For the past 28 years, I have opened the new year by attending the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) Presidents Institute. It is the premier annual meeting of college and university presidents and the largest in the country. Although my schedule is routinely filled with a variety of meetings and events on campus and around the country, I always find this CIC gathering of 360 private college presidents to be a time of personal reflection and restoration.
Based in Washington, D.C., CIC works to raise the quality of education and strengthen resources at some 770 independent colleges, universities and higher education organizations. CIC's 2018 Presidents Institute explored the theme of "Leading Strategic Change" and other important issues of presidential leadership, drawing on the lessons learned by experienced campus CEO's and the perspectives of other distinguished speakers.
The time was very productive. I was able to accomplish:
Throughout the week, as I visited with my colleagues in these meetings, a theme arose. In the turbulent, often uncertain, world of higher education, many things remain constant. These include the need to build and maintain healthy enrollments and endowments, to teach well, and to give our efforts an honest and thorough assessment. We will always want to recruit the best students, faculty, and administrative staff that we can. A mainstay of Virginia Wesleyan's history is the devotion of all members of the campus community to academic, career, and life success for students. Our beautiful campus needs constant care, too, and the challenges of security and resource development in every area of the University are ongoing.
Although there are many recent developments and trends that bring uncertainty and demand vigilance--for VWU and other institutions--I am confident that with persistent effort on campus and through strong connections to colleagues in the higher education community and beyond, we will know success.
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I am pleased to announce the addition of two exciting partnerships to our already robust Virginia Wesleyan University Online: CIC Online Course Sharing Consortium and ed2Go.
As mentioned above, VWU proudly joined the CIC Online Course Sharing Consortium with whom I met with last week. This collaborative provides access to technology that facilitates online course sharing among members of the Council for Independent Colleges that have similar goals for academic quality, commitment to the liberal arts, affordability, and accessibility. Through this arrangement, a single platform is available for participating accredited CIC institutions to share online courses to better meet students' needs. The flexibility and increased opportunities support students' timely academic progress and degree completion. Read more here.
VWU Online has finalized an agreement with ed2go, the world's largest provider of web-based, instructor-supported training programs, to offer alumni and members of the community the opportunity to take non-credit courses online for professional and personal development. Partnering with ed2go allows VWU to offer a wider array of online courses and to deliver them in a highly desirable format to accommodate all lifestyles.
Please stay tuned for more information as we will be rolling out both systems in the coming month. Kudos and many thanks to Dr. Maynard Schaus, Associate Provost, for his excellent leadership in the success of these and all of our online initiatives.
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As the safety of our campus community is always paramount in my mind, allow me to share a reminder of Virginia Wesleyan's emergency procedures and the ways in which we communicate important updates to our students, faculty, and staff in the event of extreme weather or other emergencies. Please take a moment to review the following methods of contact utilized during situations such as these:
Emergency Website: https://vwu.edu/emergency
Inclement Weather Hotline: 757.455.5711
LiveSafe Mobile App: https://vwu.edu/campus-security/live-safe.php
Campus Security: https://vwu.edu/campus-security
Emergency Number: 757.233.8888
Non-emergency Number: 757.455.3349 (day) / 757.455.3289 (evening)
DeFord Gate House: 757.455.3289
LiveSafe Mobile App: https://vwu.edu/campus-security/live-safe.php
Please stay safe and exercise caution when traveling around campus and throughout the surrounding area.
Newbury College, a private institution near Boston, announced in December that it will close following the spring 2019 semester. Newbury's decision follows a similar announcement by St. Joseph's College in Vermont, Wheelock College in Massachusetts, and Mt. Ida College, also in Massachusetts.
Longtime colleague Brian Mitchell, former President of Bucknell University and Washington and Jefferson College, writes a popular weekly higher education blog in "Academic Innovators." In a recent post he states: "The sky is not falling (for private higher education), but warning clouds are looming." In "Another Small College Bites the Dust," he argues that colleges must begin to act now to safeguard the quality of their academic programs into the future. New approaches, strategic partnerships, and the adaptation of existing or creation of new products must be explored--and implemented--if colleges are to break out of the cycle of over-reliance on declining net tuition revenue.
AROUND TOWN AND ACROSS CAMPUS
With pride, we share the Fall 2018 President's List. Congratulations to the following students for achieving a 4.0 grade point average for the fall semester. A reception will be held later this spring to celebrate the outstanding achievements of these students. Well done!Kudos to Sarah Stermer, Virginia Wesleyan freshman, on receiving the Joseph E. and Bertha White Harry Scholarship from the Hampton Roads Community Foundation. She is nicknamed "Sarah Sapling" and for good reason. Sarah has worked to secure funding for and has planted more than 1,200 trees in Virginia Beach to remedy the city's tree canopy levels. She has also planted more than 1,800 trees in Haiti where deforestation is widespread. We are grateful for her environmental advocacy on our campus, in our city, and around the globe. Read more about Sarah's story and work on the front page of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation (HRCF) Fall/Winter 2018 newsletter.
Virginia Wesleyan University Fall 2018 President's List
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Also featured in the HRCF newsletter is VWU's Tiffany Williams, Director of Stewardship and Special Gifts, for her support of The Soul of Philanthropy exhibit sponsored by HRCF at the Slover Library in Norfolk. The exhibit celebrated Black Philanthropy Month.
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I enjoyed the "unveiling" of the new basketball locker rooms with the men's and women's basketball teams last week. Thanks to the Paphites family for their generous support! View the photo gallery here.
In case you missed it, work was completed December 22 on the stands/press box and auxiliary building at Virginia Wesleyan University's new TowneBank Park / Broyles Field. The new stands/press box at Birdsong Field are scheduled for completion within the next month. These additions at Birdsong Field will be named in honor of the Dale Foley family-proud graduates and generous supporters of Virginia Wesleyan University. Blacktopping of the new 259-space parking lot at the new Susan S. Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center is complete. Dedication of the Center is set for March 30. Taken last week is this photo of the sunrise through the trees at Renn Reserve and Pond on Marlin Way.
Read the latest happenings from our friends in the Center for the Study of Religious Freedom at VWU in "Action Steps You Can Take in 2019."
Kudos to alumna Marissa Coombs '18, newest member of New Balance's Garden State Track Club Emerging Elite team! In an interview, Marissa discusses her experience at VWU and how it prepared her for a post-collegiate career in running. Watch the video here.
Congratulations to Vox Vera, Virginia Wesleyan's student choir, who performed at the White House on Tuesday, December 18. Led by Choral Director Bryson Mortensen, the choir sang in the East Room under portraits of President George Washington. I'm proud of these talented students for receiving the invitation, and appreciate their representing the University so well at our nation's capital. The week prior, Vox Vera performed their "Sing We Now of Christmas" concert on campus and it was fantastic. Read more here.
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HIGHLIGHTS FROM MY WEEKEND READING
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Have a great week!