Sunday, July 31, 2016

So proud of our two summer interns for their work at the Port of Virginia this summer. Proud Virginia Wesleyan College graduate Joe Ruddy, Chief Innovation Officer at the Virginia Port Authority, is pictured with interns Amanda Baxter and Nicole Nedwick. Amanda worked with the Risk Management department while Nicole worked on the Project Team, developing the second phase of Virginia International Gateway and the expansion of Norfolk International Terminals.
My monthly column in The Virginian-Pilot, "A long, hot summer on campus":

Saturday, July 30, 2016

That's our own Paul and Sandra Ewell included in a feature about the Onancock Museum (Eastern Shore Watermen)

Friday, July 29, 2016

Nota Bene: Partnership with Harlaxton College and More

I’m pleased to announce that Virginia Wesleyan College has become a part of the Harlaxton College (England) partnership. This is a partnership that benefited us during my presidencies at Wesley and Bethany and I'm delighted, as a result, that our friends there have extended the invitation for Virginia Wesleyan. Best College Reviews has ranked the University of Evansville's British campus - Harlaxton College - the best study abroad program for American students. Since I was unable to attend their partnership meeting in England last month because of the birth of my granddaughter, Joanne Renn, our executive director for intercollegiate athletics, represented the College at the partner conference in my absence.

Their mission states that “Harlaxton College is the United Kingdom’s premier provider of study abroad. We are distinctive in our location and ethos and dedicate ourselves daily to transforming the lives of our students.” They offer a program of study that “directly addresses the challenges of living in an international community and the necessity of adopting a global view.” We look forward to a productive partnership between Harlaxton College and Virginia Wesleyan. From experience, faculty and students alike give this partnership rave reviews.

The Center for Sacred Music Summer Conference has been underway this week on campus. I had the pleasure of attending the Service of Christian Prayer in our Monumental Chapel on Monday evening. Over the course of this week, about 200 people from 18 states, plus Canada and Nigeria are enjoying workshops on all aspects of worship and music leadership. The workshops are led by 17 nationally recognized experts in the field. The conference culminates with a choral concert at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 30 at Christ & St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 560 W. Olney Road, in Norfolk. Kudos to Sandi Billy, Director of the Center for Sacred Music, for another wonderful program. 

I always enjoy visiting with alumni and friends. This week I had two very special visits. On Monday, Suzanne Savage (Associate Vice President for Advancement) and I had an enjoyable visit with Ginger and Jim Philbrick at their beautiful, historic home in White Stone, Virginia. Ginger and Jim have been loyal friends of the College. Ginger’s father, Dr. Joseph S. Johnston, was the first president of Virginia Wesleyan College. Thursday, we traveled to Morristown, NJ, to visit with Mike White, ’81, President of Maersk Line – North America. Mike played basketball for the Marlins during his studies here and has had a remarkable career leading a complex international business.

It is also pleasing to see that work has begun on a significant corrective maintenance project on campus. Funded by a private contribution, Hourigan Construction is making improvements to our pedestrian pathways, roads and steps as well as power washing and caulking buildings on the College Quadrangle. The improvements, costing nearly $600,000, are an effort to not only beautify our campus, but to make movement safer.

Finally, I’m looking forward to my second State of the College address to faculty, staff and members of our Board of Trustees and Alumni Council on August 23. The event will also be webcast (please consult our website for details).

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Enjoyable dinner tonight at Etta's Channel Side Restaurant in Chincoteague Island, VA, with The Rev. Dr. Karla M. Kincannon '76 and her husband Dr. Jim Noseworthy. Karla was recently named executive pastor at Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Alexandria, Virginia. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in art from Virginia Wesleyan College and a Masters of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. Jim recently retired as Vice President for Administration at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and is former President of Hiwassee College and former Assistant General Secretary for Higher Education and Ministry of The United Methodist Church. A friend and colleague for over 20 years, Jim serves on Virginia Wesleyan's Council for Big Ideas.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Great to visit with Virginia Wesleyan College graduate Mike White '81, President of Maersk Line -- North America at his office in Morristown, NJ.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Great lunch with Jim and Ginger Philbrick at The Tides Inn in Irvington today. Ginger's father, Dr. Joseph S. Johnston was the first President of Virginia Wesleyan. Also pictured is Suzanne Savage, Associate Vice President for Advancement.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The annual Sacred Music Summer Conference at Virginia Wesleyan happens this week, July 25-30.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Congratulations to Virginia Wesleyan College friend and supporter Tim Kaine on his selection as Hillary Clinton's vice presidential running mate.

