Robertson School of Government Dean's Corner
The American Political Science Association's annual meeting recently took place in Philadelphia. It was for me, as always, enjoyable to see old friends and invigorating to see some of the latest trends in scholarship and teaching. Not surprisingly, the upcoming presidential election was on nearly everyone's mind and some of the panels were dedicated to formal statistical models that predict one or another outcome in the election. I summarized in a recent op-ed some of these models as well as what Schlesinger's historical cycle theory might predict about the November presidential election.
This month our students had a private luncheon with a 1988 presidential contender, M.G. "Pat" Robertson, Chancellor of Regent University. What is often forgotten is that he won multiple states in the primaries and presented an unorthodox and galvanizing conservative voice in that election. His impact went well beyond the election, with the founding of the Christian Coalition with its many successes in the 1990s, as well as humanitarian (e.g. Operation Blessing, Orphan's Child), media (The Family Channel), and other organizations.
Our campus has invited both presidential campaigns to visit the campus, and in the past year students have seen on our campus five of the Republican candidates (see Impact article) and one vice-presidential candidate. This exposure to real-world politics, whether at the city hall or national level, continues to be a hallmark of our students' experience and a key reason that prospective students choose to come to Regent University.
Eric Patterson, Ph.D.
Dean and Professor
Robertson School of Government
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RSG alumna Linda Waits-Kamau (M.A. '15) sends this report on her work in Rwanda on behalf of Peace Corps Volunteers.
"Greetings again from Kigali, where yesterday we had a bit of a shake-up feeling the effects of a 5.6 magnitude quake that rolled through Central Sub-Saharan Africa/Great Lakes Region starting near the Rwanda-Uganda border and moving through Tanzania, Rwanda, and Uganda. Here in Rwanda we were slightly shaken but not stirred. I happened to be on the sixth floor of the Telecom House in downtown Kigali when the shaking started, so we did feel the building swaying and the floors were rumbling. The people on the ground floor ran out of the building (or so we were told). We had to stay put being on the sixth floor but fortunately nothing serious happened to us besides a few tense moments.
As for my work with Umuhuza, my partner organization, it also going well. Last Thursday I attended the national "Rwanda Reads: End Illiteracy Conference" at a famous hotel here in Rwanda at which Umuhuza was highlighted as one of the major community-level promoters of reading clubs, in-home reading instruction, training of trainers and sustainable volunteer cooperatives to work with parents at the community-level. Umuhuza is also the organization behind the reading champions program in which one of the third-grade students whose mother was trained by Umuhuza came with her mother to give a testimony about how parents are the best influencers for ensuring the education and literacy of their children. Umuhuza trains volunteers such as the little girl's to teach other parents how to inspire, acquire or create reading materials and reading corners in their own homes and how to be involved as parents in encouraging children and assisting them with their learning within the home at the primary school level. Umuhuza therefore is working now with USAID's SCOPE program and with Save the Children Early Child Development learning initiatives throughout Rwanda at the community level.
I will be working on Communications strategies in line with Umuhuza's 5-year Strategic Plan. So I am putting together a work plan for that now in addition to Communications support since the organization is doing a great job and has an impeccable reputation but needs a Communications point-person for internal and external communications policies, projects, and campaigns. Pictured with me is Patrice, a Regent alum, who serves as the Operations Director for the Business Development Center started by Dr. Mulford in Regent's School of Business Leadership. I feel very fortunate to work in this capacity in Rwanda."
Faculty Speak for Constitution Day
RSG faculty spoke at three different campuses on Constitution Day, the anniversary commemorating the signing of the Constitution on September 17, 1787. Since 2004, federal law has prescribed that universities receiving federal funds host educational events on the U.S. Constitution. The bill's sponsor at the time, Senator Robert Byrd, said, "Our ideals of freedom, set forth and realized in our Constitution, are our greatest export to the world."
