Thursday, July 27, 2017

Nota Bene: Busy Summer on Campus

The summer continues to be a busy time at Coastal Virginia's premier university of the liberal arts and sciences.

Many high school juniors and seniors are visiting campus this week, July 24-29, as part of Virginia Private College Week, sponsored by the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia (CICV). Virginia Wesleyan is one of 24 private colleges in Virginia offering campus tours and information sessions about admission, financial aid and academic programs, and dispelling common myths about the cost of a private college education. Remaining information sessions will be held today and Friday at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. and Saturday at 9 a.m. Please encourage prospective students you may know to visit during this special week.

Also on campus this week, Virginia Wesleyan’s Center for Sacred Music, along with the Robert F. Boyd Institute, is hosting the annual Sacred Music Summer Conference. This non-denominational worship and arts event offers continuing education opportunities for church musicians, worship leaders, music teachers, and all who are interested in the sacred arts. The week opened Monday with “Over My Head, I Hear Music” in Monumental Chapel and concludes Saturday evening with a finale, “Sing to the Lord with Cheerful Voice,” at Christ & St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Norfolk. New to the conference this year is Dr. Bryson Mortensen’s Choral Leadership Academy for high school students interested in developing their conducting and rehearsal techniques. Many thanks to Dr. Sandra Billy, Director of the Center for Sacred Music, for coordinating this wonderful annual event.

We welcomed high school educators to campus July 9-14 for the National Association of Biology Teachers/Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (NABT/BSCS) Biology Teacher Academy, presented in partnership with HHMI BioInteractive and supported by the Virginia Department of Education. I have no doubt that this group walked away from this professional development experience, facilitated by several of our talented faculty, with new perspectives on teaching biology and many ideas for their classrooms. It is a pleasure to host these educators annually and to help further their instruction techniques through our fine facilities and state-of-the-art equipment.

Celebrations for our NCAA Division III softball champions continue. On Monday, we had a great time at the Norfolk Tides game where the team was honored during the pregame ceremonies. National Player of the Year Hanna Hull '20 threw out the first pitch to "Rip Tide" as VWU coaches and administrators watched from a sky box, courtesy of our friends at Kaufman & Canoles. Members of the team and I will travel to Richmond today to meet Governor Terry McAuliffe, and this evening we will host a “Cheers with Champs” alumni gathering at the capital city's Southern Railway Taphouse. Graduates and friends are invited to come meet the team and have their photo taken with the championship trophy.

I am proud to report that the Greer Environmental Sciences Center is nearly 100 percent complete. The furniture is in, and several faculty members will now begin the move to their new office spaces. I look forward to the dedication of the building on Founders Day, September 7. Additional information will be shared soon about our full day of Founders Day activities and celebrations.

The Avenue of the Sciences has also been completed. This new roadway connects Honors Village and the road to Godwin Hall going past Blocker Hall. Construction is running smoothly on the Betty S. Rogers Track and Field Center, and site concepts are in progress for the Susan S. Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center. Chants and cheers can also be heard across campus from our YMCA Camp Red Feather visitors. The new Frank Blocker Youth Center is up and running and is in full use as part of this summer partnership program.

We are nearing completion of our transition to Virginia Wesleyan University. Visitors to campus will now begin to see newly branded signage, with banners and directional markers displaying our new name and logo. Our website has been updated to, and faculty and staff emails have transitioned to the new domain as well. I thank each of you for your support throughout this exciting process.

