Saturday, October 31, 2015

So they caught me multi-tasking during tonight's men's and women's soccer doubleheader.
Our oldest daughter, Katie, with our 21-month-old granddaughter, Addie, in full gear for Halloween. Yes, Addie's dog Bentley is in the Halloween spirit, too.
Toured the Battleship Wisconsin today with our youngest daughter, Ashlee, and her husband Justin during their visit to Norfolk/Virginia Beach. The Wisconsin is one of the largest and last battleships ever built by the U.S. Navy. It earned five battle stars during World War II.

Happy Halloween! From our Pumpkin Mania Carving Contest. This little Marlin was carved by Bill Brown of our Counseling Center. Be sure and read the card... #vwcwalkabouts
Nice to visit with two of our best scholar athletes -- Trevor Maloney and Matt Cooke -- at tonight's women's soccer game. Both competed for Virginia Wesleyan cross country today at the ODAC Championships. Trevor finished 11th, posting a time of 26:36.7, setting a new personal best in the process. He also earned All-ODAC honors for the first time. Matt led the remainder of the Marlin pack, posting a time of 28:29.2.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Outstanding performance tonight by The Tidewater Guitar Orchestra in Hofheimer Theatre
Attending the inauguration of long-time colleague Dr. Ronald A. Crutcher as President of the University of Richmond.
October 29, 2015
After multiple requests, the President’s Cabinet recently reviewed the College’s policy on tobacco use. I write to make you aware of the updated and revised policy:
Virginia Wesleyan College Tobacco Use Policy (Revised 10.28.15)
Virginia Wesleyan College acknowledges and supports the findings of the Surgeon General that tobacco use in any form, active and passive, is a significant health hazard.

Virginia Wesleyan further recognizes that tobacco smoke has been classified as a Class-A carcinogen.

The American College Health Association has adopted a NO TOBACCO USE policy and encourages colleges and universities to be diligent in their efforts to achieve a 100% indoor and outdoor campus-wide tobacco-free environment. (Position Statement on Tobacco on College and University Campuses, Nov. 2011)

In light of these health risks and recommendations, and in support of a safe and healthy learning and working environment, Virginia Wesleyan has implemented the following:
For the purposes of this policy, tobacco is defined to include any lighted or unlighted cigarette (clove, bidis, kreteks), cigars, cigarillos, pipes, and any other smoking product.

This also includes smokeless, spit or spitless, dissolvable, or inhaled tobacco products, including but not limited to: dip, chew, snuff or snus, in any form (orbs, sticks, pellet, etc.).

Nicotine products not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a smoking cessation product, such as e-cigarettes, are also prohibited.
Nicotine replacement products approved by the FDA (patches, gum, etc.) are allowed on campus to support those in the process of quitting.

This policy does not apply to the practice of cultural activities by American Indians that are in accordance with the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, 42 USC, sections 1996 and 1996a.  All ceremonial use exceptions must be approved in advance by the Facilities/Operations Office.
Statement of Policy
Virginia Wesleyan College prohibits smoking, including e-cigarettes, and the use of smokeless tobacco inside all buildings on campus to include classrooms and administrative buildings, residential facilities, dining areas, athletic facilities, and College-owned vehicles. 
Smoking is prohibited within 25 feet of the outside of any building to prevent non-smokers from having to move through the vapors. Smoking should be done in areas that prevent smoke and e-cigarette vapors from entering through entrances, windows, ventilation systems, or other means.
Smokeless tobacco products are prohibited from use in non-residential campus facilities.
This policy applies to all faculty, staff, students, clients, contractors and visitors during and after campus hours.
All Virginia Wesleyan College staff, faculty and students are responsible for compliance and for advising visitors of the policy. Smoking urns will be placed 25 feet or more from select building entrances. Smokers are strongly encouraged to use them to help keep the grounds free of tobacco product waste. Designated smoking areas may be established as warranted.
Violations will be handled like other work rule or policy violations.
The Office of Human Resources will provide access to smoking cessation programs for faculty and staff upon request. Health Services will provide access to smoking cessation programs for students upon request.
# # #
Thank you for your support in maintaining a safe and healthy environment for learning and working on our campus.
Virginia Wesleyan College basketball coach Dave Macedo chats about his Marlins at ODAC media day:

