RSG Newsletter

June/July 2015
Regent University Robertson School of Government Dean's Corner

Dean Eric Patterson, Ph.D.Dear Friends,

Summer is upon us and as always it is bittersweet. The pace changes and faculty buckle down to writing and research, but it is also a time of departures. In this edition of the RSG newsletter, you will meet some of our family who are going on to bigger and better things.

This newsletter features a story about RSG joint degree student Meredith McCarty who earned an M.A. in Government in tandem with a JD from Regent University Law School. Our alumni profile discusses Jennifer Salcido's work with Iraqi refugees and the documentary film she is working on, The Longest Road. We also fondly remember Professor Bob Dyer's twelve years of exceptional service to the University.

Although the departure of each class of graduates leaves us with some sadness, nonetheless we are also proud as former students take their places in public service across the country. Our purpose is to launch them as the next generation of Christian leaders to change the world.

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.

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Faculty Story: Dr. Robert Dyer - Celebrating 12 Years of Service

Dr. Robert Dyer

Dr. Bob Dyer is leaving the Robertson School of Government after twelve years of superior service. Dr. Dyer holds the rank of principal lecturer in RSG and was a member of the core Master of Public Administration (MPA) faculty. Friends, fellow faculty, and students will miss his daily presence on the campus.

Dr. Dyer is a role model for aspiring servant leaders. He began his career in public service in the U.S. Marine Corps and after completing his enlistment, he earned degrees from Saint Louis University and Fairleigh Dickinson University. His education took him into healthcare management, where his zeal for serving his fellow man intersected with his skills as a community leader and administrator.

After relocating to Virginia Beach in 1990, he practiced home care physical therapy, later completing his doctorate in organizational leadership at Regent University. He began his career at RSG in 2002 developing and teaching a four-course curriculum in healthcare management and policy. He later took over the political management program, encouraging RSG graduates to seek election to public office.

In 2004, Dr. Dyer ran for and was elected to the Virginia Beach City Council from the Centerville District, which includes Regent University. This was the first of three successful campaigns for city council. He serves as council liaison to the Process Improvement Task Force (which he instituted), Human Rights Commission, Minority Business Council, Health and Human Services Commission, Hampton Roads Planning Commission and formally the Virginia Governor's Local Mandate Review Task Force.

People often do not realize that Virginia Beach is by far the largest city in Virginia, with double the population of any other Virginia city, including the state capital of Richmond. Moreover, Virginia Beach is often the leading voice for all the cities of Hampton Roads, with a combined population of approximately 1.4 million people. This has thrust Dr. Dyer into the forefront of a number of critical issues affecting the state and the mid-Atlantic region, from energy to transportation infrastructure to business development.

In the classroom, Dr. Dyer has specialized in organizational theory, public budgeting and taxation, and leadership. But his influence goes far beyond the formal classroom. He is well-known for getting students off campus into actual government forums. For instance, his students held a town hall for Virginia Beach on the issue of local election methods that was covered by The Virginian-Pilot and attended by 60 people. His Public Budgeting and Taxation class went to Richmond and presented a list of unfunded mandates to the state legislature.

Dr Robert Dyer

RSG student Katherine Zasadny says, "Dr. Dyer knew how to make even the driest of subjects interesting. Public budgeting and program evaluation never seemed so fascinating." RSG alumna Rebekah Lloyd agrees, "Dr. Dyer emulates what I think all Regent faculty members possess – a servant's heart. He offered me advice and assistance even though I was not one of his traditional advisees."

"Professor Dyer was an inspiration, not only to his students, but also to his colleagues. His laughter and friendly bear hugs were hallmarks for the kind of colleague he was to all. I will miss Dr. Dyer, and I learned a lot from him," says RSG Professor James Slack.

As Dr. Dyer moves to a new opportunity in healthcare provision, he will be dearly missed by his colleagues and students.


Student Story: 2015 Oxford Study Abroad Program – Can’t Buy Me Love?

Regent's Robertson School of Government (RSG) returned to Oxford, England this summer for its annual student immersion in Britain's cultural and political climate. "The RSG Oxford experience is tremendous: a tutorial-style learning environment, expert guest lecturers, visits to historic sites, and the camaraderie of a close-knit community of scholars," noted RSG dean, Dr. Eric Patterson. "This is a RSG distinctive!"

