Leonardo Briceno

Dean of Academic Affairs Speaks on the Core Mission of Patrick Henry College

  • Purpose Behind PHC

All the publicity would seem to indicate that Patrick Henry College exists so that the best and brightest students can have a change to prepare themselves for whatever God has planned for them in life. That’s done with the hope so that with that education they can turn around and positively influence the culture. So that they, as American citizens, can have a chance to positively influence the country.

That’s why PHC exists.

Part of Dr. Mike Farris’ dream for the college was that Patrick Henry College would be a place where students could become grounded in their faith. Farris had seen gifted Christian friends go to universities and colleges and come back without any of their convictions, never having had the chance to ground themselves in their faith. They had been challenged by their peers and by their professors. No one will challenge you at Patrick Henry College for being a Christian. Maybe they would disagree with you on your sciences, on his views of history, on his political opinions. But at Patrick Henry College, it’s a community that’s not going to attack you just because you’re Christian. It’s a college experience that’s going to come within the Christian family and provide you with an opportunity to flourish from the start of your college career. It’s also going to make your faith stronger. We teach you to defend your beliefs. And, while supplying the grounding for belief, Patrick Henry College gives students that rigorous and challenging education that’s as much like an ivy league as we can make it.

  • Mission

Patrick Henry College achieves this mission by doing some outstanding things. Unlike most colleges where the general program is being taken up by major hours, Patrick Henry College firmly believes and makes use of a common, classical core curriculum. It used to be that 60 credit-hours of general education was something that everyone had. Now at most colleges, it’s suddenly gone down to 31 hours. Now, what that means is that there’s less and less shared knowledge when they go into their jobs in towns and cities. There’s less shared knowledge in science in literature and in history. It makes it hard, not only to have an educated conversation, but also difficult to know where people are coming from when conversations do happen.

Every student at Patrick Henry College takes the same courses. At many state colleges, students are required to take a number of literature courses, a number of humanity courses, a number of history courses, and a few government classes. Mostly, students chose what classes they’ll take from these larger categories. But, for the most part, they just have to make sure they’ve checked the boxes. At Patrick Henry College, every student is taking the same classes and comes from a shared experience and a shared source of knowledge. This ensures that each student gets a rounded education and that we won’t change unless the core mission of the school changes.

There’s another way in which Patrick Henry College uniquely quips its students, and that’s our internship programs. The beauty of PHC is that we are 40 mins from D.C. we have cultivated a number of internships that simply aren’t open to a lot of school unless they imbed a professor in DC and have him teach full time there. For many students, it’s simply not an option. But here, connections and open opportunities provide Patrick Henry College with ample room to take full advantage of D.C.’s professional environment.

In this way, Patrick Henry College makes use of the apprentice teaching model. Classes will teach students material in class that students can then take them and apply them in an internship so that they can leave and hit the ground running.Mock Trial and Moot Court teams are also ways we make use of the apprenticeship model. So between the apprentice-model programs, between internships, between excellent majors, and because of the core, these are the ways that PHC achieves that larger mission.

  • Students

Here’s the kind of student that should come to Patrick Henry College. The kind of student that comes to PHC should be the one who feels called to come. Once they have an understanding the mission of what we are trying to accomplish and have an idea of some of the unique methodologies here, the student has to decide—this is a place where I want to be.

I don’t know that the kids that come to Patrick Henry College are the smartest kids in the country, but I wouldn’t trade them for the ones that go to Stanford or Yale, Harvard or any place else. We are also interested in students who—at their core—are people who believe and have committed their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ. Between people who aren’t that smart and who are more grounded in their faith; I would rather have the latter. What we will do is give them the best education we can and provide them with opportunities to be in moot court and mock trial to be in debate to be in journalism, things which are associated with strategic intelligence—so that they can develop the gifts and talents that the Lord has given them.

I believe that Patrick Henry College is one of the ways Christians can be outstanding American citizens.