Nota Bene: Presidential Council Appointments, 2016 Sacred Music Summer Conference and More

July 22, 2016
I’m pleased to share appointments to my Presidential Councils for the 2016-17 academic year:

President’s Leadership Council
President’s Council on Inclusive Community
President’s Environmental Issues Council
I thank those who are willing to serve on these Councils and look forward to working with them this year.
Last week, I enjoyed visiting with high school educators who were on our campus 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 had the pleasure of speaking to them when they visited the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center. I have no doubt that they walked away from this professional development experience, which several of our talented faculty helped to facilitate, with new perspectives on teaching biology and many new ideas for their classrooms. It was a pleasure to share our fine facilities and state-of-the-art equipment with these educators.

This week I continued to have discussions with the preferred contractor for the development of the land across from campus. We hope to have plans to share with our community in the near future.
I also had the pleasure of presenting our outgoing chair of the VWC Alumni Council, Amy Mallett Rickard ‘98, with a plaque commending her for her service on our Board of Trustees and for her service as chair of the Alumni Council. Special thanks to Amy for dedicating her time and talents to her alma mater. We appreciate all she has done for the College. Recently appointed Executive Director of Annual Giving and Alumni Relations Lori McCarel '94 joined us for the presentation.

Next week, the VWC Center for Sacred Music, along with the Robert F. Boyd Institute, will host the College’s 2016 Sacred Music Summer Conference, a non-denominational Worship & Music Conference that offers continuing education opportunities for church musicians, worship leaders, music teachers, and all who are interested in the sacred arts. The week opens at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, July 25, with “A Service of Christian Prayer” in the Monumental Chapel on campus, and concludes on Saturday, July 30, with a “Finale: Sing to the Lord with Cheerful Voice” at Christ & St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Norfolk. Learn more about the Sacred Music Summer Conference and the events of this special week on our website. Thanks to Director of the Center for Sacred Music, Dr. Sandra Billy, for coordinating this wonderful annual event.

Finally, Marylouise Fennell, Senior Counsel at the Council of Independent Colleges, and I have served for a decade as executive editors of the internationally distributed higher education leadership series “Presidential Perspectives.” The print version of the 2015-16 "Presidential Perspectives" series, titled "Innovative Concepts to Achieve Campus Transformation," was recently published by Philadelphia-based Aramark Higher Education and is the 10th anniversary edition. Dr. Muriel Howard, President of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), and Dr. Richard Ekman, President of the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC), authored a special 10-year foreword. Chapters in the series are authored by notable presidents whose institutions are in the forefront of innovative practices in these areas. Individual chapters and annual editions of "Presidential Perspectives" can be found at

Thursday, July 21, 2016

An enjoyable meeting this morning to talk Virginia Beach Vision and the Virginia Beach Light Rail initiative with Martha McClees (Executive Director of Virginia Beach Vision) and Donald Crigger (Executive Vice President of CBRE).

Nota Bene: Power of Philanthropy Beautifies Our Campus

July 21, 2016

One of the great assets of Virginia Wesleyan College is our beautiful, 300-acre campus. My commitment to a quality living and learning environment is finding direction in the campus master plan process, now underway, which coincides with our Pathway to Prominence strategic plan and capital campaign, extending into the year 2020.

In the meantime, some of our pedestrian pathways and other sites need some more immediate tender loving care.

Through a gift from a generous donor to the College, we are preparing to undertake approximately $600,000 in improvements to our concrete sidewalks and steps across campus. Hourigan Construction will begin this work around campus next week, and the project will continue for several weeks.

