Dr. Brad (Educational Administration ’93) and Mrs. Lee Ann (Elementary Education ’90) Phillips have served as Pensacola Christian College Student Life deans since 2017. Their collective past experiences as a school administrator and teacher, pastor and pastor’s wife, and police chaplain add wisdom and expertise to their current positions. As deans, the Phillipses cultivate growth and improvement in their department. From refining office processes to training staff and student leaders, Brad and Lee Ann prioritize connecting with students and developing positive personal relationships. The Phillipses meet students where they are and seek to offer spiritual encouragement and a sense of community.
1. How do you use your position in Student Life to support students?
Student Life is here to help students understand the policies but also to help them see their potential in Christ. Our goal, from the deans to the residence assistants (RAs), is to help our students navigate college life, enjoy it, make wonderful memories, meet lifelong friends, and graduate.
2. After serving at Victory Baptist Church and Christian Academy for over 20 years, you returned to Pensacola, FL, in 2017. What brought you back to PCC?
We knew the Lord had stirred our hearts to move on but were unsure of the next step. We didn’t apply for a position per se; we just said, “If you could use us, we would be interested.” The College responded, and we interviewed for the positions as deans. Once we interviewed with Dr. Troy Shoemaker and he shared his vision for Student Life, we had no doubt this was where the Lord was leading us to serve.
3. You’ve been happily married since 1994. How and where did you meet?
Brad: I met Lee Ann on campus while pursuing my master’s. Her brother was getting his master’s as well, and she was working for the College. He introduced me to her, and the next day he asked me to give her a call. I called and met her outside Dixon Tower to walk her to church that Wednesday night, and I have been walking her to church ever since. That was June of ’93; we were engaged in September of ’93 and married in June of ’94. She came to Victory Christian Academy in Florida, and we served together there for 23 years.
4. How do your backgrounds and past work experiences influence what you do today?
Lee Ann: Before I joined him after we were married, my husband was already the administrator of the school. Having taught at Pensacola Christian Academy, I was able to bring the training I had received to our small but growing school family. My background with the Abeka curriculum was invaluable for helping us train new teachers. That experience of training teachers and leaders in our ministry helped us as we focused on a training program for the Student Life department including a new approach to training RAs.
5. How has your education informed what you do now in Student Life?
Lee Ann: Because of my background as a teacher, for me, it is intuitive to educate and instruct. On the student level, this hopefully means developing relationships and passing on the knowledge that I’ve gained over a lifetime of experience—good and bad! As a manager, this has more of a coaching aspect—coming alongside our people to guide, support, and collaborate.
Brad: My education prepared me to think outside the box, be practical, and provide transformational leadership when needed, both with our academy and the church. Dr. Shoemaker had a vision of what he wanted for Student Life, and our previous experiences allowed us and our department to help bring that to fruition.
6. How are you able to share your heart for PCC students while serving in Student Life?
Lee Ann: The Lord has provided many opportunities to do that: in one-on-one meetings, working with RAs, and sharing my testimony or a devotion in hall meetings and prayer groups.
Brad: I believe this happens as I interact with them—whether that be in visiting or speaking in a prayer group/hall meeting, working out in the Field House, or attending games, recitals, or Dramatic Productions—as opportunities present themselves on or off campus. The Lord has really allowed us to have a wonderful rapport with the students. My favorite part of this position is talking with students. I think they are great, full of life and have such great potential to make a difference in their world for Christ.
7. What is your philosophy as leaders in Student Life?
Lee Ann: My hope and prayer is that students are able to grow from their choices. My role is a conduit of sorts to help them sort through the results (good and bad) of those choices, filter them through the truth of God’s Word, and champion them toward a path pleasing to Christ.
Brad: “Invest, Serve, Lead.” That is our RA motto, but it does exemplify our philosophy. Our desire is for each student to grow spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally while getting the most out of their experiences at PCC.
8. During your time serving in Student Life, how are you able to help students?
Lee Ann: I often say, “I wouldn’t want anyone to define me by my 18-year-old self”—and it’s true! Eighteen-year-old me was full of flaws! So, I take my experiences and try to help growing adults navigate that same time of life. And in the process of filtering everything through Scripture, prayerfully protect them from the same mistakes that I’ve made.
Brad: By sitting down and listening to them—whether inside or outside of the office—and talking through issues and pointing them to Scripture. Just last week, I had coffee with a young man who wanted some advice on a topic, and we discussed his future ministry plans as well. This week I have had two young men ask to meet and talk. I have also had some good conversations with guys after speaking in prayer groups this semester. And last night I had a good conversation with a young man about motorcycles and riding and what he plans to do after graduation.
9. Speaking of motorcycles, how did this interest start and what do you enjoy about it?
Lee Ann: My husband started riding motorcycles not long after we were married. I also owned one for a while and we rode together with other friends, usually to great restaurants around our area. After a couple of years, I sold mine and rode with him. We have enjoyed trips in California and Hawaii on motorcycles and still love to take short trips to explore new roads outside the Pensacola area.
Brad: My wife encouraged me to get a motorcycle, and that was 27 or so years ago. I love the freedom it provides as I explore the backroads of wherever I am. We enjoy riding to get away, enjoy a meal, check out a cool place, and decompress a bit. This summer we will be exploring northern Alabama together, and I’m looking forward to riding with some friends to Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, and back. Riding has opened many doors for conversation and sharing the gospel. A Harley T-shirt or hat always invokes, “What do you ride?” It has also provided some great connections with students and parents.
10. From your positions in Student Life, what’s the best piece of advice to prospective or current students?
Lee Ann: One of the phrases we use constantly—by that, I mean daily—in Student Life is “Speak truth to yourself.” This comes from Psalm 15:2, which says that the person who dwells in the Lord’s “holy hill” is “he that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.” Our truth is rooted in Scripture, so when I tell a student to “speak truth to themselves,” I’m advising them to start at the heart of truth, which is the Word of God.
Brad: Enjoy where Christ has you now and understand/believe that He has your best interest at heart. Two verses always come to mind: 2 Timothy 2:3, “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ”—because life is tough! And John 10:10 “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly”—nothing beats the life lived in and for Christ!
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.