Virginia Wesleyan's Brittany Wentzel earns CoSIDA Academic All-District Honors:
Men's basketball tops ODAC preseason poll:

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Thanks to Rear Admiral Mustafa Z. Ugurlu for an enjoyable time at the celebration for the 92nd anniversary of The Republic of Turkey at the Vista Point Center at the Norfolk Naval Air Station
Met with the newly appointed President's Council for Inclusive Community this afternoon. Looking forward to implementing our goals and plans for the year.
Met with the Reverends Ralph Rowley '78, Virginia Beach United Methodist Church; F.H. "Hank" Teague, Grace United Methodist Church (Newport News); and Greg West, Chaplain at VWC, today to discuss upcoming continuing education opportunities for clergy.
Once a Marlin, always a Marlin.... Meet our new Cheerleading Coach Desiree Ellison '08.
October 29, 2015

Tomorrow is the last day to make your gift or pledge to the 2015 Faculty/Staff Campaign. I am pleased to share that 185 members of the faculty and staff have made generous gifts and pledges totaling over $51,000! At this time, we have reached a 64% participation rate and are within striking distance of our goal of 70%. Just 16 more gifts or pledges are needed... and you can make the difference to put us over the top!

To make your gift:
  • Deliver your form to the Center for Advancement on the second floor of Godwin Hall.
  • Call Suzanne Savage at ext. 8736 or Tiffany Williams at ext. 3242. Either of them can pick up your form or take a credit card number.
  • Go online at

Thank you for your support of Virginia Wesleyan College.
Talked a business class project with Glen Pizanello '18 and Grayson St. Clair '17.

Nota Bene: Virginia Wesleyan Hosts High School Students on Campus

October 29, 2015
Today, Virginia Wesleyan has the privilege of hosting high school students from Nansemond Suffolk Academy (NSA). We’ll welcome 28 honors biology students to campus along with NSA teacher Laura George, who participated in the NABT/BSCS Biology Teacher Academy held at VWC this past July.
During their visit, the students will participate in lab activities, working closely with Professor of Biology Vic Townsend, Batten Professor of Biology Phil Rock, and Assistant Professor of Biology Eric Johnson. They will compare three branches of microscopy, studying fruit flies through the lenses of the College’s scanning electron microscope, a stereo microscope, and a compound microscope.
Our visitors will also hear research presentations by Virginia Wesleyan biology students Ashley Byers ’16, Emily Brooks ’16, and Tatyana Zvonareva ’16, and they will enjoy lunch in Boyd Dining Center with members of the VWC softball team. It will be a fun, educational, and well-rounded day for all involved. 
This is the second in a series of visits from area high school students. In September we welcomed biology students from King’s Fork High School in Suffolk, and next week we will host a group from Green Run High School in Virginia Beach. Plans are also in motion for additional visits this spring.
I cannot overstate the value of hosting young students from our area high schools. Not only is it an absolute pleasure to play a role in the growth and academic advancement of these brilliant young minds, but it also presents an opportunity for us, as a college, to showcase our stellar programs, faculty and facilities.
Many people don’t think of the sciences as being part of a liberal arts education, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Our programs and facilities have become a true showcase in recent years. Since 2010, Blocker Hall has received close to $4 million in renovations, among them the creation of several research labs; updates to Blocker Auditorium; and the addition of our scanning electron microscope—the result of a $242,502 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Other big draws for students interested in the sciences at VWC are the College’s pre-professional programs, the NSF-funded STEM Scholars Program, and our proximity to the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean, which offers invaluable opportunities for undergraduate research. And of course, the forthcoming Greer Environmental Sciences Center will only further enhance VWC's growing sciences programs.
I’d like to thank Drs. Townsend, Rock and Johnson, as well as Dr. Hilve Firek for organizing and implementing these visits. When you see our young guests on campus, today and in the future, please take a moment to give them a warm Marlin welcome.

