Outstanding Alumnus of the Year 

The ACU Alumni Advisory Board is pleased to name Rick Atchley ('78) the university's 2014 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year.

Atchley, born in Waco and raised in Dallas, is minister of the Word for The Hills Church of Christ in the Fort Worth suburb of North Richland Hills. The Hills is the largest congregation affiliated with Churches of Christ, counting as members more than 6,000 people across three campuses in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

2014 is Atchley's 25th year as The Hills' pulpit minister, following 11 years as preacher for Southern Hills Church of Christ in Abilene. Rick and his wife, Jamie (Lyda '81), have three children – James, Morgan ('12) and Matt, an ACU freshman.

Read more about Rick Atchley.

Young Alumni of the Year

The Alumni Advisory Board is pleased to name Dr. Randy Brown ('95) and Anda (Adams '95) Brown the university's 2013 Young Alumni of the Year.

The Browns minister to the low-income Como neighborhood of Fort Worth in which they live, mentoring middle- and high-school-age children through small groups and summer camps under the umbrella of B.U.R.N. Ministries (Building, Uniting and Restoring Neighborhoods). Randy Brown is a family-practice physician, and Anda stays home to raise the couple's seven children, ranging in age from 4 to 16.

Read more about the Browns.

Distinguished Alumni Citations

The ACU Alumni Advisory Board each year selects three of distinguished alumni to whom honor is due. The Distinguished Alumni Citation recognizes those whose personal and professional achievements have merited the honor and praise of peers and colleagues. The awards are announced in the spring and handed out in the fall. Nominate alumni you feel may be deserving of this honor by filling out the DAC nomination form.

Brent ('93) and Julie (Griggs '94) Pennington
Leaders, Chang Rai International Christian School, Chang Rai, Thailand

Originally established as a homeschool co-op for the children of missionaries to Thailand, CRICS under the Penningtons' leadership has grown to a 120-student K-12 school that serves the children of both missionaries and local families. Arriving in Thailand in 1997, Brent and Julie helped lead the school's transition to becoming a licensed international school and now lead the school as it seeks international accreditation. 

Along with local Thai children and the children of missionaries from the United States, Canada, South Korea and Australia, CRICS includes children from neighboring Myanmar (also known as Burma) and Laos. The school has provided a pathway to college education that otherwise would have been unattainable for many of its students. Likewise, providing education for missionary children allows parents to increase the time and energy they devote humanitarian aid they provide to the Chang Rai region. 

Mark Smith ('98)
Founder and artistic director, The Legacy Theatre, Tyrone, Ga.

Smith and his wife, Bethany, opened The Legacy Theatre south of Atlanta in November 2006 to provide professional productions in a community setting. The only full-time theatre in the South Atlanta metro area, The Legacy also provides children's classes along with producing plays throughout the year. 

As a student, Smith starred as Juan Peron in the 1996 Homecoming musical Evita, and upon graduating met Bethany as they performed together in Kentucky. Together they nurtured a dream of starting their own theatre company. Since opening, Legacy has won numerous accolades, including "Best Place to See a Play," by Lifestyles Magazine, and eight Suzi Bass Award nominations, the Atlanta-area version of the Tony Awards. Individually, Mark has been named one of Atlanta's Top 10 directors by The Sunday Paper.

Matt ('00) and Nikki (Schweikard '98) Wallace Co-founders, Dry Bones Inc. ministry, Denver, Colo.

In 2001, Matt and Nikki Wallace joined with Jeff ('94) and Kama (Birdwelll '94) to begin a ministry focusing on homeless youth in Denver. Under the Wallaces' direction, Dry Bones has grown to serve hundreds of youth each year. Matt is executive director, and Nikki is financial director of the ministry, which seeks to inspire and equip its staff members and volunteers to relieve suffering, facilitate reconciliation and free the heart to love.

They also have funded the Purple Door Coffee Co. in hopes of encourages community and life-building and serves as a sanctuary for many in the middle of Denver, as well as employing current and former homeless youth who have come through Dry Bones.