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Patrick Henry College (PHC) is a private, independent Protestant college that focuses on teaching classical liberal arts and government, located in Purcellvillemarker, Virginiamarker, United Statesmarker The first college in the United States founded specifically for Christian home-schooled students, Patrick Henry is known for its conservative evangelical Christian focus. As of April 17, 2007, the college was accredited by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, a national faith-related accrediting organization recognized by the Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

The school was founded with the help of the Home School Legal Defense Association, and now serves as the headquarters for the organization, with which it is still closely connected.

The college gained much publicity in the early 2000s because of its perceived ties with the Republican Party and the Bush administration, and its high emphasis on debate and moot court. The school has also been criticized for the religious interpretations of science that all students and faculty must agree to and continually uphold.


Patrick Henry College - Purcellville, Virginia
Henry College was incorporated in 1998 by Michael Farris, founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association. It officially opened September 20, 2000, with a class of 92 students. Since then the school has grown to approximately 325 students. The college eschews federal financial aid and is therefore relieved from Department of Education reporting requirements on demographic makeup of its student body and from other federal reporting requirements. The school does not ask for race on applications and the ethnic demographics are unknown.

PHC receives all of its funding from tuition fees or donations. The college states that it does not accept any money from government, or any other source that includes terms which supersede the authority of its Board of Trustees or conflict with its foundational statements. PHC only adds new facilities and programs as funds are available. The Home School Legal Defense Association is one of the primary benefactors of the school, and all members of the association receive a thirteen hundred dollar grant if accepted as students.

Media attention

The school has attracted reports from every major network and cable news organization from its inception, and been the subject of articles in Time, The New Yorker, The Economist, the New York Times, and others. A television documentary about the college, God's Next Army, aired in the spring of 2006 on Britain's Channel 4 and on the Discovery Times Channel in the United States. Initial media interest stemmed from the fact that the college deliberately sought students with homeschooled backgrounds. It also attracted attention because a number of the school's students gained White House internships and opportunities within the Bush administration: in spring 2004, seven of the 100 student White Housemarker interns were from PHC, which had only 240 students at the time. This is the same number of interns Georgetown Universitymarker had during the same period. Hanna Rosin, a writer who has covered religion and politics for several prominent journals, wrote a book entitled, "God's Harvard: A Christian College on a Mission to Save America", published 2007. In September 2008, photographer Jona Frank released a second book about Patrick Henry entitled "Right: Portraits of the Evangelical Ivy League," which features photographic portraits of students and their families. Additionally, the college's moot court team was the subject of an independent film, Come What May, shot during summer 2007 by a startup Christian production company and marketed primarily to a homeschooling audience.Chancellor Michael Farris appeared on the Colbert Report on October 21, 2008.


Patrick Henry College received national accreditation from the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools on April 17, 2007. The college had previously been denied accreditation by the American Academy for Liberal Education in the spring of 2002 because creationism was part of the curriculum. On June 30, 2005, the school was officially recognized by the United States Department of Education as an institution eligible for DOE programs. It also allowed students to use more scholarships and grants and made donors and students eligible for various tax benefits.

Religious affirmations

All students must sign a "Statement of Faith" before they arrive, affirming belief in what the college considers core Christian doctrines. For example, students are asked to acknowledge "Satan exists as a personal, malevolent being who acts as tempter and accuser, for whom Hell, the place of eternal punishment, was prepared, where all who die outside of Christ shall be confined in conscious torment for eternity", and "Christ's death provides substitutionary atonement for our sins." The college professes non-denominational Christian beliefs.

Teaching faculty must also sign the "Statement of Faith", plus a more detailed "Statement of Biblical Worldview", which represents the College's requirements for what should be taught. For example the Biblical Worldview Applications states that, "Any biology, Bible, or other courses at PHC dealing with creation will teach creation from the understanding of Scripture that God's creative work, as described in Genesis 1:1-31, was completed in six twenty-four hour days." New Scientist has claimed that Patrick Henry College and the homeschooling community in general were "possibly threatening the public school system that has fought hard against imposing a Christian viewpoint on science teaching."

