Writing at Regent
From the Office of the Executive Vice President
A university is to a great degree a model city where the word—written and spoken—governs our affairs, not force. How much more should this be true at a Christian university, where the Word is foundational, informing every thought, every word, every deed. Moreover, there is no substitute for leaders being able to write well. There is no profession that can be fully mastered without the ability to communicate with others in written form. Professionals who seek to lead or influence others without being able to put rational ideas into prose that is both informative and convincing are handicapped. They will be forced to rely disproportionately on other methods that don't appeal to human nature's need to be reasoned with. And it is important to note that good writing and success at public speaking go hand-in-hand. Accomplished and practiced writers will naturally make themselves better orators, no matter if they lack a sonorous voice or attractive speech pattern.
For example, tradition holds that Abraham Lincoln had a voice less than pleasant to the ear, but his ability to craft sentences and paragraphs that put his powerful ideas onto paper enhanced his ability to deliver these thoughts and arguments effectively when speaking with and to others. Those words went from ink on paper to being chiseled into marble for a reason. Cicero, the greatest orator-statesmen of the ancient world, also understood this. He could not save Rome's republic, but he was instrumental in preserving its forms and ideas for the modern era by means of his writings and speeches. That is why John Adams and Alexander Hamilton, among others, knew his words as we know theirs. The ancient Greeks and Romans, the churchmen of the Middle Ages, the British parliamentarians, and the American Founding Fathers moved Western Civilization from reliance on the force of arms to diplomacy through the force of ideas, ideas delivered through the written and spoken word.
This is why a university should be preparing students to move people in any setting with words. In fact, the entire university, not just the students, should embrace the need to write well as they conduct business. The faculty, the administration, and the staff should model this. God made our minds; he is the author of reason. While he is above and beyond these tools and does not allow us to understand all his ways, he has nonetheless given the gift of language and writing and speech by which we can understand his world and one another—that we might have a chance to live in harmony with one another. To fail to grasp this simple principle is to fail one of the first tests of civilization: do we respect one another as image-bearers of a holy God and appeal to one another with words or with swords? Do we choose persuasive and informative speech and text or coercion? As creatures made in the image of our holy God, here do we decide to embrace reason and writing and continue the tradition of allowing iron to sharpen iron. And we will do so with excellence, for writing is what makes us civilized.
Paul Bonicelli, Ph.D.
Executive Vice President