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Friends Flock to PHC for Tenth Anniversary Celebration

April 14th, 2011

By David Halbrook. Photos by Art Cox.

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 441-8722
OfficeOfCommunications@phc.edu

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Dr. James Dobson

A prominent gathering of special guests, speakers, and more than 500 friends and supporters from across the nation gathered at Patrick Henry College, April 12th, to celebrate the College’s Tenth Anniversary and propel it prayerfully toward a new decade of growth and achievement.

“I am here tonight because I believe in this College and stand behind it 100 percent,” said keynote speaker Dr. James Dobson, former head of Focus on the Family and recent founder and host of Family Talk. Dr. Dobson headlined the event’s elegant dinner gala in the Barbara Hodel Center by chronicling escalating hostility toward traditional marriage and the steady erosion of America’s moral fabric.

Urging audience members to endure in the fight to protect an institution he termed “the foundation and ground floor of everything we value,” Dr. Dobson said “the health of government, economy, families and children are linked to the stability of marriage.”

It was but one of many stirring moments in a festive, day-long celebration that featured campus tours, musical performances, panel discussions, the joyous return of founding alumni, and the arrival on campus of hundreds of faithful friends and supporters. Many sat in on lively panel discussions on Christian culture and education by distinguished faculty and administrators. Later in the evening, Dr. Marvin Olasky, Editor in Chief of World Magazine and Distinguished Visiting Professor in Journalism and Public Policy this semester at PHC, conducted an on-stage interview with former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.

Dr. Marvin Olasky conducts a live interview with former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) in PHC's Barbara Hodel Center

Seated in armchairs overlooking a packed, handsomely appointed Hodel Center gymnasium-turned-dining room, Olasky and Santorum zeroed in on the former senator’s electoral ambitions.  He described the United States as a “moral enterprise” founded to provide its citizens the freedom “to pursue God’s call on their lives.

“At this stage, the primary focus of my wife, Karen, and I, is that we have a new president in 2013,” he allowed. “Politics is a family affair, and the arrows aimed at you too often hit the ones you love the most.” The well-known social and fiscal conservative who in 2006 lost his bid for a third term as U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, observed that the founding intent of government, politics, and economics was to “allow its citizens the ability to serve the ones they love: God, their families, and their brothers and sisters.” To rousing applause, Santorum said, should he run, a key plank would be to “repeal Obama-care.” Santorum has since announced he is forming an exploratory committee for the presidency.

The day-long festivities served, ultimately, as a signature moment to inspire, encourage, and remind the College’s many friends and supporters of the multiple milestone accomplishments that have marked the College’s short, albeit remarkable, history. Gesturing toward a table of students from the inaugural class of 2000, PHC founder and Chancellor Dr. Michael Farris said “The bravest of the brave were those first 85 students who took an incredible risk to come to this small, unproven College.” Recalling difficult early years that saw students living with area families and excelling amid Spartan conditions, he affirmed that “there is no way to explain (Patrick Henry College) today apart from God, and the prayers, gifts, and efforts of His people.” Asking the dozen or so founding alumni to stand, he added, “This celebration tonight wouldn’t be possible without you.”

Vision for the Future

Perusing the "Vision for the Future" document

The anniversary gala was equally a symbolic and energizing turn of the page toward a new decade of dreams and challenges, involving imminent plans for significant growth, more students, additional buildings, facilities, and academic programs.

Presenting a Vision for the Future document detailing PHC’s blueprint for the upcoming decade, President Graham Walker asked the audience “to prayerfully reflect upon and decide how you might help us reach some of these goals.” Citing the planned addition of new academic programs that may include majors such as Business and Entrepreneurship, Music, Pre-Med, Education and Biblical Studies, among others, Dr. Walker emphasized that the long-term objective was to allow the College to advance its “proven track record of fruitfulness and success to ensure that its calling -- to impact America for Christ and for Liberty -- is optimized and fulfilled.”

Artistic renderings profiled anticipated new buildings and facilities, such as a “classic American chapel” on College-owned land northeast of the campus, new residential dorms for a student population expected to grow in the next two decades from 350 to approximately 1,400 students, a beautiful, stand-alone library, new academic buildings, athletic fields, and a performing arts center.

The multi-year campaign to fund the College’s future growth was prepared by PHC’s Vice President for Advancement Colin Stewart, who hosted and coordinated the anniversary event, in consultation with Chancellor Farris, President Walker, the Board of Trustees, faculty, student, and alumni representatives, as well as many of the College’s major stakeholders.

Dr. Michael Farris (PHC Chancellor) and Dr. James Dobson greet some friends of Patrick Henry College

“America today is at a moral and spiritual crossroads,” the campaign brochure concludes. “It is clear that the need for Patrick Henry College is greater than ever. Within two decades, we see Patrick Henry College becoming by God’s grace one of America’s most influential colleges, a leader among Christian institutions, and a top contender among all. All friends of the College are encouraged to give generously to enable the College to fulfill its calling and potential.”

Reaping a Harvest

Underscoring the evening’s many pressing cultural themes, Dr. Dobson called the crowd’s attention to a sudden and unexpected willingness among key Republican leaders who, facing economic problems, are “calling for a truce” on important social issues. Noting with clear agitation that the 2010 elections swept into both houses of Congress a dominant pro-life majority, Dobson asked incredulously, “And we want to call a truce? Now is the time to stand up as Americans and finish this fight.”

He expressed confidence that Patrick Henry College would continue to send out graduates who will endure in the battle to defend the country’s Christian heritage and restore founding principles.  And then Dr. Dobson brought the College’s Tenth Anniversary celebration to a fitting close with an exhortation from Galatians 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

To learn more about the College’s “Vision for the Future," or to get your own copy of the campaign’s attractive vision document, contact the Office of Advancement at 540-441-8740, or e-mail campaign@phc.edu.

View the gallery below for a glimpse into our Tenth Anniversary Celebration!