Palm Beach Atlantic’s Founders Day celebration began with a roll call of the faithful supporters who turned Dr. Jess Moody’s “impossible dream” of starting a Christian college in the heart of West Palm Beach into a reality. The celebration concluded with his son Patrick Moody singing a stirring rendition of the song by the same name.
When the late Moody set out to start what was then Palm Beach Atlantic College, he had no professors, no students, no buildings and no money — only a little support that grew, said the younger Moody. Now, when Patrick Moody walks through campus, he sees his father’s dream, he said.
Founders Day keynote speaker Dr. Ken Mahanes personally knew Moody, PBA’s founding president, and Dr. Donald E. Warren, PBA’s founding board chair. Mahanes, now retired, served in numerous leadership roles, including vice president for religious life and special adviser to the president.
Mahanes began with a word of thanks to President Dr. Debra A. Schwinn and the University’s leadership for their courageous decision to open for in-person instruction in the fall despite COVID-19. Faculty and staff who made that possible “are frontline workers and are heroes” who took calculated risks so that students would have the best educational experience, Mahanes said.
Mahanes said the parallels are striking between current events and the upheaval and social unrest of the 1960s. During those turbulent times, Moody and others were determined to create an institution of higher learning that would instill in its students a love for country, God and one another, Mahanes said.
Moody and Warren were alarmed to note that young people would go to college and lose their faith. They sought to make PBA a place where students would “mature in faith and not detour from faith,” Mahanes said. Students are required to take introductory Bible courses, attend chapel services and take upper-level courses on Christian values and freedom in American society.
He described Workship, PBA’s distinctive community service program, as a response to President John F. Kennedy’s famous call to service: “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” Doris Moody, Jess’ wife, dreamed Workship into existence because she wanted students to gain the valuable experience of serving others who could do nothing for them.
Mahanes also highlighted the University’s American Free Enterprise Day tradition, which honors people whose hard work and achievement best exemplify the American free enterprise system.
At the conclusion of chapel services, staff and faculty reaffirmed their commitment to the University’s Guiding Principles, which articulate the founders’ vision and values.
Mahanes ended with a challenge — to keep the founders’ dream alive.
Photo 1: Patrick Moody sings "The Impossible Dream" at the conclusion of the 11 a.m. Founders Day chapel on March 4, 2021. His father, Dr. Jess Moody, achieved "the impossible dream" when he created a Christian college in the heart of West Palm Beach more than 50 years ago.
Photo 2: President Dr. Debra A. Schwinn holds a copy of "Miracles and Wonders," a book by PBA's founding chairman Dr. Donald E. Warren. The book chronicles the University's early years.
Photo 3: Founders Day keynote speaker Dr. Ken Mahanes delivers the keynote address in the DeSantis Family Chapel on March 4, 2021.