Monday, March 11, 2019

Nota Bene: Weekly Update

It is with great pride and pleasure I announce that U.S. Congresswoman Elaine Luria has graciously accepted Virginia Wesleyan's invitation to deliver the 2019 Commencement Address on May 18. Representative Luria serves the Second District of Virginia--which includes Virginia Wesleyan--and is a 20-year Navy veteran and small business owner in Coastal Virginia. On October 4, Representative Luria--then a candidate for Congress--visited campus, met with members of the VWU community, gave remarks, and answered questions from our students, faculty, and staff. We were proud to host her then and are proud to have the opportunity to welcome her back to Virginia Wesleyan and present her with an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree in May. 

The good news continues as Mr. Jonathan Zur, President and CEO of Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities (VCIC), will deliver the 2019 Baccalaureate Service Address on May 17. In addition to the spiritual component of the evening, the essential message to our graduates and their families at Baccalaureate is one of celebrating their milestone achievement, inspiring them to be humane and responsible citizens, and enriching the memorable experience of Commencement Weekend. Not only is VCIC's mission "achieving success through inclusion," but Mr. Zur truly embodies the ideals of inclusiveness, service, and citizenship. We look forward to presenting him with the Wesley Award given for contributions and dedication to humanity. 

We are truly honored to welcome these distinguished members of the community as special guests and featured speakers for our Commencement Ceremonies. Representative Luria and Mr. Zur exemplify the ideals and values of our University, and it is a privilege for our campus community to share with them such a momentous occasion.

Bishop Sharma D. Lewis recently announced that she will be on a six-month medical leave, effective immediately, at the strong recommendation of her doctors. Bishop Lewis underwent hip surgery in December and has since experienced ongoing complications resulting in the need for additional surgeries. I share this news to keep you informed and to ask that you please keep Bishop Lewis in your thoughts and prayers. 

In Bishop Lewis's absence, Bishop Peter Weaver has been named Interim Bishop to oversee the Virginia Annual Conference. Bishop Weaver is a longtime friend and colleague. For 11 years he was the Bishop of the Philadelphia Episcopal Area of the United Methodist Church and was on the Board of Trustees during my tenure as President of Wesley College.  When West Virginia Wesleyan College honored me at Founder's Day in 2011, Bishop Weaver presented me with the College's highest distinction.  I look forward to working with him again.  

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Given this news, Bishop Lewis is no longer able to present at the 2019 VWU Robert F. Boyd Institute for continuing education for clergy.  As such, I am pleased to announce that Dr. Scott Kisker of United Theological Seminary will be the presenter at the 2019 Boyd Institute on April 8-9. Dr. Kisker is an elder in the Iowa Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church, and he has served as Senior Pastor of Colesburg United Methodist Church in Colesburg, IA. Prior to coming to United Theological Seminary, he was Professor of History of Christianity at Wesley Theological Seminary as well as Wesley's Director of the Course of Study Program. Dr. Kisker served as the director of the Charles Wesley Heritage Centre in Bristol, UK and as associate pastor for the American Protestant Church in Bonn, Germany. Dr. Kisker is one of the hosts of "Plain Truth: A Holy-Spirited Podcast." His books include The Band Meeting: Rediscovering Relational Discipleship in Transformational Community, co-authored with Kevin M. Watson; Longing for Spring: A New Vision for Wesleyan Community, co-authored with Elaine Heath; Mainline or Methodist? Recovering Our Evangelistic Mission; and Foundation for Revival: Anthony Horneck, the Religious Societies, and the Rise of an Anglican Pietism. His presentation at the Boyd Institute will pull from his publications mentioned above.

Registration for the 2019 Boyd Institute is available online. Please join us for this educational and spiritual event with Dr. Kisker.

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Our recent announcement of Virginia Wesleyan's newly formalized agreement with Tidewater Community College--the Fair Transfer Guarantee which allows TCC graduates with associate degrees to seamlessly enroll as juniors at VWU--has attracted a good bit of attention. Both Inside Business in The Virginian-Pilot and Southside Daily covered the story.

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The March meeting of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce Virginia Beach Board of Directors provided an opportunity to hear an enlightening presentation by Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) Superintendent Aaron Spence on the importance of investing in schools, the new full-day kindergarten, budget and Capital Improvement Program (CIP), and new construction updates.   

I enjoy serving on the VBCPS Strategic Planning Committee and VWU continues to be pleased to have a strong relationship with the school system. We look forward to that partnership continuing to grow. To learn more about the largest school division in Hampton Roads and the 50th largest in the nation, I share this VBCPS Fact Sheet with you.

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As a part of our work with the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia (CICV), Virginia Wesleyan is a member of Growth4Va, a campaign of the Virginia Business Higher Education Council. In their most recent communique, Growth4Va featured varied options for addressing college affordability, nearly all of which were embraced in the adopted budget. The new investment for the next fiscal year totals $81 million. Here is a breakdown:
  • $57.5 million in tuition moderation incentives, available to public institutions that opt to forego tuition increases for in-state undergraduate students;
  • $15.5 million increase in student financial aid at public colleges, universities, and community colleges;
  • $3.5 million increase for Tuition Assistance Grants (TAG) at private colleges and universities;
  • $500,000 increase in an innovative new pilot program to promote business and higher education collaboration on internships;
  • $4 million for workforce credential grants. 
Last Thursday we inducted 14 new members into the Virginia Wesleyan University Chapter of Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society. These new inductees join a membership dating back to April 22, 1983, when the organization was chartered here at VWU. Congratulations to Savion Blanco, Megan Coe, Alyssa D'Emanuele, Brooke Erickson, Shane Fuselier, James Harrod, Garrett Hedspeth, Erin Highsmith, Cecil Hylton IV, Faith Macwana, Nicole McDermott, Jonathan Onia, Mollie Sequeira, and Lindsay Weitzel. We look forward to all you will accomplish here at Virginia Wesleyan.

Can you spot the Virginia Wesleyan University campus and a VWU faculty member in action in the video "Discover Virginia Beach"? Thanks to Virginia Beach City Government for inviting us to be part of this excellent video capturing our vibrant coastal community.

Congratulations to three Virginia Wesleyan University student-athletes who were recognized on March 4 by the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) for their athletic performances. Two-time national player of the year Hanna Hull of the softball team and Andrew Lowe of the baseball team both were named the conference's Pitchers of the Week while Paul Gladstone earned Men's Tennis Player of the Week honors. Read more about these accomplished Marlins here.

Last Wednesday we greeted Virginia Wesleyan's new Steinway Concert Grand Piano as it was delivered to its home in the Joan and Macon Brock Theatre of the new Susan S. Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center at VWU. The countdown is on for the March 30 opening and dedication of the Goode Center which is looking great in this sunrise photo taken last week.

As part of the Wesleyan/Westminster Lifelong Learning Institute, Virginia Wesleyan University students share perspectives on politics and society with members of Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay. "Our American Future: How College Students Perceive Politics and Society," taught by Associate Professor of Political Science Leslie Caughell, is one of eight spring 2019 courses offered through the Institute to members at no cost. Kudos to Dr. Caughell and her students for their work in promoting cross-generational dialogue. Read more here.

We enjoyed hosting Dan Peterson, Market President for BB&T, to campus last week. We discussed the forthcoming merger of BB&T and SunTrust banks, and provided an update on VWU plans and progress. We look forward to keeping in touch.

Mark your calendars for these wonderful upcoming events organized by the Center for the Study of Religious Freedom at VWU.



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Have a great week!