Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Norfolk Alumni Gathering This Thursday

Join me this Thursday at O'Connor Brewing Company in Norfolk! RSVP here: https://goo.gl/6BEfwA


​Nota Bene: Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant

Happy Halloween! One of the most frightening thoughts to me is a student not being able to afford higher education. For that reason, we are continuously developing new ways to make a Virginia Wesleyan University education accessible and affordable.

The Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant (TAG) program is particularly important to students from the Commonwealth. Yesterday, in an effort to secure continued support, I was pleased to speak on behalf of Virginia's 28 private colleges and universities at the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) in Richmond.

I shared my belief that Virginia higher education is the envy of this country. Our higher education system—private colleges, community colleges, and state universities—cumulatively is viewed as outstanding. At Virginia Wesleyan, we take students from inside and outside Virginia, provide an outstanding education, and offer valuable incentives to remain here, work here, and contribute to our communities.

And while a vibrant, attractive place in which to learn is wonderful to have, affordability is the single most important factor impacting retention. Therefore, it is essential for us to work with our students and their families to make a world-class education affordable. The TAG program is a vital component of that strategy. TAG annually supports educational opportunities for approximately 900 Virginia Wesleyan students and their families, many of whom may otherwise be unable to afford the cost of a private education.

To remain affordable, Virginia Wesleyan has capped tuition and fees at their current level. We have established Opus, an on-campus work program funded institutionally through a generous gift by David and Kay Kaufman, to narrow the margin further. We have a new, endowed honors program, the Batten Honors College, which fully or partially funds 40 new academically talented students each year and will grow to 160 endowed scholarships over four years. We have widened access through early-enrollment and dual-enrollment programs. Through ongoing capital fundraising, we have expanded institutional grants and scholarships, and added attractive facilities including our state-of-the-art Greer Environmental Sciences Center and Betty S. Rogers Track and Field Center.

Virginia Wesleyan University is doing our part to maintain accessibility and affordability—not just as students enroll, but also as they progress through their academic careers, and, often, stay to become productive citizens of our state. As SCHEV finalizes budget recommendations for TAG going forward, the Council has been asked to support funding which would provide a $3,400 TAG award for 2018—a modest increase.

The TAG program is critical to our students’ success and our state’s vitality. I am committed to urging policy makers to continue to support the growth of this program that is truly an investment in the future of the Commonwealth. To learn more about TAG and how you can take action, visit

Monday, October 30, 2017

Photo Gallery: Marlins Day Open House

We were happy to welcome more than 120 prospective students this past weekend at our first Marlins Day Open House of the academic year. View the photo gallery: https://flic.kr/s/aHskw6sv5e

Making the Case for Student Financial Aid

In Richmond today making the case for student financial aid to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. Pictured before the Council meeting with David Bushman, President of Bridgewater College and Chair of the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia (CICV), Robert Lambeth, President of CICV, and Jennifer Braaten, President of Ferrum College.

My Latest Column in Pilot in HuffPost

I invite you to read my latest column, appearing in The Virginian Pilot and on HuffPost:

"North Korea: How we might be on the brink of opportunity"



VWU Top Seed in ODAC Women's Soccer Tournament

Virginia Wesleyan University (13-5-1/9-1) is the top seed in the ODAC Women's Soccer Tournament. Coach Jeff Bowers and his Marlins will host an ODAC Quarterfinal on Wednesday against Eastern Mennonite University at the Trinder Center.

Nota Bene: VWU to Offer Master of Arts in Education

I am pleased to share that Virginia Wesleyan University’s second graduate program, a Master of Arts in Education, has been approved by the Virginia Board of Education. Beginning in summer 2018, the M.A.Ed. will prepare future educators to teach boldly and will give our students a more competitive edge on teaching positions in their chosen specializations.

