Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Downtown Norfolk Council

Enjoyed visiting today with Downtown Norfolk Council (DNC) President and CEO Mary Miller. Founded in 1979, the DNC is an award-winning organization comprised of more than 300 business and individual members dedicated to promoting and enhancing business, cultural, retail and residential initiatives in Downtown Norfolk. 

Robert F. Boyd Institute Advisory Committee

Had a productive meeting with the Advisory Committee for the Robert F. Boyd Institute today. During the meeting, we discussed the present and future partnership between the United Methodist Church and higher education, and we brainstormed speakers for the next few years' Boyd Institute continuing education series for UMC pastors and laity. Pictured from left: Dr. Mort Gamble, VWU Senior Vice President; Rev. Alex Joyner, District Superintendent of the Eastern Shore; Kelly Cordova, VWU Coordinator of the Boyd Institute; Rev. Brandon Nichols '12, Jolliff UMC ; Rev. Tammy Estep, Haygood UMC; Rev. Greg West, VWU Chaplain; Rev. Hank Teague, Grace UMC; and Rev. Deborah Clark, St. Mark's UMC.

VWU Alumni News

Check out the latest VWU Alumni News:

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Marlins SportSplash

Catch the latest in Virginia Wesleyan Athletics in the newest edition of Marlins SportSplash:

Monday, October 29, 2018

Student Leaders of The Marlin Prestige Conference

Leaders of the student-led Marlin Prestige Business Conference provided a briefing to vice presidents Tim O'Rourke and Keith Moore and me this afternoon. The Marlin Prestige will feature workshops, presentations, and interactive panels that embrace the fall 2018 theme, "The Business of Everything." Pictured, from left, Dr. Moore, Dr. O'Rourke, Millie Taylor (Chief Financial Officer), Ben Byrd (Chief of Staff), and Joshua Hansen (Chief Executive). Read more here:

VWU Recognized Nationally Among Most Environmentally Responsible Universities

"Virginia Wesleyan University is one of the 399 most environmentally responsible colleges in the nation, according to The Princeton Review. The education services company known for its college rankings features VWU in the 2018 edition of its book, The Princeton Review Guide to 399 Green Colleges." Read more here.

Expert column | Four Ways a Construction Management Partner Maximizes Value

"...we have learned four valuable lessons on how a successful relationship between an institution and its construction partner can lead to productive collaboration on a campus master plan." Read the full article in The Virginian-Pilot.

Presidential Associates Program

Glad to have Marlins Kirsten Powell (left) and Allison Chism (center) as Presidential Associates this academic year! I initiated this program in 1999 when I was President of Wesley College and it is truly a “win-win”—meaningful employment for students that contributes to their career portfolios and assistance with important work for the Office of the President. Learn more about the program here:   

Regional Branding

Productive gathering of area business leaders addressing regional branding at The Williamsburg Lodge in Colonial Williamsburg. Thanks to Jim Spore of Reinvent Hampton Roads for coordinating the group and meeting.

Progress on TowneBank Park Dugouts

Work continues on the dugouts at new TowneBank Park, home to our back-to-back NCAA National Championship softball Marlins. Work on the fencing, backstop and stands will begin this week, followed by the new press box and batting cages. Prescription grass and irrigation system for the outfield was completed two weeks ago. The artificial turf "ring" (third to first base in foul ground), infield, and warning track will follow. All should be completed by January. 

Special Friends of VWU

I enjoyed visiting with some special friends of Virginia Wesleyan University on Saturday. Top picture, with Congressman Bobby Scott from the 3rd District, and Elaine Luria, retired Navy Commander, owner of The Mermaid Factory, and Candidate for Congress from the 2nd District. Below, left, with Governor of Virginia Ralph Northam, and, right, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine

Susan S. Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center

Evening picture of the new Susan S. Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center—scheduled for completion in late February. The picture was taken Sunday evening from the light tower at Birdsong Field. 