Professor Jeffry Morrison spoke at Utah Valley University's Center for Constitutional Studies to cap that University's Constitution Week. His presentation was part of a larger conference titled, "Justice Scalia's Legacy and the Supreme Court" featuring speakers such as Yale University's Akhil Reed Amar, Elizabeth Wydra, President of the Constitutional Accountability Center, and Carrie Severino, Chief Counsel and Policy Director of the Judicial Crisis Network.
Professor Morrison gave the first panel address, "Constitutional Interpretation and the Founders." Morrison laid the historical background for later panelists about how the "Father of the Constitution" (James Madison) thought the Constitution should be read and interpreted. Professor Morrison, who also serves as Academic Director of the federal government's James Madison Memorial Foundation, argued that Justice Scalia was closely aligned with Madison's views on originalism and textualism. Dr. Morrison's remarks will be published in a peer-reviewed journal in 2017.
On campus at Regent University, Associate Professor Jim Davids joined Law School Assistant Professor Tessa Dysart at an event co-hosted by the Federalist Society. His topic was "Principles Used by the Founders When Drafting the Constitution," which included observations on the historical milieu in which the Founders were writing, from the treatises of John Locke to the covenant theology found in the work of John Witherspoon and others. Professor Dysart spoke on "Interpretative Difficulties with the Constitution."
Across town, Dean Patterson was hosted by Regent alum Dr. Glenn Carrillo to speak on the Electoral College at ECPI University. Dean Patterson's presentation, "Why You Should Love the Electoral College," argued that the Electoral College was one of the many checks and balances on mob rule and tyrannical majorities put in place by the Founding Fathers. Others included the appointment, rather than election of Supreme Court justices and the election of senators by state legislatures. Patterson pointed out that the Electoral College has typically been a force for order and stability and that it is very rare—usually only once per century—when the electoral college's outcome is not aligned with the popular vote. What is more likely is that close outcomes in the popular vote nonetheless transition into strong Electoral College majorities on election night, making it clear who the winner is.
Pulling Rank: Regent Recognized as one of the Nation's "Best for Vets" Universities
With a Marine Corps veteran as its founder and chancellor, Regent's commitment to U.S. servicemen, servicewomen and their families is not surprising. In fact, the university is so dedicated to helping members of America's armed forces excel that it's earning high marks for military "friendliness."
Recently, the digital magazine U.S. News & World Report ranked Regent's online bachelor's degree program among the "Best for Military Veterans" for the second year in a row. The university finished first in Virginia and 15th nationally out of more than 1,200 schools, whose distance-education programs were judged on their affordability, accessibility and reputation.
"Our military-related student population encompasses approximately 28 percent of our entire student body," explains Bob Habib, Regent's director of graduate and military admissions. "As such, we take pride in this enormous responsibility to serve those who are serving, and who have served us."
Habib adds that the university's staff and professors understand the unique sacrifices made by military students and seek to "go the extra mile" to ensure their success, which includes "academic, professional and spiritual growth." He also notes that Regent is surrounded by what he calls "an amazingly healthy military population." With Norfolk Naval Base and several other duty stations nearby, Habib says the campus is a direct reflection of the community the university serves.
"Our goal is to maintain a military-supportive environment where our student service members, veterans and their families can achieve their academic, professional and spiritual goals. We strive to make Regent University as accessible as possible to all students, and have created a large support network to assist with the military-to-student life transition."
Regent earned an even higher "military friendliness" grade from SR Education Group, which ranked Regent #13 on their 2016 Top Yellow Ribbon Online Schools. The group's website, GuideToOnlineSchools.com, evaluated more than 500 fully accredited colleges that provide "a strong military culture, exceptional online support to its military students," and earn "high marks in financial aid and flexibility."
SR Education commended Regent University's online degree program for its "versatility, an attractive feature for active-duty military members. With online classes starting every eight weeks year-round and a multitude of undergraduate degree options available, students are able to set their schedule at their own pace."