The program will offer graduate-level endorsement in biology, chemistry, earth science, English, French PreK-12, German PreK-12, Spanish PreK-12, Latin PreK-12, history and social sciences, mathematics, instrumental/vocal PreK-12, theatre arts PreK-12, and visual arts PreK-12. Programs in secondary and PreK-12 education will require a two-semester internship that culminates with a 10-12-week student-teaching experience. Program candidates will learn through predominantly face-to-face classroom experiences, but will also benefit from hybrid and online learning experiences.

Other program highlights include coursework in cognition and human development, exceptional student populations to include special needs as well as gifted and talented, and collaboration with families and communities. The course of study will be staffed by full-time faculty and in collaboration with highly qualified public-school personnel who bring valuable expertise and experience in vital areas.

The University was approved in December 2016 as a Level III institution by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), enabling VWU to offer the master’s degree as the highest degree. The M.A.Ed. joins our online Master of Business Administration, which was launched this fall.

My sincerest gratitude to Provost and Vice President Timothy O'Rourke for his leadership in this effort, and to our faculty and support staff in the Department of Education for their tireless work in bringing this outstanding academic offering to fruition. Thank you to Education Program Director Dr. Malcolm Lively, Dr. Hilve Firek, Dr. William McConnell, Dr. Jayne Sullivan, Sandra Ewell, and Debra Fitzgerald, as well as Marty Sharpe and Amy Rush.

To request additional information about graduate studies at Virginia Wesleyan University, visit:

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Brandon Nichols '12 Serves as Chapel Guest Preacher

Energizing Virginia Wesleyan University chapel service today with guest preacher Brandon Nichols '12. Brandon has served the past two years at one of Chuckatuck's oldest churches, Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church, a 19th-century building on Kings Highway in Suffolk.

Accelerated Degree Options

Virginia Wesleyan University offers several accelerated degree options in cooperation with other prominent universities: http://www.vwu.edu/academics/accelerated-degrees/

Marlin Ministries Newsletter

Enjoy the latest edition of our Marlin Ministries newsletter: https://www.vwu.edu/student-life/chaplains-office/pdfs/marlin-ministries/september-2017.pdf

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Blast from Bethany Past

Great to catch up with Brandon Spalding at today's ODAC Cross Country Championship on our Virginia Wesleyan University campus. He was head cross country coach of Bethany College during our time there. Now in his fifth season as the head men's cross country coach and assistant men's track & field coach at Washington and Lee University, both his men and women won the ODAC Championship today. In his first four seasons, the cross country team has qualified for the NCAA Championship once, won the ODAC Championship twice, and he has been named the ODAC Coach of the Year twice.

Outstanding Soccer Seniors

Tonight we recognized four outstanding seniors prior to the 3-1 victory over Washington & Lee University that locked up the top seed in the upcoming ODAC Tournament. Pictured with Madison Sanders (2), Katie Roberts (9), Alexia Vassiliadis (12), and Alexia Vassiliadis (19) and their families at Foster Field of the Trinder Center.

VWU Men's Basketball Media Guide

I hope you enjoy the 2017-18 Virginia Wesleyan Men's Basketball Media Guide: http://www.vwuathletics.com/sports/mbkb/2017-18/files/1718MediaGuide.pdf

Celebrating Morgan Lee's VWU Field Hockey Career

Before the start of today’s final home contest of the season, we celebrated with family and friends the four year Virginia Wesleyan University field hockey career of Morgan Lee (Virginia Beach).

Marissa Coombs Wins Individual ODAC Championship

Track All-American Marissa Coombs (Newton, N.J.) capped her senior cross country season as the individual winner at the ODAC Championships, hosted this year by Virginia Wesleyan University. It was an honor to present her with her first place award. Joining us for the awards presentations: ODAC Commissioner Brad Bankston and VWU Athletic Director Joanne Renn.

ODAC Men's Cross Country Championship

The start of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Men’s Cross Country Championship on campus today. As always, beautiful weather in Virginia Beach.

