RSG Newsletter – May 2018
Robertson School of Government Dean’s Corner
A hallmark of Regent is that we bring leaders to our campus to engage our students. In this edition of our newsletter you will see how state and local officials bring their insights and expertise to the Regent community.
Regent hosted its annual mayor’s forum, including local city mayors discussing employment, infrastructure, and economic issues. Because Regent sits at the intersection of multiple cities, convening these leaders is an important space for dialogue. You will also meet a local leader who is one of our students: Anthony Riley, Deputy City Treasurer of Chesapeake, Virginia.
One of the other things we bring to campus is professional experiences, such as through professional organizations (i.e. our local public administration association) and activities. You will see our Afghanistan wargame, led by RSG and undergraduate faculty, that was originally developed for the National War College by LEC Management in California as well as a campaign training day led by American Majority.
These professional experiences complement the classroom and make our students and alumni ready to be Christian leaders to change the world.
Dean and Professor
Watch the “Get to Know RSG” video.
For more details as well as our calendar of events, please see our website.
Student Story: Anthony “Tony” Riley (MPA ’19)
Anthony “Tony” Riley is finishing his first year working toward an MA in Government at the Robertson School of Government and looks forward to graduating in May 2019. Tony is a native Virginian from Portsmouth and currently serves in local government as the Deputy City Treasurer in the City of Chesapeake Treasurer’s Office. Tony works to ensure people’s transactions with the city go smoothly whether they need to pay their taxes or license fees.
As someone passionate about politics, Tony has worked in multiple aspects of Virginia politics over the past few years. During his work on several campaigns, he travelled across Virginia to obtain signatures for candidates seeking to get on the ballot. As a result of his work, Tony met Virginians from all walks of life and learned about the critical issues they face. Tony’s work in politics has also given him the opportunity to experience the inner workings of the American political system as well as interactions with various candidates. Riley says, “This human element was a critical insight for me as you often see candidates become caricatures in the media. As easy as it is to criticize politicians, we have to strive to remember they are also created in God’s image.”
Tony reflects on his valuable experience in Virginia politics. In 2012, he was privileged to drive in presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s motorcade for a campaign event in Portsmouth, and in Norfolk, personally witnessed the Republican Party’s announcement of Paul Ryan as vice presidential candidate. Riley worked for Republican candidate Ed Gillespie during his 2014 U.S. Senate campaign against Democratic incumbent senator, Mark Warner. Gillespie narrowly lost the race by less than 1% of the vote after a vigorous campaign that was not conceded until the Friday after Election Day. The race attracted national attention as Virginians wielded pivotal influence in the presidential and senatorial elections that year.
In the summer of 2017, Tony decided to enhance his experience with an advanced degree in American Government. He knew about Regent University and had considered applying to a graduate program, but it was an encounter with Jackie Alazas, that inspired Tony to apply to the Robertson School of Government. Jackie is a Regent student pursuing her Masters in Fine Arts who impressed Tony as he remembers “seeing Jackie’s enthusiasm and testimony for how she decided to go to Regent was the pivotal moment in my decision.”
Tony believes he and other RSG students benefit from “exposure to exceptional faculty and staff that have made consequential decisions in the real world government.” Riley refers to leaders like Attorney General John Ashcroft, Governor Bob McDonnell and is impressed that “on occasion a former elected official such as Congressman Randy Forbes will pop in and teach a lecture.” Tony’s favorite RSG class so far has been U.S. Foreign Policy taught by adjunct professor RADM William McCarthy (USN, ret.). He says the class and Admiral McCarthy’s “unique experience” helped him pinpoint his interests and focus on his calling to Foreign Service.
Tony is spending his time at RSG acquiring the tools required for him to serve American interests in European or Asian affairs. Tony hopes to influence places of “geopolitical contests” to provide order and lasting solutions to complex issues challenging American interests and the people in those regions of the world.
Tony’s advice to those considering graduate work at Regent University, “Don’t think twice, just do it! It’s easily the best decision I have ever made. The sense of community and caring in this place will make your heart full. You will instantly feel like part of the team. You feel God’s presence around you the moment you step foot on campus.”
Regent University’s Executive Leadership Series Features Annual South Hampton Roads Forum
On Wednesday, April 11, Mayor of Suffolk Linda Johnson, Mayor of Portsmouth John Rowe, Mayor of Virginia Beach William Sessoms, and Mayor of Chesapeake Rick West joined Regent University’s Executive Leadership Series at the Founders Inn and Spa.
The annual event invites the mayors from each of the Hampton Roads area’s major cities to participate in a Q&A-style forum, with questions submitted from attendees. The event was moderated by WTKR/WGNT anchor Les Smith.
