As PLNU’s associate vice president of diversity and belonging, Walter Augustine, Ph.D., has an important role that involves both casting a vision and then working in collaboration with faculty, staff, students, and administration on the implementation of that vision.
“A big part of my passion and heart is discipleship,” Augustine said. “Being a disciple and making disciples – that has shaped my career … I see the work I do as the work of discipleship. It’s part of what it means to be the body of Christ and the people of God. Within the diverse body of Christ is where belonging is found.”
Augustine joined PLNU in July 2022. He had heard about the work of PLNU’s Anti-Racism Collective and about the strong support for faculty and staff at the university. He felt that God was calling him here.
“Things that really drew me [to PLNU] were President Brower – his leadership, the type of person he is, and knowing that I would be able to work underneath him – and the commitment that PLNU had made to working in areas of diversity,” he said.
Now that he’s at PLNU, Augustine has been chairing three working groups and overseeing another all related to the university’s strategic priority on diversity and belonging. In addition, he was able to take 16 students to the SCORR (Student Congress on Racial Reconciliation) Conference at Vanguard University with Student Life & Formation and the Center for Justice & Reconciliation. This spring, he was part of PLNU’s Civil Rights pilgrimage and has guest lectured in a new Civil Rights elective in sociology.
“A big part of my passion and heart is discipleship.”
Augustine has always enjoyed helping people grow, and his most rewarding experiences have come from empowering others. His varied career path has included accounting and auditing jobs, including serving as a financial auditor for a Big Eight public accounting firm; pastoring a church in Chicago for 10 years after attending seminary; and working in financial aid and then in a role of diversity, inclusion, and retention at Biola University after earning his doctorate in theology and ethics from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.
“At my previous institution, I enjoyed seeing students I had mentored thrive in doctoral programs, meaningful spaces, and professions,” he said. “In ministry as well, it was rewarding seeing folks that I had had the privilege of ministering to just thriving, some of whom are now pastoring themselves.”
Augustine said his life verse is Acts 9:6: “Now get up and go into the city, and there you will be shown what you must do.” He has aimed to live according to the verse, following God’s calling even when it surprised him.
“I was planning to do Christian community development [after seminary], but that was different from what the Lord had in mind,” he said, as an example. “After seminary, I went into the pastorate.”
While he was a pastor, he guest-lectured at Moody Bible College several times and was encouraged to consider teaching.
“That resonated with what I felt the Lord was laying on my heart,” he said. However, after he earned his doctorate, Augustine and his wife, Charlotte, moved to Southern California where Charlotte was beginning the pursuit of a doctorate of her own. That move is what led to Walter’s administrative work in higher education.
His steady faith and willingness to follow whatever plans God has for him have helped Augustine not only advance in his career but also to persevere in challenging times. For example, in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit, his parents and brother lived in New Orleans and were there when the levees broke and the city flooded. It was days before he was able to contact them.
Augustine’s life verse is Acts 9:6: “Now get up and go into the city, and there you will be shown what you must do.” He has aimed to live according to the verse, following God’s calling even when it surprised him.
“The way that I got through it was I went into prayer and just came before the Lord,” he said. “As I was coming before the Lord, the Lord gave me a sense of peace that it was going to be okay. Probably two to three hours afterwards, I got a Facebook message from my uncle saying, ‘Your parents and brother made it out and are on their way to Texas.’”
When Augustine isn’t working, he enjoys reading, especially within the science fiction, fantasy, and biography genres. He also likes to watch movies and sports and cook in his free time. Walter and Charlotte, a CPA, have been married for 26 years. Charlotte has two master’s degrees in accounting and theology and a doctorate in the philosophy of religion. She is currently working on a third master’s in instructional design.