Abilene Christian University
Former name
Childers Classical Institute (1906–1920)
Abilene Christian College (1920–1976)
MottoPeople With A Purpose
TypePrivate university
Religious affiliation
Church of Christ
Academic affiliations
Endowment$773 million (2023)[2]
ChancellorRoyce Money
PresidentPhil Schubert
ProvostRobert L. Rhodes
Academic staff
Location, ,
United States
CampusUrban, 208 acres (84 ha)
ColorsPurple and white[4]
Sporting affiliations
MascotWillie the Wildcat

Abilene Christian University (ACU) is a private Christian university in Abilene, Texas. It was founded in 1906 as Childers Classical Institute. It is affiliated with Churches of Christ.


The Churches of Christ in Abilene founded it as a Christian university for West Texas. Childers Classical Institute opened in the fall of 1906, with 25 students.[5] It initially included a lower school starting in the seventh grade.[6]

When Jesse P. Sewell became president of the institute in 1912, the school began using Abilene Christian College on all its printed material. In 1920, the school formally changed the name.

The Optimist, the university's student-produced newspaper, was founded in 1912. The Prickly Pear, the school yearbook, was founded in 1916. The campus literary-arts magazine (now The Shinnery Review, formerly The Pickwicker) has been in production since 1933.

ACU's Onstead-Packer Bible Studies Building, Chapel on the Hill and Tower of Light seen from Faubus Fountain Lake

Abilene Christian College first received school accreditation in 1951, when it became an accredited member of the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.[7]

Amberton University, previously Amber University, was created as an extension campus of Abilene Christian University. It was launched in Mesquite, Texas, in 1971, moving to Garland, Texas, in 1974. It became a separate institution as Amber University in 1982, and was rechristened Amberton University in 2001. Like Abilene Christian University, Amberton remains affiliated with the Churches of Christ.

On February 22, 1976, the name of Abilene Christian College was changed to Abilene Christian University. The university celebrated its centennial in the 2005–06 school year. In July 2015, the university signed a lease for an expansion campus located in Addison, Texas.[8] Called ACU Dallas, the new campus began offering several new graduate programs, including an MBA and Ed.D. in organizational leadership.[9]


The university was officially segregated, for white students only, until 1962,[10] when Billy Curl became the first black student to enroll.[11] The university currently bars employees, but not students, from dating people of the same sex.[12] In 2016 the university recognized Voice, an LGBT student association.[13]



Academic structure

In 2022, ACU announced major changes to the academic structure that resulted in the creation of three new colleges. While the total number of colleges went unchanged, the reorganization was implemented to assist the University in marketing itself as a national university.[14]

College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Art and Design
  • Communication and Sociology
  • History and Global Studies
  • Journalism and Mass Communication
  • Language and Literature
  • Liberal Arts
  • Music
  • Political Science and Criminal Justice
  • School of Education
  • Theatre
College of Biblical Studies
  • Bible, Missions and Ministry
  • Marriage and Family Studies
  • Graduate School of Theology
College of Business Administration
  • Accounting
  • Dukes School of Finance
  • Management Sciences
  • School of Information Technology and Computing
College of Health and Behavioral Sciences
  • Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Kinesiology and Nutrition
  • School of Nursing
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Psychology
  • School of Social Work
Onstead College of Science and Engineering
  • Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Biology
  • Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • Engineering and Physics
  • Mathematics


Academic rankings
U.S. News & World Report[15]320 (tie) of 394
Washington Monthly[16]435 of 442
WSJ/College Pulse[17]501 (tie) of 600

ACU is institutionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. ACU's business programs are professionally accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International), the Engineering program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, the Social Work programs are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, the Education programs are accredited by Teacher Education Accreditation Council and the Marriage and Family Therapy programs are accredited by Commission on the Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education. The Department of Journalism and Mass Communication is accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. The ACU School of Nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). ACU Graduate School of Theology is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS).


