Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Alumni Gathering: Virginia Beach

We hope our local Virginia Wesleyan Alumni are making plans to join us this Thursday to catch up with fellow graduates and welcome Deadline Brewing Project to the neighborhood!

Nota Bene: Spring Enrollment Activities

I hope you are all settling nicely into the second semester and that you are focused and motivated to complete the remainder of this academic year. For the Virginia Wesleyan University Class of 2018, this semester will be the last, and I encourage our seniors to enjoy it and to finish strong in the months leading up to graduation on May 19.

As we are winding down our seniors’ time at Virginia Wesleyan, we are also preparing to welcome our newest Marlins to campus. The Center for Enrollment Services has an exciting spring of on-campus activities planned for the Class of 2022.

We will welcome hundreds of prospective Marlins and their family members to campus for two Marlins Day Open House events on Saturday, February 17, and Saturday, April 7. Visitors will have the opportunity to meet with faculty to learn about our academic programs, ask questions about financial aid, admission, athletics, extracurricular activities, residence life, and more. Those who join us for the April event will have the opportunity to take part in the 10th Annual Strike Out Cancer Day, hosted by VWU Softball to benefit the American Cancer Society. As always, I invite you to share the excitement of Coastal Virginia's Premier University of the Liberal Arts and Sciences by recommending us to the next generation of Virginia Wesleyan students. Be sure to tell family members, friends, and high school students about our upcoming Marlins Days events and invite them to register at

We look forward to hosting our next
Batten Honors College competition February 8-10 and February 15-17. A welcome reception will be held at the Virginia Aquarium and the competition will continue with various interviews, campus tours, and panel discussions. Participating students and their parents will also attend a reception at Slover Library in downtown Norfolk. The competition will conclude on February 17 as our Batten Honors College contenders join our Marlins Day guests at the academic department fair.

Many thanks to all who will be participating in and supporting these events to help bring the best and brightest Marlins to Virginia Wesleyan. If you see our guests on campus this spring, please be sure to give them a warm Wesleyan welcome.

I wish all of you a productive Spring 2018 Semester!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

VWU to Welcome Young Environmentalist

We are thrilled that this bright, motivated young student will be joining us at Virginia Wesleyan University this fall. We commend her for her extraordinary efforts and ambition.

Virginian-Pilot: High school environmentalist raises money to plant trees in Virginia Beach and Haiti

Nota Bene: Steven Emmanuel Earns SCHEV Outstanding Faculty Award

I am extremely proud to share that Dr. Steven Emmanuel, Professor of Philosophy at Virginia Wesleyan University, has received the 2018 Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

The Outstanding Faculty Awards, sponsored by Dominion Energy, are the Commonwealth’s highest honor for faculty at Virginia public and private colleges and universities, recognizing superior accomplishments in teaching, research, and public service. Nominees are selected by the institutions, reviewed by a panel of peers and chosen by a committee of leaders from the public and private sectors. This year’s committee received 83 nominations. The group was narrowed to 27 finalists, and Dr. Emmanuel was selected as one of 12 award recipients.

Provost and Vice President Timothy O’Rourke refers to Professor Emmanuel in his nomination letter as the “quintessential teacher-scholar”… “a person of uncommon ability, good spirit, integrity, and civic commitment.” Indeed, his accomplishments and upstanding character are admirable and his academic and community impact is far reaching.  

A teaching affiliate with the Pluralism Project at Harvard University, he is the past recipient of the Samuel Nelson Gray Award, Virginia Wesleyan’s highest award for distinguished teaching. A former Fulbright Fellow at the University of Copenhagen, Dr. Emmanuel has published extensively on Kierkegaard and other philosophers. He is co-editor of Kierkegaard’s Concepts, a six-volume, 1,500-page compendium, published over a three-year period (2013-15). He is also the author or editor of six other books on philosophy, most recently Buddhist Philosophy: A Comparative Approach (2017). Demonstrating his wide-ranging academic interests, Dr. Emmanuel is co-editor of Revisiting Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: Teaching and Learning about Self and Community (2016) with Dr. Kathy Merlock Jackson (VWU Professor of Communication).

