Monday, July 31, 2017

Great to Meet NBG Board Member Jillian Little '94

So nice to meet 1994 Virginia Wesleyan graduate Jillian Little, who serves on the Board of Directors for the Norfolk Botanical Garden. Jillian visited our new Greer Environmental Sciences Center today while on campus for the NBG signing ceremony.

Signing Ceremony for Norfolk Botanical Garden Agreement

I am pleased to announce a collaborative new partnership with our neighbors at the Norfolk Botanical Garden, who will be helping us maintain the beautiful 145,000-square-foot landscape surrounding the Greer Environmental Sciences Center. A signing ceremony was held on campus today to officially mark this scholarly relationship. Pictured: Eric Johnson, Assistant Professor of Biology and Greenhouse Supervisor, Maynard Schaus, Associate Provost, Michael Desplaines, Norfolk Botanical Garden President and CEO, and Brian O'Neil, NBG Director of Living Landscapes, and Jillian Little, a 1994 Virginia Wesleyan graduate and member of the NBG Board of Directors. Read more:

Planning for the Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center

Productive planning meeting with Hourigan Construction for the Susan S. Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center, a 23,200 square-foot facility at the entrance to campus with a grand lobby and 325-seat theater. I look forward in the very near future to announcing a timeline for the construction of this magnificent new building. Pictured: Clark Lambert, Senior Project Manager at Hourigan, Chris Brandt, Executive VP at Hourigan, Travis Malone, Dean of the Susan S. Goode School of Arts and Humanities, Nathan Leonard, Client Solutions Manager at Hourigan, and Suzanne Savage, Associate Vice President for Advancement.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Treading Carefully with Trump Administration

I hope you enjoy my column in today's edition of the Virginian-Pilot. I look forward to your comments and feedback.

"Higher education treading carefully with Trump administration":

Congrats, Stephanie O'Hara '91!

Congratulations to Stephanie O'Hara '91 for her new assistant principal position at Greenwood Elementary School in Princess Anne, Maryland! She was a school counselor at GES for nine years:

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Virginia Beach Tops Best Big Cities

Virginia Beach No.1... Home of Virginia Wesleyan University!

This Week's Wesleyan Review

Take a virtual tour of campus, meet our new Virginia Wesleyan Alumni Council members and the first Batten Honors College cohort, view upcoming events and more in this week's Wesleyan Review:

Friday, July 28, 2017

Photo Gallery: VWU Softball Visits the Capitol

Additional photos of our visit to the Capitol with our Virginia Wesleyan Softball champions:

VWU on the Hampton Roads Show

Virginia Wesleyan University will be on the Hampton Roads Show today at 11 a.m.! Tune in to see players and coaches from our national champion softball team visit with guest co-host Nicole Livas.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Jordan Bondurant '12 and Tyler Tweedy '13

Thanks to Jordan Bondurant '12 and Tyler Tweedy '13 for coming out to meet members of the Marlin softball team tonight at Southern Railway Taphouse in Richmond.

Cheers With Champs: Richmond

Great to visit with Virginia Wesleyan graduates and friends at the "Cheers With Champs" alumni gathering in Richmond tonight. Pictured here celebrating our national softball champions with Bladen Finch '03 and Joanne Renn, Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics.

Touring the Governor's Executive Mansion

A wonderful experience for members of our championship softball team and their coaches to tour the Executive Mansion in Richmond today at the invitation of Governor Terry McAuliffe.

An Honor to be Recognized

Members of Virginia Wesleyan's softball team, like Jessica Lindsay '19 (pictured), were honored to be recognized by Gov. Terry McAuliffe in the capital city today. The team won the 2017 NCAA Division III National Championship in May.

Catching up with the Governor

Great to talk intercollegiate athletics and Virginia higher education with the Governor today at his Richmond office.

Softball's Newest Recruit

Pictured with the Governor: National Player of the Year Hanna Hull '20 (pitcher), Head Coach Brandon Elliott, myself, and Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Joanne Renn.

Marlin Softball Champs Visit the Capitol

Virginia Wesleyan University's NCAA National Champions at the capitol to visit Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

Nota Bene: Busy Summer on Campus

The summer continues to be a busy time at Coastal Virginia's premier university of the liberal arts and sciences.