Top of the docket for discussion was concern for the security and safety of the area’s schools. Johnson, who served as a school teacher, before her tenure as Suffolk’s first female mayor, articulated “mixed feelings” about the ever-growing debate of whether to arm teachers.
“I believe we’re going to have to step up not only as a community but as a nation and address all of the issues that are really at the bottom of all of this,” said Johnson. “… I think mental health is a huge issue in our country. We have got to get our arms around it, because if we don’t, children are seeing a different experience than what I believe they truly deserve.”
Next up, the mayors were asked about their perception of their area’s greatest need for improvement as they continue to work together. Sessoms predicted storm water and sea-level rise would be the “biggest financial ticket for this region.”
“It’s going to be hard to even comprehend what this cost is going to be, but it’s going to have to be done if we’re going to survive,” said Sessoms.
West acknowledged the completion of the Veterans Bridge and organizations like Dollar Tree bringing jobs to the area.
“People think that we’re growing too fast so there’s a perception that we’re growing too fast and that our growth is out of control,” said West. “I don’t think we’ve done a good job explaining what the plan is that we have in place to control that growth.” The next question addressed the recent decline in retail – addressing the fact that more stores closed in the area in 2017 than they did during the nation’s recession. Smith asked each mayor to “forecast” a year from today and share how they are working to support retail and new jobs.
Sessoms quoted tourism as critical to the area’s continued success. He proposed that Virginia Beach continues to invest in real estate and for opportunities to bring people to the city.
West said he was “encouraged” by the work Virginia Beach is doing with fiber optic cables and foresees that industry bringing an asset to the area – along with the growth of the area’s 500 new businesses created this year.
Johnson acknowledged Suffolk’s growing mark in the food and beverage industry, referring to her city as the “caffeine capital of the world,” with businesses like Pete’s Coffee and Lipton Tea bringing jobs to the area.
Rowe is a self-proclaimed “optimist” on the region, stating that over four decades the area has come a long way. He listed the area’s top opportunities for jobs as the department of defense and the port.
“One in 10 jobs is either directly related or indirectly related to the port,” said Rowe. “The biggest ships coming to the East Coast are calling on Hampton Roads – and they’re calling on Portsmouth.”
Where the area’s tax dollars are spent, and how the budget is allocated was next on the agenda. Smith asked the mayors what they believed they were spending too much money on, and what they hope to invest in further in the future. “We’re spending too much money on unfunded mandates from the federal and state government,” explained West.
Johnson agreed, adding healthcare to the list of budgetary pain points.
“We will always be spending on infrastructure and trying to keep [it] up to make sure that people have a good quality of life,” said Johnson.
“Things wear out like bridges and roads, as we look to the future that is going to be a big need,” said Rowe.
“One must always continue to fund two key things: education and public safety,” said Sessoms. “I venture to say that we would not be here today or have the success of our city or region if we did not have good schools or if we did not have safe neighborhoods.”
Finally, each of the mayors were asked what their city should do to strengthen their neighborhoods. Rowe cited amendments to zoning ordinances to protect the welfare of the nation’s oldest planned neighborhood and revitalizing older cities.
Sessoms once again stressed the need for strong schools and public safety systems, while working to combat flooding in the area. West agreed, citing the areas schools and upkeep with the city’s infrastructure. Johnson emphasized bringing about the area’s sense of belonging and opening communication with the area’s citizens.
“They know their neighborhoods better than anyone,” said Johnson. “You see them come back and then come to be a really important part of their city because you’ve built that sense of place. It’s all about community, communicating, and making sure that people really feel that they own that community and that they are a part of it.”
Regent’s Executive Leadership Series will continue Fall 2018.
Dr. Patterson and Dr. Manjikian speak at ISA MEeting San Francisco
Dean Patterson and Associate Dean Mary Manjikian participated in the annual meeting of the International Studies Association (ISA) in San Francisco. ISA is the preeminent inter-disciplinary for the study of everything international, from anthropology to the arts to national security affairs.
Dr. Manjikian presented a paper on gender in the practice of intelligence, and also chaired two panels on cybersecurity policy. In addition, she attended an alumni conference for the North American Oxford Society where the chancellor of Oxford University spoke about the rise of right-wing extremism in Europe.
Dr. Patterson spoke on a panel about intellectual diversity in the academy. Alongside professors from Notre Dame, Baylor University, Central European University, and elsewhere, Dr. Patterson agreed with other panelists that there is a high level of partisanship and low level of intellectual diversity in international studies as a discipline, and that many university campuses have become wildly polarized.
