RSG Newsletter

April 2016
Robertson School of Government Dean's Corner

Dean Eric Patterson, Ph.D.Dear Friends,

Greetings from the Robertson School of Government! Our students are already thinking beyond final examinations to commencement, summer internships, and the next stage of their careers.

In this edition of our newsletter you'll meet top students like Jonathan Lantz (MPA, '16) who was part of a team that took first place in a simulation competition at the University of Virginia and who has served on campus in a number of ways. His next step, upon commencement, will be his first "real" job in public service. You will also meet current student Captain Brent Jurmu (USMC) who is buttressing his already impressive resume with coursework on U.S. foreign and national security policy, and you will be reintroduced to alumni, and now faculty member, Dr. Paul Bonicelli, who led a campus conversation about President Obama's recent trip to Cuba. Dr. Bonicelli well understands the challenges of democratization in Latin America, having worked on these issues in the George W. Bush Administration.

This focus on career excellence is a critical part of what we do at the Robertson School of Government. Our career manager, Lisa Olson, helps students prepare for advancement in the next step of their careers and all of our faculty are keenly attuned to ensuring that our students develop the skills and values that are desirable from city hall to the White House.

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. Manjikian Launches Cybersecurity Policy and Affairs Course

Students at the Robertson School of Government now have an opportunity to learn about cybersecurity policy. This new graduate level course surveys the cyber arena as a facet of international affairs, introducing language and technical specifications of cyberweapons, critical infrastructure, cyberattack, and cyberconflict. Students will have the opportunity to consider the role of state, non-state, and international actors in cyberspace, including the role of the private sector and NGOs. As distance student Caryn Spillman recently noted, “It is pertinent that we are aware of cyberspace and its issues in these times. I felt that as an elective class, this would be wonderful. One cannot know enough about cyberspace in these times.”

Dr. Manjikian is uniquely suited to teach this course, as she has written extensively on issues of emerging military technologies, attempts to establish norms and confidence-building measures in cyberspace and the ethics of weapons including cyberweapons. For the past two years, she has served as an External Research Associate for the US Army War College where she has published monographs in these areas. She is also the author of Threat Talk: Comparative Politics of Internet Addiction (2013, Ashgate Publishing).


Student Story: Brent Jurmu ('17)

Captain Brent Jurmu came to Regent “prepared for a challenging yet rewarding experience.” Jurmu serves as an officer in the United States Marine Corps, with multiple combat tours to Iraq and Afghanistan completed, as well as diplomatic security deployments at embassies in Syria, Afghanistan and Croatia. Jurmu’s past experience includes advising Afghan National Army units in Helmand Province, taking advantage of his undergraduate degree in Arabic and Islamic Studies from the University of Michigan. Stationed at Ft. Story here in Virginia Beach, Regent’s flexibility works very well for Jurmu, as it does for many military personnel and veterans.

Regent’s Office of Military and Veteran’s Affairs supports students with many resources. Designated a Top Military Friendly University by G.I. Jobs Magazine and Military Advanced Education since 2010, Regent is a fully accredited Service Members Opportunity College (SOC). Moreover, Regent participates in a Department of Defense Memorandum of Understanding by offering credit for some coursework already taken (e.g. at the command and staff college level) and in the Veteran Administration’s Principles of Excellence program. Military benefits include the Post -9/11 G.I. Bill, the Yellow Ribbon Program, and tuition assistance for service members and their spouses. Regent earned a top rank for Best Online Bachelor’s Program for Veterans in 2015 and 2016. Captain Jurmu values the Student Veterans Alliance as an excellent resource, and reports the Regent Veteran Affairs Benefits staff as helpful with making the transition to student status. He states, “Regent is hands down the most military-friendly institution that I have ever worked with.”

Regent’s reputation drew Jurmu to the Robertson School of Government, but he discovered much more. He found the best of both worlds as an online student who can also attend classes whenever possible, exclaiming, “I am thrilled to be able to join classes on campus.” As an instructor himself, teaching other Marines cross cultural competencies and behavioral sciences, he enjoys Dean Patterson’s and Dr. Bonicelli’s classes, “Islamic Political Thought” and “U.S. Foreign Policy.” Jurmu believes, “Having such a well-branded and respected institution that upholds its Christian values is a win-win.” Upon graduation from Regent in May of 2017, he intends on becoming a Foreign Area Officer, serving as a Middle East specialist. He would like to work on security cooperation policy and cultural studies for the rest of his military career, but he realizes there are other important things in life as well, such as his wife, Melissa, and their first child. He reflects, “Regent has shrunk the world through education and understanding the government, culture, and new ideas … it is in these areas that I would like to help “‘Change the World.’”