We have been devoting our time and energy to the smooth start of the fall semester and look forward to the return of our students in just a few short weeks. I hope your summer season continues to be productive as well.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Wonderful Partnership with Hourigan Construction

I enjoyed visiting today with Chris Brandt, Executive Vice President; Todd Donaldson, President; and Liz Sanders, Corporate Operations Administrator from Hourigan Construction. Hourigan has been our construction partner for Birdsong Field, Perry Field, the Greer Environmental Sciences Center, Blocker Youth Center, and the Betty S. Rogers Track and Field Center. They have also been awarded the contract for the new Susan S. Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center. #HottestCollegeinCoastalVA

New Graduate Success

Good to visit with David Cockerill, a 2017 Virginia Wesleyan graduate who now works as a mortgage loan officer for George Mason Mortgage in the Coastal Virginia region. David was a top student, majoring in business and playing golf for the Marlins. He also worked as a sustainability manager for Hourigan Construction during his time at Wesleyan. Congratulations on your success, David!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Nota Bene: Batten Honors College Inaugural Cohort

This fall we will welcome the first cohort of the Batten Honors College. Collectively, these impressive students have a grade point average of 4.03 on a 4.0 scale, an average SAT score of 1340, and an average ACT score of 29. I am pleased to announce our first Batten Fellows and Shumadine Scholars:

Batten Fellows
Audrey Bally                Tourrettes sur loup, France
Matthew Bavuso           Weems, Virginia
Marie Bazile                 Norfolk, Virginia
Mia Bevilacqua             Sellersville, Pennsylvania
Allaina Boggs               Williamsburg, Virginia
Shannon Bradley          Keyport, New Jersey
Aleah Brinn                  Belhaven, North Carolina
Jason Brugman             Spotsylvania, Virginia
McKayla Calapp            Herriman, Utah
Chen Qi                        Yinzhou District/Ningbo, China
Jenah Creecy                Virginia Beach, Virginia
Hunter Draut                 New Bern, North Carolina
Mallory Langford           Highfields Qld, Australia 
Alexander Leonard        Apex, North Carolina
Skylar Mao                   Yiwu Zhejiang Province, China 
Max Peters                   Vienna, Virginia
Alex Powers                 Collegeville, Pennsylvania
Asha Richards              Silver Spring, Maryland
Brianna Sandy              Chesapeake, Virginia
Jennifer Vega               Chesapeake, Virginia
Jenna Whitener             Clemmons, North Carolina
Shumadine Scholars
Alexi Baumgardner       Emmitsburg, Maryland
Tessa Burleson             Montpelier, Virginia
Tatiana Crawl               Bowie, Maryland
Molly Delmont              Glen Allen, Virginia
Robert Eley                  South Prince George, Virginia
Rose Ernst                   Fredericksburg, Virginia
Kitana Finley                Fredericksburg, Virginia
Tyler Jenkins                Portsmouth, Virginia
Miah Kurtz                   Topton, Pennsylvania
Zachary Lubick             Gibsonia, Pennsylvania
Lindsey Lykins              Moyock, North Carolina
Zachary Masalski          Phoenixville, Pennsylvania
Kayleen Meinen           Virginia Beach, Virginia
Quinton Nace               New Oxford, Pennsylvania
Sarah Ramsey             Roanoke, Virginia
Andrew Taylor              Swansboro, North Carolina
Hayden Thornbrugh      Chester, Virginia
Anthony Wilson            Lynchburg, Virginia
James Wyatt                St. Stephens Church, Virginia

The Batten Honors College is gratefully named for Virginia Wesleyan Trustee Emerita Jane P. Batten and her late husband, Frank Batten, Sr. For nearly 40 years, Mrs. Batten has made Virginia Wesleyan a priority in so many different ways, the latest of which is the development of the Batten Honors College. She has been a force for change, improvement, and empowerment, and she believes deeply that students of the highest academic ability will flourish through this innovative program. We are endlessly grateful for her passion for knowledge and her enduring support.

Thank you also to Dr. Joyce Easter, Dean of the Batten Honors College, and Steve Pinto, Director of Enrollment for the Batten Honors College, for their leadership in building this first cohort of students. We appreciate, too, the support of the Batten Honors College admission committee and the faculty who will teach as part of this rigorous program.

