President’s Newsletter – November 2022

This newsletter from Bob Jones University President Steve Pettit is intended to inform BJU’s alumni and friends of student and faculty achievements and campus programs and activities. Communication regarding this newsletter may be addressed to [email protected].

Message from the President

Mondays in chapel this semester, I have been preaching from Galatians on the theme, “Walking in the Spirit.” In this book, the Apostle Paul makes a distinct contrast between walking under the control of the Holy Spirit and walking controlled by the lust of the flesh, between a life oriented to pleasing God and one focused on pleasing self.

BJU President Steve Pettit

The qualities of the fruit of the Spirit are produced in the believer as he is connected to Christ. Just as a vine produces fruit when it is connected to the branch, when we walk in the Spirit — when we rely on and respond to the Spirit — He produces fruit or Christ-likeness in us.

The fruit of the Spirit listed in Gal. 5:22 is singular — one fruit with nine qualities. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” The Christian life is to be a balance of all qualities of the fruit of the Spirit. If we emphasize one quality to the neglect of others, we become unbalanced.

The Holy Spirit develops fruit in us over time. The development requires a day-to-day desire to walk with Him and day-to-day obedience. When we resolve to obey God, it is never easy. But when we walk in obedience each day, God changes us, and the Spirit produces in us Christlikeness.

The first three qualities of the fruit — love, joy and peace — manifest the believer’s relationship to God. The second three — longsuffering, gentleness and goodness — reflect his relationship to others, and the third set of three — faith, meekness, and temperance — reveal what the believer is himself. We as believers can manifest all these qualities because of a relationship — our connection — with God.

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BJU Ranked by U.S. News & World Report 2023

In its 2023 Best College Rankings, U. S. News & World Report recognized Bob Jones University as one of the Best Regional Universities in the South; BJU’s rankings have consistently improved each of the last six years.

U.S. News also recognized BJU in other categories including:

  • Best Value Regional University in the South — #5
  • Top Performers in Social Mobility among Regional Universities in the South — #2
  • Best Undergraduate Teaching among Regional Universities in the South — #18
  • Least Debt among Regional Universities in the South — #8

Among Regional Universities in the South, BJU is the highest-ranked university for Best Value in the Carolinas.

“Our consistently high rankings reflect the academic quality and affordability of a BJU education and ongoing commitment to improving student outcomes,” said BJU President Steve Pettit. “Our holistic approach continues to provide an educational experience that prepares our students for life after college.”

The Social Mobility ranking recognized the graduation rates of students awarded federal Pell grants. Approximately 33.5% of BJU students receive Pell Grants. The average financial package awarded is $12,135. In the class of 2022, 61.4% graduated with no federal student loan debt.

In the Least Amount of Debt among Regional Universities in the South category, BJU is the only university in the Carolinas in the top ten. Ranking in this category is determined by the amount of federal student loan debt held by graduates of an institution.

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BJU Students Awarded South Carolina Research Authority Membership

Soil Economy LLC, an agricultural technology startup founded by Bob Jones University students, was admitted as a member of the South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA).

Joe Simpson, from Arlington, Tennessee, and Reagan Riddell, from Snow Camp, North Carolina, seniors majoring in business administration, launched Soil Economy as a separate venture after serving as members of the BJU Global Challenges class that was named one of the winners of the $100 million XPrize Competition, funded by the Musk Foundation, to create scalable carbon removal technology solutions.

“In less than a year after winning the XPrize, Joe and Reagan took the initiative to start a company and secure funding. Their success is the embodiment of the BJU Premium,” said BJU President Steve Pettit. “It is gratifying to see a class project potentially have real-world impact. I know Soil Economy will be a credit to the SCRA and spur further innovation in the field of carbon measurements.”

The goal of the company is to lower the cost of measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) technology, improve crop yields and make South Carolina a greener state.

After a successful pitch to representatives of the South Carolina Research Authority in September, Soil Economy was admitted as a member of SCRA, a nonprofit which identifies, funds and incentivizes innovative projects that benefit the South Carolina economy. SCRA has invested over $55 million in technology-based startups, which have gone on to secure over $2.2 billion in follow-on funding.

SCRA membership gives Simpson and Riddell access to capital, office space, state-of-the-art research facilities and ongoing mentorship. At 20 years old, they are the youngest founders of a company granted admittance to the SCRA since its founding in 1983.

About the XPrize
During the summer of 2021, students majoring in engineering, natural sciences and business worked to invent an MRV tool. The BJU team was named one of only five winners worldwide in the MRV category of the XPrize competition. Pennsylvania State University, Stanford University, the University of Miami and the University of Wyoming were also awarded funding. The winners were announced at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in Glasgow, Scotland, on Nov. 10, 2021.

