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Home > PHC President Launches School Year in Convocation

PHC President Launches School Year in Convocation

August 26th, 2009

By Sarah Pride

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

Faculty in full academic regalia enter Town Hall during Convocation 2009

Professors in full academic regalia lined the front row of Patrick Henry College’s Town Hall during Convocation chapel this first day of the 2009-2010 school year as College President Dr. Graham Walker introduced some of the most exciting elements of the months to come.

This year, he said, PHC has welcomed one of its largest incoming classes—students coming to PHC from all over the nation.  According to results from respected academic measures like the Measurement of Academic Performance and Proficiency (MAPP, from Educational Testing Service) as well as the American Civic Literacy Test (from Intercollegiate Studies Institute), PHC’s incoming students continue to outperform students at every other college tested.  And, with the opening of the new Barbara Hodel Center, the College campus is thoroughly equipped to service these high-performing young adults.

“We are incredibly blessed, and we owe everything we have to our Maker,” said Walker, citing the Bible verse that encircles the expansive new lobby of the Hodel Center: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom . . . but let him who glories glory in the Lord” (Jer. 9:23, 1 Cor. 1:31).

PHC President Dr. Graham Walker (R) introduces new faculty members Dr. Van Doodewaard (L) and Mrs. Sara Pensgard (center)

Walker reminded the new students that they are “pioneers,” explaining that PHC, in its ninth year, is still in its “first generation.” Initially a dream of visionaries like College Chancellor Dr. Michael Farris, as a real-life effort the College has reached significant milestones. The brand-new Hodel Center marks a hard-won achievement.

“Way back at the start of things, Dr. Farris visualized a beautiful facility like [the Hodel Center],” marveled Walker, “—and now, here it is!”

Walker took special care to explain why the building is named for trustee Barbara Hodel.  Mrs. Hodel was a founding trustee of the College, and cut the ribbon dedicating Founders Hall in 2001.  Tragically, in 2008 Mrs. Hodel fell down stairs in her Colorado home and injured her spine, being forced to cope with extensive paralysis ever since. The Trustees could not help but notice the way she continued to trust in the Lord during her trying circumstances.

“We were looking on from a distance and noticed one thing. She kept following the Lord,” Walker said. “Dr. Farris returned from a visit saying, ‘We should name this building after Barbara!’ She had not angled for an honor, even to the slightest degree.”

PHC Chancellor Dr. Michael Farris and Dr. Walker speak to students after Convocation 2009

In fact, noted Walker, when the PHC delegation arrived at the hospital in Colorado, accompanied by Jim and Shirley Dobson, to explain to Mrs. Hodel that they wished to honor her, she did not initially grasp that they were there for her.  As she entered the room she simply thought, as she recounted to Dr. Walker later, “How wonderful that Don [her husband] is getting another award!”

Both President Walker and PHC Provost Dr. Gene Edward Veith gave a foretaste of what the campus should expect in the upcoming year from daily chapel and Christian Study Groups—an emphasis on personal devotions. To this end, chapel messages will draw from the Bible book of Psalms, the prayers of King David.

“Prayer leads to meaningful action.  In fact, only prayer leads to meaningful action,” explained Walker.  “Without prayer, our action is unfruitful or at least stunted compared to what God intends.  We have to abide in the vine if we are to bear much fruit.”

The ceremony closed, appropriately, with a prayer of gratitude delivered by PHC Chancellor Dr. Michael Farris.