By Melanie J. Knox, Opinion Editor
When Jack Scott graduated from ACU in 1954 with a degree in Bible, he was named the “Outstanding Male Graduate.” No one could have known then the truth the title foretold.
This year, Scott, now a California state senator, has been named the “Outstanding Alumnus of the Year” by the Alumni Association.
“He has distinguished himself in civic duties, in the church and in Christian higher education,” said Jama Cadle, coordinator of alumni inreach.
The first recipient of the award in 1957 was M. Norvel Young. State representative Bob Hunter, vice president emeritus of the university founded the award.
“I know Dr. Young would be proud of Jack, since Dr. Young is the one who brought Jack to Pepperdine to teach,” said Hunter, a lifelong friend of Scott’s. “I was proud of Dr. Young as the first recipient, and I am just as proud of Jack.”
Born in Sweetwater to a deeply Christian and Democratic family, Scott always knew who he was and where he was from, said Dr. William S. Banowsky, president emeritus of Pepperdine University and the University of Oklahoma.
“He is the greatest man that I have ever known intimately,” Banowsky said, listing Scott’s qualities that made him deserving of that statement.
“Ambition. Intelligence. Vision. Courage. Loyalty. Patience. Persistence. Industry. Discipline. Humility,” he added with a smile in his voice, “Frankly though, humility is not his greatest point.”
After graduating from ACU, where he was elected president of the student body and was a member of the Frater Sodalis social club, Scott worked as an assistant to then-president Don H. Morris. Scott then taught in the religion department at Pepperdine, was the dean of instruction at Orange Coast College, president of Cypress College and president of Pasadena Community College.
He received his Master’s of Divinity degree from Yale, a Ph.D. in American history from Claremont College, and in 2000, Claremont named him as its “Distinguished Alumnus of the Year.”
Banowsky said that the honor from ACU, though, will mean more to Scott than any others.
“He loves his roots and ACU,” Banowsky said. “He met his wife there, he formed his life there, his family is there. Jack, who has been honored everywhere, is now being honored by his own family.”
Scott has said the greatest gift ACU gave him was his wife, Lacreta, to whom he has been married for 48 years.
“No one’s ever deserved this award more than Jack, but it should really be called the ‘Jack and Lacreta’ award,” Banowsky said.
“That’s absolutely right. Through good times and bad, we are a team,” he said. “I have a wonderful wife who is very talented.”
The Scotts have five children: Sharon Mitchell, Sheila Head, Amy Schones, Greg Scott and Adam Scott.
“He’s always been a strong family man,” Banowsky said. “Very funny, casual and relaxed, dignified and persistent.”
Adam, the Scott’s fourth child, was shot to death in an accident at a friend’s house right after he finished law school.
“Jack grieved, recovered from grief with spiritual energy, and went on to a career in a high political office after retirement because that was his son’s ambition, to be in the California legislature,” Banowsky said.
“Jack has always wanted to serve others by leading,” Hunter said. “He has entered a number of professional worlds and showed there his Christian faith and commitment.”
When Scott was about to retire as Pasadena president, a group of local citizens asked him to run for the assembly-the California state legislature.
Scott said he prayerfully considered it for a month and was elected to two terms on the assembly. After his second term ended, he ran and won a senate seat that he will hold until 2008.
“I take very seriously the matter of being a steward of gifts and dedicated to service,” Scott said. “We had many presidents who were religious, and I follow the laws about church and state. I never force my views on anyone, but just remember that we are to let our light shine before men.”
Throughout his life, no matter what profession he was in, Scott has always been a preacher, beginning as the minister at New Haven Church of Christ in Connecticut while at Yale and continuing while serving as a religion professor at Pepperdine. Currently, he preaches once a month at the Sierra Madre Church of Christ in Alta Dena, Calif.
“He’s always been an incorrigible preacher,” Banowsky said.
Scott said that when he was notified that he had received the award, he was pleased, honored and grateful.
“That’s home to me,” he said. “ACU meant a lot to my life in terms of teaching and memories.”
“Jack is a prime example of an ACU alumnus,” Hunter said. “This award is timely because of his lifetime of service and key role in the senate. I respect his great Christian servanthood and the way he has served others through his life.”