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Student Legislature Team Wins Best Medium Delegation

Bob Jones University’s delegation to the South Carolina Student Legislature (SCSL) was named Best Medium Delegation during the fall session last month in Columbia, South Carolina.

Preparation for SCSL helps students from South Carolina universities and colleges learn the intricacies of representative government and provides an opportunity for them to hone their skills by debating their peers on a host of issues.

The BJU delegation was chaired by senior Jonathan Du Fault of El Cajon, California, and was comprised of senior Grant Bagwell of Monroe, Georgia; sophomore Abigail Bergmann of Greer, South Carolina; sophomore Camden Gearhart of Greenville, South Carolina; junior Audrey Huffman of Acworth, Georgia; junior Paul Kamibayashiyama of Greenville; junior Johnny Pierre of Fort Washington, Maryland; junior Sarah Whiteley of Camas, Washington; and senior Hart Zakaria of Burke, Virginia.

During the session, Grant Bagwell served as Secretary of State and Hart Zakaria as House Speaker Pro Tempore. Abigail Bergmann was recognized for Best Oral Argument, and Jonathan Du Fault received the Chad M. Beatty Award as outstanding non-officer senior.

South Carolina colleges and universities participating included BJU, Coastal Carolina University, Charleston Southern University, Clemson University, Erskine College, Presbyterian College and the University of South Carolina.

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Presidential Leadership Series Features Kelvin Cochran

Kelvin Cochran, senior vice president of Human Resources and Faith Initiatives at Alliance Defending Freedom, headlined BJU’s Presidential Leadership Series on Oct. 28.

“The goal of the Presidential Leadership Series is to expose students to current issues and external speakers who can address issues from both their personal and professional experience,” said BJU President Steve Pettit. “Chief Cochran has been at the forefront of the fight to preserve religious liberty. His courage and fortitude in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds was a great testament to our students.”

In 1981, Cochran began his career as a firefighter with the Shreveport Fire Department in Louisiana. After multiple promotions, he was appointed fire chief in 1999.

In 2008, he was appointed chief of the City of Atlanta Fire Rescue Department, and the following year, President Barack Obama appointed him United States Fire Administrator. Cochran was reappointed Atlanta chief in 2010.

During this time, he wrote a book for a men’s Bible study which referenced traditional marriage. He was fired as fire chief and faced a lawsuit. The City of Atlanta paid him $1.2 million in the wake of a federal court ruling in his favor.

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BJU Strengthens Focus on Biblical Worldview

One of the most important aspects of today’s BJU is the Center for Biblical Worldview under the leadership of Dr. Renton Rathbun. Today’s culture has turned its back on God and Truth, and society has adopted twisted viewpoints on important aspects of human life, government and culture. The biblical worldview found in the creational norms of the first 11 chapters of Genesis has been untaught or neglected, even by so-called Christian universities.

To counteract this aspect of the current culture, it is BJU’s imperative to excel in our understanding and practice of a biblical worldview. We want every student to understand that biblical worldview should be the foundation of their thinking.

While every class at BJU is taught from a biblical worldview, the Center for Biblical Worldview is taking steps to strengthen every faculty member’s understanding of biblical worldview and how to apply it precisely to their academic discipline. We have embarked on a two- to three-year program under Dr. Rathbun’s guidance to make sure our faculty get this right.

Dr. Rathbun also continually engages with students, discerning areas where they have questions and need biblically based answers outside the classroom. He has established Worldview Collective forums to address student concerns. Two have been held this semester on “Is Gay Christianity Christian?” and “Blame It on the Brain? Mental Health and the Bible.” Both were well attended by students who asked insightful questions. Dr. Rathbun presents the biblical position on the issue, and three faculty answer questions. Additional forums are planned for next semester.

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BJU Holds its 50th High School Festival

Nearly 600 students in grades 9–12 from dozens of private and public schools and homeschools around the country participated in BJU’s 50th annual High School Festival from Oct. 30–Nov. 3.

Guest students had the opportunity to showcase their talents both individually and as members of a fine arts group and receive valuable insights and feedback from BJU faculty. They competed in art and design, music, speech and drama, teaching and preaching, and video production. Two new music categories were added this year — composition and musical theatre vocal solo.

Students also had an opportunity to attend classes and campus events.

First-place winners are eligible for a paid program fee for their first semester at BJU valued between $800 and $1,475 and partial and/or full scholarships to attend a week of BJU EDUcamp in the summer.

