Next Friday, October 2, marks our first Marlin Spirit Day of the year. This special day will kick off our virtual Homecoming and Family Weekend, and I hope you will join me in sporting your favorite Virginia Wesleyan gear. Don’t forget to snap and share a photo using #marlinspiritday.
There’s another very important way to show your Marlin Spirit in the coming weeks—supporting the annual faculty and staff campaign.
Thursday, October 1, marks the official start of the Marlin Family Campaign for Faculty and Staff, which is an opportunity for our campus community to contribute financially to the University. This year's theme is Rock the Socks.
As an institution, we are striving to meet goals in academics, enrollment, fundraising, student life, and finance/administration. Every member of the faculty and staff is invaluable to achieving these goals, and I am grateful to every one of you for the efforts you put forth daily, especially in these unprecedented times.
By now, faculty and staff members should have received a letter from our Center for Advancement at your home address regarding the campaign. Be on the lookout for weekly emails with information about how to make a gift or pledge to the campaign from Kamryn Clairmont, Coordinator of Annual Giving and Alumni Relations. You might also be reminded by our 2020 Faculty and Staff Campaign Ambassadors - Elaine Aird ’96, Brandon Elliott ’03, Dr. Linda Ferguson, Randy Lott, Dr. Bryson Mortensen, Jason Seward ’05, Teresa Rhyne ’92, and Dr. Michelle Vachris. I thank them for their time, energy, and support. You may always visit www.vwu.edu/giveonline to make your gift at any time.
Submit your gift or pledge by this Friday, September 25, and you’ll be entered to win a four-pack of tickets to Disney World in Orlando in our special “Early Bird” raffle. Thank you to Dr. Brian Kurisky, Executive Director of Civic Engagement and Service Learning/Chief Diversity Officer, for securing this great gift for the University once again.
Since we will not be able to hold our annual faculty and staff campaign Thank You Reception as we normally do, we are pleased to offer exclusive VWU tie-dye socks as a gift for those who contribute $25 or more to the University priority of their choice before October 31. A special thank you to Trustee and alumnus Gary Bonnewell ’79 for helping to underwrite the cost of the socks.
When you Rock the Socks, you show that you believe in Virginia Wesleyan and the people and programs that make it such a unique place to work and learn.
I am pleased to announce that Kelly Roenker Cordova will be returning to the Office of the President as Executive Assistant to the President. Kelly brings to the position a deep understanding of executive leadership and administration, having directly supported the Senior Vice President and me during the last five years. In those roles she has had instrumental involvement in communications, alumni relations, donor relations and special events.
Prior to her arrival at Virginia Wesleyan, Kelly spent six years working in the international programs department at Operation Smile, a medical non-profit that provides free cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries to children in developing countries. There, she managed a team of 15 program coordinators and directly participated in medical missions in Brazil, China, Dominican Republic, Morocco, and Paraguay.
Kelly earned her bachelor's degree in mass communications from Virginia Commonwealth University. She is pursuing her Master of Business Administration at VWU and expects to graduate in Spring 2021. A native of Virginia Beach, she resides there with her husband Andrew, a Supply Chain Analyst at Dollar Tree-Family Dollar, and young daughter Alexandra.
She replaces Kelly Barham, who was recently named Senior Strategic Communications Specialist at the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine at the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center in Portsmouth.
Kudos to Vice President Maynard Schaus and Associate Vice President Sue Larkin for initiating Virginia Wesleyan University’s membership in the Consortium for Faculty Diversity at Liberal Arts Colleges (CFD). The Consortium is committed to increasing the diversity of students, faculty members and curricular offerings at liberal arts colleges with a particular focus on enhancing the diversity of faculty members and of applicants for faculty positions. Membership in CFD will help the University continue to actualize the diversity priorities set forth three years ago.
The Consortium was founded as an association of liberal arts colleges committed to strengthening the ethnic diversity of students and of faculty members at liberal arts colleges. The early goals of the Consortium with regard to faculty diversity included encouraging members of underrepresented minority groups to complete their graduate programs and to consider faculty employment in liberal arts colleges.
The Consortium invites applications for dissertation fellowships and post-doctoral fellowships from those who will contribute to increasing the diversity of member colleges by increasing their ethnic and racial diversity, maximizing the educational benefits of diversity and/or increasing the number of professors who can and will use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of students.
Virginia Wesleyan shares the commitment of the Consortium’s member institutions to enhancing its faculty, student body, and curriculum, as well as upholding the teacher-scholar career model essential to the success of small colleges and universities. The University looks forward to working with CFD member institutions to make VWU, as well as the larger organization, stronger and more significant.
