By David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
In the first official event of the Barbara Hodel Student Center, Chancellor Farris addresses students and parents
In the first official event ever to be held in the sparkling-new Barbara Hodel Student Center, Patrick Henry College Chancellor Dr. Michael Farris exhorted the incoming class of freshmen students and their families that “what you do for the next four years will be an important part of the next 50 years in this country.”
Congregated for a steak dinner at tables lining the Hodel Center’s freshly-laminated gymnasium floor, the families of one of the College’s largest incoming classes in recent years enjoyed an evening of good food and fellowship after a busy day of orientation activities. The dinner stood as a startling testament to weeks of intense work by construction crews and the College’s operations and IT teams, who had spent the previous weeks attending to a formidable list of architectural details, finishing touches, and the timely completion of key spaces. When Dr. Farris noted for the admiring crowd that the building had been built debt-free, the room burst into applause.
PHC Chancellor Dr. Michael Farris
In his Chancellor’s Address, Dr. Farris touched on his recent travels abroad, his speech at the Fifth Annual World Congress of Families, and the rising tide of moral and cultural malaise presently afflicting the U.S. and Europe. Dr. Farris charged the underclassmen to take up the mantle of the College’s motto, “For Christ and for Liberty,” by allowing God to build them into young Christian leaders grounded in his Word, empowered by his Spirit, skilled in the qualities of wisdom and eloquence, and able to defend the truth in the public square.
“What you are about to embark upon will change your life forever,” he said. “We’re here to help you deepen, enrich, strengthen, and build upon the foundation that has already been laid. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty, and what this nation faces today is not Democrat versus Republican but, in reality, the forces of socialism versus freedom. We are about raising up leaders in this culture who believe in the principles of freedom.”
Incoming freshmen and their parents enjoyed a rousing primer on the College’s philosophy of education Wednesday morning, as PHC Provost Dr. Gene Edward Veith took the podium at Town Hall to detail the core principles of the College’s Christian classical liberal arts curriculum.
“The classical style of education gave us the Protestant Reformation, the Renaissance, and the Founding Fathers,” he began. “Classical education gave us our civilization.”
College President Dr. Graham Walker welcomes an incoming student
Noting that Patrick Henry College stands at the forefront of the recovery of “this rich and powerful educational system,” Dr. Veith said that “we’re proving [through rigorous assessments] that we’re providing a better education than that afforded many of your peers. Liberal education is for freedom,” he continued. “It encourages critical thinking and fosters a creative application of knowledge so that we aren’t swayed by the currents of culture.”
Highlighting the College’s bedrock conviction that the “knowledge of God” lies at the heart of the classical liberal arts (grammar, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy), Dr. Veith repeated that “God is the unifying principle. He is the source of all of the others.”
Fortified with its uniquely comprehensive, 63-credit core curriculum, the College’s academic program, he added, ensures that students will read, assimilate, and discuss great books “while deeply engaging the ideas that shaped civilization.”
“Our standards are high, and the fact that you were chosen to come here is a great accomplishment,” Dr. Veith said in conclusion. “You will work hard at your studies, but if you really love learning, you’ll take pleasure in it. The classical Christian liberal arts as taught at Patrick Henry College will help each of you develop all of your powers.”