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Faculty Forum Series Challenges Students to Think Critically

In September, Dr. Gary Weier, BJU provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, announced a four-session faculty forum series that would take place throughout the semester. The goal of the series is to foster informed dialogue about current societal issues from both biblical and academic discipline perspectives. “It is vital for our students to be critical thinkers and exposed to the pervasive philosophies affecting culture,” said Weier. “Through these forums, our world-class faculty can address specific topics in an in-depth way.”

Speakers are subject matter experts who offer unique insights into the topics.

The initial event held on Sept. 12, “The Nature of Spiritual Blindness,” addressed the question of whether humans are “animal” at their core as posited by Melanie Challenger in her book, How to Be Animal: A New History of What It Means to be Human. Dr. Brian Vogt, head of the department of chemistry and physics, delivered the main presentation.

A subsequent session on “A Biologist’s Perspective on the Image of God in Man” with Dr. David Boyd, head of the department of biology, was held on Oct. 10 and a third session, “Cavemen or Artists? On the Emergence of Human Intelligence,” with Dr. Brent Cook, School of Religion faculty, was held on Oct. 24.

A fourth forum, “The Journey-Work of the Stars,” with Dr. Bill Lovegrove, head of the department of engineering, is scheduled for Nov. 28.

The format has followed a typical collegiate forum — presentation of the topic by a subject matter expert, questioning of the presenter by a moderator, and moderated audience questions. Student interest and participation have been extremely high.

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Stewart Custer Lecture Series Features “Messiah Matters”

On Nov. 8, BJU Seminary presented its annual Stewart Custer Lecture Series honoring the late Dr. Stewart Custer, who taught at the University and Seminary for 56 years.

This year’s speaker, Dr. William Varner, presented three sessions on why “Messiah Matters.” The sessions covered prophecies and promises regarding Messiah in Genesis, Messiah in Psalms and Messiah in Isaiah.

Dr. Varner is a graduate of Bob Jones University and also holds degrees from Dropsie College, Biblical Theological Seminary and Temple University. He served 17 years with The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry in New Jersey. Since 1996, he has taught Bible exposition and Greek exegesis at The Master’s University.

He has written over 20 books, including a trilogy on the birth, life and death of Jesus Christ.

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BJU Launches “Lives on Mission” Campaign

On Oct. 3, Alumni Relations launched a new messaging campaign on social media called “Lives on Mission.” The first series of messages released in October focused on stories of how our BJU students, faculty, staff and alumni are serving others and sharing the Gospel.

The first tells the story of the medical mission team Dr. Marc Chetta of our Health Sciences faculty, working with Medical Missions Outreach, took to Peru this past summer. It included both current pre-med and nursing students and medical-related graduates who caught Dr. Chetta’s passion for missions. Both their physical and spiritual results were outstanding.

The second featured a student who served 10 weeks as an intern at Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago, and the third tells the story of Dr. Amy Hicks and Dr. Bernard Kadio of the School of Health Professions Center for Community and Global Health, who took a team to Ghana in the second of a five-year research/intervention program to improve the nutrition of school children.

Wrapping up the initial series is the account of one of our star volleyball players who — injured to the point where she could no longer play — mentored another player and led her to Christ.

In November, students, faculty, staff and alumni are testifying about how God has worked in their lives.

Videos may be viewed here.

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Three BJU Students Receive Army ROTC Contracts

On Veterans Day, Nov. 11, BJU held an Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) contracting ceremony for three students who are Army cadets: freshman business administration major Grant Gleaton of West Columbia, South Carolina; sophomore information technology major Noah Kim of Suwon-So Gyeonggi, South Korea; and sophomore history major Graham Webb of Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Crosstown partnerships with Furman University (Army) and Clemson University (Air Force), launched in 2018, enable BJU students to participate in the ROTC battalions at these universities.

These cadets — who stand out as scholars, athletes and leaders — received scholarship contracts covering their tuition, fees and books, along with a monthly stipend. By accepting the scholarship, these cadets commit to being commissioned as a Second Lieutenant with their respective military branch upon graduation.

BJU engineering faculty member Dr. Jeff King (Commander U.S. Navy (ret.), BJU ROTC Coordinator) and Lt. Colonel Sarah Whitten (Professor of Military Science, Paladin Battalion, U.S. Army ROTC) presided over the ceremony and presented the contracts. Upon graduation, as commissioned officers, these cadets will serve either on active duty for four years or in their branch’s reserve or guard component for eight years.

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Alumni Recognized with Awards at Homecoming

During Homecoming Oct. 6–8, Alumni Relations held its second annual Alumni Award Ceremony in which it recognized the Alumnus of the Year, lifetime achievement and 10 Under 10 awards presented to 10 graduates who graduated fewer than 10 years ago.