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Spiritual life on campus at Patrick Henry College,

There are three components to an education at Patrick Henry College. These are the three founding elements behind the college, its mission, and its philosophy. Academic excellence is the first one, a dedication to the spirit of the American founding is the second. And the third—and most important—is an unwavering dedication to a biblical worldview.

Taking the principles found in the Bible is of the upmost importance to the leadership of the college—so much so that it’s in the fabric and identity of the college. Now, what that means is that every 8:00 A.M. class, every professor, and every lecture is grounded in the Bible and its instruction.

But it’s not just displayed in the leadership of the college. It’s not just a sentiment that’s on the cover of admissions office brochures; it’s a reality that’s lived out and reflected in the community and in the life of its students. Sp`iritual life is incredibly important to the students of Patrick Henry College. Many of apply and attend Patrick Henry College in search of a college-level Christian education that will enforce and grow their faith.

Here are some of the events on campus that help nurture a community that thinks seriously about their faith and personal development.

Wing Chapel

Every Tuesday and Thursday each wing gets together to talk about the Word of God and their own personal spiritual life. These student-led Bible-studies are organized and spearheaded by the Resident Assistants or “RAs.” By encouraging their fellow students to dig into the Bible and to apply it to their lives, RAs play a large role in the development and maintenance of spiritual life at Patrick Henry College. Each RA is handpicked by the administration to lead Godly examples of what it looks like to be a student and a Christian at the same time.

These smaller, more familiar environments lead students to be more comfortable with sharing and opening up to their fellow hallway neighbors. But the wing chapel setting isn’t the only place where students get together to hear and read the Word.


Chapel is the larger version of wing chapel. Instead of breaking up into groups, the entire student body comes together on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to listen to a speaker present a message. Many times, these speakers will come from outside Patrick Henry College. In the past, they have come from local churches, think tanks, Christian ministries—a wide range of places. But regardless of where they come from, they all preach from the Bible with varied perspectives and bits of wisdom for the student body at Patrick Henry College.

It’s these routine meetings that consistently and continuously remind students that Christian life is a priority at Patrick Henry College, not just an afterthought. It is the cornerstone of Patrick Henry College’s mission, and Chapel helps keep that in perspective.

Sunday Night Worship

While reading and studying the Bible is a large part of the Christian life, worship provides students and opportunity to band together around an activity they can all participate in. Sunday Night Worship happens every week at 7:00 and runs until 7:30. For thirty minutes, students at Patrick Henry College sing their favorite worship songs to close out the week, re-orienting their minds and focusing back on the simple but profound truths they live with on a daily basis.

It’s a completely student-led activity and is usually pretty simple. Most of the time, it’s led by a singer, a guitar-player, and a drummer. With these relatively simple tools students at Patrick Henry College set apart a small fragment of their Sunday night to make their spiritual life in community a priority.

Faculty Bible Studies

As seen with Sunday Nigh Worship, students have a vested interest in improving their own spiritual lives and encouraging the students around them to do the same. But it isn’t just the students that set aside time for spiritual nourishment after hours.

The faculty and professors at Patrick Henry College are deeply interested in seeing their students grow. Professors like Dr. Robert Spinney, a history professor at Patrick Henry College, holds annual men’s Bible studies after classes are over on Wednesday nights. By mentoring young men and investing in their lives, Dr. Spinney ensures that all men on campus have an opportunity to peruse God in the fellowship of other young men. Other professors like Dr. Randy Newman, a professor of theology, lead Bible studies that go through a book of the Bible. Last year, Dr. Newman led a group of men and women through the book of Ruth, exploring the significance of ideas like hope, restoration, and redemption.

It’s people like Dr. Spinney and Dr. Newman that continue to encourage students to be both academically and spiritually active during their time at Patrick Henry College.

Community Prayer

Last year, Patrick Henry College lost one of its best when Dr. Frank Guliuzza passed away. His loss has not been the only tragedy felt by the Patrick Henry College community. When loss strikes or when illness is felt in the community, students band together to pray for the needs of the people around them. Patrick Henry College students will gather at the flag pole on the center of campus to bring their needs and supplications before their heavenly father.

