Regent University Celebrates its Foundation at Faculty Retreat

Dr. William Cox, professor in Regent University’s School of Education (SOE), is living out what he calls his “legacy lifeline.”

He tells the story of two women who approached him in October 2014. They spoke over him, claiming prophesy. One told him he was “right in the center of God’s will.” The other told him that God was “his healer.” And after being diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma just one month later, he drew back to that moment as a word from God.

On Friday, Oct. 2, less than one year after his diagnosis, Cox stood before his colleagues at the annual Faculty Retreat, cancer-free.

“The word isn’t ‘remission.’ I am healed,” said Cox. “I’m supposed to be here. I’ve been healed to be here.”

Cox shared his story along with Dr. John Mulford, School of Business & Leadership (SBL) professor, and Dr. George Selig, distinguished SOE professor, and General John Ashcroft, distinguished professor of Law and Government, as faculty gathered to reflect on the heritage of Regent’s “small beginnings.”

“It’s a time to draw faculty together and think about Regent, our mission, our calling to this place, and to think about the founding principles and to think about where we are now and where we’re going,” said Dr. Gerson Moreno-Riaño, executive vice president for Academic Affairs. “It’s a time to be true to our mission, true to the Lord, true to the scriptures and to think about that amidst change, both cultural and institutional.”

Dr. Rick Ostrander, vice president for Academic Affairs at the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) visited Regent’s campus for the mid-morning retreat. He explained that retaining a university’s Christian mission in the midst of cultural changes takes a “bold humility.”

It’s a balancing act between paying deep respect to the past while remaining relevant within the present.

“It’s almost like sailing. The deeper the hull, the more sail, the more wind, lean and incline you can have,” said Ostrander. “You can develop so much velocity that you can become almost horizontal with the water. That’s like being rooted in confidence in God’s sovereignty and His calling.”

And if it’s not, he warned, a Christian university runs the risk of becoming gradually secularized.

For Cox, Mulford and Selig, that mission has been anything but lost. In fact, through the years of the university’s growth, dipping in and out of their different leadership roles, the very mission of the university is what drew them into their faith.

“It’s a strong institution known for its excellence, but it’s also a place that was specifically called into being by God,” said Cox. “It’s not just about doing academics. We could do that anywhere. It’s a place where we serve God.”

“This has been my life for 35 years,” said Selig. “It’s done more for me and my family in terms of our faith development and opportunities to touch the lives of students and watch them touch the lives of many more students.”

Selig looks back on his years at Regent as “the best part” of his life. He has served Regent in many roles, including provost. He was also the individual who pushed for the school to offer online courses.

“Which was interesting,” Selig added with a laugh. “Because, I didn’t even know how to turn on a computer.”

Mulford, who claimed to “shy away” from academics at the start of his career, was a part of the genesis of Regent’s SBL, eventually serving as the dean of the school for 14 years before founding Regent’s Center for Entrepreneurship.

“I’m amazed and I’m grateful for every year,” said Mulford. “God has refined me through Regent. And my time here has been the sweet spot of my life’s purpose.”

General Ashcroft said, “Let us purpose to do everything we do as unto the Lord. I stand in gratitude before those who have served this ministry much longer than I and thank them for their service.”