Regent University has a scholarly reputation for the biblical concept of servant leadership. It’s the result of a deliberately planned mission and vision to inspire students to lead as servants, and years of research, commentary and education in the topic. Dr. Kathleen Patterson, School of Business and Leadership (SBL), was recognized Saturday, May 7, at Regent University’s 2016 Commencement for her contributions to servant leadership with an honor awarded annually to an outstanding faculty member, the Chancellor’s Award. Her work in this topic is adding a Christian perspective globally, and expanding academic offerings as the university rapidly grows.
“It is always a privilege to be recognized, though I have to say that any recognition is not mine alone,” said Patterson. “Anything ‘good’ you may see in me is only a reflection of the of the other faculty here at Regent University’s SBL. If there is anything worthy of recognition, it is a totality of our Dean, Dr. Doris Gomez and the entire faculty here at our school.”
Patterson serves as program administrator for the SBL’s Doctorate of Strategic Leadership (DSL) program. She attributes the success of the program to her students who are learning to lead and are making a difference. She challenges her students to embrace this Christian view of leadership, and says this will distinguish them from other leaders in the world. It starts, she says, by following Philippians 2:4, which instructs Christ’s followers to look out for the interests of others.
“We have all seen or experienced horrible leadership, as well as leaders who were incredibly damaging,” said Patterson. “I desperately want us, as a body of Christian leaders, to be different — to be the leaders who build into others, who encourage others, who are not concerned about our own advancement but actively seek the advancement of others. We as Christian leaders have to be the very leaders who are willing to lay ourselves aside—our own agendas and pursuits and be focused on others, serving them toward their greatness.”
Patterson says she first learned the concept of “servant leadership” when she arrived at Regent. Since then, she has journeyed to every continent, except Antarctica, to study and discuss the topic. Her work has inspired two of Regent graduate schools to offer new concentrations in servant leadership. She’d like to see the university continue to serve as a central hub of scholarship and thought for this unique, people-first leadership approach.
“I would love to see us continue the Servant Leadership Research Roundtables and to continue the Global Servant Leadership Research Roundtables,” said Patterson. “It has been incredibly fun to include our current students and even our alumni in these endeavors. We have hosted great servant leadership scholars on our campus, Larry Spears, Sen Sendjaya, Dirk van Dierendonck, Jim Laub, Paul Wong—and I would love to continue to invite well-known scholars and budding scholars alike.”
The SBL is built on solid research in servant leadership. Patterson cites the work of professors Dr. Bruce Winston, Dr. Greg Stone, Dr. Mihai Bocarnea and others in laying this foundation. She says the school will continue pursuing the topic because a strong servant leadership voice in the scholarly world is essential to representing the Christian faith.