Paul D. Patton, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Spring Arbor University
“Being in my 60s not only gets me the senior menu discounts at Denny’s, but now I have a meaningful platform by which I can promote, recruit, and enthuse,” said Dr. Paul Patton, Professor Emeritus of Communication at Spring Arbor University (SAU).
Patton has recently been honored as a Senior Fellow for the Christianity and Communication Studies Network (CCSN).
As a pastor, director, professor, and playwright, Patton works with SAU’s theater program and teaches communication courses alongside his work with the CCSN. Most recently, Patton directed a script in September by a fellow professor, Brent Cline, called Guts and his own play, Gerstein, last November.
Patton first became involved in theater after his future wife invited him to audition for a musical during their undergraduate studies at what was at that time Spring Arbor College in 1974. He later continued his education with an M.Ed in Guidance and Counseling from Wayne State University in 1978 and a masters of Religious Education from Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary in 1988. Patton chose to continue both his passions for theater and pastoral work, founding the Trinity House Theater in 1981 while youth pastoring at Trinity Church in Livonia, Michigan.
He later chose to study script and screenwriting in graduate school at Regent University where he met future CCSN Network Administrator, Dr. Robert Woods. They became fast friends, and eventually Patton became one of his mentors. “Patton is a journeyman scholar who has mentored generations of leaders in the church and the communication field,” Woods said. “He is gravitas personified.”
Patton said he “accidentally” found both his pastoral and theater director roles to be similar. They both offer opportunities to “teach, sell a redemptive vision, encourage, cajole, and rally a team.” He added, “I’ve probably been most influenced by this parallel, reminding my directorial charges that they are much like shepherds leading the flock toward green pastures and still waters.”
Colleague and SAU Communication Professor Jen Letherer encourages everyone to find someone like Paul Patton in their life. “Patton urges everyone to be generous with authentic praise, and he practices that teaching every day,” explains Letherer. Patton was the first person to congratulate Letherer when she was hired at SAU.
Patton started teaching at SAU as the Director of Theater in 2002. At first he was hesitant because he enjoyed teaching at Hampton University in Virginia. “But when your alma mater gives an invitation, and you get to return to the college where you met your wife, to a college where your spiritual life was transformed as a student, you say ‘yes’ with joy and a thankful heart,” Patton said.
As he enters the next phase of his academic journey, Patton plans to teach and speak in support of the ministry of the CCSN. “Paul Patton is the quintessential senior scholar, and his life’s work embodies the mission of the CCSN. We are honored to have him on board,” says Woods.