Saturday, March 31, 2018

Caleb Mercer Represents VWU at Kansai Gaidai University

Many thanks to Virginia Wesleyan student Caleb Mercer for sharing this photo of himself in Japan at the campus opening of Kansai Gaidai University's Gotenyama. Caleb represented America at the flag tying ceremony and was selected to give a speech.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Nice Visit with Robert “Bobby” Fox ‘94

Nice to visit on campus this week with Robert “Bobby” Fox ‘94, a 2010 inductee of the VWU Athletic Hall of Fame. Bobby is vice president of TowneBank. Joining him for the picture is Lori Harris ‘94, Executive Director of Annual Giving and Alumni Relations.

Marlin SportSplash

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

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Groundbreaking for Sentara Cancer Center

Exciting morning at the groundbreaking ceremony for Sentara Healthcare's new cancer center at Sentara Leigh Hospital near campus. Pictured at the ceremony are (top left) VWU Trustee Howard Kern, President and CEO of Sentara Healthcare, and (top right) Ralph Northam, Governor of Virginia. The center is expected to be completed by mid-2020. Congratulations to Howard on this outstanding achievement!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Catching Up with Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander

Nice to catch up with Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander at today's Virginia Beach State of the City. As a state senator and mayor, Kenny has been a good friend to Virginia Wesleyan University for many years. VWU Senior Vice President Mort Gamble is also pictured.

2018 Model Nato Challenge

So proud to host the 2018 Model NATO Challenge on campus today. Pictured at top prior to the event with Brigadier General Imre Porkoláb, Lieutenant Commander Ben Moran, and VWU Provost and Vice President Timothy O'Rourke. Pictured below is the opening session in Boyd Dining Center. BGEN Porkoláb has periodically taught classes at Virginia Wesleyan.

Visiting with Delegate Kelly Convirs-Fowler '03

Good to visit with state representative Kelly Convirs-Fowler and her husband David at today's Virginia Beach State of the City. Kelly is a 2003 graduate of Virginia Wesleyan and one of the first Asian-American women elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.

Virginia Beach State of the City

Wonderful State of the City address by Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms today at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. Thanks to Mayor Sessoms for his thoughtful comments about Virginia Wesleyan University, its people, and programs.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Nota Bene: Spring Break and Model NATO Challenge

It is quiet here on campus as our community prepares for the upcoming Spring Break, but before many of you depart for the week, I would like to call your attention to an important event occurring next Wednesday. I am proud that Virginia Wesleyan University will once again host the annual Model NATO Challenge on March 28 at 4:00 p.m. in Boyd Dining Center.

During the mock global-crisis simulation, produced by the Norfolk NATO Festival in partnership with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization-Allied Command Transformation (NATO-ACT), local high school juniors and seniors will take on the roles of student diplomats, each representing one of the 29 NATO Member Countries. Select students will also participate in the Student Press Corps, covering the event action in a live-media role.

Virginia Wesleyan’s involvement in the Model NATO Challenge stems from the University’s formal agreement with NATO-ACT, which offers up to 25 International Student Grants of $9,000 per semester ($18,000 per year) to dependents of NATO-ACT employees stationed in Norfolk. In return, NATO-ACT offers their staff's expertise to the VWU community in the form of guest lectures, internship opportunities, experiences with NATO’s Innovation Hub, and NATO simulation opportunities like the Model NATO Challenge.
Over the past few years, I've had the pleasure of interacting significantly with leadership at NATO-ACT. We are extremely grateful for this valuable partnership and celebrate the opportunity to build global relationships right here in our community. Read more about the 2018 Model NATO Challenge at, and be sure to stop by the simulation next Wednesday, March 28, at 4:00 p.m. in Boyd Dining Center.
Wishing each of you a safe and restful week and a wonderful Easter holiday!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Nota Bene: Hampton Roads Business Hall of Fame to Honor George Birdsong

I am proud to share that Virginia Wesleyan University Trustee Emeritus George Birdsong H'16, CEO and General Counsel of Birdsong Peanuts, will be honored this evening at the Junior Achievement Hampton Roads Business Hall of Fame event. The awards gala will recognize George’s lifetime achievements and celebrate him as one of Hampton Roads’ most visionary business leaders.

