Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Hampton Roads Leadership Prayer Luncheon

With Rev. Matt Breitenberg, Executive Pastor of Grace Bible Church of Virginia Beach, at today's Hampton Roads Leadership Prayer Luncheon at First Presbyterian Church in Norfolk.

​Nota Bene: Campus Sings with Spirit and Tradition

Celebrating school pride and honoring our College’s legacy is incredibly important to me. It is for this reason that I recently requested that our campanile, known to many as simply “The Bell Tower,” begin sharing songs of spirit and tradition. Take a walk across campus this afternoon and you will hear our fight song, “On, Virginia Wesleyan!” at noon, followed by our Alma Mater at 5 p.m. 

Virginia Wesleyan's Monumental Chapel and its adjacent Frank E. Brown Campanile are landmarks on our campus. They not only symbolize our United Methodist heritage, but for many, they visually represent the passion of those who laid our College’s foundation and the progress of those who have earned their education within its classrooms.

According to Dr. Stephen Mansfield's book Wisdom Lights the Way: Virginia Wesleyan College's First Half-Century, these historic structures came about in an “unusual fashion”:

“The minister and leaders of Portsmouth's Monumental United Methodist Church indicated during 1972 that they would like to provide funds for a Virginia Wesleyan project as part of the church's 200th anniversary celebration. Monumental's decision to raise $50,000 for a chapel was matched by a gift from the Beasley Foundation. During the planning stage, Richmond philanthropist Frank Brown offered to donate the cost of the bell tower, or campanile, which would stand near the chapel, and the Norfolk Federal Savings and Loan Company contributed the carillon, which had been a fixture of its home office since 1957.

“[Then] President [Lambuth M.] Clarke observed that it was unique within Virginia United Methodism, and perhaps the entire denomination, for a congregation to fund a college building. He saw significance for United Methodism's commitment to higher education in Virginia's oldest continuous congregation making such a contribution to the denomination's newest college. The completed chapel, campanile, and carillon were consecrated in February 1975.”

Our Alma Mater and fight song carry significant histories of their own. The College’s Alma Mater was written in 2002 by Dr. Sandra Billy, Director of the Center for Sacred Music, and Professor Emeritus Dr. David Clayton, VWC’s first full-time music professor. From the Alma Mater came the College’s Latin motto, sapientia illuminat viam, or "Wisdom Lights the Way.” Our fight song, “On, Virginia Wesleyan!” was written in 2011 by Joanne Renn, Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, and Bill Bishop, a veteran area sports announcer.

Both of these compositions invoke in me, and I hope in you, a strong sense of pride and belonging. I am grateful to be here at Virginia Wesleyan at this momentous time in the College’s history, and I look forward to continued celebration of our dearest traditions and creation of those that are still to come.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Nota Bene: Villages II and IV to be Named for 2017 Academic Year

I am pleased to share the naming of two of our campus villages. With the start of the 2017-18 Academic Year, Village II will become Allen Village, named for the late Dennie Allen ’70, and Village IV will become the Honors Village.

By virtue of his place in the alphabet, Dennie Allen received Virginia Wesleyan's first diploma at our first Commencement in 1970. He passed away last fall on September 1, just one week before our first Founders Day. His obituary described the day he graduated as “the happiest of his life,” and said that he “loved to tell people that he was the very first person to receive a diploma from the College.” On his death, Dennie left his estate to Virginia Wesleyan. We are so grateful for his generosity and proud to honor our first graduate in this most fitting way.

This fall, we will welcome our first cohort of the Batten Honors College. Over time, the Honors Village will begin housing these students. It will be a living-learning community, serving to expand the student experience beyond the classroom, strengthen engagement in campus life, and help develop meaningful social connections. This inclusive community-centered environment will support the personal and intellectual growth of our Batten Fellows and Shumadine Scholars.

The College is currently separated into four villages over its nearly 300-acre campus. Bray Village and Village II feature residential space, classrooms, and faculty and staff offices. Brock Village and Village IV are solely residential complexes.

Construction is expected to begin in 2017-18 on a fifth village on College-owned land on the north side of Wesleyan Drive. Oxford Village will be named in honor of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism and the namesake of Virginia Wesleyan College, who attended and was laid to rest at Christ Church in Oxford, England. The facility will be designed to house faculty, staff, students—most likely upper-level, graduate, or international students—from Virginia Wesleyan or even other nearby organizations.

The naming of our campus buildings tells the story of those who have come before us and stood beside us. Please join me as we integrate these special names into our campus culture and celebrate our institution’s rich history.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

An Energizing Chapel Service

A wonderful, energizing Virginia Wesleyan Chapel Service tonight with Sybil West, mother of chaplain Greg Wes, delivering the message--"The Potter, the Clay, and the Spiritual Journey..."

Friday, February 24, 2017

An Evening at Slover

‪With colleagues on the veranda prior to the Batten Honors College social at Slover Library ‬

A Historic Location for Virginia Wesleyan

With David Waggoner (Vice President for Enrollment) at a historic location for Virginia Wesleyan at the corner of City Hall Avenue and Granby Street in downtown Norfolk.

Progress on the Frank Blocker Youth Center

Checking out progress on construction of the new Frank Blocker Youth Center with Keith Moore, Vice President for Student Affairs, and Jason Seward, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs.


Beautiful Day for Tennis

Virginia Wesleyan took on Washington & Lee at VWC's Everett Tennis Center.

Kenneth R. Perry Field

New stands and press box in full use on this beautiful February day.

Beautiful Day for Baseball

...at Virginia Wesleyan's Kenneth R. Perry Field.

Welcoming Prospective Batten Fellows

It was a pleasure to welcome prospective Batten Fellows last night at the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center with Provost and Vice President Dr. Timothy O'Rourke (center) and Dr. Chris Haley, Kenneth R. Perry Dean of the Joan P. Brock School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences and Professor of Earth Science. We will welcome the first cohort of the Batten Honors College this fall.

