Lubbock Christian University received a generous donation of $3 million from the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation specifically to benefit the university’s Honors College, which will now be known as the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation Honors College. This investment will strengthen and deepen the profound impact that the LCU Honors experience has on its students.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the Mabee Foundation, and they are celebrating this milestone by funding even more projects than usual in the course of their regular funding cycle. The Mabee Foundation has been investing generously in Lubbock Christian University for over 57 years, and this most recent gift to endow the Mabee Foundation Honors College not only accentuates the need for preparing gifted young women and young men for lives of service and purpose through education, but also validates the significant influence of Honors upon the life and mission of the university.

AltMike Goeke, Executive Director of the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation, announced the gift at a press conference early in the fall of 2023.Raymond Richardson, Vice President for University Advancement, shared, “Congratulations to the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundations’ amazing and fruitful 75 years! The Mabee Foundation has been an integral part in the growth and maturity of this university since the first Mabee gift in 1966. Thousands and thousands of young people at Lubbock Christian University have and will continue to benefit academically and spiritually because of the work and commitment of the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation.” 

The Honors Program at LCU began over 20 years ago and has grown from an average of approximately 50 students in the first ten years to over 200 students at its peak. In 2016, the Honors Program transitioned to a college, and its impact as one of key dimensions of the university’s academic life continues to grow. The program began with the goal of attracting and inspiring academic excellence in intellectually gifted students and has developed into a major university component with campus-wide influence.

One of the first members of the Mabee Foundation Honors College, Dr. Cary Chisholm (’04), was present at the ceremony. He recalled fondly his foundational experience in the program, especially its impact on his further career.

“The LCU Honors College has had a dramatic impact on my life,” he explained, specifically recalling the implications of deep learning outside of his main area of study. “It forced us to think differently and see practical applications. It forced us to become more well-rounded learners and human beings. And with all the grief I gave our Honors English professor Dr. (Jim) Bullock about writing papers, I have used that skill extensively in publishing medical articles in peer-reviewed literature.”

Hannah Gilstrap, a senior Digital Media Applications major, agreed as she contemplated some of her favorite honors courses. “Thanks to the Honors College, I’ve had the privilege of taking some very comprehensive classes,” she explained. “Two of my favorites were Christian Heritage and World War I. In these classes, I got to learn about two passions of mine: my faith and history. The professors went into great depth, teaching me things I’d never known or thought deeply about before. They broadened my horizons, and I’m so thankful I got to take them.”

“Being surrounded by motivated learners and educators has helped me stay focused on my role as a student and has also provided an avenue to discuss engaging ideas,” added one of Hannah’s classmates, senior biology major Anna Cary. “It’s rare to find a place where relevant conversations that include difficult topics can be had in an environment of intellectual strength and in the context of the Christian faith. I am so thankful for the professors that care about teaching us information, but more importantly care about forming us as individuals.”

The gift from the Mabee Foundation comes as a validation of over 20 years of Honors programming and its increasing impact on the LCU campus and overall mission. From the Scholar’s Colloquium to the LCU in Washington program, and from undergraduate research to graduate preparation for prestigious scholarships, initiatives of the Mabee Foundation Honors College provide students of high academic ability an exceptional college experience that prepares them for advanced study and lives of Christian service.

altThe Mabee Foundation Honors College is now housed in the Mabee American Heritage Center, home of LCU’s Department of Humanities.One of the key features of the Mabee Foundation Honors College experience at LCU centers around extracurricular and cultural engagement. “In my freshman year, all Honors College students got the opportunity to attend the Lubbock symphony,” Gillstrap recalled. “It was my first time attending such an event, and it was a wonderful experience; I still fondly remember the music we heard that evening. This and other events like it have truly enriched my time here at LCU, and I’m very grateful for such opportunities.

The gift also enhances our efforts to fulfill the goals of the university’s strategic plan, which highlights the need to continuously improve this already successful academic area. It will provide funding for an increased number of scholarships to attract students to the prestigious program. Honors colleges are highly sought after by gifted students, and the competition between universities to attract honors students is significant. Honors students increase retention and graduation rates, and former honors students often become important advocates for and supporters of the university. This endowment from the Mabee Foundation allows for developing the kinds of scholarships, curricular and co-curricular programs, and academic spaces that draw honors students and that keep them engaged in vital and invigorating study.

Receiving this kind of donation gives the Mabee Foundation Honors College the ability to start funding major projects like coaching for prestigious graduate scholarships, such as Rhodes and Goldwater fellowships. Dr. Stacy Patty, Dean of both the Mabee Foundation Honors College and Hancock College of Liberal Arts at LCU, stated, “The additional endowed funding helps improve programming and provide opportunities for students such as study abroad at Oxford and prestigious graduate fellowship programs. It helps our university overall to improve faculty satisfaction and overall classroom interactions.”

It is these interactions, both in and out of the classroom, that Dr. Chisholm remembers most fondly of his time in the LCU honors program.

“The Honors College fulfilled the LCU brand promise at that time which was ‘Changing Lives,’ and it fulfills the current brand promise as each of our faculty walked with us—both academically and also personally,” he recalled. “It changed our lives spiritually by fostering our education under the stewardship of professors who were devout servants of God and wanted to see the same in us. For example, Dr. Patty taught me about understanding and love for all people through his teachings in class but also in my interactions with him at church when we went to Vandelia Church of Christ together. That is not only a critical part of good patient care—loving all human beings and doing what is best for the patient regardless of how they live their lives—but also a requirement as a follower of Christ.”

Gilstrap echoed his sentiment, especially concerning the stewards who have fostered the program over the years.

AltDr. Stacy Patty has helmed the Mabee Foundation Honors College for most of its tenure on LCU's campus.“The Honors College is blessed with great leadership,” she said emphatically. “Dr. Patty and Dr. (Olga) Pahom are both kind leaders who are interested in us not just on an academic level, but on a personal and spiritual level as well. When my family was going through a hard time, Dr. Pahom made a point to ask me how I was doing and to pray for me and my family. Whenever I see Dr. Patty, he always encourages me in my studies and spurs me on to continue working hard. Their kindness and encouragement are part of what has made my experience in the Honors College so special.”

Similarly, Cary lauded the leaders in the Mabee Foundation Honors College for their dedication to its students, even beyond their academic pursuits. “I have been greatly influenced by the leadership in the Honors College,” she shared. “Dr. Patty and Dr. Pahom have encouraged me to be the best student I can be, and at the same time genuinely care about my experience and my growth as an individual. They have also trusted me with leadership opportunities in the Honors College, and that has been one of the greatest joys of my time here at LCU. Being in a program where community is fostered and encouraged is such a blessing.”

Thanks to the generosity of the Mabee Foundation, LCU has been given the opportunity to renovate and elevate a key historic building on campus. The Mabee American Heritage Center will now house the Mabee Foundation Honors College, continuing the legacy and history provided by the foundation and offering new opportunities for growth for the Mabee Foundation Honors College.

Dr. Scott McDowell, LCU President, commented, “The $3M grant to establish the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation Honors College at Lubbock Christian University will have a transformational influence. We are deeply grateful for our longstanding relationship with the Mabee Foundation that has already impacted generations of LCU students. We will steward this gift well to continue to impact the lives of our students for generations to come.