Former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell Visits the Helms School of Government

Former Virginia  Governor Robert McDonnell spent three days on Liberty’s campus as a guest lecturer in the Helms School of Government, where he inspired students with his experiences in public service, shared wisdom with students regarding their career paths and encouraged them to understand the Judeo-Christian foundation of the United States.

During his visit on Wednesday, Nov. 11 – Friday, Nov. 13, McDonnell spoke to several criminal justice and government classes as well as a constitutional law class. McDonnell also hosted Governor’s Office Hours where he had 15-minute meetings with students in the Helms Suite, talking with students about their careers and giving advice.

According to Robert Hurt, dean of the Helms School of Government, McDonnell is a significant guest speaker because of his experience as a prosecutor, citizen-legislator, attorney general and the 71st governor of Virginia. 

“Governor McDonnell brings a wealth of experience to Liberty’s mission – which is to give our students the academic and experiential foundation to go out and lead with excellence and with a Christian heart,” Hurt said. 

McDonnell said that he enjoys coming to Liberty to be a guest lecturer because he wants to be able to teach young people who have made a faith commitment to be excellent in what they do academically and learn from his experiences. 

“(For) people that feel like they have some calling to public service, I think I can give them a road map, how to succeed and how to govern in a noble way that would be pleasing to God and by doing that, help them make the world a better place,” McDonnell said. 

McDonnell said that he hopes students realized the importance of the Judeo-Christian foundation of the United States from his talks. 

“(The Judeo-Christian worldview) inspired the Constitution, and the reason we’re such a great country today–with all of our failings and flaws that still are in the process of being addressed–is because we’ve built the country on that tradition,” McDonnell said.  “So, it’s worth understanding, it’s worth learning about and it’s worth protecting and fighting for going forward.”

McDonnell said that if the government and law students at Liberty gained a sense of the importance of the United States’ biblical foundation and a passion for excellence and humble service to others from his talks, then he would feel like he has helped them carry on principles that keep America strong.

“I hope that they dream big, that they never put God in a box. If they have a feeling that they’ve got the talents and the servant heart to be able to be in an elected or appointed office, that they won’t think it’s out of their reach,” McDonnell said. 

According to Hurt, students were blessed to learn from McDonnell’s experiences and hear his hopeful and inspiring message.

McDonnell’s encouragement to students during these trying times is that the United States is a resilient country. McDonnell said that faith and the founding documents of the country give citizens the ability to persevere through difficult times.

“You can be that next group of people that keeps the republic strong and that leads us into better times,” McDonnell said. “Know because of your faith, whether it’s war or famine or pandemics or racial strife, we are going to get through this with repentance and forgiveness and strong leadership, and we also know the back of the book: we win.”

Mia Nelson is a News Reporter.


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