Recent Events

Regent Achieves Historic Enrollment of 8,000 Students

What’s the secret to standing out in higher education, at a time when many universities are struggling? Just ask students at Regent University, which has achieved a record enrollment of 8,000 for its March 2016 session.

Quality academic programs and a strong student support system top the list of reasons for why students choose Regent.

College of Arts & Sciences alumna April Melohn '15 from Destin, Florida, described her experience, saying, “Regent has been helpful throughout this entire process from applying, to enrolling in classes, to assisting me through academic decisions and most importantly, giving me financial assistance that has made the start of my education and journey at Regent a reality.”

Compared to 2015, Regent’s overall enrollment is up by 26 percent, with new student enrollment up 83 percent. Enrollment growth has been sustained over the past two years, with all of Regent’s eight schools posting remarkable double-digit enrollment increases. Since 2014, Regent’s overall enrollment has jumped by 37 percent.

“This new enrollment record continues to cement the university's leadership within the higher education landscape,” said Dr. Gerson Moreno-Riaño, Regent’s executive vice president for academic affairs. “It positions the university for stronger future growth, broader academic reach, a more robust financial position and, most importantly, a more extensive reach of the university’s mission to educate Christian leaders to change the world.”

Moreno-Riaño attributes the university’s growth to several key factors. He explained that Regent is more unified in purpose and operations than ever before, allowing it to focus with singular vision upon quality and growth. Other factors include:

  • A commitment to making significant and strategic investments in marketing to acquire quality on campus and online students.
  • Transforming operations to focus on the student experience.
  • Expanding academic programs by nearly 50 percent over the last two years to provide more opportunities to prospective students.
  • Moving quickly to capitalize on significant market and industry shifts.

Undergirding all of these factors is an unwavering commitment among Regent’s leadership, faculty and staff to support Regent’s mission to educate Christian leaders.

“The university’s growth has been primarily propelled by an institutional commitment that the most noble and beautiful thing it can pursue is to educate men and women all over the world to reach their fullest potential as Christian leaders. Mission reach has been the key force driving our growth,” Moreno-Riaño emphasized.

Find out more about Regent’s quality academic programs.


Dr. Patterson – Guest Speaker at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center Symposium

Dean Eric Patterson recently helped lead a one-day symposium titled "Radicals, Religion and Peace in an Age of Terror" at Georgetown University's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs in Washington, D.C. The event, part of a series of tenth anniversary events commemorating the Berkley Center’s past and advancing its future research agenda, provided a sober assessment of the intersection of religion and security in contemporary international affairs.

The event brought together leading figures on these issues including: Jocelyn Cesari, Georgetown University; Patrick Jackson, American University; Christopher Madison Swift, Georgetown University; Hassan Abbas, National Defense University; Mary Habeck, American Enterprise Institute; and Peter Mandaville, United States Department of State. Two of the speakers were former White House Fellows with Dean Patterson, Mark Vlasic of the Georgetown University Law Center and Patterson’s co-editor on Debating the War of Ideas, John P. Gallagher, now at the Institute for Global Engagement. Many of these individuals are no strangers to Robertson School students, for they have been guest speakers on campus (Gallagher, Habeck) or their articles and video lectures are a part of the coursework. For instance, students in “Islamic Political Thought” and “Middle East Politics” read the works of Abbas and Mandaville.

The Berkley Center, an academic research center focusing on religion, ethics, and politics was founded in 2006. Its mission is to examine faith and values, human rights, democracy, international diplomacy, economic and social development, and inter-religious understanding in order to advance peace. Dean Patterson is a research fellow associated with the Berkley Center, where he previously worked full time as associate director before coming to Regent University in 2012.

Patterson’s research continues to be on the nexus of religion and international security issues, including recent books on the ethics of war (Ending Wars Well; Ethics Beyond War's End), Islam and Islamism (Debating the War of Ideas, co-edited with John Gallagher), and the role of U.S. government agencies in a religious world (Military Chaplains in Afghanistan, Iraq & Beyond; Politics in a Religious World: Toward a Religiously Aware U.S. Foreign Policy).

A similar but streamlined event will occur on the Regent University campus on April 19, 2016 titled “Evil, Compassion, and ISIS,” honoring the second issue of Providence: A Journal of Christianity and American Foreign Policy. Speakers will include Mark Tooley, President of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, Robert Nicholson, President of The Philos Project, and Marc LiVecche, Editor of Providence Journal.


