Just a few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of handing diplomas to 38 King’s graduates at the year-end commencement ceremonies. Parents were beaming with pride, and I could see the excitement in each graduate’s eyes as they walked across the stage. I also had the privilege to deliver a few parting words to the students who for the last four years have made The King’s College their home.
In my speech, I encouraged them to ask themselves what it means to be followers of Christ in the 21st century. One answer to this question is embedded in the vision of The King’s College—to involve leaders in Christ’s redemptive work in society. Much of God’s redemptive work will be cultural, from the bottom-up. But I told the students not to shy away from the top-down approach. An effective strategy for reshaping society needs both.
I have no doubt that this year’s graduating class will lead admirably. In fact, some of the graduates already have positions at important institutions. Three students, for example, were accepted into Teach For America, one of the most competitive teaching fellowships in America today. These graduates join other King’s alumni who are pursuing careers in government, media, business, and law where they are poised to make a difference.
Our graduates prove something very important about the vision of The King’s College. Unlike other colleges, our vision is not satisfied when students complete their fourth year. Students come to King’s to learn the great ideas, and in doing so, they see that there is work to be done! King’s students study so that they can put those ideas to work for Christ and His kingdom.
As I handed a diploma to each candidate, I saw the potential for the great work that each of them will do. Please continue reading this issue of The King’s Ideas for a glimpse of what that will be!
Serving the King of King’s,
President, The King's College
Graduates Reflect on Mission and Service
The King’s College congratulates the 38 young men and women who graduated on Saturday, May 14. In a beautiful ceremony at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, graduates reminisced on their college years, reflected on the College mission, renewed their desire to serve God, and received their diplomas.
As the Valedictorian of the Class of 2011, Edward Snyder-Ritter reminded his fellow graduates that when they first started at King’s, they joined a college “that promised to crush us with the very first College Writing assignment…a college that told us that we could and should lead a world hostile to our faith.”
All the preparation, all the difficulty, all the struggling, he said, served to prepare the graduates for a vibrant and successful life beyond college. With this richness, however, comes much responsibility. “For everyone to whom much is given,” he quoted from the Gospel of Luke, “from him, much will be required.”
“We have attempted to ‘know the good’ and now we must do it,” Snyder-Ritter said. “We have come far in knowledge, now we must go further in action. We must make sure that these were not ‘the best years of our lives,’ but the preparation for lives ever richer.”
Selected by a vote of his peers to represent the class, John Hundscheid similarly addressed the graduates and the audience on the value of education.
“We’re trying to participate in the Great Tradition,” he said. “We want to talk about the defining questions. If you think most colleges and universities are interested in that, I suggest taking a stroll through a major university’s course catalog."
The value in participating in this centuries-long conversation, he said, is to see the fruit of a liberal education—prudence and discernment, justice and charity. “But to harvest these fruits, you must care for the tree. You cannot merely attend to the fruit. You must nurture the soul,” he said.
The graduates and their gathered family and friends also heard from President Dinesh D’Souza, who spoke to the new alumni as the leaders of the future. He exhorted them to consider what they would do with the rest of their lives by exploring what it means to be followers of Jesus in the world and discerning the ways Christians can emulate Him in the 21st Century.
D’Souza asked the graduates, “How can we be effective Christians in a secular society? How can we as Christians perform in, transform, and affect our culture?”
The answer, he said, is partially revealed in the mission statement of The King’s College. True societal influence requires both a bottom-up and a top-down approach to challenge reigning assumptions and to promote Christian virtues.
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King's Students Selected for Competitive Teaching Fellowship
Teach for America (TFA) is currently one of the most sought-after—and prestigious—opportunities for college graduates with demonstrated leadership abilities. Many students from Harvard and Yale apply, but the national acceptance rate is around 10%.
The King’s College is thrilled to announce that three members of the Class of 2011 were selected by the program to teach for two years in public schools across the nation. After a four month application process, Matthew Rosenbaum, Danielle Perkins (pictured right), and Abigail Sattler were accepted into the program.
College graduates apply to TFA for a variety of reasons. Some apply to help fight the educational inequity that has overwhelmed parts of the public education system. Matthew Rosenbaum became interested in the program after writing a comparative study of the graduation rates in varying educational environments. Rosenbaum recounts one specific finding, that “Norman Thomas [High School], on 33rd and Park, has a 70% graduation rate for white kids, while blacks and Hispanics, who compose over 90% of the school, have a 30-40% graduation rate. That's appalling.”
Danielle Perkins applied for the fellowship to “portray learning as a lifelong passion, not as something to leave behind once you're out of school.”
Other candidates are attracted to the combination of TFA’s mission and the professional opportunities that it boasts. Since its founding in 1990, TFA has developed a large network of business and academic relationships that it offers to graduates of the program. TFA holds professional partnerships with Morgan Stanley, Deloitte, and Credit Suisse, and academic partnerships with top-tier graduate schools like Cornell, Columbia, and Harvard, among others.
As a result, TFA is one of the nation’s most competitive and selective fellowships. In 2010, the New York Times reported that of over 46,000 applicants, just 4,500 were selected to enter the program.
According to the students selected this year, the King’s education uniquely prepared them for the interview process. Rosenbaum said, “I felt comfortable in the interviews in large part because of my King's education, especially my class in business communications.” Perkins felt particularly equipped by the House System at King’s, saying, “The day of the final interview, I felt articulate, confident, and excited, mainly because of the experience I had gained from working in house leadership.”
