On Founders Day, Alumni Couple Recalls University's Impact

Nationally known speaker and author Jennifer Jolley Rothschild returned to her alma mater, Palm Beach Atlantic University, this week to remind students that “your story really matters.”

Jennifer Rothschild '86 speaks while her husband, Dr. Philip Rothschild '85, looks on during Founders Day chapel at Palm Beach Atlantic University this week. Palm Beach Atlantic University (PBA) is a private, accredited, Christ-centered college located in West Palm Beach, Florida, USA.
Jennifer Rothschild '86 speaks while her husband, Dr. Philip Rothschild '85, looks on during Founders Day chapel at Palm Beach Atlantic University this week.

At her side was her husband of 26 years, entertainment management professor Dr. Philip Rothschild, whom she met while they were both students at PBA.

“The time that you have at PBA is not accidental. There’s a reason that God has allowed you to be at this place during this time, just like He had for Phil and for me,” she said.

Dr. Rothschild said that PBA, then known as Palm Beach Atlantic College, had only about 400 students in the early 1980s compared to more than 3,500 today. The Palm Bay native said he decided to come to PBA after talking with his pastor and reading a brochure that invited students to “come grow with us.”

“I can’t tell you how impactful coming to Palm Beach Atlantic College was for both me and Jennifer,” said Dr. Rothschild, now a faculty member at Missouri State University.

The Rothschilds, who are the parents of two sons, spoke before hundreds of Palm Beach Atlantic University students, fellow alumni and guests during Founders Day chapel in the Rubin Arena of the Greene Complex for Sports and Recreation. The annual event is sponsored by the Palm Beach Atlantic University Alumni Association to commemorate the University’s establishment in 1968.

Diagnosed in ninth grade with a disorder that would eventually rob her of her sight, Jennifer Rothschild left her hometown of Miami on her own to attend Palm Beach Atlantic in 1982. “I had this insatiable thirst for independence,” she said.

She met her future husband, a self-described “bushy-headed, scrappy kind of kid,” through a mutual friend. They soon fell in “like,” she said, and they dated throughout her freshman year.

The couple shared several stories from their time at PBA, including their first kiss in Trinity Park near campus and Dr. Rothschild’s eventual marriage proposal in front of the appropriately named Phillips Point building.

They married in 1986 and remained at Palm Beach Atlantic, where Dr. Rothschild served as director of Student Life and Jennifer Rothschild began her music career leading worship for Campus Ministries.

During Dr. Rothschild’s time at PBA, he created the Impact Leadership Team, which has remained the University’s student leadership development program.

Now, more than 30 years after the Rothschilds came to PBA as freshmen, they encouraged students to “keep looking at Jesus.”

“Whatever your story is … you are refined by whatever God has allowed in your life. So take whatever it is and keep looking, and looking, and looking at Jesus,” Jennifer Rothschild said.

Dr. Rothschild reminded students about the importance of remembering those who have helped them through their life journey. He personally thanked Founding President Dr. Jess Moody “for building this university and giving Jennifer and me an opportunity to look to Jesus.”

Dr. Moody was among the special guests in attendance, along with his son Patrick and daughter-in-law Amy; former board of trustees chairman John Greene; and former board chairman Robert Simpson. Both Greene and Simpson continue to serve as trustees of the University.

In addition to speaking in chapel, Dr. Rothschild also met with students in the Impact Leadership Team during his visit to PBA.