Batten Honors College Students Visit NASA Langley

First-year Batten Honors College students Allaina Boggs, Kitana Finley, Qi Chen and Andrew Taylor got an inside look at NASA Langley at a special open house event for the organization's ongoing centennial anniversary celebration. Learn more about the Batten Honors College at VWU: http://www.vwu.edu/academics/batten-honors-college/

Marlins Day Welcome

I always enjoy welcoming prospective students and their parents to campus for Marlins Day. Today we had an overflow opening session in the Boyd Dining Center.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Volleyball Recognizes Six Seniors

Tonight we recognized six seniors who have been instrumental in the success of the Virginia Wesleyan volleyball program. This group has won 82 career matches — a .648 winning percentage. Dare Wright (4) of South Hill, VA; Maddie Starr (5) of Virginia Beach; Emilee Pierson (9) of Sterling, VA; Colleen Smith (11) of Bedford, MA; Allison Mackley (17) of Chesapeake, VA; Ashley Bologna (15) of Virginia Beach.

Looking Forward to Marlins Day!

Looking forward to meeting prospective students and families at tomorrow's Marlins Day Open House: https://goo.gl/BwbCAU

VWU Welcomes the Virginia Independent College and University Library Association

Virginia Wesleyan University hosted the fall meeting of the Virginia Independent College and University Library Association (VICULA) today. I enjoyed visiting with attendees during a reception in the lobby of the beautiful new Greer Environmental Sciences Center. Pictured with John Tombarge, University Librarian at Washington and Lee University and Chair of VICULA, and Sue Erickson, Director of Virginia Wesleyan's Hofheimer Library. #HottestCollegeinCoastalVA

The Wesleyan Review // October 27, 2017

Marlins swimming is underway, school is in session at Tidewater Collegiate Academy at VWU, and we have a special opportunity for Virginia Wesleyan Alumni in this week's edition of The Wesleyan Review: http://conta.cc/2yVJbQ5

Thursday, October 26, 2017

VWU Theatre Goes "Into the Woods"

Annie and I thoroughly enjoyed tonight’s Virginia Wesleyan University Theatre performance of “Into The Woods.” Director Sally Shedd is pictured welcoming guests in Hofheimer Theatre.

Nota Bene: Passing of The Honorable Earle C. Mobley ’82

I am saddened to share the passing of 1982 Virginia Wesleyan graduate Earle Mobley, a recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award and chair of the former President’s Advisory Council. Earle earned a bachelor’s in psychology before moving on to law school and eventually becoming a Commonwealth’s Attorney in Portsmouth and, most recently, a Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court Judge. He played baseball at Virginia Wesleyan and served as an enrollment counselor during his senior year.

At the time of his selection for the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2011, Earle shared that he was influenced by three Virginia Wesleyan professors whose disciplines, he says, simultaneously taught him the value of a liberal arts education—Dr. Barry Lipscomb (psychology), Dr. William Shealy (religious studies), and Dr. William Jones (constitutional law).

Below I share his obituary, with service details, as it appears on the B.W. Foster Funeral Home website:

Earle C. Mobley peacefully entered into eternal rest on October 22, 2017. Having gracefully battled cancer for 9 years, he now enjoys the presence of God with his daughter, Rebekah.

Though he was well-respected and highly regarded for his professional success, he never strayed from his humble beginnings. He always told his children, “Whatever you do, leave the world a better place.” Earle modeled this by caring for his family, serving the community, and demonstrating Christ’s love for people from every walk of life. Whether it was the man who washed his car or the governor of the state, Earle considered all people equal. Nobody was beyond the scope of his compassion or exempt from abiding his sense of humor.

In addition to being known for his outstanding character, he was a fierce competitor. From a young age, his competitive spirit, natural talent, and hard work led to success in both baseball and basketball. As a standout in both sports in high school, Earle went on to play Division I baseball. His love for competition didn’t end after college. For years he would continue to play in local baseball and basketball leagues. Although he was the cause of a few bloody noses and black eyes, he developed lifelong friendships with teammates and opponents. Earle believed that this competitive spirit in sports prepared him for his career in the court room.

