Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Retail Development Near Campus

Several shops and restaurants, including a Chick-fil-A, are coming soon to the Premium Outlets entrance road near campus. Read more in The Virginian-Pilot:

Marlin Prestige Student Leadership

I enjoy meeting each semester with students leaders of our biannual Marlin Prestige Business Conference. Today, Provost and Vice President Timothy O'Rourke and I met with Dylan Ardinger, Chief Marketing Officer, Faith Auad, Chief Operations Officer, and Juli Manning, Chief Executive Officer. The spring 2018 conference will take place April 23-27 with a theme of, "Business Reimagined Through Globalization, Innovation, Leadership, and Diversity."

2018 ODK Tapping Ceremony

Early morning "Tapping Ceremony" for Virginia Wesleyan students selected for membership in Omicron Delta Kappa—a national leadership honor society. ΟDΚ membership is regarded as one of the highest collegiate honors. To be selected, one must be in the top 35 percent of students and hold a leadership role on their respective campuses. The VWU Circle of ODK was established on May 5, 1981.

Nota Bene: Searching for Their Future

Our students, collectively often criticized for appearing “entitled,” deserve our best effort in standing up for their lives.

I hope you enjoy my monthly column from the Sunday edition of The Virginian-Pilot:

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Marlin SportSplash

Catch the latest in Virginia Wesleyan Athletics in this week's edition of Marlin SportSplash:

Congratulations, Phi Eta Sigma Inductees!

Congratulations to the 29 new inductees in the Phi Eta Sigma National Freshman Honor Society.

Enjoyable Afternoon of Marlins Baseball

Enjoyable afternoon of Marlins baseball at Kenneth R. Perry Field with David Waggoner (Vice President for Enrollment), Joanne Renn (Athletic Director) and Jason Seward (Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs). Virginia Wesleyan lost to Salisbury 3-0.

Athletics Management Council Monthly Meeting

Great monthly meeting of the Athletics Management Council this afternoon. The AMC is charged with strategic oversight of all academic matters related to intercollegiate athletics and all policies that impact student-athlete academic success and welfare. The Council is comprised of (from left): Larry Hultgren, Faculty Athletic Representative, Cori Jackson '20, Student Representative, Joanne Renn, Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, Andrea Hoover, Senior Woman Administrator, Sue Larkin, Faculty Representative, and Drew Freeman '19, Student Representative.

Visiting with Aramark's Tim Knight

Enjoyed visiting today with Tim Knight (center), incoming District Manager for Aramark Higher Education. Tim succeeds Todd Ball, who is retiring after many years of outstanding service. Aramark and Virginia Wesleyan have partnered on facilities services for more than 20 years. Also pictured: Jim Cooper, VWU Vice President for Finance and Administration.

Nota Bene: Virginia Wesleyan Honored as “Conservationist of the Year” by Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Last night Virginia Wesleyan University was honored by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation with the organization’s top “Conservationist of the Year” award at the annual DC on the Half Shell gala in Washington, D.C. (view photos). The award recognized our new Greer Environmental Sciences Center as well as Virginia Wesleyan’s vision and dedication to educating the next generation of Bay leaders. I was honored to accept the award on behalf of the many Virginia Wesleyan students, faculty, staff, Trustees, alumni, and friends who have brought us to this exciting moment and have helped to make the GESC a reality.

It is especially gratifying for us to be honored by such a distinguished and influential partner as the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. With our campus situated at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and within a few miles of the Atlantic, we have a direct investment in the future of our natural environment and the systems that sustain us.

The Greer Environmental Sciences Center—which was LEED Gold certified by the U.S. Green Building Council in January—features indoor and outdoor classrooms and teaching and research laboratories, including the Chesapeake Bay Aquatics Lab. Energy is produced by the building’s solar panels, and nearly 60 different plant species—including trees, shrubs, perennials, and aquatic plants—are grown in its research gardens and greenhouse. The site’s constructed wetlands and extensive green roof prevent polluted runoff from harming the Chesapeake Bay.

