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Academic structure changes lead to three new colleges

Abilene Christian University will launch three new colleges and some departments will find new homes in Fall 2023, all as part of restructuring to further the growing national reputation of ACU’s academic programs, capitalize on expansion in certain areas and group similar programs together for better collaboration.

ACU’s current structure for residential programs includes:

  • College of Arts and Sciences – 13 departments
  • College of Biblical Studies – two departments and a school
  • College of Business Administration – two departments and a school
  • College of Education and Human Services – four departments and a school
  • School of Nursing


Dr. Robert Rhodes

The new organizational structure will introduce a College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Health and Behavioral Sciences, and College of Science and Engineering. The College of Business Administration will see some departmental shifts as the new Dukes School of Finance launches this year, and the College of Biblical Studies will remain as is.With the current College of Arts and Sciences containing more than half of ACU’s total departments, conversations and exploration of the need to restructure have been happening for several years.

“While we’re introducing a new campaign and a new strategic plan, we wanted to take the moment to think about rebranding and bringing together similar areas of study,” said Dr. Robert Rhodes, provost. “This also allows us to bring in deans with more specific expertise and focus in the areas of each college. We’re grateful to be in a position to be launching three new colleges at once based on growth and energy that already exists around many of our programs.”


Dr. Greg Straughn

Dr. Greg Straughn, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, will serve as the dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. A national search, using an outside search firm, is already underway for deans of the colleges of Health and Behavioral Sciences and Science and Engineering. As dean of the largest of the current colleges, Straughn has been closely involved with planning the restructure over the past two years.

“Everyone has different needs, and we wanted to make sure this was a win for all groups, bringing everyone to a point of strength,” Rhodes said “It took a lot of open dialogue – broad conversations and then program-specific conversations. This is our first time to create a new college in 20 years, and we wanted it to be a positive step for each area. Dr. Greg Straughn deserves a ton of credit for that; he shepherded the conversations that led to this final plan.”

The new structure also brings benefits for recruiting and retaining students, Rhodes said, allowing for more targeted communication and advising.

“We can send consistent and focused messages and present specific groupings of programs to audiences that have been more diffuse in the past,” he said. “And when a student wants to shift majors, they may not have to shift colleges. This will help our academic advising be more focused and consistent as well.”

The physical changes will be minimal with some changes to deans’ office locations and the potential for some shared classroom and lab spaces within each college.

ACU Online’s programs housed in the College of Graduate and Professional Studies will not be affected by the restructure.

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

  • Art and Design
  • Communication and Sociology
  • History and Global Studies
  • Journalism and Mass Communication
  • Language and Literature
  • Liberal Arts
  • Music
  • Political Science and Criminal Justice
  • School of Education
  • Theatre

College of Biblical Studies

  • Bible, Missions and Ministry
  • Marriage and Family Studies
  • Graduate School of Theology

College of Business Administration

  • Accounting
  • Dukes School of Finance
  • Management Sciences
  • School of Information Technology and Computing

College of Health and Behavioral Sciences

  • Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Kinesiology and Nutrition
  • School of Nursing
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Psychology
  • School of Social Work

College of Science and Engineering

  • Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Biology
  • Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • Engineering and Physics
  • Mathematics

— Wendy Kilmer

Jan. 18, 2023

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