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Students tab Harris as ACU’s top teacher

It was no coincidence that one of Abilene Christian University’s most beloved professors missed hearing the announcement of his selection as 2010-11 Teacher of the Year.
Randy Harris spends many weekends on the road, traveling to speaking/preaching engagements, including one May 14 at a church in Muskogee, Okla., when he would have otherwise attended ACU’s Commencement and received the university’s top teaching award.
“I feel really honored because there are so many brilliant and creative teachers at ACU,” says Harris of the award based on input from students across campus. “I feel like I have the best job in the world. I love trying to help students think critically and live radically for Jesus. And I love being taught by them – there is much they know I need to learn.”
Harris has a bachelor’s degree from Harding University, two master’s degrees from Harding Graduate School of Religion, another in philosophy from Syracuse University, and is a candidate for a doctorate from SU as well. He has been an instructor of Bible, missions and ministry at ACU since 1999, specializing in teaching theology, philosophy, advanced preaching, and freshman Bible classes.
Dr. Mark Hamilton, associate professor of Old Testament and associate dean of ACU’s Graduate School of Theology, says Harris is one of the most dedicated and passionate teachers he knows.
“He sees students as whole people who need to learn theology for the sake of their souls and to cultivate the lives of their souls for the sake of their theology. He wants to form men and women who follow the teachings and example of Jesus Christ throughout their lives so that they can influence others to do the same,” Hamilton says. “Randy is not afraid to challenge old conventions, but he does so with a grace that preserves the dignity of those being challenged. As a colleague, he serves as a model for the rest of us of how we should engage students for the sake of the Kingdom.”
Harris’ sharp wit is a key component of his presentation skills and writing, but there’s much more to his success as a communicator, says Dr. Rodney Ashlock, assistant professor and chair of ACU’s Department of Bible, Missions and Ministry.
“Randy is a witty and funny speaker. But more importantly, he challenges his listeners to take up the cross and live cruciformed lives,” Ashlock says. “By achieving this delicate balance between humor and exhortation, Randy is a much-sought-after speaker who continues to influence and shape a generation of disciples like no one else I know of today in the Churches of Christ.”
Harris – whose 2009 book, God Work: Confessions of a Standup Theologian, draws upon his career of preaching in churches and teaching university students – has a heart for mentoring. “The great thing about ACU is the culture that allows learning to leave the classroom and enter mentoring relationships,” he says. “There are so many ways to teach and learn – the classroom may be where we begin but I hope it’s not where we end.”