Many high school juniors and seniors are visiting campus this week, July 24-29, as part of Virginia Private College Week, sponsored by the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia (CICV). Virginia Wesleyan is one of 24 private colleges in Virginia offering campus tours and information sessions about admission, financial aid and academic programs, and dispelling common myths about the cost of a private college education. Remaining information sessions will be held today and Friday at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. and Saturday at 9 a.m. Please encourage prospective students you may know to visit during this special week.

Also on campus this week, Virginia Wesleyan’s Center for Sacred Music, along with the Robert F. Boyd Institute, is hosting the annual Sacred Music Summer Conference. This non-denominational worship and arts event offers continuing education opportunities for church musicians, worship leaders, music teachers, and all who are interested in the sacred arts. The week opened Monday with “Over My Head, I Hear Music” in Monumental Chapel and concludes Saturday evening with a finale, “Sing to the Lord with Cheerful Voice,” at Christ & St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Norfolk. New to the conference this year is Dr. Bryson Mortensen’s Choral Leadership Academy for high school students interested in developing their conducting and rehearsal techniques. Many thanks to Dr. Sandra Billy, Director of the Center for Sacred Music, for coordinating this wonderful annual event.

We welcomed high school educators to campus July 9-14 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 have no doubt that this group walked away from this professional development experience, facilitated by several of our talented faculty, with new perspectives on teaching biology and many ideas for their classrooms. It is a pleasure to host these educators annually and to help further their instruction techniques through our fine facilities and state-of-the-art equipment.

Celebrations for our NCAA Division III softball champions continue. On Monday, we had a great time at the Norfolk Tides game where the team was honored during the pregame ceremonies. National Player of the Year Hanna Hull '20 threw out the first pitch to "Rip Tide" as VWU coaches and administrators watched from a sky box, courtesy of our friends at Kaufman & Canoles. Members of the team and I will travel to Richmond today to meet Governor Terry McAuliffe, and this evening we will host a “Cheers with Champs” alumni gathering at the capital city's Southern Railway Taphouse. Graduates and friends are invited to come meet the team and have their photo taken with the championship trophy.

I am proud to report that the Greer Environmental Sciences Center is nearly 100 percent complete. The furniture is in, and several faculty members will now begin the move to their new office spaces. I look forward to the dedication of the building on Founders Day, September 7. Additional information will be shared soon about our full day of Founders Day activities and celebrations.

The Avenue of the Sciences has also been completed. This new roadway connects Honors Village and the road to Godwin Hall going past Blocker Hall. Construction is running smoothly on the Betty S. Rogers Track and Field Center, and site concepts are in progress for the Susan S. Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center. Chants and cheers can also be heard across campus from our YMCA Camp Red Feather visitors. The new Frank Blocker Youth Center is up and running and is in full use as part of this summer partnership program.

We are nearing completion of our transition to Virginia Wesleyan University. Visitors to campus will now begin to see newly branded signage, with banners and directional markers displaying our new name and logo. Our website has been updated to, and faculty and staff emails have transitioned to the new domain as well. I thank each of you for your support throughout this exciting process.

We have been devoting our time and energy to the smooth start of the fall semester and look forward to the return of our students in just a few short weeks. I hope your summer season continues to be productive as well.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Wonderful Partnership with Hourigan Construction

I enjoyed visiting today with Chris Brandt, Executive Vice President; Todd Donaldson, President; and Liz Sanders, Corporate Operations Administrator from Hourigan Construction. Hourigan has been our construction partner for Birdsong Field, Perry Field, the Greer Environmental Sciences Center, Blocker Youth Center, and the Betty S. Rogers Track and Field Center. They have also been awarded the contract for the new Susan S. Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center. #HottestCollegeinCoastalVA

New Graduate Success

Good to visit with David Cockerill, a 2017 Virginia Wesleyan graduate who now works as a mortgage loan officer for George Mason Mortgage in the Coastal Virginia region. David was a top student, majoring in business and playing golf for the Marlins. He also worked as a sustainability manager for Hourigan Construction during his time at Wesleyan. Congratulations on your success, David!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Marlin Softball Recognized by The Tides

Great time at the Norfolk Tides game last night where Virginia Wesleyan's national softball champions were honored during the pregame ceremonies. National Player of the Year Hanna Hull '20 threw out a pitch to "Rip Tide" as VWU coaches and administrators watched from a sky box, courtesy of our friends at Kaufman & Canoles. (Top two photos courtesy of Les Treagus)