In an interview with Fresh Air on National Public Radio, PHC founder Michael Farris commented that the college held the view that its faith was the only true faith ("We believe that there is truth and there is error."), and he expressed disapproval of religious and social toleration. "Tolerance cannot coexist with liberty" because "the crowd of tolerance wants to ban speech."

On April 12, 2007, LGBT rights group Soulforce selected PHC as one of the targets the on its annual "Equality Ride", which is to protest the stance of conservative Christian colleges concerning homosexuality. Like many other Christian colleges, Patrick Henry did not allow Soulforce to enter the university premises, though the college proposed for student representatives to a formal debate at a neutral location on the merits of the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Soulforce organizers declined, and notified the college of their intent to enter the campus to speak directly with students. After being refused entry, Soulforce formed a picket line outside the entrance to the campus and protested, largely peacefully, for approximately five hours.

Political views

Patrick Henry College has been criticized for what some see as extreme conservatism and evangelical Christian ethos, including creationism, by many newspapers such as the New Zealand Herald and New Scientist. The school has also been criticized for an alleged Republican bias. Janet Ashcroft, wife of John Ashcroft, serves on the Board of Trustees. This has prompted the British newspaper The Independent to dub Patrick Henry College "The Bible College That Leads to the White House."


Patrick Henry College Residential Village
Red Hill
Patrick Henry College is located in the town of Purcellville in rural northern Virginia, approximately northwest of Washington D.C. The campus currently consists of six buildings arranged around a retention pond popularly called "Lake Bob", as well as several athletic fields. The largest and most prominent structure, Founders Hall, opened in 2000 and contains three classrooms, a dining hall, a library, a weight room, and various administrative and faculty offices. It is also home to the offices of the Home School Legal Defense Association. The buildings are of Federal architecture. The artwork in Founders Hall consists of copies of portraits of the Founding Fathers placed along a staircase, leading to a picture of Patrick Henry at the second Virginia convention which features a light from heaven guiding Henry's speech. The artwork is designed to, in the words of Hannah Rosin, "remind the students that America was founded as a Christian nation."

The school's residential village is composed of five residence halls located along the edges of the lake. There are two men's dormitories (Red Hill and Oak Hill) and three women's dormitories (Mount Vernon, Monticello, and Montpelier). The four smaller dormitories opened in 2001, while the largest residence hall, Red Hill, opened in 2003. In addition to student housing, Red Hill also contains three classrooms and an office suite on its basement level. Located in the basement of Mount Vernon is an auditorium referred to as Town Hall, where the school's daily chapel sessions and other special events are held. The residence halls are set up in an arc shape around the lake. Some students refer to the setup as a "fishbowl."

Barbara Hodel Student Center

In August 2009 the college opened a $32 million, student life center, which significantly expanded dining, classroom, recreational, and athletic facilities. Construction began in December 2006 and was completed during the summer of 2009.

In November 2007, the college announced that the student center would be named the Barbara Hodel Center in honor of trustee Barbara Hodel. On January 21, 2008, the college announced that it had received a pledge guaranteeing full funding for the center's completion, with an anticipated opening date of Fall 2009. According to the college, the guarantee was made "in the form of a 'challenge grant' meant to enlarge the College’s base of existing donors while solidifying the long-term fiscal health of PHC and its annual scholarship program." In response to the grant, the school initiated a year-long fund raising campaign entitled "Finish the Foundation." This allowed the college to fund the construction of the building debt-free, pursuant to its policy of not borrowing for capital projects.

The Barbara Hodel Center opened for student use at the start of the fall 2009 academic semester, and the gymnasium, new dining hall, and coffee shop opened in October 2009. On October 10, 2009 the college held a dedication ceremony for the new building which was attended by approximately 1,000 people and featured evangelical leader James Dobson of Focus on the Familymarker as the keynote speaker.


The college's founder, Mike Farris, announced his resignation as president of the college on March 6, 2006, to become chancellor. Graham Walker, formerly of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, assumed the role and responsibilities of president in July 2006.

