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RSG Newsletter – May 2019

Robertson School of Government Dean’s Corner

Dear Friends,

Interm Dean Perry

We congratulate our 71 newly minted graduates from the Robertson School of Government. These students leave with MA or MPA degrees in Government, National Security Studies, or Public Administration or maybe even with more than one of those degrees. As students advance their educational credentials, they may have used GI Bill funding, earned scholarships, or paid their tuition through hard work as they went.

At one university, as you’ve probably read, the graduating class was listening to commencement speaker, billionaire Robert F. Smith. He said he was going to pay off the student debt for the entire graduating class, a debt that is estimated at $40 million dollars. Wow, what a gift to those students.

Have you stopped to think about what that meant to students who decided to graduate early who got out in three years in 2018 rather than doing a four-year stint? Or what about the student who finished all but that one general education course and needed to come back in Fall 2019 to take Math 101? How many students are likely to say, “It’s not fair. What about me?”

Of course we could continue this scenario for the students who almost attended Morehouse College, but instead came to Regent. Or maybe there was the student who worked a full-time job and sacrificed sleep and holidays for four years to pay for college and owed nothing, so he or she received no benefit from the gift.

But this reminds us of the story of the manager who was hiring workers to go into his vineyard. Some were hired in the morning and worked all day. They agreed to the wage of 1 denarius. Others were hired at mid-day and worked half a day. Some were hired in the last hour. Neither of those groups were told what they would be paid. But when the owner of the vineyard called the workers in to receive their pay, he started with those who had been hired last and paid them a full denarius. So those hired first expected to be paid more and grumbled when they too received a denarius.

This story, in Matthew chapter 20, reminds us that we may expect “fairness” to mean that people are treated equally in a financial sense. That the rate of pay for the same work is equal for all. The workers in the vineyard were not paid the same for the same work. But, all people were given what they had agreed to work for as a wage. The generosity of a man like Robert F. Smith, or the Vineyard owner in Matthew, tips the scales in favor of some.

So what is the point of this Dean’s musings? In Matthew, the vineyard owner asks what business it is of the workers who agreed to work all day if he wanted to be generous to those who had been hired last because they had not been able to find a job in the morning. Robert F. Smith has to ultimately say, I can’t pay the loans of everyone. Don’t I have the right to pay for just those I choose to help?

In government actions, complaints are often like those of the vineyard workers who bore the heat of the day. Some win the immigration lottery or receive a green card, Mexican and Chinese imports now have tariffs assigned that other countries’ goods don’t. Teachers in district A get paid more than those in district B. Water in city A is cleaner than water in city B. Taxes in state A are lower than taxes in state B. Whatever the scenario, “fairness” will never mean “equal” in every sense. While we can strive for that, may we be convinced that generosity toward some is still “fair” for all when we entered into an arrangement with our eyes open. May we be happy for others who are blessed more than we ourselves and may we be the cause of someone else’s blessings.


Stephen D. Perry, Ph.D.

Interim Dean and Professor


Learn about RSG

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.

Featured Story

RSG Students Participate in the NATO Festival Banquet

The NATO Festival Banquet, celebrating NATO’s 70th Anniversary, is a fine example of the opportunities available to Regent students to interact with leaders on the world stage. Because of world class practitioners like Professor Larry Baucom, students are made aware of local events that can be integrated into their educational experience. The NATO Festival Banquet was filled with ambassadors and dignitaries from all levels of governments from NATO member nations. This first hand interaction with world leaders is the type of exceptional learning experience that the Robertson School of Government affords to its students. One such opportunity was afforded to RSG student Tony Riley. He said, “I was grateful to have the opportunity to ask NATO Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchinson her thoughts on Russian aggression in the Ukraine and the Baltics.” Students also heard from General Andre Lanata, French Air Force Supreme Allied Commander Transformation and The Honorable Kenneth Cooper Alexander, Mayor of the City of Norfolk, VA.


