At meetings this past weekend, the role as chair of ACU’s Board of Trustees changed hands, from Dr. Barry Packer (’78) to April (Bullock ’89) Anthony. Packer and his dad, the late Dr. H. Lynn Packer (’50), were the first father-and-son duo to serve their alma mater in the same board leadership role.
Among university accomplishments during their tenure:
Dr. H. Lynn Packer (1984-92)
- Constructed the Mabee Business Building and Onstead-Packer Biblical Studies Building
- Created the College of Biblical Studies, KACU-FM, the Jack Pope Fellows Program, and the Campuses Abroad (forerunner of Study Abroad) program
- Revised the Core Curriculum
- Established the first doctoral program (Doctor of Ministry)
Dr. Barry Packer (2010-18 as chair)
- Constructed the Royce and Pam Money Student Recreation and Wellness Center, Anthony Field at Wildcat Stadium, new Elmer Gray Stadium, Engineering and Physics Laboratories at Bennett Gymnasium, Halbert-Walling Research Center, and the Robert R. and Kay Onstead Science Center
- Expanded Study Abroad programs
- Earned international recognition for innovation in the study and application of mobile learning technology
- Created a Dallas campus for major growth of online graduate and professional programs
- Developed ACU at CitySquare
- Started a School of Nursing
- Added an undergraduate engineering and two doctoral degree programs
Both men also helped ACU navigate challenging times in American culture, higher education and Restoration Movement church history. ACU chancellor Dr. Royce Money (’64) worked with each and although they came from different backgrounds – Barry in ministry and Lynn in business – appreciates what they both brought to the role.
“Both were confident leaders, well-grounded in the church and visionaries in their own time and context,” said Money, who was president for 19 years (1991-2010). “Both had a passion for ACU and wanted to see the institution remain thoroughly Christian while achieving its greatest potential as an academic institution.
“Barry was a student of leadership and governance, always investing significant thought and time into understanding how to make us better, and he did make us better,” said Schubert (’91). “He also displayed an unusual ability to traverse hard and difficult conversations with grace and dignity, emanating stability at every turn.”
Barry said a stroke his father suffered – about five years before Barry joined the board in 2001 – kept Lynn from sharing much in the way of advice with his son. The elder Packer died within the first year of Barry’s trusteeship.
“Although he was proud I had been asked to serve, we never had any real opportunity to engage in meaningful conversation about challenges he faced and leadership strategies he employed. While I longed for that opportunity, I am grateful I could rely on my dear friend and mentor Don Crisp to provide wisdom and counsel through my years as board chair,” Barry said. Crisp (’64) was chair from 1992-2007.
Anthony is making her own history in becoming the 15th person and the first woman to chair the board at her alma mater, where trustees set policy, guide the institution’s long-term direction and ensure it fulfills its mission.
A native of Houston, she has a successful track record as founder and developer of home healthcare ventures. She is CEO of Encompass Home Health & Hospice, and Homecare Homebase. Encompass is the fourth largest provider of Medicare-certified home health care services in the nation. Homecare Homebase is a provider of automation tools designed specifically for the homecare industry, featuring a market-leading technology application allowing for the collection, monitoring and management of all patient care information.
“While ACU has always had impulses toward innovation and change, April’s gifts of visionary leadership and innovation will serve the board and university in ways that none of us can imagine in the present,” Packer said. “ACU, in my opinion, will be significantly changed for the better because of her leadership.”
The board also announced the addition of two trustees – Dr. Arthur Culpepper (’86) of Austin, Texas, and Mitch Wilburn (’90) of Tulsa, Oklahoma – effective with its August 2018 meeting.
Culpepper is executive director and deputy compliance officer for The University of Texas System. He was a wide receiver who led NCAA Division II in touchdown catches as a senior and earned second team Associated Press college division All-America honors. He also has served on Abilene Christian’s Alumni Advisory Board. His wife, Donna, earned her M.A. from ACU in 1999. They have two children: Jackson and Addyson Elizabeth.
Wilburn, named ACU’s 2007 Young Alumnus of the Year, is a respected voice in Churches of Christ. His 28-year-long ministry work with the Park Plaza congregation in Tulsa includes his roles as youth minister (1990-2002) and community outreach minister (2002-05). He has been the church’s preaching minister since 2005. He is married to Shannon (’92) and they have two children, Jake and Ashton, an ACU senior.
Watch for more on ACU’s newest trustees this fall.