Norfolk Public Schools Annual College Fair hosted at VWC. Juniors and seniors from Norfolk and Portsmouth schools will had the opportunity to visit with some 90 institutions of higher education. (Photo by Jason Seward)
Really cool intro to the new 2015 Virginia Wesleyan College lacrosse season highlight video:
Carolyn Berry is a Virginia Wesleyan College graduate -- Class of 1990:

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Nota Bene: New Chief Information Officer Named

October 28, 2015

After conducting a national search, I’m pleased to announce that we have selected Robert Leitgeb as the Chief Information Officer for the College.

Robert is currently the Executive Director of IT Services at Fresno Pacific University. He is a strategic thinker who will bring visionary leadership to our technology areas. Robert will begin his formal tenure at Virginia Wesleyan on January 4, 2016.

Special thanks to the CIO Search Committee for their efforts in identifying outstanding candidates for this important role. I also appreciate the time many of you devoted to meeting the finalists. Your insights and valuable feedback contributed greatly to our selection process.

Nota Bene: Jane P. Batten Student Center and RecX

October 28, 2015
During my transition to Virginia Wesleyan College, I developed a special appreciation for the Jane P. Batten Student Center. In my nearly quarter century as a liberal arts college president, I have visited hundreds of like institutions, but rarely have I found a student center as striking and functional as ours.
Virginia Wesleyan was definitely a trendsetter with the addition of the Jane P. Batten Student Center in 2002. For the last 13 years the facility has been the heart of campus activity. Its dynamic environment promotes lifelong learning, cultural collaboration, and a love of recreation and athletics.
Spend an afternoon in the Batten Student Center and you may find yourself climbing the 36-foot rock wall, lifting weights in the fitness center, swimming laps in the pool, or even practicing yoga in the dance studio. You might even swing into the Scribner Bookstore for a VWC sweatshirt, grab a sandwich at the Marlin Grille, catch a special guest speaker in the Pearce Hospitality Suite, or take in a basketball or volleyball game on the Forsyth Court in the Convocation Center.
Students, faculty and staff can also take advantage of RecX, a top notch recreation program focusing on aquatics, fitness, recreational sports, and outdoor activities. RecX hosts a myriad of programs, including student intramural leagues like flag football, fitness classes such as Zumba, outdoor exploration trips, and even an annual spring break trip to the Florida Keys.
The Jane P. Batten Student Center has become the meeting place for social and recreational activity, and the center of campus life at Virginia Wesleyan College. Special thanks to Jason Seward, Willie Harrell, Brandon Elliott, Dr. Doug Kennedy, Kelly Keys and the nearly 100 student workers who contribute to the success of this outstanding facility and its programs. 
I encourage the entire campus community to take full advantage of this remarkable campus hub and all it has to offer.

Virginia Wesleyan College's Phi Tau fraternity raising awareness for The White Ribbon Campaign -- men standing up against domestic abuse.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Annie and I enjoyed hosting a faculty dinner in the Princess Anne Room (President's Dining Room)
Beautiful day on Lake Taylor at Virginia Wesleyan College.
Virginia Wesleyan College Concert Series Anthony Hailey, African Percussion.
Suffolk News Herald coverage of the Birdsong Field dedication:

(From left) Chair of the Virginia Wesleyan College Board of Trustees Gary Bonnewell '79, Sue Birdsong, George Birdsong, President Scott D. Miller, and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Joanne Renn.

Nota Bene: Dedication of Birdsong Field

October 27, 2015

Saturday, October 24 was a special day at Virginia Wesleyan College as we dedicated our new $2.97 million, multi-purpose outdoor athletic field in honor of a family that has been so generous to Virginia Wesleyan College since our founding in 1961. Birdsong Field provides a new venue for men's and women's lacrosse and field hockey teams, as well as intramural sports. Other sports will use it as a practice venue during inclement weather.

In addition to the synthetic turf and supporting amenities, Birdsong Field features a modern scoreboard with multi-media graphics capability, stadium sound system, picnic pavilion with a food preparation facility and restrooms, field lighting, and expanded parking.

