In a remarkable celebration on Monday, January 22, over 300 people, including county and city officials, donors, community members, faculty, staff, and students, came together to mark a historic occasion at Palm Beach Atlantic University—the groundbreaking ceremony for the Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Business Hall.
The creative sand sculpture adorned with the God-Sized Dreams campaign logo was the center of the celebration. Equipped with golden shovels and PBA-branded hard hats, the start of the construction efforts was appropriately led by John and Sheila Rinker, who generously donated $26 million to the campaign, the largest single donation in the university’s history. They were accompanied by PBA President Dr. Debra. A. Schwinn, Board Chair Tom McCaffrey and others. The countdown climaxed with the burst of confetti cannons, as if symbolically heralding PBA’s new era.
“The Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Business Hall groundbreaking marks a pivotal moment in PBA’s history—representing our commitment to providing a world-class, Christian education rooted in the American Free Enterprise system,” President Dr. Debra Schwinn said during the ceremony. “We believe Christian values are good and helpful to society and that American Free Enterprise creates unique opportunities for businesses to grow and communities to thrive. We look forward to completing this extraordinary facility and seeing its transformative impact on our students.”
Dr. Schwinn expressed gratitude to the Rinkers and highlighted the support of other donors. Board Chair Tom McCaffrey said the new facility fulfilled the board’s strategic vision for PBA and the Palm Beaches.
“The construction of the new business hall perfectly aligns with our institution’s broader goals and vision, positioning us for a dynamic future,” said McCaffrey. “Investing in this project is more crucial than ever. With the relocation of businesses in our region, the demand for our graduates is growing, and this investment will help us meet this growing demand.”
With the construction of the new business school, PBA will enhance its programs, capitalizing on its AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) accreditation for the Marshall E. Rinker, Sr. School of Business, awarded in May 2023. This distinction places the institution in the top six percent of all business schools globally and one of only 10 Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) schools with this accreditation.
The ceremony, emceed by the Executive Vice President of Advancement Laura Bishop, also featured remarks from Senator George LeMieux, Founder & Chairman of the LeMieux Center for Public Policy; Michael J. Stevens, Treasurer and Chairman of the Finance Committee, Board of Trustees, Rinker Enterprises, Inc.; Commissioner Christina Lambert, (District 5); and Brian Strow, Dean of the Marshall E. Rinker, Sr. School of Business. The event also showcased the talents of the PBA Concert Choir with special musical renditions of “God Bless America” and “Great is Thy Faithfulness”. The ceremony concluded with a prayer of dedication by Karl H. Watson, Jr., Board of Trustees member and Chairman of the Advancement Committee.
PBA’s expansion comes as the West Palm Beach community continues to experience remarkable growth, garnering attention on a national scale as “Wall Street South.” The Business Development Board reports that approximately 100 corporations have migrated to Palm Beach County since 2019, including industry giants like Goldman Sachs, NewDay USA, Tremblant Capital, and GTCR.
Launched in November 2022, the God-Sized Dreams campaign at PBA is dedicated to advancing four transformative projects on the university’s West Palm Beach campus.
Alongside the Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Business Hall, the campaign aims to secure funds to develop a cutting-edge health sciences complex, a state-of-the-art performing arts center, and an alumni and student welcome center. Watch highlights of the event here.
Various naming opportunities for these facilities are currently open, inviting individuals to contribute to the legacy of the campus. To contribute to this transformative campaign and be a part of shaping the future PBA, please visit the campaign.