Monday, July 24, 2017

NASCUMC in Nashville

Business Session for the National Association of Schools and Colleges of the United Methodist Church (NASCUMC) in Nashville. Every summer, CEOs of the 118 United Methodist colleges gather to learn, share and deepen connections. (Photo by Amanda Allen)

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Productive Meeting with the NASCUMC Board

A productive day of meetings in Nashville with colleagues on the 20-member Board of Directors of the National Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities of the United Methodist Church (NASCUMC). Pictured with Marcia Hawkins (President, Union College), Chair of the Board, and Amanda Allen, Director of Schools, Colleges and Universities, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. The NASCUMC Board represents the 118 institution nationwide affiliated with the United Methodist Church.

VWU Alumni News

Virginia Wesleyan Alumni: Nominate fellow Marlins for the 2018 Athletic Hall of Fame, meet our Alumni Relations staff, and view upcoming events for graduates in the latest VWU Alumni News:

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Best and Brightest in High School Biology

Enjoyed visiting with some of the best and brightest rising high school seniors (and their parents) from throughout the region at a reception and poster presentation on campus. The 17 scholars have been enrolled in an accelerated college biology program including use of our labs and research vessel, The Ocean Explorer. Pictured with our faculty who provided leadership for this program, Chris Haley, Vic Townsend, Deirdre Gonsalves-Jackson, Maynard Schaus, Hilve Firek, and Malcolm Lively.

Friday, July 21, 2017

New on Interstate 64...

Nota Bene: Batten Honors College Inaugural Cohort

This fall we will welcome the first cohort of the Batten Honors College. Collectively, these impressive students have a grade point average of 4.03 on a 4.0 scale, an average SAT score of 1340, and an average ACT score of 29. I am pleased to announce our first Batten Fellows and Shumadine Scholars:

Batten Fellows
Audrey Bally                Tourrettes sur loup, France
Matthew Bavuso           Weems, Virginia
Marie Bazile                 Norfolk, Virginia
Mia Bevilacqua             Sellersville, Pennsylvania
Allaina Boggs               Williamsburg, Virginia
Shannon Bradley          Keyport, New Jersey
Aleah Brinn                  Belhaven, North Carolina
Jason Brugman             Spotsylvania, Virginia
McKayla Calapp            Herriman, Utah
Chen Qi                        Yinzhou District/Ningbo, China
Jenah Creecy                Virginia Beach, Virginia
Hunter Draut                 New Bern, North Carolina
Mallory Langford           Highfields Qld, Australia 
Alexander Leonard        Apex, North Carolina
Skylar Mao                   Hua Yuan, China 
Max Peters                   Vienna, Virginia
Alex Powers                 Collegeville, Pennsylvania
Asha Richards              Silver Spring, Maryland
Brianna Sandy              Chesapeake, Virginia
Jennifer Vega               Chesapeake, Virginia
Jenna Whitener             Clemmons, North Carolina
Shumadine Scholars
Alexi Baumgardner       Emmitsburg, Maryland
Tessa Burleson             Montpelier, Virginia
Tatiana Crawl               Bowie, Maryland
Molly Delmont              Glen Allen, Virginia
Robert Eley                  South Prince George, Virginia
Rose Ernst                   Fredericksburg, Virginia
Kitana Finley                Fredericksburg, Virginia
Tyler Jenkins                Portsmouth, Virginia
Miah Kurtz                   Topton, Pennsylvania
Zachary Lubick             Gibsonia, Pennsylvania
Lindsey Lykins              Moyock, North Carolina
Zachary Masalski          Phoenixville, Pennsylvania
Kayleen Meinen           Virginia Beach, Virginia
Quinton Nace               New Oxford, Pennsylvania
Sarah Ramsey             Roanoke, Virginia
Andrew Taylor              Swansboro, North Carolina
Hayden Thornbrugh      Chester, Virginia
Anthony Wilson            Lynchburg, Virginia
James Wyatt                St. Stephens Church, Virginia

The Batten Honors College is gratefully named for Virginia Wesleyan Trustee Emerita Jane P. Batten and her late husband, Frank Batten, Sr. For nearly 40 years, Mrs. Batten has made Virginia Wesleyan a priority in so many different ways, the latest of which is the development of the Batten Honors College. She has been a force for change, improvement, and empowerment, and she believes deeply that students of the highest academic ability will flourish through this innovative program. We are endlessly grateful for her passion for knowledge and her enduring support.