Nota Bene: Weekly Update

It was wonderful to welcome the Virginia Wesleyan University Board of Trustees to campus last Wednesday, October 24, for their fall meeting. Special thanks to Board Chair David Kaufman for his continued leadership. His impact on the institution's success is significant, and we are deeply grateful to all of our Trustees for their continued leadership and service during the last three years of exciting growth and innovation at VWU.
During the meeting, the Board elected new officers, effective July 1, 2019: John Malbon, Chair; Susan S. Goode, Vice Chair; Nancy DeFord, Secretary; and J. Timothy Bailey, Treasurer. Also elected were two new Trustees, effective immediately: Sharon S. Goodwyn, Counsel at Hunton Andrews Kurth, and Joseph R. Thomas, Retired Vice President of GEICO and a former member of the Board.

Dr. Maynard Schaus, Associate Provost, and I gave a special presentation on the University College with an overview of the structure, programs and partnerships, and students served. Significant growth has occurred over the year, primarily in online, non-credit, and early-enrollment programs. More information about the University College can be found here.

The Board adopted a resolution honoring Virginia Wesleyan's 2018 NCAA Division III National Softball Champions. Mr. Kaufman and I had the honor of presenting the framed document to Head Coach Brandon Elliott '03 and members of the team during the meeting (pictured here). The resolution, along with the championship trophies and several other accolades, are displayed in the Jane P. Batten Student Center near the entrance to the Convocation Center.

During the Business Session, the Board reviewed and approved various policy and regulatory requirements pertaining to the operation of the University. Trustees also heard reports from the committees on Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, Administration and Finance, Advancement, and Enrollment. Key highlights include:
  • VWU will be honored with the 2018 National Philanthropy Day award as the Outstanding Non-Profit in Fundraising by the Hampton Roads chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).
  • Fundraising continues to help address affordability for our students, one of the University's strategic priorities, and overall fundraising has been the highest in University history over the last three years. Fundraising for special projects and construction is progressing "on time and on budget." Current projects include Bray Village improvements, the new softball complex, the Susan S. Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center, and The Beacon (formerly the Bell Tower), which is nearing completion.
  • Rebranding and trademarking of logos is nearly complete.
  • A very successful SACSCOC on-site visit to evaluate our fully implemented MBA and MAEd programs. Full implementation of degree completion online and traditional summer session classes online.
  • Thanks to the generosity of the Landmark Foundation, the Opus student work program will be extended to a year-round opportunity.
  • Our health center and sports medicine program has been greatly enhanced by the institution's partnership with Sentara as a contract service.
  • Improvements to the restroom and shower facilities in Bray Village began in September with Rose Hall, the first of four residence halls in that area.
  • Athletic facility improvements include bleacher seating, hammer cage enclosure, and a storage building at the Betty S. Rogers Track and Field Center; a new scoreboard at the Kenneth R. Perry Baseball Field; a new press box at Birdsong Field; and the new Broyles Field at TowneBank Park for our national championship softball team.
  • Inside the Jane P. Batten Student Center, we look forward to the completion of our beautifully enhanced men's and women's basketball locker rooms.
  • Coastal 61 at Oxford Village, an 8-building, 248-unit apartment complex will break ground in the next couple of months.
  • As in 2018-19, the University will freeze tuition for the 2019-20 academic year. It was proposed that room and board be increased by 3.5% to an average rate of $9,988.
  • Endowment reached $58.7 million on June 30, 2018
  • We have had a seamless transition to TowneBank, which comes with many benefits to the University.
  • VWU is preparing to implement the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia (CICV) Multiple Employer Plan, a 403(b) retirement plan with 15 member schools.
  • Overall, enrollment set a record in 2017-18 after 22 percent growth in new students last year.
  • The Batten Honors College and Greer Environmental Sciences Center are two national niche programs of the University.
  • Traditional enrollment had an academic profile of 3.29 high school GPA and SAT of 1069.
  • The second cohort of the Batten Honors College has a cumulative 4.3 high school GPA and SAT of 1344, and the first cohort had a cumulative GPA of 3.79 with 8 perfect 4.0 GPAs
Following the meeting, members of the Board, including benefactor Susan Goode, joined other faculty, staff, students, and friends of the arts at the unveiling of the cornerstone at the Susan S. Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center. Thanks to Susan and David Goode for their leadership role in this important project. The Center is scheduled to open late winter 2019. Read more about the unveiling here.

