November 2015 Newsletter
November is election month and RSG has been busy thinking about elections. Regent has invited all of the presidential candidates to speak on our campus, and we recently hosted Governor Jeb Bush; this week we host Governor John Kasich. Many of our students and alumni were involved in campaigns, such as Chuck Slemp, who was just elected Commonwealth Attorney for Wise County. Another one of our alumni was elected to the federal legislature of his country this month as well, and we have many alumni and students serving common good in their own communities across the United States and around the world.
In November we also look back on the public service legacy of Senator A. Willis Robertson. This newsletter reports on our annual Robertson Lecture, named after this great Virginia statesman who served in the U.S. Army, state government, and then nearly forty years in the House of Representatives and Senate. Mr. Frank Atkinson, a former federal and state government official, delivered an outstanding lecture on Virginia’s political landscape for us in honor of Senator Robertson.
Despite what appears to be mayhem at times, I am always thankful in November that we have all of the freedoms that our boisterous election season brings. We have a free press, free speech, the freedom to assemble, and many related freedoms here in the United States, and our contested elections are a major factor in terms of promoting talent as well as engaging the public.
Eric Patterson, Ph.D.
Dean and Professor
Robertson School of Government
For more details as well as our calendar of events, please see our website.
Faculty Story: Faith-based Character Growth At Work
“The book is a compilation of stories from my life to grow and develop character,” said Roberts. “It’s based off of devotions I wrote for my students.”
One of the stories takes readers back to Roberts’ first job working in human resources at a paper mill. He lost that job after failing to ensure the delivery of a cake for a workplace safety recognition event. This was before Roberts became a believer in Jesus Christ, and before he learned the importance of servant leadership.
“I had character issues and trouble working outside of my work description,” said Roberts. “Servant leadership is about servanthood and stewardship. It’s about getting the job done and using your time and resources wisely.”
“Developing Christian Servant Leadership Faith-based Character Growth at Work,” shares many more lessons Roberts learned throughout an extensive career. It examines 25 key attributes of servant leadership and is divided into personal reflections and workplace applications. The book teaches the importance of forgiveness, being a cheerful receiver, trusting the Lord for job security, learning how to receive feedback, overcoming mental illness, the importance of pursuing learning and character growth, and learning from failure over earning an easy “A.”
Roberts has an extensive background in human resources and nonprofit administration in both public and nonprofit sectors. He’s been with the RSG since 2003 teaching and researching public administration. He’s authored two other books, each about human resources management.
Brock Wolitarsky is an online student working toward his M.A. in American Government; but instead of remaining in his home state of Washington, Brock decided to fly across the country and have the Regent experience firsthand, even if only for a semester. Brock is a very social person and found the most difficult part of his college experience was the online classes, so having the privilege of coming to Virginia Beach is a blessing.
Brock’s long-term goals include working for a non-profit group, but while he’s with us at the Robertson School of Government, Brock has immersed himself into the classrooms where he can gather with others who are as dedicated to carrying out their faith and missions as he is. When asked, Brock said he appreciates how the faculty at RSG understand the dilemmas that Christians face in the public sector, and because of that, students are trained to go out into the field, unyielding, with the knowledge that all glory belongs to the Father.
Before coming to Regent, Brock worked in customer service and in elementary schools as a substitute teacher. Brock loved his experiences with people and teaching in the classroom, watching children learn is an immeasurable joy, a sneak peak of Heaven. Feeling called to continue in public service, working with people from all different backgrounds, Brock enjoys the unique opportunities that RSG offers. The high caliber faculty brings experiences to the classroom from various academic institutions, around the world, and even from the Oval Office; and because of these men and women who are willing to train up the next generation of students, Brock found himself encouraged to be another Christian leader to change the world. The Christian faith and the federal government are, so we are told, not to be mixed together, but with the knowledge and training RSG provides, Brock gladly shares his experiences in the classroom and eagerly awaits his own turn to bring that light into the field God calls him to.
Following graduation this May, Brock will, at first, be working as an intern for the Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C., and after that, will return to Washington State. Once he is back in Washington, Brock would like to work for a non-profit organization such as National Trust Historic Preservation or World Vision.
