Address by President Don H. Morris
May 14, 1968
|Advancing the changeless||
Many speeches begin with the superfluous statement that this is a time of change. The statement is true with regard to higher education. The last years have been a time of bigger enrollments and a time of better facilities in most colleges and universities. It is a time of change at Abilene Christian in both of these areas. Our enrollment this present year is the largest ever; and, with our Design for Development, it seems that during the next few years we will have at our command the most useful facilities ever afforded one of our Christian colleges.
In our information to the public we have referred to 1967-68 as "The Year of Change" at Abilene Christian College. When we announced the Design for Development three years ago, and during this present year of change also, we have remembered, I am glad, our promises and consequent obligations to our thousands of friends, to the church, and to the world. We have told our friends that we are advancing the changeless.
Advancing the changeless! A great institution like Abilene Christian College is much like a great oak; it grows and develops; it gets taller, and it spreads its boughs; and yet its sources of life and strength remain constant and the same. We do advance the changeless, because our concepts of education at Abilene Christian College are as changeless as eternal truth.
In order to carry out the promises of Abilene Christian College, the founders of the college in its charter provided for a board of trustees. At first the board was made up of a dedicated group of five honorable and successful Christian men. The charter has been amended at different times until now the board is composed of 45 men, all just as honorable and dedicated and as interested in the basic purposes of the college, I believe, as were those great men who started Childers Classical Institute on its course 62 years ago.
|The board is the policy making body.||
The board is the policy making body of Abilene Christian College. Its responsibility is to set the purposes and the principles that guide the college. The business of the board also is to see to it that the promises of the college which I have referred to - its policies and its principles - are lived up to, that its purposes are carried out by the officials of the college who are designated to do so.
To carry out the policies of Abilene Christian College, to see to it that its promises are kept, to see to it that the proper individual officials and teachers are employed to keep the promises, the charter of the college provides that a president shall be employed by the board. He is responsible to the board for the operation of the college, for its promotion, and for the day-to-day decisions and impressions made on this campus. Through the board, the president is also responsible to all who believe in the college - who believe in it because of the promises it has made and because of the principles which the college has declared it will follow.
Thousands of people have acted upon these promises. During the past nine months, 3,394 students and their parents, probably between eight and 10 thousand individuals, have patronized Abilene Christian College. These individuals have made a contractual agreement with the college, based upon the principles for which they believe the college stands. They have trusted Abilene Christian College in the most far reaching way possible. They have entrusted themselves (the students have), and the parents have entrusted their children to us for education, for direction, and for all-around development.
Abilene Christian College is responsible to another large number who have made gifts to it. At the time of the February meeting of the National Development Council, 8,299 different gifts had been made in the Design for Development - gifts ranging from a few dollars to over a million dollars. Other than parents and students, these are the most important people that we do business with - people that we make our promises to. It is really astounding when you remember that counting parents, students, donors, and their wives and husbands, during the past three years Abilene Christian College has been involved in this definite contractual relationship with probably 25 thousand to 30 thousand individuals.
To see to it that Abilene Christian College does its work - that our obligations are carried out in these contractual relationships, many other individuals make up its organization.
(Editor's note: After referring to the responsibilities of
the various departments, President Morris continued.)
Of course the most important function of Abilene Christian College is educational.
|Two basic educational functions||
In our educational program there are two basic functions which the college has set for itself. The first is academic per se: we are a college. We are morally bound to do the work of an institution of higher learning as best we can. The charter of Abilene Christian College, written in 1906 and approved and extended for an indefinite time on May 26, 1967, requires the
maintenance of a college for the advancement of education in which the arts, sciences, languages, and Holy Scriptures shall always be taught, together with such other courses of instruction as shall be deemed advisable by the Board of Trustees.