Thank you also to Dr. Joyce Easter, Dean of the Batten Honors College, and Steve Pinto, Director of Enrollment for the Batten Honors College, for their leadership in building this first cohort of students. We appreciate, too, the support of the Batten Honors College admission committee and the faculty who will teach as part of this rigorous program.

Please join me in welcoming this tremendous group of students to our campus. We look forward to walking beside them in this journey, and we wish them the very best in their academic pursuits.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Hosting the Chesapeake Bay Foundation

It was a pleasure to host the Chesapeake Bay Foundation staff today to show off the new Greer Environmental Sciences Center and hear lessons learned from their experience at the Brock Environmental Center. We look forward to a robust partnership on environmental and green-related topics.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Alumni Council Member Ted Stanton '02

Enjoyable visit with Ted Stanton ('02), Global Executive with IBM, in Boston today. Ted is a new member of the Virginia Wesleyan University Alumni Council.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

ASI/AALI Summer Meeting

Attending the Summer Meeting of the Board of Directors of Academic Search, Inc. and the American Academic Leadership Institute in Boston. We welcomed new AALI President Linda Bleicken (center left) and Jay Lemons (center right), new President of Academic Search, Inc. I serve as Chair of the Academic Search, Inc., Board of Directors and Vice Chair of the AALI Board. Also pictured, Dana Hoyt, President of Sam Houston University and Chair of the AALI Board.

Celebrating Outgoing AALI/ASI Presidents

Tonight, at a dinner at Towne Stove and Spirits in Boston, we celebrated the four-year tenure of Tom Kepple (center left), President of the American Academic Leadership Institute, and the six-year term of Jessica Kozloff (center right), President of Academic Search. I serve as Chair of the Academic Search, Inc., Board of Directors and Vice Chair of the AALI Board. Also pictured, Dana Hoyt, President of Sam Houston University and Chair of the AALI Board.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Wesleyan Review

Virginia Private College Week, New Student Orientation, a spotlight on Global Studies Scholar Manijha Mack '18, upcoming campus events, and more in the latest Wesleyan Review:

Friday, July 14, 2017

Marlin SportSplash

Six Marlin athletes have been named to the 2016-17 Virginia Sports Information Directors Academic All-State team. Congratulations to Trevor Maloney, Kellen Phillips, Kyle Richardson, Jordan Sprouse, Alana Peters and Rachel Fuller, who were recognized among 223 student-athletes from 38 colleges and universities across the state! To be eligible, a student-athlete must possess at least a 3.25 cumulative grade point average and be a sophomore or higher. More VWU athletics in this week's Marlin SportSplash:

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Throwback Thursday: First Alumni Council Meeting

Virginia Wesleyan’s Alumni Council met for the first time in 1971, with economics instructor Charles Browder as the session’s speaker. Seated in front of the center window is John Shappell ’70, the first Alumni Council president. Fast forward 46 years as the University’s first meeting of the 2017-18 Alumni Council took place yesterday! #TBT #VWU

Spotlight Productions' Summer Theatre Workshop

Fantastic showing of "Damn Yankees" in Hofheimer Theater today by actors taking part in Spotlight Productions' summer theatre workshop. These young stars range in age from 13-17, and the cast includes rising high school freshman Joshua Bryant (center), son of Jodi Bryant, Administrative Assistant to the President at Virginia Wesleyan.

Back on Campus

Great to run into Rob '06 and Corrina '06 Thompson on campus today. Rob just finished his Ph.D. in history at Southern Miss, and he and his wife live in Alexandria with their three children.

Nota Bene: Norfolk Botanical Garden Partnership

By now you have heard of the many stunning features inside the walls of the Greer Environmental Sciences Center—but the beauty of the building doesn’t stop there. On its exterior, visitors will find a series of teaching gardens created with native plants inspired by the ecosystems of the Eastern Shore, two upland meadow gardens, three wetland gardens, and nearly 60 different plant species, including trees, shrubs, groundcover, ferns, perennials, and aquatic plants. Set within a 145,000-square-foot site area, we knew a unique approach would be required to maintain this beautiful landscape. And to that effect, I am pleased to announce a collaborative new partnership with our neighbors at the Norfolk Botanical Garden.

