Born on September 3, 1939 in Evergreen Park, Illinois, Patrick J. Powers initially grew up on the south side of Chicago through his elementary school years, and then lived in Summit, New Jersey with his family when his father was transferred to New York. Unlike his father, a business executive who had a successful career at the Bell Systems and AT&T, Pat took a strong interest in philosophy and enrolled in Villanova University in Philadelphia, PA for his undergraduate study. However, it was a study abroad experience at Collegio Internatiozale de S. Monica in Roma, Italy in the 1960s that made him decide to pursue a calling in theology. Accordingly, Powers earned his MA in Religious Education from Augustinian College in Washington, DC in 1967, another MA in Philosophy from Villanova in 1972, and his PhD in Phenomenology from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA in 1978.
Before moving to Central Florida, Powers taught Religion and Latin at Tolentine High School in Bronx, NY (1964-68), worked as the Assistant Chaplain at Villanova (1968-72), and served as the Director of Campus Ministry at Trinity College in Washington, DC (1976-80). In 1980, Pat became the Director of Catholic Campus Ministry at University of Central Florida, a position he held for several years. Afterwards, he worked as the Executive Director of the Christian Service Center for Central Florida, which administered multiple community programs such as daily breads for homeless, family emergency services, and marriage and therapy. On June 1, 1993, Powers was appointed by President Rita Bornstein as the Dean of the Knowles Memorial Chapel and Chaplain of the College.
At Rollins, instead of Dean Powers, Pat was fondly called DP by students. He worked closely with many campus organizations such as Intervarsity, Black Student Union, Newman Club, and Hillel to sustain Rollins’ rich tradition in liberal arts education and institutional commitment to community and service learning. He also collaborated with people of different faiths and promoted chapel programs such as Candlewish and Christmas Vespers. Besides his work as campus minister, Pat also frequently taught courses in RCC (Rollins Conference Course), Hamilton Holt School and Master of Liberal Studies. In 2014, after more than two decades of service, Powers announced his retirement from Rollins College. In this oral history interview conducted by Rev. Katrina Jenkins on February 1, 2021, Powers reflected his professional career working with students, faculty, staff and administrators on various chapel programs and college initiatives throughout his tenure at Rollins.
Powers, Patrick J. and Jenkins, Katrina, "Interview with Patrick J. Powers" (2021). Oral Histories. 39.
Rollins College Archives