Abilene Christian University will begin its 118th academic year with the traditional Opening Assembly in Moody Coliseum Aug. 28 at 11 a.m.
ACU alumnus Shelton Gibbs IV, state district judge for the 422nd District Court of Texas, will give the address to students, faculty, staff and visitors as the university launches its first week of classes for the 2023-24 year.
Gibbs graduated from ACU in 2002 and went on to earn his Juris Doctor degree from Dedman School of Law at SMU. He worked for 13 years as assistant district attorney and chief felony prosecutor for the 86th District Court. In 2020, he made history when he was elected the first Black judge for the 422nd District Court.
In addition to his work as a state judge, Gibbs currently serves on the board of trustees for ACU, as well as the Terrell Excellence Foundation and the Senior Connect Board. He is also the family life minister for the Greenville Avenue Church of Christ and has been a guest speaker for many churches, civic organizations and academic institutions throughout the United States. ACU named Gibbs the Young Alumnus of the Year in 2021. He and his wife, Toni Francine Gibbs, have three children.
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. This year’s parade will feature the flags of 55 countries and 45 U.S. states and territories.
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.”
— Wendy Kilmer
Aug. 18, 2023