Philanthropist Roberta Green Ahmanson to Speak at Biola University Commencement

Dec. 15, 2011 By Brett McCracken

La Mirada, Calif., Dec. 15, 2011 — Prominent philanthropist and arts patron Roberta Green Ahmanson will address graduates Friday night, Dec. 16, at the fall commencement ceremonies of Biola University, where for the 2011-12 school year she is serving as “visionary in residence” for the University’s “Year of the Arts.”

Ahmanson and her husband Howard were listed in 2005 among the 25 “most influential U.S. evangelicals” by Time magazine, under the headline “The Financiers.” Their foundation, Fieldstead and Co., supports a variety of causes in education, the arts, health and science, public policy, relief and development.

Ahmanson, the subject of a lengthy 2011 profile in Christianity Today titled “Connoisseur for Christ,” chairs the board of the Museum of Biblical Art (MOBIA) in New York City and belongs to the Collectors Committee at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. She and her husband have sponsored a number of art exhibitions in the United States and Great Britain, including at the National Gallery in London.

A former reporter for the Orange County Register, Ahmanson lectures and writes frequently and is the co-author of Islam at the Crossroads (2002) and a contributor and co-editor of Blind Spot: When Journalists Don't Get Religion (2008).

In her commencement address at Biola, “Looking for the City,” Ahmanson will speak on the need for Christians to reclaim the prophetic heavenly vision of the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:1-4). “Christians in the past understood that they were citizens of two countries: this world and the New Jerusalem,” said Ahmanson. “And, as C.S. Lewis wrote, those who understood that best did the most for this world.”

As the second “visionary in residence” for Biola University, Ahmanson helped orchestrate and fund the “Year of the Arts,” a yearlong series of exhibits, interdisciplinary lectures, concerts, reading, symposia and collaborative projects at Biola. Ahmanson chose the theme “Sanctuary and Sacred Space” for the year and has loaned some of her extensive art collection to the University for exhibitions this fall, including an exhibition of the work of Danish artist Maja Lisa Engelhardt. In February Ahmanson brings an exhibition of 20th century British art to Biola and later in the spring will sponsor a collaborativecharette project where Biola students will join architect Paul Bertelli and Danish artist Peter Brandes to design a “sacred space” at the Orange County Rescue Mission’s Double R Ranch.

“Roberta Ahmanson is one of the world’s most important Christian voices for the arts and culture,” said Biola president Barry H. Corey. “She offers students at Biola a great model for how to engage culture thoughtfully and embodies the sort of integration of faith and vocation that we strive to instill in each of our students. It’s an honor and great privilege to have her speaking at commencement this year.”

Information on Biola University’s commencement can be found at, where the ceremonies will be broadcast live via webcast.


About Biola University

Biola University, named one of 17 “up and coming”national universities by U.S. News & World Report, is a private Christian university located in Southern California. For more than 100 years, Biola has remained committed to its mission of biblically centered education, integrating biblical principles with every academic program. With a current record-high enrollment of 6,250 students, the university’s six schools offer 145 academic programs, ranging from the B.A. to the Ph.D. For more information, visit

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