As part of this new relationship, a Director of Living Landscapes, employed by the Norfolk Botanical Garden, will be appointed to work with Virginia Wesleyan staff, faculty, and students to provide guidance and proper care of all living landscapes and campus horticultural initiatives, particularly the area surrounding the Greer Environmental Sciences Center. While much of that landscape is intended to be low maintenance, special attention will be required to monitor establishment and progression.

The partnership is intended to be of a scholarly nature, as our two organizations pursue jointly the development of research, educational and outreach programs in the botanical sciences. Cooperative activities may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Virginia Wesleyan faculty may conduct research at the Norfolk Botanical Garden in association with NBG staff.
  • Faculty may carry out teaching activities and field trips at Norfolk Botanical Garden.
  • Norfolk Botanical Garden staff may be speakers in Virginia Wesleyan classes.
  • Students may carry out educational and advocacy internships with the support of Virginia Wesleyan faculty and Norfolk Botanical Garden staff.
  • Students may carry out sea-level rise research and environmental monitoring research in the waterways surrounding Norfolk Botanical Garden.
  • Virginia Wesleyan undergraduate students may conduct research at the Norfolk Botanical Garden under the supervision of VWU faculty and NBG staff.
Thank you to all who developed this valuable partnership, especially Michael Desplaines, President/CEO of the Norfolk Botanical Garden, and Dr. Maynard Schaus, Associate Provost and Professor of Biology at Virginia Wesleyan. We are thrilled to welcome our friends from the Norfolk Botanical Garden to campus and will officially mark the agreement with a signing ceremony later this month.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A Marlin Family

Taylor Rogers (pictured here holding VWU's national softball championship trophy) came all the way from Florida this week to attend catching camp at Virginia Wesleyan. Here, she stands in the Pearce Hospitality Suite under a picture of her mother, softball alumna Liz (Askew) Rogers '05. Her father, George Rogers, is a 2003 Virginia Wesleyan graduate.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Delegate Glenn Davis and Andrew Petrey '15

Wonderful to visit this afternoon and tour the Greer Environmental Sciences Center with Delegate Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Beach) and his Legislative Aide Andrew Petrey, a 2015 Virginia Wesleyan graduate.

Nota Bene: Passing of Trustee Emeritus Benjamin J. Willis, Jr.

I am saddened to share the July 9 passing of Virginia Wesleyan Trustee Emeritus Benjamin J. Willis, Jr., one of the institution’s very first Trustees and one of the Board’s longest-serving members. Below I share his obituary, with memorial service details, as it was published in today’s Virginian-Pilot:

From his home in Norfolk, VA, Benjamin Johnson Willis, Jr. left this world to meet his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, on July 9, 2017. Ben was born on June 3, 1920 to Benjamin Johnson Willis Sr. and Alice Robertson Willis. He was predeceased by his parents and his sister Alice Willis Denny. Ben was a lifelong resident of Norfolk and while he was a private, humble and gentle person, he believed in duty, honor and responsibility which guided his life. Ben was an Eagle Scout and supported Scouting as an adult. He graduated from Maury High School in 1938 and from Hampden Sydney College in 1942. During the summer in Virginia Beach he was a lifeguard in front of the Warner Hotel and cultivated a fondness of swimming. He was convinced that an ocean swim was superior to an ordinary pool swim. He studied at the University of Virginia and lived on the lawn until his studies were interrupted when he was called to service by the US Navy. He was a salvage diver on the USS Moreno during World War II. He was later called back into service and took command of LST 1154, the USS Tallahatchie County, during the Korean War. He remained in the Naval Reserves until his retirement as a Commander.

He worked in the family business, Willis Furniture Company, with his Grandfather, Father, Uncles and numerous family members. Upon his Father's death in 1965, he assumed the leadership role until his retirement from daily duties in 1998; thereafter, he remained involved in the business until his death. Ben was a leader in the furniture industry having served as Chairman of the Southern Home Furnishings Association and having served 11 years on the Board of the National Home Furnishings Association.

He was a member of Ghent United Methodist Church and the Lambeth Bible Class. Ben was one of the first and longest serving members of the Board of Trustees of Virginia Wesleyan College. He was also President of the Board of Trustees of the Methodist Children's Home in Richmond, Va.