After graduating from Portsmouth Catholic High School, he went on to obtain his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Virginia Wesleyan University and his Juris Doctorate from Regent University School of Law. After working in private practice as a defense attorney and as an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney, Earle was elected as Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Portsmouth in 2001. With dignity and distinction, he served the City of Portsmouth, prioritizing public integrity investigations and difficult murder cases. The honor and proficiency with which he carried out his duties as Commonwealth’s Attorney paved the way for his appointment as Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court Judge in 2014. Throughout his career, his focus was on what was right and not on what was politically expedient.

Earle’s deeply rooted convictions about faith, family, and friendship led to success in all aspects of his life. He certainly left the world a better place and positively impacted every life he touched. His memory and legacy live on through the lives of many, most notably through his wife, Barbara Mobley; his children, Hannah Hall, Emma Mobley, John Mobley, Kenny Strickland, his daughter-in-law, Anna Strickland; his granddaughter, Rhea Mobley; his sister, Agnes Mobley-Wynne and her husband, David Wynne; niece, Laurel; nephew, Clinton; beloved father figure, Roland “Bucky” Dodson; and a host of cousins and friends. He was the son of the late John Clinton “Sleepy” Mobley and Ethel Calvert Cadmus Mobley.

A Celebration of Life will be held at 1:00 p.m. at The Community Church at Western Branch (1935 Jolliff Rd., Chesapeake, VA 23321) on Monday, October 30, 2017, followed by a reception at the church. Burial will be private. Contributions can be made to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society at
lls.org. Condolences may be registered at BWFosterFuneralHome.com.

# # #

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

Meeting of the SGA

Great to speak with members of the VWU Student Government Association during their meeting today in the Shafer Room.

Nota Bene: 2017-18 Alumni Council

Virginia Wesleyan has seen tremendous growth since our first class of 41 pioneering students graduated in 1970. The University now has nearly 10,000 alumni in Coastal Virginia and throughout the United States and abroad. And, as Wesleyan grows, so does its alumni family.

We were proud to welcome our
2017-18 Alumni Council to campus Wednesday for their fall Business Meeting. I provided a comprehensive update on the fall semester and new initiatives for the near future, and shared our success in sponsored alumni activities around the country. We also discussed ongoing efforts to increase engagement among fellow alumni, as well as ideas to encourage support of The Excellence Fund. Finally, I enjoyed sharing a number of our newly branded marketing materials from Scribner Bookstore, including VWU Christmas ornaments, coffee mugs, mouse pads, and clocks.

The principal purpose of the Alumni Council is to strengthen the bond between our graduates and Virginia Wesleyan University—its students, faculty, administration, and Board of Trustees. We value the Alumni Council’s role in advocating for VWU and offering the support for the enrollment and advancement programs of a growing, dynamic institution. Special thank you to Chair of the Alumni Council, Mavis McKenley '11, and her fellow members, listed below, and to Lori Simpers Harris ’94, Executive Director of Annual Giving & Alumni Relations, and Kelly Cordova, Assistant Director of Annual Giving and Alumni Relations, for the management and support role they play in facilitating the important work of this group.

2017-18 Alumni Council
Jennifer Smith Boyd '94
Troy DeLawrence '93, Vice Chair
Robert Gillikin '00
Glynn Goodrich '82
Lori Simpers Harris ’94 (Ex-officio)
Catherine Holava '93
Robert Kohler '93
John Nash Maravich '11
Mavis McKenley '11, Chair
Kevin Otey '05, Secretary
Rachel Rigoglioso '10
Katherine Shea-Sword '99
Edmund Stanton '02
Thomas Taylor '00
Giorgio Valentini '98
Megan Watts '15
William Williard '82

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Alumni Council Fall Business Meeting

I enjoyed visiting with the Virginia Wesleyan University Alumni Council today sharing a variety of updates on enrollment, new programs, and construction projects. Thanks to Mavis McKenley for her outstanding leadership of the Council!

