A few weeks ago, my friend Tom and I flew out to see a city in West Texas that I have only driven by but never explored – Abilene. Located off Highway 20 and home to 122,225 people, Abilene is one of the larger cities dotting the bland landscape of the region. It is located about midway between Dallas and Midland, and is a former frontier settlement. Today, this sleepy city is home to Dyess Air Force Base, numerous oil and gas operations, and also Abilene Christian University, which is where we went on this trip!
Founded in 1906 as the Childers Classical Institute, affiliated with the Churches of Christ, the school opened on a site just west of Abilene. In 1929, a new campus was built on the northeast side of town, which is the school’s present-day location. The university went thru two name changes in its history before becoming Abilene Christian University around the mid-70s. Today, close to 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students study here.
Upon arriving from the airport, it took us a few minutes to find parking. We ended up having to parallel park in one of the visitor spaces, which didn’t seem to be too numerous. Granted, that’s still better than many of the other colleges I’ve visited, where there is simply nowhere to park without the risk of your car getting towed.
One of the first buildings we checked out was the McGlothlin Campus Center, which serves as a student union of sorts. Inside, you can find a bookstore, dining facilities, and numerous offices.
Nothing here seemed very fancy – it looked like just a typical college environment. Being that our visit was during the summer, there were barely any students to be seen here. However, I’m sure the McGlothlin is a popular congregation spot once the semester starts!
Speaking of places where students are known to hang out, another place that Tom and I saw was the Margaret and Herman Brown Library.
Inside, there was nothing really special to see. Desks and computers were spread out in this learning commons for all to use. Although the building seemed quite dated, the interior looked well-maintained.
As we kept walking around campus, I noticed that much like the library, most of the buildings were pretty old, but kept in good condition. There wasn’t any real gorgeous architecture like that found at the University of Nebraska or Iowa State, but it wasn’t bad for a school nestled in a dusty West Texas town.
We did come across one building that looked new – the Onstead Science Center. Upon checking ACU’s website though, it turned out that this building was actually 70 years old, and had just received a facelift. It looked pretty nice!
Although there isn’t much about ACU that stood out to me, one thing I liked about here was the layout of everything. Being that this is a smaller campus, the center courtyard with different places surrounding it such as the library and student union provided for good ease of access. There were also ample amounts of green space, something I feel is important to any university grounds.
I would have loved to explore this campus further and learn more about life at ACU, but we had to get going to allow time for lunch before heading back to the airport. This was a nice trip seeing a school I’ve heard of several times, as well as knocking out Taylor County off the to-be-seen list of Texas counties!