Philanthropist Roberta Ahmanson Addresses Graduates at Fall Commencement

More than 400 students graduate

Dec. 21, 2011 By Jenna Bartlo

Prominent philanthropist and arts patron Roberta Green Ahmanson addressed graduates Friday, Dec. 16 at Biola University’s fall commencement. Biola president Barry H. Corey conferred degrees to the more than 400 students — 232 students received their bachelor’s degrees at the undergraduate ceremony and 208 students received degrees at the graduate ceremony.

Ahmanson is the University’s visionary-in-residence for Biola’s “Year of the Arts” for the 2011-12 school year. Focusing on the theme of the Year of the Arts: Sanctuary and Sacred Space, Ahmanson spoke on the need for Christians to reclaim the prophetic heavenly vision of the New Jerusalem in her address, titled “Looking for the City.”

Ahmanson provided honest wisdom to the graduates emanating from her own life experiences. She urged the graduates to find sacred space in their relationship with God casting away any other false idols in their life and embracing the vision for the New Jerusalem.  

“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.”

Painting a realistic picture of today’s society, Ahmanson contrasted the secular and worldly behaviors with those of light and biblical vision through the use of photographs and paintings splashed on a screen above her at commencement.

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).

Purchase a DVD of the commencement ceremonies including Roberta Ahmanson's address.

Written by Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Coordinator. Jenna can be reached at 562.777.4061 or


  • Leif Oct. 16, 2016 at 1:56 PM

    Thank you for your blog post.Thanks Again. Want more.

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