Dr. Gary McCaleb, vice president of Abilene Christian University (ACU) and a former Abilene mayor, received TOHA's Barnes Award for excellence in community oral history on August 2, 2006. The presentation ceremony took place in the ACU television studio on the set of "McCaleb & Company," an interview program produced by ACU and aired on AISD-TV. Host of the event was TOHA director and ACU professor of history Vernon L. Williams, a 2002 recipient of the Barnes Award. Award presenter was TOHA lifetime member and former director Stewart Caffey. Following the presentation, Dr. McCaleb entertained the audience with stories of interesting people and places he had encountered while doing interviews. J. R. Kessler, ACU television producer, then commented on McCaleb's contributions to oral history.
Caffey had nominated McCaleb for the Barnes Award, citing his creation of fifty-five videotaped oral history interviews for the Abilene Centennial Project. McCaleb interviewed men and women who described the growth and development of Abilene and their personal experiences as lifelong citizens. Among those interviewed were other former mayors, popular sports figures, and the man who is credited with inventing the wind chill factor. The oral history tapes are housed in The Grace Museum history archive. In addition, McCaleb hosts local leaders and longtime Abileneans as guests on his television program.
A professor of management and organizational behavior, McCaleb is also director of the Center for Building Community and author of two books on community life and work. The purpose of the Center for Building Community is to propose solutions to the crises of community that exist at all levels of society. McCaleb has brought to Abilene and his television show nationally-known personalities and politicians to discuss community building.
Gary McCaleb's oral history work represents very aptly the interplay of history and community that TOHA seeks to honor with its Barnes Award.