American Majority Campaign-in-a-Day Training
Last week, I had the opportunity to attend American Majority’s Campaign-in-a-Day Workshop. Until this point, I was blissfully unaware of the intricacies of campaigning, but this event altered my perspective. Participants split into teams to faceoff at the end of the day to compare how well we each ran our hypothetical campaigns. The American Majority representatives briefed us with a crash course on campaigning, teaching us everything from how to mathematically calculate our target vote goal, to choosing effective yard sign colors. At the end of each briefing session, we put our knowledge to the test and navigated through challenges that might appear on an actual campaign trail. We strategically choose our endorsements, ads, and fundraisers to give us the most bang for our budget. We also had to think on our toes and respond not only to attacks from our opposing candidate and the media, but also to conflict within our own campaign team. My team was especially creative in making sure our hypothetical campaign volunteers enjoyed high morale, remembering to keep the mad dash to Election Day fun. I’m proud of the way we spun negative situations into positive possibilities. At the end of the workshop, we presented our closing statements and debated our opposing candidate. Fortunately, our candidate won the State Senate race.
I would definitely attend a future Campaign-in-a-Day Workshop and would encourage peers to give it a try as well. Not only was the event a fun way to add training experience onto my resume, but it instilled in me a new respect for the campaign process. Previously I had not considered the amount of painstaking detail and strategy that goes into a campaign, but I now have a rough idea. My team had to take a hard and honest look at our candidate to highlight his strengths and spin his weaknesses into strengths as best we could. Everything in his bio was up for grabs by the media and we had to remain constantly ready to respond. There’s an underlying feeling that any small decision could be the one to backfire and end the campaign, but it can be overcome by choosing a solid campaign team and trusting them to perform their jobs well. The Campaign-in-a-Day reminded me of Proverbs 16:9, in that though man devises all the campaign plans, rallies, and appearances he can, ultimately, his footsteps are established by the Lord. I truly respect those who run for office because it takes immense boldness to do everything within your power and be at peace with the fact that it may or may not be enough on Election Day. It takes even more boldness to try again next term. Now, when I see door-knockers, campaign rallies, or mailed pamphlets, I can appreciate the strategic workmanship and art of running a successful political campaign and be inspired by their efforts. Who knows – maybe next time it will be my own name on a mailer. (Story by Kayla Babitz, MA ’18).
Looking to the Stars: Robertson School of Government Hosts Lecture on Sci-Fi’s Place in Modern Politics and Christian Worldviews
Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, the Walking Dead, and Star Trek, each with their own set of characters, in wildly fantastic worlds, planets, and galaxies, are usually the stuff of cinema and comic books, but on Tuesday, April 17, they served as content for a Regent University Robertson School of Government (RSG) lecture titled “To Boldly Go … in Faith? Christianity, Politics, and Science Fiction.”
During the lecture, RSG professors Dr. Andrew Nolte and Dr. Mary Manjikian, discussed culturally iconic as well as lesser known works of science fiction, and the value they hold.
Nolte said science fiction allows us to reflect on political and moral dilemmas. The allegorical veil it provides.
“Sometimes science fiction authors have used speculative scenarios to make commentary about the world we live in now,” said Nolte. “But even more than this intentional sort of political and social commentary … I think we can learn a great deal about the hopes, anxieties, and beliefs of the current moment by looking at science fiction.”
Star Trek, Nolte pointed out, could be interpreted as fiction that frames technological advancement as something to be sought after, as something that can better society and the lives of people in it; that it can help humans create a sort of “utopia.”
Flip that, and you get Battlestar Galactica, a far more pessimistic, “dystopian,” narrative of the negative toll technology can effect on culture — one in which aggressive robots wage a war of attrition on their human counterparts.
People consume these works because it “bides a canvas” for discussion, said Manjikian. It allows for a “decontextualized” conversation, or veiled allegory that makes topics normally difficult or discomforting more accessible.
These seemingly futuristic stories can, paradoxically, offer answers to issues of the past.
“When the industrial revolution came in, people started asking questions we’re asking now: ‘Are these machines going to take our jobs?’ and ‘Who are we if we don’t have our jobs,’” said Manjikian. “We’re beginning to ask these questions. ‘Who are we and what do we represent?’ And that’s where science fiction can sometimes help us.”
“What a lot of these stories enable us to do also, is to think about something called emerging technology, which is something characterized by novelty, relatively fast growth, coherence, prominent impact, and uncertainty and ambiguity,” said Manjikian. “These are the technologies that have the ability to radically shape the world in which we live.”
Nolte also said sci-fi is speculative, voicing concerns or hopes or even offering insights into possible dilemmas the future holds especially for Christians, specifically in the areas of genetic modification and engineering, robotic automation, and artificial intelligence for the masses.
“It’s so easy for us to become focused on the current, contemporary crisis of the day, that we as Christians sometimes neglect to think about potential challenges coming down the pipe,” said Nolte. “If we don’t think ahead from a robust, Christian worldview, about the implications of technology, and how it affects our faith, then we’re essentially put in the position of accepting something as it becomes established.”
