RSG Newsletter – February 2017
Robertson School of Government Dean’s Corner
One of my great pleasures is to connect friends of Regent with our outstanding students and alumni. The past few weeks have provided multiple such opportunities. Last week we welcomed former Virginia Governor and U.S. Senator George Allen to our campus. A few days ago students heard from my close friend and former diplomat Thomas F. Farr, one of the world’s outstanding authorities on global religious freedom. Our students also recently had dinner and classes with Regent Distinguished Professor and former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft.
These experiences inspire students to go on to meaningful public service by showing what is possible for them. One example that you will meet in this newsletter is Sheldon Hudson (’07), Town Manager of Millsboro, Delaware. Hudson says that it is “incredibly fulfilling” to “make a meaningful difference in people’s lives” as a servant leader in Delaware. I hope that you, the reader, will be inspired by these stories and consider ways to better connect with our students through internships, giving, work placements, or a visit to our campus.
Dean and Professor
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Faculty Story: Dr. Roberts speaks at a combined meeting of Hampton Roads Chapters of ASPA and NFBPA
Dr. Roberts presented a seminar on emotional and spiritual intelligence to a dual meeting of the National Forum of Black Public Administrators and the Hampton Roads Chapter of the American Society of Public Administration entitled, “Workplace Relationship Dynamics: Emotional and Spiritual Intelligence”. In the session, Dr. Roberts provided 10 key principles to improve decision making, listening skills and leadership. The participants engaged in a vigorous discussion and application of the principles through a series of decision making case studies. For more information on the Hampton Roads Chapter of the ASPA, please click here.
Alumni Story: Sheldon Hudson (RSG ’07)
Sheldon P. Hudson, MA (RSG, ’07) is the Town Manager of Millsboro, Delaware where he implements and oversees the day-to-day operations of the town, allowing him to fill a number of important roles there.
When Sheldon first came to Regent he actually began with intentions to go to law school but quickly sensed that the field of government was a better fit for him. He said, “Initially, when I went to Regent, I was a joint law and government student, but, once I was there, I decided to focus solely on a Master’s in government.” Later, he stated, “Now, as the chief administrative officer for a municipality, I draw from my experience in a number of different disciplines. To name a couple, there are times I have to put on my ‘lawyer’ hat, and there are times I have to put on my CEO hat and act on behalf of Council. I like the fact that I am blessed with a career where no two days are alike and things are almost always interesting.”
After attending the Robertson School of Government, Sheldon held multiple positions in the public sector where he was able to work in the field of budget and policy analysis. Over the fourteen years until he began serving at the Town of Millsboro, he was also able to use his skills in the private sector—working as a director of risk management and HR generalist. In addition, Sheldon worked for his family’s business on a couple of occasions.
In 2016, the position that Sheldon felt he had been looking for finally came along. He began working as Assistant Town Manager at Millsboro before taking on the position of Town Manager this past August. Sheldon said, “I love that I am now working for a municipality located in the same county where I grew up. I feel like I have an opportunity to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives—many of whom I know either directly or indirectly. Needless to say, this is incredibly satisfying—especially when considering that many of my past jobs didn’t leave me with the same feeling.”
One of the things Sheldon said he appreciates about his work at Millsboro is the diversity of what he gets to do there. On any given day he could do anything from meeting with a developer concerning a new commercial or housing project – to dealing with a flood, fire, or snowstorm and its aftermath – to negotiating a contract – to working on a road improvement project with a group of engineers – to writing a press release – to making a presentation to a group of seniors or students – to consulting with the town solicitor – to working to hire new employees. He also loves that he gets to see the fruit of his labor.
Sheldon really stresses how rewarding a career in city government can be, and how much opportunity is available there. He advised, “I have worked at the state, county, and municipal levels, and municipal government is, by far, my favorite. If I were going to give any advice to RSG students and alumni, it would be to take advantage of the tons of opportunities that are available in city government right now. Many want to work in Washington, DC, but, in a lot of the networking meetings that I attend, I observe that many municipal leaders are baby boomers who are, presumably, right at the cusp of retiring, so, obviously, there is a tremendous opportunity there.”
Outside of his career, Sheldon said his main focus is on spending time with his wife, Kristan, and two kids, Zachary and Eliana. Apart from that, he leads spiritual counseling teams; sings on the praise team at his church; and serves on his church’s board.
