RSG Newsletter


March 2016
Robertson School of Government Dean's Corner

Dean Eric Patterson, Ph.D.Dear Friends,

Donald Trump. Ted Cruz. Ben Carson. In the space of one week our students heard from all three of these presidential candidates (invitations went out to all GOP and Democratic presidential contenders). One of the lessons our students learned was hospitality: Regent intends to treat everyone well, and each candidate was warmly received with the graciousness that is typical of Regent. What other lessons did our students learn? With each candidate portraying such a different style and approach to policy, I'll leave it to you to imagine what our students took from seeing the presidential candidates!

In this edition of our newsletter you will see just how we prepare graduate students to be the next generation of professionals, from current student Jacob Stephens who intends to work in intelligence analysis, to alumna Ann Kirwin ('03), who shares an influential political consultancy business with her husband. Students like these benefit from the outstanding, experienced faculty here at the Robertson School of Government, such as former Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Vern Clark (USN, ret.), who taught his regular sessions on leadership for our incoming M.A. and MPA students. Later this month we'll have a similar opportunity when one of our affiliated faculty, Judge Patricia West, speaks about some of the ethical dimensions she faced as a judge and later deputy attorney general in Virginia.

Warm regards,

Eric Patterson, Ph.D.
Dean and Professor
Robertson School of Government


Watch the "Get to Know RSG" video.

Read more about RSG alumni.

For more details as well as our calendar of events, please see our website.


Back to top


 

Faculty Story: Yoda, Saul, and Paul: Overcoming Professional Fears

Dean Patterson addressed the Regent Law School on "Yoda, Saul, and Paul: Overcoming Professional Fears." The talk, addressed to law school students and faculty, was part of the Law School's weekly chapel program.

Dean Patterson began with the famous Star Wars movie clip where the revered Jedi master, Yoda, tells the young Anakin Skywalker that "fear leads to anger, anger leads to hatred, and hatred leads to suffering... Fear is the path to the dark side." Patterson reminded the audience that in a subsequent movie Yoda and Anakin discuss this fear again: it is the fear of the future and being unable to control the future. This type of anxiety, about controlling one's image, destiny, and reputation, can become overwhelming to an ambitious lawyer or public servant.

Another example of this trajectory, according to Patterson, is Israel's first king, Saul. Though at times a valiant warrior, he seemed paralyzed at times but what people thought about him, from hiding in the baggage train at his coronation to bowing to public pressure in the matter of the spoils of war. Over time Saul's frustration, envy, and inability to control events becomes fear and paranoia. He cowers in his tent on the battlefield before Goliath and later attempts to kill his best general. He alienated his son and heir, his daughter, and much of the political establishment.

Nonetheless, there is hope. Patterson reminded the listeners that St. Paul tells us that "suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character hope" (1 Cor. 5:3-4). Saul's foil, David, exemplifies this experience of being hardened over time, becoming "a man after God's own heart." Some of David's beautiful poetry, recorded in the Psalms, testifies both to his struggles and to his hope. This theme is picked up in literature and popular media, in a variety of characters including Yoda's last trainee, Luke Skywalker.

One audience member reports, "I was intrigued to attend because it was about Yoda, but I was inspired by the life lessons from Saul and David. It really is true that an aspiring lawyer may face a lot of fears about the future, success, and failure." The address was sponsored by the Public Interest Legal Advocates of Regent (PILAR) who strive to bring awareness of legal public interest issues to law students and offer opportunities to connect with local attorneys serving the public interest. PILAR's goal is to call and equip future Christian lawyers to serve the public interest with the legal talents they have been given.

 

Student Story: Jacob Stephens ('17)

"Regent is a deeply intellectual experience with practical applicability," Virginia native Jacob Stephens attests about his time in graduate school. He was inspired to serve his country in the intelligence field, and began thinking about practical public service while serving in student government while completing an undergraduate degree at Liberty University. Serving on the school's Supreme Court, as Justice and Clerk, Stephens oversaw school constitutional cases, worked on the court's transition to a new phase, and was involved in mediation. In addition, motivation for graduate studies came from Regent alums, professors Dr. Gai Ferdon and Dr. Thomas Metallo, who Jacob worked with at Liberty. Interested in doing strategic intelligence analysis with the U.S. government, Stephens agreed that Regent would be a great place to prepare for that career. Moreover, he knows that this graduate program has rigorous intellectual standards and a unique academic setting, with a Christian foundation.

Stephens is benefitting from a close mentorship with his professors in his academic pursuits. Furthermore, he believes this is a great way to equip students to take up their own calling. He is excited to be a part of a learning community characterized by knowledgeable, intelligent, and personable faculty that are eager to help students succeed in their programs, particularly enjoying Dean Patterson's "Middle East Politics", Dr. Morrison's "American Political Thought," and Dr. Bonicelli's "American Foreign Policy." Stephens also works on campus, including as a research assistant for Dean Patterson, focusing on Just War Theory and the War of 1812.

