A.B. Barret, 1906-1908
Barret, the school’s founder and its first president, dreamed of establishing a Christian college in West Texas and saw his dream come true. Barret grew up in Covington, Tenn., and attended West Tennessee Christian College and Nashville Bible School. In 1903, he and his wife, the former Exie Carroll, came to Oklahoma and Texas where he held gospel meetings. He taught at Southwestern Christian College in Denton before establishing Childers Classical Institute, which would later become ACU. He resigned in 1908 to become the president of Southwestern Christian.
H.C. Darden, 1908-1909
Darden was superintendent of the Clyde schools before he became president of Childers Classical Institute. During his tenure as president, he raised money to retire the school’s debt (with the help of R.L. Whiteside), enhanced the school’s relationship with the city of Abilene and saw the first four students graduate from Childers.
R.L. Whiteside, 1909-1911
Whiteside was instrumental in setting up the Bible School, forerunner of the annual Bible Lectureship, which began in January 1909. He worked long hours during his years as president, and his wife took in boarders to help with expenses. He saw two classes of students graduate – 14 in 1910 and 12 in 1911 – an encouragement that the school was progressing. After resigning as president, Whiteside returned during the 1912-13 school year to teach psychology and Bible.
James F. Cox, 1911-1912
Cox was elected as president in 1911, but never served in the role, as his wife became seriously ill. His brother, A.B. Cox, acted as an interim president for the semester. As Mrs. Cox remained ill by the beginning of the spring semester, James Cox resigned as president. He later served as head of the education department from 1919-1923, then dean of the college for eight years. In 1932, he returned as president and served until 1940. After resigning a second time, he served as a Bible professor until 1951.
Jesse P. Sewell, 1912-1924
During Sewell’s first year as president, the school offered college-level work for the first time, and its graduates were junior-college graduates. The annual Bible Lectureship officially began under Sewell, and 12 campus buildings were built, remodeled or enlarged during his administration. He and his wife, Daisy McQuigg Sewell, invested a great deal of their own money into the school. In Fall 1919, the school became a senior college, and the name officially changed to Abilene Christian College in 1920.
Batsell Baxter, 1924-1932
Baxter, who had taught at ACC since 1919, was appointed to the presidency at Jesse Sewell’s recommendation. He relaxed some of the rules about students’ social privileges, and student activities and organizations gained importance on campus. Baxter was renowned for his sense of humor and ability to laugh at himself. During his presidency, the college moved from its original North First Street location to its present location on the Hill. He resigned in 1932 to become president of David Lipscomb University.
James F. Cox, 1932-1940
After heading up the education department and then serving as dean of the college, Cox returned as president and served for eight years. The school struggled to weather the Great Depression, and several loans and gifts saved it from bankruptcy. After resigning in 1940, Cox taught Bible until 1951.
Don H. Morris, 1940-1969
Dr. Don H. Morris earned his education degree at ACC. As a student, he served as president of his class; edited the school yearbook, the Prickly Pear; and participated in intercollegiate debate, never losing a decision. After graduation from ACC, Morris taught and coached debate at Abilene High School. He returned to Abilene Christian in 1928 as a speech teacher. In four years, he rose to the vice presidency. From 1932-1940, he was vice president and head of the Department of Speech.
Morris was the first former student to become president of ACU. He served 29 years, and in 1969 ranked as the dean of college and university presidents in Texas, having served the longest in the chief executive’s position. He received three honorary doctorates from other Christian colleges before his retirement in 1969.
John C. Stevens, 1969-1981
Stevens came to ACU in 1934, where he was president of the Students’ Association in 1937-38, president of the A Club and a member of Sub T-16 men’s social club, Alpha Chi National Honor Society, and Phi Alpha Theta honorary historical society. He also lettered three years in debate. He graduated cum laude in 1938 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bible.
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 received many awards for his work in France 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.
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.
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 to president Don H. Morris in 1956. Stevens was inaugurated as president of ACU in 1969 and became the university’s chancellor in 1981. He served as chancellor emeritus from 1991 until his death in 2008.
William J. Teague, 1981-1991
Dr. William J. “Bill” Teague received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bible and speech from ACU in 1952, a Master of Arts degree in administration from Columbia University in 1959 and a Doctor of Education degree in administration and labor law from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1965.
From 1952-57 he served as executive assistant to ACU president Don H. Morris. He became vice president for development at Harding University in Searcy, Ark., in 1957, then served as vice president at Pepperdine University from 1959-70.
Teague was president of his own consulting firm, William J. Teague Associates, from 1964-70. He also served in administrative roles in two other corporations before being named ACU’s president in 1981. He became chancellor of the university in 1991.
Royce Money, 1991-2010
Dr. Royce Money grew up in Temple, Texas, then earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from ACU. As a student, he was the vice president of the Students’ Association his senior year, then served as assistant to the dean of students from 1964-66. He received a Ph.D. in religion from Baylor University in 1975, and in 1982 he received a master’s in human development and the family from the University of Nebraska.
Money joined the ACU faculty in 1981 as an associate professor of marriage and family therapy. He was named chair of the undergraduate Bible and ministry department in 1986, and he became chair of the graduate Bible and ministry department and ACU’s first director of the Doctor of Ministry program in 1987. He then served as executive assistant to the president and in 1988 became vice president and provost. He became president of the university in 1991. He also has served as a pulpit minister for various churches, and has spoken regularly at churches, universities, civic gatherings and family workshops.