Abilene Christian University has been educating educators for a century, and the College of Education and Human Services will celebrate the anniversary of the department at a Homecoming event. This year also marks the 65th year for the Department of Communications Disorders, and both departments will be honored jointly Thursday, Oct. 13, at 6 p.m. at the Brown Family Club Level of Wildcat Stadium.
The event will include alumni from both programs, special guests and award presentations to faculty.
Dr. Dana Kennamer, professor of teacher education, will be recognized for her outstanding leadership of the department. Kennamer was the chair for 16 years before moving to a senior faculty position this fall. During her tenure as chair, she guided the department to national accreditation and allowed the department to compete on the state and national level.
“It’s difficult to say what it means to me because it’s quite an honor,” Kennamer said. “I also know I didn’t do all this work by myself. What I did was set a vision, and that also wasn’t by myself.”
Former ACU president Dr. Royce Money helped to form the College of Education and Human Services in 2006. Money challenged and equipped the Department of Teacher Education. He wanted to elevate and equip the department to advance to the next level with increased excellence that stands out on campus.
“That was the task given to me as chair and the faculty that I was leading,” Kennamer said. “Dr. Money supported us in that with resources, with his actual physical presence in conversation, and the task I was given was to move it forward and transform our department.”
The Department of Teacher Education aligns with the mission of ACU to prepare teachers of faith to be present in schools.
“It is a ministry; it is a Christian calling and vocation,” Kennamer said. “You can’t just love kids. You’ve got to love well and teach well, and you’ve got to show up. That’s part of the calling and the responsibility.”
Dr. Grover C. Morlan founded the Department of Education and Psychology in 1922. He worked at ACU for 42 years, with 36 of those years spent as chair of the department. Now, a century later, the department is nationally accredited and recognized by the Texas Education Agency. Dr. Stephanie Talley, associate professor of the Department of Teacher Education, is now chair of the department following Kennamer’s 16-year tenure.
“We’ve moved from churning out good teachers to great teachers,” Talley said. “Teaching is a calling and vocation. That shift in mindset to maintaining a high standard for quality educators to come out of ACU really started with Dr. Kennamer.”
Learn more about the Department of Teacher Education.
Communication Sciences and Disorders
The Department of Communications Disorders is celebrating its 65th year by creating the Dr. Jon Ashby Operational Endowment. Dr. Ima Clevenger created the “Speech Correction” degree in 1957 and served as director and primary instructor until 1972 when Ashby took over. During his tenure as chair, he created a graduate program in speech-language pathology in 1972, and in 2001, he established an accredited Master of Science degree. Dr. Lynette Austin, professor and chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, said the endowment allows the department to stay on the cutting edge with new equipment and course offerings.
“We are serving the community in our clinic, and we are enabling people to become therapists who will help their children or grandparents or loved ones who have a stroke or special needs,” Austin said. “The work we do is really important to help people communicate across the lifespan. The endowment is going to support that, and we’re really grateful.”
Although she now serves in a different department, as a student at ACU, Kennamer earned her undergraduate degree in speech pathology. Ashby was her major professor during this time and she said she loved learning in his classroom. Kennamer remembers specifically when he named her potential for higher education and scholarship even while she was still an undergraduate.
“There’s power in the words we speak over our students,” Kennamer said. “I learned that from him because he was the first person that said, ‘Now when you get your doctorate,’ and I said, ‘Dr. Ashby, I am not getting a doctorate.’ He said, ‘Oh yeah, you’re getting a doctorate.’ So he was the first one that spoke that possibility over me, and that was transformative.”
Learn more about the Department of Communications Disorders and Speech Pathology.
— Connor Mullins
Oct. 13, 2022