Monday, October 2, 2023

Nota Bene: Weekly Update


October 2, 2023

Good morning,
It's here! We hope you’ve made plans to join us this weekend (October 6-7) for an exciting lineup of diverse events for Marlins and their friends and families. 

On Friday, the weekend kicks off with Marlin Spirit Day. We invite Marlins and friends to snap and share your pics in your favorite Marlin gear. The 22nd Annual Virginia Wesleyan University Golf Outing tees off at Cypress Point Golf and Country Club, and then the day culminates with an alumni gathering at ShoreBreak Pizza & Taphouse on Shore Drive. 

On Saturday, we’ll celebrate our annual FinFest with food trucks, live music, and family fun, and we’ll host a special 25th reunion of the Class of 1998. We’ll cheer on the Marlins in athletic contests and alumni games and celebrate the best of VWU Athletics during the Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony that evening. 

But the weekend isn’t just for athletes and fans. The Susan S. Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center will host the Choral Invitational on Friday and the Performing Arts Showcase on Saturday. Students can look forward to the Homecoming Dance and the crowning of the Marlin Majesty. It's a weekend filled with festivities, athletics, arts, and community spirit that you won't want to miss.

View the full schedule for 2023 Homecoming & Family Weekend. See you there!
I am pleased to share some exciting news that promises to transform our commitment to student success at Virginia Wesleyan University. The U.S. Department of Education has awarded us a Strengthening Institutions Program grant, totaling $1,921,806.41 over the next five years. This grant represents a remarkable opportunity for VWU to bolster its commitment to academic excellence, institutional management, and fiscal stability, with a focus on serving low-income and first-generation students.

Our project, "Bridging, Connecting, and Building Student Success (BCB)," embodies our dedication to creating a supportive environment that enables every student to thrive. This transformative endeavor will concentrate on three vital objectives:

  1. Enhancing Data-Driven Decision-Making: We will establish a robust data collection and analysis system to identify key factors influencing student persistence and attrition. This data-driven approach will guide our efforts to provide tailored support for our students.
  2. Improving Retention Rates: VWU is committed to increasing our first-to-second year retention rate, ensuring that students who choose us continue to flourish on our campus.
  3. Boosting Graduation Rates: Our goal is to enhance both our four-year and six-year graduation rates, ensuring that more students successfully complete their academic journey at VWU.

To achieve these ambitious objectives, we have outlined a comprehensive plan:

  • Leveraging the Oracle Student Management System (OSM) to construct a data-informed retention model specifically designed for first-generation and Pell-eligible students.
  • Utilizing OSM, we will streamline communication among all VWU colleagues working with these students, fostering a collaborative support network.
  • The addition of dedicated tutors will provide essential guidance in gateway courses, where students often face challenges.
  • Our counseling staff will expand to offer specialized support encompassing academic, emotional, and career guidance for first-generation and Pell-eligible students.
  • To reduce student debt and provide valuable experiential learning opportunities, we will integrate paid work and learn programs.

This grant represents a remarkable stride forward in our journey to provide a world-class education for all VWU students, regardless of their economic background. We are committed to creating a more inclusive, supportive, and enriching environment for our entire campus community.

I want to express my sincere gratitude to the dedicated faculty, staff, and students who have contributed to this achievement. Together, we will embark on this transformative journey to build a stronger, more resilient Virginia Wesleyan University.
I am happy to announce academic leadership appointments for the 2023-24 academic year:

Birdsong School of Social Science: Dr. Antje Schwennicke, Dean
  • History: Dr. Richard Bond, Chair
  • Sociology and Criminal Justice: Dr. Jeff Toussaint, Chair
  • Psychology: Dr. Taryn Myers, Chair
  • Political Science: Dr. Sally Shedd, Chair
  • International Studies: Dr. Modupe Oshikoya, Coordinator
  • Social Science: Dr. Antje Schwennicke, Coordinator

D. Henry Watts School of Professional Studies: Dr. Ben Dobrin, Dean
  • Business: Dr. Michelle Vachris, Director
  • Education: Dr. Bill McConnell, Director
  • Sport and Recreation Professions: Dr. Jill Sturts, Chair
  • Social Work: Dr. Annette Clayton, Chair
  • Nursing: Dr. Maury Howard, Director
  • Sustainability Management: Dr. Maynard Schaus, Coordinator

Joan P. Brock School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences: Dr. Vic Townsend, Kenneth R. Perry Dean
  • Allied Health: Dr. Maury Howard, Director
  • Biology: Dr. Soraya Bartol, Chair
  • Chemistry/Biochemistry: Dr. Kevin Kittredge, Chair
  • Earth & Environmental Sciences: Dr. Chris Haley, Director
  • Mathematics: Dr. Margaret Reese, Chair
  • Environmental Studies: Dr. Chris Haley, Director
  • Computer Science and Information Systems: Dr. John Wang, Chair

