“God gave us the freedom to raise warriors,” said Michael Farris. He was addressing a crowd of 570 gathered to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the founding of Patrick Henry College. Farris is the founder and chancellor of the tiny, private, upstart college in Purcellville, Virginia. Among those listening to his words Tuesday night were former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and Dr. James Dobson. What were they celebrating?
Farris, a constitutional lawyer, is the founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association and the president of ParentalRights.org. Patrick Henry College embodies Farris’s lifelong commitment to educational choice and academic rigor, as reflected in the school’s mission to “prepare Christian men and women who will lead our nation and shape our culture with timeless biblical values and fidelity to the spirit of the American founding.” In order to maintain its independence, the college accepts no federal funding or federally-backed student grants or loans.
Despite its youth, Patrick Henry College has been making waves in the academic community. In 2004, Patrick Henry beat Oxford on British turf in a moot court tournament on British Contract Law. The college’s moot court team has won five out of the past seven American Collegiate Moot Court Association national championships. Patrick Henry students attained the highest scores in the nation on the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s American Civic Literacy Test, outperforming Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. Patrick Henry students have SAT and LSAT scores that rival the top schools in the nation.
Patrick Henry College is not your typical college campus—i.e., it’s not a hive of leftwing hijinx. As part of the classical liberal arts tradition, Patrick Henry requires all students to take 63 credits of core curriculum, including courses on philosophy, religion, political theory, constitutional law, and history. These courses ground students in a holistic understanding of ideas that have shaped world history, preparing students to advocate a principled-centered worldview that emphasizes Founding principles and limited government.
This education has prepared graduates of Patrick Henry College for incredible successes. Alumni are pursing graduate studies and law degrees at the top-ranked law schools in the nation, including Harvard, Yale, and Columbia. They have argued in front of Supreme Court justices, directed documentaries, worked on presidential campaigns, landed jobs in the White House, written for national publications, and even worked at The Heritage Foundation.
At the 10th anniversary event, Patrick Henry College unveiled an ambitious plan to enlarge the student body from its current size of 350 students to 1,400 students. Yet, as the college grows, it remains committed to its Christian and American roots. During the celebration, Senator Santorum was asked what the mission of everyone in the room should be. His reply was simple: “to reclaim America’s lost principles.” That mission remains a cornerstone of the vision of Patrick Henry College.
—By Nicole Frazer, a member of the Heritage Foundation Young Leaders Program and current student at Patrick Henry College.