When thinking back over his time with RSG, both online and on campus, Brock’s favorite class was taught by Admiral Larry Baucom. He enjoyed being in the classroom with a professor who had the hands-on experience during such historical issues with American security affairs. Keeping his favorite scripture in mind, Brock acknowledges that God brought him through it all, just as Paul writes in Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” So Brock also encourages any future RSG students, the experience you receive at Regent is like no other. God will use this time for you to reach for not only your goals, but the goals that God has in store for you. So set the goal high, it’ll be the best decision you ever make.
Osmay Torres’ first involvement in public service came about in the form of military service. As an active duty Naval Officer from 1999-2008, he served on the USS George Washington. To him, it was a very special ship. Not only was this ship where he completed his first deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, but his first daughter (who is now 11 years old) was born while he was deployed, and he had the opportunity to baptize her in the ship’s chapel after the ship returned to Norfolk, Virginia. Torres was also stationed with an F-18 Squadron (VFA-37) “The Ragin’ Bulls” out of Naval Air Station Oceana where he deployed on the USS Harry S. Truman in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He served as an aerospace maintenance duty officer at Fleet Readiness Center Oceana and separated as a lieutenant commander from the U.S. Navy Reserves after which he began to work as a consultant with a major defense contractor.
Born in Camaguey, Cuba, Torres and his family left Cuba for the United States in 1980 as political Cuban exiles. Osmay was 5 years old at the time. Politics were always a topic at the Torres dinner table, but his background in problem solving and consulting lends itself nicely to government as well. As he says, “I see politicians and elected officials as problem solvers who deal with issues that affect more than just one agency or one company … rather, their issues tend to affect everyone.” That led Torres to pursue a second master’s degree in government from Regent in order to expand his knowledge of how government should function in order to better prepare him to solve problems. He remembers meeting Dr. Bob Dyer at an American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) symposium hosted at ODU and talking to him about his desire to possibly pursue a degree from Regent. “Dr. Dyer handed me his business card, asked me to call him and we would discuss how we can get me enrolled and involved. That conversation took place, I enrolled, and I was definitely involved. While taking a class with Dr. Dyer, he asked if I would be interested in helping him start a Process Improvement Committee for City Council, given my background in Lean Six Sigma. Of course I accepted and went on to serve on that committee and helped the entire team develop standard templates and coordinated training for the team from outside experts whom I had known from the industry. This was my first committee or appointed position, and I learned a great deal from it and owe a great deal to Dr. Dyer and the Robertson School of Government for the opportunity.”
According to Torres, by pursuing a graduate degree at the Robertson School of Government, he learned how government works from an academic perspective, but it was the relationships that he developed within the school with professors like Dyer and with fellow peers that helped expose him to local and state politics. Torres is currently working as a defense contractor in Norfolk, supporting the Navy, and is also a Fellow with the University of Virginia’s Political Leaders Program (PLP) through the Sorensen Institute.
Robertson School of Government Honors its Namesake
Each year, Regent University’s Robertson School of Government (RSG) holds a lecture to remember its namesake, Senator A. Willis Robertson. Frank Atkinson, a man with a lengthy record of public service in Virginia and the United States, visited the university on Tuesday, Nov. 3, to describe the history and current nature of Virginia’s political landscape.
“Today is Election Day which makes it an especially good time to be here at a place that is so involved in educating a new generation about the legacy we have as Americans, about our democratic institutions, and then about the practical application of those values and today’s challenging times,” said Atkinson, chairman of McGuireWoods Consulting.
Guests learned more about the history behind Virginia’s competitive political climate and Senator Robertson, a man remembered for his dedicated service to Virginia and the United States congress where he served on the Banking and Currency Committee. He is known in Virginia for legislation that developed a highway system throughout the Commonwealth and for raising a small ammunition tax to fund wildlife conservation efforts.
“Senator Robertson was a consistent conservative. First and foremost, he was very interested in individual citizens doing their duty,” said Dr. Eric Patterson, RSG dean. “He often spoke about how important it is for citizens in a democracy, not only to know themselves, but to know what their role is in a democratic society.”