Other factors that earned Regent a place among the "top online schools" were the ability for students to receive academic credit for military training and experience, along with the university's various tuition discounts and participation in the GoArmyEd program.
"Regent's mission and values are aligned with the traditions of the military," says José Roman, assistant director of Regent's Office of Military & Veterans Affairs. "This university is recognized by the military community for a solid education and a supportive environment for veterans and service members transitioning from the military."
Roman adds that Regent seeks to be the number-one resource to empower military service members, not just in Hampton Roads or in Virginia, but across the country.
"Our office is always available to all our students: online and on-campus. Our military-affiliated learners get to know our staff by name," Roman explains. "We make a connection whether via e-mail to Afghanistan or anywhere in the country; we become a one-stop shop to answer questions and provide resources for our students."
Also in 2016, Regent's School of Business & Leadership (SBL) was recognized by the prestigious Military Times. The organization, made up of Army Times, Navy Times, and Air Force Times, ranked the university 33rd out of 77 "Best for Vets: Business Schools" for graduate degrees. Dr. Doris Gomez, SBL dean, calls the ranking "humbling and gratifying," adding that being acknowledged by the Military Times is one of her school's greatest accolades.
"Our staff and faculty have the greatest of respect and admiration for our military students, veterans and their families," Gomez says. "Because of it we strive to offer programs that are not only beneficial to them, but also provide the utmost flexibility to accommodate our military students' complex schedules (including deployments and transfers). We will never take their service and sacrifice for granted. To serve them remains our joy and honor."
At Regent, military students find a unique combination of top-ranked online programs and generous military benefits, which include generous transfer-credit policies, tuition assistance for associate and bachelor's degrees, 25-percent tuition discounts for graduate degrees, and even tuition discounts for military spouses and dependents.
Phillip Wyman retired as a gunnery sergeant after serving 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps. Also a former mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter, Wyman trained and fought "all over the world." Now, he uses those experiences to serve the Lord as an evangelist and will soon earn his bachelor's degree from the university.
"I continue to be interested in God. I want to serve Him," Wyman explains. "Regent has great classes with great professors. After I graduate in the fall, I'll work on my master's in divinity. I'd like to look into the Navy Chaplain Corps. I think I can still serve in some capacity."
Regent's ultimate goal is to train military students to become experts in their chosen fields, while they grow in their faith and become Christian leaders who change the world. But to continue serving active-duty military, veterans, spouses and their dependents, Regent needs the ongoing prayer and financial support of alumni and friends.
"Donations allow us to lower tuition for active-duty military, veterans and their spouses," says Regent Vice President, Ann LeBlanc. "These men and women have done so much for our country, and we welcome them to this university. But we rely on the sacrificial giving of donors to help us provide tuition relief for those who sacrifice so much to keep our nation safe and free."
It's important to note that being a "military-friendly" university involves more than just offering tuition discounts, distance classes and convenient schedules. It's about faculty and staff creating an environment, both on campus and online, where service members can excel in whatever situation they find themselves.
"Becoming a Christian leader to change the world is a lifelong process," Habib explains. "Regent provides the opportunity for all students to share and utilize their knowledge and experiences with one another in order to benefit the greater good. … Our military students bring a breadth of real-world experience that, when combined with their academic experiences, prepares them, not only to continue to serve their respective military communities, but also to impact their communities at large in more meaningful ways."
Learn more about Regent University's military programs and benefits at www.regent.edu/military or call 757-352-4757.
Regent University's Executive Leadership Series Welcomes Corbin Bernsen
Many classic Hollywood films start with a challenge, an inciting incident in a main character's life.
For actor and president of Home Theater Films, Corbin Bernsen, life turned a corner as he held a Ziploc bag of his father's ashes. Bernsen spoke with business leaders of the Hampton Roads community at Regent University's Executive Leadership Series (ELS) on Friday, September 9.
