More than five decades ago, a young Campfire Girl leader in South Central Los Angeles made a serious decision that would eventually impact the course of countless lives and one major Christian university. Alice V. Watkins, Ph.D., knew early on her life's work would be about transforming the lives of children.
A seasoned educator, recently retired, Watkins was seated at a concert next to former APU president Richard Felix, Ph.D., and former provost AJ Anglin, Ph.D., when she realized her retirement was premature. “My passion for poor and underserved children still burned,” said Watkins. “After talking with Drs. Felix and Anglin, I knew that APU could provide a tremendous avenue for me to continue to impact lives.”
Once on board as APU’s dean of the School of Education and Behavioral Studies, Watkins set about the business of doing just that. “My goal was to help APU become recognized as a premier developer of quality educators in the same way that it has always been known for its high caliber missionaries and Christian workers,” said Watkins.
Next, she targeted the faculty that, at the time of her arrival, comprised only 11 women and 1 person of color. By the time she retired (again) seven years later, the make up changed to 60 percent women, 26 people of color. She also pushed for a heightened level of scholarship from her faculty. “If you want to transform the world around you,” she said, “you must first have the credibility. You have to be well prepared to deliver the message. For the first time, we had people presenting papers at national conferences, submitting articles, and publishing books.”
Round two of retirement, similar to the first, does not find Alice Watkins serenely resting on her laurels. In 1999, a small group of faculty and staff in the School of Education and Behavioral Studies established the Alice V. Watkins Scholarship for undergraduate students as a testament to her leadership and dedication to higher education. This perennial President's Circle donor has also financially supported University Fund scholarships in addition to APU programs that enable students to achieve excellence in music, missions, athletics, and education – every realm of scholarship.
She continues to use her gifts and talents at a local Christian school struggling to stay in service. With a team of four APU colleagues, she implemented a model to develop a staff and curriculum that will be salt and light to the community. The affiliation also opens the opportunity for APU students to gain experience in ministry and teaching, working with children and their families in a Christian setting.
Clearly there is no retirement in the Kingdom of God. Compassionate care of those in need is the full-time responsibility of every Christian, and a lifetime calling for Alice Watkins.