The Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas (ICUT) has renamed its highest award in honor of Dr. Robert D. “Bob” Hunter, Abilene Christian University’s vice president emeritus.
Since 1990, ICUT – of which Abilene Christian University and all other private colleges and universities in Texas are members – has on occasion conferred the Founders Award.
The award has always represented the highest honor the association can confer, with the name recalling the small group of visionary college presidents that filed Articles of Incorporation founding ICUT in 1965. This group’s vision for ICUT saw it becoming the voice of Texas’ fully accredited private colleges and universities, especially in the public arena.
The Board of Directors does not present this award annually, but only when they believe a nominee merits this recognition. During ICUT’s annual meeting on Sept. 10, Hunter was honored for his contributions to the founding of ICUT by having the award renamed the “Robert D. Hunter Founders Award.”
“Dr. Hunter was instrumental in building ICUT into what it has become today: an association that effectively advocates for private, regionally-accredited higher education institutions in Texas,” said ICUT president Ray Martinez. “ Dr. Hunter’s early contributions to the 52-year success of ICUT cannot be overstated: as the association’s part-time executive vice president in the early 1970s, Dr. Hunter helped to pass legislation establishing the Texas Tuition Equalization Grant Program (TEG), which has enabled generations of college students with financial need to attend independent Texas institutions. The ICUT Board of Directors wanted to honor Dr. Hunter’s contributions in a special way and we felt that renaming the ICUT Founders Award – our sector’s highest honor – in Dr. Hunter’s name was the appropriate way to do so. We hope his tireless dedication inspires future recipients of the Robert D. Hunter Founders Award for decades to come.”
Hunter, for whom the ACU Hunter Welcome Center is named, is a past recipient and ICUT board member. He served on the Texas House of Representatives from 1986-2007.
The mission of Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas Inc. (ICUT) is to support Texas independent nonprofit colleges and universities by strengthening member institutions through advocacy, policy research and collaboration. A non-profit association, ICUT is the voice for Texas’ fully accredited private colleges and universities. For more than 50 years, it has fulfilled its mission of helping policymakers recognize the importance and value of the independent sector of higher education by successfully articulating the sector's needs and aspirations.
Past Founders Award Recipients
Included in the list of prestigious recipients are Lt. Gov. William P. Hobby Jr. (1990); Dr. Norman Hackerman (1991); Ray L. Hunt (1994); The Honorable Wilhelmina Delco (1995); Dr. John D. Mosley (1996); The Honorable John T. Montford and Commissioner Kenneth Ashworth (1997); State Comptroller John Sharp and Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock (1999); The Honorable Bill Ratliff (2004); Robert T. Priddy and Robert J. Wright (2005); Will D. Davis (2006); Dr. Robert D. Hunter (2007) as well as all six of the former legislators who sponsored the TEG bill in 1969 and 1971 (1998).
To be eligible for the Founders Award, a candidate must:
- Make significant contributions to the advancement of independent higher education in Texas over a significant period of time (benefiting more than a single institution), or make such a substantial contribution to a particular institution that he or she exemplifies the standard for trusteeship, philanthropy or service for which all should strive;
- Play an important role in enabling independent institutions to compete effectively with state-supported institutions and remain healthy and viable contributors to Texas higher education; and
- Raise the visibility of independent institutions among opinion leaders in the state or nation.