Additionally, the contractor will be “power washing” Blocker Hall, Hofheimer Library, Boyd Dining Center, Monumental Chapel and Frank E. Brown Bell Tower. This cleaning process will remove accumulated dirt and debris that has dulled the appearance of these facilities over time.

I wanted to share this information as you see the work proceeding, and to remind all of us of the significant difference private giving can make in the life of our institution. We thank the donor for this important contribution as we continue to enhance the campus environment for the coming academic year and beyond.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

"Presidential Perspectives" marks 10 years:
Wonderful lunch today with Amy Mallett Rickard '98, past president of the Alumni Council, and Lori McCarel '94, Executive Director of Annual Giving and Alumni Relations. Lori and I were delighted for the opportunity to thank Amy for her past two years of valued leadership and dedicated service to the Alumni Council and Board of Trustees.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

It was great to update alumna, Robyn Bailey '98, and her husband, Curtis, today on the progress at the College. Robyn received a BA in Art and studied with Professors Neil Britton and Barclay Sheaks.

Monday, July 18, 2016

On July 18, 1965, ground was broken for Bray Village (Village I). Here's a look back at its early construction.
A very big Virginia Wesleyan College welcome to new Heritage United Methodist Church minister, Rev. Michelle Louk. Heritage United Methodist Church is located on the Northeast corner of the campus and is a partner with the College in so many projects supporting the campus and surrounding community.
VWC Professor of Philosophy Dr. Steven Emmanuel accompanied students on an excursion to China this summer. Students had opportunities to interact with Chinese government officials, administrators, engineers and faculty and students as part of the ASIANetwork.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Enjoyed meeting with Howard Kern, President and CEO of Sentara Healthcare. For many years, Virginia Wesleyan students have received tremendous care at Sentara Leigh Hospital, which is located near campus. Virginia Wesleyan and Sentara have been partners in so many ways throughout our history.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Chuck Boyd '91 from The Virginian Pilot dropped by campus today. Pictured with Lori McCarel '94, Executive Director of Annual Giving and Alumni Relations.

Nota Bene: Rev. Sharma Lewis New Bishop for Virginia Conference of the UMC

July 15, 2016

In a history-making decision, the Rev. Sharma D. Lewis from Decatur, GA has been elected as a Bishop in the United Methodist Church, the first African-American woman from the South to be elected to the denomination’s highest office. She will be the Bishop for the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Rev. Lewis has served as the District Superintendent of the Atlanta-Decatur-Oxford District in the North Georgia Conference. She is a second-career pastor with a distinguished record of service. A graduate of Mercer University (B.S., Biology, 1985), the University of West Georgia (M.S., Biology, 1988), and Gammon Theological Seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Center (M.Div., 1999), Rev. Lewis worked as a research biologist and chemist prior to answering to God’s call.

As Bishop, she will serve as an ex-officio member of our Board of Trustees. I look forward to working with her and introducing her to the Virginia Wesleyan community.

Nota Bene: Virginia Private College Week and Other Summer Happenings

July 15, 2016
The week of July 25 – 30 is Virginia Private College Week, sponsored by the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia (CICV).  High school juniors and seniors interested in attending Virginia Wesleyan College are invited to participate. Along with 23 other participating colleges, VWC will offer campus tours and information sessions about admissions, financial aid and academic programs. Enrollment counselors will also address common myths about the cost of a private college education. Students who visit Virginia Wesleyan and at least two other institutions during the week will receive three application fee waivers—which may be used to apply to participating CICV colleges for free—and will also be entered to win a $500 Amazon gift card. Information sessions at Virginia Wesleyan will be held July 25-29 (Monday-Friday) at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. and on Saturday, July 30 at 9 a.m. Please encourage prospective students you may know to visit during this special week. Register for an information session.

