About PBA

PBA's History

From "Make-Do U" to Florida's Top Christian University

Palm Beach Atlantic University was founded in 1968 as a coeducational Christian liberal arts university. Classes at Palm Beach Atlantic University, formally Palm Beach Atlantic College, were conducted in downtown West Palm Beach. Currently, PBA's main campus is located on Flagler Drive with stunning views of the Intracoastal, and steps away from Palm Beach. The University was named for its location in the Palm Beaches and its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. The first classes were held in the fall of 1968.

PBA held its first graduation in the spring of 1972 and later that year received initial accreditation from the regional accrediting association. Classes were first held at 1101 South Olive Avenue in downtown West Palm Beach in the former facilities of the First Baptist Church.

During the ensuing years, the historic auditorium building has served many different roles for the University. The building has been renovated to serve as a portion of the Warren Library. The University had a comprehensive campus master plan that incorporated approximately 27 acres of land from the Intracoastal Waterway west along Okeechobee Boulevard to Dixie Highway, south to Jefferson Street, and back east to the waterway. The first building completed was the Lassiter Student Center, which was occupied in 1983. 

Recent Campus Additions Include

Coastal Towers Residence Hall was acquired by PBA in 2014. It faces east and has spectacular Intracoastal and ocean views, and has a swimming pool on the roof.
  • Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Athletic Campus, a 78-acre permanent home for Sailfish athletics, at 3401 Parker Avenue in West Palm Beach, officially opened Sept. 4, 2014 (with some facilities still under construction). The campus will provide facilities for training and hosting intercollegiate and intramural and club sport competitions.
  • Vera Lea Rinker Hall, Palm Beach Atlantic University's DeSantis Family Chapel is a pivotal part of fellowship and worship at Florida's Top Christian College for the School of Music and Fine Arts, providing more than 43,000 square feet of performance and educational space.
  • Oceanview Residence Hall, providing housing for 196 students.
  • Dixie Parking Garage, providing 526 parking spaces on 5 levels.
  • DeSantis Family Chapel, providing dedicated worship space for 400.
  • Lakeview Residence Hall, providing housing for 86 students.
  • In 2003, the Orlando Campus opened, providing 6,600 square feet of classroom and office space for evening and graduate degree programs.
  • Gregory Hall for the Lloyd L. Gregory School of Pharmacy, providing more than 40,000 square feet of research and educational space.
  • School of Nursing educational space on the first floor of Oceanview Hall.
  • Enlarged campus bookstore on the first floor of Oceanview Hall.
  • Phase I of the Warren Library opened in 2007 with the second phase of construction, renovation of the historic octagonal building, which served as the original PBA structure, was completed in 2009.
  • In Fall 2006, the Wellington Campus opened serving the residents of western Palm Beach County.
  • Coastal Towers Residence Hall (above) was acquired by PBA in 2014. It faces east and has spectacular Intracoastal and ocean views, and a swimming pool on the roof.
  • In September 2015, PBA President William M.B. Fleming Jr. (below) cut the ribbon the 79-acre, $18 million Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Athletic Campus not far from the college's main campus. The RAC, as it quickly became known, is home to most of PBA's outdoor sports including soccer, baseball, tennis and lacrosse, plus intramurals. Beach volleyball, racquetball and basketball courts also are planned.

Palm Beach Atlantic University President William M.B. Fleming Jr. cuts the ribbon the 79-acre Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Athletic Campus in September 2014.

The Schools of Palm Beach Atlantic

The University is organized into Schools:

  • the School of Arts and Sciences
  • the Marshall E. Rinker Sr. School of Business
  • the Catherine T. MacArthur School of Leadership
  • the School of Education and Behavioral Studies
  • the School of Music and Fine Arts
  • the School of Ministry
  • the Lloyd L. Gregory School of Pharmacy
  • the School of Nursing
  • and the School of Communication and Media

Over the years the University has experienced steady enrollment growth. The University reached a 1,000 student population in 1985, a 1,500 student population in 1990, and now has an enrollment of more than 3,700.

The University’s resources have also grown significantly during these early years. The University faculty has grown to 162 full-time faculty members. The full-time faculty is well prepared and highly trained with degrees from major research universities throughout the country. Approximately 81 percent of the University faculty has their doctorate or highest degree available in their fields.

The Warren Library provides students with access to more than 430,000 books, journals and media resources along with 156 computers and 28 study rooms. In 2000, the University became Florida’s first wireless campus. The University’s endowment support has grown dramatically in the past decade and, including funds functioning as endowments, the University now has one of the largest university endowments in Florida on a per-student basis.

Faith in God, Country at Core of PBA

Palm Beach Atlantic has three guiding principles that have formed the core of the University’s total program.

First, the University was founded by Baptist pastors and lay persons with a very strong commitment to the central role of the teachings of Christ in the affairs of the University. From its inception, the University has welcomed students of all faiths. The general spiritual tone of the University is in the historic Judeo-Christian tradition, guided by a commitment to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the authority of Scripture.

The Christian character of the University is evident in a faculty consisting of committed Christians, a curriculum that incorporates Christian teachings throughout all disciplines, a core of general education requirements that include the study of Christian scriptures, and rules and regulations governing campus life that reflect traditional Christian values. The University makes a concerted effort through many different aspects of university life to encourage each student to grow in his or her personal faith. 

Second, the University was founded in the late 1960s at a time when many American campuses were witnessing a breakdown in respect for the country, in respect for our symbols of patriotism and in respect for our American economic system of free enterprise. In this milieu, the founders committed PBA to the task of instilling in our students a love for country, traditional American values and an understanding of and appreciation for the free enterprise economic system. This commitment is lived out through a general education course in the American free enterprise system and through a variety of other curricular and student life initiatives.

Third, the University’s founders were committed to a unique requirement that every student should be involved in community service.

The original concept was based on the Judeo-Christian teaching, stressed so much by Christ himself through teachings and example, that a person should treat others as he or she would want to be treated. Christ lived the life of a servant and showed us the way to give of ourselves in service to others. The University called this program "Workship," a blending of the words “work” and “worship.”

Through the years our students have given more than three million hours of community service to a wide range of religious and social service agencies throughout the Palm Beach area. Today, each student at PBA is required during his or her undergraduate career to give 45 hours of community service each academic year “to touch a hurting world.”

In addition to these guiding principles, the University has adopted a distinctively Christian operating style that recognizes the importance of the individual as the key element in the collective community. Granting each student significant individual rights, that are limited by corporate rights framed by the traditions of the institution, the University operates as an extended family. Close personal interaction between faculty and students encourages cooperative effort toward common goals. The University encourages students to seek their maximum potential during their college years and to be well prepared to make a significant positive contribution to society.

Past Presidents

Dr. Jess Moody

Dr. Warren E. Fusselle

Dr. George R. Borders

Dr. Claude H. Rhea

Dr. Paul R. Corts

Dr. David C.Clark

Lu Hardin