Alumni Highlight

Alumnus Conveys a Clear Message in Public Affairs and Media Relations Jobs

Robertson School of Government MA in Public Policy alumnus, Gina Diorio, has crafted a career in public affairs and media relations since graduating in 2003. She is currently the Public Affairs Director for the Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs. Her work emphasis is specifically with member communication and she has responsibilities of interacting with the media. Prior to this role, Diorio worked with the Commonwealth Foundation, as the Director of Media Relations. In this capacity, Gina Diorio “secured favorable TV, print, and radio coverage focused on priority issues and in key geographic areas.” In addition, Diorio “crafted talking points and messaging for use with media, donors, and lawmakers.” She wrote and/or edited a wide array of materials including press releases, op-eds, mailers, and fundraising collateral.

Earlier in Diorio’s professional career, she served with Congressman Scott Garrett in various capacities but ultimately as his District Director. Concurrently, Diorio established Liberty Writing Solutions, where she “wrote and edited copy for clients including Members of Congress, statewide non-profit advocacy organizations, political consulting firms, national trade magazines and chambers of commerce.”

Diorio originally had no graduate school plans. But family led her to Regent University. Her sister and friend chose Regent. So, Diorio said, “There was no question where to attend.” Clearly the faith component was important to her as well. She advises others to “Stay close to the Word.” Otherwise, she says that compromising your standards is too easy as, “There will be many things that will pull you away.”

Student Highlight

Bohlender Adds National Security Study to Her “Battle for the Children” at Zoe’s House Adoption Agency

Kelsey Bohlender, who started this Spring as an MA National Security Studies student is already active in her public service. She serves as the Founder and Executive Director of Zoe’s House Adoption Agency, a non-profit, Christian adoption agency, in Kansas City. “The organization is dedicated to serving expectant moms and adoptive families with dignity and the love of Christ.”

In 2013, Bohlender, along with husband Randy Bohlender, co-authored The Spirit of Adoption: Winning the Battle for the Children. And they have lived out the subject of their book with six adopted children plus four children of their own.

Kelsey Bohlender has previously served with The Response USA in 2011, as the Program Coordinator. Bohlender “served on concept and design team for initial branding and provided leadership for all aspects of programming,” recruited prayer leaders, speakers, and worship teams for the event, and served as the stage manager.

Kelsey Bohlender also co-founded and served as a board member of the Daniel Academy in 2007. The K-12 Christian school centered on serving missionary families with a unique, parent partnership education model. The academy ran from 2007 – 2012.

Bohlender is pursuing her graduate studies while simultaneously parenting her 10 children. Her words of wisdom are to “Pursue the presence of the Lord in all your work.” She said, “Whether you are studying theology or law or math, if you seek Him you will find Him. There is one thing that is eternal — seek the one thing that can satisfy.”

Bohlender had always heard about Regent. She chose Regent because she desires to be “grounded not only in Biblical truth, but in current events and real life policy making, I felt drawn to explore National Security/Mid-East Politics, as an educational foundation.”


Recent Events

Regent Student Chapter of ICMA Hosts Deputy City Manager of Chesapeake

The Regent University Student Chapter of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) hosted Ms. Laura Fitzpatrick, Deputy City Manager of Chesapeake, in a guest speaker event on April 22. Ms. Fitzpatrick is an experienced public administrator who served as Assistant City Manager in several cities including Hampton, VA, Rio Rancho, NM, Manassas Park, VA and Troy, MI before her appointment with the City of Chesapeake. She also serves on the ICMA Board of Directors as Vice-President from the Southeast Region.

Speaking on the topic “City Management and Leadership: Lessons from my Father,” Ms. Fitzpatrick shared ten key management and leadership tips from her father, Dan Fitz, a retired City Manager, Rochester, NH. She used personal anecdotes to emphasize important aspects such as the need to provide great service, build good relationships, hire the right people, and exercise restraint. These principles are not only refreshing to students aspiring to careers in local government, they also reinforce servant leadership and Judeo Christian principles of government.

ICMA is a leading professional association dedicated to creating and supporting thriving communities throughout the world and the advancement of professional local government through leadership, management, innovation, and ethics. The goals of the ICMA Regent student chapter are to introduce and integrate students into local government and foster a strong commitment to servant leadership. For more information about Regent’s student chapter, contact Dr. Elijah Agyapong (, student leader positions are available for the coming year.