Please join me in welcoming this tremendous group of students to our campus. We look forward to walking beside them in this journey, and we wish them the very best in their academic pursuits.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Wesleyan Review

Virginia Private College Week, New Student Orientation, a spotlight on Global Studies Scholar Manijha Mack '18, upcoming campus events, and more in the latest Wesleyan Review:

Friday, July 14, 2017

Marlin SportSplash

Six Marlin athletes have been named to the 2016-17 Virginia Sports Information Directors Academic All-State team. Congratulations to Trevor Maloney, Kellen Phillips, Kyle Richardson, Jordan Sprouse, Alana Peters and Rachel Fuller, who were recognized among 223 student-athletes from 38 colleges and universities across the state! To be eligible, a student-athlete must possess at least a 3.25 cumulative grade point average and be a sophomore or higher. More VWU athletics in this week's Marlin SportSplash:

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Throwback Thursday: First Alumni Council Meeting

Virginia Wesleyan’s Alumni Council met for the first time in 1971, with economics instructor Charles Browder as the session’s speaker. Seated in front of the center window is John Shappell ’70, the first Alumni Council president. Fast forward 46 years as the University’s first meeting of the 2017-18 Alumni Council took place yesterday! #TBT #VWU

Spotlight Productions' Summer Theatre Workshop

Fantastic showing of "Damn Yankees" in Hofheimer Theater today by actors taking part in Spotlight Productions' summer theatre workshop. These young stars range in age from 13-17, and the cast includes rising high school freshman Joshua Bryant (center), son of Jodi Bryant, Administrative Assistant to the President at Virginia Wesleyan.

Back on Campus

Great to run into Rob '06 and Corrina '06 Thompson on campus today. Rob just finished his Ph.D. in history at Southern Miss, and he and his wife live in Alexandria with their three children.

Nota Bene: Norfolk Botanical Garden Partnership

By now you have heard of the many stunning features inside the walls of the Greer Environmental Sciences Center—but the beauty of the building doesn’t stop there. On its exterior, visitors will find a series of teaching gardens created with native plants inspired by the ecosystems of the Eastern Shore, two upland meadow gardens, three wetland gardens, and nearly 60 different plant species, including trees, shrubs, groundcover, ferns, perennials, and aquatic plants. Set within a 145,000-square-foot site area, we knew a unique approach would be required to maintain this beautiful landscape. And to that effect, I am pleased to announce a collaborative new partnership with our neighbors at the Norfolk Botanical Garden.

As part of this new relationship, a Director of Living Landscapes, employed by the Norfolk Botanical Garden, will be appointed to work with Virginia Wesleyan staff, faculty, and students to provide guidance and proper care of all living landscapes and campus horticultural initiatives, particularly the area surrounding the Greer Environmental Sciences Center. While much of that landscape is intended to be low maintenance, special attention will be required to monitor establishment and progression.

The partnership is intended to be of a scholarly nature, as our two organizations pursue jointly the development of research, educational and outreach programs in the botanical sciences. Cooperative activities may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Virginia Wesleyan faculty may conduct research at the Norfolk Botanical Garden in association with NBG staff.
  • Faculty may carry out teaching activities and field trips at Norfolk Botanical Garden.
  • Norfolk Botanical Garden staff may be speakers in Virginia Wesleyan classes.
  • Students may carry out educational and advocacy internships with the support of Virginia Wesleyan faculty and Norfolk Botanical Garden staff.
  • Students may carry out sea-level rise research and environmental monitoring research in the waterways surrounding Norfolk Botanical Garden.
  • Virginia Wesleyan undergraduate students may conduct research at the Norfolk Botanical Garden under the supervision of VWU faculty and NBG staff.
Thank you to all who developed this valuable partnership, especially Michael Desplaines, President/CEO of the Norfolk Botanical Garden, and Dr. Maynard Schaus, Associate Provost and Professor of Biology at Virginia Wesleyan. We are thrilled to welcome our friends from the Norfolk Botanical Garden to campus and will officially mark the agreement with a signing ceremony later this month.