A crowd of more than 150 attended the event. Members of our Board of Trustees, faculty and staff, parents and friends and our teams and coaches joined us on a sunny, crisp Saturday morning to celebrate the dedication of this beautiful new venue.  Special thanks to George and Sue Birdsong, who led the effort to create Birdsong Field, and to others members of the Birdsong family, corporation, and foundation for making this project a reality.

Birdsong Corporation, based in Suffolk, is the largest privately-owned peanut sheller in the U.S. with operations in all peanut growing regions. George Birdsong is the CEO of Birdsong Peanuts. The Birdsong Corporation and the Birdsong family have been generous supporters of Virginia Wesleyan throughout the College’s history.  George and Sue Birdsong trace their connection with the College back to the groundbreaking for Village I on July 18, 1965.  George attended with Governor Mills Godwin and Sue attended with her father who was the Mayor of Suffolk at the time. George’s uncle, Harvard, was a charter member of the Board of Trustees who also participated in the groundbreaking.  George continued the family’s involvement by serving as a Trustee from 1989 until 2015.  During that time he was chair of our Board of Trustees from 2007-2010. 

Birdsong Hall, an original building in Village I, was dedicated to the Birdsong Family in 1968.  A plaque in the building recognizes the family as dedicated Methodists whose generosity helped establish the College.

Birdsong Peanuts and George and Sue Birdsong made a number of significant gifts during the Key to the Future Campaign. Their gifts supported a variety of projects, including the Birdsong Community Services Endowment, established in 1995 to provide regular operating support for our acclaimed community services program. They also established the Birdsong Corporation/George and Sue Birdsong Endowed Scholarship that provides assistance to deserving students.  

Projects like Birdsong Field require the generous support and personal engagement of many. Our thanks also goes out to Trustee Butch Everett and the members of the Board Outdoor Athletic Complex Committee for elevating this synthetic turf field as a priority within our strategic plan.

We are also grateful to Trustee Tassos Paphites ‘79 and his wife Dolores who have made a significant gift to this project in honor of their children, Kaitrin, Ryan ‘13, Andrea ‘15, and Jason. The pavilion is dedicated in their honor. 

Trustee Bill Shelhorse ’70 was an early supporter of the creation of a synthetic turf field at Virginia Wesleyan. When the Birdsong Challenge gift was announced, Bill jumped on board not only with his generous personal gift but with the support of his company Chesapeake Bay Contractors. They completed the excavation and site work.

I want to express my heartfelt appreciation to the Birdsongs and many other donors for their ongoing commitment to this great College.  With continued support from many, we can build an extraordinary future for Virginia Wesleyan College.  

Nota Bene: Fall Board of Trustees Meeting

October 26, 2015

The Virginia Wesleyan Board of Trustees held their Fall Meeting on Wednesday, October 21, in the Shafer Room of Boyd Dining Center.

In addition to reviewing progress and reports on a wide variety of campus programs and projects, the Board recognized two Vice Presidents who will be retiring this fall.  Mita Vail, Vice President for Advancement, was presented a resolution, recognizing her 5 years of leadership in alumni and development.  David Buckingham, Vice President for Student Affairs, was recognized with the distinction "Dean Emeritus" for his 33 years as the Chief Student Affairs Officer.