I recently shared that SACS-COC has approved our new joint Bachelor of Science in Nursing program with Sentara College of Health Sciences (SCHS).
Dr. Angela Taylor, President of SCHS, recently hosted a select team from VWU, including Dr. Maynard Schaus, Vice President for Academic Affairs; Heather Campbell '04, Acting Vice President for Enrollment; Dr. Sue Larkin, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs; Dr. Deirdre Gonsalves-Jackson, Associate Professor of Biology and Director of Nursing and Allied Health; and me for a visit to their campus two exits from here in Chesapeake.
We're excited about this new partnership with SCHS and know that both campuses will benefit immensely from our joint efforts in recruiting and retention. I thank Dr. Taylor and her team for the pleasant and productive meeting. Read more here about our joint degree program with SCHS here.
AROUND TOWN AND ACROSS CAMPUS
Boyd Dining Center Returns to Some Normalcy
With Governor Ralph Northam’s announcement to move Coastal Virginia to Phase Three of the “Forward Virginia” plan, we are delighted to provide limited seating in Boyd Dining Center and some relaxed restrictions on gatherings, which will aid in offering student activities.
The Boyd Dining Center was renovated over the spring/summer, and we are excited that students will now be able to enjoy the improvements made to the space. The final phase of the renovation is scheduled for 2021 when an addition is added to the front of the building that will provide banquet space, outdoor seating, and a new face/access to the Boyd Dining Center and Jane P. Batten Student Center.
Susan T. Beverly Hall Renovation Update
Work continues on the renovation of Susan T. Beverly Hall (formerly known as the Fine Arts Building). Phase I includes a new heating/cooling system and roof and the renovation of the entrance/lobby, music studios and ensemble rehearsal room.
Over the next three months, renovation of the southern wing (visual arts studios) of the building will occur. Finally, Hofheimer Theatre will also receive some much needed attention as the finishing touch.
In addition to the new name -- Susan T. Beverly Hall -- several other newly-named areas of the facility will recognize donors to the project: The Robert G. Cabell III and Maude Morgan Cabell Foundation Visual Arts Studios, The Mary Morton Parsons Foundation Ensemble Rehearsal Room, Alison J. and Ella W. Parsons Fund Fine Arts Entrance & Lobby, and the James A. Hixon Music Studios.
Presidential Associates Program
The Office of the President is pleased to welcome Criofan Shaw ’23 to the Presidential Associates Program this academic year. The program provides an opportunity for students to work with the president and his staff on projects that support the mission and purpose of Virginia Wesleyan University. Projects and responsibilities include presidential communication, legislative research, social media, student leadership, walkabouts, Greek life, diversity, and presidential archives. Read more about the program here.
LUJ/VWU Global update
Last week, we hosted Dr. Brian Frink, Dean of the School of Business, Science and Technology at Lakeland University in Wisconsin. In April, VWU and Lakeland University announced an exclusive agreement to jointly operate a campus in Tokyo with the name "Lakeland University Japan and Virginia Wesleyan University Global." Dr. Frink will become Vice President of the Tokyo campus in January.
The agreement partners Virginia Wesleyan with an institution that currently teaches 355 students from 30 countries in an English-speaking associate’s degree program. Bachelor’s programs will eventually be added at the Tokyo campus and the current curriculum and academic programming will be expanded to include certain baccalaureate and corporate training programs and English for academic programs.
The venture will create a variety of opportunities for Virginia Wesleyan. Early on, VWU Global will bring graduates from the two-year program to earn their bachelor’s degree at the Virginia Beach campus. This will add an increased international presence to VWU’s student body, as the University welcomes students not only from Japan, but from around the world.
Virginia Wesleyan students and faculty will also have the opportunity to travel to the Tokyo campus, which is located in Shinjuku, part of Tokyo’s central government and business district. The location, near the University District, will provide reasonably priced housing for exchange opportunities. With train connections to all parts of Tokyo and Japan, students have easy access to a plethora of museums, cultural areas, and recreation opportunities.
Crews from North Carolina are back to complete the resurfacing of the courts at the Everett Tennis Center. Excessive heat and rain has delayed completion of the project, which has been funded by an endowment. We look forward to our men’s and women’s tennis teams taking advantage of this resurfacing when competitive play is allowed again this spring.
As I shared on Friday, Governor Ralph Northam has lifted some restrictions placed on Coastal Virginia, and the region now joins the rest of the commonwealth in Phase Three of the “Forward Virginia” plan for social and economic recovery.