RSG Students Participate in Afghan War Game Simulation
On April 24, students and faculty from the Robertson School of Government gathered to participate in an Afghanistan simulation, titled “Reconstruction and Stability Operations in Highly Religious Environments.” Led by Dr. Eric Patterson the goal of the simulation was to have different players try to reconstruct Afghanistan. Throughout the game, players were required to handle negotiations, crises, and resources all the while attempting to rebuild. A key feature of the game is the emphasis on the thick culture of Afghanistan, including religious-inspired violence, fatwas, and traditional power structures. The participants soon realized that bringing stability and long-term development to Afghanistan was not a simple task. Within each round came the possibility of an unforeseen crisis forcing players to rebuild or reallocate resources.
By the end of the game, the players overall reconstruction was somewhat successful, only slightly below the required stability number needed to win the simulation. However, for Dr. Patterson, it was more than just about a successful completion of the simulation. After the last round Dr. Patterson had players discuss what they had learned from this game. Players covered not only its applicability but also a religious perspective. One thought presented by those in attendance was the importance of culture and collaboration. Student, Catherine Jessberger notes, “The game was not only fun but also a great way to learn more about international relations. Yet another example of the wonderful opportunities offered at the Robertson School of Government”.
Regent University Participates in Virginia Beach National Day of Prayer
On Thursday, May 3, leaders from Regent University and the Virginia Beach, Virginia, community came together for a UNITY prayer event in recognition of the National Day of Prayer. During the event, various speakers prayed over a variety of different issues.
“I think oftentimes, our teachers are the most underappreciated servants in our community,” said Regent University School of Law Dean Dr. Michael Hernandez, who led a prayer for students, schools and those who work in the education field. “We can pray a blessing on our teachers, today, and we can trust the Lord to provide all they need.”
“For this 240 years of the great American experiment, we’ve always relied on faith and prayer and divine providence as Mr. [Thomas] Jefferson calls it in the Declaration [of Independence] to sustain and enlighten and grow democracy, a free people binding together,” said Virginia Governor and distinguished faculty member at Regent University, Robert McDonnell.
He pointed those present to the faith settlers in America’s early colonial history held to, even through immense adversity.
“The elements of prayer and faith have been the foundations of this nation,” said McDonnell.
“Having the privilege today to pray for state, local, and federal governments, is something, to me, that’s so vitally important,” he said. “The nature of our debate is toxic. The rhetoric is too uncivil; we don’t have enough leaders that are servant leaders who believe in humility.”
In his prayer, Dr. Eric Patterson, dean of Regent University’s Robertson School of Government, lifted up the individuals who put themselves in harm’s way to serve our country and its citizens.
“We’re enjoined in the Bible to pray for our leaders, for those in authority,” he said. “In Romans 13, we’re told that those who wield the sword, and do it under God’s inspiration … that they do it for our good, and that includes law enforcement who do that domestically, and that includes our members of the military, who do that abroad.”
RSG’s MPA Director, Professor, Alumnus, and Current Student Recognized at Hampton Roads ASPA Awards Banquet in May
The Hampton Roads Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration (HR-ASPA) recognized and elected two RSG MPA Professors and a former RSG MPA student as well as a current MPA student at their annual awards luncheon and induction of 2018-2019 Board officers on May 10, 2018. Dr. Gary Roberts, MPA Program Director, will continue to serve on the Board for another year and Dr. Elijah Agyapong was newly elected to serve on the Board.
Recent RSG graduate, Rebekah Lloyd (MPA ’18 / BS Psychology ‘16) was inducted as incoming President-Elect of the chapter, among other incoming officers. Rebekah is currently a candidate for the Doctoral Program in Regent University’s School of Business and Leadership. Ms. Lloyd will serve as President of the Chapter in 2019-2020. She also serves as the Founder and CEO of “HER Story” a Virginia Beach NGO dedicated to women military veterans. In 2017, Ms. Lloyd was crowned as Ms. Veteran America, 1st Runner Up after serving for nine years in the U.S Army (Fort Drum, NY), including tours in Afghanistan. She currently serves on the Virginia Beach Veterans Committee and has also served as a Focus Forward America Fellow of Purdue University (Indianapolis, IN) from 2016 to 2017.
Additionally, current RSG MPA student Linda S. Waits (MA Government ‘16) was recognized as recipient of HR-ASPA’s 2018-2019 Student Scholarship. The annual scholarship is awarded “to a student who demonstrates the potential for individual excellence in public service.” Scholarship candidates are “evaluated on work experience, professional development and extra-curricular activities and must submit an essay and letters of recommendation” according to the scholarship requirements.
- European Study Abroad Trip – May 25 – June 6, 2018
- A. Willis Robertson Lecture on Virginia Politics with Gov. Bob McDonnell – September 18, 2018