Thursday, April 2, 2020

President to President: Chapter Nine

The ninth chapter of the 2019-2020 President to President thought-leadership series is now available. I enjoy editing this series with longtime friend and colleague Dr. Marylouise Fennell. In this ninth chapter, "Creative Collaborations: The Promise of Strategic Partnerships," Springfield College President Mary-Beth Cooper explores the value of forming strategic partnerships with organizations that share similar values and goals. She describes tangible steps that institutions can take to identify collaboration opportunities and develop partnerships that benefit the campus and the larger community. Read it here:

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Main Entrance Progress

Anxiously awaiting completion of the new decorative brick signage at the main entrance to Virginia Wesleyan University on Wesleyan Drive. Pictured: Brick work in progress and renderings of the completed sign. 

The President's Letter: This Too Shall Pass

Congratulations to our students and faculty on completing week one of remote instruction and learning. While I continue to miss the presence of our University community on campus, I am overwhelmed with pride by the hard work, dedication, and adaptability our Marlins have exhibited. Your resilience and commitment to excellence is inspiring and absolutely vital to our mission. Best wishes as we forge ahead on this journey. Keep up the good work and know we are all here to support your success in any way we can. Remember to keep in touch with your professors and take advantage of the virtual assistance available to you. I recognize that these are unprecedented times for all of us and many of you may be feeling unsettled. 

Please rest assured we will continue to put people first as we navigate and lead through this uncharted territory. We are committed to responding to COVID-19 in a way that upholds our values and culture, and we remain student-focused in our approach to education. Read more about this developing situation and reflections from the past month in my April President's Letter:

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Major Progress

Major progress today on demolition of stands in the Jane P. Batten Student Center. Over the next 12 weeks, the old stands will be removed the floor entirely re-done, and new seating installed (a little under 2,000 new seats). When completed, the facility will be called TowneBank Arena in the Jane P. Batten Student Center.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Demo Begins

Demolition started today on the stands in Convocation Hall. When completed the fully renovated facility will be named TowneBank Arena in the Jane P. Batten Student Center. 

Main Entrance

Construction started today on the new Virginia Wesleyan University brick sign at the main entrance on Wesleyan Drive.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Coastal 61 Construction Continues

Construction continues on Coastal 61 at Oxford Village, the eight building, 244 unit apartment complex being constructed on the north side of campus. The project is a P3 relationship between Virginia Wesleyan University and The Franklin Johnston Group. To learn more visit

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Nota Bene: Passing of Sue Birdsong

It is with an extremely heavy heart that I share the passing of Sue Birdsong, a longtime Virginia Wesleyan supporter who passed away in the early morning of March 25. Sue, George, and the Birdsong family have been dear friends to the University since its founding. Both only 26 years old at the time, George and Sue trace their connection back to the July 1965 groundbreaking for Bray Village (Village I). They were in attendance along with Sue's father, Major T. Benton, then Mayor of Suffolk, and George's Uncle, Harvard R. Birdsong, a charter member of Virginia Wesleyan's Board of Trustees. Ever since, through their dedicated service and unwavering support, the Birdsongs have enriched campus life in so many ways.  

Sue Birdsong attended Longwood College and earned her degree from Pan-American Business School in Richmond. She worked for Mills Godwin in his law office and while he served as Lt. Governor and Speaker Pro-Tem of the Senate for the State of Virginia. She also served for 10 years on the Board of Nansemond-Suffolk Academy. 

Mrs. Birdsong served on the Westminster-Canterbury Foundation Board and, with George, made possible the Birdsong Initiative, a study examining the positive impact of bedside computers among dementia patients. The award-winning study was conducted in 2015 by researchers at Eastern Virginia Medical School with support from students in Virginia Wesleyan's Recreational Therapy program. The Birdsong Initiative later received the Excellence in Research and Education Award from LeadingAge, a Washington, D.C.-based association representing non-profit aging services organizations throughout the U.S. 

Most of you know the Birdsongs through the numerous landmarks and programs on campus that pay tribute to and were made possible by their family. These include Birdsong Hall, an original building in Bray Village, which was dedicated to the Birdsong Family in 1968. Birdsong Peanuts and the Birdsongs have made a number of significant gifts throughout the University's history. The Birdsong Community Services Endowment Fund was established in 1995 to provide support for Virginia Wesleyan's acclaimed community services program. They also established the Birdsong Corporation/George and Sue Birdsong Endowed Scholarship that provides assistance to deserving students. Their generous commitment to Birdsong Field, VWU's multi-purpose outdoor synthetic turf athletic field, enabled the University to dedicate this greatly needed facility in honor of the family in 2015. 

The strength of Virginia Wesleyan today can be traced in significant ways to the Birdsongs, and the University has benefited tremendously from their genuine interest in student success. To honor their continued guidance and support, in 2016 the University announced the formation of the Birdsong School of Social Science. And just this past February, Sue and George and the Birdsong families were inducted into the Virginia Wesleyan Athletic Hall of Fame for their contributions to our Marlins intercollegiate athletics program. A portrait of Sue and George hangs in Founders Foyer, among the University's greatest benefactors, and will forever cement the importance of the family in Virginia Wesleyan history. 

We are deeply saddened by Sue's passing and will miss her dearly. We are grateful for her numerous contributions to our community and to our institution, which she served so faithfully, and we extend our sincerest sympathy to her husband, George, their three children, and eight grandchildren. We will keep you advised as additional details are known.

Watch Now: Coronavirus Update

Wednesday night members of Virginia Wesleyan's Emergency Response Team and I hosted a live town hall with information and updates regarding the University's response to COVID-19. In case you missed it, the video is now archived on the VWU Digital Broadcasting Network and is available for streaming here:

VWU Alumni News

"While we were disappointed to have to cancel much of our Spring Alumni Weekend (and postpone the rest), we are excited to present these alumni engagement opportunities to you. We hope Virginia Wesleyan can be a light for you in these uncertain times and help you remember that every day is a great day to be a Marlin." Read more from our VWU Alumni Office here: