Open Letters from President William M.B. Fleming, Jr.
We hope you will read, consider and enjoy these letters as President Fleming shares in print Palm Beach Atlantic University's commitment to continuing to mentor and graduate high quality servant leaders in some 50 degree fields.
Winter 2011: Excerpted from Current magazine
We are all wired differently. Each of us has a God-given destiny and particular talents and characteristics designed to help us fulfill that destiny.
PBA is blessed with faculty, staff and students who have amazing abilities. Some of these are loud – more visible – like those of our athletes, authors and actors whose achievements often make the headlines.
While others are quiet – less visible – like those of our nursing students, pharmacists and counselors who provide care to people who are ill and facing a difficult time.
There are many remarkable ways our PBA family, including our alumni and friends, are using their gifts and blessings to do great things.
For instance, donors invest their time and resources in PBA, making it possible for students to explore and develop their talents in a Christ-centered University.
Faculty members -- such as Dr. Marsha Guntharp, who received a $10,000 grant from AT&T to research the benefits of new technologies in teaching mathematic, and Drs. Samuel Joeckel and Thomas Chesnes who have co-edited a book investigating the boom in Christian higher education -- show leadership in academics.
Our 2011 Distinguished Alumni Award winners -- Michele Rigby Assad, Ben Starling III, Stephanie Malia Kilstein Krauss and Ivette Hernandez Miranda -- have made outstanding contributions to their companies and communities, including one alumna (Krauss) who influenced the founding of a college-preparatory public charter school serving disconnected and dropout youth.
In fact, I salute all of the talented and generous people who make up our PBA family that continue to WOW us, including: the entire cast and lead actor, senior Bradley Mack, from PBA’s theater production, Stop the World – I Want to Get Off; members of the Sailfish women’s volleyball team, which got off to one of their best starts in team history with junior Mariela Quesada leading the team and freshmen Becca Acevedo and Melissa McPeek stepping right into starting roles; and junior Kenny Hogg who has led the men’s soccer team to some exciting victories.
I also applaud senior Jennifer Stoltzfus, founder of The Roots, a ministry for female students, and entrepreneurs Erik Thebeau, a junior, and Jelani Dixon, a freshman, who are running successful businesses while attending PBA. Erik is the owner of GotSole?, a company that caters to sneaker collectors, and Jelani started an urban-style clothing brand, SWAG17.
I hope you have enjoyed learning about some of the wonderful people who make up our PBA family and their outstanding achievements, contributions and effective leadership. They are a true testament of our 2011-2012 University theme, Lead by Example.
During this time of Thanksgiving, of Advent and the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, my wife Pam and I are especially thankful for the Spirit of Togetherness at PBA.
We see and sense this Spirit is prevalent throughout the University community. As we walk and talk, meet and greet with our students, faculty, staff, parents and alumni, we continue to see the University’s values of respect, unity, accountability and excellence demonstrated in countless ways. We see the Spirit exhibited in vibrant tones in the:
We are grateful for the many ways God is blessing each PBA citizen and uniting us in a Spirit of Togetherness.
Leadership is about influencing others – positioning them for success.
I am humbled to say that in my 19 years with Palm Beach Atlantic University, I have heard countless stories from our students and graduates who attribute their success in college and in their professional careers to our University’s excellent academic instruction and outstanding Christian mentoring.
To be called by God to lead others is a tall order and special privilege. The most effective way to lead is by example. As Christians, we follow Christ’s example. In turn it is through His leadership and influence that we at PBA lead our students in knowing God and developing the gifts and talents they have been given to make a difference in our communities, nation and world.
One of the most important tools of effective leadership is communication. The best leaders listen and encourage others to participate. They set the tone for collaborative, caring and respectful interaction among a group of people. The members of our faculty teach with this in mind.
Our faculty consistently goes above and beyond to provide opportunities inside and outside the classroom for every student to connect, learn and explore. Teaching at PBA is not a job. It’s a passion. It’s about honoring God by serving others.
We feel so strongly about leadership that we made “Lead by Example” our theme for the President’s Report and 2011-2012 school year.
There is power in example. Let us take the opportunity, especially this year, to develop the leader within us and influence those around us.
Thank you for your continued financial investment in, and prayers for, PBA. We value your friendship and kindness.
For many families, summertime is a time to celebrate traditions – from mission trips, to vacations at the beach to road trips with the kids to family reunions.
The PBA family also celebrates a special summertime tradition. Every Thursday in June and July, PBA faculty and staff come together at the DeSantis Family Chapel. It’s a time for us to share personal stories of Christian faith, pray for the special needs of others and celebrate God’s countless blessings.
We began this summer’s Chapel meetings with the song entitled “They’ll know we are Christians by our Love”. Written 30 years ago, this song’s message echoes one of PBA’s six core values – Love.
All of us who make up the PBA community are connected by faith and for a particular purpose. We have a heavenly charge to impact others with God’s love, help grow his kingdom and provide a place where students can get a quality education in an environment that leads to intellectual, spiritual and personal character development.
Those of us responsible for carrying out PBA’s strategic vision and taking the University to the next level of institutional effectiveness must anchor our efforts on all six or our core values – accountability, excellence, integrity, love, respect and unity. We need to embrace them and use them intentionally each day to drive and direct our thoughts and actions.
The PBA values are powerful. They serve as our foundation as we continue to do God’s work and
focus on our strategic priorities of increasing institutional identity, expanding communications, broadening the learning culture, retaining and developing employees, proliferating student success and maintaining campus facilities.
It takes teamwork to make our strategic priorities a reality and I am confident that we are up to the challenge.
Teamwork, after all, is another PBA tradition – one which we hold dear and celebrate all year long.
Is it a trend? Is it a pattern? Is it a response to a purpose-filled mission to provide leaders and community advocates?
I ask myself these and other questions as I see Palm Beach Atlantic University alumni featured in recent media headlines. PBA’s mission is to enlighten minds, enrich souls and extend hands, and to provide leaders who impact our community. We are delighted to read headlines that Melissa Meeker, B.S. in Biology, Class of 1991, was selected as Executive Director of the South Florida Water Management District. Melissa joins Tom Olliff, Class of 1984 and graduate of the Rinker School of Business, who serves as Assistant Executive Director. These two outstanding graduates now oversee a significant agency that directs our region’s environmental and water policies.
James Meany, Class of 1990 and graduate of the MacArthur School of Leadership, has been named CEO of Lydian Bank. Lydian has an outstanding reputation for personal care in the wealth management area. We wish Mr. Meany much success in this expanded leadership role at Lydian.
Our teacher education program has long been recognized as one of the University’s flagship academic programs. Crystal Varnadore '93, a teacher at Roosevelt Middle School, recently received a Dwyer Award from the Economic Council of the Palm Beaches. This award is annually given to the top teacher in Palm Beach County.
A 1987 graduate, Karl Watson, Jr., recently was named president of CEMEX USA, a global building materials company that operates in 50 countries. His career at CEMEX has brought him varied assignments including Australia. We congratulate him on this latest accomplishment.
As the 2011 General Session of the Florida Legislature came to a close, we give thanks to both Senator Lizbeth Benaquisto and Representative Martin Kiar for their public service and leadership to our state. Senator Benaquisto graduated in 2009 from the ORM program at our Wellington Campus. Representative Kiar was a student athlete at PBA and graduated in 1999 with a degree in Political Science.
These alumni are but a few examples of PBA’s ever expanding talent pool that shape the lives of their fellow citizens through their character, integrity, hard work and abilities.