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Abstract provided by interviewer Claya Davis.

Debbie Williams was a student at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas from 1976- 1980. After receiving a B.A. in English from the institution, she pursued higher education at other universities. Years later, after receiving her doctorate, Williams returned to ACU as a professor in the English department. ACU is a private liberal arts university that is directly affiliated with the Church of Christ denomination. While the school has undergone policy changes and adapted more progressive views over time, its religious affiliation persists as a key part of its public identity. Dr. Williams reflects on the university’s policies regarding conduct expectations and dress code for female students as significantly stricter than those for their male counterparts during her time as a student at ACU. She discusses the role that religion played in the dating scene and the cultural pressure to find a spouse. Her current role as a professor at the same institution years later gives her the unique ability to compare her experience at the university as a student in the late 1970s to her current role as a professor. From this position, she discusses university pregnancy policies and the treatment of female professors. This interview offers primary source information pertaining to the role of gender at a private, religiously affiliated institution, which is expressed through changing university policies, accepted school traditions, and conduct expectations in church and classroom settings. Dr. Williams’ ability to discuss issues from two positions, as student and professor, provides a well- rounded analysis of ACU’s shifting cultural practices and religious values.


The ACC/ACU Gender and Sexuality Project preserves firsthand accounts of alumni of Abilene Christian College (later Abilene Christian University), with particular attention to how students, faculty, and staff have experienced issues of gender and sexuality during their time at the institution. The collection began in Fall 2019 as a class project in HIST 340, Historical Perspectives on Gender and Sexualities.