The Board also heard a presentation about the QEP from Dr. Sara Sewell, Executive Director of the Center for Experiential Learning (recently dedicated as The Lighthouse). 
Members of the Board heard reports from Board Committees. The Board of Trustees Audit Committee:
  • Presented an overview of the audit process by Russell Coleman and Trish Blue from Cherry Bekaert.
  • Reviewed the audit report for the twelve months which ended June 30, 2015
  • Reviewed the audit management letter comments for the twelve months which ended June 30, 2015
  • Reviewed the Student Financial Aid Programs audit report for the twelve months which ended June 30, 2015.
The Board formally accepted the report. It was noted that the auditors apologized to the Committee for a clerical error that led to the College inadvertently being listed on a Department of Education monitoring list.
Reports from the Executive Committee/President's Roundtable included the following:
  • Review and discussion of The Institutional Review conducted by James V. Koch and his associates
  • An update on a pending litigation
  • Discussion of plans for a new academic building for the Arts including fund raising assessment and planning.
The report from the Enrollment Committee included the following highlights:
  • A final Fall Semester enrollment report -- 1,442 headcount (1,306 traditional full-time, 29 full-time in the American Culture and Tourism Management Internship Program, 27 full-time in the Adult Studies Program)
  • An overview of the Enrollment Assessment conducted by The Dysart Group of Charlotte
  • The Action Plan resulting from the Enrollment Assessment
  • A discussion of new initiatives to grow traditional, residential, non-traditional, and high school dual credit/advanced scholars over the next three to five years
  • An overview of the implementation of the Enrollment Growth Plan for 2015-16, including new staffing trends, enrollment management strategy, mix matrix marketing, "front loading" financial aid, the Enrollment Matrix (financial aid leveraging), funnel management, public versus independent considerations, technology, and the new enrollment call center.
A joint meeting of the Finance Committee & Buildings and Grounds Committee reported on:
  • The June 30, 2015 Financial Report (a preview to the final audit report)
  • A final financial report on the $2.966 million Birdsong Field project.  A dedication is scheduled for Oct. 24.
  • Budget projections for the current fiscal year (FY 2016); Heard a report on budget adjustments as a result of actual revenues.
  • Approved due diligence report for the VWC/YMCA partnership facility with the authorization to proceed within the revenue parameters from the YMCA
  • Approval of a five year exclusive beverage contract (with specific conditions and enhancements) with PepsiCo.
  • Formally accepted the terms of the donation for the Greer Environmental Sciences Center and authorized the administration to negotiate (with legal counsel input) an AIA agreement.
  • A report on early discussions regarding the development of privatized housing on 12 college-owned acres directly across Wesleyan Drive at the front of the campus 
  • An update on plans to grow the Annual Fund and auxiliary revenues.

The Board of Trustees Educational Policies Committee report included:
  • The Academic Program Report by the Vice President for Academic Affairs.  This included a comprehensive review of publications and research by faculty and students, enhancements of the curriculum and facilities, “equality of access to high impact experiences,” plans for program expansion, and community service/engagement.
  • A review of the SACS Reaffirmation of Accreditation team visit and recommendations. The report was “very good with only two minor recommendations. 
  • The plan by the Vice President for Academic Affairs to address the recommendations.

The Board of Trustees Student Affairs Committee reported:
  • Key activities of the eight offices represented in the department
  • The Athletics Report including a discussion of athletic facilities upgrades
  • The Report of the Chaplain
  • The Report of the Office of Community Service.

The Board of Trustees Development and Public Relations Committee report included:
  • Discussion of a new revenue initiatives
  • Discussion of procurement of outside funding (approximately $300,000) for Facility Assessment, Space Utilization Study, Parking Study, Corrective Maintenance Plan, and 10-year Campus Master Plan
  • Progress reports on the Greer Environmental Sciences Center, Birdsong Field, YMCA partnership center, proposed arts facility, and privatized development of the 12 acres owned by the College directly across from the campus entrance
  • Discussion of the retirement of Mita Vail and the search for a new Vice President for Advancement
  • Action plan for the Center for Advancement and Center for Enrollment Management, both in Godwin Hall; both are scheduled for completion by November 1. 
  • Discussion of the new 14 station enrollment and alumni call center in Pruden Hall
  • Advancement Report, including year-to-date giving, alumni participation, and major gifts
  • Approval for naming an office in the athletic department suite as "the Coach Richard Drake Track and Field Office"
  • Discussion of the dedication of Birdsong Field on October 24 at 11:00 a.m.
  • Update on the work of the new Publications Committee, charged with drafting policy recommendations for standardization of graphics and some content for campus publications
  • Communications Report including an overview of new and updated publications, completed web projects and social media initiatives