In the past two years, four of six King’s students who have applied for TFA were accepted into the program. Speaking to the success of King’s applicants, Rosenbaum said, “I think the reason King's has so many people get accepted is because King's emphasizes student leadership. So many people are in leadership in a House, organization, or club, because much of King's revolves around ‘if you want it, start it.’ And that's a pretty special environment that trains the sort of people TFA is looking for.”
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Business Students Rank Among the World's Best
Students in the School of Business at The King’s College continue to show their business acumen. For the third year in a row, a team from King's has ranked among the world’s best in an international competition.
Over 300 colleges and graduate schools entered the International CapSim Spring Challenge this year. On April 17, five teams competed in the finals against groups from such schools as Brigham Young University and Baylor University. The team from King’s, led by juniors Trevor Blake (pictured right) and TJ Bramblett, performed admirably during the 7-hour competition, a business strategy simulation.
Dawn Fotopulos, assistant professor of business, uses the simulation in her Business Strategy course each spring. Students run a $40 million company against five other computer-generated companies and compete for the highest balanced scorecard—a measure of how well-balanced and profitable each company is after each round. In the last several years, the most successful students in the course have also taken part in the international competition, which pits students against live competitors.
“The Business Strategy Class of 2011 continues a wonderful tradition of excellence at The King’s College by achieving Fourth Place in the International CapSim Spring Challenge,” said Dawn Fotopulos. “The competition was fierce, but our class never wavered.”
Blake and Bramblett, as President and CEO, were supported by the Competition Analysis Team of Maria Laino, Katie Lay, and Shelby Nobles; the Finance Team of Liz Christenson and Elvina Halli; Production and R&D specialists Wesley Adjei and Jonathan Irwin; and Quality Management and HR expert Liz Suzio.
“As the teams engaged in heated debate about product specifications, pricing, financing, and cash flow decisions, I couldn’t help smiling. Twelve weeks ago, their wisdom and knowledge was not nearly as profound as it is now. They can stand toe to toe with any competitor,” Professor Fotopulos said.
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Michele DeKonty Announced as Director of Career Development
The King’s College is pleased to announce Michele DeKonty as the Director of Career Development. DeKonty brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience in facilitating professional relationships and employment opportunities.
Career Development at The King’s College offers practical career development tools to students. Career Development also maintains an active professional network that students at The King’s College can draw on as they pursue internships and jobs in and outside of New York City.
DeKonty graduated from Regent University with a degree in Organizational Leadership and Management and has spent over 17 years in Washington, DC. While in Washington, DeKonty worked in a variety of senior level capacities. In 1995, DeKonty worked as a legislative advisor to U.S. Senator Jesse Helms, where she drafted federal legislation related to domestic and international social welfare issues.
In 2003, DeKonty moved on to work as an International Policy Analyst for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Two years later, she would serve as a senior adviser to U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, then-chairman of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. From there, DeKonty went on to serve as Chief of Staff to the Office of Juvenile and Delinquency Prevention within the U.S. Department of Justice. In that role, she managed day-to-day operations for the office.
Through her work in Washington, DeKonty developed relationships with important figures in government, media, and business. As Director of Career Development, DeKonty will leverage her experience and relationships for the benefit of students and the college as a whole. DeKonty applied for the new position because of the College’s excellent reputation and because she is passionate about helping Christian leaders to shape strategic national institutions.
Jamey Nordby, Vice President of Advancement, said, “Michele’s enthusiasm for shaping young leaders is infectious. Her professionalism and her experience serve her well. I know that she will quickly take Career Development at The King’s College to a whole new level. I am very excited to have her on board and look forward with great anticipation as she develops Career Development in the coming months and years.”
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Last month, Professor Dawn Fotopulos traveled to Panama City for a conference held by the Sovereign Society, a group of the world’s wealthiest individuals. While at the conference, Professor Fotopulos wrote a series of articles on the discussions. In “What’s Really Happening With the U.S. Economy,” Professor Fotopulos explains that the group discussed the financial risks associated with nations increasing their debt ceilings. She writes that “the Chinese are unloading dollars as if they’re on fire. Have you seen the U.S. dollar index graph over the last three years? It looks like the EKG of a patient having a coronary infarction.” Click here to read Professor Fotopulos’ reports from Panama City.
Following the release of Saving Our Republic: Principles for a Political Reformation earlier this year, two King’s professors, Dr. David Corbin (pictured right) and Dr. Matthew Parks defended republican government in the Washington Times. In “Regime Change You Can Believe In,” Corbin and Parks argue that although the U.S. was founded on republican principles, it is remarkably weak in its promotion of those principles today, favoring pure democracy instead. As they write, “the Jacksonians of the first half of the 19th century and the Progressives of the late 19th and early 20th centuries successfully made every limitation on pure popular rule appear to be morally suspect.” This, they argue, has profoundly influenced the way the U.S. has postured itself toward conflicts in Libya and the Mideast region. Read the entire article here.
In “For the Dissidents, We’re All Priests Now,” Dr. Anne Hendershott, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Urban Studies, discussed the ongoing controversy in the Catholic Church surrounding the division between the clergy and laity. Hendershott analyzes the rise of dissident groups that are calling for a more flexible church structure that allows for the ordination of gays, lesbians, and married priests. Older bishops and priests are “embarrassed by their own authority,” and therefore are increasingly unable to defend the hierarchy necessary to the functioning of the Church. Click here to read the article in Crisis Magazine.
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