During summer 2016, Dr. Emmanuel and Dr. John Wang (VWU Professor of Computer Science)—supported by a $37,000 ASIANetwork grant, which they wrote—led a team of six Virginia Wesleyan students on a research trip to China. The team studied the economic and environmental impacts on world cultural heritage sites in a rural province. Dr. Emmanuel also led five Virginia Wesleyan students to Vietnam in 2007 with Dr. Stu Minnis (VWU Associate Professor of Communication) to study the healthcare system in that country. His film, Making Peace with Viet Nam, which chronicles the trip, won Best Long Documentary at the 2009 Beijing International Film Festival and the Merit Award at the 2009 Buddhist Film Festival in Sri Lanka.

Dr. Emmanuel has served as chair of the Humanities Division and chair of the campus chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). He has received VWU’s Sara Rose Award for Leadership in Service Learning and the Martin Luther King Jr. Peace and Justice Award. He is a past chair of the board of directors of the ASIANetwork and a statewide coordinator for the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges Ethics Bowl (2005-2017). He was also awarded a 2014 Mednick Memorial Fellowship, which supported his travel to Japan to investigate the intersections of Zen Buddhism and warfare.

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Emmanuel on this very well-deserved achievement. We are immensely proud of his accomplishments and grateful for his contributions to Virginia Wesleyan University. The Outstanding Faculty Awards ceremony will take place March 1 in Richmond.

Monday, January 29, 2018

​Nota Bene: VWU Earns Top River Star Business Honors

Welcome back, and best wishes for a successful start to the spring semester! We ended Winter Session on a high note last week. On January 25, Professor Bill Gibson and I had the honor of attending the annual River Stars Recognition Luncheon, hosted by the Elizabeth River Project. Virginia Wesleyan University was recognized during the program as one of the finest environmental stewards on the Elizabeth River, receiving the top-tier Model Level designation (view photos).

Virginia Wesleyan advanced to Model Level this year based on our pollution prevention efforts, our wildlife habitat enhancement, and our continued community outreach, mentoring and education. We began this academic year with two prominent new additions that have secured a national niche for Virginia Wesleyan University in these areas. With the completion of the Greer Environmental Sciences Center and the opening of the Batten Honors College, we have expanded our teaching, research, and service toward the vital goals of studying and preserving the natural environment—including the Elizabeth River.

In the short time since it opened, the Greer Environmental Sciences Center has received many accolades. Next month, in recognition of the building, Virginia Wesleyan will be honored by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation with its “Conservationist of the Year” award. And our recent LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council—the first LEED certification in Virginia in 2018—played a primary role in our advancement to the River Stars’ Model Level. The LEED program is an internationally recognized certification program that provides third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across several metrics. These include energy savings, water efficiency, carbon dioxide emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.

On its exterior, visitors to the GESC will find just over two acres of vegetated open space and teaching gardens. This “Living Landscape” is made up of nearly 24,000 native plants, inspired by the ecosystems of the Eastern Shore. It also has two upland meadow gardens, three wetland gardens, and nearly 60 different plant species, including trees, shrubs, groundcover, ferns, perennials, and aquatic plants. The wetlands and extensive green roof prevent polluted runoff from harming the Elizabeth River and the Chesapeake Bay. This area also serves as a habitat for ducks, geese, wading birds, turtles, amphibians, butterflies, dragonflies, and other invertebrates.

Our Model Level designation also celebrates the launch and expected long-term impact of the Batten Honors College, which is designed to prepare impactful leaders and environmental stewards. The Batten Honors College curriculum explores diverse disciplines from the natural sciences, humanities, social sciences, and mathematics, with a goal of educating and graduating lifelong learners from Virginia Wesleyan who will shape our future and take action to improve the world.

