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ACU’s traditional Opening Assembly returns after three years

Abilene Christian University will begin its 117th academic year with the traditional Opening Assembly in Moody Coliseum for the first time since 2019. 

The ceremony, which was on hiatus for two years during the coronavirus pandemic and renovation of Moody Coliseum, will take place Aug. 29 at 11 a.m. to launch the first week of classes and show off the newly remodeled coliseum. April Anthony, chair of ACU’s Board of Trustees, will deliver the opening address to students, faculty, staff, and civic and government leaders. This year’s event will also be a first opportunity for many people in the ACU and Abilene communities to experience the renovated Moody Coliseum.

“We’ve missed this ceremonial start to our academic year for the past two years, so being able to experience this event in a beautiful, upgraded facility is particularly exciting,” said Dr. Phil Schubert, ACU president.

Conducted during the regular hour of the university’s daily Chapel, Opening Assembly begins with a procession of the administration and faculty. Immediately following the academic procession, the Parade of Flags – with students carrying the flags of every U.S. state and nation represented in the student body, faculty and staff – creates a spectacular array of color and pageantry. 

The devotional of the Opening Assembly is patterned after the first devotionals of every academic year since the university was founded in 1906. The hymn, “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name,” has been the first song each year, and the apostle Paul’s “Sermon on Mars Hill,” recorded in Acts 17, also is read aloud. After introductions of educational, civic and government leaders, and a guest speaker, the combined talents of the ACU Big Purple Band and Grand Chorus perform “The Old Hundredth Psalm Tune.” 

About the Speaker

April Anthony has more than 30 years of experience in the home health care field, having founded three successful home care-related businesses and in the early stages of her fourth. She graduated from ACU in 1989 with a business degree. Shortly after starting her career with PricewaterhouseCoopers as a CPA, she founded Encompass Home Health and Hospice, which was named to various “Best Workplace” lists 145 times during the last 11 years of her leadership and led the industry in clinical outcomes, patient satisfaction and employee turnover rates. At the time of her departure, Encompass Health – Home Health and Hospice had more than 325 locations in 31 states and territories. She is now the CEO of VitalCaring Group, an early-stage home care and hospice business. April has served for 22 years as a member of the Board of Trustees of ACU and became chair in 2018. She and her husband, Mark, are active members at Preston Road Church of Christ in Dallas and have demonstrated incredible generosity toward ACU and many other organizations. They’ve been married for 31 years and have three children: Ashlyn, 27; Luke, 24; and Allie, 22. 

— Wendy Kilmer

Aug. 19, 2022

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