "He has been a key driver in strategic planning, has played a critical role in helping ACU reach record levels in enrollment, has built a strong Operations team, and has overseen an endowment that has grown from $50 million to more than $180 million."

Money said Rich will continue to lead in a critical area focused on growing the university's endowment.

"For about two years, the Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees has talked to us about finding someone to manage ACU's investment strategy full time," Money said.  "Although we've had tremendous success in growing our endowment, the investment world is becoming increasingly complex. Jack had a keen interest in this area, and he has demonstrated the ability to manage the complex changes taking place.  It's a natural move for both Jack and the university."

With Rich's transition, Money has chosen to make key appointments that advance the university's strategic direction.

Money has named Dr. Michelle Morris as ACU's vice president for University Relations, effective Sept. 1.  In the past 18 months, the Office of University and Alumni Relations and the Office of Admissions have worked closely to develop alumni partnerships that support the university’s efforts to recruit students to ACU.

"These partnerships have resulted in record enrollment, an increased ACU presence in key cities across Texas and the U.S., an increased percentage of alumni children enrolling at ACU, enhanced perceptions of ACU quality, and a stronger alumni network," Money said.    "We want to continue these successes by formally merging the key offices.  Michelle is a talented and energetic leader who is ideally suited to take the lead in shaping the public image of the university for the future.  Her responsibilities will also span from the early interest of prospective students through a lifetime of connection to ACU through our alumni."

University Relations will include Admissions/Recruiting, Alumni Relations, Creative Services, Public Relations, Sports Information, and University Events and Meeting Management.

"Our teams have worked so closely together that this merger seems very natural," Morris said.  "We believe that strengthening our alumni network is one of the most important efforts we can undertake in the next few years.  The University Relations team is extremely strong, and I know they can take ACU to the next level in visibility, relationships and enrollment."

Morris, currently assistant vice president for University and Alumni Relations, will become only the second female vice president in ACU’s history.  She will serve as a member of the President's Cabinet and an executive officer of the university.  In addition to her regular assignments, Morris also serves as Centennial Celebration director.

She has worked at ACU approximately 12 years, including roles as news information director from 1988-92 and director of marketing and public relations from 1997 to 2003.  Morris, a 1987 ACU alumnus, also earned her master's from ACU and her doctorate in higher education administration from Texas Tech University.

Tim Johnston, currently serving as assistant vice president for strategic marketing and enrollment, will become associate vice president for marketing strategies.

"Tim’s role is vital in this transition," Money said.  "Tim partners well to develop and implement new ideas in ways that move us to the next level of quality and student success."

As part of the transition in the coming months, the information services area led by Dr. K.B. Massingill, assistant vice president for information services and chief information officer, will move into the Finance and Administrative Services Division, effective April 1.  Phil Schubert is the vice president who leads that division

Administrative Services, led by Kevin Watson, also will become part of the Finance and Administrative Services division.  However, this transition will not take place until fall 2005 to allow various building projects to be completed.  Watson will serve as associate vice president for administrative services and chief operations officer.


If you are a member of the media who would like more information about this release, please contact Wendy Kilmer, director of public relations.

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