Palm Beach Atlantic University's day of joy began at 6:45 a.m. on Monday at PBA’s new Rinker Athletic Campus as the men’s and women’s soccer teams stepped on the new soccer fields for the first time.
While speaking to an assembly of faculty and staff during the University’s annual Community Day observance later in the morning, President William M. B. Fleming Jr. recalled that unique feeling of engagement with students that he and his wife, Pam, felt while sharing that experience with them.
“What a joy,” he said.
Joy was the theme not only of President Fleming’s his annual State of the University address in the DeSantis Family Chapel but also the theme for the coming academic year.
That theme, “Inexpressible Joy,” is based on 1 Peter 1:8, which was read aloud by Associate Professor of Ministry, Leadership and Biblical Studies Dr. Vic Copan: “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.”
“If we harness that spirit of joy, no one can stop us,” President Fleming said. “We will indeed soar to new heights together.”
Held in the week before classes begin, Community Day includes a worship service and an employee service award presentation. The ceremony is followed by a luncheon in the Rubin Arena of the Greene Complex for Sports and Recreation.
Palm Beach Atlantic University's 2013 Employee of the Year Mary Jacobs (left) and President William M. B. Fleming Jr. present the 2014 Employee of the Year award to Alice Lee, database administrator for Campus Information Services, during Community Day on Monday.
The new athletic campus, which is set for a Sept. 4 grand opening event, was one of many highlights of the State of the University address.
President Fleming also touched on the University’s two recent acquisitions, the former Quattlebaum funeral home property and Coastal Towers apartments.
For the near future, the Quattlebaum property east of the Greene Complex for Sports and Recreation is slated to become a “beautiful lawn available for relaxation, conversation and quiet time,” he said.
Meanwhile, the 21 vacant units in the Coastal Towers apartments, which PBA secured in July, are being renovated and will become premium on-campus housing this fall, he said.
He noted that PBA is becoming a “destination institution” and expressed gratitude that the University has a healthy enrollment picture at a time when many private higher education institutions are not as fortunate. When classes begin Aug. 25, PBA expects to welcome about 730 first-year students, he said.
Also, the University is financially strong and recently enjoyed a record-breaking fund-raising year, he said. “Today we have never been stronger, and we give thanks,” he said.
The president also recognized Dr. Gene Fant, the University’s new provost, and he said several “great new Christian scholars” have been added to the faculty.
During his remarks, President Fleming paused to pay tribute to two men who were absent from the day’s proceedings: PBA Founding Chairman Dr. Donald Warren and Professor of Psychology Dr. Billy Lewter, both of whom passed away in April.
“This is the first year in 46 that Palm Beach Atlantic University has begun without the faithful crusader Dr. Donald E. Warren,” he said. “May his memory, may his legacy, may his boldness illuminate our path as we move forward.”
Lewter, a four-time Fulbright scholar, served at PBA for 29 years. His longtime battle with cancer “never tarnished Billy Lewter’s joy,” said President Fleming.
Another highlight of Community Day was the announcement of the employee of the year, which took place following the State of the University address.
Tim Worley, executive assistant to the president, announced that Alice Lee, database administrator for Campus Information Services, is this year’s recipient.
In nominating her for the award, colleagues described Lee as someone who dedicates herself to helping others and who consistently makes a profound impact on her department and on the University. She also was commended for her efforts to help save time and resources, Worley said.
She is known as a finisher, conceptualizing ideas and seeing them through to completion, according to those who nominated her. She is a nationally known expert in her field and has presented at several conferences.
As one colleague described her, Lee has the “faith of a believer, temperament of an angel and a mind that is richly anointed by God.”