RSG’s mission is to train the next generation of leaders in the Judeo-Christian principles that undergird the United States, specifically the values of representative government, constitutional democracy and individual freedom.
“All of those values are exactly the kinds of things Senator Robertson campaigned for and worked for,” said Patterson. “They are the values that we emphasize, not in a partisan way, but in terms of what were the values of the Founding Fathers. We consider what are classical American virtues, and how do you put those into practice in the public sphere?”
Atkinson’s presentation examined Virginia and its role in American politics as the “cradle of democracy,” whose founders tried to take grand principles of political freedom and put them into practical application. Mr. Atkinson spoke from experience, having served in the cabinet of Virginia Governor George Allen, the U.S. Justice Department, and the U.S. Attorney General’s office during the Reagan administration.
“I think when you look at politics, you see the critical importance of having people of integrity, faith, reason and commitment,” said Atkinson. “We face some challenging times, and it seems like the political environment is characterized by contentiousness and self-advancement as the focus, but we have a great tradition of public service in Virginia. I was very pleased to have the invitation and come speak at a lecture honoring Willis Robertson who had such an impact on Virginia and U.S. politics. He was a true example of a public servant, as well as the chancellor, Dr. M.G. “Pat” Robertson, and his role in politics. It is a great legacy that young people have as they come here to learn about our democratic institutions.”
Inaugural Presidential Candidate Forum Features Jeb Bush
About 700 guests and several national news outlets attended the event, which featured comments from Bush, a live interview with Regent Chancellor and CEO, Dr. M.G. “Pat” Robertson, and an audience Q & A moderated by Dr. Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).
“Bringing presidential candidates to the university is our opportunity to take a leadership role in engaging the community and our students in the election process. With our history of hosting events such as ‘Clash of the Titans,’ Regent has a tradition of bringing together differing voices from across the political spectrum,” said Ann LeBlanc, vice president of Regent’s Office of Advancement. “This forum provides an excellent place for the critical issues facing our nation today to be discussed.”
The Presidential Candidate Forums are a special series of events offered under Regent’s popular Executive Leadership Series (ELS) program. The forums will provide candidates the opportunity to share their campaign platforms in a balanced, non-debate format. Regent does not support or oppose any candidate, and presidential candidates from both parties have been extended invitations to participate in future Presidential Candidate Forums.
In his opening remarks, Bush spoke of his faith-journey and the debate about whether people who practice faith should act on their convictions in the public square.
“I, for one, believe that people of faith should act on their faith,” said Bush. “It has given me a comfort that I cannot describe and a serenity that has made my life a lot simpler.”
Bush made mention of the threat of religious freedom in the nation today, and vouched for a nation that doesn’t revolve around decisions made in Washington, D.C., but shifting power back to the nation’s people. He said that he aims to create a safe and secure world with a “stop talking and start acting” approach.
“I know America’s brightest days are ahead of us,” said Bush. “We’re on the verge of the greatest time to be alive.”
The interview between Bush and Robertson focused on issues of religious freedom, the current political climate in Syria, and Bush’s tax plan–which would “balance the tilt from Wall Street to ‘Main Street,'” raise the age for retirement to the age 67, and eliminate the marriage penalty.
Robertson asked a question on the minds of many who are following the campaign’s progress, regarding news reports earlier Friday about funding and staff cuts. Bush assured the audience that this was nothing but his campaign’s ability to adapt and to be “lean and mean for the future.”
Following the interview, Sekulow offered questions from the audience regarding bringing back manufacturing jobs in the U.S., making higher education more affordable for students and focusing on the family to eliminate the “sticky” poverty that 6 million people find themselves in today.
Bush, who served as Florida governor from 1999 to 2007, announced his candidacy on June 15, 2015. He is the son of President George H.W. and first lady Barbara Bush, and a younger brother of President George W. Bush.
The candidate forum marked Bush’s second visit to the Regent campus. In 2007 he participated as a panelist for Regent’s Clash of the Titans, discussing the topic, “Should America Bring Democracy to the World.”