Community prayer has and will continue to be one of the great marvels at Patrick Henry College. Because Patrick Henry College has around 300 students, it’s entirely possible for students to know and support each other’s needs. It’s one of the most striking and powerful aspects of life at Patrick Henry College.


There’s a lot of different things to focus on in college. Every student activity, every club, ever friendship demands just a little bit more attention and time. But in the midst of all the various ways students could choose to spend 24 hours, at Patrick Henry College, spiritual life will always be a priority. It’s part of the identity of the school and thus part of the identity of the student body. These handful of activities that students take the time to be a part of are a testament to the fidelity and the commitment of the student body to their convictions and beliefs.

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I’m writing to you about the exceptional 16, 17, and18-year-old students across America. You probably know a few. Maybe they are your own children, or maybe it will be them in a few (very short) years. Maybe you’re thinking about your grandchildren or the neighbor’s teenager who helps with your yard. There are a lot of them. They are precious gifts from God, and they are the future of America.

What I love about these young adults is that they haven’t been passive or disengaged from their own development. They’ve sweated, stressed, and stretched their way to excellence – and it hasn’t been easy. Nothing worth achieving is! They gave up time with their friends and made wise, difficult choices when others called them on easier roads. These exceptional students feel a distinct leading in their life to do something that honors their family, their country, and most of all, our God. He has called them, and that calling requires serious prayer and serious deliberation.

Now they’ve come to a defining moment. Where will they go to college? That’s a huge decision and not one to be taken lightly. As the parent, grandparent, teacher, pastor, or mentor who poured countless hours into their emotional, intellectual, and spiritual formation, this is a defining moment for you as well.

I recognize the difficulty of the college decision when I look at the current landscape of higher education. Once a shining example of American exceptionalism, our colleges and universities have now become hotbeds of intolerance for people of faith, filled with “safe spaces”, promiscuity, and, to top it off, a subpar education. That doesn’t make for an exciting or optimistic choice. In fact, it is an unacceptable status quo.

The exceptional, high-performing Christian student deserves better. So do you, and so does our country. Why must our best and brightest, along with those who pay the bills, make the awful choice between an institution that offers an elite education with a path to success and an institution that honors the Word of God?

That choice is a recipe for disaster, not only for our country but also for the Kingdom. How many young saints have we lost to thishttps://patrickhenrycollege.info/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/abc.jpg formula, and how far has our country drifted from its outstanding? Too many and too far.

At right is an illustration that has helped me visualize the current landscape in higher education.

Originally, higher education in the United States occupied the top right of the graph – especially our most prestigious universities. These institutions strove for the best in academic rigor while maintaining a steadfast commitment to the Word of God.

However, as you and I know all too well, these places drifted leftward over time – abandoning the idea that knowledge and wisdom come from God. They have tried to maintain their level of academic rigor, but even that has declined. Much of their continued success comes from reputation, deeply entrenched networks, and the fact that they keep getting the students with the highest intellectual horsepower – students who should be going to God-honoring institutions.

The schools that have drifted to the left are resolute to remain there – indoctrinating future cultural influencers with a left-leaning, highly-secularized worldview that is increasingly hostile to people of faith and the principles of the American founding.

Throughout the years, Christian institutions of higher education have been established to fill the void. Unfortunately, most of these places (where God’s Word is still being honored) lack the academic excellence and rigor necessary to compete with the elite institutions in the upper left. I thank God these Christian colleges exist, but they just haven’t filled the void in the upper right. Our political and cultural institutions continue to be populated by the product of the upper left – to our country’s detriment.

That is why Mike Farris and a group of faithful Christian Patriots (even some of you reading this letter) established Patrick Henry College in the year 2000. Patrick Henry College (PHC) was founded to fill the spiritual and academic void created by the leftward secular shift of our nation’s elite institutions.

