A celebratory swarm of 70-pounds of green, blue and silver confetti filled the Library Plaza on Saturday, May 12, marking the grand finale of Regent University’s 2018 Commencement.
The ceremony conferred nearly 2,000 undergraduate and graduate degrees – the largest in the university’s history – on its campus in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
But even apart from the university’s record-breaking growth, and its anticipation of its College of Healthcare Sciences and School of Nursing launch in Fall 2018, it was a landmark ceremony. This year marked the first-ever graduating class from the College of Arts & Sciences Cybersecurity and Nursing students.
Regent now has 129 programs, with an alumni populous reaching more than 25,000, represented by 50 states and spanning across 89 countries.
“That’s just a few things that this school has accomplished – I’m proud of you,” said Regent Founder, Chancellor and CEO, Dr. M.G. “Pat” Robertson.
“You certainly deserve to celebrate… but most importantly, let’s give praise to our Lord for the good that He’s done in your lives,” said Phil Walker, Chairman of Regent’s Board of Trustees. “I applaud your class. I salute your accomplishments and I challenge you to become leaders of your community and nation.”
Nationally renowned cardiologist, author and speaker, Dr. Chauncey W. Crandall IV, delivered the ceremony’s commencement address, recalling his first glimpse at the beginning of Regent’s history when he passed through the area en route to his honeymoon with his wife – forty years ago.
“As I step on to this campus even today here and now I feel God’s presence, the rumbling of God’s power, here today. I know you feel this too,” said Crandall. “I never want you to forget this as you walk forward down God’s path.”
Crandall, who now serves at the Vice Chairman of Regent’s Board of Trustees, encouraged graduates to recall their first experience at Regent.
“I know that God brought you here for a purpose and for the move of the Holy Spirit in your life,” said Crandall. “You possess something of great value, something that the world needs. What the world needs is Jesus Christ today.”
Through his own story of tragedy after facing the death of his 15-year-old son, he made the decision to “turn to” God rather than to “turn away” from Him. He challenged the graduates, in the midst of their own battles, to turn to God in the face of hardship.
“You are entitled to victory in life through Christ,” said Crandall. “Never give up – and ‘never give up on God’ should be your battle cry.”
Robertson charged the 2018 class of graduates to go into the future, secure in their identity in Christ and the promise God makes to His followers in His Word.
“The God we serve is the future, and He holds the future in His hands,” said Robertson. “When you graduate from this place, the Lord’s charge to you is ‘fear not.’ Do not be afraid. God has a plan to prosper you and do you good.”
School of Education (SOE) alumnus Dr. Terri M. Smith ’18 delivered the student response to the charge from the Chancellor, said that as a new doctorate, he can now confirm that Regent’s graduation is not the “finale of any story,” but an opportunity to “set out on new adventures” and carry the school’s values of excellence, innovation and integrity into all that they do.
“We are members of a community that has everlasting hope in our potential, and while each of us individually completed assignments and missed many an engagement to focus on scholarship, none of us stands here alone,” said Smith. “Regent prepared us to be academically successful and socially relevant, but it is God who trusts us to choose the excellence we define, the innovation we expect, and the integrity of a wholesome life! In this, we are unified in hope for a prosperous future.”
Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Gerson Moreno-Riaño presented the 2018 Chancellor’s Award to Dr. Jack Keeler, School of Communication & the Arts professor – the remaining original faculty member of Regent, who completed his 40th year of teaching this year.
“He has a fantastic ‘can-do’ attitude about anything he’s asked to teach,” said Moreno-Riaño. “His passion is his students and he see them as people whom God is preparing for great things.”
Another distinction made at University Commencement is the Alumnus of the Year Award. This year, Robertson distinguished Reverend, Dr. Colleen Derr ’13 (SOE), President of Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University.
“It is truly an incredible honor,” said Derr, who explained that four Regent alum serve alongside her at Wesley Seminary. “Regent has had a profound impact on my life. It has formed us as it has formed you.”
Derr urged graduates to “take a moment” to reflect on what the Lord has done through their lives, and to “take a picture” so they could look back and remember their time at Regent.
“Embrace who you have become,” said Derr. “And be willing to take the leap into what else God has in store for you.”
Following the special remarks, graduates were comissioned from Regent’s School of Business & Leadership, School of Communication & the Arts, School of Divinity, School of Education, Robertson School of Government, School of Law, School of Psychology & Counseling, and College of Arts & Sciences.