History & Founding

Palm Beach Atlantic University
Est. 1968

Our Journey to Florida's Top Christian University

In a time of cultural unsettlement, Palm Beach Atlantic University was founded in 1968 as a coeducational Christian liberal arts university. The first classes at Palm Beach Atlantic University, formerly Palm Beach Atlantic College named for its location in the Palm Beaches, were held in the fall of 1968 in downtown West Palm Beach at 1101 South Olive Avenue in the former facilities of the First Baptist Church.  PBA held its first graduation in the spring of 1972 and later that year received initial accreditation from the regional accrediting association.

Over the years, Palm Beach Atlantic has expanded to approximately 29 acres of land from the Intracoastal Waterway west along Okeechobee Boulevard to Dixie Highway, south to Jefferson Street, and back east to the waterway but all began with the first building, the Lassiter Student Center, which was occupied in 1983.

Currently, PBA’s main campus is located on Flagler Drive with stunning views of the Intracoastal, and steps away from Palm Beach.

  • August 2020
    Watson Hall was completed in August 2020. The new student residence hall is 163,000-plus square foot, eight-story building consisting of 154 one and two-bedroom units with double occupancy accommodations for 510 beds. Learn about the Watson Family.
  • August 2017
    The final renovations of Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Athletic campus were completed in the form of the John & Sheila Rinker Sports Center, a building which houses the athletic staff, a state-of-the-art weight room and locker rooms for varsity athletics. Learn more about the Rinker Athletic Campus.
  • September 2015
    PBA President William M.B. Fleming Jr. (right) cut the ribbon the 79-acre, $18 million Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Athletic Campus not far from the college’s main campus. The RAC, as it quickly became known, is home to most of PBA’s outdoor sports including soccer, baseball, tennis and lacrosse, plus intramurals. Beach volleyball, racquetball and basketball courts also are planned.
  • 2009
    Fern Street Theatre | A nearly 12,000-square-foot, two-story building in the heart of the arts district on Fern Street, includes a “black box” theatre and houses offices, classrooms and performance space.
  • 2007
    Warren Library | Phase 1 Warren Library opened in 2007 with the second phase of construction, renovation of the historic octagonal building that served as the original PBA structure, was completed in 2009.
  • 2004
    Gregory Hall | Houses the Gregory School of Pharmacy with more than 40,000 square feet of research and educational space for pharmacy students.
  • 2003
    DeSantis Family Chapel | The DeSantis Family Chapel provides a stunning, dedicated worship space for 400.
  • 2003
    Orlando Campus | PBA opened a campus in Orlando that provides 6,600 square feet of classroom and office space for evening and graduate degree programs. PBA Orlando is located at 4700 Millenia Blvd #100, Orlando, FL
  • 2002
    Vera Lea Rinker Hall | VLR is the home of the School of Music and Fine Arts, with more than 43,000 square feet of performance, classroom, practice and studio space.

“In the early years, Dr. Donald Warren has been fond of a simple axiom: “Do not follow where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path, and leave a trail.” In conjunction with that saying came the biblical admonition, “In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He will direct thy paths.” From the early days of “Make-Do-U” to the days of wireless Internet access and state-of-the-art facilities, the men and women who worked and supported Palm Beach Atlantic University never deviated from that path.” – Excerpt from “Guided by God’s Hand: PBA’s First 35 Years”

Founders Day

On Founders Day we will gather for a special chapel ceremony to look back, thanking God for working through our dedicated founders to establish Palm Beach Atlantic University.

Watch the 2021 Recap



Dr. Debra A. Schwinn – 2020-Present


William M.B. Fleming Jr. – 2011-2020


Lu Hardin – 2010-2011


Dr. David W. Clark – 2003-2009


Dr. Paul R. Corts – 1991-2002


Dr. Claude H. Rhea – 1982-1990


Dr. George R. Borders – 1978-1981


Dr. Warren E. Fusselle – 1972-1977


Dr. Jess Moody – 1968-1972








Miracles and Wonders

A book about the incredible story of the early days of Palm Beach Atlantic University as told by one of its founders!