Faculty Update

Regent University Fountain


Professor Eric Patterson was awarded the Pindur Award for Distinguished Scholarship and Service from the Hampton Roads chapter of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA). Pictured with Dr. Patterson are RSG professors Dr. Agyapong and Dr. Roberts and ASPA chapter president, Kaitlyn James.

The Pindur Award is given annually to a scholar-practitioner who has made an impact on the discipline of public administration. In his remarks on Patterson’s work, RSG professor and MPA director Gary Roberts noted that during Patterson’s six years as dean, the Regent MPA program was launched and has graduated over 100 MPA students. Many of these students are current practitioners, such as the deputy city treasurer of Chesapeake, VA and the deputy city manager of Suffolk, VA. Also, during Patterson’s tenure, the Robertson School of Government tripled in size, with over 220 students in Fall 2018 and a graduating class of 71 this year.

Dr. Patterson remarked, “We could not have built this MPA program without the leadership of its director, Dr. Gary Roberts, or the work of our superior regular faculty and practitioners in residence, like Dr. Agyapong, Dr. Daley, and Professor Gaston, as well as faculty who have gone on to new positions, such as former professor and current Virginia Beach Mayor, Bob Dyer. I am honored to be a part of this team!”

ASPA is the national organization for students and serving public administrators. Its motto is “Advancing excellence in public service.” RSG students and faculty participate both in the local ASPA chapter as well as the local chapter of the International City and County Management Association (ICMA). For more information about RSG’s public administration programs, please see:


The University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB) MPA program established the Gaston Mentoring Award three years ago to honor Practitioner-in-Residence, Sam Gaston for his contributions to their MPA program. Professor Gaston taught at UAB as adjunct professor from 2000-2014, helped establish the first ICMA Student Chapter in the nation, and continues to serve as their Chapter Mentor. Gaston has hosted 18 UAB MPA interns during his time as City Manager of Mountain Brook, six of which have been selected for the Local Government Management Program sponsored by ICMA.

Professor Gaston was awarded the first Mentoring Award in 2017 and was present to help present the award to the winners in 2018 and 2019.


Dr. Andrew Nolte recently published an article in the Christian foreign policy journal, Providence, which was subsequently cited by a major Islamic organization in Indonesia, Bayt Ar-Rahmah. The article is available at the following link:


Associate Dean Mary Manjikian recently served as a keynote speaker at the conference “Ethical and Legal Aspects of Autonomous Security Systems,” sponsored by the University of Zurich and the Swiss Ministry of Defense. She presented a paper on “Cybersecurity, crisis stability and trust in autonomous warfare.” The conference, held at the University of Zurich, was the concluding activity for a year-long multinational effort aiming at defining and evaluating the notion of autonomy in unmanned weapons systems.


Dr. Edwin Daley recently attended the ICMA International Conference in Timisoara, Romania. The conference included municipal administrators from Europe, Asia and the Middle East in addition to North America. Conference members discussed progress in ICMA’s new municipal center in Europe which is housed in Bratislava, Slovakia. The Center’s Director reported on work in Kosovo and other efforts throughout Eastern Europe. Sustainability is a global issue and several sessions were dedicated to the transferability of local solutions implemented in Europe to the United States and other countries. Plans are underway for next year’s conference to be held in India.


Professor Eric Patterson spoke about just war ethics at Georgetown University. His talk focused on specific moral quandaries in the Vietnam and Mexican-American Wars with a focus on the challenge that leaders face in uncertain, insecure situations. The lecture was attended by Georgetown students, faculty, and community members including retired diplomats, aid workers, and clergy. The video of his remarks is available here: Patterson just released a book, Just American Wars: Ethical Dilemmas in U.S. Military History.


Dr. Agyapong and his coauthor published an article on Subjective Well-being and Political Participation in Ghana in early April in the Review of Development Economics. While the extant literature argues that people tend to be happier in countries where opportunities exist to participate in politics, it is unclear whether or how individual subjective well-being influences political behavior such as voting and protest activities. Dr. Agyapong and his coauthor employ data from the World Values Survey to examine this question in Ghana, one of the burgeoning democracies in sub-Saharan Africa. The full article is available at the following link: