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ACU receives $29 million gift for finance program

The late Dr. Bill and Janie Dukes have given, through their estate, more than $29 million to Abilene Christian University – the largest single academic gift in ACU’s history.

Their generosity will establish the Dr. William P. and Janie B. Dukes Excellence in Finance Endowment, supporting prestigious finance student scholarships, preparing students to attend highly preferred graduate programs, and establishing several endowed faculty positions in finance. In recognition of this historic gift, the university will launch the Dukes School of Finance in the College of Business Administration in 2023.


(From left) Bill Petty, Bill Dukes and Jack Griggs in 2012

Michael Strong

“This overwhelmingly generous gift presents a permanent base of funding that allows us to resource and dream at a completely new level about the coursework, experiences and outcomes we can offer to our finance students,” said Dr. Brad Crisp, dean of the College of Business Administration.

The late Dr. William “Bill” Dukes (1920-2015) was known as a godly family man, military hero, business leader and academician. His friendship with two former deans of ACU’s College of Business Administration led to this monumental gift for ACU’s business program. Drs. Bill Petty and Jack Griggs were colleagues and longtime friends of Dukes.

“Bill Dukes was a man of great dignity, honor and respect, and he had all the traits you would want in a friend. He was the kind of man you wanted to honor,” Griggs said. “He was constantly searching for excellence in everything that he did. He wanted to be the best. And that’s what he wanted for the finance department with this gift. He wanted it to be the best in its class – now and in the future.”

A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, Dukes was married to Janie for 73 years, and they had two daughters, Lynn and Sherry. The couple was preceded in death by their two daughters, and Janie died in June 2022.


Bill and Janie Dukes

Dukes enlisted in the Navy and, upon graduating No. 1 in his class, he chose to enter the Marines as a second lieutenant, receiving combat decorations in 1943 and 1944. His military career took him to numerous assignments around the world. Dukes retired from the Marines as a colonel and was later promoted to the rank of brigadier general.

After completing his doctorate and retiring from the Marine Corps, he began his academic career in the finance department in the Rawls College of Business at Texas Tech University, where he taught for 45 years. During that time he met and formed a close friendship with Petty and Griggs and learned more about Abilene Christian, its College of Business and the university’s mission, which aligned closely with his own values.

“The thoughtful philanthropy of Bill and Janie Dukes will bless students and faculty in ACU’s finance program for years to come,” said Dr. Phil Schubert, ACU president. “Their gift is also a recognition of the historic strength of ACU’s College of Business Administration and its faculty, students and graduates.”


ACU finance students

ACU’s finance program currently includes three tenured or tenure-track faculty, 139 students, and a Student Trading And Research (STAR) group that manages about $1.7 million in university endowment funds. In addition, the new Swinney Financial Markets Lab, a 40-seat lab with a Bloomberg terminal, opened this fall, and a Financial Management Association chapter launched in 2019.

According to the agreement, the ultimate aim of the Dr. William P. and Janie B. Dukes Excellence in Finance Endowment is “to glorify God by helping populate the world with Christian men and women of influence and ability who understand and live Luke 10:27 – ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and, love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Learn more about ACU’s College of Business Administration.

College of Business Administration

— Wendy Kilmer

Dec. 5, 2022

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