He was a member of the Norfolk Yacht and Country Club, the Princess Anne Country Club, the Norfolk Rotary Club, and the Norfolk German Club. He served as Chairman of the Board of directors of the Better Business Bureau, and of the Retail Merchants Association of Tidewater (The Retail Alliance), and served as a Board Member of the former Crestar Bank.

Ben had deep Virginia roots on his mother's side and was a member of the Jamestown Society.

He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Blair Robertson Willis, the jewel in his crown, his daughter Martha Blair FitzGerald and husband Chip, son Jeff R. Willis, MD and wife Lauren Willis, MD and son Ben Willis III and wife Jenny and grandchildren PJ and Blair FitzGerald, Claire, Anna, Audrey, and Megan Willis and Xander and Caroline Willis.

A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, July 13th at Ghent United Methodist Church, 531 Raleigh Ave., Norfolk, VA, and a reception to follow at the Norfolk Yacht and Country Club. Burial will be private in Forest Lawn Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Virginia Wesleyan College or to the charity of the donor's choice. H. D. Oliver Funeral Apts., Norfolk Chapel is handling arrangements. Online condolences may be offered to the family through

# # #

Please keep the family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

The Voice of Hampton Roads Sports

Great article from the Virginian-Pilot about Jack Ankerson, a longtime friend to Virginia Wesleyan.

"Once a pro hoops executive, Jack Ankerson has become the 'Voice of Hampton Roads Sports'":

Monday, July 10, 2017

Recognizing Trustee Emeritus John Lingo, Jr.

It was an honor to recognize Trustee Emeritus John Lingo, Jr. this morning in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. John is a long-time supporter of Virginia Wesleyan, and we deeply appreciate his continued service to the institution.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Virginia Private College Week (July 24-29)

Join us for a campus tour and information session! Register today:

Nota Bene: How Presidents and Trustees Can Build Successful Strategies

The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) recently asked me to share some thoughts on successful Board/President relationships from my 27 years as a private college president. Today I share those thoughts with you, as they appeared in the May/June issue of AGB's Trusteeship magazine:

I hope you enjoy the article, and I look forward to your comments and feedback. Have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Professor George Jackson Brews Up Business

Congratulations to George Jackson, Professor of Management, Business, and Economics, for his part in bringing the Ghost Harbor Brewery to Elizabeth City, North Carolina:

Successful Board/President Relationships

The publishers of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) "Trusteeship" magazine recently asked me to share some thoughts from my 27 years as a private college president on successful Board/President relationships.

Getting on Board: How Presidents and Trustees Can Build Successful Strategies:

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Photos: Frank Blocker Youth Center at YMCA Camp Red Feather

Great new photos of the Frank Blocker Youth Center at YMCA Camp Red Feather here on campus! Photos courtesy of Hourigan Construction.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Happy Independence Day from Virginia Wesleyan University

Wishing you and yours a wonderful Fourth of July from Virginia Wesleyan University.

