University to Recognize Dede Robertson
by Renaming Regent Theatre in Her Honor
Regent University’s board of trustees has announced it will recognize the significant impact and substantial contributions of longtime board member Dede Robertson. In a ceremony on October 25, 2019, the Regent University Theatre will be renamed in her honor.
As the wife of the school’s founder, chancellor and CEO, Dr. M.G. “Pat” Robertson, the mother of four, grandmother of 14 and great-grandmother of 14 has been a key figure at Regent since its founding more than 40 years ago.
“She’s the one God planned for me,” Dr. Robertson insists. “She’s been supportive all the way. It’s been a wonderful experience.”
He adds that his wife of 65 years is also extraordinarily creative, “You see her touches all around campus. It’s just magnificent. But that theatre, it’s her baby. She put that whole thing together. It’s absolutely gorgeous.”
In the spring of 2019, when the board suggested renaming the Regent University Theatre to honor his 91-year-old wife, Robertson admits he was on the verge of tears. “I choked up, frankly, thinking about it,” he recalls. “It was very emotional for me to see her being honored in that fashion. …
The fact that she would be recognized for the work she’s done is very satisfying. Very heartwarming.”
The stunning 700-seat theatre has been the centerpiece of Regent’s Communication & Performing Arts Center since the 135,000-square-foot facility opened in 2002. Also housing the School of Communication & the Arts, the center enjoys a stellar reputation for acoustic sophistication, audience comfort, and aesthetic beauty. Like its designer, it also possesses an inspired elegance.
Its marble-floored entry foyer welcomes visitors with crystal chandeliers, a sweeping iron staircase, and other exquisite features. The theatre hosts Broadway-style musicals, classic plays, dramas, comedies, and a variety of special events. They include the Virginia Symphony, Tidewater Stage, student film festivals, holiday concerts, award-winning music artists, notable speakers, and more.
Gordon Robertson, CEO of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), says renaming the Regent University Theatre for his mother is a “very special” way to honor her: “When you walk in and see all the decorations and the chandeliers and the marble floor … all of that is my mother’s touch. So, to have the theatre named after her is a recognition that her sense of style is everywhere in that building.”
But Gordon insists that his mother’s spiritual legacy is even more important than her gifts as a designer and decorator: “Many people don’t know her spiritual impact on my father, and how often they prayed through significant decisions. Dad would regularly use her as a sounding board. When they would come into agreement, that would be the ‘Yes, let’s move forward.’”
“We pray together, and when I have a difficult decision to make, I ask her to take her Bible and I take mine,” Dr. Robertson confirms. “Then we go, and we pray together. I ask the Lord to speak to each one of us. The Lord leads us to certain scriptures, and then we share them together.”
“My mother has been a pillar of strength, wisdom, and stability for my father, our family and all of the Regent/CBN community,” says Elizabeth Robinson, the second oldest of the Robertson siblings. “Her tenacious and steadfast faith has been the anchor through many storms, adversities and trials. … Her life exemplifies Micah 6:8: ‘… to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.’”
“She has tremendous creativity,” Robinson continues. “Her attention and eye for detail are extraordinary. My mother has impeccable style; exuding elegance and simplicity. … Her artistic gifts have enriched all of our lives and the lives of generations to come.”
Robinson adds, “Naming the theatre after my mother is a beautiful tribute to her. My family and I are humbled and honored by this. She has been such an integral force behind all that has been done at Regent and CBN; it is wonderful to see her appreciated and recognized for her contributions.”
Ann LeBlanc, the youngest of the Robertson children and vice president of Regent University’s Office of Alumni Relations & Events, says her mother’s “designer touch” and “artistic influence” are evident across the entire campus.
“Her ‘pixie dust’ is sprinkled all over Regent and CBN,” LeBlanc explains. “We often attribute the decorating to her, but Mom was in every architect meeting for the basic construction of each building. She did indeed beautify the campus as an act of worship to God. She was intent on having the grounds and building bring glory to Him in their beauty and grace.”
LeBlanc adds that the Communication & Performing Arts Center is her mother’s “pride and joy” — but not only because it’s a “cutting-edge, state-of-the-art facility.” It also reflects her flawless attention to detail.
Gloria Slosser, wife of the late Bob Slosser — a former Regent University president — has known Dede for nearly 50 years. She describes her friend as a “bulwark,” a strong supporter and protector, of the university with “innate abilities” to choose everything from furniture to color schemes that complement the campus.
“Dede Robertson is a person of true sincerity, with a great sense of humor. It’s been a wonderful friendship for me,” Slosser shares. “She is just a very sincere and remarkable woman.”
Another close friend of Robertson’s, Jacquie Visser, expressed her support for renaming the Regent University Theatre as a fitting tribute: “Dede has been a role model and friend for close to 40 years. I have always admired her many talents in the many roles she has played as a mom, on the CBN and Regent University boards, and as a Bible teacher.”
Current and former members of Regent University’s board of trustees also shared their thoughts on their longtime colleague being honored in this way.
“From the small beginnings of Regent University and CBN, Dede has been an intelligent and committed partner with Dr. Robertson, together insisting on excellence in every area,” says David and Darrellyn Melilli. “We credit Dede Robertson with the elegant architectural style and corresponding interior designs of the campus. The colors, furnishings and accessories of every building coordinate to create an atmosphere of beauty and appropriateness for each school.”
According to Howard Long, a rotating member of Regent’s board since 1983, “Dede was probably the most influential person that Pat listened to during Regent’s entire life. Just a few words will not be enough to recognize how much she has given to help Pat fulfill his vision.”
Bob Snelling, a university trustee since 1989, admires Mrs. Robertson’s boldness to speak her mind. “Her strength is that she is not and never will be a ‘yes’ person,” he explains. “She has made a continual and lasting impression as someone who is ready, willing and able to give her well-thought-out opinion on any subject having to do with the university.”
Board Chairman Phil Walker says Mrs. Robertson has served an integral role at the university since its very beginning: “Her significant input and leadership in the development and growth of Regent has been key to its success! Naming the Regent Theatre in her honor is most appropriate! We thank God for Dede and her many contributions to Regent University.”
Longtime family friend and board member Conoly Phillips says, “Pat is the driving force and the visionary, while Dede is the heart and soul of CBN and Regent University.”
When asked to share the most important thing for which his wife is remembered, Dr. Robertson admits that it has little to do with the beauty she has helped create on the Regent/CBN campus. “I think her legacy is going to be the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” he says. “She’s a faithful wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. I think that will be more important to her than anything else.”