RSG Students Participate in Afghan War Game Simulation
Regent University’s Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) chapter, which operates under the aegis of the Robertson School of Government, has had an amazing start to the 2015-2016 academic year. In October, Dr. Patterson worked alongside YAF President, Sara (née Garth) Gainor, (M.A. candidate ’16) in running a simulation set in turbulent Afghanistan. The game provided undergraduate and graduate students the chance to practice diplomacy and develop strategic long-term planning skills when working together with nonprofit relief workers, local government and non-government organizations. The game, developed by LECMgmt for national military institutions, has been used in training at the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute, the National War College, the Naval Postgraduate School, and elsewhere.
Over 20 students participated, and it was a hit! There was not a minute to be bored when dealing with potential terrorist coups and hostage crises. This event served as a great stepping stone for YAF, which will follow next semester with a Mock Model UN focusing on nuclear proliferation.
Freedom Week: “Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down That Wall!”
The chapter started the week by celebrating the 26th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. YAF President, Sara (née Garth) Gainor, (M.A. Candidate ’16) read portions of President Reagan’s 1987 speech and encouraged participants to take part in destroying the symbol of communism. Dr. Patterson attended the event along with approximately 30 participants.
Despite the rain, everyone enjoyed the event and put a lot of passion in their attempts to destroy the Wall.
Student Veterans Alliance Joins National Organization
Twenty-eight percent of Regent University students are active-duty or retired members of the military, or are spouses or children to those who serve or have served. And, Regent even has one dean who is currently serving as an officer in the Air National Guard (Dean Patterson). An organization that helps military veterans transition to student life launched this fall. Regent University’s Student Veteran Alliance brings together faculty, staff and students from military and non-military backgrounds to support veterans.
Lance Holter ’16 (College of Arts & Sciences) is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. He said he faced many life challenges transitioning to academic life when he first became a student, and noticed other veterans in classes experiencing similar struggles. He teamed up with some of them, including Ron Riffle ’16 (CAS), a retired chief petty officer in the Navy, to bring Student Veterans Alliance to Regent. Holter is now president of the organization that is already 26 members strong and has gained support from Regent’s deans, professors, staff and the Office of Military & Veterans Affairs. The goal is to provide veterans with resources they need to transition, as well as connect them with campus organizations and people who support the military. Regent’s new group is also an official chapter of Student Veterans of America (SVA), and this recognition can provide scholarships, grants, fellows and leadership conferences to group members.
“We want to serve the military and veteran community, but this is not about isolating ourselves. We want to allow the external community to have access to see the military and have a shared experience,” said Holter. “There is an apparent disconnect between the nation’s all-volunteer military and the civilian population it protects. This is a way to share stories so others can learn about the military and veteran community. It is open to everyone.”
The new organization is engaging in several efforts. The first is to provide a coaching and mentoring network for student veterans. The organization will pair mentors who have successfully transitioned to student life with those who are making the transition. They will assist with life transition issues, like moving, and will help answer questions, especially about benefits, so students can concentrate on schoolwork and succeed academically.
“We want to connect vets with those who understand the academic process,” said Holter. “Someone who will mentor them through the process so they can get work done, and someone who will continue to coach these new students so they can continue to improve.”
Another effort is to join those with military experience and those who want to support the military. The Student Veterans Alliance is already actively involved in partnering with other student organizations to volunteer on campus. Members hope these efforts will make Regent more well-known as a community that supports its veterans.
“This will bode well with the incoming freshmen,” said Riffle. “They’ll see we’re doing this around campus. It’s a vision Lance and I have had for eight months to unite the process. That’s why it’s for anyone who wants to join and help vets.”
Dr. Caramine (Carrie) White, associate professor in CAS, brings her experience as a Navy veteran to her role of faculty advisor for the Student Veterans Alliance. The Student Veterans Alliance held its first official meeting September 22 and will continue with monthly meetings and one social or outreach event each quarter. The group will recognize official veteran ceremonies and reach out to Regent’s ROTC students. Members are looking at ways to engage students online as well as on campus.
Presidential Candidates Forum with Ohio Governor, John Kasich – November 18, 2015
Executive Leadership Series Luncheon with former NFL Player and Coach, Steve Wisniewski – December 7, 2015