The Investment Committee reported on the following actions:
  • Reviewed Management's Report for the twelve months which ended June 30, 2015
    Reviewed Commonfund's Quarterly Report for the quarter ending June 30, 2015
  • Reviewed Management's Report to the Investment Committee for the two months ending August 31, 2015
  • Reviewed Commonfund's Report for the two month's ending August 31, 2015

# # #

I hope you find this information useful.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Thanks to Jim Boyd '84 for an enjoyable evening with community leaders and Virginia Wesleyan College friends at Young Life - Tidewater Independent Schools fall fundraiser at the new Norfolk restaurant "Work Release."  Virginia Wesleyan's Boyd Dining Center is named after Jim's parents.
Enjoyable evening with Virginia Wesleyan College friends at tonight's Young Life - Tidewater Independent Schools fall fundraiser. Top, Terry and Karen Lindvall. Left, Kala '13 and David Herman. Right, Eileen and Rev. Greg West. Thirteen current Virginia Wesleyan students are active leaders in the program.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Congratulations to senior Sam Jackson on a great four years!
With Board Chair Gary Bonnewell '79 and George Birdsong at the dedication of Birdsong Field.
Great catching up with former Virginia Wesleyan College President Billy Greer at today's Birdsong Field dedication.
Good turnout for basketball scrimmage at the Batten Student Center. Marlins picked second in the country pre-season.
Brandon Adair '12, VWC Athletic Hall of Fame inductee and member of the 2006 National Championship team, left Virginia Beach this summer to pursue his dream of officiating in the NBA. Pictured here (center) officiating a recent NBA - D league game.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Helped Tri Sigma Sorority raise money for children's play therapy by getting bailed out of "jail" today in the Jane P. Batten Student Center. Pictured in "jail" with Nicole Holmes and Kwame Harris.
With Dr. Christopher Garran, Head of School/President at Cape Henry Collegiate, and Michael R. Gianascoli '89, Chair of CHC's Board of Trustees. Michael is a 1993 graduate of Virginia Wesleyan and Partner at Gee's Group. Visited the school to discuss partnership opportunities.
Pleasantly surprised to run in to VWC alumna Alisa Crider '10 at a meeting at the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce today.
Great conversation this morning with Bryan Stephens, President and CEO of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce.

Nota Bene: CIC Campaign for the Liberal Arts and Liberal Arts Colleges

October 23, 2015

For most of my professional career I have been actively involved with the Washington, DC -based Council of Independent Colleges (CIC). For a numbers of years, I served on their Board of Directors and last year I concluded 15 years as the Chair of the acclaimed CIC New Presidents Program. I am an outspoken advocate of the importance of CIC to liberal arts education.

According to President Richard Ekman, CIC is an association of more than 600 colleges and universities that share the attributes of dedication to teaching, purposefulness about moral and civic values, small classes, close partnerships between the campus and its surrounding community, and governing structures that are not part of state government. CIC's main purposes are (1) supporting college leadership, (2) advancing institutional excellence, and (3) enhancing public understanding of the contribution of private higher education to society. 

Three years ago, the association announced Securing America’s Future: The Power of Liberal Arts Education, CIC’s public information campaign about the value of liberal arts education and of America’s small independent colleges.  The national, multi-pronged initiative directs attention to the compelling evidence that smaller independent colleges produce graduates who are among the best prepared for success in their personal, career, and community lives. The campaign includes research and data that dispel persistent and false stereotypes about independent colleges, feature prominent graduates of independent colleges and universities in all walks of life, and develop new language to describe the advantages of a liberal arts education, especially at independent institutions. S. Georgia Nugent, former President of Kenyon College, leads the campaign.

Dr. Ekman recently stated, “In an era when many state university systems are forced to increase tuition and limit enrollment, independent colleges offer a cost-effective alternative that accounts for higher rates of degree-completion and postgraduate satisfaction. Independent colleges are more likely to enroll and graduate low-income and first-generation college students. Their emphasis on the liberal arts is correlated with higher percentages of students who perform well on tests of learning outcomes and who succeed in science and engineering careers. Graduates of these colleges have lower levels of debt than other students, are more involved in their communities, and they graduate on time.”