Patrick Henry College exists to glorify God by challenging the status quo in higher education. We lift high both faith and reason within a rigorous academic environment, therefore preserving for posterity the ideas behind the “noble experiment in ordered liberty” that is the foundation of America.

In other words, for Christ, and for Liberty. This is why we exist, and this is what we’re here to do.

The exceptional Christian students out there no longer need to make the choice between an elite education with access to career success and a place that honors the Word of God. That place exists, and it exists with no government funding, no long-term debt, and a stunning, 17-year track record of success.

But it doesn’t exist without you. You provide the funding and the scholarships that make this choice possible. Your support is the fuel that God uses for the Patrick Henry College engine that is producing cultural and political leaders like no other Christian institution. What can another Christian college say they’ve helped produce three Supreme Court clerks in the last two years and three current press secretaries in the House, the Senate, and the executive branch? None can. This isn’t about bragging. It is simply putting forward evidence that Patrick Henry College is fulfilling its mandate to fill the vacated space in the upper right of the chart above. This excellence can only be achieved when academic rigor is supported by the Word of God. And through God’s grace and your provision, there is no limit to what can be achieved for His glory.

The status quo is unacceptable. Our nation needs leaders prepared with excellence, humility, and grace.


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Patrick Henry College (PHC) Won Its Twelfth National Championship


Purcellville, VA, January 17, 2019 — Patrick Henry College (PHC) in Virginia won its twelfth national championship at the American Moot Court Association (AMCA) national tournament in Orlando, Florida last weekend. In addition to winning first place,  Patrick Henry College  finished with three teams among the top eight in the nation.   Patrick Henry College speakers also won five of the top 20 speaker awards.

Mike Patton of Kansas City, MO and Keely Wright of Louisville, KY won the championship.

Patrick Henry College in Virginia is a forensics powerhouse with an unmatched legacy. No other college in the history of the American Moot Court Association has won more than once.

Moot Court is a highly competitive forensics event where participants provide oral arguments in an environment similar to the U.S. Supreme Court. Justices frequently interrupt the presenters to challenge assertions and to test the presenter’s knowledge of relevant case law.

The 2018-19 season featured over 400 teams from colleges across the nation competing in 13 national qualifying tournaments.

Other notable Patrick Henry College team placements include Thomas Doan/Benjamin Phibbs (semi-finalists), and Marina Barnes/Kyle Ziemnick (quarter-finalists).

Senior Clare Downing ranked 3rd in individual speaker awards, Michael Patton ranked 9th, Keely Wright ranked 12th, Micah Bock ranked 14th, and Samuel Bock, 22nd.

The Patrick Henry College roster of 2018-19 Moot Court National competitors included the following 16 students from 10 states:
• Marina Barnes | Chesapeake, VA
• Micah Bock | Indianapolis, IN
• Samuel Bock | Indianapolis, IN
• Caleb Canna | Sarasota, FL
• Benjamin Crosby | Burlington, WA
• Thomas Doan | Winston Salem, NC
• Clare Downing | Tampa, FL
• Thomas Keith | Rangeley, ME
• Emil Meintjes | Dallas, TX
• Cooper Millhouse | Purcellville, VA
• Michael Patton | Kansas City, MI
• Benjamin Phibbs | Albemarle, NC
• Simon Sefzik | Bellingham, WA
• Andrew Shelton | Social Circle, GA
• Keely Wright | Louisville, KY
• Kyle Ziemnick | Purcellville, VA

Patrick Henry College offers a unique classical Christian liberal arts program with high academic rigor, fidelity to the spirit of the American founding, and an unwavering biblical worldview. PHC’s pre-law advising program is among the top in the nation.

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What Makes Patrick Henry College so Remarkable?

People often ask what makes Patrick Henry College so remarkable.

For me, the answer is easy: it’s the people, our students and alumni become.