On July 1, 2006, the educator and cultural editor of World, Gene Edward Veith, took the post of Academic Dean. As part of multiple structural and administrative changes implemented in November 2006, Veith was appointed to the position of provost and oversees the departments of Academic Affairs and Student Life.
Founders Hall and Patrick Henry Circle


Students at the school can specialize within one of two tracks of study: Government or Classical Liberal Arts. The Government department offers majors in Government and the option to specialize in Domestic Policy, International Policy, Political Theory, Strategic Intelligence, or an "undeclared general" government track. Patrick Henry College also offers a degree in Journalism, while the Classical Liberal Arts department offer degrees in Classical Liberal Arts Education, History, and Literature.

The Government department's Public Policy degree was the first one offered by the college, and is still largely seen as its "flagship" program, with close connections to the former George W. Bush administration, Washington, D.C. Republicans, and conservative think tanks and organizations. In late November 2006, the school announced plans to split this track into separate domestic and foreign policy tracks.

The college has a 100% placement rate among graduates who have applied to law school.Patrick Henry College is currently accredited through the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, a federally-recognized accrediting agency. On January 24, 2007, the school successfully completed an on-site review by a TRACS assessment team, and was granted full accreditation in April.

Patrick Henry offers many of its core classes online, enabling students to participate in classes with other students from their own homes. Tuition for the program is less than the cost of on-campus education.


Of the twenty-five full-time professors, twenty-one have at least one Ph.D.; one professor has a D.M.A., and another holds an Ed.D. Chancellor Mike Farris has a J.D., has authored several novels and critiques of constitutional law, and has argued numerous cases before federal and state high courts, as well as the United States Supreme Court. Provost Gene Edward Veith is the author of seventeen books on topics involving Christianity and culture, classical education, literature, and the arts. John Warwick Montgomery specializes in religious freedom in global human rights cases. Former Time journalist and best-selling author David Aikman is a professor of history.

2006 Academic freedom dispute

In 2005, a library clerk was forced to resign for promoting the idea that baptism is essential for salvation, considered a violation of the Statement of Faith. Further, in March 2006, five of the college's sixteen faculty members—Erik Root, Robert Stacey, Kevin Culberson, Todd Bates, and David Noe—resigned in protest, claiming that the President's interpretation of the Biblical Worldview policy restricted academic freedom.

The resignations led to questions about the compatibility of a strong liberal arts education along with its conservative biblical worldview. David C. Noe, assistant professor of classics departed after finding that classical works by non-Christian authors were sometimes considered suspect at PHC, and there was an increasingly narrow view of Christianity. Root criticized the autocratic lack of faculty participation in the ideas and governing of the school, saying "if [PHC] continues down this road, will end up being more an 'illiberal arts education'." All resulting faculty vacancies were filled by the beginning of the fall 2006 semester. In 2007, however, two more professors announced their resignations, suggesting that academic freedom remained at issue.

Student life

A male student is dunked in Lake Bob after announcing his engagement.
of November 2006, the Student Life Department is presided over by Administrative Dean for Student Life, Sandra Corbitt, and falls under the authority of the Provost. The college has many rules of behavior typical of conservative, religious colleges. Students may not have sex outside of marriage, or use alcohol or tobacco while under the authority of the college, which is defined as any time during a semester while enrolled, on or off campus. Men and women are not allowed in each others' dorm rooms, and underclassmen are subject to a curfew. Firearms are prohibited on campus. The college has a number of traditions rooted in dorm life, including "bobtisms"--a portmanteau of Baptism and "Lake Bob", in which newly-affianced males are dunked. All dorm activities are subject to the discretion of the men's and women's Resident Directors.

Students are active in multiple campus clubs including the College Republicans, Eden Troupe (which produces regular stage dramas), the Streaming Media Network (which produces student films), and several philosophical and literary societies.

In the 2000s Hanna Rosin, author of God's Harvard, said that "never would you find a group of better-behaved teenagers than on the campus of Patrick Henry." During that period many Patrick Henry students made fun of Bob Jones Universitymarker, which Rosin described as having "the gold standard of vice patrol." Rosin commented that "by most people's standards," Patrick Henry "was not far behind" Bob Jones.