Jacob plans on graduating in May of 2017 with an MA in Government, with concentrations in International Relations and Middle East Politics, and will be looking to going even further with his education by obtaining a Ph.D. He will take Regent's excellence with him into what he hopes to be a career with the government in the intelligence field, knowing that his graduate program "Does a great job of bringing education together for a strong experience."

 

Alumni Story: Ann Kirwin ('03)

Ann Kirwin ('03) is a political consultant and former lobbyist, and is the co-owner of Kirwin Development Strategies, a Virginia-based consulting firm that specializes in business development and public/government relations. She runs the firm with her husband, Brian Kirwin, who is a top political consultant in the city of Virginia Beach and works across the Commonwealth.

Ann grew up in Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas before moving to Tulsa, Oklahoma where she majored in drama at Oral Roberts University. When she started looking at graduate programs in communications, she began to feel that maybe "becoming a movie-star" wasn't what the Lord had called her to. She felt drawn to do something that could allow her to influence people's lives more directly, and when she applied to Regent University, she decided to apply to the Robertson School of Government. Once she was accepted, everything came together. Her program, her finances, and her living situation all fell into place with miraculous speed, and she knew that God had led her to the right place. She received her M.A. in Public Policy while at Regent and built relationships during that time which would be integral to her career and personal development.

After graduating from Regent, though she had hopes to work in national or international politics, a friend connected her with a position in state government as a legislative assistant to a delegate in the Virginia House. It wasn't until she actually interacted with her delegate's constituents and saw how state and local legislation could address their problems so directly that she realized what a difference she could make through state and local public policy. "If you want to talk about actually affecting individual people's lives, the state and local levels of government are affecting them more directly." As Ann's expertise in state and local government increased, another friend, Angie Bezik, approached her in 2009 about helping her start an independent lobbying firm called Principle Advantage. Ann accepted and worked as a consultant and lobbyist with Principle Advantage for five years. Their first client was the City of Virginia Beach, the largest city in Virginia. Ann stressed that lobbyists are an important force for good in state legislature, saying, "People give lobbyists such a bad name, but honestly, lobbyists are an absolute necessity. You've got doctors and teachers and lawyers in the legislature, and it is impossible for them to know everything about every policy. It's the lobbyist's job as an expert in their particular field to tell the legislator what the situation is and what changes need to be made." In her public policy work, Ann developed a specialty in renewable energy. "One of the biggest things I focused on was bringing the off-shore wind industry to Virginia. I wanted to show that it was not about climate change or going green, but about capturing a source of energy that is right off of our coast. We created the Virginia Off-Shore Wind Coalition which brought together manufacturers, ship builders, and scientists around the topic and is now moving forward in developing the possibilities of off-shore wind off of our coast." She also lobbied in the Virginia General Assembly for an insurance mandate on Applied Behavioral Analysis for autistic children, which has been proven to dramatically improve the quality of life of autistic patients. After three years of lobbying, the bill was passed.

As her husband Brian's consulting career has continued to grow and so has their family, going from three with Brian's daughter Regan, to four with the birth of their son Lucas in 2013, Ann and Brian decided to combine their experience in politics and public policy and create Kirwin Development Strategies in 2014. Brian is currently political advisor to seven current Virginia Beach City Council members and has served clients that include U.S. senators and congressmen and major organizations such as Virginia Beach Sportsplex. Ann has since begun to work in project and event management. She said, "Currently, our mission is to make sure that our company becomes one of the main influencers in Virginia Beach and increasingly in the state." She looks forward to a bright future for the firm.

When asked what advice Ann would give to other Regent alumni, she said, "Don't be afraid to walk through the open door. Sometimes people overthink things or they are worried about their security. Be willing to take risks and be open-minded in your decisions."

 

Recent Events

Regent University Hosts Presidential Candidate Forums featuring Mr. Donald Trump, Senator Ted Cruz, and Dr. Ben Carson

Donald Trump Travels to Regent University


Fresh off his caucus win in Nevada, Republican presidential contender Donald J. Trump made his way back to the east coast to participate in Regent University's Presidential Candidate Forums series held Wednesday, February 24, on Regent's campus in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

This sold-out event featured opening remarks from Trump, impromptu endorsements from his two sons, a live interview with Regent Founder, Chancellor and CEO, Dr. M.G. "Pat" Robertson, and an audience Q&A session moderated by David Brody, chief political correspondent for CBN News.

