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The Washington Times
May 29, 2007

Washington Times Op-ed—Patrick Henry Caps Very Good Year

by J. Michael Smith
HSLDA President

The past year for Patrick Henry College, located in beautiful Purcellville, Va., has been one of remarkable progress.

First and foremost, on April 17, the college attained accreditation from the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, which is recognized as a national accrediting body by the U.S. Department of Education. Gaining accreditation was a long process, but necessary, because the college now has been peer reviewed and recognized as an institution that meets the standards of similar colleges.

Accreditation is a key step because the college is attempting to do something that has not been done before in modern times; create a Christian liberal arts college that can effectively challenge the Ivy League.

In addition to accreditation, the college announced in February 2006 that founder and former PHC President Michael Farris would become PHC chancellor. On April 3, 2006, Graham Walker was named the second president of Patrick Henry College. Mr. Walker is a former Princeton professor and 1988 winner of the Edward S. Corwin Award for the best dissertation in the field of public law.

Founded in 2000 by the Home School Legal Defense Association, the college recently celebrated its sixth—and largest—commencement, with a record 59 students participating.

Veteran filmmaker Ken Wales, producer of “Amazing Grace,” the story of the great Christian reformer William Wilberforce, delivered the 2007 commencement address. Mr. Wales focused on his personal experiences in the industry. His path to filmmaking began when he received a $5,000 check from Walt Disney. The check paid for Mr. Wales’ college education and enabled him to begin working in the film industry.

He also spoke of acting roles he had turned down because they were not consistent with biblical principles. This cost him many career opportunities, but he did not express regret for those decisions. Instead, he encouraged the students to take principled stands and choose good over evil. Mr. Wales also encouraged the graduating class to tell their stories, and to do the work that God has laid out for their future, because, “If we don’t do the work that God gives us to do—who will do it?”

Doing God’s work fits exactly with PHC’s mission. The college’s motto is “For Christ and for Liberty.” The college is dedicated to preparing Christian men and women to lead our nation and to shape our culture using biblical values they learned from their parents and their churches as well as PHC.

The college is unique among Christian colleges because of its emphasis on classical liberal arts and on the preparation of its students for public service, advocacy and citizen leadership, as well as a commitment to apprenticeship.

We expect PHC graduates to be a tremendous force for good in this world. The graduating class has learned to be of service and to make sacrifices. We are confident that these new graduates, and PHC alumni, will greatly contribute to building a better tomorrow.

On this Memorial Day, however, we are called to remember the men and women of our armed services who it made it possible for the students of Patrick Henry College to follow their dreams of Christian service. We owe a great debt of gratitude to them.

For those that might be interested in receiving a classical liberal arts education that takes the spiritual climate of its students seriously, you can contact Patrick Henry College at

Michael Smith is the president of the Home School Legal Defense Association. He may be contacted at (540)338-5600; or send email to

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