This news came as the University completed its third week of face-to-face instruction. To date, we have had one confirmed case and this individual has since been released from isolation and may return to class. There was also a reported case earlier in the week that could not be confirmed. That individual is no longer reporting to campus. In total, the University has investigated 67 reports of symptomatic individuals or those who may have been exposed since August 20. Since then, 14 individuals have quarantined and seven remain in quarantine. All of these individuals are doing so from home off campus. As a precautionary measure, individuals that may have been exposed are required to quarantine, but this does not mean that they have or could have the virus.
While we are delighted for the opportunities that Phase Three allows, Governor Northam reminds us: “We cannot let our guard down—we all must continue practicing social distancing, wearing facial coverings, and following all public health guidelines. If we want to keep moving forward, we must stay vigilant and do the things that we know will keep our communities safe.”
The changes announced last week will have minimal impact on University practices other than the ability to provide limited seating in Boyd Dining Center (starting today) and relaxed restrictions on gatherings, which will aid in offering student activities. Please continue to follow the prevention guidelines in place and regularly reference the “Returning to Campus Fall 2020 COVID-19 Guide.”
As we begin week four, I want to applaud our Virginia Wesleyan community for doing their part, day in and day out, to keep our campus safe. I’m grateful for the spirit of cooperation I continue to observe.
I am pleased to announce that Virginia Wesleyan has earned the prestigious distinction of ‘All-Steinway School’ Status, a distinction which raises the level of excellence in music education at the University. From practice rooms to recital halls, all pianos on our campus are now Steinway or Steinway-designed pianos. This achievement provides VWU students and faculty with the best instruments possible for the study of music.
Established by Steinway & Sons, ‘All-Steinway Schools’ demonstrate an institution’s full commitment to excellence that raises the bar in music education, providing a consistently high level of learning opportunities for students. Read more here.
Our annual Founders Day celebration proceeded virtually on September 10. I am grateful to Anthony Walters, President and CEO of the YMCA of South Hampton Roads and VWU Board of Trustees member, for his inspiring and heartfelt words to students during these unprecedented times.
Once again, I congratulate this year's Alumni Awards honorees - Lee Stevenson '85 (Distinguished Alumnus Award), Dr. James Embrey '72 (Alumni Service Award), Dominique Fowler '12 (Graduate of the Last Decade Award), and Lori Simpers Harris '94 (Outstanding Service to Alma Mater). The 2020 Alumni Awardsrecipients represent the very best of VWU and its alumni, and we thank our recipients for their time, energy, and kind words during the ceremony.
If you missed the virtual Founders Day event, you can watch the video read more here.
We also held the Batten Honors College Convocation on September 10 in the Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center. Since the founding of this distinctive program in the fall of 2017, this intimate recognition ceremony has been held for the newest Batten Fellows and Shumadine Scholars. A ceremonial pinning of each student represents their completion of orientation and formal induction into the elite program. As the Batten Honors College has flourished, the ceremony has also grown to reflect this.
We welcomed Ian H. Solomon, Dean of the Frank Batten School for Leadership and Public Policy of the University of Virginia, as our virtual keynote speaker. He was introduced by Ebonie Johnson '20, the first Batten Honors College graduate and a current student at the UVA Batten School.
Read more about this event and watch the video here.
Virginia Wesleyan Named Among U.S. News 'Best Colleges'
Virginia Wesleyan University has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report in three categories of its recently released 2021 Best Colleges rankings. VWU is ranked 24th in “Ethnic Diversity” among National Liberal Arts Colleges and is featured among 221 selective "Best National Liberal Arts Colleges.” The University is also recognized 66th in this category as a “Top Performer on Social Mobility.”
This is the fourth consecutive year Virginia Wesleyan has been ranked among the most ethnically diverse National Liberal Arts Colleges. We are proud to hold this designation, as it represents the diverse, global community in which our University is located. We are a welcoming, inclusive campus with an outstanding, nationally prominent academic reputation—and we take pride in fostering the kinds of values and traditions that make our students proud to have chosen us for their career and life success. Read more here.
Commemorating Constitution Day at VWU
September 17 is recognized annually in the United States as Constitution and Citizenship Day to commemorate the formation and signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787. To celebrate the occasion, VWU will offer a series of opportunities (listed below) this Thursday.
Build That Wall: A Deist President, Connecticut Baptists, and Religious Freedom
Dr. Craig Wansink, Joan P. and Macon F. Brock, Jr. Director of the Robert Nusbaum Center, will speak on Thomas Jefferson, the Constitution, and the term "wall of separation," which frequently is used to describe the relationship between church and state. The event will be held virtually from 6-7:30 p.m. on September 17. To attend, please register at 757.455.3129.