Trump is the third presidential candidate to participate in Regent University's Presidential Candidate Forums, hosted by the university's popular Executive Leadership Series (ELS), which provides candidates an opportunity to discuss their campaign platforms in a balanced, non-debate format. Regent does not support or oppose any candidate; presidential candidates from both parties have been offered invitations to participate in future Presidential Candidate Forums.

Trump began by sharing about his recent victory in Nevada, and was then unexpectedly joined on stage by his two sons, Don and Eric. Fully endorsing their dad for the position of Commander in Chief, they spoke of him as a father and grandfather, noting the values of family, education and work ethic that he instilled in them while they were growing up, as well as his business acumen and the mentorship he has provided to them over the years. Trump went on to discuss his platform, stating that he wants to reduce the debt, be strong on trade, secure the borders, strengthen the U.S. military, get rid of Common Core, protect the 2nd Amendment and repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Trump also spoke about foreign affairs, negotiations and the U.S. military. "We're going to make our military bigger, better, stronger than ever before. We need it more than ever. It's the cheapest thing we can do, by the way, and nobody's going to mess with us. I don't want to use it. Nobody's going to mess with us," Trump proclaimed.

The live-interview portion of the series between Trump and Robertson focused on a wide-range of issues such as Trump's hotel plans for the old U.S. Post Office building on Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, D.C., his plans regarding President Obama's executive orders, the U.S. budget deficit and taxes, as well as his criteria for selecting a judicial Supreme Court replacement for Justice Scalia. In that regard, Trump shared that he would select someone like Justice Scalia who is pro-life, very conservative and extremely smart.

Following the live-interview, Brody offered questions from the audience on a variety of topics. Trump's answers confirmed his support of Israel, the constitution and upholding Republican, conservative values. Additionally, when asked about a vice presidential pick, he indicated that he has whittled down his list of possible running mates from 17 to 5, and that the most important quality would be someone who would make a great president. After that, he would want someone with a strong working knowledge of government and politics, who is political, and who can help get legislation passed, including proper health care.

A businessman with primary interests in real estate, sports and entertainment, Trump has authored more than 15 bestsellers, including his first and most notable book, The Art of the Deal. Trump formally announced his candidacy for president in June 2015, and, since late that summer, has led the field of GOP candidates in most national polls. This was Trump's first visit to Regent University.

Ted Cruz Visits Regent for Presidential Forum


Following the 10th Republican debate in his home state of Texas, and with his sights set on Super Tuesday, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, one of the top three GOP contenders, made a stopover at Regent University's Virginia Beach campus Friday, February 26, to participate in the Presidential Candidate Forums series.

The packed event featured opening remarks from Cruz, a live interview with Regent Founder, Chancellor and CEO, Dr. M.G. "Pat" Robertson, and an audience Q&A session moderated by Jay Sekulow, New York Times bestselling author and chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice and the European Centre for Law and Justice. Cruz is the fourth presidential candidate to participate in Regent University's Presidential Candidate Forums, hosted by the university's popular Executive Leadership Series (ELS), which provides candidates an opportunity to discuss their campaign platforms in a balanced, non-debate format. Regent does not support or oppose any candidate; presidential candidates from both parties have been invited to participate in future Presidential Candidate Forums.

In his opening remarks, Cruz discussed the importance of Super Tuesday as well as Justice Scalia's passing and its implications on the U.S. Supreme Court and the Bill of Rights. Cruz, characterized Justice Scalia as a "lion of the law" and a "fierce defender of the Bill of Rights," and emphasized that his passing marks the significance of this election for both the Executive Branch and the Judicial Branch.

"We are one liberal justice away from a five-justice left-wing majority – the likes of which this country has never seen – that will undermine our basic rights," Cruz noted. "As someone who has spent his entire adult life fighting to defend the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, every justice I appoint to the court will be a principled Constitutionalist with a proven record who will vigorously defend the Bill of Rights for your children and for mine," he confirmed.

The live-interview portion of the series between Cruz and Robertson focused on a wide range of topics such as Cruz's strategy to win the nomination, the divisiveness of the debates, ISIS, foreign affairs, and his top priorities as President. Those priorities include appointing a principled constitutionalist to the U.S. Supreme Court, economic growth and restoring America's leadership in the world.

Cruz went on to note that the first five things he will do as President are to resend every illegal and unconstitutional executive action that President Obama has initiated; have the Department of Justice open an investigation on Planned Parenthood and prosecute any criminals; instruct all federal agencies to stop the persecution of religious liberty; rip up the Iranian nuclear deal; and move the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, showing Israel and the world that America is back.

Following the live interview, Sekulow offered questions from the audience. Cruz discussed his ideas on how to help people climb the economic ladder out of poverty, and shared his plan to reform and fix Veterans Affairs.