Virginia Wesleyan also uses the waterways around Hampton Roads as living classrooms. Students across disciplines conduct fieldwork on the Ocean Explorer, our 45-foot research vessel jointly owned by VWU and the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center. Onboard the boat they collect data on marine organisms, collect and test water samples, and undertake other research.

Our newly launched Batten Honors College, named for Jane Batten and her late husband Frank, aims to educate impactful global citizens through an environmental focus, an international study-away experience, and leadership training and development. The program features vigorous exploration of diverse disciplines, from the natural sciences and mathematics to humanities and social sciences. Our current and prospective students in environmental studies represent a real hope in those disciplines for all of us. They have embraced the cause of a cleaner, healthier environment that will enrich our lives, and the lives of generations to come, in Coastal Virginia and throughout the world.

Over the years, VWU has worked with CBF on a number of initiatives, including scientific data collection, oyster restoration, and invasive species removal. Virginia Wesleyan is a participant in the newly launched Chesapeake 10 Billion Oysters Partnership, a coalition dedicated to helping recover the Bay’s oyster populations, and a member of Virginia’s No Child Left Inside Coalition, a collaborative effort between organizations to promote outdoor learning.

Virginia Wesleyan University Board Chair David Kaufman and his wife Kay served as honorary co-chairs for the DC on the Half Shell event. Also in attendance were VWU Trustee Emerita Jane Batten, a major sponsor of the event, Board Secretary Cindy Rodriguez, Trustee Mary Haddad, and representatives from VMDO Architects and the Hourigan Group, who designed and constructed the environmental sciences center. CBF also presented Washington College with the Conservationist of the Year award.

All proceeds from the event support the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s award-winning environmental education and habitat restoration programs. CBF takes 35,000 students, teachers and principals per year on field experiences of hands-on learning and critical analysis. The organization also engages thousands of volunteers in raising oysters, restoring oyster habitat, restoring underwater grass beds, and restoring forested buffers.

We accept this award, and the responsibility it implies, with gratitude for this expression of trust, recognition, and appreciation by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. We pledge a firm and lasting commitment to the spirit of the mission and goals that the Foundation has articulated and embraced so well—and we look forward to the positive results this award will bring to Virginia Wesleyan University, and indeed, to all of us who care so passionately about our natural world.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Rep. Bobby Scott Supports VWU and the Bay

Great to see Congressman Bobby Scott at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's DC on the Half Shell event in Washington, D.C. tonight. He has been such a wonderful supporter and friend to Virginia Wesleyan. Also pictured: VWU Board Chair David Kaufman and CBF President Will Baker. 

Congratulations to Washington College

VWU was jointly honored alongside Washington College tonight as “Conservationists of the Year,” celebrating our institutions’ vision and dedication to educating the next generation of Bay leaders. Pictured at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s annual DC on the Half Shell gala with (from left) Larry Culp (Washington College Board Chairman), Kurt Landgraf (Washington College President), David Kaufman (Virginia Wesleyan Board Chair), and Will Baker (Chesapeake Bay Foundation President). David and Larry served as honorary co-chairs of the event.

Accepting VWU's "Conservationist of the Year" Award

Proud to accept the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s “Conservationist of the Year” award on behalf of Virginia Wesleyan University. We are grateful to the CBF for recognizing our commitment to the Bay and for being such fantastic partners in the study and preservation of our environment. 

DC on the Half Shell Gala

In Washington, D.C, for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s annual DC on the Half Shell gala, where Virginia Wesleyan University will be honored with CBF’s top “Conservationist of the Year” award. Pictured with (from left) VWU Trustee Emerita Jane Batten, a major sponsor of the gala, VWU Board Chair David Kaufman, honorary co-chair of the event, and Will Baker, President of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Nota Bene: Athletics Gift Funds “TowneBank Park”

Last week I shared with you Coach Brandon Elliott’s recognition as Metropolitan Person of the Year in Sports by the Norfolk Sports Club. I highlighted Brandon’s winning personality on and off the softball field, as well as his various records, titles, and accolades—including the 2017 NCAA Division III Softball Championship.