Susan S. Goode School of Arts and Humanities: Dr. Steven Emmanuel, Dean
  • Fine and Performing Arts: Dr. Bryson Mortenson, Director
  • Communication: Dr. Stu Minnis, Chair
  • English: Dr. Kellie Holzer, Chair
  • Foreign Languages and Classics: Dr. Susan Wansink, Chair
  • Philosophy: Dr. Larry Hultgren, Chair
  • Religious Studies: Dr. Craig Wansink, Chair
  • Women's and Gender Studies: Dr. Jennifer Slivka, Coordinator

VWU Global Campus: Dr. Deirdre Gonsalves-Jackson, Dean; Dr. Nadia Nafar, Assistant Dean
  • LUJ/VWU Global (Japan): Dr. David Black, Chancellor and Executive-in-Residence
  • VWU Online: Dr. Deirdre Gonsalves-Jackson
  • Lifelong Learning: Marion Hibbler
  • Master of Business Administration: Dr. Michelle Vachris, Director
  • Master of Education: Dr. Bill McConnell, Director
  • Master of Arts in Education: Dr. Bill McConnell, Director
  • Master of Environmental Studies: Dr. Chris Haley, Director  
  • Master of Arts in Human Services: Dr. Ben Dobrin, Chair
  • Master of Arts in Arts Leadership and Nonprofit Management: Dr. Bryson Mortensen, Director

Batten Honors College: Dr. Travis Malone, Anne B. Shumadine Dean; Dr. Jill Sturts, Assistant Dean

Our thanks and congratulations to these faculty leaders.
Virginia Beach's collaborative endeavor, The HIVE, comprising Virginia Beach Economic Development, Virginia Wesleyan University, and Tidewater Community College (TCC) - Virginia Beach, has gained international acclaim, securing three awards at the 2023 International Economic Development Council (IEDC) Excellence in Economic Development Awards. The HIVE, short for Hub for Innovation Veterans and Entrepreneurs, has firmly established itself as a leading force in economic development.

Under the visionary leadership of the City of Virginia Beach, The HIVE was recognized in three categories:

  • Partnerships with Educational Institutions (Partnerships with Virginia Wesleyan University and TCC for Talent Innovation) - Silver Award: The HIVE's dedication to educational partnerships, particularly with Virginia Wesleyan University and TCC, earned it the Silver Award, highlighting its commitment to fostering talent innovation and collaboration between education and industry.
  • Entrepreneurship (The HIVE- VB Business Resource Center) - Bronze Award: The HIVE's commitment to nurturing entrepreneurship and supporting local businesses was honored with the Bronze Award, reinforcing its pivotal role in driving economic growth and innovation in Virginia Beach.
  • Magazine & Newsletter (The HIVE Monthly Newsletter) - Bronze Award: The HIVE's dedication to communication and information dissemination through its monthly newsletter received the Bronze Award, emphasizing its commitment to building a well-informed entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Born during the challenging times of the pandemic, The HIVE has become a symbol of resilience and adaptability in Virginia Beach's Town Center. Located at the corner of Columbus Street and Independence Boulevard, The HIVE provides invaluable mentorship, networking opportunities, and essential resources to bolster the city's entrepreneurial ecosystem. It plays a pivotal role in supporting and nurturing the region's thriving businesses, solidifying its status as a cornerstone of the Central Business District.

Virginia Beach's recognition at the IEDC 2023 Excellence in Economic Development Awards underscores the city's dedication to innovation, education, and entrepreneurship. The HIVE's outstanding achievements are a source of pride for the entire community and a testament to the power of collaboration in driving economic development. We are pleased to be a partner in this endeavor.
Celebration of Life for Dr. William T. “Billy” Greer, Jr.
All are invited to a celebration of life for former Virginia Wesleyan president Billy Greer on Saturday, October 14 at 11:00 a.m. in the Susan S. Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center. A picnic reception will immediately follow at the Greer Environmental Sciences Center.
Hofheimer Library Welcomes New Librarians
We are pleased to share the appointment of Sarah deRosa Shiplet as the Research and Electronic Resources Librarian and Kelsi Dunman as the Research Librarian for Online Learning and Circulation at the Henry Clay Hofheimer II Library.

Sarah brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to her new role, having previously served at South University since 2016. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Archaeology and History from Lycoming College in Pennsylvania and a Master of Science in Library & Information Science from St. John's University in New York. Her educational background reflects her dedication to both the preservation of history and the effective management of information resources.

Kelsi recently completed the dual Master of Archival Studies & Library Information Studies (MAS/LIS) degree from the ALA-accredited University of British Columbia. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology from Appalachian State University. Kelsi’s most recent position was as a contractor for E-Library Resources at the British Columbia Freedom of Information and Privacy Association where she developed web pages dedicated to K-12 educators on the topics of internet safety and child privacy protections.

Both will join the Marlin family this month.
Update on the VPC Instructional Technology Collaboration
Last week I attended the launch of the Virginia Private Colleges Technology Collaboration. Senior administrators from participating institutions, along with contract staff from VPC to role out the services to the membership.

