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. 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 additions to the campus include:
The University’s program has expanded significantly through the years. By the mid-1980s, the University was offering more than 20 major areas of study, and in 1988 the first graduate program was launched. In the late 1980s, the University also initiated a special program for non-traditional students. This program includes a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management through a curriculum offered in special modules in the evening hours throughout all 12 months of the year. The Supper Honors Program, a program for academically talented students, began in the late 1980s. To be admitted to this program, which provides an interdisciplinary approach to the study of Western civilization and is designed to encourage the development of leadership skills, students must rank in the top 10 percent of the nation according to national test scores.
The Schools of Palm Beach Atlantic
The University is organized into schools:
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 houses 350,000 volumes, 121 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 one 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.
Come join us as we continue to grow!
Dr. Jess Moody 1968-1972
Dr. Warren E Fusselle 1972-1977
Dr. George R. Borders 1978-1981
Dr. Claude H. Rhea 1982-1990
Dr. Paul R. Corts 1991-2002
Dr. David C. Clark 2003-2009
Lu Hardin 2010-2011