Regent University Robertson School of Government Dean's Corner
As we celebrate the birthday of President Ronald Reagan this month, his words remind us, "Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged." With this in mind, RSG's eighth annual Ronald Reagan Symposium's theme was "God and Man in the Oval Office: Religion and Presidential Rhetoric." The symposium considered the role of faith and religion in the rhetoric of various presidents and the way that society and the media have responded to such themes. A short report on the symposium follows below.
In addition to the Reagan event, we continue to celebrate the 30th anniversary of RSG with a series of events this semester, including an upcoming luncheon for our students with university founder and past presidential candidate M.G. "Pat" Robertson. It is often overlooked that the Robertson family has a distinguished tradition of government service, with Chancellor Robertson's father serving four decades in Congress following service in the U.S. Army during the first World War
Finally, in this edition of the newsletter you will meet the School of Government's MPA Director, Dr. James Slack, Alumni Michael Baylous and RSG student Lathaniel Kirts.
Eric Patterson, Ph.D.
Dean, Robertson School of Government
Loopholes. Professor Jim Slack hates ethical loopholes: "Secular codes of ethics don't work. They simply provide avenues for loopholes, as opposed to following Christ." Professor Slack, Director of RSG's revitalized Master of Public Administration (MPA) should know—he is an expert on the integration of morality in the workplace, as well as on life and death policies (e.g. capital punishment, abortion).
Slack is excited about growing the new School of Government MPA program. "This is the first Christ-based public administration program that's recognized by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration," Slack explained. "That puts us in the top 20 percent of all NASPAA schools to start with. That puts us on par with Harvard's Kennedy School, with the University of Texas LBJ School, and Texas A&M's Bush School."
Dr. James Slack joined the Robertson School of Government as a full professor in the Fall 2012, following previous service as a professor and department chair at the University of Alabama, Birmingham and California State University, Fresno. He holds multiple degrees, including Ph.D. in political science from Miami University.
One of his initiatives is the Christian Public Servant devotional, a daily electronic devotion for those in public service. Nearly 2,000 individuals have joined the list since it began in October 2012. Those who are interested can sign up by contacting RSG.
His newest book, Abortion, Execution and the Consequences of Taking Life, focuses on the relationship between public morality and personal action in the American political community on the issues of abortion and capital punishment. The topic hits close to home, as he is the father of two adopted children. "I thank God every day that my son and daughter's parents made the right decision," he said, getting emotional at the thought. "I look at my children and see the image of God every day."
As Regent University's resident expert in the area of life and death policy, Dr. Slack, gave a talk at RSG's first Lunch & Learn event of the semester, just days before the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. He addressed the importance of applying Biblical truth to contemporary reality. "We need to reconcile the Word with the world," he said. "It's imago dei; it's the image of God—that's why life is precious. Not because we're all good people wanting to do good things. We're simply made in the image of God."
Slack came to Regent on the recommendation of Dr. Gary Roberts. "I did not want to finish my career at a state university," he recalled. "I really want to give something back to the Lord. I didn't know that gift would still be in education, but it is and it's a blessing to be able to bring Christ into the classroom ... Public administration should be filled with Christian leaders trying to change the world for Christ."
A once homeless youth living on the streets of Norfolk, just mere minutes from the beautiful campus of Regent University, Lathaniel Kirts lived with the reality of two generations of illiteracy. But, unlike his brother who was a high school dropout, and encountered legal troubles, Kirts graduated high school. Inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr., he went on to earn a bachelor's degree in political science at Morehouse College and today is working on a M.A. in Government at the Robertson School of Government.
Kirts credits his ability to sidestep the challenges faced by his inner city peers through local programs and solid mentors. Later, as an intern for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, he was able to work for Congressman Robert C. "Bobby" Scott ( D-VA). This provided valuable experience and understanding in political research, voter protection, and exit polling.
He also studied at the University of Virginia's Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership learning the basics of Virginia state politics. Through this non-partisan organization, Kirts says, "I discovered how to discuss and formulate legislation despite party affiliations." After graduating, Kirts had many opportunities worthy of his pursuit.
When asked why he chose the Robertson School of Government he replies, "With a passion for law and politics, there is no better institution for me. Regent University, being located in my local community, has prepared some of the best attorneys and publics servants in the Commonwealth and I cannot imagine a better institution. RSG is unique place because of its Christ centered agenda. It is especially rare to be able to discuss God and government in an academic setting. The faculty challenges students to think outside of traditional thinking, while assisting the students in their personal pursuits."
