Visitors to Regent University’s campus in Virginia Beach, Virginia, often compliment the stately neo-Georgian architecture, the beautifully manicured landscapes and the exquisite Colonial-era colors and décor. The 70-acre complex was recognized recently by Christian Universities Online as number 15 on their list of the “50 Most Beautiful Christian Colleges & Universities in the World.”
Full credit for this striking and sophisticated beauty goes to Dede Robertson, wife of Regent chancellor, founder and CEO, Dr. M.G. “Pat” Robertson. For decades, Mrs. Robertson has been at the helm of all interior design for Regent and the Christian Broadcasting Network.
This past summer, she devoted her elegant touch, keen eye and artistic talent to a different kind of project – decorating and furnishing a new lounge in the university’s Student Center.
The look of this new space is a departure from the Georgian and Colonial themes found across the rest of the campus.
“I’m doing this in what I call ‘eclectic grunge,’” she said, taking a quick break from mixing paint on a recent afternoon. “We found some old furniture that we’re going to paint. We’ve also been to various stores where the furniture is reasonable, and we’ve picked up some of that.”
Robertson and three friends – Linda Comer, Gloria Slosser (former Regent president Bob Slosser’s widow) and Jaquie Visser (wife of former trustee Dr. Roger Visser) – spent several hours one day in late August, lovingly painting several pieces of furniture in cheerful shades of blue, green and peach. And as the four of them painted, Robertson shared how meaningful this project is.
“I hope this will be a place where they can glorify the Lord in everything they do. That’s the most important thing.”
“They have been wanting to have a big place where they could gather for years,” she said of Regent’s on-campus students. “I’m involved with the students, and I want to make this place as nice as I can for them. I’m hoping our students will feel at home in the new lounge. We want them to feel comfortable. This is their place. They can move the furniture around and do anything they want.”
The lounge, which opened in September, is located in an area previously occupied by the Regent Bookstore. The transition to a fully online bookstore this summer opened up space for the new lounge and a gift shop for Regent gear. Early next year, a coffee shop will open in a section that adjoins the new lounge.
Although Robertson admits “eclectic grunge” is not her personal taste, she clearly has put student preferences ahead of her own. Before committing to a design, she visited local coffee houses to see what design trends might appeal to students.
Always hands-on, she also embarked on multiple shopping excursions to area furniture stores and thrift shops, searching for just the right pieces, which include plenty of sofas and chairs where students can relax and socialize.
The lounge, which is quickly becoming a magnet for students, will be the site of numerous informal gatherings over the coming years, providing a warm welcome for the university’s students, as well as faculty, staff and guests.
Robertson has just one desire for students as they enjoy this new lounge: “I hope this will be a place where they can glorify the Lord in everything they do. That’s the most important thing.”
Undergraduate and graduate tours of the Regent campus are available Monday through Friday. Call 757.352.4206 or visit regent.edu/tours for more information.