Civil Rights and the Constitution: A Series of Vignettes
The Robert Nusbaum Center is releasing a series of four video vignettes to draw attention to major anniversaries of milestone decisions in our country’s ongoing struggles for civil rights, and to remind us to remain ever vigilant in efforts to protect and preserve our rights and freedoms.
The vignettes may be viewed on the Robert Nusbaum Center website beginning on Constitution Day 2020. The videos feature VWU students and highlight the 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment, granting Black men the right to vote; the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote; the 65th anniversary of the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965, abolishing a quota system based on natural origin; and the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, prohibiting discrimination of Americans with disabilities in all areas of public life.
President to President: Fostering Innovation
The first chapter of the 2020-2021 President to President thought-leadership series, of which I am proud to serve as co-editor, is now available online. In "Leveraging Institutional Culture to Foster Innovation," California State University, Monterey Bay President Dr. Eduardo M. Ochoa, describes how his relatively young institution transformed itself into a vibrant, bustling campus in only a few short years. He explains how an ongoing focus on innovation helps the University remain aligned with the needs of today's students and the surrounding community while staying true to its founding principles.
Tidewater Collegiate Academy/VWU Project Amplify
Tidewater Collegiate Academy at Virginia Wesleyan University is offering a new program to provide meaningful, personal, and affordable educational options for students during COVID. Project Amplify is an online, pre-college program designed to equip college-bound students for success in the transition to college through authentic, thought-demanding, hands-on, community-based learning experiences. Rising 11th graders will join a two-year cohort, engaging in a series of coursework based on the TCA innovative learning model while taking dual-enrollment classes at VWU concurrently. This will include one VWU class their first fall semester, and then two courses the next three semesters. Students will graduate with an Advanced High School Diploma and potentially 28 college credits. For more information, please contact Dr. Wendy Scott, Founder and Director of TCA.
White House Briefing: Campus COVID-19 Considerations
I share with you a readout from last week's briefing I attended with Vice President Pence and Secretary of Education DeVos, and members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. Read it here.
Work and Learn Program
I visited with Jason Seward (Associate Vice President for Campus Life and Operational Management) this week and explored progress in our new Work and Learn Program (WLP). The impacts of the program can already be seen throughout campus with students providing valuable assistance and support in campus functions such as the Scribner University Store, Duplication & Postal Services, Susan S. Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center, Greer Environmental Sciences Center, and Sodexo Conference and Dining Services. The WLP is designed to annually accommodate roughly 40 percent of our traditional students, providing them an immersive on-campus work experience while making their Virginia Wesleyan education more affordable. Learn more about the program here.
Special thanks to our many donors who have provided valuable assistance to grow this valuable program.
Faculty/Staff Deadline Approaching for Title IX training
Earlier this month, I emailed faculty and staff regarding mandatory Title IX training. If you haven’t already, we ask that you review the presentation materials and complete the online test no later than this Friday, September 18.
The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights requires every institution of higher education to define our responsibilities under Title IX. Whether we are a member of the student body, faculty or staff, understanding our roles in matters involving Title IX is a priority for each of us.
Mandatory training related to Title IX is being provided to our campus community and includes a presentation for your review on WebAdvisor.
The following topics associated with Title IX are addressed:
1. What is Title IX?
2. Sexual Misconduct Offenses
3. Reporting Incidents
5. Bystander Intervention
6. Q&A Session (Please contact one of our Title IX Coordinators provided below.)
Following review of these materials, ALL students, faculty and staff are required to complete the online Title IX test also found on WebAdvisor.
We appreciate your time and attention. Should you have any questions directly related to your responsibilities under Title IX, you may contact:
On Friday, September 11, at 9:03 a.m., the campus community gathered in the Peace Garden outside of Clarke Hall for a 9/11 Remembrance. Representatives from Marlin Ministries, ROTC, the Robert Nusbaum Center, and Wesleyan Engaged reflected on the healing power of "helpers” during the tragic events of 9/11 and throughout ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
During the ceremony, VWU's newly created unity flag was on display. The flag, "A Beacon of Hope," will represent the Commonwealth of Virginia as a symbol of the values and virtues that distinguish America as a beacon of light and hope for the rest of the world at the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville on October 22.
Coastal 61 at Oxford Village Opens
We are excited that Coastal 61 at Oxford Village, located across the street from our main entrance on Wesleyan Drive, opens this month. Faculty and staff are eligible for discounted rates through the Preferred Employer Program. Those interested can learn more here.