Student governance

Students also participate in the school's student government, which consists of a student senate composed of 30 members, elected every fall semester; and a student president and vice president who run as a ticket and are elected every spring semester. Though it serves primarily as an advisory body to the college administration, it does have limited powers to enact campus policies and is considered an important part of life at Patrick Henry College.

Liberty Ball

Dancing is not allowed on campus, but students hold several school dances off-campus, including the annual spring Liberty Ball, usually held at a historic Civil War era manor or plantation. The first Liberty Ball was held during PHC's inaugural year on the anniversary of Patrick Henry's famous "Give me Liberty, or give me Death!" speech of March 23, 1775, is organized by student coordinators. Another popular dance is the annual fall hoedown, which is a student sponsored barn dance which usually occurs in mid fall.

Civic involvement

Students are involved in the community, and PHC requires its Government students to fulfill up to 24 credits of apprenticeship projects, which include internships, research and writing projects, and extracurricular activities such as moot court and Model United Nations. Students currently serve as interns in a wide variety of political organizations, such as congressional offices and think-tanks. Students are active in local and national politics, and members of the Patrick Henry College Republicans chapter often work with local political action groups to lobby for conservative issues at the federal and state levels. Classes are canceled the day of the national elections and the day before, so that students may volunteer on political campaigns; and many students act as Student Action Team leaders for Generation Joshua, leading groups of usually homeschooled high school students volunteering on campaigns across the United States. A number of students volunteer with the Purcellville Rescue Squad and 'The Vibe' (formerly the Purcellville Teen Center).


is one of Patrick Henry College's primary extracurricular activities. Prior to fall 2008, the college was active in the National Educational Debate Association (NEDA), where students consistently won many of the top awards at tournaments around the country. In fall 2008, the school ended its involvement in NEDA in favor of the larger National Forensic Association. The school is also active in the National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA), which is America's largest college debate organization and where students have gained national attention by defeating traditional debate powers such as Cedarville and Notre Dame. PHC is currently ranked #37 out of 280 schools in the NPDA.

Students also compete in the American Collegiate Moot Court Association (ACMA), and had the winning teams at both the 2005 and 2006 ACMA National Tournaments. Moot court is a form of debate competition designed to simulate appellate arguments before the U.S.marker Supreme Courtmarker, in which teams of two students function as co-counsels and stand before a panel of judges to argue legal matters. PHC won the ACMA National Tournaments back-to-back years in 2005 and 2006. In 2006, PHC not only won first overall but also won second, third, and fifth place, a feat that had never before been accomplished in ACMA history. Likewise, in 2006, the college took home the most trophies out of any school for the fifth straight year. In a much publicized event during the 2004-2005 academic year, the college moot court team defeated that of Balliol College, Oxfordmarker in two separate competitions — one held in England using British law, and the other in Virginia using American law.In 2008, the team once again took first, second, third, and fifth place at the national moot court tournament.


Patrick Henry College competes as the Sentinels, fielding teams in men's and women's intercollegiate soccer and basketball, and is a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) and the Shenandoah-Chesapeake Conference. Students also participate in various intramural sports including football, softball, volleyball, fencing, and ultimate frisbee. Patrick Henry's Student Handbook states, "Our intercollegiate athletic program will always be secondary to our academic program,".


  1. " Welcome Map." Purcellville. Retrieved on October 10, 2009.
  2. "Patrick Henry College Defeats Oxford Moot Court Team Again," Craig Smith, Patrick Henry College, March 28, 2005 Retrieved on: October 23, 2008
  3. "2007 Equality Ride East Bus Route: Patrick Henry College," retrieved January 16, 2008.
  4. The Bible College That Leads to the White House Andrew Buncombe, Originally published on April 21, 2004 by the Independent/UK
  5. Rosin, Hanna. God's Harvard. 2007. Harcourt. 13.
  6. Rosin, Hanna. God's Harvard. 2007. Harcourt. 128.
  7. Barbara Hodel Center brochure. Accessed October 23, 2008.
  8. ]
  9. Rosin, Hanna. God's Harvard. 2007. Harcourt. 134.

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