A 1983 graduate, Don Bobo, was honored as the 2022 Alumnus of the Year. With a degree in mathematics, Don quickly found a role in medical technology in the mid-’80s as the corporate vice president for strategy and business development at Edwards Lifesciences, the global leader in patient-focused medical innovations for structural heart disease. Don’s heart for his family, the local church and the Word of God is evident in the way he lives his life. His service to his community through his skills and abilities has been extremely impactful.

Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented to Dr. Craig and Katie Krueger and Joan Pinkston.

Craig and Katie Krueger earned elementary education degrees from BJU in 1974 and moved to Missouri to serve in a Christian school. They have served the Lord faithfully for 48 years as educators, church members, librarians, staff, book editors, parents and leaders in a bus ministry. They co-founded APA Professionals, a small business that helps students edit their research papers. Friends and former associates describe them as faithful, kind, loving, compassionate, gentle, thoughtful, wise, diligent, hard-working and always seeking the best for others.

Having composed over 240 pieces of music, teaching at the collegiate level for over 55 years, and serving in the local church as keyboardist for over 40 years, Joan Pinkston embodies the definition of a lifetime of achievement. She was presented this award for her faithfulness in serving on the faculty of Bob Jones University and her outstanding achievements in the area of composing music that is both spiritually encouraging and technically excellent.

The 10 Under 10 Award celebrates the early successes of BJU’s young alumni. They were nominated by their former professors.

Eric Polley — 2012 graduate of the College of Arts & Science with a BS in biology; holds a master’s from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine; currently a pulmonary-critical care fellow at University of Virginia Health.

Michael Lowder — 2013 graduate of the College of Arts & Science with a BS in political science; master’s in Modern East Asian Studies from the University of Duisburg-Essen; manager, public affairs at Volkswagen Group of America (liaison between the U.S. government and Volkswagen).

Sarah Ledbetter — 2012 graduate of the School of Health Professions with a BS in communication disorders; holds a master’s and doctorate of Clinical Science in Speech-Language Pathology; serves as a speech-language pathologist for rural schools and virtual academies.

Matt DeHart — 2019 graduate with a BS in elementary education from the School of Education and Human Services; middle school teacher; founder of Teach from DeHart Academy.

Cathy Teel — 2014 graduate of the School of Education and Human Services with a BS composite science education degree; holds a master’s in biological science from Clemson University; chemistry and astronomy teacher at Greer (South Carolina) Middle College Charter High School.

Elizabeth Black — 2014 graduate from the School of Business with a BS in accounting; senior audit manager at Deloitte & Touche, LLP, Detroit.

Brittany Arnold — 2016 graduate of the School of Fine Arts and Communication with a BA in Interior Design; holds a master’s in Architecture from Clemson University; founder and owner of Ario Studios.

Kayla Sulaiman — 2016 graduate of the School of Fine Arts and Communication with a BA and MA in communication; serves as director of development at Piedmont Women’s Center in Greenville.

Ruth Coleman— 2013 graduate with a BA in Christian Missions from the School of Religion; serves as a missionary in Honduras.

Janine Fox — 2013 graduate of the School of Religion with a BA in Christian Missions and an MA in Ministry; serves as a missionary in Mexico and a teacher at Instituto Practico Ebenezer y Seminario.

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President Steve Pettit’s Speaking Schedule

Dec. 9, Friday, 9:30 a.m.
SermonAudio’s Foundations Conference
Bob Jones University

Dec. 10, Saturday, 12 p.m.
Life Launch Event
Pizza with the President
Rock Springs Baptist Church
201 Rock Springs Road
Easley, SC 29642

Jan. 15, Sunday, 10 a.m.
Union Grove Baptist Church
2295 Union Grove Road
Lexington, NC 27295

Jan. 15, Sunday, 6 p.m.
Valley Baptist Church
26 Sunny Slope Lane
Stuarts Draft, VA 24477

Jan. 22, Sunday, 10 a.m.
Fellowship Baptist Church
7 East Drive
Jacksonville, NC 28546

Jan. 29, Sunday, 9 a.m.
Keystone Bible Church
10925 Tarpon Springs Road
Odessa, FL 33556

Jan. 29, Sunday, 5 p.m.
Westside Baptist Church
261 Flowing Wells Road
Martinez, GA 30907

Feb. 5, Sunday, p.m.
Freedom Baptist Church
7207 State Road 21
Keystone Heights, FL

Feb. 26, Sunday, a.m.
East Brandywine Baptist Church
999 Horseshoe Pike
Downingtown, PA 19335

Feb. 26, Sunday, p.m.
Valley Forge Baptist Temple
616 S. Trappe Road
Collegeville, PA 19426

Alyssa Marks Wins Mary E. Jarrard Award at Communication Conference

Alyssa Marks, a graduate student in BJU’s department of Communication Studies, won the 2022 Mary E. Jarrard Award for Excellence in Student Scholarship at the annual Carolinas Communication Association (CCA) conference held at the University of South Carolina Aiken earlier this semester. She was recognized for her paper, “The Power of Perception in War: Social Judgement Theory and President Zelensky’s Memorable Messaging.”