For more information about CICV and Virginia Private College Week, including a list of participating colleges, visit The Virginia Private Colleges website provides information concerning the quality and affordability of Virginia private colleges to students and parents by increasing awareness of its member institutions and addressing myths concerning private higher education and its costs. The website is a user-friendly, informative tool to help identify which Virginia private college is right for any qualified student. Read more on our website:

My busy summer continues. I recently visited with Taylor Reveley, president of The College of William & Mary, on his beautiful, historic campus in Williamsburg. We discussed collaboration in a number of areas and the importance of our institutions to American higher education. Taylor has a fascinating background. He is the son of a former president of Hampden Sydney College and his son Taylor is president of Longwood University.

On Monday, I spoke to the Executive Leadership Academy (ELA) in Washington D.C. The ELA is a program for aspiring college presidents and is offered by the American Academic Leadership Institute in cooperation with the Council of Independent Colleges and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

On July 6, I attended the swearing-in ceremony for Norfolk Public Schools newly elected school board members Rodney Jordan and Dr. Noelle Gabriel at Granby High School. A number of area dignitaries attended the event, including our new mayor, Kenny Alexander, and several members of Norfolk’s City Council.

Planning for the 2016-17 academic year continues on campus. We have been devoting considerable time and energy to the smooth start of the fall semester. Important documents like the  2016-17 Academic Catalog are now available on our website. I hope your summer season continues to be productive as well.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

I had a wonderful time this evening visiting with our faculty and guests at a reception and dinner at the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach. Supported by a grant, our faculty hosted the National Association of Biology Teachers/Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (NABT/BSCS) Biology Teacher Academy. Pictured with: Hilve Firek, Batten Associate Professor of Education; Vic Townsend, Professor of Biology; Rosalind Ludovici, 2016 Biology graduate; Deirdre Gonsalves-Jackson, Associate Professor of Biology; and David Waggoner, Vice President for Enrollment.
Virginia Wesleyan College has again been named a College of Distinction. The 2016-17 list recognizes institutions that make an "exemplary commitment to the Four Distinctions: Engaged Students, Great Teaching, Vibrant Community, and Successful Outcomes." Pictured with David Waggoner, VWC Vice President for Enrollment.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with participants in the Executive Leadership Academy:
High school science teachers from all over the country have come to Virginia Wesleyan College this week to learn about new ways to engage their students as part of the NABT/BSCS Biology Teacher Academy:

Monday, July 11, 2016

With Dr. Tom Kepple, President of the American Academic Leadership Institute, at today's Executive Leadership Academy at the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC. Spoke to aspiring presidents about Presidential Transitions.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Nota Bene: A New Academic and Fiscal Year Begins

July 7, 2016

I hope your Independence Day holiday was enjoyable. July 1 marked the start of a new academic and fiscal year for Virginia Wesleyan College and the beginning of new leadership on our Board of Trustees.

My special thanks to Gary Bonnewell ’79 for his service as Chair of the Board of Trustees since 2013. Gary was our very first alumnus to be elected as chair, and we are appreciative of his service and fine leadership. He will continue to be on the Board as an officer, now in the role of immediate past chair.
David Kaufman will succeed Gary as Board Chair. David has served on the Virginia Wesleyan College Board of Trustees for 10 years, most recently as vice chair. David is a founding member and Senior Managing Director of the private equity firm, Envest.  David’s grandfather, Charles L. Kaufman, was an early advocate for Virginia Wesleyan.  Our new vice chair is Jon Pruden, co-owner and president of TASTE. Jon’s great grandfather was an early supporter of Virginia Wesleyan; in fact, Pruden Hall on our campus is named after Jon’s family. Longtime Board member Bill Thumel is now the secretary for the Board. Bill is the president of Abacus of Hampton Roads. Anne Shumadine continues her service as treasurer of the Board. Anne’s mother, Helen Ballard Hoffman, was one of the College’s first female Trustees, serving from 1964 until her death in 2010.  And Henry Watts, a member of the Virginia Wesleyan College Board of Trustees since 1989, and a former Board chair, is the parliamentarian. Henry is a retired vice chairman of Norfolk Southern Corporation. More information about our new Board leadership is on our website.
In addition, I’m pleased to share that Lori McCarel ‘94 is our new Executive Director of Annual Giving and Alumni Relations. McCarel has worked in the College’s Center for Advancement since 2007, serving in various capacities including Director of Annual Giving, Director of Special Gifts, and Director of Corporate Relations.  Lori earned her B.A. from Virginia Wesleyan College as part of the Liberal Arts Management Program (LAMP). She is a Founding Sister of Tri Sigma Sorority and a former member of the Marlin field hockey team. Her fiancĂ©, Joe Harris, is a 1994 alumnus of Virginia Wesleyan. She has three children, two of whom are currently enrolled at the College.

