Monday, January 22, 2018

Nota Bene: NCAA Convention

Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Joanne Renn and I represented Virginia Wesleyan University at the annual NCAA Convention in Indianapolis last week. A President's Agenda Day allowed me to have more direct conversation on athletics issues with NCAA leadership, and Coach Renn attended the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) meeting during the convention.

Each year, NCAA members travel from campuses and conferences nationwide to attend the NCAA Convention. College sports leaders gather to vote on rule changes, which are developed by members and committees throughout the year in an effort to best support student-athletes. The Convention also provides an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of current and former athletes, coaches and administrators.

During the convention, I attended a "Presidential Pledge in Action" meeting. My good friend Jay Lemons, who currently serves as president of Academic Search, Inc., was vice chair of the NCAA Board of Governors when the
Presidential Pledge was established in 2016. I am a proud signatory of this initiative, which encourages presidents and chancellors at member colleges and universities to commit their schools to achieving ethnic and racial diversity and gender equity in college sports. The pledge has received widespread support among the top governing bodies in each division as well as the NCAA Board of Governors. Jay led the meeting discussion with Katrice Albert, the NCAA’s executive vice president of inclusion and human resources (view photo).

Division III members voted on nine proposals during governance meetings. Among other proposals, delegates decided whether to clarify rules regarding academic misconduct, to eliminate the legislated sanctions associated with sports wagering and how to amend the structure of the Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. For a summary of NCAA Division III actions, visit

I will continue to keep our campus community informed of NCAA Division III issues and actions.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Pilot Column: A critical year for higher education

As colleges and universities look ahead to their spring terms, or welcome students back for January winter sessions, the new year of 2018 promises to be a critical one for higher education. From the impact of new federal tax legislation to the debate about immigration, these and other national and global issues have relevance to institutions large and small, wealthy or not. Most of my presidential colleagues are wary of the new year. 

Find out why in my monthly column in The Virginian-Pilot:

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Congratulations to Athletic Hall of Fame Inductees

Today we inducted our tenth class into the Virginia Wesleyan University Athletic Hall of Fame. These Marlins represent the best of the best from VWU’s athletic history. Congratulations to our 2018 inductees (from left): Jennifer L. Perkinson ’07 – Volleyball (2003-06), Stephen D. Fields ’11 – Men’s Basketball (2007-11), Sharon Hay Stokes ’05 – Women’s Soccer (2002-05), Sean R. Whitson ’12 – Men’s Cross Country and Track and Field (2008-12), and William Conrad Parker – Softball (1998-06) and Golf (2006-08). Our Athletic Hall of Fame honors those whose achievements, service, and contributions have made a lasting impact on Virginia Wesleyan’s intercollegiate athletic program.

Welcome Back, Donnie Slye '74

Donnie Slye '74 always makes the 18-hour trip to campus for the Gray-White men's basketball alumni game. Lori Harris '94, Executive Director of Annual Giving and Alumni Relations, joins us for the picture.

VWU Men's Basketball Alumni Game

Great turnout for the Gray-White men’s basketball alumni game at the Jane P. Batten Student Center.

Abroad in Israel

Thanks to Dr. Craig Wansink and his Winter Session students for making me a part of their travels to Israel this week. The group is visiting major cities and sites exploring the history and development of Biblical literature, as well as the three major monotheistic faiths, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Happy to be along for the trip!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Nota Bene: Batten Fellows Leadership Institute

A group of Batten Fellows will return from Washington, D.C., today, where they have been participating in the “Batten Fellows Leadership Institute” since January 7. The 14 first-year Batten Honors College students stayed in the historic Foggy Bottom neighborhood of D.C. and attended the Continuity and Change in American Leadership program offered by the Osgood Center for International Studies. Dr. Joyce Easter, Dean of the Batten Honors College, and Dr. Kathy Merlock Jackson, Professor of Communication, joined the students in their travels.

This special program was tailored to the interests of our Batten Fellows and provided them a unique opportunity to learn from informed speakers about the American political process, attend significant Washington events and ceremonies, and visit diverse agencies and locations. The Osgood Center worked with Batten Honors College faculty to cover a wide variety of areas and diversity in the programming, with experts in fields of politics, media and communications, science and health, national security, international affairs and development, education, business, law, women's issues, and more.

In partnership with the prestigious White House Fellows Association and Foundation, students heard from a panel of former White House Fellows whose experiences were particularly relevant to their studies. In addition, The George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management, in cooperation with Women in Government Affairs, organized a panel of lobbyists who discussed a variety of public-policy topics.

Throughout their trip, Batten Fellows visited the U.S. Capitol, the Library of Congress, the Supreme Court Building, Environmental Defense Fund, American Chemical Society, and the Kennedy Center, and they had opportunities to visit monuments and memorials on the National Mall, and national museums including the Newseum and the National Holocaust Memorial Museum. The group spent Martin Luther King Jr. Day participating in the MLK Day of Service and Leadership activities at The George Washington University.

Very special thanks to Dr. Easter and Dr. Merlock Jackson for their leadership and guidance of participating Batten Fellows Audrey Bally, Marie Bazile, Allaina Boggs, Shannon Bradley, Hunter Draut, Mallory Langford, Alexander Leonard, Skylar Mao, Max Peters, Alex Powers, Asha Richards, Brianna Sandy, Jennifer Vega, and Jenna Whitener.

We look forward to hosting our next Batten Honors College Competition events February 8-10 and February 15-17. Please join me in offering these potential students and their families a warm Marlin welcome.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

NCAA Convention and Presidents Agenda Day

Good discussion of NCAA plans and proposed legislation with long-time colleagues David Armstrong, President of Thomas More College, and Dan Dutcher, Vice President for NCAA Division III, at the NCAA Convention and Presidents Agenda Day in Indianapolis.

NCAA Presidential Pledge in Action

Pictured with Jay Lemons, President of Academic Search, Inc., and Katrice Albert, the NCAA’s Executive Vice President of Inclusion and Human Resources, at a meeting today of the NCAA Presidential Pledge in Action in Indianapolis. Jay was President of Susquehanna University and Vice Chair of the NCAA Board of Governors when the Presidential Pledge was established. The Presidential Pledge encourages presidents and chancellors at NCAA member colleges and universities to commit their schools to achieving ethnic and racial diversity and gender equity in college sports. It was developed out of a membership concern for the low representation of racial and ethnic minorities and women in athletics administration. It has received widespread support among the top governing bodies in each division as well as the NCAA Board of Governors, whose 16 presidents and chancellors are among the first signatories. For more information about the Presidential Pledge in Action:

Discussing Environmental Education with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Exciting discussion about environmental education initiatives with (from left) Chris Moore, Senior Scientist for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Christy Everett, Hampton Roads Director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and VWU Executive-in-Residence David Black.