The Jarrard award is given to the author of the top graduate paper. This is the fifth time a BJU student has received the honor since BJU joined the CCA in 2014.

In addition, BJU graduate student Charissa Willis’ paper, “I Now Pronounce You: An Exploration of Marital Name Change among Evangelical Women,” placed in the top three.

Prior to the convention, students from around the region submitted papers for consideration in the CCA’s competitive, blind review process.

Students from Colorado State University, Georgia State University, the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, the University of North Carolina, Greensboro and the University of South Carolina Aiken were finalists.

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Classic Players Present Richard III, The Terrible Reign

Keeping with the tradition of mounting a Shakespearean play each fall, BJU’s Classic Players performed Richard III, The Terrible Reign each evening Nov. 15–17 in Rodeheaver Auditorium. Theatre faculty member John Michael Cox played Richard III, who devises a scheme to eliminate everyone who stands between him and the British throne.

Bob Jones College first performed the play in 1940 with Dr. Bob Jones Jr. in the title role. This year marks the ninth time BJU has mounted the production, the last time in 2012.

Because it is a history play with many characters, Richard III typically has not been easy to follow and has not been an audience favorite. In 2012, director Jeffrey Stegall adapted the play, cutting some of the characters. His version was very well received and was used again this year.

A unique element was also added. The last scene — the battle at Bosworth Field where Richard III meets his downfall — was fought in the rain — a first for BJU.

Voctave, an 11-member a cappella group, will perform the final Concert, Opera and Drama Series program of the semester in Founder’s Memorial Amphitorium on Dec. 1. Tickets are available here.

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Division of Music Seeking Accreditation

In 2019, the Division of Music filed a notification of intention to submit an application for accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM). On Sept. 11, 2022, the Division of Music submitted a 200-page self-study and over 700 pages of supporting documents compiled by the Division of Music faculty.

In mid-October, NASM representatives came to campus for a site visit. They met with President Pettit; Dr. Gary Weier, provost; Dr. Darren Lawson, dean of the School of Fine Arts and Communication; Dr. Michael Moore, chair of the Division of Music; and all students majoring in music. The visiting team observed classes and rehearsals and attended recitals.

In a few weeks, we will receive their written report and will respond to their recommendations. They will rule on our application in June 2023.

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BJU Offers Study Abroad Courses

Spanish Study Abroad students with David Bell: Nathan Abdo,Seth Johnson, Jonathan Art, Ciera (Katelyn) Miller, Marisol Torres,Ana Fraley, Ellie Myers, Elise Snow and Macy McArthur

BJU is offering 11 study abroad courses in summer 2023, through which students can earn three to six academic credits. These include:

  • Art + Design in Spain
  • Biblical Studies in Israel
  • Biology in India
  • Business at the University of Lisbon, Portugal
  • Communications in Israel
  • Communication Disorders in Uganda
  • Education Studies in Colombia
  • Global Health in Ghana
  • History in France
  • Nursing in Zambia
  • Spanish in Costa Rica and Bolivia

By participating in a study abroad program, a student gains a wealth of international cultural experience, which can be a major asset in future employment. Study abroad credits are fast becoming a resume necessity.

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BJU Kicks Off Christmas Season

Christmas at BJU kicks off Dec. 2 with a Christmas chapel at 11 a.m. Other highlights of the day include:

  • BJA Elementary School Choir Concert — Student Center Mall
  • Children’s activities — front campus
  • Alumni Christmas Market
  • Special Christmas dinner in the dining common
  • Alumni Relations Giving Tree — Welcome Center Lobby
  • Answers in Genesis video: Encounter the Wonder (shown every 15 minutes  until 9 p.m.)
  • Smoky Mountain Christmas — Stratton Hall— Guest Artist: Ben Rochester
  • Velos Collective, Homeschool Co-op
  • Bob Jones Academy High School Concert Choir — Rodeheaver Plaza
  • Carol Sing and Lighting Ceremony
  • University Symphonic Orchestra and Combined Choir Concert — Rodeheaver Auditorium

All activities are free and open to the public. Event times are available on

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