The first line of the mission and vision statement of ACU reads, “Our mission is to educate students for Christian service and leadership throughout the world.” One of the ways ACU has been able to foster Christian leadership and service in students over the past several decades is through intentional living and Christ-centered community. Some would say it has become its own identity. But has ACU’s recent focus been on the spectacle of success and rather than the sentiment of the experience?
In the span of three months ACU has seen the exit of two head coaches, in head football coach Ken Collums and head volleyball coach Jason Bibler. Although these firings cannot be directly correlated to wins and losses, it is clear the Christ-centered mindset is no longer enough to cut it at the Div. 1 level.
Wildcat Stadium is also on tab to have the fourth-largest video board in the FCS upon completion. While this is exciting, each of the four schools with larger video boards more than double ACU’s enrollment, with James Madison University enrolling more than five times as many students. This is a sign ACU could be expanding too quick.
The changes and workings within the department of athletics are not the only representation of this across campus. The Div. 1 transition has affected various parts of campus, unrelated in most senses to athletics. State-of-the-art buildings and facilities like Halbert-Walling and Bennett Gymnasium have gone up on campus and will provide students with incredible opportunities. However, with another year where freshman retention declined by 10 percent from last fall to this spring, is it possible these multi-million dollar structures might be more than what ACU needs to accomplish its vision and mission?
While all of these advancements and changes can be considered beneficial to the university’s future, what is ACU doing to foster and carry out its Christian identity along the way? And is that still the priority and mission, or is expansion and growth the new central focus?
There is something to be said about giving your best and even being the best. In fact, Colossians 3:23 says “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” But if the best compromises Christ’s identity, is it still worth it? Baylor and ACU are part of a handful of universities with Div. 1 athletics and Council for Christian Colleges and Universities accreditation, as SMU and TCU are no longer accredited. And with Baylor’s recent compromises of faith for success, I hope ACU is able to keep it’s Christian identity of service and leadership as its priority.