Abilene Christian University celebrated the grand opening of its 11th on-campus residence for students, Gayle and Max Dillard Hall, on Aug. 19, 2016, in a ceremony honoring its namesakes.
More than 180 sophomore women have moved into Dillard Hall’s apartments, which contain a living space, bedroom and kitchen for two to four students. The facility also boasts several common areas – a front lobby, balcony, art room and multi-purpose room – that residents say help fosters relationships.
“I love living in Dillard Hall because it’s a good transition between dorm life and life in a home or apartment,” said Micaela Janssen, sophomore kinesiology major from Brentwood, Tenn. “It’s close to campus and has extra rooms throughout that encourage community.”
One of her apartment-mates, Meredith Orr, agrees.
“I love Dillard because it has so many amenities, like the workout room and the study areas in the hallways,” said the sophomore management major from North Richland Hills.
Dillard Hall’s opening came right on time for the new academic year, one in which ACU is expecting near-record enrollment numbers once “12th-day” headcounts are finalized the first week of September.
“I know I speak for everyone by saying Dillard Hall is an answer to prayers,” said Chris Riley, J.D. (’00), vice president for student life. “ACU has seen growing enrollment the past several years, especially among women. Our students need spaces to call their own – to make their home away from home.”
For decades, the three-story building at 633 E.N. 19th St. served as a nonprofit, independent living facility for seniors, known as Christian Village of Abilene. Established by nearby University Church of Christ, land for the project was donated by ACU, and residents often were alumni and retired faculty and staff, as were many of Christian Village’s trustees.
Christian Village board members approached ACU in 2015 about the possibility of purchasing the property and restoring its initial connection to the university as a residence hall. A gift from Gayle (’57) and Max Dillard, of Dallas, made that connection a reality.
The Dillards have seen three children and three grandchildren attend the university.
A bronze statue created by Abilene artist Steve Neves and commissioned by the Dillards was installed in front of the hall’s main entrance. Titled “God’s Messenger,” the work of art depicts a mother reading to children.
“In past conversations, Max shared with me his passion for honoring women like Gayle for the role they play in developing the faith of their children,” said ACU president Dr. Phil Schubert (’91). “Once the prospect for providing a new living space for our young women emerged, we realized it would be a meaningful way to express that appreciation.”
“The importance of this role cannot be overstated,” Schubert said, “and I am moved by Gayle and Max’s love for God and love for those who teach their children the Good News of His son’s saving grace.”