Partnerships with the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center

Great to discuss ongoing partnership opportunities today with our friends at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. Virginia Wesleyan and the VAMSC jointly own The Ocean Explorer, a research vessel offering invaluable opportunities for our students and community. Pictured (from left): Mark Swingle, VAMSC Director of Research and Conservation, Jim Cooper, VWU Vice President for Finance, Donna Ellis, VAMSC Director of Finance, Cynthia Whitbred-Spanoulis, VAMSC Interim Director, Maynard Schaus, VWU Associate Provost, and Jeff Thompson, Acquisitions, Quarantine and Boat Operations Manager at VAMSC.

Best wishes to VWU Theatre!

Best wishes to the Virginia Wesleyan University Theatre Department as they open their fall production tonight of "Into the Woods." Tickets are going fast—seats only remain for performances on Saturday (2 p.m., 7:30 p.m.) and Sunday (2 p.m.). Reserve tickets by calling 757.455.3381 or at www.showtix4u.com.

Nota Bene: Fall Theatre Production

Tonight in Hofheimer Theatre, the Virginia Wesleyan University Theatre Department will open its fall production, Into the Woods, by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine. Tickets are going fast—seats only remain for performances taking place Saturday (2 p.m., 7:30 p.m.) and Sunday (2 p.m.).

Complimentary admission is available for members of the Virginia Wesleyan community. Public ticket prices are $15 for general admission and $10 for military. Reservations are recommended but not required. To reserve your tickets, call 757.455.3381, email
theatretix@vwu.edu or visit www.showtix4u.com.

Batten Professor of Theatre Sally Shedd is the director of this popular theatrical event, which is being presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International. Special thanks to Dr. Shedd and the entire Into the Woods cast and crew for their work on this production. The Tony Award-winning musical is described as a "mash up of fairytales [that] questions everything from the conventions of storytelling to traditional gender roles to simplistic world views."

Be sure to reserve your tickets for this entertaining production before it sells out! Learn more on the webpage for
The Arts at Virginia Wesleyan University.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

VWU Athletics Marlin of the Week: Amanda Waller

Virginia Wesleyan Athletics showcases a question and answer feature with their Marlin of the Week—Women's Swimming sophomore Amanda Waller: http://vwuathletics.com/featured-athlete/waller

Alumni Gathering: Norfolk

Hope to see you there! RSVP here: https://goo.gl/6BEfwA

Nota Bene: Chesapeake Bay Academy

I was honored last week to be the guest of Stanley F. Baldwin, Board Chairman of the Chesapeake Bay Academy, at the annual Chairman’s Reception at Slover Library. We are proud to have the Chesapeake Bay Academy on our campus and support the important work they do for children and families in our community.

Chesapeake Bay Academy is a private K-12 school serving students with a variety of learning differences, including dyslexia, ADD/ADHD, language-based learning challenges, auditory-processing deficits, fine-motor dysfunction, developmental delays, and high-functioning autism. CBA is an invaluable resource to our community, filling a critical need and providing essential services to intelligent children who struggle to learn in traditional school settings.

Virginia Wesleyan, Chesapeake Bay Academy, Tidewater Collegiate Academy and Norfolk Academy create a unique educational corridor on the border of Virginia Beach and Norfolk. We at VWU are fortunate to work alongside these organizations, combining our knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make a difference in our community.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Chat 'n Chew with Enrollment Services

Wonderful "Chat 'n Chew" lunch in the Princess Anne Room today with support staff from our Center for Enrollment Services. We appreciate all they do to make our students' transition from high school to college smooth and successful. From left: Charline Bess, Office Manager, Malleri Santiago, Data Records Manager, Patricia Colthurst, Receptionist, and Anja Serby-Wilkens, Administrative Assistant to the Vice President for Enrollment.


Associate Provost and Professor of Biology Maynard Schaus presented a poster on the Greer Environmental Sciences Center at a conference of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). He is pictured here with Joe Atkins, Principal at VMDO Architects, the architectural design firm behind this magnificent new building. Soraya Bartol, VWU Professor of Marine Biology, and Michelle Amt, VMDO Director of Sustainability, were also co-authors on the poster, entitled "Fulfilling an Academic Mission by Building as a Teaching Tool: Virginia Wesleyan University's Greer Environmental Sciences Center."