I am proud to share that the accomplishments of Coach Elliott and his team continue to draw major attention. Last week we formalized details of a $500,000 gift from the TowneBank Foundation for complete renovation and upgrades to our national championship softball complex. Soon, Coach Elliott and his team will be playing their games at Broyles Field in Virginia Wesleyan’s “TowneBank Park.”

In addition to the TowneBank Foundation, we thank former Trustee Bob Aston and Trustee Emeritus Tom Broyles for making this “field of dreams” a reality for our program. They are both long-time friends of the institution, and we are grateful for their continued support of Virginia Wesleyan University and Marlin athletics.

We expect that renovations will begin this summer and we will keep you informed as details progress.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Register Now: 2018 Boyd Institute

Registration is still open for the 2018 Boyd Institute at Virginia Wesleyan! Learn more:

Friday, February 23, 2018

The Wesleyan Review

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

Nota Bene: Brandon Elliott Honored as Metropolitan Sports Person of the Year

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Norfolk Sports Club’s 73rd Annual Jamboree, where I was asked to present the prestigious Tom Fergusson Memorial Award to the Metropolitan Sports Person of the Year, Virginia Wesleyan University Softball Coach Brandon Elliott. 

Incredibly deserving of this honor, Brandon is just off a national record 54-win season, a stellar 54-and-3 overall mark, and an NCAA National Softball Championship. His coaching staff won the NFCA award for the top coaching staff in the country, and he returns this year the National Pitcher of the Year—also the National Player of the Year—who went a freshman. Entering play this week, Virginia Wesleyan softball was ranked No. 1 in the country—the third season in a row the Marlins have reached that ranking during the regular season.

A 2003 graduate of Virginia Wesleyan, Brandon was a four-year member of the Marlins baseball team and served as team captain his senior year. After a year away while earning his master’s in sports management, he returned “home” to his alma mater to work in enrollment. Our Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, Joanne Renn, saw tremendous potential in him—a strong competitive spirit, a powerful desire to succeed, demonstrated self-motivation, and, on top of all that, a kind and caring personality. She offered him an opportunity to lead our softball program, and after 10 years at the helm, he finished the 2017 season as the most successful coach in program history with a 353-100 record. His teams have made six NCAA appearances, have won five ODAC Championships, and have fielded 11 All-Americans.

It is clear that Brandon has made a tremendous impact on Hampton Roads athletics in the last year, but to simply rattle off a list of his records, titles, and accomplishments would be a disservice. To get to the heart of this honor, and why it means so much, I want to share more with you about the type of person you’ll find in Coach Elliott.

Brandon has a rare fire in him. His success on the field stems from his winning personality and his fundamental love for all those around him—be it his family, his friends, or his team. He has a vibrant energy, a super-sized “can-do” attitude, and he commands positivity, regardless of any challenges in his path.

In 2008, Brandon’s mother Elaine, his biggest fan, lost a hard-fought battle with cancer. This loss shook Brandon to his core, but he did what his mom taught him to do when life knocks you down. He got up, dusted himself off, and charged ahead. Reflecting on his own painful loss, as well as the impact cancer has on countless families, Brandon resolved to do more.

This determination led to his organization of an annual “Strike Out Cancer” fundraising event at Virginia Wesleyan, which is now coordinated annually by the VWU softball program. In 2017, during its ninth year, Strike Out Cancer surpassed $100,000 raised for the American Cancer Society and cancer research. This is a true testament to Brandon’s strength and character. He believes deeply that the best way to honor his mother, just as she taught him, is to put others first.

Brandon has faced several additional personal challenges in recent years. His wife, Laura (Mills) Elliott, a 2005 Virginia Wesleyan graduate, fought kidney disease and underwent two kidney transplants. His son, Cooper, was born two months prematurely. Support from his family, friends and team—along with Brandon’s fighting spirit—helped keep him centered in the face of this adversity. Each day was a step in the right direction, and in true Brandon fashion, he maintained a “We got this!” attitude, refusing to let the slightest negative thought or bad report halt their forward progress as a family. I’m happy to share that, today, the whole Elliott family is healthy and happy.