Cruz announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in March 2015. Prior to becoming the first Hispanic to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate, Cruz served in private law practice and as solicitor general for the State of Texas. He has authored more than 80 U.S. Supreme Court briefs and argued 43 oral arguments, including nine before the U.S. Supreme Court. Cruz has won an unprecedented series of landmark national victories including defending U.S. sovereignty; defending the 2nd Amendment; and defending both the constitutionality of the Ten Commandments monument at the Texas State Capitol and the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. This was Cruz's first visit to Regent.

Dr. Ben Carson Joins Regent University's Fifth Presidential Candidate Forum


With one day remaining until the Super Tuesday primaries, which includes Virginia, Republican candidate, Dr. Ben Carson hopes to "shuffle the deck" and gain delegates who will support his nomination.

On Monday, February 29, Carson was the fifth presidential candidate to participate in the Presidential Candidate Forums, hosted by Regent University's popular Executive Leadership Series (ELS).

The event featured opening remarks from Carson, a live-interview with Regent Founder, Chancellor and CEO, Dr. M.G. "Pat" Robertson, and an audience Q&A moderated by David Brody, chief political correspondent for CBN News.

In his opening remarks, Carson reflected on his time in the political ring. He explained that throughout his months of campaigning, he's frequently asked why he turned to politics, and if the personal attacks and the attacks on his family were worth the effort.

"The answer is, 'no,'" said Carson. "Not if you're doing it for yourself. But if you're doing it for others, the answer is emphatically, 'yes.'"

Carson noted times in United States history, such as WWII, when veterans made personal sacrifices for the freedom of others; a time where the government was merely a tool to "help facilitate life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," rather than a "pinnacle" of power. He encouraged his audience to remain vigilant about paying attention to the government.

"We need to emphasize our togetherness," said Carson. "That's where our strength is."

In his interview with Robertson, Carson focused on a broad spectrum of 2016 election issues such as border patrol, tensions with the Islamic State, and the Syrian refugee crisis. As a former pediatric neurosurgeon, Carson explained that the issue of healthcare is of particular importance.

Carson proposed a "fix" to Obamacare, in the form of a "health empowerment account," that would give families the ability to have their own insurance company with "no middle man." The account would begin for citizens the day they are born and would accumulate year by year. "We need to be moving people away from government dependence, rather than toward it," said Carson.

In the Q&A portion of the event led by Brody, the audience submitted a variety of questions regarding Carson's top choice for a running mate and judicial nominees, and what he would do to "return virtue in the youth of the nation."

As for who he looks for in counsel, Carson explained, rather than someone who would help win over a certain demographic, he's seeking a team of people who are philosophically aligned.

"What they've done throughout their lives will tell you a lot more about them than a series of interviews they've prepared for," said Carson. "It's critical to have the right people. And certainly any of us would need counselors. Anyone who thinks they're an expert on anything is a fool."

Regent University neither supports nor opposes any candidate for public office. Learn more about Regent University's Presidential Candidate Forums.

 

Former Chief of Naval Operations Shares Lessons on Leadership


Admiral Vern Clark entered the U.S. Navy as a reservist. What he thought would be a three-year commitment turned into a career, and he eventually found himself at the helm of the entire Navy as Chief of Naval Operations. One of his roles today is as distinguished professor in the Robertson School of Government (RSG). Teaching in RSG's "Christian Foundations of Government" core course, he told students his success was the result of submitting to God's leading and not his own career planning.

The conventional career approach is to have the thing planned out, but the scriptures say we can't chart our course," said Clark. "Chart your course if you want, but if you're going to kick your doors in, that is a full-time job. My approach was simply to go through open doors. Seek the Lord."

Clark referred to the doors God opened to lead him into different roles in the Navy to accomplish various purposes. He shared stories about how God used his obedience to restore integrity amongst an entire ship's culture. He says credibility is the foundation of leadership, and he succeeded not by seeking career advancement, but working "unto the Lord" and excelling at the tasks of each job he held.

"We must be constantly renewing our minds," said Clark. "It's about being up to the call He gives us. We will reap what we sow. I'm amazed how millions of people want to be successful, but few people are willing to pay the price to be successful."

This call could require challenging leadership to avoid compromising your own integrity or knowing how to identify good mentors. Ultimately, Clark says, through seeking the Lord and depending upon His providence, the Holy Spirit empowers and enables His followers to do His work. The result is a life that shares faith through action, not just words.

Clark routinely teaches a seminar on leadership within "Christian Foundations of Government," a required course for all RSG students that explores how Christians have thought about issues of citizenship, government, law, and conflict over the past 2,000 years.

 

Upcoming Events

"Defense Against the Dark Arts" ethics conversation with Judge Patricia West – Date TBD

U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Band Armed Forces Day Concert – May 21, 2016

 

Back to top




Newsletter Archives