The Securing America’s Future: The Power of Liberal Arts Education initiative has included print and digital materials, public speaking events, data and reports, and social media distribution via Twitter (@SmartColleges)YouTube (, and Facebook (, as well as a website for prospective college students and their families and counselors (

I encourage you to follow the CIC initiative and share the important word.
Looking forward to an exciting season of Marlins basketball!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Annie and I thoroughly enjoyed dinner and conversation tonight in the Princess Anne Room (President's Dining Room) with our faculty colleagues. Front, from left: Jason Squinobal (Music), Mavel Velasco (Spanish), and Eric Johnson (Biology). Standing: Murrell Brooks (Political Science), Scott Hinze (Psychology), Josh Weinstein (English), Maynard Schaus (Biology), and Daniel Margolies (History).

Paintings by Reni Gower
November 13, 2015 - January 13, 2016

Opening Reception and Artist Talk:
Friday, November 13th (6 to 8pm)
Free and Open to the Public

The exhibition "Strange Loops" blends mixed media works that combine collage and assemblage with detailed illusions on paper. Using the language of abstraction, Reni Gower blends a fluid improvisational painting approach with a repetitively structured and analytical one to create complex images that counter visual skimming. She incorporates the circle as a repetitive decorative motif, as a metaphor for binary code, and as a cultural symbol. Through intricate patterning, she combines these references to contrast passive technological consumption with the redemptive nuance of work made by hand. By creating a private space within a public one, her art quiets the mind and encourages contemplation.

Reni Gower is a Professor in the Painting and Printmaking Department at Virginia Commonwealth University. In 2014, she was honored to receive the College Art Association’s Distinguished Teacher of Art Award, as well as Virginia Commonwealth University’s and VCUarts’ Distinguished Teaching Awards. She is also the recipient of a NEA / SECCA Southeastern Artist Fellowship and several Virginia Commission for the Arts Project Grants. Her art work is represented in many prestigious collections and has been showcased at international and national venues for over 30 years. In addition to her painting practice, she curates award winning traveling exhibitions. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Syracuse University, a Master of Arts degree from University of Minnesota-Duluth, and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Nota Bene: Foundation Discussion of the Future of Support for the Liberal Arts

October 22, 2015

Last week I attended a conversation between Foundation Officers and College and University Presidents in the financial district of New York City. The meeting was facilitated by Washington, DC-based Council of Independent Colleges. CIC is the major national service organization for 600 independent liberal arts colleges and universities in the U.S.

Twenty foundation officers joined approximately 90 presidents and State Fund executives to discuss “The Present and Future of Foundation Support for Liberal Arts.” The Foundation Officers also provided a deeper understanding of how foundations’ priorities are chosen and how their foundations decide on strategies for fulfilling the priorities.

An impressive list of experienced foundation leaders led productive discussions to address various aspects of the theme. Mariet Westermann, Vice President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, specifically addressed the present and the future. Robert Hackett, President of the Bonner Foundation, and Jennifer Hoos Rothberg, Executive Director of the Einhorn Family Charitable Trust, spoke to foundation support for student engagement and civic responsibility. Michael McPherson, a former college president and currently President of the Spencer Foundation, discussed research support for independent higher education. Robert A. Maginn, Jr., President of the Jenzabar Foundation, and Timothy J. McClimon, President of the American Express Foundation, focused on corporate foundations.

I found this to be a most encouraging discussion. Some higher education experts suggest a national trend of declining interest in expensive liberal arts education in place of more vocational degrees. As I suggested in a recent column in The Huffington Post, I believe that the traditional liberal arts genre of education should survive, that it deserves the best kind of critical and creative thinking that can save it and that having a discussion on its future possibilities should go forward. The residential, personalized, professor-intensive model has unlimited value, as well as diverse implications for our society and the demands that confront our next generation of leaders. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