This is the second significant award George has received in recent months. In November, he was honored with the Individual Leadership Award during the CIVIC Leadership Institute’s 2017 Darden Awards. I was proud to attend that event to applaud the impact George has had on our community through various philanthropic and service endeavors.

George Birdsong has been affiliated with the Virginia Wesleyan Board of Trustees since 1989. He served as Board Chair from 2007-2010 and he was later designated as Trustee Emeritus. In 2016, he received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University and served as keynote speaker during the institution’s inaugural Founders Day. He and his wife Sue, the Birdsong family, and the Birdsong Corporation played a major role in the University’s founding. Birdsong Hall, an original building in Bray Village, was dedicated to the Birdsong family in 1968, and a plaque in the building distinguishes the Birdsongs as dedicated Methodists whose generosity helped establish Virginia Wesleyan.

Birdsong Peanuts and the Birdsongs have made a number of significant gifts to the University throughout its history. The Birdsong Community Services Endowment Fund was formed in 1995 to provide support for Virginia Wesleyan’s acclaimed community services program. The Birdsong Corporation/George and Sue Birdsong Endowed Scholarship was also established to provide assistance for deserving students. In 2015, the University dedicated VWU’s Birdsong Field in honor of the Birdsong family to celebrate their generous commitment to the facility. The following year, the Birdsong School of Social Science was established with recognition and deep appreciation for contributions by Harvard Birdsong, a charter member of the Board of Trustees, George and Sue Birdsong, Thomas Birdsong, III, and his wife Jane, the Birdsong family, and the Birdsong Corporation.

Junior Achievement is the nation's largest organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their futures, and make smart academic and economic choices. Its programs—which focus on work readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy—ignite young people to experience and realize the opportunities and realities of work and life in the 21st Century.

George will be honored tonight alongside Deborah DiCroce, President and CEO of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation, W. Taylor Reveley, III, President of William & Mary, and Bob Sasser, Executive Chairman of Dollar Tree.

On behalf of Virginia Wesleyan University, we congratulate George Birdsong for this extraordinary honor, and we express our deepest gratitude for the visionary leadership he and his family have brought to this institution.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Nota Bene: Spring Alumni Weekend Coming April 13-14

Last year we hosted Virginia Wesleyan’s first-ever Spring Alumni Weekend. A great time was had by all as we created new traditions and celebrated long-time favorites—from our inaugural scroll-signing ceremony to the annual Seafood Party in the Dell and Strike Out Cancer events. I am delighted to share that this year’s Spring Alumni Weekend is scheduled for April 13-14.

Our campus community is invited to relax and reunite at our very first Spring Pig-Pickin’ Picnic, cheer on old friends in Pie Eating and Hot Dog Eating Contests, and root for former classmates in athletic contests and alumni games. A special scroll-signing ceremony will commemorate the 25th graduation anniversary of the Class of 1993, and the weekend will also include the 36th Annual Seafood Party in the Dell. Special early-bird pricing will be available through March 31. View the full schedule and register online today:

It is truly an exciting time to be a graduate of Virginia Wesleyan. We've raised our profile with our transition to a University; the addition of new graduate programs and an online-learning division; the launch of the Batten Honors College; expansion of our campus facilities through various capital projects; finalization of our 10-year Campus Master Plan; a new academic-based Strategic Plan; and much more.

Opportunities for alumni to get involved with their alma mater help the University in building important connections to our graduates while also underscoring the valuable role they play in the vibrant life of our campus.

On these occasions, as always, it's a great day to be a Marlin!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Nota Bene: Empty Bowls Charity Dinner

This Friday, March 23, Virginia Wesleyan University will once again serve as the host site for the Empty Bowls Charity Dinner. In its 20th year, the Ceramic Designers Association event will get underway in Boyd Dining Center at 5:30 p.m. Guests will receive a handmade bowl and enjoy freshly prepared soups, bread and dessert—but more importantly, they’ll help alleviate hunger in our community.