The President's Letter: Summer on Wesleyan Drive

Greetings from Wesleyan Drive! Summer has arrived, and with it comes brighter days, longer evenings, and a positive, optimistic energy on campus.
We've just completed a successful New Student Orientation, which acclimated our incoming Class of 2021 to campus through engaging information sessions and activities (view photos). In recent years we have built an enrollment model that supports the University's long-term goals, and I am proud to report that for the 2017-18 academic year we anticipate 500 new students-400 freshmen, 100 transfers and non-traditional students.
I am confident that we are well on our way toward meeting our enrollment goals set forth in the 10-year Campus Master Plan, increasing on-campus residential students from 850 to 1,000, increasing full-time students from 1,300 to 1,500, and increasing headcount enrollment from 1,500 to 1,700. These numbers do not include the growth anticipated through programs for graduate students, online students and new degree-completion programs, for which we are also garnering tremendous interest.
Our transition to Virginia Wesleyan University is full-steam ahead, and our VWU presence is coming to life both virtually and physically. Just last week, "University" lettering was placed on the stone landmark at the entrance to campus. This original marker dates back to the institution's founding, made possible by Frank E. Brown, a Richmond businessman and philanthropist. Mr. Brown also donated the funds for our campus bell tower, or campanile, which stands near Monumental Chapel. I enjoy sharing these historic components that make our campus what it is today, and I am proud to carry these elements forward as Virginia Wesleyan continues to grow and flourish.
Recently I received an email from an alumna who had returned to campus for a visit. She told me that as she walked our familiar pathways, she thought to herself how lucky she is to be part of the Virginia Wesleyan community. She ended with a note of gratitude for the work being done to ensure her alma mater thrives. It means a great deal to me to receive feedback from our community. I like to know what's on your mind and I encourage you to email me anytime at Better yet, come back to campus to see for yourself the nearly completed Greer Environmental Sciences Center, our new YMCA facility (Frank Blocker Youth Center), and construction progress on the new Betty S. Rogers Track and Field complex. And of course, while you are here, be sure to stop by my office to say hello. 
# # #
We have much to be proud of here at Virginia Wesleyan University. Additional developments from the last month include:
Continued celebration for our NCAA Division III Softball Champions: We had a great turnout for the "Cheers with Champs" alumni gathering in June as graduates and friends came out to meet the team and have their photo taken with the championship trophy. Members of the softball team will travel to Richmond on July 27 to meet Governor Terry McAuliffe at the Executive Mansion. Be on the lookout for information about an alumni gathering in Richmond that evening.
Student Health Center managed by Sentara Medical Group: This academic year, we will begin offering medical care to our students through an on-campus Student Health Center managed by Sentara Medical Group. All students will be entitled to first aid and general healthcare, routine testing, and lab work through the Center, which will be staffed by an advanced medical practitioner and a medical assistant from Sentara Medical Group. A physician will also be appointed by Sentara to serve as medical director and will be available to advise the advanced practitioner as needed during business hours. Students requiring a higher level of care (or care outside of normal hours of operation) will have full access to Sentara Family Medicine Physicians located on Wesleyan Drive. We have built a strong partnership with Sentara on a variety of issues and services, and we are grateful for this relationship.
New Hires, Advancements and Transitions: We have advanced and added several employees and transitioned existing staff into new roles that better serve the institution from an efficiency and budgetary perspective. Changes include the advancement of Takeyra Collins to the rank of Assistant Professor and Dr. Jeffrey Toussaint to a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Sociology/Criminal Justice. Vacant positions were filled by Lauren Frantz as University Advising Coordinator, Shawn Frazier as Visiting Instructor of Mathematics, Margaret "Maggie" Henderson as Research Librarian, Katrina Henry as Assistant Professor of Physics and Earth and Environmental Sciences, and Dr. Michelle Vachris as Professor of Management, Business, and Economics. Office transitions included the movement of Kelly Cordova to Assistant Director of Annual Giving and Alumni Relations and Coordinator of the Robert F. Boyd Institute, Kristi Lafoon to Loan Coordinator/Financial Aid Counselor, and Christine Pritchard to Administrative Assistant to the Birdsong School of Social Science. Everything we achieve at Virginia Wesleyan is possible because of our employees and their dedication to our purpose and mission. Our faculty and staff are the driving force behind our success, and for that I am incredibly grateful. You can read more about these personnel changes on my blog, Dialogue. 
# # #

I end this month's letter with an invitation to several upcoming events. Mark your calendar for Wesleyan Wednesday on August 16 at Chick's Oyster Bar in Virginia Beach, and come back to campus September 7 for Founders Day, an all-day celebration featuring our annual Alumni Awards, Founders Day Convocation, dedication of the Batten Honors College, and a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Greer Environmental Sciences Center. Finally, Homecoming and Family Weekend has been set for October 6-8. I'm told this year's event will include an inaugural chili cook off.
Whether you're a current student or graduate, faculty or staff, parent or friend, we invite you to be an active participant in the life of the campus. Each and every one of you plays a critical role in the success of this institution, and your support enhances our reputation and confirms our standing as Coastal Virginia's premier university of the liberal arts and sciences. 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Video: GESC Time Capsule Ceremony

Excellent video and photos by Hourigan Construction on the spring Time Capsule Ceremony for the Greer Environmental Sciences Center:

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Wesleyan Worlds Collide

Two Wesleyan worlds collided recently when Howard Bartner, Class of 1982, bumped into a family wearing VWU gear in the Jazz District in Kansas City, Missouri. These fellow Marlins turned out to be incoming freshman lacrosse player, Hayden Thornbrugh, Class of 2021, and her parents, Jon and Krissy. Thanks to Howard for sharing the photo!