David Buckingham, Dean or Vice President for Students Affairs at Virginia Wesleyan the past 33 years, was recognized as "Dean Emeritus" at the Board of Trustees luncheon today. David shared the story of coming to Virginia Wesleyan in 1982 and reminisced many events throughout his time here. Gary Bonnewell '79, Chair of the Board, and I bestowed the distinction on behalf of the Board.
The Virginia Wesleyan College Board of Trustees recognized Mita Vail with a resolution of appreciation for her five years of service as Vice President for Advancement at the Fall Meeting today. Mita will retire at the end of the month. Gary Bonnewell '79, Chair of the Board, and I presented the honor.
Bob Boyd, a charter member of the Virginia Wesleyan College Board of Trustees and the namesake for the Boyd Dining Center, is pictured with fellow Trustee Deborah Paxson '75 and me at today's meeting.
Connor Pederson and Mario Thourogood, Student Assistants to the President, worked check in and set up for today's meeting of the Virginia Wesleyan College Board of Trustees. They are pictured with Gary Bonnewell '79, Chair of the Board.

Nota Bene: Board Committee Meetings

October 21, 2015

The Audit, Educational Policies and Student Affairs/Athletics Committees of the Virginia Wesleyan College Board of Trustees met recently. I write today to keep you informed of the actions of these committees.

The Board of Trustees Audit Committee:
  • Heard an overview of the audit process by Russell Coleman and Trish Blue from Cherry Bekaert;
  • Reviewed the audit report for the twelve months which ended June 30, 2015.  The Committee formally accepted the report;
  • Reviewed the audit management letter comments for the twelve months which ended June 30, 2015. The Committee formally accepted the report;
  • Reviewed the Student Financial Aid Programs audit report for the twelve months which ended June 30, 2015. The Committee formally accepted the report.

The Board of Trustees Educational Policies Committee:
  • Heard the Academic Program Report by the Vice President for Academic Affairs.  This included a comprehensive review of publications and research by faculty and students, enhancements of the curriculum and facilities, “equality of access to high impact experiences,” plans for program expansion, and community service/engagement;
  • Heard a review of the SACS Reaffirmation of Accreditation team visit and recommendations. The report was “very good with only two minor recommendations;” 
  • Heard the plan by the Vice President for Academic Affairs to address the recommendations.

The Board of Trustees Student Affairs Committee:
  • Heard the Student Affairs Report which included key activities of  the eight offices represented in the department;
  • Heard the Athletics Report including a discussion of athletic facilities upgrades;
  • Heard the Report of the Chaplain;
  • Heard the Report of Community Service.

I hope you find this information useful.

Virginia Wesleyan College softball: Nothing builds TEAM like the campus Alpine Tower!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

In the Virginia Wesleyan College haunted house with Dean of Freshmen Jason Seward, Vice President for Student Affairs Keith Moore...and a really scary photo bomber.
Reverse trick or treat in the residence halls with Dean of Freshman Jason Seward and Vice President for Student Affairs Keith Moore. Pictured with residents of Rose Hall.
Virginia Wesleyan women edge Randolph 1-0 despite out shooting the Wildcats 40-1.
Great visiting with Tom Murray and the enrollment call center staff tonight in Pruden Hall.
Great sidewalk chat about exciting changes with Rev. Brian Boettcher '12, Associate Pastor and J. T. Coleman, Worship Leader, both of Community United Methodist Church, and Lina Green, Director of Alumni and Parent Relations.
Just returned from the book release celebration hosted by the History Department and Women and Gender Studies Department at The Lighthouse in Clarke Hall. Pictured: History Professor Clay Drees and his book, Bishop Richard Fox: Architect of the Tudor Age; Criminal Justice Professor Thomas Brown and his book, Fugitive Slave Advertisements in The City Gazette; and History Professor Kathleen Casey and her book The Prettiest Girl on Stage is a Man: Race and Gender Benders in American Vaudeville.
The Marlin has arrived at Birdsong Field.
Enjoyed meeting ACCESS College Foundation Advisors and VWC Alumni (from left) Megan Ulanich '04, Kyle Williams '08, Gabrielle Alexander '11, Jenny Kechtkopf '02 and Sara Gastler '97 at the Foundation's annual luncheon today.