Jacob's Dream statue and display on the ACU campus. The artwork is based on Genesis 28:10–22 and graphically represents the scenes alluded to in the hymn "Nearer, My God, to Thee" and the spiritual "We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder" as well as other musical works.

Abilene Christian University Press

Main article: Abilene Christian University Press

ACU is one of only seven faith-based institutions with a press.[23] ACU Press, founded in 1983 to print books about Churches of Christ theology, is now a member of the Association of American University Presses, printing books about Christian Higher Education, West Texas History and Christian Living as well as theology.[24] Along with its trade imprint, Leafwood Publishers, the press publishes an average of 36 titles per year. Among its notable authors are Rubel Shelly, Rick Ostrander, Darryl Tippens, Edward Fudge, Larry M. James and Walt McDonald.

Student media

The school established an NPR station, KACU, in 1986. Initially, the community was concerned that the school might use the station for proselytizing, and for the station's first ten years, an advisory board composed of community members served to monitor the station against this possibility.[25]

The Optimist, a converged student media operation, produces student-led news media.[26]

On October 18, 2008, the school hosted a live broadcast of Minnesota Public Radio's long-running A Prairie Home Companion radio show from the campus' Moody Coliseum.[27][28]


In August 2022 the ACU applied to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a construction licence for a molten salt research reactor for which it plans to achieve criticality by December 2025.[29]


Abilene Christian Athletics wordmark

Main article: Abilene Christian Wildcats

Formerly a charter member of the Division I Southland Conference, Abilene Christian joined the Lone Star Conference (LSC) of Division II of the NCAA in 1973.

In 2007, the LSC included 33 ACU current and former student athletes in its 75-member all-sports team commemorating the conference's 75th anniversary.[30] Through 2009, ACU is fourth in NCAA history in team national championships won with 57, trailing Division I schools UCLA, Stanford, and USC, and tied with Division III school Kenyon College.[31]

In 2012, Abilene Christian received NCAA permission to compete in Division I FCS football and was under consideration for reattachment to the Southland Conference.[32] On August 25, 2012, Abilene Christian's board of trustees accepted Southland's invitation to rejoin the conference effective with the start of the 2013-14 academic year.

On Wednesday, August 23, 2017, the NCAA Board of Directors voted to pass ACU through to full Division I status, thus making them eligible for postseason play.

In 2021, ACU left the Southland for the Western Athletic Conference.[33][34][35] After the 2022 football season, ACU football joined the newly formed United Athletic Conference, a merger of the football leagues of the WAC and the ASUN Conference. The two all-sports conferences had partnered in a football-only alliance in the 2021 and 2022 seasons.[36]

Athletic Achievements

Social clubs

The school has a number of student organizations called "social clubs" that are equivalent to a fraternity or sorority on other college campuses.[41]

Notable alumni

This article's list of alumni may not follow Wikipedia's verifiability policy. Please improve this article by removing names that do not have independent reliable sources showing they merit inclusion in this article AND are alumni, or by incorporating the relevant publications into the body of the article through appropriate citations. (October 2023)