Some people look at life as a half-empty glass, others as half-full. Brandon looks at a glass and thinks, “Finish that one, and let’s get another!” His tenacity, his refusal to quit, and his love for his fellow man speak volumes of his legacy.

He drives his players to be better people, and not just better softball players. He teaches them to “out-love” their opponents, not just out-play them. He helps them see the bigger picture. But most importantly, he teaches them to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and get ready for the next challenge.

This is a winning mentality that, I think we can all agree, is worthy of respect and celebration. Please join me in congratulating this year’s Tom Fergusson Memorial Award recipient and Metropolitan Sports Person of the Year, Virginia Wesleyan University Coach Brandon Elliott.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Coach Brandon Elliott Honored

Such an honor tonight to present Virginia Wesleyan University head softball coach Brandon Elliott with the Tom Fergusson Memorial Award as the Metropolitan Person of the Year in Sports at the Norfolk Sports Club awards. Top, Brandon delivers his acceptance remarks. The Marlins capped a 54-3 season with an NCAA Championship in 2017 and are currently ranked No. 1 in the country this season after a 4-0 start. From left, Frank Beamer (Virginia Tech), Jack Ankerson, Joseph Monaco (President of the Norfolk Sports Club), and Herman Edwards (Arizona State University).

Norfolk Sports Club 73rd Annual Jamboree

Enjoyable evening at the head table with some great coaches gathered for the Norfolk Sports Club annual awards program. Lower left: With Mike Houston, head football coach of James Madison University. Lower right: With Jack Ankerson, former General Manager of the San Antonio Spurs and Virginia Squires; Frank Beamer, former head coach of Virginia Tech. Top: With Herman Edwards, former NFL great and now head coach of Arizona State University; our special honoree Brandon Elliott of VWU; and Keith Moore, VWU Vice President for Student Affairs. Coach Elliott was recognized as Metropolitan Person of the Year in Sports.

Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday courtesy of our friends from Hofheimer Library... Can you identify these Virginia Wesleyan faculty members from the 1986 yearbook? Find more VWU history at #TBT


Productive Afternoon

Productive lunch visit in Chesapeake with Drew Lumpkin (Regional Director for U.S. Senator Mark Warner) and Congressman Donald McEachin.

Enjoyable Lunch Visit

Enjoyable visit at lunch today with former Congressman Randy Forbes and Congressman Bobby Scott. Randy's son Neil is a VWU grad.

Chesapeake State of the City

So nice to visit with new Chesapeake Mayor Dr. Rick West and his wife Vicky at today's "Chesapeake State of the City."

Nice to Visit with Kindra Greene '03

Nice to visit this morning with 2003 Virginia Wesleyan University grad Kindra Greene. Kindra is Manager of Communications & Marketing of the Hampton Roads Chamber.

Nota Bene: Winter Meeting of the Board of Trustees

The winter meeting of the Virginia Wesleyan University Board of Trustees was held on campus yesterday, February 21. We enjoyed our time with the Board, including new Trustee Alan Shaw, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Norfolk Southern Corporation. And as always, we thank Board Chair David Kaufman for his leadership.

Provost and Vice President Timothy O’Rourke began the morning with a special topic presentation outlining the new Strategic Plan. The academic-based plan, which covers the period of 2018-2027, builds upon the existing facilities Master Plan. I am pleased to share that following careful review, the Board unanimously adopted the new Mission Statement and Strategic Plan, which will now be finalized and put into motion. Dr. O’Rourke and I look forward to sharing additional details in the near future.

We also held a recognition ceremony to celebrate the LEED Gold certification of the Greer Environmental Sciences Center. This distinctive designation, granted by the U.S. Green Building Council, underscores Virginia Wesleyan’s commitment to the study and preservation of our natural world and increases visibility, engagement, and opportunities on a national level. We acknowledged the Board for their role in this accomplishment, as well as the many others who helped make LEED Gold certification a reality. Soon, a special plaque will be mounted on the sinker cypress wall in the atrium of the building, prominently signifying this achievement for all to see.

