For Danny Phillips (’81), it’s the love for Christian education modeled by his parents, Paul (’58) and Linda Phillips, whom the newly named Phillips Education Building now honors.
“My mom and dad, they devoted their lives to education,” Phillips told about 100 friends, relatives, and ACU faculty and students at the April 17 dedication ceremony for the facility. “It makes perfect sense to honor mom and dad in this way.”
The emotional ceremony formalized a name change that has been in the works since late last year, when Danny and his wife, Carole (Hunter ’81), established the Phillips Family Endowed Scholarship for students in the Department of Teacher Education.
Because newly established endowments require about a year of investment before they produce scholarship funds, the couple made an additional gift to provide an immediate scholarship for an ACU education student. Whitney White, senior elementary education major from Trophy Club, Texas, received the award.
White, who is among the first students to go through a combined five-year teacher education program to receive both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, has been instrumental in reviving Kappa Delta Pi, the on-campus chapter of the national education honor society, and is its president.
“We’re proud of what you’ve accomplished so far,” Phillips told her. “You’re so young, and you’ve done so much. We hope this award will help you reach all of your hopes and your dreams.”
Paul Phillips met Linda Brewer on the University of North Texas campus before he transferred to ACU, where he received bachelor’s (1958) and master’s (1963) degrees while also preaching for Churches of Christ across Texas. In 1964, he began a 24-year career at The University of Texas at Arlington, ultimately serving as chair of the UTA religion department.
As members of the North Davis Church of Christ in Arlington, the Paul and Linda served as director and secretary, respectively, of the UTA Church of Christ Student Center. They mentored and ministered to students, developing lifelong friendships that remain today. Paul died in 2011, but his widow attended last week’s dedication ceremony and received a prolonged standing ovation.
“We lost my dad,” Danny Phillips said, pausing as he choked back tears. “He would be so humbled to see what we’re doing today.”
Phillips noted that his sister and his wife both received education degrees from ACU, and that his daughter, Emily, is a senior elementary education major.
“This is a special place to us,” he said. “It has been a blessing to us for generations.”
The education facility began life as Catchings Cafeteria from its construction in 1955 until 1968, when it became the Burford Music Center. When the Williams Performing Arts Center opened in 2004, an extensive renovation made way for the College of Education and Human Services – which comprises the School of Social Work and the departments of teacher education, communication sciences and disorders, kinesiology and nutrition, and graduate studies in education – but the Education Building remained without a formal name for eight years.
The decision to name the facility for Paul and Linda came not just from the recent endowment gift but from “a lifetime of giving,” said Phil Boone (’83), vice president for advancement. Danny and Carole Phillips were lead donors for construction of the Hunter Welcome Center and the Money Student Recreation and Wellness Center, and they are members of the President’s Venture Council, a small group of leading ACU donors. Carole is a member of the ACU Board of Trustees, a position in which Danny also has served.
“I’ve known Danny for a long time, and in recent years we’ve become close friends,” Boone said, stopping as he also struggled to hold back his tears. “The emotion comes from getting to know his heart. He’s got heart and compassion that not many people get to know.”