Though he'd already seen success in his life from his roles on shows such as L.A. Law and Psych, after his father's death he wrote his first faith-based film, Rust. The film followed the story of a pastor who loses his way – loosely inspired by events in Bernsen's life.
"It was completely under the direction of God," said Bernsen, who recalled shooting the film in negative-47-degree-weather, in a small city in Canada, with amateur actors. "That film was miracle after miracle," said Bernsen.
From the provision of battery warmers for his film equipment and seven buildings to choose from for a house-fire scene, Bernsen began to think his film was "blessed."
And when he discovered that the house they chose for the scene belonged to an infamous kidnapper, and one of his many underage victims was there to witness the scene of the crime burn to the ground, he knew it.
That, in a way, is what draws Bernsen to storytelling in the first place: humanity, and the stories that lie within. The stories he tells may not be conventional, they may even raise a few eyebrows within the Christian community, but he tells them. His concept of faith-based films being:
"I don't want to be ‘overly-religious,'" he said. "All I have to do is start the conversation. All I have to do is open the door and let the light in."
Bernsen said that most of the inspiration for the films he writes, directs and produces come about because of his four sons, who don't share his faith. And to him, they're representative of a larger group in the world.
"My son didn't become a carpenter like me because I told him to," Bernsen explained. "He came in and helped me, he picked up the tools. I just kept the garage door open. I don't carry the burden to change people, I let God do the heavy lifting."
Bernsen strives to lead his life as well as his various pursuits within the film industry with his number one leadership "barometer": truth.
"All these lessons on leadership I learned from my parents," said Bernsen, whose mother was longtime The Young and the Restless star, Jeanne Cooper. "It's learning to delegate, respect, and giving someone space to put their stamp on a project."
Bernsen explained his love for his wife and his family above all, and many times, he explained, it's their love that drives the very passion for what he does every day. "I love what I know, I love what God gives me," said Bernsen. "And I share it with other people."
Bernsen's most recent story he shared, co-produced by his company Home Theater Films and Regent's School of Communication & the Arts, is In-Lawfully Yours. It follows the story of a young woman named Jesse (Chelsea Crisp), rom-com re-telling of the biblical story of Ruth and Boaz.
The film premiered on Regent's campus on Saturday, September 10th.
"It's my favorite film that we've done, and I didn't even write or direct it. What you'll see in this film is not just a result of myself, my business partners and the professional actors – it's really what the kids did," said Bernsen. "And anyone associated with the university should be really, really proud."
The next event in the ELS series will continue on October 25, and will feature Colin Bloom, director of outreach and international secretary of the United Kingdom Conservative party.
Learn more about Regent's Executive Leadership Series.
Regent Students Recognized for 9/11: Never Forget Project
On September 11, 2001, there was a devastating attack on American soil. The events and destruction of 9/11 not only shocked the world, but shook America to its core. Ever since the attacks, many people look back on what they were doing that day, and shudder. Although in many ways 9/11 is still at the forefront of our minds, the newest generation of students may have either been too young to remember that day, or don't even know or understand the large impact it had on not only the people of our country, but also our government. As Edmund Burke famously said, "Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it." Remembering historical events is important. If we forget what has happened, who knows what will happen.
On Friday, September 9, 2016 Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), led by YAF president, Bradley Hobart, commemorated the lives lost in the attacks of 9/11. On Friday morning, students placed 2,977 flags in the lawn in front of the Communications Building to represent every life lost. The event was part of the largest nationwide campus activism project, 9/11: Never Forget Project. This served as a powerful reminder of the friends and family that were killed as a result of these terrible attacks. It is important that students, many of whom were just toddlers on 9/11, have an understanding of this pivotal event and how it shapes policy and academic thinking on national security and foreign policy issues.
RSG Student's Dinner with Distinguished Professor and former Attorney General John Ashcroft – September 28, 2016
Election Night Watch Party – November 8, 2016
Post-Election Panel Discussion – November 10, 2016