PARKERSBURG — Ohio Valley University kicked off the first of a new series of fundraisers Friday evening with the former press secretary for President Donald Trump.
OVU held its first in a series of President’s Fundraising Dinners on the Valley Gem sternwheeler Friday evening on the Ohio River. The event was preceded by a reception and question-and-answer session at the Blennerhassett Hotel.
The event was moderated by OVU President Michael Ross who took the reins of the Church of Christ-affiliated liberal studies university in 2019. The goal of the fundraisers is to raise the profile of the university in the community and state, as well as provide funding for the Ohio Valley University General Scholarship Fund.
“One of the things that we believe is extremely, really important is not just that we provide an excellent education to our students where they learn about business or psychology, or they become a teacher,” Ross said. “Those things are all very, very important.
“The one thing we’re going to provide that other universities are not going to provide is training around being morally strong people,” Ross continued. “We do that from the perspective of God and being Christ-centered and being focused on those things that create values in people that make them better psychologists and better teachers in ways in which they can be better citizens in their neighborhoods and in their families.”
Sanders is the daughter of former Arkansas governor and two-time presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. She served in the White House working for Trump, first as deputy press secretary in 2017 and later as press secretary until 2019. She is a political consultant, a Fox News contributor, and a recent author of the New York Times bestseller “Speaking for Myself: Faith, Freedom, and the Fight of our Lives Inside the Trump White House.”
Sanders and her father are both graduates of Ouachita Baptist University, a liberal arts private Baptist-affiliated school in Arkadelphia, Ark. Sanders said Christian higher education helped give her the tools and resources to handle the stress of one of the most difficult jobs in politics.
“I was raised in a very strong Christian home but being there really reaffirmed my faith at a time where it could not have been more critical,” Sanders said. “You’re finding yourself and figuring out your own path and it’s your first time to really be away from the comforts of home and having parents that in my case were constantly reminding me of my Christian faith. So, to be surrounded by other believers and to have that reinforcement was so important at such a critical time in my life,” she said.
Faith played a large role for Sanders as she carried out her job responsibilities speaking for the President, presenting his vision and goals, and fielding questions from the White House press corps.
“As a White House press secretary or in a very public way, we’re all called to serve in a different way,” Sanders said. “It gave me a platform, frankly, to share my faith in a way that I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.”
Trump is known for his off-the-cuff statements that raise eyebrow, his tweets, and raising the ire of his critics in the Democratic Party and the media. Sanders said her book is about showing people a side of Trump that isn’t often portrayed in the media.
“I wrote the book in large part because I felt there were so many books attacking the President by people who didn’t really know him,” Sanders said. “I spent two and a half years working by the President’s side and spent almost every single day of those two and a half years with him. I saw him in moments of difficulty, moments of celebration, moments of decisive leadership, and I wanted people to get to know the President that I got to see every day.”
Ross said even though Sanders came from a Baptist-affiliated university, it was important for Christian higher education institutions to work together to promote the benefits of attending these schools that prepare young adults for their careers and help instill morals and ethics.
“We have to be open to providing an education to people who have a good faith perspective — any good faith base — and allow that to become part of the fabric of who we are,” Ross said. “That doesn’t change our connection. It doesn’t change our groups, but it does begin to develop a way in which we can be reaching further into the world to promote what it is to be a Christ-centered university.”
Steven Allen Adams can be reached at [email protected]
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