Dr. Colleen Durrington, ACU trustee and former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, died Monday at the age of 75.
Durrington served at ACU for 22 years in several roles, including coordinator of elementary and secondary certification programs, dean of the College of Professional Studies, director of University Seminar, chair of the Department of Education and the Division of Education, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
Dr. Cheryl Bacon, chair of the department of Journalism and Mass Communication, worked for Durrington for a number of years, but also considers her a good friend.
“I have known her for at least 20 years,” Bacon said. “She was a mentor, as she was for many people on campus.”
Bacon said Durrington modeled leadership.
“I think for women, she modeled how to be a woman who was an academic leader on this campus at a time when there were very, very few,” Bacon said.
Dr. Jack Reese, dean of the College of Biblical Studies, agreed.
“Strong, gentle, wise, precise, caring: those are the first words that come to mind when I think of Colleen,” Reese said. “She was truly a remarkable leader.
More than anything, Reese said Durrington’s greatest love was for the church.
“As much as she loved the university, and I don’t know anyone loved the university more than she, she loved the church more,” Reese said. “She was a devoted Christian first and foremost in everything she did.”
Durrington was born on March 23, 1937, in West Fork, Ark., the oldest of three daughters. She graduated from Fayetteville High School in 1954, and married Eugene Henderson in 1955. They were married for 31 years and had two children.
Colleen married Victor Durrington Nov. 26, 1986, and they were married 22 years until his death in March 2009.
In 1972, Durrington graduated from McMurry University with her bachelor’s degree in education. She continued her education at Abilene Christian University, earning masters degrees in 1977 and 1981. In 1984, she graduated from Texas Tech University with an education doctorate.
“I think one of the most remarkable things about her is that she was in her 30s when she went to college,” Bacon said. “She was just a person who even though began a professional track later in life than many would, was incredibly competent and effective.”
While pursuing her masters degrees, Durrington worked in education. She taught fourth grade from 1972-74 and served in the Abilene Independent School District as a teacher and later principal. Durrington began her work with ACU in 1985 as an assistant professor of education and director of reading programs.
Durrington retired in 2007 and was elected to ACU’s Board of Trustees in 2009. She also served on the Presidential Search Committee and Academic Affairs Committee.
“Faculty were so thrilled to have her there,” Bacon said. “We knew that she would represent the faculty and academic interests well. We also knew she would very quickly have the respect of her fellow trustees.”
Durrington’s health began to decline after a trip to Israel in June 2011. Doctors in Dallas and Abilene were not able to pinpoint a particular illness. After many tests, Durrington’s doctors found several blood clots, some which were in her lungs. Her condition worsened, and she was eventually admitted to the hospital on March 26. On April 5, Durrington was transitioned to home hospice care.
Durrington was preceded in death by her mother, her husband, Victor, and his daughter Vicki. She is survived by her father, Loy Stockburger, her son Dr. Eugene B. Henderson, Jr., her daughter Teresa Brittain, her sons Vearl Durrington, Vance Durrington and Val Durrington. She is also survived by 15 grandchildren.