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Home > Faculty Encourage Each Other in Yearly Retreat

Faculty Encourage Each Other in Yearly Retreat

August 20th, 2009

By Sarah Pride

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 338-8727

PHC President Dr. Graham Walker delivers an address during 2009 Orientation

Each year before classes begin, the PHC faculty gather for a private retreat with College administration. The purpose is to “bring faculty together for camaraderie and fellowship,” according to PHC Provost Dr. Gene Edward Veith. This fall, they held their retreat in the College’s newest structure, the Barbara Hodel Center, an impressive building still smelling of fresh paint and drywall as it gears up for official use in a few weeks. Over the course of the sessions, they held prayers, assigned committees for the year’s faculty senate, and re-centered everyone on PHC’s mission.

“We seek to defend reason out of the resources of faith,” PHC President Dr. Graham Walker told the faculty, “—not, ‘defend faith’ from reason. Belief in Christ undergirds reason and gives it support.”

Provost Veith noted that the PHC faculty includes “some very high-powered people,” but what encourages him most is their “spirit of collegiality and fellowship, godly concerns, desire to serve students, and sense of vocation.”

“I think our faculty is very unified. Having seen the atmosphere at other colleges, I was struck by that,” he said.

As part of their desire to undergird all intellectual striving with spiritual dependence on Christ, faculty members began their retreat by consecrating each new classroom of the Barbara Hodel Center with prayer and Scripture reading. The Provost read a brief Bible verse relating to education, and then a few professors prayed in each room.

PHC Chancellor Dr. Michael Farris speaks with faculty during 2009 yearly retreat

“The gym, locker rooms, and all that—they belong to the students,” said Veith. “The classrooms belong to the faculty. And the first thing that happened in those classrooms was prayer.”

During the retreat, faculty members responded to an invitation from students involved in the on-campus construction ministry and lunched with the workers who built the Hodel Center. Another day, they discussed an essay by Roger Ascham on the topic of classical learning. Altogether, they set the course of the upcoming year and cemented their common bond as role models, pedagogues, and researchers.

New Library Director Sara Pensgard, the newest member of the Faculty Senate, discussed making the transition from being one of twenty librarians at Liberty University, noting that “[at PHC] you can actually know the students and work with faculty face-to-face, tailoring library resources to particular courses.” She welcomed the chance to “put faces to names” at the workshop.

“It’s good to have this connection with the administration,” she said, “so that we can all know the direction we are trying to follow.”

“[Your wisdom] is very contagious,” President Walker concluded in a closing address to the faculty, “and I understand [from the students] that the contagion is spreading.”