Nota Bene: 2017 Virginia Women’s Conference

I am proud to share that Virginia Wesleyan University served alongside Senator Mark Warner and several others as co-hosts of the 2017 Virginia Women’s Conference. The eighth annual event took place this past Saturday, October 21, at the Virginia Beach Convention Center.

The annual conference explores tools for success through workshops in the areas of health, careers, leadership, personal development, business, finance, and retirement. It featured remarks from Senator Warner and prominent speakers like keynote presenter Aya Hijazi, a human rights activist, and event emcee Cathy Lewis H’09, host of HearSay on WHRV. We are thankful to Senator Warner, his staff and our fellow co-hosts for making this outstanding program possible.

It was an honor for me to attend the conference on behalf of Virginia Wesleyan and to be in a room with so many who are passionately committed to education and engagement in our community. I had the opportunity to say thank you to women in this community and beyond for the leadership they exemplify every day. For the strength and knowledge they bring to the workplace, their families, and their communities, and for the example they help set for women and girls everywhere—including for my own wife, daughters, and granddaughters. I extend this gratitude to the women in our Virginia Wesleyan community, and I encourage you to attend events such as these that offer valuable opportunities for investment in yourselves. Learn more about the Virginia Women’s Conference at www.warner.senate.gov.

It was a pleasure for Virginia Wesleyan—and for me personally—to be a part of this special day. We look forward to involvement with future opportunities devoted to inspired leadership.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

School in Session at Tidewater Collegiate Academy at VWU

On a September afternoon, small groups of middle and high school-age students are gathered around circular tables pouring over the short story "Sound of Thunder" by Ray Bradbury. In the adjacent pre-school room, young ones are little bundles of energy on colorful floor mats doing hands-on learning activities.

Welcome to the Tidewater Collegiate Academy (TCA) at Virginia Wesleyan University (VWU), an innovative laboratory for teaching and learning that extends from the primary grades through high school with early college, dual enrollment opportunities housed in the brand-new Frank Blocker Youth Center on the VWU campus.

Read more: http://www.vwu.edu/news-a-events/news-releases/school-in-session-at-tidewater-collegiate-academy-at-vwu

Saturday, October 21, 2017

First Swim Meet in University History

At the start of the first intercollegiate swim meet in Virginia Wesleyan University history with Athletic Director Joanne Renn, swimmers Morgan Lucas, Miah Kurtz, Wade Jernigan, and Head Coach Mike Ginder.

Supporting VWU Swimming

Virginia Wesleyan women’s golf is fired up and ready for the first swim meet in University history! Hope to see you there.

Virginia Women's Conference

Virginia Wesleyan University and Hampton University were co-hosts of U.S. Senator Mark Warner’s “Virginia Women's Conference” today at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. Senator Warner has been a good friend of Virginia Wesleyan and loyal supporter.

Taking Action to Protect Dreamers

Proud to be among the nearly 800 college and university presidents and chancellors urging U.S. Congress to protect students in the DACA program: 

Letter From College and University Presidents Urging Congress to Take Action to Protect Dreamers 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Surfacing Nearing Completion at Rogers Track and Field Center

The new Betty S. Rogers Track and Field Center at Virginia Wesleyan University is nearing completion with the application of the finished surface scheduled for this weekend. The final color will match the long jump/triple jump runway in the background.

Legendary Coach Jerry Rickrode

Nice to visit on campus today with legendary former Wilkes University basketball coach Jerry Rickrode. Jerry was head coach at Wilkes when Virginia Wesleyan University head coach Dave Macedo was a student-athlete there (1992-96). Coach Macedo has had a storied career of his own—with 378 wins as the VWU head coach. Joining us for the picture is VWU Athletics Director Joanne Renn.

2017 Virginia Women's Conference

Virginia Wesleyan University is proud to co-host the 2017 Virginia Women's Conference with Senator Mark Warner. The conference is free to attend, but registration is required: https://www.warner.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=2017-virginia-women-s-conference