The Board heard reports and approved actions from the Committee on Trusteeship as well as the Audit, Academic Affairs, Enrollment, Student Affairs, Administration and Finance, and Advancement Committees. Approval was given for advancement from assistant to associate professor and conferral of tenure for Dr. Kathleen Casey (History), Dr. Leslie Caughell (Political Science), and Dr. Jennifer Slivka (English), and for advancement from associate to full professor for Dr. Paul Ewell (Management, Business, and Economics), Dr. Hilve Firek (Education), Dr. Gabriela Martorell (Psychology), and Dr. Stuart Minnis (Communication). George Jackson received conferral of tenure, and Sophie Rondeau advanced to Librarian III (Associate Librarian). These changes are effective with the start of the 2018-19 academic year. Five faculty sabbaticals have also been authorized for Dr. Soraya Bartol (Biology), Dr. Lisa Lyon Payne (Communication), Dr. Kevin Kittredge, (Chemistry), Dr. Deirdre Gonsalves-Jackson (Biology), and Dr. Taryn Myers (Psychology).

The meeting concluded with a special presentation on priorities of the Master Plan. We discussed ongoing progress on the Susan S. Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center (scheduled for completion in early 2019), the new Baker Road Entrance and Marlins Way (on track for completion in late March), and Coastal 61 at Oxford Village (set to begin this summer). Recently completed projects were reviewed, including the Greer Environmental Sciences Center, the Frank Blocker Youth Center, the Avenue of the Sciences and Greenhouse, the Betty S. Rogers Track and Field Center, renovations to Kenneth R. Perry Field, and relocation of the Marlin statue and Alpine Tower. We also looked optimistically ahead to future facilities projects and defined prime areas for opportunity.

We are grateful for our Board of Trustees' enthusiasm and commitment. They are a critical asset to the success of Virginia Wesleyan University, its students and alumni. The spring meeting of the Board is scheduled for May.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

LEED Gold Ceremony

So pleased to share our new LEED Gold certification honors with our Board of Trustees at their annual meeting today in the beautiful Greer Environmental Sciences Center. Pictured with Board Chair David Kaufman (center), and from left, Sydney Covey, Hourigan Sustainability Program Analyst and Virginia Wesleyan graduate, Soraya Bartol, Professor of Marine Biology, Maynard Schaus, Associate Provost, Clark Lambert, Hourigan Senior Project Manager, and Eric Harrison, Hourigan Superintendent.

A Beautiful Day for the Board's "Winter Meeting"

On a beautiful spring day in Virginia Beach, a productive "Winter Meeting" of the Virginia Wesleyan University Board of Trustees. The Board heard reports and took action on a variety of topics from the Committees of Trusteeship, Academic Affairs, Administration and Finance, Advancement, Audit, Enrollment, and Student Affairs. They also heard a special presentation on the new strategic plan, received updates on master plan progress, and learned more about the LEED Gold certification of the Greer Environmental Sciences Center. We are pleased to have some of the most admired and respected leaders from our community guiding our Board.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The rain has finally stopped...

...And work is once again progressing again on the new Baker Road entrance and Marlins Way.

Nice Visit with Judge Richard Bray

Enjoyed showing the award-winning Greer Environmental Sciences Center off to Judge Richard Bray, President & CEO of the Beazley Foundation. The Foundation has been long-time supporters of Virginia Wesleyan. Also pictured: Dr. Maynard Schaus, Associate Provost and Professor of Biology.

Marlin SportSplash

Congratulations to ODAC Pitcher of the Week Hanna Hull! The returning Division III Player of the Year didn't miss a beat as she helped the Marlins to a 5-1 win in VWU softball's season opener against Meredith College. Read more and catch up on other highlights from Virginia Wesleyan Athletics in this week's SportSplash: