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  • Savannah Carr

Campus culture at PBA remains despite developmental growth

Photo courtesy of Samantha Ellison,

Palm Beach Atlantic University’s campus is indeed nestled in paradise. When Dr. Jess Moody founded the campus in 1968, he dreamed "the impossible dream” as credited on the statue made in his honor. Now, 55 years later, the campus has changed physically — but its culture endures.

At the campus establishment date, enrollment was a mere 84 students, a sliver of a university compared to the present population.

“Today, PBA has 3,891 students enrolled in West Palm Beach, Orlando and online,” said Registrar Office Aid Kathy Majzner.

PBA has once again achieved a personal record for the Fall 2023 entering class this semester alone.

“This year’s entering class is of similar size with 852 freshmen and transfer students,” said Nancy Brainard, vice president of enrollment.

But how has the campus itself changed both culturally and physically?

Alumna Claudia Moore has insights into the changes on campus, having been a member of the first graduating class in the Gregory School of Pharmacy in 2005.

Moore came to PBA alongside her mother who was also finishing her bachelor’s degree. Right as Moore was finishing her degree, the pharmacy school opened its doors.

“I never really thought about it [being the first pharmacy class],” said Moore. “It was definitely unique.”

Campus culture at PBA has only slightly changed, according to Moore who recalled the “surfer vibe,” which the campus still exudes to this day.

“Oh, and parking was an issue. There was a rented lot off of Hibiscus and we used a shuttle to get to campus,” Moore added.

The changes Moore acknowledges from her time at PBA until now highlight the diversity on campus.

“The science department at the time was very male-heavy. All but one of the professors were male and most of my classmates were male,” said Moore.

Past alumnus turned faculty, Connor Dennis, had the same sentiments about campus culture.

“We were, and still are, a small-knit group who loves the beach,” said Dennis. “When you open yourself up, you find a welcoming atmosphere."

Dennis graduated in 2013 and has recently returned to PBA in the university’s advancement department.

“We have a vision for the next thirty years of where we are going to be as a campus,” added Dennis. “It starts with the leadership of President Schwinn and Laura Bishop and the construction of the new Rinker School of Business.”

Physically, the campus has grown exponentially. According to the campus website, it initially utilized buildings from the First Baptist Church. Now, the university has two locations: the main West Palm Beach campus and the Orlando campus.

Even with this physical growth, current students observe that campus culture remains the same.

“To me, PBA is more than just a campus,” said Maegan Villacorte, a sophomore nursing student. “It’s an uplifting community where many students with diverse backgrounds may call home.”

Villacorte reiterated the same message of a compassionate campus culture that Moore and Dennis also acknowledged.

No matter the growth and physical changes at PBA, certain aspects of campus culture remain strong — a Christ-centered mindset, compassion between students and faculty, the beach and the never-ending issue of parking. By Savannah Carr

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