Yes, we are a college, and I am proud of the service we have rendered as an institution of higher learning. This service is attested to by the recognition given us by other colleges and universities, by the state of Texas, by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the recognition that comes from thousands of alumni being leaders in their professions and businesses throughout the world. We must continue to hold to our academic standards so that this service which we offer to young people may be the most far-reaching possible.
The other basic educational function of Abilene Christian College is religious. Every one of us is here, first of all, because of our religious purposes. Our trustees, our National Development Council, our patrons, you and I - all of us - invest our time and money here because of this great purpose. We are glad to give ourselves to this cause because of the extent to which we believe in years past we have accomplished that most important of all of our purposes.
That purpose in which so many have invested their lives - men and women like Charles H. Roberson, Miss Jewell Watson, brother Cox, brother Baxter, brother Sewell, and Mrs. Bishop - the purpose, I repeat, to which so many of us here today have given the greater part of our lives (and, as the Declaration says, "our sacred honor") is clearly defined in the charter. The charter of Abilene Christian College, referring to the college, says,
which shall be managed and controlled as hereinafter set forth by a board of trustees, each of whom shall be a member of a congregation of the Church of Christ, which takes the New Testament as its only and sufficient rule of faith, worship and practice, and rejects from its faith, worship and practice everything not required by either precept or example, and which does not introduce into the faith, worship and practice, as a part of the same or as adjuncts thereto any supplemental organization of anything else not clearly and directly authorized in the New Testament either by precept or example.
This paragraph from the charter of Abilene Christian College sets the religious course of the college. The charter enforces this commitment by stating further that the qualifications of board members just given you, cannot be changed and that all gifts to the college are given and are to be considered by law to be given on this condition.
|Commitment can be enforced by law||
So we do have a commitment - a promise - a legal promise that can be enforced by law by donors to the college and their heirs. Also we have a moral commitment to all: to parents, to students, to alumni, to friends. The donors come in as a kind of surety of the promise that is made to all.
What does the promise say? It says that the policies of Abilene Christian College shall be made by men who believe in the church, the church that takes the
New Testament as its only and sufficient rule of faith, worship and practice and rejects from its faith, worship and practice everything not required by either precept or example, and which does not introduce into the faith, worship and practice, as a part of the same or as adjuncts thereto any supplemental organization or anything else not clearly authorized in the New Testament either by precept or example.
Now there is not a person here today who doesn't know what that means. I know what it means, and I am honor bound by it. It means that religiously Abilene Christian College stands for the organization of the New Testament church - that it stands for the law of conversion of the New Testament, the worship as taught in the New Testament - that religiously it stands for the name of the church in the New Testament and for Bible teaching in all matters. I am calling attention to this today as a review and as a reminder to all of us of our purposes and promises. We are all honor bound by these principles. It is not too much for the administration to expect that the teaching and influence of the college conform to these requirements. It is not enough not to expect it.
Someone will ask, "Doesn't this limit academic freedom?"
There is not a university or college in the United States where
so-called academic freedom is not qualified or limited in some
particular. I believe in freedom as much as any person here -
freedom to search for truth and freedom of expression, as long
as these do not interfere with the academic or religious aims
of Abilene Christian College. We are controlled by our aims just
as are other institutions.
(Editor's note: President Morris talked about how Abilene Christian College does not have to compromise its principles to be apart of Colleges and Universities of the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools; he then made some observations on relationships between the various departments in the college; he concluded by saying:)
As I have said, this is a statement of policy needed at this time.
All of us need greatly to keep our balance in these days. We need
to be slow to jump to conclusions and to accept rumors and gossip.
We need to have faith in each other; we need to have faith in
ourselves; and above all we need to tie our faith to the everlasting
purposes and principles upon which men have built Abilene Christian
(Editor's note: Bravo! Well done! Excellent! We commend this
to the present administration of the school and ask them to make
a statement as clear and concise as the statement made by President
Morris in 1968. We will be happy to print such a declaration.)
In 1968 the Bible faculty of Abilene Christian College made the following statement:
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