Batten Honors College Competition Continues

Excitement was in the air last night as we kicked off our second Batten Honors College competition at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. We started this process with 30,000 names and narrowed it down to 71 prospective students competing for 20 full-tuition Batten Fellows and 20 Shumadine Scholars. Collectively, this impressive group has a grade point average of 4.07 on a 4.0 scale, an average SAT score of 1320, and an average ACT score of 29. The competition runs through Saturday.

This Week's Edition of @vawesleyan

Read our latest e-newsletter here: http://conta.cc/2lKgrD1

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Nota Bene: Higher Ed in the Age of Trump

I recently attended briefings on Capitol Hill, sponsored by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities at its annual meeting. On the agenda was launching the Independent College Caucus, a bipartisan initiative to recognize contributions of independent colleges and universities.

Virginia’s U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte is a co-sponsor of the caucus, and I’ve invited our Hampton Roads congressional delegation to join as well.

With the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education, we await the administration’s actions on various issues that affect colleges and universities and especially the students we serve.

In its “Public Policy Objectives for the 115th Congress,” NAICU reiterated strong support for federal student aid programs (Pell Grants, Perkins Loans, the federal student loan program).

Of importance to our military community in Hampton Roads, we have expressed continuing support for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, affording educational opportunities to thousands of veterans and their families, and the “Yellow Ribbon” program that offers veterans’ tuition assistance at both public and private institutions. Virginia’s colleges and universities are well-represented in this program.

A number of NAICU’s policy topics have particular relevance as the Trump administration takes charge.

We recommend a renewed government commitment to international education in that “the ability of colleges to admit and educate students from throughout the world is a vital national interest, (supporting) measures to keep our borders open, with reasonable safeguards against the inappropriate use of student visas.”

I have long been an advocate of globalization of higher education, including making it feasible and affordable for American students to study abroad. As NAICU points out, “In an increasingly global community, our economic future and national security will depend on a citizenry with a deeper understanding of diverse cultures and a broader, more inclusive world view.”

In recent years, calls for greater scrutiny and accountability of higher education — including independent institutions — have led to concern about excessive, unreasonable regulation. The higher education community has resisted federal efforts to impose conformity on colleges and universities in areas such as admissions, assessment, program content, and value-for-cost considerations.

Traditionally, oversight of institutional accessibility and performance, quality of academic programs, and strength of co-curricular offerings has come from the nation’s regional accrediting bodies, a system that has worked well for generations.

I am hopeful that Washington’s apparent interest in reducing excessive government regulation will extend, appropriately, to colleges and universities — leaving intact the independence and credibility of accrediting agencies.

Other potential areas of concern include ensuring that donors are not encumbered in making charitable, deductible gifts to colleges and universities; fostering scientific research and data collection through government grants to institutions; and maintaining the tax-free status of endowments, which provide essential financial security to campuses.

Most important, however, in the view of many of my colleagues is resisting arbitrary bans on immigration and travel that negatively impact our nation’s campuses.

Virginia Wesleyan recently joined with nearly 600 universities and colleges from around the United States in voicing concerns about recent executive orders banning travel from seven predominantly Muslim nations.

Our letter to Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, sent by the American Council on Education, notes that while we “take seriously the need to safeguard our nation and also the need for the United States to remain the destination of choice for the world’s best and brightest students, faculty and scholars. … [W]e are confident that our nation can craft policies that secure us from those who wish to harm us, while welcoming those who seek to study, conduct research and scholarship, and contribute their knowledge and talents to our country.”

American higher education is respected throughout the world.

Our ability to foster dialogue, perform research, document new knowledge, and forge collaboration is unmatched.

In the rush to guarantee “America First” in the new administration’s agenda, it should be noted that we are clearly already prominent and competitive as a higher education community in countless ways. Yet we thrive on the diversity found on our campuses, our innovative partnerships, and our respect for the free flow of ideas.

I would therefore hope that American colleges and universities will not enter a new age of isolationism but instead have the freedom to continue our work in productive, non-partisan ways — ensuring our role not only in keeping America first but also truly great.

Note: This was written as my monthly column for The Virginian-Pilot and The Huffington Post.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Visiting with SunTrust Bank Partners

Enjoyed showing the progress at the new Greer Environmental Sciences Center to our partners with SunTrust Bank, Charity Volman and David Moore. Also pictured are Suzanne Savage (Associate Vice President for Advancement) and Clark Lambert with Hourigan Construction.

Representing Hampton Roads Chamber

Always nice to visit with Bryan Stephens, President and CEO of the Hampton Roads Chamber. I recently joined the HRCC Board of Directors.

Mark Hurd, CEO of Oracle Corporation

Lunch and enjoyable discussion today with Mark Hurd, CEO of Oracle Corporation, and the past chairman, chief executive officer, and president of Hewlett-Packard. At Hewlett-Packard, he succeeded following former CEO Carly Fiorina. In 2007, Hurd was named one of Fortune Magazine's 25 Most Powerful People in Business.

Speaking on the Value of the Liberal Arts

In the WHRO/WHRV studios this morning for the recording of "Educationally Speaking" with Kathy Martin. The interview was about the value of a liberal arts education and will be released in segments in March.

Congratulations, Phi Eta Sigma Inductees

Congratulations to these 25 new freshmen inductees into the Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society.

Nota Bene: Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society Induction

Last night I attended the spring induction ceremony of select Virginia Wesleyan College freshmen into Phi Eta Sigma, the nation's oldest and largest honor society for first-year college and university students in all disciplines.

Phi Eta Sigma was founded in 1923 at the University of Illinois with a mission to encourage and reward academic excellence among freshmen at institutions of higher learning. Since its founding, more than 1.1 million scholars have been inducted into Phi Eta Sigma chapters on 378 campuses across the United States. Our own Virginia Wesleyan chapter was founded in 1983 and today consists of 150 active student members.

I’d like to thank Jason Seward, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, and the many faculty and staff who have supported this society. You have generously shared your time and energy to advance this organization, and we value your contributions.  

