Skip navigation

Robertson School of Government Newsletter – August 2020

In this issue:

  • Eric Patterson Explains Christian Realism
  • Dean’s Corner
  • More from RSG Social Media
  • Regent University Welcomes New Students for Fall 2020 Semester
  • Coastal Virginia (COVA) Magazine “Best Of” 2020 Awards Announced!
  • Alumni Highlight: Sabrina Estrella
  • Dr. Edwin Daley Receives the ICMA’s “Distinguished Service Award”


Featured Media of the Month

Dr. Eric Patterson Explains Christian Realism

Mark Tooley interviews Dr. Eric Patterson about Christian Realism. He’s executive vice president of the Religious Freedom Institute and scholar-at-large with Regent University. In 2003 he published a wonderful primer on this topic called The Christian Realists: Reassessing the Contributions of Niebuhr and His Contemporaries.

In this conversation, Patterson explains what Christian Realism is, who its major thinkers are, what role Reinhold Niebuhr played, whether it’s primarily Protestant, to what extent its critics think it’s cynical, and its application for today.

It’s a whirlwind conversation, so buckle up and enjoy!

You can watch or read the interview here!

Dean’s Corner

Dear friends,

What a momentous time to be involved in government. Rarely, outside of wartime, has the government had a heavier hand in American society. And it is also a very divided time – perhaps the most in the history of the country. Much like in Israel with the battle over forming a government centering on support or opposition of Benjamin Netanyahu, America can be considered a house divided over support or opposition of President Donald Trump. However, unlike in Israel where they rallied to form a government because of COVID, in America, we seem to be fighting even harder inside our house.

Long approved medicines that have been taken by millions of people end up at the center of a fight over the right or wrong of trying that medicine to treat COVID-19. When the Trump administration supports its use, doctors who post videos to Facebook supporting hydroxychloroquine as a safe remedy and those who share that post have found their accounts blocked suddenly by the technology giant. Why? Apparently the lack of scientific support from COVID specific trials has somehow become the criteria for whether we can have free speech. Science is the ultimate measure, and liberty gets the short stick. Of course, a different standard applies elsewhere.

Studies of the effectiveness of using masks have shown mixed results about their benefit in stopping the spread of viruses, but a meta-analysis of 172 research studies supports their use. But those analyses were not specific to COVID-19 nor wearing them in public settings with a populace that may not wear them effectively.

In one specific study, bandanas and knitted masks were found to be particularly ineffective, and the face wraps known as gaiters were noted to perhaps exacerbate the problem according to a New York Post report of a Duke University study. But the governments’ state-by-state requirements, in that case, are not readily aligned with the science. Perhaps that is why places that have instituted a full-time mask-wearing policy such as Honolulu are seeing cases spike. A false sense of security from mask-wearing may be leading to other unsafe practices that counteract mask-wearing or wrong choice of masks.

What’s a government to do? What policies should be followed, and to what extent should governments or corporations silence speech that argues for the merits or lack thereof of certain policies related to curbing a global pandemic’s impact? And what if the government and science gets it wrong for 3 or 6 months, requiring a practice that ends up harming rather than helping. If certain masks indeed curb the virus, and if everyone wears them for a few weeks, the pandemic goes away. Still, if the government says everyone wear masks, and people choose gaiters (oh that’s right, the Navy provided gaiters to recruits in May as their face covering), the government’s effort becomes harmful.

Studying these conundrums of governmental policy is central to higher education in government, public administration, and national security. Ultimately, the goal of how we educate at Regent University is designed to foster human dignity and freedom while enhancing human flourishing. Normally those concepts work together with human flourishing resulting from human dignity and freedom. But in cases like 2020, the balance between the dignity or indignity of having to wear a mask, the desire for individual freedom, and the need for coordinated action to promote corporate human flourishing is a difficult one to ensure. This is especially true in an environment where the pro and anti-Trump forces can be more interested in political advantage than in the effectiveness of the health results to so many people.

Perhaps our students this semester, with God’s help, will come up with the creative solution that helps reunite the American house and finds the balance to best promote flourishing for all of us.


Stephen D. Perry, Ph.D.

Interim Dean and Professor

More from RSG Social Media

Set Point: Good News on Human Rights and Religious Freedom

Blind Politics with Dr. Nolte: Voegelinian Varieties, Gnostic Nonsense and the Political Virtues of Incarnation

Blind Politics with Dr. Nolte: Analyzing the Israel-UAE Peace Agreement

Blind Politics with Dr. Nolte: The Electoral College is Not The Problem

Recent Events:

Regent University Welcomes New Students for Fall 2020 Semester

This week, Regent University hosted hundreds of new students for Welcome Week on campus in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The mission of Welcome Week is to help students acclimate to new learning and living environments by creating strong connections with the people, information, and resources that support their success.

“We are thrilled to extend a warm welcome to Regent University,” said Dr. Gerson Moreno-Riaño, executive vice president for Academic Affairs. “To our new students, you have chosen to rise above challenges and boldly embark upon a bright new future. At Regent, we are deeply committed to providing you with a world-class, Christ-centered education in a safe and healthy learning environment.”

Welcome Week provides new students with a comprehensive and holistic student onboarding experience, including orientation events and information sessions. Highlights of Welcome Week include hearing from university leadership, connecting with classmates and student leaders through numerous small-group settings, and settling into residence halls.

“Welcome Week ensures that new students can focus on starting their first courses successfully, take ownership of their educational experience, and engage with Regent’s campus culture,” said Kyle Graham, director of Regent’s Center for Student Happiness.

Regent has developed a robust Regent Ready: COVID-19 Preparedness Plan, including extensive policies and procedures to help ensure a safe and healthy campus for the Regent community amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. This plan incorporates best practices identified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the Virginia Department of Health, and has been certified by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

“Our students are world changers,” said Moreno-Riaño. “Regent Royals, you’ve chosen to earn your degree at the world’s most influential, transformational, Christian university. Together, let’s change the world.”

Coastal Virginia (COVA) Magazine “Best Of” 2020 Awards Announced!

Thank you for voting for Regent, Founders, Swan Terrace, and the Flowering Almond Spa in this year’s “Best Of” survey in Coastal Virginia Magazine!

Regent University has again received the “Best of” Southside Gold award in the Best of Higher Education category and Bronze for the Best Performing Arts Center – The Dede Robertson Theater!

Plus, the Grand Illumination at The Founders Inn and Spa also won Gold in the Local Festival/Event category. The CBN Christmas Village received the “Overall Gold” award in the Best Family Friendly Attraction/Activity category, and Founders Inn/Swan Terrace/Flowering Almond Spa received the maximum “Overall Gold” awards for the Best Banquets/Events Hall; Best Outdoor/Patio Dining; Best Local Chef and Best Massage (Gold), Nail (Silver), and Spa (Gold)!

Thank you for all you do to make REGENT and the Founders Inn the “Best of Coastal Virginia”!

Alumni Highlight: Sabrina Estrella

In Pursuit of a Dream: Graduate Says Hard Work and Faith Are Keys to Overcoming

For Sabrina Estrella (RSG ’20), the journey toward success has been some 20 years in the making — beginning with a dream to learn English.

But soon after immigrating to the U.S. and overcoming the language barrier, the native Brazilian decided she wanted much more than just to be bilingual. She wanted an education. But first, she would have to navigate some major challenges, including becoming a U.S. citizen and also enlisting in the U.S. Navy.

“I believe it is my strong work ethic and the ability to stay focused that has helped me to overcome,” she says.

Estrella’s hard work propelled her through Regent University’s Robertson School of Government where she was enrolled as a full- time student in a dual degree program while also being a full-time mom to two toddlers.

Estrella is the School of Government’s first combined bachelor’s and master’s student — graduating with a bachelor’s in international relations and foreign policy and a master’s in national security studies. Her extraordinary efforts earned her the nomination as student representative for the Class of 2020.

In her response to the chancellor’s charge during commencement, Estrella spoke on behalf of her fellow graduates: “We, Class of 2020, never surrendered on this momentous goal … our education. In these trying times, I?know we will overcome because we are more than conquerors. No matter what happens to us, if we have faith and if we have God, we will triumph.”

Faculty Highlight: Dr. Edwin Daley

Dr. Edwin Daley Receives the ICMA’s “Distinguished Service Award”

Dr. Edwin Daley is one of the Practitioners-in-Residence in RSG and the recipient of ICMA’s (International City/County Management Association) “Distinguished Service Award” this year!

Dr Edwin Daley

The ICMA Distinguished Service Award is given to a manager retired from the profession for a minimum of two years who has made an outstanding contribution to the management profession and local government. Conferred by the ICMA Executive Board, the award recognizes a manager whose service in his or her community or communities has been judged by peers as strong or exceptional, and who has made major contributions beyond direct service to local government.

Dr. Daley brings his notable experiences and expertise in public administration to the classroom, as the previous city manager in four different cities and a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. Daley also served in the U.S. Marine Corps, as chairman of the Virginia Institute of Government Advisory Committee, and as past president of various other local government associations.

Daley earned his bachelor’s degree from Slippery Rock University, his Masters of Public Administration from the University of Pittsburgh, and his doctorate from the University of Southern California. He has also taught at several universities, the most recent being Virginia Commonwealth University and West Virginia University.