Dr. Manjikian - Participates in Two Academic Conferences

Dr. Manjikian, associate dean in the Robertson School of Government, is increasingly recognized as a thought leader among women in cybersecurity. In the past month she participated in two academic conferences on these themes. At the International Studies Association annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia she participated in two panel discussions – one on new developments in military technology and their implications for international relations theory, and one on critical approaches to political methodology. In addition, Manjikian attended the Women in Cybersecurity conference in Dallas, Texas. The Women in Cybersecurity program was launched in 2013, underwritten in part from a National Science Foundation grant. With support from various industry, government and academic partners, Women in Cybersecurity works to inform women about careers and academic opportunities in the field of cybersecurity. It brings together women in cybersecurity from academia, research and industry for sharing of knowledge/experience, networking, and mentoring.


Dr. Bonicelli – U.S. Foreign Policy Toward Cuba

Cuba has recently been back in news with President Obama’s visit and his agenda to open up economic and political relations. At an informal brown-bag luncheon, Professor Paul Bonicelli shared his perspectives on this “opening” to Cuba and its historical context. Dr. Bonicelli has a unique perspective on democratic transitions and U.S. foreign policy because he served as Assistant Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), having responsibility for democracy and governance for that region during the George W. Bush administration. Dr. Bonicelli pointed out that the Obama Administration’s lifting of embargo restrictions is in violation of the 1996 Libertad Act, which limits U.S. financial engagement with Cuba until that country changes its authoritarian policies. Moreover, he argued that the winners in this political transaction are really the wealthy elite of the Castro regime, and thus this overture helps ensure its survival.

Is the Obama Administration’s policy of “an open hand” to rogue and/or authoritarian regimes like North Korea, Iran, Cuba, and Burma one that will bear fruit? Dr. Bonicelli pointed out that the “fruit” of this engagement between Washington and Havana seems to be entirely one-sided. Not only did Fidel Castro blast the U.S. shortly before Obama landed in Cuba, but two hours before Air Force One descended, security forces accosted and beat dozens of Havana’s famous Ladies in White: Catholic mothers walking to Mass dressed in white as testimonials to their missing spouses and children. Only time will tell, argued Bonicelli, if the average Cuban citizen will see some relief from this unilateral détente by the U.S.


MPA Students Compete in Policy Simulation

Robertson School of Government (RSG) students recently put their policy-crafting, networking and negotiating skills to the test at a student simulation competition. A member of a winning team, Jonathan Lantz '16 (RSG), says his Regent University education prepared him for success navigating an unfamiliar policy with new faces. The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) challenged teams to tackle global climate policy at eight locations. Lantz competed at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. We are proud of our students who are prominently featured in the video highlights of the event.

"Going into it, I was expecting more of a close competition," said Lantz. "What I found was the experience taught me about teamwork and the necessity of working together, even with people we don't know, and doing that well."

The diverse crowd of competitors included mostly Master of Public Administration (MPA) graduate-level students. In teams of twelve, they aimed to craft policy that would slow global warming rise to two degrees Celsius by 2100. They were divided into groups that represented different interests like industry, agriculture and population, and consumption. Lantz represented the interest of agriculture and land use. His primary concern was land clearance in developing countries and livestock practices.

"It was an opportunity to represent the Robertson School in a student competition and conference," said Lantz. "It's always neat to be able to see how Regent students compete with other schools. I was involved with a team that had another Regent student as well. We were active in developing policy and encouraging teamwork."

"I found that a lot of the leadership training and group project experience I had at Regent in the School of Government absolutely prepared me for this experience, and I was able to be comfortable in a subject I didn't know with participants I didn't know," said Lantz.

Lantz has been a leader on the Regent campus, having served as a resident assistant in the dorms, with the Council of Graduate Students, and working with Professor James Slack on the Christian Public Servant newsletter. He interned with the City of Virginia Beach, and says these sorts of experiences helped give him a taste for what he'd like to do and what to look for in a job.

Lantz graduates in May and is eager to begin a career in local or state government.


Upcoming Events

"Evil, Compassion, and ISIS" discussion with Dr. Eric Patterson and the editors of Providence: A Journal of Christianity & American Foreign Policy: Mark Tooley, President of Institute on Religion and Democracy; Robert Nicholson, President of The Philos Project; and Marc LiVecche, Editor of Providence Journal - April 19, 2016

"Defense Against the Dark Arts" ethics conversation with Judge Patricia West – April 25, 2016

RSG Commissioning Service and Reception – May 6, 2016

Regent University Commencement – May 7, 2016

U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Band - Armed Forces Day Concert – May 21, 2016


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