"Dr. John transformed this university during his tenure as president," said Dr. Royce Money, ACU president. "He is beloved by thousands as a leader, a history professor and a man of deep faith. He and Ruth were always a team, and it is fitting that this upcoming facility be named for them."
The board's resolution said the building – still in the planning stages – will be named for Dr. John C. Stevens and his late wife, Marian "Ruth" Rambo Stevens, in "grateful recognition of their dedicated service and generous support as well as numerous additional ways in which this couple has enthusiastically served Abilene Christian University."
Stevens has served ACU 58 years – as president from 1969-81, chancellor from 1981-91, and in his current role as chancellor emeritus. Currently, he spends much of his time researching the history of the university. “Ruth quietly and devotedly served ACU alongside John, first as a teacher for 23 years and then as the university’s First Lady,” the resolution explained. “Ruth also contributed thousands of hours as a dedicated community volunteer throughout her life.”
During Stevens' tenure as president, enrollment grew from 3,110 to a then-record high of 4,560 in the fall 1980, and construction was completed on the Don H. Morris Center, Cullen Auditorium and four major housing projects. Full-time faculty, which numbered 142 in 1969, increased to 184.
He graduated cum laude from ACU in 1938 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bible. Stevens received a Master of Arts degree in history and political science from the University of Arkansas in 1948. He received a Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas in history and political science in 1954. He also did graduate work at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Stevens preached at the Jasper Church of Christ and at Central Church of Christ in Beaumont. In 1943 he joined the U.S. Army as a chaplain with the rank of first lieutenant. During his three years in the army he was awarded the European Theatre of Operations ribbons with campaign stars for Normandy, Northern France, the Rhineland, the Ardennes and Central Europe. He also was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with two oak leaf clusters. In 1946 he was discharged with the rank of major.
He married Marian Ruth Rambo, a 1945 ACU graduate, on Dec. 16, 1948. At the time she was teaching at ACU. Both of their children attended the university. He began teaching at ACU in the fall of 1948 as an assistant professor of history, becoming dean of men in 1950, dean of students in 1952 and assistant president to Don H. Morris in 1956. Stevens was inaugurated as president of ACU in 1969 and became the university's chancellor in 1981.
In addition to his academic responsibilities, Stevens has been active in church and civic activities, including service as a City Councilman and work on a variety of local boards. He currently worships at University Church of Christ. Stevens received the George Washington Medal for public address from the Freedoms Foundation in Valley Forge, Pa., in 1961.He was honored in 1981 as Abilene's outstanding citizen of the year. He also holds honorary doctorates from ACU, Amber, Pepperdine, and Oklahoma Christian universities. He also received ACU's Distinguished Servant Award.
If you are a member of the media who would like more information about this release, please contact ACU's Public Relations Office.