This annual study-abroad program attracts a diverse group from across the U.S. and the world. The trip consists of two academic courses in law and government. The first, taught by Regent Law professor Lynne Marie Kohm, is " Economics, Law, & Literature of Marriage: UK & US 1720-2020.” The primary focus of the course traces the law and economics of marriage through literature, comparing the changing status of marriage in the UK and the US. The second course, “Faith, Crime, and Punishment” taught by RSG professor James Slack will examine the relationship between faith, crime, and punishment.

This guest post is drafted by Oxford students Kathleen Knudsen and Joseph Kohm as part of their Oxford experience.

Can a woman or man of economic means dictate who she or he will marry? Or who their children will marry? Yesterday the Regent Oxford Program students visited Blenheim Palace and discovered otherwise.

Imagine being seventeen years old and in love. Then one day your mother insists that you marry someone whom you have never met, from another country and another culture. When you refuse, you are locked in a room until you agreed to marry this unknown person. This is the true story of Consuelo Vanderbilt, only daughter and eldest child of William Vanderbilt, New York railroad millionaire.

On November 6, 1895, against her wishes, Consuelo was married to Charles Spencer-Churchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough. The marriage made Consuelo a duchess and gave the Duke of Marlborough $2.5 million of Vanderbilt money (worth over $70 million in 2014 dollars). Their story is one of the many immortalized at Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, England.

Home of the current Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, and birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, Blenheim Palace originated when Queen Anne conferred the Oxfordshire estate on the 1st Duke of Marlborough for his victory at Blenheim, Austria in the War of Spanish Succession. It takes a lot of funds, however, to maintain a palace over the centuries, and by the early 1900s Blenheim Palace needed a major makeover. That prompted the then Duke of Marlborough to arrange the marriage of his son to the American heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt. Portraits of the Duchess Consuelo are throughout the Palace. This money-for-title marriage illustrates the bleak reality that economic pressures impact marriage decisions.

Like a good exchange, both families had what the other wanted: the poor British needed money, and Americans lacked noble titles in their heritage. And though this appeared to be a marriage of solid political and financial advantage, it was not effective to generate happiness in either party to the marriage. Consuelo even referred to her two sons as "the Heir and the Spare," as only the eldest would inherit the estate under English law. Their marriage ended in divorce twelve years later.

Ironically, the richest family in the world could buy whatever they wanted, even a noble title, but they did not buy happiness for their own daughter. While money can't buy love it may still be the best default for some conflicts; or consider the latest twist on the rich girl dilemma.

This English-American marriage liaison illustrates that marriage for political or financial benefit, nonetheless, does not inherently or necessarily foster a strong family or family restoration. But the Oxford group of Regent students enjoyed every minute!

Alumni Story: Jennifer Salcido ('12) – The Longest Road

Jennifer Salcido ('12)

RSG alumna Jennifer Salcido ('12) is currently working as Advocacy Manager in Washington D.C. for International Christian Concern, a human rights organization dedicated to assisting, advocating and raising awareness to the plight of persecuted Christians around the world. She is also co-directing the upcoming documentary entitled The Longest Road, an International Veterans Alliance production.

The film raises awareness on the atrocities being committed by Islamic extremists such as ISIS, and the neglect of the international community on issues concerning persecuted Christians and religious minorities in the Middle East. The Longest Road also documents the stories of forgotten heroes who sacrificed their lives to defend their neighbors and are now going back to provide humanitarian aid to the persecuted church.

Salcido says, "This film is about finding redemption and hope in the midst of chaos and destruction. It tells the tale of heroes who are fighting their own horror stories from an unpopular war, but yet have found strength and courage to go back and give hope to those who need it the most. For me, this film is about proving that good and kindness still exists in this world. It's a story about love, hope, and freedom."

