• Academics at McMurry
  • Academics at McMurry
  • Academics at McMurry


McMurry professors balance the highest level of scholarship with a true dedication to teaching and collaboration with students. Our 20 academic departments offer 45 majors and 38 minors prepare students for success in any field of professional (or personal) endeavor. Offering a diverse academic curriculum students can choose from majors in the arts, business, education and the sciences as well as our pre-professional programs in medicine, dentistry, engineering, law, pharmacy, physical therapy and others.

McMurry's unique academic offerings include the Servant Leadership program and the Honors Program. The Servant Leadership program, an innovative and nationally-respected program promoting the leader as a servant first, prepares students to be strong, effective leaders who place service to the greater good of others before self. The Honors Program, a robust four-year honors track designed to enrich the college experience, guarantees a stimulating intellectual challenge. Honors courses, thesis research, and conference participation help honors students develop the skills, creative independence, and confidence necessary for success in graduate training and professional life as well as creating opportunities for students to present original research and creative work in an academic conference setting.

McMurry’s Core Values of Christian Faith as the foundation of life, Personal Relationships as the catalyst for life, Learning as the journey of life, Excellence as the goal of life and Service as the measure of life are the foundation on which the McMurry experience is built.

Academics Notables

Dr. Joel Olufowote has agreed to a return invitation to represent McMurry University in a federally funded grant initiative of the State Department's Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs this summer, from June 21 through July 26. 

As a program assistant of the Study of the United States Institute, designed to strengthen curricula and improve the quality of teaching about the United States in academic institutions overseas, Dr. Olufowote will oversee the cultural learning components and assist in the curriculum development of  the 20 invited undergraduate student leaders selected by the State Department from the Caucasus region, situated at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. Dr. Olufowote will assist in many aspects of the institute including, but not limited to, teaching, seminar discussions and meetings with publically elected Illinois State officials, publically elected Federal officials located in Washington DC, and leading site visits to Chicago, IL, Springfield, IL,  St. Louis, MO, and the federal capital in Washington DC.

The institute begins at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL and concludes with several days of meetings and related study in Washington, D.C

Charlie Hukill, professor of theatre, was elected President-Elect of the Texas Educational Theatre Association (TETA) at its annual Theatrefest convention in Houston January 30-February 1. After serving in this capacity for two years, he will assume the role of the President for two years.

The Texas Educational Theatre Association, founded in 1951, strives to use all resources available to strengthen theatre teachers, and build on existing programs around the state to continue to improve the quality of theatre education in the state of Texas.

Dr. Don Frazier and Dr. Stephen Hardin of the McMurry History Department contributed their extensive knowledge about Texas and Old West history to Fox News “Legends & Lies: Into The West” The series is executive produced by Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly.

Created by Fox News Channel, the new documentary series takes a trip back in time to examine the legends of historical Wild West heroes like Jesse James, David Crockett, Doc Holliday and Billy the Kid.

Dr. Jeffery Kinlaw has been awarded the Messkirch Fellowship by the International Heidegger Working Group. This small fellowship provides, for a period of up to a month, an office with a small Heidegger library service for material unavailable in the States, and possible access to otherwise restricted Heidegger archival material.

Dr. Greg Schneller of the Department of Psychology presented HEXACO Honesty-Humility as a Predictor of Dispositional Gratitude and Positive Attitudes Toward God on April 11 at the Christian Association for Psychological Studies Annual Conference in Denver, Colorado.  The presentation was based on an ongoing research project collaboration with Dr. David Simpson of Valpariaso University and Dr. John Eric Swenson of Hardin-Simmons University.

Dr. Bryan Stewart, Associate Professor of religion, recently had his first book published: Priests of My People: Levitical Paradigms for Early Christian Ministers, Patristic Studies series, vol. 11 (New York: Peter Lang, 2015). Through an examination of Christian texts from the third and fourth century, this book offers an innovative examination of the question: why did early Christians begin calling their ministerial leaders “priests” (using the Greek and Latin terms hiereus/sacerdos)?

Dr. Philip LeMasters, Professor of Religion and Director of the Honors Program, presented a paper entitled “Praxis and the Poor: Latin American Liberation Theology and Eastern Orthodox Social Ethics in Dialogue” at the Fifth International Conference on Religion and Spirituality in Society at the University of California at Berkeley on April 17.

Dr. Don Frazier received the prestigious DAR Historic Preservation Medal at the 116th State Conference of the Texas Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, in San Antonio, Texas. The award was presented on Friday, March 6, at a gala awards night at the Omni San Antonio Hotel at the Colonnade by Pamela Rouse Wright, State Regent, Texas Society, Daughters of the American Revolution.

The Historic Preservation Medal recognizes and honors a person who has done extraordinary work over a long period of time in establishing a historic district, preserving a local landmark, restoring or preserving objects of historic cultural significance, or establishing or participating in oral history projects, youth leadership and education, as it pertains to historic preservation, at the regional, state, and/or national level.

McMurry University’s Department of Sociology was well represented at the recent Southwestern Social Science Association meetings in Denver, Colorado.  Dr. Jori Sechrist chaired a session, “Marriage and Family.”  Dr. Robert Wallace chaired a session, “Class and Mobility.” 