Academia and religion


Entertainment and media

Politics and government






  1. ^ "NAICU – Member Directory". Naicu.edu. Archived from the original on November 9, 2015. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  2. ^ As of June 30, 2022. ACU Endowment Report (Report).
  3. ^ "ACU's fall enrollment tops 6,000". Abilene Christian University. September 15, 2023. Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  4. ^ Abilene Christian University Branding and Editorial Style Guide. July 1, 2020. Retrieved December 22, 2022.
  5. ^ Texas State Historical Commission. "Abilene Christian University, Texas State Historical Marker".
  6. ^ The Childers Classical Institute: Catalog 1906–1907. Abilene, Texas: Taylor County News Press. 1906. p. 17. Retrieved September 27, 2014.
  7. ^ [Sources: John C. Stevens, _No Ordinary University_, p. 248; John C. Stevens, "Abilene Christian University," Texas State Historical Association, https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/kba01.]
  8. ^ "Abilene Christian University campus to open in Addison". Acu.edu. July 21, 2015. Archived from the original on August 25, 2015. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  9. ^ "New Abilene Christian University campus planned for DFW area | News – Home". Ktxs.com. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  10. ^ Key, Barclay. "Race and Restoration: churches of Christ and the African American Freedom Struggle" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 1, 2019. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  11. ^ Fowler, Ethan (February 9, 2012). "ACU Versed in Diversity". Abilene Reporter-News. Retrieved October 13, 2022.
  12. ^ Guzman, Andrea; Hime, Lilli (April 2, 2018). "New Abilene Christian University policy discriminates against LGBT students". Hilltop Views. Austin, Texas. Retrieved August 22, 2021.
  13. ^ "Voice LGBT group recognized by university". Optimist. October 21, 2016. Retrieved November 25, 2021.
  14. ^ Kilmer, Wendy (January 19, 2023). "ACADEMIC STRUCTURE CHANGES LEAD TO THREE NEW COLLEGES". Abilene Christian University. Retrieved January 31, 2023.
  15. ^ "2023-2024 Best National Universities". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved September 22, 2023.
  16. ^ "2023 National University Rankings". Washington Monthly. Retrieved February 10, 2024.
  17. ^ "2024 Best Colleges in the U.S." The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse. Retrieved January 27, 2024.
  18. ^ "The Prickly Pear, Yearbook of Abilene Christian College, 1916" "The Prickly Pear, 1916", 1916
  19. ^ No author. "Seniors' Sing Song to unite work, fun," The Optimist (Abilene, Texas), Vol. 73, No. 38, Ed. 1, February 7, 1986, page 1.
  20. ^ "ACU Today | The alumni magazine of Abilene Christian University". Acu.edu. Archived from the original on January 3, 2010. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  21. ^ "Sing Song | Abilene Christian University". Acu.edu. Archived from the original on August 21, 2015. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
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  24. ^ Directory 2013. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. 2013. p. 21. ISBN 978-0945-103295.
  25. ^ Brian Bethel. "Local NPR station turns 20, looks to hi-tech future," Archived July 16, 2011, at the Wayback Machine Abilene Reporter-News, June 2, 2006. Retrieved October 19, 2008.
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  28. ^ Archived recording of October 18, 2008, A Prairie Home Companion broadcast from ACU's Moody Coliseum
  29. ^ "Texas Applies to Build Molten Salt Nuclear by 2025".
  30. ^ a b c "Wildcats lead way as LSC honors all-time top performers," Archived October 29, 2008, at the Wayback Machine ACU Today, Summer 2007, p.32. Retrieved September 22, 2008.
  31. ^ a b c [1] Archived June 27, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
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  34. ^ "WAC Announces Expedited Entrance for Four Texas Institutions" (Press release). Western Athletic Conference. January 21, 2021. Retrieved March 7, 2023.
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  36. ^ "ASUN-WAC Football Partnership Formally Rebrands as the United Athletic Conference" (Press release). Western Athletic Conference. April 17, 2023. Retrieved April 21, 2023.
  37. ^ "ACU Today | The alumni magazine of Abilene Christian University" (PDF). Acu.edu. Retrieved August 26, 2015.[permanent dead link]
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  39. ^ Curtis, Jake (October 17, 2008). "How Swede it was". SFGate. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  40. ^ Wright, Katherine (October 16, 2020). "The longest college football field goal: What we know". NCAA. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
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  44. ^ "Antwone Fisher : About The Cast". Cinema.com. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
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  46. ^ Nelson Coates in Internet Movie Database
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  48. ^ "Jeffrey Boyd Appointed to Texas Supreme Court". Archived from the original on December 28, 2012. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
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  50. ^ All-Time U.S. Rankings — Men's Pole Vault Archived December 1, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, ranked #1 in the world for 1982.
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  53. ^ "Carry on, Jeev," The Telegraph (Calcutta, India), November 4, 2006. Retrieved September 22, 2008.
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32°28′10″N 99°42′29″W / 32.46944°N 99.70806°W / 32.46944; -99.70806