In June we shared that VWU joined with 12 other Virginia private colleges to conduct an independent third-party review to identify strengths and opportunities where all member colleges can find benefit. Since then, the collaboration has grown to 17 and a clear agenda has been developed for the future. Additionally, our Chief Information Officer, Greg Skinner, was asked to join the CICV steering committee to work closely with CICV and Moran Technologies, who will lead the collaboration..

Progress is well underway with the initiative Moran Technologies is using a combination of qualitative and quantitative measures for analysis, including the review of our institutional strategic plan, organizational charts, and our Malbon Center for Technology service catalog. A survey will be sent out from the Malbon Center for Technology to collect feedback on our technology services from the community.

The end goal is to identify a list of initiatives that have the highest potential to provide essential technology services more efficiently or effectively if addressed collaboratively by multiple institutions rather than individually. The summary of information is expected in January 2024.
VWU to Host Intentional Endowment Network Fall Forum
Virginia Wesleyan University is proud to host the Intentional Endowments Network Fall Forum on October 25, an interactive half-day event on campus. The Virginia Wesleyan University panel will feature Gary Bonnewell ‘79, H’16, VWU Trustee and Senior Vice President, Financial Advisor at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney; Rowan Stuart, student and member of the Brown Advisory Student Investment Fund team; Ali Bayler, Portfolio Manager at Brown Advisory, and me. Registration for this event is open. We hope to see you there!
A Visit from Student-Leader Chris Mitchell
It was nice to visit with Chris Mitchell, President of Kappa Alpha Psi, last week. The fraternity has recently worked to donate school supplies to Camelot Elementary and will host a campus clean up this month. I congratulate Chris and his brothers on providing valuable service to our community.
Marlin Family Campaign for Faculty and Staff is Underway
We had a wonderful kickoff meeting and breakfast for the ambassadors of the Marlin Family Campaign for Faculty & Staff last week (pictured). Our thanks to Brandon Foster ‘19, Frank Futyma, Michele Hedspeth, Kelly Jackson ‘84, Dr. Elizabeth Malcolm, Dr. Bill McConnell, Crit Muniz, Ashley Roehrman ‘21, Bethany Tsiaras, and Ryley van der Velde for serving the campus community in this special way. 
The Marlin Family Campaign gives faculty and staff the opportunity to support the area of the University that inspires their vision of the future. I invite our campus community to seize this opportunity and show that you believe in the people and programs that make VWU such a unique place to work and learn. For more information on how to make your gift, please contact Sarah Guzzo, Director of the Wesleyan Fund, at or visit
Welcome Bill Kelly, New President of CNU
We offered a warm Coastal Virginia welcome to new Christopher Newport University President Bill Kelly last week over lunch at DeFord Manor.

Spring 2024 Advising Weeks
Advising for students for January Term and the Spring 2024 Semester begins this week. Students should use this time to clear any holds with the Office of Finance before registration begins on October 23. Students should contact Academic Advising ( if they have questions or concerns.
Fall Faculty Dinners Begin
Every year, Annie and I are delighted to host dinners at DeFord Manor for new and returning faculty members. We kicked off the fall semester with back-to-back dinners last week where we engaged our faculty in friendly conversation and campus updates.
National Hispanic Heritage Month
Celebrated from September 15 to October 15, National Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes and honors the rich cultural contributions and heritage of Hispanic and Latino Americans. It's a time to appreciate the profound impact these communities have had on American society, from arts and culture to politics and beyond, fostering a greater understanding of their important role in shaping the nation.

Virginia Beach is Getting 1,000 Amazon Jobs with a New Robotic Shipping Facility and Delivery Station 
WHRO reports that Amazon is coming to Virginia Beach with plans to break ground this year on a major shipping center that includes a multi-story robotics fulfillment center and delivery station. Read more.

Plan for New On-site Hotel at Norfolk International Airport Moves Forward
The Virginian-Pilot reports that the airport authority will begin negotiations with ORF Hospitality Partners to design and build a 168-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel that will feature a rooftop bar. Read more.
President to President: New Ideas for Sustainability on Campus
This year's President to President series, titled “Sustainable Futures for Higher Education,” features unique insights from a diverse array of college and university presidents. The second chapter of the 2023-2024 thought leadership series is now available online. In “A New Approach to Climate Action Planning: Reimagining Campus Sustainability in a Post-COVID Environment,” University of Puget Sound President Isiaah Crawford, Ph.D., dives into the complexity of prioritizing sustainability in modern higher education. He offers ideas for identifying realistic goals, establishing benchmarks, and tracking progress in crucial areas, and he emphasizes the importance of engaging students and staff in the efforts to mitigate climate change.
I hope you find these links useful to my recent columns and publications:

Twitter: @vawesleyanprez 
Instagram: @prezscottmiller 
Flickr: Scott D. Miller 
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See you at Homecoming and Family Weekend!

Scott D. Miller, Ph.D.
Virginia Wesleyan University
5817 Wesleyan Drive
Virginia Beach, VA 23455
Phone: 757.455.3215