Poised to welcome students from 44 states and 15 countries, the University launched the new academic year Monday with a Community Day celebration centered on the theme “Rejoice Always.”
“We’re going to have a great opportunity to engage with learners this fall,” said Dr. Nancy Brainard, vice president for enrollment management.
Also, Ann-Marie Taylor, associate vice president for auxiliary services and procurement, was named employee of the year. Mona Hicks was named emeritus vice president for human resources ahead of her upcoming retirement, ending a 43-year career at PBA. Hicks, a two-time PBA alumna, was commended for her “genuineness, Christ-like heart and commitment to PBA.”
In the announcement leading up to Taylor’s surprise award, CFO Dr. Stacie Bowie said Taylor “doesn’t shirk away from a hard task” and “embodies the values of Palm Beach Atlantic in every interaction.” Taylor stops to say hello or solve a problem for the people she runs into as she walks across campus, Bowie said, and she’s always ministering to others without praise or recognition.
Those whom Taylor supervises said their manager pushes them to do their best while investing in their professional development. She revolutionized practices in the Department of Public Safety, formerly Campus Safety and Security. Taylor leads the university’s response to storms and led the initial response to COVID-19.
Prior to PBA, Taylor served with the Palm Beach Police Department for 24 years, rising to the rank of acting chief. She has served on the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. Taylor earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in leadership at PBA. Her daughter is an incoming freshman.
Taylor rejoices in the Lord and is quick to rejoice in answered prayers, Bowie said. She is an active member of Christ Fellowship, and her family supports medical missions in Haiti.
President Dr. Debra A. Schwinn said true leaders, especially Christian leaders, aren’t always out front.
“Christian leaders are first followers – the first to follow Christ wherever He’s leading,” Schwinn said.
University faculty and staff enjoyed a time of fellowship, worship and Holy Communion together before longtime staff members were recognized for their years of service over lunch. The longest-serving employees were Paula Mantrozos, secretary to the dean of the College of the Arts, and Michael Moore, captain in the Department of Public Safety. Both have served 30 years.
In her remarks, Schwinn encouraged faculty and staff to read the entire book of Philippians and note how many times the words rejoice and joy appear. Then she challenged them to read Acts 16 to learn about Paul planting the church in Philippi.
Paul instructed the Philippian church to “Rejoice in the Lord, always.” How? Gentleness, prayer, dwelling on the good in others and having the same humble mindset as Christ, she said.
In Philippians 2, “Paul explains the Lord’s world-changing ways of humility, service and obedience. That’s our pattern to follow, and there is no greater source of joy and fulfillment,” Schwinn concluded.
Dr. Bernie Cueto, vice president for spiritual development, focused his pastoral message on Philippians 4, from which the theme is drawn.
“Be anxious for nothing” in Philippians 4:6 is a command, Cueto said.
“When anxiety knocks at the door of your heart, you don’t have to answer the door every single time,” he said.
“Pray about everything” means bringing every detail to God. His presence is with us.
“He knows your heart,” Cueto said. “Even when you don’t know what to pray, He hears, and He responds.”
Photo 1: Ann-Marie Taylor, who was surprised with the Employee of the Year award, smiles as she leaves the Community Day celebration on August 15, 2022.
Photo 2: Employees worship during Community Day in the Rubin Arena.
Photo 3: President Dr. Debra A. Schwinn speaks about Philippians during Community Day.
Photo 4: Dr. Bernie Cueto, vice president for spiritual development, speaks on the theme verse from Philippians 4, which reminds Christ-followers to “rejoice always.”