Dr. Wallace also presented papers written with a former student (Kimberly Tribou) and a current student (Samantha Derden).  He also began serving a two-year term on the Executive Council of the Southwestern Sociological Association.  Within this capacity, he has been asked to coordinate next year’s undergraduate student paper competition. 

The Texas Historical Foundation, a 61-year old preservation organization, announced the recent election of Dr. Stephen L. Hardin to its board of directors.

Hardin's book, Texas Illiad: A Military History of the Texas Revolution, won the T.R. Fehrenbach Book Award and the Summerfield G. Roberts Award. His latest work, Texian Macabre, has also received popular and scholarly praise. As a professional consultant, Hardin has lent his expertise to the History Channel, A&E Network, and the 2004 feature film, The Alamo.

Student Notables

Ashlea Beckner `17, current awareness officer of the McMurry Student Foundation, was recently selected to be a district representative for a national organization. The Council for Advancement and Support of Education, Affiliated Student Advancement Programs (CASE ASAP) strives to foster and enhance student involvement in all areas of advancement—from alumni relations and communications to fundraising, marketing and related areas.

Biology students Kara Black '16 and Mitchell Crittenden '16 participated in the Sixth Texas Tech Annual Biological Sciences Symposium (TTABSS). Both Black and Crittenden presented their senior research projects as oral presentations, competing against six other undergraduates from Texas Tech and Wayland Baptist universities. Black’s presentation was entitled, “Antibacterial activity and Chemistry of Five Texas Plant Species.”  Crittenden’s presentation was entitled, “Clarification of the Distribution of the Eastern Mole (Scalopus aquaticus, Talpidae) on the Southern Rolling Plains Region of Texas.”  

Shawn Foulks ’17, is getting a chance to do something many college students would love to do - traveling to Orlando, Florida, to spend six months interning at Walt Disney World.

Foulks, a multimedia/graphic design major from DeSoto, Texas, was selected to participate in the Disney College Program from June 8, 2015 to January 4, 2016.

As a part of the highly-competitive Disney College Program, participants have the opportunity to advance their strengths and interests, meet guests and cast members from around the country and take part in educational opportunities students can't get anywhere else. This truly unique program allows participants to network with leaders, take part in personal and career development classes, and build transferable skills such as problem-solving, teamwork, guest service and effective communication. Foulks will be taking college courses while also living and working at the Disney facility.

Garrett Betts '15, senior Accounting and Finance major from Quanah, Texas, was recognized as the recipient of the Accounting Excellence Award presented by the McMurry School of Business. While at McMurry, he has been a member of the golf team, active in the Shareholders Business Club, and a member of the Student Managed Investment Fund. He is presently interning at First Financial Trust and Asset Management in Abilene.

Christina Soliz '16, received a $1,500 scholarship, which is awarded to an Accounting major by the local CPA chapter. Soliz grew up in an Air Force family and came to Abilene in 1991, where she graduated from Cooper High School. She took a break from her education to raise her three children, prior to enrolling in McMurry in 2013. Soliz is currently performing an internship with Condley and Company, LLP, an Abilene accounting firm.

Rebecca Schneller ’15, a honors student majoring in Art and English, represented McMurry University at the 2015 Texas Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol in Austin, Texas.

She presented a poster entitled, Christ Pantocrator: Foundation of Orthodoxy, which demonstrates how the Eastern Orthodox theology of the Incarnation is evidenced in icons. Schneller’s poster is based on a research paper for a course on Byzantine Iconography with Professor of Religion Dr. Philip LeMasters.

The event showcases the experiences of undergraduate students engaged in research for Texas legislators and the public through high-quality poster displays. The program highlights how research conducted by undergraduate students positively impacts Texas -- and Texans -- with the theme: Transforming Texas Through Undergraduate Research.

Up to 60 research projects will be displayed in poster format reflect the work of numerous undergraduate students representing over 50 general academic institutions across Texas.

The event is coordinated by the Council of Public University Presidents and Chancellors (CPUPC), the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas, Inc. (ICUT) and the Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC).

Mitchell Crittenden ’15, a biology student was awarded the Vernon Bailey Award recognizing the Outstanding Poster Presentation in Classical Mammalogy by an Undergraduate at the 33rd annual Texas Society of Mammalogists (TSM) meeting. 

Crittenden’s poster entitled “Clarification of the distribution of the eastern mole (Scalopus aquaticus, Talpidae) on the Southern Rolling Plains region of Texas” described his summer research project collecting moles in the counties surrounding the city of Abilene.  Mitchell found that moles are more abundant in this region that previously recorded and prefer fine sandy soils. 

This project was funded by the Clark Beasley Award, which is provided by the Science and Math Advisory Board (SMAB) to students wishing to do summer research.

TSM is the preferred academic organization for Texas scientists with research interests that focus on mammals. What makes TSM special is its focus on student research (both undergraduate and graduate research). TSM was founded in 1981 and includes institutions from Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and New Mexico. McMurry regularly sends faculty and students to TSM. Mitchell’s award represents the first time a McMurry student has received an award from TSM.

The McMurry Student Foundation was invited to speak at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education Affiliated Student Advancement Programs (CASE ASAP) District IV Conference on February 7 at the University of North Texas. The McMurry Student Foundation president, Shelby Wattenbarger ’15, and vice president, Sara Wickenheiser ’15, presented about an event the group has facilitated each of the last three years called Student Engagement and Philanthropy Day.