About Abilene Christian University
ACU is a vibrant, innovative, Christ-centered community that engages students in authentic spiritual and intellectual growth, equipping them to make a real difference in the world.
The ACU experience - whether on the Abilene campus, in Study Abroad programs, at education centers, or through an ACU virtual community - will help you develop your intellect, grow closer to God, prepare for a meaningful career and address global challenges with a Christian worldview.
A.B. Barret and Charles Roberson were riding in a buggy near Barret's home in Denison, Texas, on their way to a gospel meeting when Barret first said to Roberson, "Let's build a school in West Texas."
That was in 1903. In 1905, Barret, a teacher at Southwestern Christian College in Denton, was finally able to make a site survey.The Church of Christ in Abilene was growing solidly, and after Barret preached there in December 1905, members agreed to help support the project. Barret soon moved west and traveled by buggy with his wife and friends to raise more support.
Col. J.W. Childers, a leader in the Abilene church, agreed to sell Barret some land he owned west of town and deducted about $2,000 from the price of the land on the condition that the school would be named in his honor. The Childers Classical Institute opened its doors in the fall of 1906 with 25 students enrolled for classes
The five acres occupied by the institute included the old Childers mansion, a two-story frame house used as the president's home and girl's dormitory. Boys boarded in private homes approved by the president. An eight-room administration building was constructed on the site for $8,000.
Only the 11 primary and secondary grades were offered that first semester. College courses were not accredited for eight years. By the end of the first school year 85 students were enrolled.
Childers' first years were difficult for everyone, particularly the students. Cold classrooms, crowded living conditions and a water shortage necessitated hard work and ingenuity on the part of everyone. The school went through four presidents during those early years: Barret, H.C. Darden, R.L. Whiteside, and James F. Cox, who served another term as president from 1931-1940.
To complicate matters, Col. Childers hired an attorney to collect on a note he had retained on the land and mansion. The school had to borrow money at 15 percent interest to pay the debt, making it difficult to meet operating expenses.