Since its founding in 1977, Regent has been blessed by thousands of generous donors who have partnered with the university in its mission to equip Christian leaders to change the world. This year, a special group of benefactors, who have each made gifts totaling $1 million or more over their lifetimes, have been recognized by the school as inaugural members of the Society of the Crown and Shield.
“These families have played an active and pivotal role in shaping both the history and future of the university,” says Regent Vice President Ann LeBlanc. “So, we decided to acknowledge and celebrate these special friends in a significant and lasting way.”
This elite association draws its name from two integral elements of Regent’s heraldic crest. The crown represents the King whom we serve, Jesus Christ. The shield, in both educational circles and in the fellowship of believers, signifies the shield of faith and protection.
Launched this spring, “The Society of the Crown and Shield recognizes donors who have demonstrated an extraordinary passion for and commitment to the vision of this university,” explains Regent Founder, Chancellor and CEO Dr. M.G. “Pat” Robertson. “This exclusive and generous group has gone above and beyond to enable this school to fulfill its mission and calling.”
Candidates for the Society of the Crown and Shield will be confirmed in the spring of each year and inducted into membership at a special commissioning ceremony held during Regent’s annual Commencement Weekend. Featured below is a brief glimpse into the life-changing impact of three couples who were inducted as inaugural members during Regent’s 2016 Commencement.
Drs. Kenneth and Roberta Eldred are two very special authors of Regent’s history and architects of its future. They are guided by 1 Peter 2:4-5, “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (NKJV).
A highly successful businessman, Ken has founded three publicly traded companies on the NASDAQ Stock Exchange, while Roberta has extensive experience in higher education and counseling psychology. Together, the Eldreds founded Living Stones Foundation Charitable Trust and have served on Regent’s board of trustees for more than two decades.
Kenneth & Roberta have shaped the university’s legacy, while sharing Robertson’s vision and building the kingdom in ways that cannot be fully quantified. The impact of their generosity can be felt across campus and around the world. As avid scholarship supporters, the Eldreds have helped relieve the financial burden of countless Regent students through generous gifts to the Robertson Endowed Scholarship Fund and the Eldred Family Endowed Scholarship.
When asked by Impact about being inducted into the Society of the Crown and Shield, Ken said, “We were really honored to be considered for this. We feel a little funny because we really don’t want that kind of recognition, because the Lord has done all this for us.” The Eldreds truly are “living stones” whom the Lord has called to bless and prosper Regent University.
Dr. Joe Gregory co-founded King Pharmaceuticals in Bristol, Tennessee in 1993 and grew the company from a 100-employee startup to more than 2,200 employees; and $1.6 billion in annual sales in just 10 years. Now the head of Gregory Management Company, he directs a diversified investment portfolio in traditional and renewable energy resources, new media and software, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, real estate, recreational equipment and financial services.
Joe served on the university’s board of trustees from 2007 to 2010 and was a major contributor to the CBN/Regent Chapel and School of Divinity building project, which was completed in early 2013. When he first arrived on campus as a new trustee, Joe wanted to begin his service to Regent in prayer at the university chapel. So he asked where it was located.
“I was surprised to hear that Regent didn’t have one,” he explains. “I soon learned that this was one of the ‘burning heart’ issues of Dr. Robertson and the board of trustees. They are guided by the scriptural principles found in Philippians 2:1-11, which call for believers to be like-minded, one in spirit and to value others above yourself.”
Joe and his wife, Cindy, gave generously and enthusiastically to the construction effort after being moved by the Holy Spirit to make a significant gift toward the project’s completion. Joe shares, “It would be my hope that one outcome of our donation would be to encourage others to give. It would also be our hope that an outcome from this effort may be to expand the ministry and mission of the university for the sake of the gospel of our Lord Jesus.”
He adds that “excellence” is what sets the school apart from other institutions of higher education that he has been associated with: “The impact the university is having for the gospel’s sake represents one of the best places to invest my time and resources. I am privileged in continuing to be a prayer partner, financial supporter and co-laborer in the mission of Regent University.”
Howard Long was raised in a small town on the banks of the Ohio River. In 1965, his company, Coronet Foods, opened its doors in a small, three-story former apartment building in downtown Wheeling, West Virginia. Forty years later, what started as a small French fry processing franchise, had grown to one of the world’s largest pre-cut produce suppliers to the fast-food industry, with production facilities in several countries and more than 2,000 employees.
Howard and his wife, Wendy, who celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary in 2016, embraced the mission and vision of Regent University in its early days, when it was still called CBN University. Since 1983, Howard has served faithfully as a rotating member of Regent’s board of trustees. In 1985, Howard donated Coronet Foods’ original building in Wheeling to the university. Regent took ownership and began collecting rent from Coronet, which was earmarked for student scholarships.
These rents continued until 2002 when the university sold the building. The proceeds from this sale were then used to establish the Howard and Wendy Long Endowed Scholarship, which recognizes excellent academic and leadership potential in entrepreneurial endeavors. The scholarship awards up to $3,000 annually to those seeking a graduate degree in business from Regent.
Over the past three decades, Howard and Wendy have helped more than 100 students in the School of Business & Leadership earn their MBA. The Longs’ goal is to prepare recipients for successful entry into business with a desire to reinvest in the university. Howard’s advice to students is simple: “Don’t worry about yourself so much. Work hard and earn a lot of money, so you can give freely to the Lord’s work.”
Giving has always been a joy for the Longs. Success in business has enabled them to support Regent in the spirit of Acts 20:35, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Throughout the university’s history, Howard and Wendy have played a significant role in equipping Christian leaders to change the world. Their faithful service and overwhelming generosity continues even today.
Each of the 2016 Society of the Crown and Shield inductees received a distinguished honor. Cast in precious silver with the Regent crest boldly displayed at its center, the majestic medallions serve as an enduring symbol of the recipient’s generosity and faithfulness.
Regent is grateful for those society members who chose to place their treasure — in the form of their time, talents and finances — with the university. “These families represent the heart and soul of the university,” LeBlanc insists. “As partners in Regent’s mission, they play a key role in equipping the next generation of leaders who can transform cultures and nations in the name of Jesus Christ.”
For information about how you can support Regent University with your donation of cash, securities, annuities, trusts, bequests and other gifts of equity or property, please visit regent.edu/plannedgiving or call 800.335.4409.