Kristin Williams has returned to Virginia Wesleyan as Coordinator of Annual Giving, and Kelly Roenker has been appointed as Director of Corporate Relations and the Boyd Institute.

I’m especially pleased to share that Jodi Bryant, administrative assistant in the president’s office, is back at work! We were happy to welcome Jodi back on June 27. Be sure to stop by the office to greet her and welcome her back.

It is a pleasure to welcome Robert Leitgeb, our Chief Information Officer, and long-time Athletics Director Joanne Renn to the President’s Cabinet for 2016-17:

Dr. Timothy O’Rourke, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Kenneth R. Perry Dean of the College; Professor of Political Science;
Cary Sawyer, Vice President for Finance;
Dr. Keith Moore, Vice President for Student Affairs;
Dr. Mort Gamble, Vice President for Advancement;
David Waggoner, Vice President for Enrollment Services;
Robert Leitgeb, Chief Information Officer;
Joanne Renn, Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics;
Bruce Vaughan, Vice President for Facilities and Operations;
Laynee Timlin, Executive Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff.

It continues to be a busy summer in Coastal Virginia. I recently attended the oath-of-office ceremony for the Mayor and the Council of the City of Norfolk.  Kenneth Cooper Alexander was elected Mayor of the City of Norfolk on May 3, 2016. Members of Norfolk’s City Council include Angelia Graves, Andria McClellan, Mamie Johnson, Paul Riddick, Thomas Smigiel, Jr., and Dr. Theresa Whibley. We look forward to a productive relationship with these leaders in the City of Norfolk.

Finally, it was exciting to see that two of our alumni are continuing their careers in leadership positions in the United Methodist Church. Ted Smith ’84, who has served as District Superintendent in the Fredericksburg District, has been put forth by the Virginia Annual Conference for United Methodist Bishop at the upcoming Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference on July 13.  Scott Davis ’84 was recently appointed District Superintendent of the Lynchburg District. Best wishes to both of them.

Enjoyed the Swearing-In Ceremony and celebration in honor of newly elected Norfolk Public School Board Members, Dr. Noelle M. Gabriel, upper left, and Rodney Jordan, upper right. Supt. Melinda Boone, lower left, and Mayor Kenny Alexander, addressed the invitees gathered on the steps of Granby High School.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Talking about our partnership with Volunteer Hampton Roads with Kate Meechan, Executive Director of Volunteer Hampton Roads. Also pictured is Dr. Mort Gamble, Virginia Wesleyan Vice President for Advancement, who will join the VHR Board this fall.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A Jason Seward (Dean of Freshmen) video welcoming the Class of 2020 to the Marlin Nation!
Via Sports Illustrated: Oklahoma City Thunder GM (and former Virginia Wesleyan student-athlete) Sam Presti, right, on Kevin Durant: ‘I have nothing but respect for him’
An overview of Professor Vivian Teter's new book of poetry in The Virginian-Pilot:
Enjoyable visit with Bill Ball '76 and Vice President-emeritus Stephen Mansfield today. A graduate of our Social Sciences program, Bill has worked for State Farm Insurance in Southern Maryland the past 29 years.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Virginia Wesleyan College trustees elect new Board officers for 2016-17:

Saturday, July 2, 2016

The July issue of The President's Letter:
Pleased to share the announcement of Lori Simpers McCarel '94 as our new Executive Director of Annual Giving and Alumni Relations:

Friday, July 1, 2016

Attending the Oath of Office Ceremony for the new Mayor of the City of Norfolk -- Kenneth C. "Kenny" Alexander.