Congratulations to these 25 newest Phi Eta Sigma members, and best wishes for continued success during your time at Virginia Wesleyan. May you continue to benefit from all that our campus has to offer, and may you always remember to enjoy your journey through this life-defining experience called college. 

Spring 2017 Phi Eta Sigma Inductees
Taylor Anderson                Connor Graham
Jordyn Aysanoa                Nel Hart
Alexandra Berg                 Monika Metro
Alexander Benevento       Austin Obenour
Andreas Combos             Jacob Pilarski
Taylor Coutts                    Kelli Porter
Noah Craft                        Kristina Sabelston
Lydia Dale                        Tara Truax
Austin Edmonds               Emma Walsh
Christopher Fegan            Andre' Wiggins
Melissa Fisher                  Taylor Wilhelm
Shae Geary                       Cora Wilson
Isabella Glaze

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

​Nota Bene: Athletics Management Council/NCAA Self-Study

Last year, I announced the appointment of an Athletics Management Council at Virginia Wesleyan College. The AMC reports to me and serves a primary purpose of providing appropriate interaction between athletics, faculty and administration.
Membership of this Council includes our Executive Director of Athletics Joanne Renn, Head Volleyball Coach/Senior Woman Administrator Andrea Hoover, Professor of English Dr. Susan E. Larkin, Professor of Philosophy and Director of the PORTfolio Program Dr. Lawrence D. Hultgren, and Michelle Yates ’18. Drs. Larkin and Hultgren are our NCAA Faculty Athletics Representatives. Michelle Yates is the student representative on the AMC.
The Athletics Management Council has these priorities:
  • Provide advice to the Executive Director of Athletics on such matters as recruitment, retention, eligibility, NCAA compliance, and general priorities and operational matters;
  • Serve on search committees for new hires in athletics;
  • Review the role of existing sports and discuss strategic possibilities for expansion;
  • Provide advice to the Provost and Vice President on student-athlete welfare related issues;
  • Monitor adherence to the mission and purpose of the College.
Additional information about the Athletics Management Council can be found on the VWC website at: http://www.vwc.edu/about-us/president-and-leadership/athletics-management-council.php
NCAA Division III member institutions are required to conduct a comprehensive self-study and evaluation of their intercollegiate athletics programs at least once every five years, using the Institutional Self-Study Guide (ISSG). The report of the self-study, as well as the supporting documentation, is required to be available for examination upon request by an authorized representative of the NCAA. This is a major task of the AMC in 2016-17 and you will hear more prior to our May 2017 submission.
Thank you to Joanne, Andrea, Susan, Larry and Michelle for their service on the Athletics Management Council. Please feel free to offer them any thoughts you may have on athletics management at Virginia Wesleyan College.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Photo Gallery: Batten Honors College Competition

Wonderful images capturing our very first Batten Honors College competition. Our second competition is coming up later this week, February 23-25: Photo gallery: https://flic.kr/s/aHskUtTTgg

Nota Bene: State Farm/VWC Scholar-Athlete Recognition

Virginia Wesleyan athletes were honored for their academic accomplishments this past Saturday, February 18, during a special State Farm/VWC Scholar-Athlete Recognition ceremony in the Convocation Center inside the Jane P. Batten Student Center.

The scholar-athletes recognized were those who are a member of at least one NCAA Division III athletic team at VWC and who were named to the President’s List or the Dean's List for the fall 2016 semester. The President’s List is awarded to students earning a 4.0 GPA and Dean’s List is awarded to students who earn at least a 3.5 GPA. Both indicate a careful balance among course work, co-curricular activities, and athletics.

State Farm partnered with Virginia Wesleyan College to sponsor the Scholar-Athlete Recognition. State Farm agents Larry Akers, Rhonda Floasin, Pierre Granger, Jessica Hester, and Joe Query made this possible, and the College thanks them for their continued support of Marlin athletics.

State Farm/VWC Scholar-Athlete honorees for the fall 2016 semester are as follows. I commend these students for their remarkable efforts.

President's List Scholar-Athletes
Andreas Combos           Mathematics, Men's Tennis
Shae Geary                    Criminal Justice, Women's Soccer
Megan Gerhart               Biology, Women's Soccer
Abigail Horgan                Psychology/Theatre, Women's Tennis
Trevor Maloney               Biology/Pre-Med, Cross Country/Track and Field
Kellen Phillips                 Biology, Women's Basketball
Kennedy Skala               Education, Women's Soccer
Jordan Sprouse              Math, Baseball

