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Liberty News

Champion Award goes to a professor who shows genuine care for his students

November 15, 2017 : By Will Young/Liberty University News Service

Liberty University students who are lucky enough to call Dr. Roger Mackey their professor seem to never have enough to say about his innate love for his students.

“He genuinely cares and takes the time to get to know you,” student Kyleigh Rowe said. “I appreciate the way he pushes us to lead with integrity and confidence, never expecting anything in return.”

“Dr. Mackey opens doors for his students to step out of their comfort zone and to lead,” student Allison Butalid said.

Because of his strong dedication to his students and renowned reputation as a spiritual mentor, Mackey, who teaches class on leadership and development through Liberty’s Eagle Scholars Program, was presented with the university’s latest Champion Award during Wednesday’s Convocation. A video was shown, followed by a round of applause.

The monthly Champion Award highlights faculty, staff, and students who embody champion-like characteristics and the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control), which are at the heart of both Liberty’s mission and the We The Champions project.

“Being a champion means to be honest and real with yourself, and to know that you’re deeply fallen yet greatly loved — that you have a part to play in the universe and God’s master plan of evangelism,” Mackey said in the video interview. “It’s through the desires of your heart that God has given you that you allow yourself to be equipped and be used by God to make a difference in this world.”

As the Eagle Scholars Program’s academic lead, Dr. Mackey recruits and retains highly accomplished freshmen and sophomores for the program, which provides personal and professional development and trains them to become leaders throughout college and beyond.

Many Eagle Scholars attribute their success in internships, leadership roles, and jobs in part to Mackey’s advice and mentorship.

“Dr. Mackey teaches us how to be selfless, Christ-like leaders,” student Jessica Linker said. “During my time in the Eagle Scholars Program, he not only equipped me with the skills necessary to be a successful leader, but became my biggest role model.”

Mackey came to Liberty in 1976 to play football, but his time at the school changed his life’s trajectory in bigger, unforeseen ways. Coming to Liberty with $699 to his name, Mackey said he was driven by remarkable faithfulness in God’s calling on his life. His perseverance later blossomed into an athletic scholarship, and leadership roles as student body vice president and founder of a youth rally ministry. He also met his wife at Liberty.

Following graduation, Mackey said he knew his passion was to love students and love the kingdom, leading him to earn a graduate degree in leadership and a doctorate of Education Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Virginia.

After serving as a school principal, coach, and a teacher in New York City, he later served as a professor and trained urban education leaders at Grove City College in Pennsylvania. Later, the door was opened for Dr. Mackey to return to Liberty — this time as an educator.

While Mackey’s job description is largely about developing community, curriculum, and experiences for the leadership program, he has taken on a greater mission to teach his students to be civil and spiritual stewards. His students have always said that he takes time to forge meaningful relationships as a spiritual mentor so he can help them make sense of their unique calling for life.

“He has students over for bonfires and cookouts at his house,” Linker said. “He eats at the dining hall with them. I think he really views his job as a professor as more of a ministry than a 9-to-5 job.”

To nominate a Liberty student, faculty, or staff member for the Champion Award, email their name and story to wethechampions@liberty.edu or fill out the online form on the We The Champions webpage.

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