About The Longest Road

It has been 12 years since 63-year-old Richard Campos participated in his country's invasion of Iraq. He is disheartened by policies that have placed thousands of American troops in harm's way. Inspired by a fallen comrade, Campos has dedicated his post-war life to service of a different kind. Under the threat of Al Qaeda, he took nearly $1.5 million in humanitarian aide and travelled to Basra in 2008, providing much needed medical supplies to those suffering in a children's hospital. Years later a new and more deadly evil emerges. ISIS threatens a way of life for hundreds of thousands of displaced and persecuted Christians and other religious minorities struggling for survival outside Erbil, Kurdistan. They are malnourished and lacking a physician's care; living in makeshift conditions since Islamic terrorists were hot on their heels only months ago. They have seen their homes destroyed, their freedoms lost and loved ones killed or sold into slavery. The majority of them suffer from PTSD. These religious minorities do not see a hope in sight. But hope sees them. Campos, a former army sergeant, is being called back to Iraq and this time he recruits a task force of fellow veterans, each with their own horror story, to join him and bring their own closure to a government's wide open attempt at diplomacy in the Cradle of Civilization. This is the story of Iraqi and Syrian refugees living in the shadow of ISIS, and a band of heroes returning to their former battleground to make a difference. This is the story of The Longest Road; now a documentary film that follows Richard's journey of impacting the lives of persecuted Christians in the Middle East. "A good companion shortens the longest road." In a scene from The Longest Road, an elderly woman takes care of a mentally disabled child. A Kurdish proverb inspired first-time filmmaker Jennifer Salcido (who taught Political Science at the University of Dohuk, Kurdistan) and documentarian Matthew Charles Hall, an Orange County native, to follow Richard and journey to the Middle East to photograph this feature length documentary. Featuring interviews with professionals who have served overseas, as well as archival news footage highlighting the region's cultural upheaval, the film follows the journey of refugees and veterans alike as they bring healing to each other in a world threatened by a very present evil. The Longest Road, a feature-length documentary film, will open on screens in early 2016.

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Recent Events

Regent Professor ICMA Professor of the Year

Sam S. Gaston, the nation's first master of public administration (MPA) practitioner-in-residence/online, will receive the prestigious International City/County Management Association (ICMA) Academic Award in Memory of Stephen B. Sweeney. Gaston teaches at Regent University's Robertson School of Government (RSG) and serves as the city manager of Mountain Brook, Alabama.

Students in Regent's MPA program and his former students at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), where he taught previously, nominated Gaston, who began teaching at RSG in 2014. Dr. James D. Slack, MPA program director, compiled and submitted the nomination to ICMA.

"His teaching and mentoring skills are so remarkable that, when I accepted the position at Regent University, I looked for opportunities to integrate my new MPA students with Professor Gaston. That opportunity came when the school received the position of practitioner-in-residence/online," Slack explained.

"In my mind, Professor Gaston was uniquely and exceptionally qualified. His record of classroom excellence and mentoring success quickly convinced my colleagues of the wisdom in pursuing Professor Gaston for this new position. His colleagues, and his students, do not regret that decision."

Slack added that the ICMA award recognizes an "outstanding professor of the year" and is highly competitive, with nominees coming from hundreds of MPA programs across the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe. Established in the name of the longtime director of the University of Pennsylvania's Fels Institute of Government, the Sweeney Award recognizes a classroom instructor who has made a significant contribution to the formal education of students pursuing careers in local government.

"Professor Gaston's students are fundamentally shaped by his seasoned practitioner experience, his outstanding teaching skills and his exceptional mentoring capacity," said Dr. Eric Patterson, RSG dean. "Students benefit from his willingness to advance their goals from classroom dreams to the reality of actual careers at city hall. I am proud to have Professor Gaston on our MPA faculty."

Gaston's expertise and teaching focus on city/county management and public administration leadership and ethics. He is past president of the 9,000-member ICMA, past regional vice president of ICMA, and past president of the Alabama City-County Management Association.

Gaston has served as Mountain Brook's city manager since 1993. He is the recipient of the "Outstanding Public Official" award from the Alabama Urban Forestry Association, the "Vocational Excellence" award from the Alabama City-County Management Association, and the "Administrator of the Year" award from the Greater Birmingham Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration.

Prior to joining the RSG faculty, Gaston chaired Regent's MPA program National Advisory Board. Between 1999 and 2014, he was an adjunct professor at UAB. While at UAB, he helped establish the nation's first ICMA student chapter and has formed one at Regent. He earned an MPA degree from Auburn University at Montgomery and an undergraduate degree in public administration from Auburn University.

Gaston will be formally recognized with the award at the 2015 ICMA annual meeting in September.


Government and Communication & the Arts Launch New Concentration

Beginning in Fall semester 2015, Regent University's Robertson School of Government (RSG) and the School of Communication & the Arts (COM) will launch their new majors in their Master of Arts programs: Political Communication.

Students enrolled within this program in RSG or COM will learn from distinguished professors who are long-time public servants, including U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, former Chief of Naval Operations Vernon Clark, and former USAID Assistant Administrator Dr. Paul Bonicelli.

These 30-hour on-campus, online or hybrid degree programs will inspire a generation of higher learners with the ability to balance a Christian worldview with the professional means to impact cultural and political change.