Dean's List Scholar-Athletes
Seth Antozzi                   Mathematics, Cross Country/Track and Field
Ryan Applewhite            Business, Women's Soccer
Amanda Archer              Communication, Softball
Kollin Baer                     Individualized Studies, Cross Country/Track and Field
Elizabeth Bailey             Recreation and Leisure Studies, Softball
Amanda Baxter              Business, Women's Soccer
Ashley Bologna              International Studies/Political Science, Volleyball
Jacklyn Cheely               Sociology/Philosophy, Women's Tennis
David Cockerill               Business, Men's Golf
Taylor Coutts                  Biology, Women's Soccer
Joshua Davis                 Art, Men's Lacrosse
Julia Downing                History, Women's Soccer
Justin Erby                     Business, Baseball
Taylor Erby                     Business, Baseball
Joseph Fairbanks           Criminal Justice, Tennis
Caleb Freeman               Biology, Men's Soccer
Rachel Fuller                  Biology, Women's Lacrosse
Brandon Gilchrist            Computer Science, Men's Track 
Connor Graham              Business, Baseball
Tiffani Gregory                Comprehensive Liberal Studies, Cheerleading
Doneisha Hall                 Individualized Studies, Volleyball
Jayla Harris                     Business, Women's Basketball
Cory Hilliard                    Business, Men's Lacrosse
Jason Hoernke                Criminal Justice, Men's Soccer
Caitlyn Hogge                  Art/Psychology, Field  Hockey
Kerstin Holman                English/Theatre, Women's Tennis
Hanna Hull                       Individualized Studies, Softball
Wade Jernigan                 Mathematics, Men's Track
Catalina Jones                 Biology, Field  Hockey
Brendan Kelleher             Criminal Justice/Political Science, Men's Tennis
Matthew Kirkbride            Business, Cross Country/Track and Field
Amy Large                       Interdivisional Studies, Softball
Emily Latimer                   Biology, Cross Country/Track and Field
Marie Lerch                      Criminal Justice/Political Science, Women's Lacrosse
Taylor Marshall                 Elementary Education, Field  Hockey
Tanner Martin                   Business/German Studies, Men's Soccer
Stephanie McDermott      History/Social Science, Cheerleading
Madelyn McMurry            Business, Volleyball
Christopher McTague      Computer Science, Men's Lacrosse
Monika Metro                   Biology, Women's Soccer
Ann Marie Moffett            Individualized Studies, Women's Soccer
Jake Morgan                    Criminal Justice, Men's Tennis
Austin Obenour               Individualized Studies, Baseball
Dustin Ogburn                 Math, Cross Country/Track and Field
Alana Peters                    Communication, Softball
Zachary Peters                Communication, Men's Lacrosse
Emma Phillips                  Education, Women's Cross Country
Emilee Pierson                 History, Volleyball
Jacob Pilarski                   Individualized Studies, Baseball
William Richardson          Biology, Men's Soccer
Kathleen Roberts             Political Science, Women's Soccer
Steven Roberts                Mathematics, Men's Lacrosse
Kristina Sabelstrom         Earth and Environmental Science, Women's Soccer
Madison Sanders            Individualized Studies, Women's Soccer
Megan Schallock             Business/Recreation and Leisure Studies, Women's Lacrosse
Kristina Scott                   Individualized Studies, Volleyball
Megan Sherman              Individualized Studies, Women's Basketball
Colleen Smith                  Recreation and Leisure Studies, Volleyball
Madelyn Starr                  Psychology, Volleyball
Melissa Stroup                 Psychology, Field  Hockey
Alyssa Taylor                   Individualized Studies, Volleyball
Emily Taylor                     Biology, Women's Soccer
Dillon Thompson             Recreation and Leisure Studies, Men's Soccer
Zoe Traficante                 Mathematics, Women's Soccer
Alexia Vassiliadis             Mathematics, Women's Soccer
Emma Walsh                   Special Education, Field  Hockey
Michael Ward                   Individualized Studies, Cross Country/Track and Field
Bennett Wiley                   International Studies, Men's Soccer
Kwonsha Washington      Psychology, Women's Cross Country/Track and Field
Taylor Wilhelm                 Business, Field  Hockey
Ashley Winslow               Business, Women's Lacrosse
Rebecca Winlsow            Psychology, Women's Lacrosse

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Halftime with Bob Marlin and AD Joanne Renn

Cheers for Our Cheerleaders

We recognized the senior cheerleaders and their families at halftime of the Virginia Wesleyan v. Randolph basketball game.

A Wesleyan Connection

Good to see MaryAnn Whisner Lewis at today's Virginia Wesleyan basketball game. She is on campus to visit her niece -- Virginia Wesleyan freshman Maggie Kingora. In 1980-81, I was editor of the student newspaper at West Virginia Wesleyan. MaryAnn was managing editor and Mort Gamble (now VWC Senior Vice President) was advisor.

Congratulations, State Farm/VWC Scholar Athletes

State Farm/VWC Scholar Athlete Recognition today honored six students on the President's List (4.0) and 74 students on Deans List (at least a 3.5).

Thank You, State Farm

We celebrated the State Farm/VWC Scholar Athlete Recognition today. Thanks to agents Jessica Hester and Pierre Granger for joining us today. Other participating agents are Larry Akers, Rhonda Floasin and Joe Query. Joining us for the picture Faculty Athletics Representative Larry Hultgren, Joanne Renn (Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics), and FAR Sue Larkin.

Wesleyan Women's Basketball Seniors

It was a pleasure to honor two women's basketball players on Senior Day. Pictured with Associate Head Coach Andrea Thurston, Head Coach Stephany Dunmyer, Crystal Strother, Alexis Platt and Joanne Renn.

Celebrating Senior Day

Honoring men's basketball players Kaelin Poe, Aaron Sturdifen, Justin Watson, Khory Moore, Tim Jones, DeLante Victory, and Andre Banks on Senior Day.

Senior men's basketball player Kaelin Poe

Senior men's basketball player Kaelin Poe with his stepfather John Jones and Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Joanne Renn.

Honoring DeLante Victory

Great to honor men's basketball senior, DeLante Victory, at the Senior Parents Luncheon today. Joining me are DeLante's sister Brianna, mom Janet, Coach Macedo, niece Grei, and Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, Joanne Renn.

Meeting of the VWC Alumni Council

Enjoyed meeting with our VWC Alumni Council today. Pictured with Alumni Council Vice President, Troy DeLawrence '93, and President, Mavis McKenley '11, along with Lori McCarel '94, Executive Director of Annual Giving & Alumni Relations.

​Nota Bene: Final Results of VFIC Ethics Bowl at Virginia Wesleyan

I write this morning to share a special note from Mary-Beth Johnson, Chief Operating Officer of the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges, regarding the 18th annual Ethics Bowl held at Virginia Wesleyan College earlier this week. She writes:

I want to take this opportunity to thank each of you for supporting the VFIC Ethics Bowl Program on your campus. We had a great group of teams this year, which really showcases the caliber of our VFIC students and the dedication of the faculty members who worked with them.

Going into the fourth round of competition, there were two undefeated teams in each of the divisions.

Cardinal Division - Emory & Henry and University of Richmond
Commonwealth Division - Hampden-Sydney and Randolph-Macon

As luck would have it, each of the undefeated teams met each other in the fourth round in their respective divisions. The two teams that were sent to the finals were Hampden-Sydney and University of Richmond with Hampden-Sydney claiming the Batten Trophy for 2017.

