Imagery of Regent people and campus

Record Number of Graduates Start New Chapter

By Amanda Morad | May 5, 2012

U.S. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann
Photo by Alex Perry

Facebook and Twitter feeds swelled with congratulatory comments and declarations of freedom this weekend as 1,226 Regent University graduates closed one chapter of their lives to begin another at Commencement on Saturday, May 5. More than 5,500 friends and family members attended the event to celebrate as graduates from all eight of the university's schools crossed a sunbaked stage on the Library Plaza at Regent's campus in Virginia Beach, Va.

View photos from Commencement.

The ceremony's keynote speaker was Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. A member of the last graduating class of the Coburn School of Law—originally housed at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla., and the predecessor to Regent Law School—Bachmann is well acquainted with the heritage of the university. "My purpose today is to remind you that none of this would have been possible without the generations who have come before you," she said. "Everything you see here is a result of faith and prayer."

Bachmann warned students not to forget their "first love." "Do not forget the eternal truths you have learned here," she said.

"My heart, as does yours, breaks for the current state of the United States of America," she said. "As believers, we cannot shy away from political problems and we cannot ignore moral problems. But ultimately, the foundation of our problem is spiritual. We've diminished the God of the universe with the acceptance of a philosophy that we all must coexist without offense."

She noted that Jesus was called "the stumbling stone of history" in the Bible because His message was offensive to many. His example, she explained, empowers believers to concern themselves more with the truth than with the offense it could bring.

Bachmann left graduates with three primary encouragements. First, "Your presence at Regent is the literal fulfillment of generations of fervent prayer," she said. "Be grateful." Second, "You hold within you the power to save nations," and third, "You carry the awesome privilege and responsibility of living your life for the glory of God."

School of Divinity student Alitash Leonard opened the ceremony with a soaring rendition of the National Anthem, followed by the debut of the university's official hymn, "Regent, Host of Faith and Learning." The song was written by former U.S. Attorney General and Regent Distinguished Professor, John Ashcroft and performed by artist-in-residence and creative director of the International Center for Worship, David M. Edwards. Set to the chords of "Come Thou Fount," the song's theme embodies Regent's integration of faith and learning.

Regent president, Dr. Carlos Campo, welcomed graduates and their guests, congratulating them on their achievements and reminding them of the heritage they share. "Four hundred years ago, Anglican priest Robert Hunt dedicated this land to God and envisioned a nation that would impact the destiny of the world," he said. "Regent's values and motto of Christian leadership to change the world echo that vision." President Campo then led guests and faculty in prayer for the graduating class.

Regent's first graduate, Susan Brophy Bailey '80 (Communication & the Arts), joined the commencement festivities this year to give remarks to graduates. As the first student accepted into the cinema-television program in 1978, Bailey was one of 77 in the initial class of students.

"We came because each of us believed that nothing is impossible with God," she said. "We knew God was about to do something significant, and you, my friends, are living proof of that." Bailey charged students to go forth in faith, trusting God and relying on the network of relationships they have forged while at Regent.

Danny Sellers, chairman of Regent's Board of Trustees, also offered congratulations on behalf of the board. "Success and education are continuing lifelong processes," he said. "I challenge you to continue on your path to success, knowing that your sacrifices have not been in vain .... You leave here today equipped to make a difference in your world."

Founder and Chancellor Dr. M.G. "Pat" Robertson then charged graduates to "walk in miracles, in revelation and in power." Reading from the first chapter of Ephesians, Chancellor Robertson encouraged graduates to keep pursuing God. "I ask, as the Apostle Paul said, that God would give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation to serve Him and know Him better," Chancellor Robertson said. "I pray that your knowledge of God would grow day by day and that you may understand fully the hope of His calling and the exceeding power of His might."

In response, Robertson School of Government graduate Irene Switzer presented remarks. She quoted Aristotle, saying "the roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet. Today, we not only receive a diploma, but the knowledge that the roots of our education have truly blossomed."

Switzer encouraged her fellow graduates to remember that the faith aspect of their education makes it unique, giving them an edge over others as they enter their respective fields. "Regent has enriched not only our minds, but our hearts and souls. We are well prepared for our mission," she said.

Dr. Charles Dunn, distinguished professor in the Robertson School of Government, received the Chancellor's Award for Excellence, annually conferred upon a faculty member whose scholarly accomplishments are exemplary. A prolific author and media expert, Dunn is also the founder of the Reagan Symposium, a signature event at the university each year.

Ryan Bomberger '98 (Communication & the Arts), was presented with the Alumnus of the Year Award. Bomberger is the Emmy-award winning co-founder and chief creative officer of the Radiance Foundation, which seeks to illuminate human value through media, speaking engagements and community outreach. The efforts of the Radiance Foundation include life-affirming initiatives such as advocating adoption and other alternatives to abortion.

Following the recognitions, the air buzzed with anticipation as the first graduates were called across the stage to receive their diploma and embark on the next leg of their journey as Christian leaders ready to change their world.

View the Commencement video.

View photos from Commencement.

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Mindy Hughes, Public Relations

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