Professors Are People Too: Robert F. Schwarzwalder, Jr., M.A.
After leaving his home state of Washington, Professor Robert Schwarzwalder and his wife moved to Virginia to pursue a career in politics. While in D.C., he served in the Bush administration as Sr. Vice-President of the Family Research Council and as chief of staff to two Members of Congress and came to Regent in 2016. Schwarzwalder teaches general education and honors courses at Regent, a good fit given his interests in theology, politics and history.
What inspired you to become a professor?
“I have always loved the academic environment and interacting with young people. I was once one myself (ha-ha), and I still remember professors who invested in me. I’ve always loved the environment of learning and being able to study. After years of being in politics and business, I was very eager to find a place where the life of the mind could be integrated with the Christian faith more richly. Helping prepare young people for Christian leadership was very much a part of my desire to become a professor.”
What is one surprising lesson that has made a lasting impact on your life?
“Don’t fail to give people room to grow and change. If you have in your mind ‘Well, he’s like this or she’s like that,’ and you pigeonhole, you’re underestimating God’s ability to chage hearts. He can bring transformation as much to them as he has to you. Having a fixed image of someone is really unfair and can be pretty harsh. We have to give each other the freedom to grow and change.”
What are some unique things on your bucket list?
“I have always been fascinated by the Maritime Provinces in Canada. They are very beautiful and very stark. I’m currently getting my doctorate from a university in northern Scotland, which is a pretty wild region of the U.K. Being from the Pacific Northwest, I grew up surrounded by mountains, and I really miss that. So, before I die, I would love to explore and do some hiking in some wild regions.
I wouldn’t want to push myself to the point where my legs gave out, so no Mount Everest for me. But I’ve always loved the Cascade Mountains in my home state of Washington and being able to do some climbing, not ultra-rugged but rugged enough… I also like Hampton Inns, so maybe somewhere between.”
Did you have a childhood dream job?
“Well, I think like many little boys I wanted to be a fireman when I was really small. I’ve always loved history and always wanted to be a historian, and now God has granted that dream. As I grew older, I wanted to make a difference in public life. Serving on Capitol Hill and in the Bush administration were high honors. I am thankful the Lord allowed me to do those things.”
If you could meet any Bible character, who would it be?
“I would like to meet Paul. The apostle Peter said there are some things in Paul’s letters that are hard to understand, and if Peter said that, then I’m in good company. I’d just like to ask Paul to clarify some of the things he says, perhaps especially about eschatology.
Paul was an engine of intensity. I would like to observe that and see how he lived his Christian life, because he formerly was the chief prosecutor of the early church. The intensity of his personality did not change after he became a Christian. His character fundamentally changed, but his drive and fervency did not. I would like to see how that operates in practice.”
What was one of the greatest pieces of advice you’ve ever been given?
“Hold nothing back from Christ. Another thing is not to dwell on your sin; deal with it honestly, repent and move forward. As Paul said, we need to forget what lies behind us and press on toward what lies ahead, or else we are crippled spiritually and that is not where God wants us.”
Do you have a favorite class to teach on campus?
“Maybe Honors 200, which is on the great family. I enjoy that tremendously. I love any section of any class where I can actively teach God’s Word and its relevance to
contemporary culture. My Ph.D. will be in American foreign policy, and I would love to be able to teach classes the fuse American diplomatic and military history.”
If you were to write a book for enjoyment, what topic would you choose?
“P.G. Woodhouse was a uniquely witty English comic writer, one who loved wordplay. I would love to write an American version of a Woodhouse novel. Jeeves and Wooster are his two great characters, and they have brought me many hours of hilarity, so I’d love to do that.”
Regent University is proud to have Prof. Schwarzwalder as part of our community and is excited to see his future work and how it will impact the lives of his students.