Influenced by Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it, Kirts says, "My value system is based off my relationship with Jesus Christ. Being the son of two ministers, I was raised to follow God's commandments. I was taught to never lie, cheat, or steal and to always treat others fairly. I believe these qualities are essential to any future lawyer and public servant."
Life for Lathaniel is full today: he is pursuing his education, working as an assistant manager for the Norfolk Public Library, and scheduled to be married this spring. Due to his faith and education, he is confident of the path he ahead.
Serving for 19 years as a West Virginia State Trooper, First Sergeant Michael Baylous credits his philosophy of law enforcement to an episode of old sitcom The Andy Griffith Show. In the episode, Deputy Barney Fife is giving testimony to an judge in a hearing concerning Sheriff Taylor's competency. Barney states that Andy's philosophy is, "When you're a lawman and you're dealing with people, sometimes you do a whole lot better if go not so much by the book but by the heart." Baylous perceives the fictional character Sheriff Andy Taylor understood what it meant to be a true servant leader. Baylous says, "I try to perform the duties of my profession with the heart of a servant leader. In my opinion, the job description of a law enforcement officer can simply be defined as 'to serve and protect.' Each time I address a cadet class at the West Virginia State Police Academy, I pass on my philosophy of law enforcement."
Currently a spokesperson for the West Virginia State Police, Baylous has many opportunities to utilize the skill sets he gained while a student at Regent's Robertson School of Government. Regularly interviewed by television, radio, and print media, Baylous says "My course of study at Regent significantly improved my communication skills. In my interviews, I always answer questions from my Christian, conservative worldview. I have found that most people appreciate such candidness."
A former United States Marine Officer candidate, Baylous sustained an injury that closed that door. He considered law school, but that did not work out either. He says the failure of those plans were part of a bigger plan that led him on the path to Regent. He says in hindsight, "God had a better plan."
While at RSG, Sgt. Baylous developed research acumen he was able later to apply at his state police's Planning and Research Section. One study that he completed focused on assaults on officers. The research discovered that aggravated and simple assaults on law enforcement officers in West Virginia have been steadily increasing in recent years. Baylous's findings increased media coverage and encouraged legislators to support increased funding for the department.
Baylous also speaks very highly of his relationship with RSG faculty member, Dr. Gary Roberts. Working closely with Roberts on a research project, a strong relationship ensued. Baylous,a husband and father of four says, "My wife told me that she saw more spiritual growth in my life during that class than any other time in my life. Professor Roberts and I have continued that friendship beyond the classroom."
He says, "It was clear to me that the faculty was going to give me every opportunity to succeed and graduate. It was also clear that they were willing to assist me in discovering and achieving God's will for my life. In doing so, we allow our light to shine in an otherwise dark world."
For the eighth consecutive year, Regent University's Ronald Reagan Symposium drew a diverse crowd of nearly 400 to discuss insights drawn from the 40th president's life and leadership on Friday, Feb. 8. This year's theme, "God and Man in the Oval Office," brought together eight scholars to look at religious rhetoric in the American presidency, with a focus on Reagan's particular boldness in mixing faith and politics. "Following the example of our founding presidents who held high the Bible, Ronald Reagan understood the intense competition between God and man for leadership of the Oval Office and what that meant for the direction of the nation," said Dr. Charles Dunn, distinguished professor of government in the Robertson School of Government (RSG) and the symposium's founder. (Read the full story)
As Regent University's resident expert in the area of life and death policy, Dr. James Slack, professor in the Robertson School of Government (RSG), presented an intimate look at an abortion clinic and the long-term consequences of abortion on Tuesday, Jan. 15, just days before the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
At the first RSG Lunch & Learn event of the semester, Slack addressed the importance of applying Biblical truth to contemporary reality. "We need to reconcile the Word with the world," he said. "It's Imago Dei; it's the image of God—that's why life is precious. Not because we're all good people wanting to do good things. We're simply made in the image of God."
Focus on the Family VP Talks "Values Cliff"
January 22nd, 2013, Focus on the Family Vice President, Tim Goeglein discusses America's "values cliff" with student, faculty and Regent community members. (Read the full story here)
RSG Student Lunch with Chancellor Robertson
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Regent University, RSG Students only
Executive Leadership Series, John Mackey
February 26th, 2013
Regent University, Founders Inn Ballroom
12:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
View event details.