In addition to the competition portion of the event, the VFIC’s South Hampton Roads Regional Trustees worked tirelessly to secure sponsorships for the Ethics Bowl dinner totaling more than $150,000. 100% of this support will be distributed to the colleges in the form of scholarships for deserving students.

Mark your calendar now - the date and location for the 2018 Ethics Bowl is February 11-12 at Hampden-Sydney College.

This is a link to media coverage that picked up the event: http://pilotonline.com/news/local/experience-you-can-use-in-college-and-beyond-virginia-wesleyan/article_25de3667-1bb8-5d0a-9cae-fcebf67bd7df.html

Thanks again to all our Virginia Wesleyan faculty, staff, students and volunteers who made our hosting this prestigious event a success.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Just around the corner...Virginia Wesleyan Alumni Weekend...

Meeting With "Marlin Prestige" Leadership

Wonderful meeting this morning with student leadership of the spring "Marlin Prestige" business conference. Pictured here with (from left) Dr. Timothy O'Rourke, Provost and Vice President, and VWC students Michelle Carter (Chief Marketing Officer), Ulia Nelson (Chief Operations Officer), Nicholas Hipple (Chief Information Officer), Lawrence Graves (Chief Financial Officer), and Kathryn Reavis (Chief Executive Officer). VWC students coordinate all aspects of the conference, exercising key management skills like product development, networking, and project and financial planning.

Nota Bene: Winter Board of Trustees Meeting

The winter meeting of the Virginia Wesleyan College Board of Trustees was held on Wednesday, February 15. It was wonderful to welcome 22 Board members to campus, including new Trustees Mary C. Haddad, Lee T. Stevenson ’85, and Michael J. White ’81.

I am pleased to share that following careful review, the Board adopted the Campus Master Plan, which includes a space-utilization study, parking study, facilities-condition assessment plan, and a Campus Master Plan for the next 10 years. From here, the final product will be taken to the City of Virginia Beach Planning Department.

Among the progress reports given were strategies and outlook for increasing enrollment, including the addition of two master’s programs, online degree-completion programs at the undergraduate level, and early- and dual-enrollment initiatives; continued development of the Batten Honors College; VWC’s new relationship with Tidewater Community (Collegiate) Academy; ongoing upgrades to campus technology; plans and progress on our current capital campaign, VWC 2020: Pathway to Prominence; the College's 10-year reaffirmation of its affiliation with the United Methodist Church following the University Senate's "perfect" visit in November; construction of the Greer Environmental Sciences Center and the Frank Blocker Youth Center at YMCA Camp Red Feather (previously referred to as the VWC/YMCA Partnership Facility); and plans for the Susan S. Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center, the Oxford Village housing development across Wesleyan Drive, and a new track and field complex.

The Board heard reports and approved actions from the Committee on Trusteeship as well as the Committees of Academic Affairs, Administration and Finance, Advancement, Audit, Enrollment, and Student Affairs. Approval was given for advancement from assistant to associate professor and conferral of tenure for Dr. Kellie Holzer (English) and advancement from associate to full professor for Dr. John Rudel (Art), effective with the start of the 2017-18 academic year. Seven faculty sabbaticals have also been authorized for the 2017-18 academic year for Dr. Thomas Brown (Criminal Justice/Sociology), Dr. Maury Howard (Chemistry), Dr. Craig Jackson (Psychology), Dr. Audrey Malagon (Mathematics), Dr. Gabriela Martorell (Psychology), Dr. Philip Rock (Biology), and Dr. Cathal Woods (Philosophy).

During the meeting, Board Chair David Kaufman and I had the honor of dedicating two Board of Trustees plaques, made possible by Board member Tassos Paphites ’79 and his wife, Dolores. The plaques are located in the Boyd Dining Center/Shafer Room lobby and in the Jane P. Batten Student Center near the entrance to the Convocation Center. They bear the names of our current Trustees and serve as visual reminders of the Board's historic and valuable role in the College's progress.

The Board also heard a presentation during lunch about the history and mission of Virginia Wesleyan's Center for the Study of Religious Freedom, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this academic year. Thank you to Dr. Craig Wansink, the Joan P. and Macon F. Brock, Jr. Director of the Center for the Study of Religious Freedom, and Kelly Jackson, Associate Director of the CSRF, for joining us for this special occasion.

We are so grateful for our Trustees' time and talents—their dedication is a critical asset to the success of our College, its students and alumni. The Board's spring meeting is scheduled for May.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Dedicated Cross Country/Track and Field Supporters

Wonderful to visit today with some of our most dedicated supporters of Virginia Wesleyan's Cross Country/Track and Field program. From left, Head Coaches Krista and Mat Littleton with Charles Elswick, Mickey Walker, Tom Betz, myself, and Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Joanne Renn. The group organizes an annual golf tournament to benefit the Cross Country/Track and Field program.

Great time with Graduates Lee and Lara Stevenson

Annie and I enjoyed dinner with Lee and Lara Stevenson, both graduates of Virginia Wesleyan. Lee is a new member of the Board of Trustees and is managing director of the global firm Marsh & McLennan Companies.

Boyd Institute Planning

Great meeting today with the advisory committee for the Robert F. Boyd Institute. From left, Chaplain Greg West, Rev. Hank Teague, myself, Rev. Myrtle Hatcher, Dr. Mort Gamble, Senior Vice President, Rev. Ralph Rowley '78, and Kelly Roenker Cordova, Coordinator of the Boyd Institute. This year's event will take place April 3-4 and will feature Dr. Ben Witherington III in a discussion on "A Singular Jesus in a Pluralistic Culture." Learn more: https://www.vwc.edu/about-us/campus-offices/church-relations/robert-f-boyd-institute.php

Nota Bene: VWC Hosts Final Meeting of C4 Consortium

Faculty representatives from four higher education institutions gathered at Virginia Wesleyan January 29-31 for the fourth and final meeting of the Teagle C4 Consortium. The Consortium is a partnership among three private colleges and one university in pursuit of creating a more coherent and intentional curriculum with goals, pathways, and outcomes that are clear to students and other constituencies.