We are grateful to our Trustees for their dedication to Virginia Wesleyan University. They are generous with not only with their time and talents, but also their financial support. They ensure that the University remains committed to its mission. We look forward to the winter meeting of the Board in February 2019.

So proud of my daughter Ashlee Miller Upp, who has followed in the family footsteps and chosen a meaningful career in education where she impacts young lives each day. Ashlee was recognized by the Delaware Department of Education as one of the 20 District Teachers of the Year. She was Teacher of Year for both Allen Frear Elementary School and Caesar Rodney School District.  At the awards dinner, we enjoyed visiting with longtime friend to the Miller family, U.S. Senator Tom Carper. He lived a few houses away as Governor of Delaware when we were at Wesley College, and Ashlee later served as his Senate intern when she was studying at the University of Delaware. 


I was honored to attend the inaugural celebration on Friday, October 19, for University of Virginia President James E. Ryan. The ninth president of UVA, President Ryan is a graduate of the institution's law school and previously served as dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and as the Matheson & Morgenthau Distinguished Professor at UVA's School of Law. It was good to visit at the special guest lunch with Virginia Wesleyan University Trustee Emeritus Lemuel "Lem" Lewis, retired Executive Vice President and CFO, Landmark Communications, and a UVA alumnus, who was also in attendance. 


It was a productive visit to Boston recently at the fall meeting of the Board of Directors of Second Nature, the Boston-based advocacy organization committed to promoting sustainability through higher education. I'm pictured here with longtime friend and colleague Richard Cook, past Chair, Board of Directors, Second Nature, and President Emeritus, Allegheny College. Richard and I will will be leading a session, "Battling Climate Change," at the Council of Independent Colleges Presidents Institute in Arizona in January. It was great to catch up with fellow Board members of Second Nature during my visit. 

The Alison J. and Ella W. Parsons Fund of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation has awarded Virginia Wesleyan a grant of $50,000 to support upgrades to the existing Fine Arts Building and the purchase of Steinway pianos.  The grant qualifies for the challenge grant received earlier this year from the Mary Morton Parsons Foundation.

Last week, CEO and Executive Director of the Virginia Port Authority John Reinhardt and I signed a three-year memorandum of understanding between Virginia Wesleyan and the Port of Virginia. We have a mutual vested interest in a highly educated workforce and to support this, VWU will offer a ten-percent reduction in tuition to verified employees of the Port of Virginia who enroll in our Evening and Weekend Program (EWP). We are grateful for our strong relationship with the Port and are proud to support this initiative. 

Congratulations again to Inside Business "Top 40 Under 40" honoree Alisa Crider, a 2010 Virginia Wesleyan graduate. Alisa is the Public Relations Coordinator for Hampton Roads Transit and is the recipient of the 2018 VWU Graduate of the Last Decade (GOLD) Award. Read more iThe Virginian-Pilot.

I enjoyed this picture taken at sunrise from last week of the Susan S. Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center construction site a few days before the cornerstone unveiling. We value the partnership with our architects, VMDO of Charlottesville, and contractors, the Hourigan Group of Richmond. The team is pictured here at the top of their latest collaborative creation--The Beacon at Virginia Wesleyan University. The vantage point atop The Beacon lends itself to this unique panoramic view of the University Commons. 

Last week I attended the U.S. District Congressional Debate at The Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach. It was great to see Delegate Kelly Convirs-Fowler, representative of Virginia's 21st House District and 2003 Virginia Wesleyan graduate, and many friends from the Hampton Roads Chamber, including Sandra Brandt, Director of STEP-UP, Inc. and Chair of the Norfolk Division of the Hampton Roads Chamber.


