Surrounded by his family and addressing a sea of fall graduates and their loved ones, Palm Beach Atlantic University's founding president spoke during fall commencement on Saturday about the moment when the idea of starting the college came to him.
Dr. Jess Moody said he gives credit to the Lord Jesus for PBA, "for He is the one who wakened me in the night. I awakened (my wife) Doris and I told her about the college," he said.
From 1968 to 1972, Dr. Moody served both as pastor of First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach and as president of Palm Beach Atlantic. During his tenure, Chapel by the Lake and the current First Baptist Church sanctuary were built. In recent years, he has gained notoriety as an author and speaker.
Dr. Moody, who often is described as the architect of PBA's Workship program, said that his wife actually came up with the idea. Workship requires all full-time undergraduate students to volunteer at least 45 hours annually.
"No other school in the history of mankind has given as much time to broken humanity as Palm Beach Atlantic University," Dr. Moody said.
During his brief but heartfelt remarks, Dr. Moody thanked the many supporters who have helped the University grow over the years. Among them was Bill Derryberry, the University's first director of student enrollment who visited area high schools and recruited the school's first class of nearly 85 students.
Derryberry was in attendance at the ceremony, which was held at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.
Dr. Moody's grandson, Sean, was among this fall's approximately 300 graduating seniors. He received a bachelor's degree in philosophy.
During the program, Sean Moody's father, Patrick Moody '76, challenged the class to support the University as alumni. "It's your turn to help someone who comes behind you," said Moody, who serves as pastor of Village Baptist Church in West Palm Beach and is a member of the alumni board of directors at PBA.
Also during the ceremony, another noteworthy graduate, Miss Florida 2008 Sierra Minott, received a bachelor's degree in psychology. Minott, who minored in musical theatre, left PBA during her reign as Miss Florida and returned in 2009 to finish her degree.
Offering the benediction was Dr. Chauncey Crandall, a member of the University's board of trustees. Dr. Crandall's son, Christian, received a bachelor's degree in entrepreneurship and small business.