The Empty Bowls project is an international grassroots movement held annually in many communities to help raise both money and awareness in the fight to end hunger. The first local Empty Bowls Charity Dinner took place in 1998 at Holy Family Catholic Church. It moved to Virginia Wesleyan the following year, thanks to the efforts of Virginia Wesleyan alumna Susan Alexander Mizell '80.

In addition to providing the venue, Virginia Wesleyan also arranges for event volunteers and participation from the University community. Professor of Art Phil Guilfoyle and his ceramics students often donate their handmade bowls to the event, and Guilfoyle has been known to perform potter wheel demonstrations. Sodexo, Virginia Wesleyan’s food service provider, generously provides the soups served at the event.

All funds raised benefit local charities such as the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia, Judeo-Christian Outreach Center, Help and Emergency Response Shelter, Oasis Social Ministries, and Union Mission. In the last five years alone, the event has raised over $110,000 for hunger-relief efforts in our community.

In keeping with the University’s Methodist heritage and our commitment to service learning, Virginia Wesleyan students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to become active and engaged citizens. This event speaks to the University’s goal of educating through meaningful service and brings our campus and community together in partnership to share resources and meet real community needs.

Tickets for the Empty Bowls Charity Dinner are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Learn more by visiting the Ceramic Designers Association website at:

Monday, March 19, 2018

Nota Bene: VWU Welcomes Boyd Institute Participants

In partnership with the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church, Virginia Wesleyan University hosts a workshop for UMC pastors each spring that yields continuing education units. Today we welcome more than 100 special guests to campus for The Robert F. Boyd Institute (March 19-20), featuring Dr. Tod Bolsinger, Vice President and Chief of Leadership Formation and Assistant Professor of Practical Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary.

In his seminar, Dr. Bolsinger will share insight and lessons on leadership in a changing world. The presentation will be based on his award-winning book, Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory, which offers both realism and hope, as well as tangible ways to lead differently when you go “off the map.” Dr. Bolsinger earned a Ph.D. in theology and Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary. In addition to Canoeing the Mountains, he authored It Takes a Church to Raise a Christian: How the Community of God Transforms Lives, and The New Media Frontier: Blogging, Vlogging, and Podcasting for Christ. He speaks, consults and is an executive coach for corporate, non-profit, educational and church organizations in transformational leadership.

The Boyd Institute, coordinated by Kelly Cordova, Assistant Director of Annual Giving and Alumni Relations, complements a variety of programs offered by our Center for Sacred Music, the Center for the Study of Religious Freedom, and Marlin Ministries. We strive to integrate participants of the Boyd Institute into these and other programs of the University.

Our University is a community of faith, learning, and service, and we are proud of our affiliation with the United Methodist Church. Again, we welcome our Virginia Conference pastors and church leaders to campus. Read more about this year’s program at

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Progress on the Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center

An unseasonably rough winter has put work crews behind on the construction of the new Susan S. Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center. The 23,200-square-foot facility is now scheduled for completion in February 2019. Favorable weather this week enabled excavation work to continue. The area in the foreground, when excavation and dredging is completed, will be a beautiful decorative pond with lights and fountains.

Productive Work on East Gate Entrance

After two weeks of rain and some snow, crews had a productive three days working on the new East Gate Entrance to Virginia Wesleyan University (off Baker Road). East Gate and Marlins Way are expected to be finished in the next three weeks.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Visiting with Key Partners

Enjoyed visiting with two key players in the establishment and implementation of Virginia Wesleyan's 10-year Campus Master Plan—Bruce Alperin, Associate Vice President of Marketing for Aramark, and Chris Brandt, Executive Vice President of Hourigan. Aramark provided key support in the institutional review, space-utilization study, facilities-condition assessment, and Campus Master Plan. Hourigan has led the implementation of the new plan.