The work of the C4 Consortium, comprised of faculty from Virginia Wesleyan College, Davis and Elkins College, Eckerd College, and Shenandoah University, has been supported by Teagle Foundation funding in the amount of $280,000 for over 30 months (January 2015 through June 2017). Since the grant’s inception, the C4 Consortium has sought to answer, individually and collectively, three overarching questions that focused on a coherence agenda, purposive faculty governance, and the value-added partnership.

The Consortium's final meeting featured speakers Linda Nilson (Aligning Curricular Design and Classroom Learning) and Paul Gaston (The Coherence Agenda). There were presentations from each campus and final project outcomes and impacts on the curriculum, faculty governance, and student learning were shared. Marty Sharpe, featured facilitator, led a focused discussion on project effectiveness, impacts, and lessons learned. There was also a conversation with Madeleine Green, Teagle Foundation Senior Program Consultant, who has provided feedback to the Consortium throughout the process.

The group planned next steps for the grant’s completion, assessment, final report and other projects for the future. In the next few months, the grant partners anticipate additional collaborative presentations and publications, and all of the C4 institutions will be represented at the Teagle Foundation meeting in New York in April.

Special thanks to VWC Provost and Vice President Dr. Timothy O'Rourke, who has been the driving force behind this initiative.

Learn more about the Teagle C4 Consortium and view photos from the meeting on the VWC website at: http://www.vwc.edu/news-a-events/news-releases/virginia-wesleyan-hosts-final-meeting-of-c4-consortium

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

New Trustee Mike White '81 Returns to Wesleyan

Great to welcome new Trustee Mike White, VWC Class of 1981, back to campus for today's Board meeting. As President of Maersk Line Agency, Inc., Mike is responsible for all Maersk Line activities for North America. While on campus, he had the opportunity to tour the forthcoming Greer Environmental Sciences Center (top center) and speak to a business management class (bottom).

CSRF Shares History and Mission

The Board of Trustees heard a fascinating presentation over lunch today on the history and mission of VWC's Center for the Study of Religious Freedom, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this academic year. Pictured here with Dr. Craig Wansink, the Joan P. and Macon F. Brock, Jr. Director of the Center for the Study of Religious Freedom, Kelly Jackson, Associate Director of the CSRF, and Rev. Greg West, College Chaplain.

Dedication of Board of Trustees Plaques

Board Chair David Kaufman (left) and I had the honor today of dedicating two Board of Trustees plaques, made possible by Board member Tassos Paphites '79 (center) and his wife, Dolores. The plaques are located in the Boyd Dining Center/Shafer Room lobby and in the Jane P. Batten Student Center near the entrance to the Convocation Center. They bear the names of our current Trustees and serve as visual reminders of the Board's historic and valuable role in the College's progress.

Winter Meeting of the VWC Board of Trustees

Very productive meeting today of the Virginia Wesleyan College Board of Trustees. We are so grateful for our Trustees' time and talents—their dedication is a critical asset to the success of our College, its students and alumni.

Nota Bene: “Innocent Objects” Opens in the Neil Britton Art Gallery

I’m pleased to share that a new installation by international artist Luisa Adelfio, “Innocent Objects,” is now on display in Virginia Wesleyan's Neil Britton Art Gallery. A reception and artist talk was held in the gallery on February 9, the exhibition's opening night.

Using a variety of materials, including stone, paper, and glass, "Innocent Objects" focuses on archetypes and symbols, cultural memory, and the intersection of science and spirituality. Through her work, Adelfio seeks to investigate the personal and cultural meaning that humans give to the physical world and the objects within it. She believes objects are innocent, and have no meaning until we project our ideas onto them.

Adelfio earned a degree from the Accademia di Belle Arti in Italy after studying sculpture at Wellesley College, and her work has since been exhibited in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Italy. Her family moved to Norfolk in 2014 when her husband, Erik Neil, assumed the role of director of the Chrysler Museum of Art.

I encourage you to visit the Neil Britton Art Gallery to view Adelfio’s work, which will remain on display through April 14. Special thanks to John Rudel, Batten Associate Professor of Art and Coordinator of Art Exhibitions, for bringing this beautiful and introspective installation to our campus.

Learn about this exhibit and more on the webpage for The Arts at Virginia Wesleyan College.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Taking Shape: VWC/YMCA Partnership Facility

Steel work started Monday on the new VWC/YMCA Partnership Facility on campus.

Nota Bene: Love in the Liberal Arts

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the Virginia Wesleyan community is invited to explore love as it relates to the liberal arts as part of the College's seventh annual "Love Liberally" event. In this special campus-wide series, taking place February 13‐17, our faculty members are opening their doors for special lectures and workshops that explore the concept of love through their own disciplinary lens. Presentations include:

"Watch Kindness Bloom"
Hofheimer Library Interactive Display

“Favorite and Least Favorite Love Songs in Photography”
Sharon Swift, Batten Professor Art

“For the Love of Algebra: What's the Common Factor?”
Denise Wilkinson, Professor of Mathematics

“Sea Sex: Bizarre Reproductive Strategies in Marine Invertebrates”
Dr. Deirdre Gonsalves-Jackson, Associate Professor of Biology

“Love Your Body”
Dr. Taryn Myers, Batten Associate Professor of Psychology

“Puppy Love”
Dr. Kathy Stolley, Professor of Sociology
With guests from Four Paws Inn and Canine Training Unlimited

“Performing ‘Love’”
Dr. Travis Malone, Professor of Theatre

“Shakespeare’s Love Sonnets” and “Sappho and Lesbian Love”
Dr. Michael Hall, Lambuth M. Clarke Professor of English

“Texting, Relationships, and Interpersonal Communication; What's Love Got To Do With It?”
Robin Takacs, Director of Instructional Technology
Thank you to Denise Wilkinson, Associate Dean for Innovative Teaching and Engaged Learning, members of the INTEL Committee, and participating faculty and staff for bringing this dynamic event to our campus each year.

