Abilene Christian University Wildcats. Willie the Wildcat. The Churches of Christ in Abilene backed the need for a school in the area. J. W. Childers sold A. B. Barret land and a large house west of the town, lowering the price provided that the school is named in his honor. Childers Classical Institute opened in 1906, with 25 students. In 1912, the school began using "Abilene Christian College". In 1920, it paid the Childers family $4,000 and formally changed the name.