Former Governor and U.S. Senator George Allen Visits Robertson School of Government
Former Virginia Governor and U.S. Senator George Allen visited Regent University’s Robertson School of Government (RSG) as this year’s guest speaker for the Senator A. Willis Robertson Lecture on Virginia Politics. Both Allen and Robertson, the school’s namesake, devoted their lives to public service in Virginia, and Allen shared how Virginia shaped the foundation for representative government in the free world as the United States’ oldest governing body.
“In his talk, Governor Allen discussed how people can have trust in the political process and some of the things that make Virginia unique,” said Dr. Eric Patterson, RSG dean. “Virginians have a history of being first in public leadership. We have people like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, a series of people who, in many ways, put their lives on the line in terms of public service.”
Allen’s presentation showed how Virginia’s early thought leaders shaped the landscape for future government throughout the United States. Although the Virginia General Assembly is the oldest elected representative body in the United States in continuous operation, Allen says, as governor, he led with innovation in mind, always questioning whether traditional ways of doing things were sufficient or could be improved.
“You do have to be willing to change, adapt, innovate and improve. In business, they call it continuous improvement, and that’s what I thought we needed to do as governor. You either make dust or eat dust, and I always wanted to lead,” said Allen as he showed a poster he kept in all of his Cabinet secretaries’ offices of horses racing, kicking up dust.
Since 1983, Allen served Virginia in the Virginia House of Delegates, U.S. House of Representatives, as Governor, and as U.S. Senator from Virginia. Currently, he is president of George Allen Strategies providing counsel, consulting and strategic advice on issues including energy, technology and business development.
The RSG’s mission is built upon Virginia’s values, with a focus on the Judeo-Christian principles that uphold American society. The school accomplishes this by emphasizing individual liberty, representative democracy and constitutional government, values that were important to Senator A. Willis Robertson, who served in Congress for four decades as a consistent conservative.
“We embrace people from across the political spectrum,” said Patterson. “Governor Allen is a very special person when it comes to Regent University. For instance, one of our distinguished professors, Judge Patricia West, was an appointment in his administration. She then went on to be judge here in the state.”
The RSG has more than 1,000 alumni serving around the world in positions of influence including municipal, state, and national government in addition to the military.
Former Virginia Congressman Joins Regent as University Fellow
The Honorable J. Randy Forbes, former U.S. Representative for Virginia’s 4th District, has been appointed as a University Fellow with Regent University. He began working with Regent in January 2017, the university announced today.
Forbes, who served in the House of Representatives from 2001-2016, is housed in the College of Arts & Sciences and holds a multidisciplinary role with Regent teaching graduate and undergraduate students in the university’s schools. Forbes will also develop a defense industry summit and help launch the university’s new cybersecurity institute.
“Congressman Forbes is a longtime friend of Regent University,” said Regent Chancellor and Founder, Dr. M.G. “Pat” Robertson. “He is a respected and noted expert on national defense and security, and our students will benefit greatly from his experience and insights. We are thrilled to welcome him home to join the Regent community.”
Over the past two years, Regent has strategically invested in new programs related to the growing field of cybersecurity, adding a bachelor’s degree program in 2016 and a master’s program that will launch in 2017. Forbes will draw upon his considerable experience in the defense arena to support these programs.
“Adding Congressman Forbes to Regent’s faculty roster aligns well with our university’s strategic goals,” said Dr. Gerson Moreno-Riaño, Regent’s executive vice president for academic affairs. “His many years of faithful and distinguished public service in the House of Representatives and our local community will be a tremendous asset as we collaborate on new initiatives to position Regent as a significant participant in the cybersecurity domain.”
During his tenure in Congress, Forbes was a champion for the military. As a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee and chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, he advocated for a strong national defense. Forbes is one of the few individuals to be honored with the highest civilian awards offered by both the United States Army and the United States Navy.
“I am excited to assist Regent in their goal to become a nationally recognized strategic center and look forward to bringing some of the best minds in the country together to address the challenges of our nation,” Forbes said.
In addition to his work on national defense, Forbes was a bipartisan leader for job growth and small businesses. He is known for his commonsense-style leadership in tackling issues from economic growth to tax reform to government spending. He was also a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, where he formerly served as Ranking Member of the Crime Subcommittee.
Born and raised in Chesapeake, Virginia, where he still resides, Forbes began his career in private law practice, ultimately becoming a partner in the largest law firm in southeastern Virginia. From 1989-2001, he served the Commonwealth of Virginia in the General Assembly.
Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft Hosts Dinner for Robertson School of Government Students
Former U.S. Attorney General and Robertson School of Government (RSG) Distinguished Professor John Ashcroft and his wife Janet, hosted a barbeque dinner at their residence for students and faculty. This event illustrates one way that Regent University students benefit from building relationships with their professors. It is a great time for School of Government students to unwind and get to know each other better in the midst of a busy semester. Jennifer Kuhnen (MPA ’18) commented, “The dinner experience with former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft at his house in Virginia Beach was wonderful! As a first year student at the Robertson School of Government, it allowed me to visit with some previous professors out of the classroom as well as meet prospective professors and classmates. It was a great pleasure to meet General Ashcroft, his lovely wife Janet, and their dog Gus! It is an even greater pleasure when a person of the General’s caliber not only opens his home to students, but when time is taken personally to meet every guest and make everyone feel welcome. Being afforded the opportunity to have a group conversation on current events, such as the recent inauguration of President Donald Trump and the many issues his Cabinet choices have raised, in a relaxed setting with not only the General, but many professors and others who have varied experiences in Government, was profound! My thanks to former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, Dean Patterson, and Anita Reed for all of their hospitality hosting and coordinating this event!”
General Ashcroft, who has taught at Regent for twelve years, and Dean Eric Patterson, served barbecue and dessert to faculty and students alike. The evening included current events-related activities as well as a time for discussion of government affairs. The General offered valuable insight to the students based on his time as governor, U.S. Senator and U.S. Attorney General. The night concluded with numerous songs including Regent’s official school hymn, “Regent, Host of Faith and Learning” (text written by General Ashcroft).
General Ashcroft teaches two classes at Regent, Case Studies in the Development and Implementation of National Legal Policy and Human Rights, Civil Liberties & National Security. Beyond his time in the classroom, he annually hosts up to ten events like the government dinner which allows him more time with students.
The Strategic Importance of a Religiously Free World featuring Thomas F. Farr
Millions of Christians and people of other religions are persecuted for their faith. It’s a topic near and dear to Dr. Thomas Farr who has spent his career raising awareness and working toward solutions to combat religious persecution. He visited Regent University’s Robertson School of Government (RSG) Monday, February 6, to stress the strategic importance of the United States in protecting its interests by promoting a religiously free world.
“Rhetorically, our country is splendid,” said Farr. “Presidents and secretaries of state make wonderful speeches about the terrible things that are happening. We actually declared genocide was taking places by ISIS against Christians, Yazidis and Shiite Muslims. The problem is, these are words, and words need to be followed by action. I’m not only speaking of military action, which we are trying to do in Iraq, but of diplomatic action to actually attack the structures of persecution that exist in these places.”
Farr was Director of the U.S. State Department’s International Religious Freedom Office, which was established in the late 1990’s to promote freedom of religion globally. Farr says it is important for the sake of stopping persecution that the President of the United States and Secretary of State understand the office’s importance in promoting global stability. He hopes that the Trump administration will appoint an ambassador for this office who will understand foreign policy, maneuver well through the State Department, and use his or her talents to develop strong policy.
“In a sense, religious freedom brings stability because it means everybody gets a voice,” said Farr. “You can’t have one religion in charge of a country. It just doesn’t work. We learn that from Catholic and Protestant history. Religious freedom preserves pluralism. It can be all within one religious group, but everybody has a voice, and you don’t kill each other because you have religious differences. Everyone gets to be involved in the public policy of the nation.”
Farr encouraged his audience to understand the broad and active view of religious freedom the founding fathers of the United States promoted. He said too many Christians in the United States have a weak view of what religious freedom actually means, and he challenged them to practice their faith in the public square.
“The notion that freedom of religion just means we get to worship in our churches with the doors shut, as if it’s a form of therapy to make you a better person, is nonsense,” said Farr. “But, a lot of Christians have bought into this, and they think that what they should do is just be good people. Well, they should, but a citizen of the United States is more than just a person who prays and is good to those who God has put beside them. We should be great citizens of the United States and fulfill our responsibility. To put it in Biblical terms, to take that light out from under a bushel basket and be salt and light for the world. Jesus is calling us to do this, and I think our country is, too. That’s religious freedom.”
Farr currently serves as the president of the Religious Freedom Institute, and director of the Religious Freedom Research Project at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University. He is also the grandfather of 10 grandchildren and says he fights for global religious freedom for them.
- Executive Leadership Series with Carly Fiorina – February 28, 2017
- Christian Leadership Lunch Lecture with Congressman Randy Forbes – May 21, 2017
- U.S. Army TRADOC Band Concert – May 25, 2017