Learn more about "Love Liberally" and view the complete schedule at: http://www.vwc.edu/news-a-events/news-briefs/359

Monday, February 13, 2017

Ethics Bowl Featured in Virginian-Pilot

Best wishes to VWC students Tanail Canty, Riley Conrad, Dante Davis, Melissa Fisher, Kyle Grabulis, Nicholas Hipple, Kelsi Robins, and Jared White as they wrap up their debates on “Ethics and U.S. Presidential Politics” in today’s conclusion of the VFIC Ethics Bowl.

Thanks to the Virginian-Pilot for this great feature story: http://pilotonline.com/news/local/experience-you-can-use-in-college-and-beyond-virginia-wesleyan/article_25de3667-1bb8-5d0a-9cae-fcebf67bd7df.html

Nota Bene: Best Wishes to VFIC Ethics Bowl Participants

I write to you this morning from Texas, where my family has said our goodbyes to my father with a beautiful celebration of life ceremony. I appreciate the many condolences more than words can express and thank you for keeping my family in your thoughts. Though I wouldn’t have missed being here for the world, I do regret that I am unable to join all of you for today’s conclusion of the VFIC Ethics Bowl.

I send my very best wishes to the following Virginia Wesleyan student participants as they wrap up their debates on “Ethics and U.S. Presidential Politics”:

Tanail Canty
Riley Conrad
Dante Davis
Melissa Fisher
Kyle Grabulis
Nicholas Hipple
Kelsi Robins
Jared White

Thank you to the VFIC for the opportunity to once again host this exceptional event on our campus. Special thanks, also, to Professor of Communication Dr. Kathy Merlock Jackson, Professor of Philosophy Dr. Larry Hultgren, and local attorney Hank Howell, who worked hard to prepare our students.

Read more about the Ethics Bowl and view details on today’s final rounds at: http://www.vwc.edu/news-a-events/news-releases/virginia-wesleyan-to-host-2017-vfic-ethics-bowl

Sunday, February 12, 2017

A tribute to an American hero, my father

(President Miller delivered the following eulogy for his father at his "Celebration of Life" ceremony on Sunday, February 12, 2017, in Allen, Texas)

Dr. Rudolph “Rudy” P. Miller, Jr.

As a college president, I give dozens of speeches each year before crowds of all sizes. These comments today are the most difficult I’ve had to deliver in my life.

Our friend and my father Rudy Miller passed away on February 3, 2017, at Presbyterian Hospital in Plano, Texas.  He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Iris Troutman Miller; daughter and son-in-law Pam and Ross Holman of Allen, Texas; son Scott and daughter-in-law Annie Miller of Virginia Beach, Virginia; granddaughters Katie Miller Sanders (husband Gary) of Winchester, Virginia, and Ashlee Miller Upp (husband Justin) of Dover, Delaware, and grandson Chris Holman (wife Wendi) of McKinney, Texas, and three great-grandchildren (Dylan Holman, Addison Sanders, and Abigail Upp). He is also survived by a brother, Kenneth J. Miller of Boothwyn, PA.

My dad grew up in Philadelphia, a second-generation German-American. He was the oldest son of a tool and die shop worker, Rudolph P. Miller, Sr., and homemaker Alice Rose Scott Smithson Miller. As a young man, he was active in Boys Scouts. He had tremendous pride in earning the honor of Eagle Scout, which is the highest achievement attainable in the Boy Scouts program, a rank only four percent of Scouts are granted.

He left high school early, misrepresenting his age to be eligible for enlistment in the military. He was a proud member of the United States Marine Corps and veteran of the Second World War, and he was particularly proud of the Purple Heart he earned for his service in Okinawa, Japan. But like so many of his “greatest generation,” when the fighting was over, he returned home and having done his duty, went on with his life, without complaint.

He finished high school at Murrell Dobbins Career and Technical High School in the West Lehigh neighborhood of North Philadelphia. Afterward, he proudly enrolled as a first-generation college student at Swarthmore College with the intention of becoming an engineer. That summer, his life forever changed when he met our mother, Iris Troutman, a senior at Ridley Township High School who worked in the Swarthmore College pharmacy. That was the start of a beautiful relationship that would last for 70 years.

Iris started nursing school that following year at Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, now part of the Drexel University College of Medicine. Their relationship continued as she completed her nursing degree and he transferred to Millersville University to pursue a bachelor's degree in Education. My parents were married on June 2, 1951…several days after my father completed his degree.

Six years later, they welcomed my sister Pam into the world, and two years after that, I arrived.

My father would later complete his master's degree at Temple University and a doctorate at the University of Pittsburgh. Dad put those degrees to work as a lifetime educator. In 1952, he started a 26-year career as a public school teacher and progressed to multiple administrative positions for the Pennsylvania Department of Education. In 1978, he began his second career, teaching at the higher education level by accepting a professor’s position at Ohio University. He would go on to teach at the University of Memphis, followed by a 13-year tenure at East Tennessee State University.

Upon his retirement in 1996, he was designated “Professor-emeritus” at East Tennessee State. A former student established the Rudy Miller & Floyd Edwards Scholarship Endowment at ETSU—in honor, she says, of two professors who were transformational in her life. This scholarship continues today to benefit future students in the Clemmer College of Education.

Released from the demands of my father’s career, my parents gave much thought to their newfound freedom and ideal retirement community. They packed their bags and headed west to live near my sister, Pam, and her husband, Ross, and they have made many friends during their time here. My father proudly wore a cowboy hat, partly to shade him from the Texas sun, but also to fit in with the locals.

Because of the distance, our face-to-face visits would become less frequent, but we still made it a priority to talk on the phone three to five times per week. We talked about my own children, Katie and Ashlee, and their successes as students and athletes. We shared thoughts on politics—both national and higher-education-related. I will miss those phone calls more than I can say—the unspoken reassurance, unwavering support, and genuine interest that I believe, in many cases, only a parent can provide.

. . .

Last summer, our Texas family came east to visit us at our home on the Chesapeake Bay. An adventurous 89-year-old decided to take one of our kayaks off the back deck for a ride in the Chesapeake. He was doing well until a small boat wave toppled his boat, dunking him in the water. Ever the stalwart Marine, he bounced back up and continued what he was doing as if nothing had happened.

On December 6, 2016, just two months ago, family and friends celebrated his 90th birthday. I will be forever grateful that I was able to spend this milestone with him, and I can only hope that if and when I reach my 90th year, I will be just as lively and loving as he was.

My father was a man of faith; a Methodist most of his life, he was an active member of St. Andrews United Methodist Church. He was also extremely supportive of the Plano YMCA and served as a Board member there for many years. He loved their Marine Birthday Celebration, a tradition that featured the oldest and youngest Marines cutting the cake with a sabre. He was proud and appreciative of his many friendships at both St. Andrews and the Plano Y – and we’re so honored to have many of those friends here with us today. Thank you for coming.

He enjoyed taking part in the Honor Flight Program a couple of years back, a program created to honor World War II veterans for all their sacrifices.  He was part of a small group of our heroes to visit Washington, D.C., to reflect at the monuments and memorials. Most recently, he was thrilled to be a participant in the Dallas Parade.

. . .

There is a special bond that a father has with a son. The bond builds over time through activities they share. I’d like to share a few of my favorite moments:

  • From his Boy Scout days, my dad loved camping in less-than-ideal conditions. We’d frequently go on weekend and summer Boy Scout camping trips and “rough it” in the woods—living in tents, cooking over a camp fire, and living like pioneers in sometimes horrible weather. He joked in recent years that our Boy Scout travels and camping together led to my interest in international travel and staying at Marriott Hotels and Resorts. Camping to me was staying at a Holiday Inn. 
  • My sister, Pam, also has many stories associated with Dad’s love of camping. Our old Apache Mess pop-up camper trailer went everywhere. In the 60s, it found a home in a muddy campground at Expo 67 in Montreal. My mom, Pam and I also fondly remember camping in a heavy lightning storm in Arlington, Virginia, as Dad hobnobbed with the late President Lyndon Johnson and his Cabinet Secretary Dean Rusk in Washington, D.C., a few short miles away.
  • Pam and I remember as kids his woodworking projects, his love of model trains, hand-built furniture and playhouses for his grandchildren. 
  • When he was pursuing his doctorate at the University of Pittsburgh in the 1970s, he would often take us along for the two-hour drive from Edinboro to Pittsburgh – dropping us off at the stadium for a Pirates game while he headed to the Pitt library. My love of baseball and expectation of earning a doctorate are a direct result of those excursions.
  • My dad truly recognized the importance of family and never wanted his education or career to stand in the way of watching us grow up. I remember many times when we lived in Doylestown and Edinboro that he took me along to weekend meetings and presentations. My instructions were simple: sit in the back of the room, keep quiet, and take careful notes. On the drive home, he told me, we’d discuss my observations. When I became a college president at the age of 31, many people asked how I had such significant administrative experience at an early age. I know that tagging along with my dad planted those seeds, and I am grateful to have had the best mentor a young man could ever hope for. I have instilled these same values in my own children, and for that, I know my father was proud.
  • My dad took special pride when I became a college president in 1991, saying that I had all the attributes for success: hard work, self-motivation, perseverance, attention to detail, ability to listen and act, rebounding from setbacks, never making the same mistake twice. All these attributes matched perfectly with him.

An avid reader, he favored a recent book.  It’s called “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. 

The Four Agreements:

First, Be Impeccable with Your Word
Second, Don’t Take Anything Personally
Third, Don’t Make Assumptions
Fourth, Always Do Your Best

Those four “agreements” are truly the attributes that he himself sought to live by, and which he would no doubt recommend to others.

Among the hundreds of emails, texts and cards that we’ve received since Dad’s passing, one in particular sticks out.  Dr. Terry Lindvall is a the C.S. Lewis Endowed Chair in Communication and Christian Thought at Virginia Wesleyan.  He wrote: “My dad died around the same age as yours and also proudly fought in World War II like yours.  You and I are truly blessed to have been the children of that ‘Greatest Generation,’ men of integrity, fortitude, and faith.”

I believe it was my father’s German ancestry and patriotism that contributed to his unrelenting work ethic and tireless self-motivation, his love of family, and his service to his community and our country. He shared with many of his time an unflinching commitment to the values that he practiced with a kind of humility and acceptance that seems rare now in a more self-indulgent age. He would be the first to say that life is about change and that education is a series of signposts that guide our inevitable progress. In his 90 years he never lost faith in the capacity of education to be transformational. He also knew that each of us had a responsibility to determine how best to stay grounded, resisting the temptation to give in or give up.

It was how a man who had traveled many miles and seen many things always found his way back home to family, to loyalty and responsibility that spoke to something basic yet profound in his character...something that a man who was born to teach could count among his richest lessons to others. This member of the "greatest generation" empowered me and countless others through our careers to regard each rising generation as the next greatest one, worthy of our devotion, care, and respect. That he was more gentle, sweeter, more patient than one might suppose a combat veteran of his experience to be simply added to his own quiet magnetism, his enduring influence, and his precious legacy to me as a father and fellow educator.

I can never repay him personally for these great gifts. I can only be a witness as long as I live to the good that he has left behind, and carry it forward—a steward of all that he himself stood for. That is all any of us can do when we have fathers such as my own, on a journey they have begun for us and which we must find the strength and courage—heartbroken as we may be—to continue without them.

That would make my father proud, but no more so than I am of him.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Batten Honors College Competition Continues

Dr. Joyce Easter, Dean of the Batten Honors College, addresses potential Batten Fellows and Shumadine Scholars in Blocker Hall.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Wonderful Social at Slover

With David Black (Counsel to the President) & Mort Gamble (Senior Vice President) at tonight's Batten Honors College social at the Slover Library.