Nearly 200 new Regent University faculty and staff along with several key student leaders were commissioned at the annual University Convocation ceremony on Wednesday, August 30.
Each year, university leaders anoint and pray over new members of the Regent family as they begin their collective journey on campus. It’s a time of worship and reflection. An important milestone at the start of each academic term.
Read the full list of new faculty and staff members.
This year, retired Vice Admiral William “Dean” Lee gave the keynote address and a special charge to incoming students. Though, by admission, Lee did not categorize himself as a “noteworthy” student during his own time at the University of South Alabama.
“I’d categorize myself as mediocre at best,” said Lee. “I’m just an old, retired admiral. An admiral who managed to graduate from college after great amounts of effort, second from the bottom of my class.”
But Lee told students, it doesn’t matter in this life where they start.
“The only thing that matters in this life is how you finish,” said Lee. “No matter who you are, where you came from or how hard some of your courses are going to be, you can do this. Give it your all and just don’t quit.”
Lee has acquired many titles and accolades during his 36-year active duty status, including Commander, Atantic Area Commander, Defense Force East Director, and DHS Joint Task Force East U.S. Coast Guard. But he remembers his academic journey all too well.
“I’ve had 62 [years], and there hasn’t been an easy one yet,” said Lee. “And I can tell you that the next four years could prove the toughest and most important of them all.”
Lee said that the decision students make within the next few years of their academic life will likely “open or close 10,000 doors.”
“This, right here, is the proving grounds,” said Lee. “This is where you’re going to lay the foundation for who you are about to become, not what you’re about to become.”
An important distinction – and for those students who plan to answer the call to become “Christian leaders to change the world,” Lee offered four basic rules of success for the journey:
First, to “read, heed and lead.”
He encouraged students to buy the “best book on leadership”: the Bible.
“Take the book wherever you go,” said Lee. “The rule is wherever your cell phone goes, the Bible goes…read that thing cover-to-cover at least once while you’re attending, four times if you can.”
Lee challenged students to mark up the Bible with their thoughts on each page and margin until it’s tattered; then passing it off as a gift to the next generation of their family as they start their college career.
Second, to “treat this endeavor just like a job.”
“Develop a work ethic right now. Set your alarm. Get up and go to work,” said Lee. “Learn to manage time, because if you can’t manage time, you can’t manage anything – I don’t care how smart you are.”
Third, to “stay healthy and free.”
“Don’t let this be a time when you stop going to the gym or tend the temple God gave you,” said Lee. “Eat right instead of eating McDonald’s. Seek not any synthetic forms of pleasure.”
Fourth, to “make [him] want to hire you.”
“[Employers] are looking for people who can work with and inspire others,” said Lee, who encouraged students to hone in on their social skills. “Practice the long lost art of acknowledging people that you pass. Make eye contact with them. Smile. Get out of your bubble. It becomes infectious before long.”
Along with cultivating character, Lee reminded students that they hold the “paintbrush” for the “canvas” that God gave to them. Students have a choice, he said, to paint a pleasing portrait or something scary and abstract.
“The question at the end of all of this is who will want to buy it?” said Lee.
Finally, Lee reminded students to do their best throughout their academic careers. Just as he persevered throughout his life to achieve his goals, despite his lacking academic merit, Lee encouraged students to do the same.
“God doesn’t always call the qualified, but he qualifies the called,” said Lee. “Reflect the light of God as you walk around this campus. Serve others in some capacity…work hard, don’t quit.”