President Dr. Debra A. Schwinn took a creative approach to her State of the University address: she gave voice to exemplary students to share in their own words.
The State of the University address, which premiered Saturday morning, was the culmination of Homecoming & Family Weekend. Interspersed with student interviews were prayers offered by members of the Board of Trustees, parents and alumni. Watch here. Following the message, the University revealed its new logo.
Schwinn, the University’s ninth president, took office on May 4. Among other accomplishments, she highlighted the opening of Watson Hall, an apartment-style residence, and the selection of six students or recent alumni as Fulbright recipients in three years.
“I see this University as having so many strengths,” Schwinn said. “It is equipped uniquely to be a leading University in the 21st century.”
Schwinn interviewed the following professors and students:
Dr. Terriel Byrd, the inaugural fellow in the Council for Intercultural Engagement, who spoke about the initiative to “broaden but also deepen the love we have for one another” by fostering conversations among different groups of people across campus.
President Dr. Debra A. Schwinn interviews Dr. Stephanie Bennett about the new Wordship initiative.Dr. Stephanie Bennett, professor of communication and media ecology and fellow for student engagement, who spoke about Wordship. The new initiative is designed to foster respectful conversation that heals and brings people together. Its focus is using our words as an act of worship.
Nicholas Timbinaris and Abbi Michaeli, Student Government president and vice president, who spoke about Be Civil. The student-led campaign promotes informative and respectful conversation during the election season through various online and in-person events. Michaeli also spoke about the value of Workship, the University’s signature community service program.
Jaycie Tate, a scholar-athlete on the Sailfish women’s soccer team, who spoke about the team’s resilience when their fall season was upended by COVID-19. She elaborated on mask-wearing as a means of loving our neighbors, as well as the Christ-centered spiritual climate on campus.
Pablo Castillo and Tabitha Maher, who spoke about their quarantine and isolation experiences. Schwinn meets with quarantined and isolated students on Zoom every day at 5 p.m. Maher, a music major, sang a song that she shared during one of the calls. She re-wrote the words for COVID-19.
President Dr. Debra A. Schwinn interviews student Gabrielle McIntosh about her role with MOSAIC and the impact that it’s had on her experience at PBA.Gabrielle McIntosh, who spoke about her role as a student-leader in MOSAIC, a group that “sees, celebrates and explores” diversity on campus. She talked about the value of MOSAIC House, a suite on the east side of Watson Hall, where students in MOSAIC have honest, deep conversations that they then share with the rest of campus.
Esther Hagan, the University’s first Fulbright recipient, who spoke about how the Lord challenged and shaped her while she taught English to children in Taiwan.
Kelsey Adams and Caleb Hitchcock, area coordinators in Watson Hall, who spoke about the value of new common areas where upperclassmen can build community at the center of campus.
Karl Watson Sr. and Karl Watson Jr., whose family made a $2.5 million gift to the University, which brings with it a matching challenge. Karl Watson Sr. talked about his involvement in the University over the last 30 years, as well as the impact a PBA education had on his son. Karl Watson Jr. credits PBA with where he is today – the CEO of one of the largest precast concrete pipe businesses in the U.S., Mexico and Canada.
Offering prayers and encouragement for the University were Timothy S. Sotos, chairman of the Board of Trustees; Mami Hampton Kisner, a member of the Board of Trustees; Dr. Annaleah Pappas Morrow, president of the Alumni Association Board; and Dave & Kathleen Michaeli, co-chairs of the Parents Council and Abbi Michaeli’s parents.
Tenth Avenue North lead singer Mike Donehey, a member of the Class of 2003, sang “Control” and prayed for the University.
Saturday also marked the debut of The Common Room, a video series where alumni sit down with PBA professors from different disciplines to find out what they’ve been reading, writing and researching. The first episode features Jordan Smith, a graduate School of Ministry alumnus, interviewing Dr. Dana Strachan and Dr. Justin Hardin. Strachan serves as associate dean for academics and director of the Gregory Center for Medical Missions in the Lloyd L. Gregory School of Pharmacy, and Hardin is assistant dean of the graduate School of Ministry and professor of biblical and theological studies. Sign up to be notified about new episodes here.
Together, the professors discover common ground and remind us of the transformational power of being lifelong learners.