By Lori Bredemeyer, Managing Editor
Jack Rich, executive vice president, said Texas Monthly got one thing right in its review of ACU: The university prides itself on its Christian values.
The magazine published its 2004 Guide to Texas Colleges and Universities, in which it reviewed 59 of the 130 schools in Texas from a student’s point of view. Reporters spent time at each school talking to students and spending time on campus, and Rich said that portrayed ACU in a slightly altered light.
“I think in general that Texas Monthly didn’t do a very thorough job of looking at the schools in the way that they approached it,” he said. “I think it was unfair to many schools, and there were a lot of things they could have said that would have been very positive that they missed the opportunity.”
The article said the campus is “full of supernice students who are having a darn great time,” and “there is much fun to be had, even if it is wholesome fun.” It also joked about how students will enjoy the school “as long as you don’t mind keeping the door open and both feet on the floor.”
“I thought they were poking a little fun,” Rich said, “and I thought that was OK in the context of saying that we take our Christianity seriously.”
The article also cited several of the best and worst aspects of ACU, such as the best tradition, Sing Song, and the worst on-campus food, the Bean. Dr. Jonathan Wade, assistant professor of English, was credited with teaching one of the best classes.
“It was an honor; it did make me feel good about it,” said Wade, whose humanities class was recognized. “I do my best to make it something we can all enjoy and learn.”
The review mentioned two departments, also. Journalism and Mass Communication was acknowledged as one of few accredited programs in the state, and the Physics Department was mentioned for allowing its students the opportunity to work in national nuclear laboratories.
Dr. Donald Isenhower, department chair, said undergraduate physics students at ACU have been doing research for more than 30 years.
“The students do work which has been very important,” he said. “It gives them a lot of experience because they do work that graduate students usually do.
“I think it’s nice we’re getting attention. It gets ACU attention, and people know who we are.”
Rich said the magazine could have highlighted other departments to give a better overall picture of the university.
“They could have talked about a lot of places and had very positive things,” he said. “I think the way they approached it, they had a very limited view of what ACU is really about.”
Although Rich said he was not satisfied with the article’s portrayal of the university’s academic programs, he said he is thankful ACU’s review was more positive than Hardin-Simmons University’s. Its students were described as “a rowdy group, and they’re well on their way to earning their college an unofficial ‘party school’ reputation.”
Rich said these articles probably will not affect any of the schools very much.
“I don’t think it hurts us at all,” he said. “I don’t know that it makes much difference in terms of helping us. Now in terms of recognizing that we are a Christian school with Christian values, I think that’s valuable in terms of letting people know we’re serious about that.”