This article appeared in the Oct. 3, 1990, edition of the Abilene Reporter-News.
When I sat down to lunch with Abilene Christian University president Dr. Bill Teague last week, I expected him to reminisce about past glories and accomplishments. Instead, he began talking about his faith and hope for the Hill.
True, ACU’s ninth president may have numbered his days by expressing his desire to step down in two years, when he turns 65. But Dr. Teague’s expressed agenda remains full, including work on faculty salaries, renovation and construction of dorms and further efforts at modernizing library resources.
He talks highly of KACU-FM, a campus classical music station more than embraced by the Big Country in its four years. And there’s verve in his voice when he speaks of ACU’s chance to have a science experiment performed aboard the shuttle – “and what really pleases me is ours comes up before A&M.”
And he talks glowingly of ACU’s students – many by name.
I was anxious to chat with Dr. Teague after hearing of his plans to leave as ACU’s chief in 1992. Although he has a reputation in some quarters as the epitome of the cleanly efficient straightforward manager, he’s also often revealed himself as a witty, reflective man capable of unique insight. Which I suppose is why some students seek him out for advice.
He recalls one student – a musically talented one – seeking his advice on doing missionary work in mainland China. Dr. Teague offered the startling suggestion he join a major hotel chain with a business in China, endear himself to the community and perform a subtle form of Christian work from that vantage.
Dr. Teague suspects the student considered him oddly for a moment, but later he received word from the student he’d done just that – that beginning Jan. 1, 1991, he’d be working as management trainee for the Hilton Hotel in Shanghai.
Not that Bill Teague can always help. He recalls being visited one day by a student who complained she was frequently late for
Dr. Gary McCaleb’s 8 a.m. class because she couldn’t find parking close to class. So she used faculty parking – and regularly got tickets for it.
“Well,” he said after hearing her out, “are you under any kind of doctor’s orders against getting up a half-hour earlier?”
It wasn’t the kind of answer she wanted to hear. Fact is, he learned – and with great amusement – that the flustered student lived on Westheimer, two blocks east of campus. After he politely suggested she didn’t face a parking problem she couldn’t easily correct, she gave up and said she guessed visiting him hadn’t helped much.
“On the contrary,” he said, “you’ve made my day.”