I spent much of my career as an executive in the corporate banking world and over the years I discovered something about success and potential. Time and again, I saw our company bring in young, talented professionals, many coming from Ivy League schools with prestigious pedigrees. Yet, so few possessed the three critical elements that are needed for long-term success: character, communication skills, and critical thinking. These essential qualities not only make all the difference in lives and careers, they are also the qualities that our nation desperately needs in its leaders.

To put it simply, Patrick Henry College, exists to equip a generation of leaders for Christ to reclaim our nation for liberty.

Too often, students and families are told they must choose between an exceptional academic education and a Christ-centered education. At Patrick Henry College, no such dichotomy exists. This is a college for students who want something more –to aim higher, dig deeper, dare greater, and challenge the status quo. Students who know deep down inside that God has made them for a purpose. Throughout the Bible, God called His people – those like David, Esther, and Nehemiah –to great moments. We believe God is calling young people across this country to great moments as well. And I am fully convinced that our students will be ready when their moment comes to step to the center stage.

If there is a common refrain I hear time and again, it is that Patrick Henry College or Patrick Henry College students quickly distinguish themselves wherever they go; whether it’s our Strategic Intelligence graduates rising through the ranks of the FBI and CIA, or our Government majors winning coveted White House internships and Supreme Court clerkships, or our Economics and Business Analytics alumni making an early name for themselves at Fortune 500 companies. Patrick Henry College students understand how to think clearly, communicate convincingly, and do so with the character and conviction that only comes from a deep relationship with Jesus Christ.

Our alumni walk on to many different stages, from the highest levels of government to their local churches. You’ll see many of their stories here in these pages, and I think you’ll see a common thread. As Proverbs tells us, “See a man skillful in his work? He shall stand before kings.” Similarly, David reminds us in the Psalms, “I will also speak of your testimonies before kings and I shall not be put to shame.” I believe there will be Supreme Court justices, presidents, and CEO’s that come from these halls, as well as faithful fathers and mothers, pastors, and teachers. In any and every sphere, our alumni will be the kind of people equipped to stand before kings.

That is the very heartbeat of Patrick Henry College. Wherever they go, whatever they do, our alumni are equipped to be difference makers – and the very best at that –for Christ and for Liberty.

Jack W. Haye
Patrick Henry College

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A Generation of Young Leaders for Christ

A generation of young leaders for Christ, reclaiming a nation for liberty – that is the vision of Patrick Henry College

That fact is not only why Patrick Henry College exists, but it’s also what makes us so remarkable. We now have over 800 alumni working around the world and if there is a common refrain I hear, it’s that they excel wherever they choose to go. Whether it’s our Strategic Intelligence majors rising quickly through the ranks of the FBI and CIA, or our Government majors grabbing coveted White House and Capitol Hill internships, or our business majors making an early name for themselves at Fortune 500 companies, Patrick Henry College students understand how to think clearly, communicate convincingly, and do so with the character and conviction that only comes from a deep relationship with Jesus Christ.

In higher education today, students are often told they must either pursue an elite, exceptional education from the Ivy Leagues, or a Biblically rooted education from a Christian college. Patrick Henry College was founded to challenge that status quo and I believe we’ve done so convincingly. Patrick Henry College is a place for students with a deep desire for excellence, who want to reach higher and dig deeper.

Our students take their degrees in many different places, from the chambers of the Supreme Court to the whiteboard at the front of a classroom.

If there’s one thing I hear time and again, it’s that Patrick Henry College students stand out from the crowd.

So special. After all, for a college that began less than two decades ago, we’ve seen a remarkable amount of success – from national and international debate championships to regular White House and even Supreme Court placements. Over the years, I’ve learned much about what makes.

Before coming to Patrick Henry College, I spent over 30 years of my career in the fast-paced, high-pressure corporate banking world. And in my role as an executive, I often interacted with recent graduates and young talented professionals that our company brought onboard. Despite the fact that many came from top universities or had letters at the end of their names, I found a common and consistent weakness: too few knew how to think critically and communicate convincingly.


Jack W. Haye
Patrick Henry College

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