Those interested in this concentration partnership will have two avenues to select from. Students in Regent's M.A. in Government program will focus on the foundations and institutions of U.S. government before stepping into the program's elective courses in areas such as Media Law & Ethics, News Writing & Reporting, and Public Relations. M.A. in Communication students seeking this concentration will receive classic training in courses in Media Research & Analysis and Media & Social Influence before delving into the program's political electives.

In the growing digital communication marketplace, communication, particularly in the political realm, has an even greater opportunity to be skewed. Students enrolled in this program will be primed for careers as media spokespeople, press secretaries, public relations professionals, broadcasters and reporters.

But the program is about more than mere training: it's about developing students as public servants, those willing to share in the victories and the trials that come with being a leader.

"Public servants need to have a depth of knowledge about political life as well as the technical skills to represent themselves and their organizations under public scrutiny," said Dr. Eric Patterson, RSG dean. "The political communications concentration focuses on both traits."

The integration of government and communication in this specialized Master of Arts degree will give students with those talents the means to effectively step into positions with integrity and courage to speak the truth. A prospect that Dr. Mitch Land, dean of Regent's School of Communication & the Arts, is most excited about.

"We need leaders who will have the integrity and courage to speak truth to power and communicate ethically and effectively with constituents and other stakeholders," said Land. "It makes sense for our two schools to work together to provide scholars and professionals opportunities to hone their skills for greater effectiveness in the workplace."



Standing Ready

Since its founding in 1977, Regent University has been dedicated to training and equipping "world changers" – men and women whom God has called to lead on a global scale. Proof of the university's success was clearly evident at the Chancellor's Luncheon, held in The Founders Inn ballroom immediately after commencement. Members of Regent's board of trustees, deans, vice presidents and honored guests were introduced to five graduates who are poised to change the world. Each one of the newly minted alums shared compelling stories about their Regent experience and how it prepared them to answer God's call to become Christian leaders to change the world.

Just minutes before addressing those gathered at the luncheon, Abraham Haven had received his diploma for his juris doctorate from the university's School of Law . But his journey to Regent actually started 17 years ago, when he visited The Founders Inn with his family as a boy: "During those intervening years, it became clear to me that God's calling on my life was to go into the field of law. What stood out to me about Regent Law was ... our motto ‘Law is more than a profession; it's a calling.'"

"At Regent," Haven explained, "I was able to learn what it was like to be not just a Christian who is a lawyer, but a lawyer who is a Christian. It was a tremendous opportunity to learn from professors who are great legal scholars and also men and women who are on fire for God."

Meredith McCarty and Timothy Pettman are fellow Regent Law graduates, engaged to be married in the fall. McCarty, who was interviewed for the December 2014 issue of Impact , earned a joint degree in law and government. The Washington-state native said she first learned of Regent University when she searched the Internet for Christian law schools: "I'm very thankful for Google today, because I wouldn't have received this amazing education, and I wouldn't have met Tim."

Once she read the School of Law's motto, McCarty said she knew that Regent was exactly where she was supposed to be: "Regent was the only university that I applied to for law school. It has a joint degree program, which is exactly what I wanted. Everything that I've experienced here has far exceeded my expectations."

Pettman was born and raised in Florida. But after attending Regent, he now aspires to be the governor of Virginia someday. The new law grad thanked those in attendance for their support of the university. "Regent has a wonderful scholarship program," Pettman explained. "I didn't want to drown myself in debt to go to law school. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for (my scholarship). I want to thank all of you who donate to the scholarship program, because it does a lot to bring people here."

Angela Buckler is a second-grade teacher in Pennsylvania, who earned her doctorate in education after finishing her dissertation in less than three years – a feat described as "incredible" by School of Education dean, Dr. Alan Arroyo. Even as an online student, who spent just one week each summer on campus, Buckler still was able to form strong relationships with professors and especially her fellow students. "We supported and encouraged one another through the highs and lows; the late nights and early mornings; assignment due dates; and what seemed like never-ending research questions," Buckler shared. "Everything was just so enriched by the love of Christ and the connection that we have as fellow believers."

Roger Orozco's amazing journey from poverty in Nicaragua to an MBA at Regent was featured in the November 2014 issue of Impact. The outstanding graduate representing the School of Business & Leadership used his brief platform at the Chancellor's Luncheon to thank those who invest in the university and to assure them that they are changing people's lives.

"When I applied to Regent, I knew that the university had the values I was looking for. The values that allow me to be a man of integrity, a man that would help others realize their God-given potential," Orozco said. "Regent has equipped me to be a leader, and therefore, I must go into the world, train others, and make a lasting impact."


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