Blacksburg native Ty Hopkins first heard Dr. Patrick speak about the college more than 10 years ago. When the Virginia Tech massacre occurred in 2007, Ty asked Dr. Patrick for an impromptu visit, and a sudden cancellation allowed him to spend nearly a week here. Dr. Patrick has visited often since then and whenever he described Augustine College it generated increasing interest. Having assessed the Blacksburg environment almost annually, Dr. Patrick advised that conditions were excellent in Blacksburg for a similar college.
Digby and Yvonne Empson’s daughter Anthea heard Dr. Patrick in April 2016. Anthea decided Augustine College in Ottawa was the place for her. When the family visited the school in October 2016, Dr. Patrick mentioned his dream to have a similar college in Blacksburg. He advised that when they returned to Blacksburg they meet with Ty. The Empsons and Ty met later that month. Discussions among many local Christians followed, and a large group convened in April 2017. Dr. Patrick arrived in May 2017 to speak several days in a row, going into greater detail than ever before about why and how the college was formed, its mission, and its successful alumni. Mark Filiatreau had just settled into the area with his family and heard about the meetings. Having left behind a position as adjunct professor of literature at a Christian classical liberal arts college that he sorely missed, the meetings seemed providential and he was eager to take part.
That week of Dr. Patrick’s visit culminated in outlining the practical steps to begin such an enterprise—incorporation, pursuit of tax-exempt status, monthly meetings, and formation of teams and an acting executive board including Ty, Yvonne, and Mark. One team organized the first “Augustine College U.S. conference” in Blacksburg with Dr. Patrick as the speaker in November 2017. One hundred people attended, and additional young people and parents expressed interest in attending an Augustine College, whether in Ottawa or Blacksburg. At that time Dr. Patrick and others agreed to become trustees of Augustine College U.S.
John Patrick lectures in Blacksburg, Nov 2017
Yvonne Empson and daugher Anthea in Ottawa
Ty Hopkins, Mark Filiatreau, and Yvonne Empson