Seven months of searching and waiting came to an end Friday when Sharron Drury, member of the Board of Trustees and co-chair of the Presidential Search Transition Team, introduced the 11th president of Abilene Christian University, Dr. Phil Schubert.
Schubert was one of two finalists; the other was Dr. Rick Lytle, dean of the College of Business Administration. Lytle issued a statement supporting the board’s decision but declined to comment further.
Dr. Jean-Noel Thompson, dean of students and vice president of Student Life, looks forward to the continuation of his and Schubert’s successful working relationship. Thompson also said he hopes the community will not allow loyalties to divide them.
“One of the things I’m very cognizant of is we’ve got two stellar internal guys that we love,” Thompson said. “There’s been a lot of prayer, and this is a time for our community to rally around our new leadership.”
Dr. Jeff Arrington, associate dean of Student Life and associate professor of physics, acknowledged the likelihood of dissent, but expects the transition to go smoothly.
“The overall reaction, like any time, is going to be mixed, and I think that’s natural,” Arrington said. “I think Phil is a candid person that communicates a lot, and that will help put those to rest.”
Some students appreciated the board’s selection of the younger candidate.
“It’s good that he’s young because he can relate to what students are going through. It also means he should be around for a while,” said Jordan Smith, junior history major from Escondido, Calif.
For students nearing graduation, the event was simply another big day in Chapel.
“It’s exciting, I guess. It’s new beginnings,” said Mallory Espinoza, senior interior design major from Colorado City. “I’m a senior so I don’t really know if it’s going to affect me.”
“I have one year left, so I’m going to be in the transitions stage. It’ll be interesting,” said Jessica Lane, junior interior design major from Albuquerque, N.M.
Kana Yama, chancellor of Ibaraki Christian University in Hitachi, Ibaraki, Japan, came to Abilene to express his admiration and appreciation for ICU’s relationship with ACU. Yama is the first ICU representative to visit campus and just happened to pick an important date.
“We didn’t know that we were going to be here for this, but it’s wonderful,” said ICU Professor Jim Batten.