By Michael Freeman, Managing Editor
“Eventful,” “exciting” and “extraordinary” are words ACU administrators used to describe the 2008-09 school year.
Positive and negative news has emanated from the university during the last several months – more than Dr. Royce Money, president of the university, has ever seen.
“I have seen more media attention given to ACU than I’ve ever seen in my 18 years,” Money said. “I think it’s been a very eventful year.”
With the introduction of the Mobile Learning Initiative last fall, media publications from all over the world reported on the university’s new program.
Lynne Bruton, director of public relations, said during some months ACU received more national attention than local attention. For example, 41 major national articles were published in March, compared to 28 local articles.
“It’s been a very exciting year,” Bruton said. “We’ve gotten a lot of national and international recognition, as well as regional and local. Anytime my phone is ringing from reporters, it’s usually a really good thing.”
Other headline-grabbing events included the U.S. News and World Report’s ranking of ACU as the “No. 1 School to Watch,” the drafting of two ACU football players to the NFL and the opening of the Hunter Welcome Center and renovation of the “World Famous Bean.” Academic excellence and awards also stood out this year, such as the accreditation of the College of Business Administration by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business – an honor shared by only five percent of business schools in the world.
“We’re backing it up with substance,” Money said. “It’s not just PR.”
But not all the news this past year has been glowing. In September, a noose was planted in the chair of former Students’ Association president Daniel Paul Watkins, an incident which has not yet been resolved. And in February, the NCAA punished the ACU track and field and football teams for violating several sanctions. ACU appealed some of the punishments, the results of which should be known before the beginning of the fall semester, Money said.
Despite the negative news, no significant increase in campus crime was recorded.
“Overall, I’d say it’s been an average year as far as workload,” said Jimmy Ellison, chief of ACU police.
But “average” could not describe the speakers who visited campus this past year. Dr. Shaun Casey, senior religious adviser for President Barack Obama; Lance Barrow, a 10-time Emmy award-winning producer for CBS Sports; Joe Shirley, president of the Navajo Nation; Kasey Pipes, former speech writer for President George W. Bush; the popular variety radio show Prairie Home Companion; and the Google Bus all visited campus.
“We’re just seeing a lot of people realizing what ACU is about,” Bruton said. “It’s just been an extraordinary year. I expect next year to be the same.”