Virginia Wesleyan faculty, staff and students have long been engaged in unique opportunities to explore and support environmental issues, from the creation of the Student Environmental Awareness League in the 1980s, to the installation of beehives, bat boxes, and bluebird boxes on campus. The establishment of the President’s Environmental Issues Council (PEIC) has led to further support for environmental projects, including challenge grants for students and faculty.

Thank you to our entire campus community and to the PEIC for your continued efforts, and special thanks in particular to Dr. Bill Gibson for taking the lead on earning this and many other notable designations for Virginia Wesleyan University.

We are proud to once again be recognized by the Elizabeth River Project for our environmental commitment.


Saturday, January 27, 2018

Senior Day for VWU Swimming

For the first time we had "Senior Day" for the new Virginia Wesleyan University swimming team. Pictured in the Jane P. Batten Student Center Natatorium before their meet against Ferrum with Doug Kennedy (Faculty Team Advisor), Joanne Renn (Athletics Director), Ashley Whipple, Alexandra Ghazaleh, Wade Jerningan, Morgan Lucas, and Jake Morgan.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Winter Meeting of The Presidents’ Trust

Productive day in Washington, D.C. for the winter meeting of The Presidents’ Trust — a small group of presidents from all sectors of higher education committed to advocating for the vision, values, and practices that connect liberal education with the needs of individual students and our democracy. Pictured with Jonathan Alger, President of James Madison University — the other Virginia member of The Presidents’ Trust.

Enjoyable Lunch with Carol Geary Schneider

Enjoyable lunch in Washington today with Carol Geary Schneider, President-emeritus of the Association of American Colleges and Universities. Carol now serves as an officer with the Lumina Foundation. I worked with her in a variety of roles during her tenure as president of AAC&U from 1998 until 2016.

The Wesleyan Review

Catch up on the latest Virginia Wesleyan University news and events in today's edition of The Wesleyan Review:

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Meeting of The Presidents’ Trust

In Washington, D.C. for Friday’s meeting of The Presidents’ Trust — a small group of presidents from all sectors of higher education committed to advocating for the vision, values, and practices that connect liberal education with the needs of individual students and our democracy. Pictured with: Lynn Pasquerella, former President of Mount Holyoke College (Massachusetts) and current President of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU); Troy Hammond, President of North Central College (Illinois); and Jonathan Green, President of Susquehanna University (Pennsylvania).

Great to Catch Up with VWU Trustee Louis Ryan

Great to catch up with VWU Trustee and Elizabeth River Project Board member Louis Ryan (center) during the River Stars Recognition Luncheon this afternoon. Also pictured: Chris Brandt, Executive Vice President of Hourigan.

Nice to see Faye Joseph

Nice to see Faye Joseph at today’s River Stars Recognition Luncheon. Faye’s husband, Bill Joseph, who passed away in 2015, served as Virginia Wesleyan’s long-time Vice President of Finance for 40 years. A tree is planted on our campus in Bill’s memory.

Celebrating Our Model Level Achievement with Hourigan

Our new Greer Environmental Sciences Center played an instrumental role in Virginia Wesleyan’s advancement to River Stars Model Level. We were pleased to celebrate with our friends from Hourigan, who constructed this magnificent new building. Pictured (from left) with Phil Stedfast, President of the Elizabeth River Project Board of Directors, and from Hourigan, Sydney Covey, VWU Class of 2015 and Sustainability Program Analyst, Chris Brandt, Executive Vice President, and Clark Lambert, Senior Project Manager.

River Stars Recognition Luncheon

It was an honor to attend the annual River Stars Recognition Luncheon, hosted by the Elizabeth River Project. Virginia Wesleyan University was recognized during the program as one of the finest environmental stewards on the Elizabeth River, receiving the top-tier Model Level designation. Pictured with Phil Stedfast (left), President of the Elizabeth River Project Board of Directors, and Dr. Bill Gibson, VWU Professor of Political Science.