  • "From 'meta-majors' to better advising, how colleges can boost graduation rates." The key to degree completion is putting students on the path to fulfilling careers, a report from the nonprofit Complete College America said. Read more here.
  • "With affirmative action under fire, what's the future of racial diversity on campus?" A conservative court, an opposed administration, and several lawsuits in progress suggest colleges relying on race-conscious admissions should be ready to change their approach. Read more here
  • "'We are at war': Expect almost 5 feet of sea level rise when planning for the future, leaders say." Sea level rise "is public enemy No. 1," said Dave Hansen, Virginia Beach City Manager. Read more in The Virginian-Pilot.

I hope you find these links useful to my recent columns and publications:
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Have a great week!

Friday, October 26, 2018

VWU Faculty Roundtable and Reception

Ended a busy week on campus with a VWU Faculty Roundtable and reception in the Pearce Hospitality Suite of the Jane P. Batten Student Center. We discussed actions from Wednesday’s Board of Trustees meeting and new initiatives. 

VWU Alumni Council Meeting

Enjoyable and interactive meeting with the Virginia Wesleyan University Alumni Council Thursday afternoon where I shared updates on many areas--including academics, student life, enrollment, finance and administration,and advancement. I’m grateful to our members for their service and commitment to their alma mater and to Troy DeLawrence for his outstanding leadership as Chair of the Alumni Council.

Justine L. Nusbaum Lecture

Scholar Charles Marsh spoke on "The American Civil Rights Movement and the Women who started It" at the Justine L. Nusbaum Lecture at Virginia Wesleyan last night. Marsh is the Commonwealth Professor of Religious Studies and Director of the Project on Live Theology at the University of Virginia. 

At the reception visiting with Sharon and Bill Nusbaum, Annie, Craig Wansink, Joan P. and Macon F. Brock, Jr. Director of the Center for the Study of Religious Freedom. The Justine L. Nusbaum Endowed Lectureship is sponsored by the Center for Religious Freedom and allows the University to bring renowned scholars to campus while remembering the expansive life of Justine Nusbaum. 

The Wesleyan Review: October 26, 2018

Our newest edition of the Wesleyan Review is out. Read about the latest VWU news and events here:

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Unique View of University Commons

A unique panoramic picture of University Commons from the top of The Beacon. 

Top of The Beacon at VWU

Our architects, VMDO of Charlottesville, and contractors, the Hourigan Group of Richmond, with a team picture from the top of their latest collaborative creation—The Beacon at Virginia Wesleyan University.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Cornerstone Unveiling Ceremony

Virginia Wesleyan University Board of Trustees members and friends of the arts gathered with benefactor Susan Goode today for the unveiling of the cornerstone at the new Susan S. Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center. Pictured (bottom left) with Susan, Board Chair David Kaufman, and Chair-elect John Malbon. Thanks to Susan and David Goode for their leadership role in this important project. The Center is scheduled for opening in late February 2019. 

Strong Board of Trustees Leadership

John Malbon of Virginia Beach and Susan Goode of Norfolk were elected Chair and Vice Chair, respectively, of the VWU Board of Trustees for 2019-20 at the fall meeting today. Also picture with us is current Board Chair David Kaufman, who will complete three years of service when his term expires June 30, 2019. We're fortunate to have strong leadership on our Board of Trustees.

VWU Board of Trustees Fall Meeting

Thanks to our talented Board of Trustees for an outstanding fall meeting today in Greer Environmental Sciences Center. The Board heard reports on academics, student life, finance, fundraising, and enrollment, and discussed progress on construction and growth initiatives.

Trustees Honor VWU National Softball Champions

During this morning's meeting of the Virginia Wesleyan University Board of Trustees, a resolution was adopted honoring VWU’s 2018 NCAA Division III Softball Champions. Board Chair David Kaufman and I had the honor of presenting the resolution to Head Coach Brandon Elliott ’03 and members of the championship team.