October 2017 
Coming Home 
We are now a little more than one month into the fall semester, one of my favorite times in the academic year as alumni return for fall sports and cultural events and remind us of our enduring and extended community. With strong enrollment and one of the most academically talented classes of incoming students in our history, we see much promise as we advance through our first year as Virginia Wesleyan University.

Any institution's true worth is greater than the sum of its parts. I often speak of Virginia Wesleyan's many "value addeds," those intangible experiences beyond the norm that set a Virginia Wesleyan education apart from that offered by other institutions. Our traditions are numerous and significant; however, this year's Founders Day will surely be among the most memorable.

We officially opened the 2017-18 academic year September 7 in the Convocation Hall with the customary pageantry, including the faculty processional, my welcoming comments, reflections by esteemed graduate Dr. Janet L. Adams '90, and celebration of our 2017 Alumni Awards recipients --- Doug Wilson '86 (Distinguished Alumni Award), Taylor Franklin '04 (Alumni Service Award), and Sydney Covey '16 (Graduate of the Last Decade Award).

A recognition ceremony for Batten Honors College students took place as the first cohort's 40 members were pinned with special Honors College lapel pins. Batten Fellow Aleah Brinn '21 spoke on behalf of the class during the ceremony, and Dr. Joyce Easter was presented with a Dean's Medallion to be worn at all formal academic functions.

A number of environmentally themed activities took place as part of Founders Day, including an oyster cage build service project, unveiling of new signage for the University's 12-acre old-growth beech forest, and a Chesapeake-Bay themed sustainable seafood dinner for students. A "Wesleyan EcoFestival" featured displays from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Eastern Shore Watermen, Lynnhaven River Now, Norfolk Botanical Garden, Sierra Club, Sodexo, Tidewater Fiber, and the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center.

Founders Day culminated with a historical moment in the life of the University --- a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Greer Environmental Sciences Center followed by a special dedication dinner. Dozens of dignitaries and special guests attended, including Billy and Fann Greer, many members of the Virginia Wesleyan Board of Trustees, and Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms.

This Founders Day marks the 56th year since the founding of Virginia Wesleyan, and I'm proud to say that we opened the academic year with tremendous optimism. We continue to celebrate the efforts of all who, over the last half century, have strived to make Virginia Wesleyan what it is today. And now it is our turn to add tradition, to shape our success, and to be entrusted with the legacy of our founders.

# # #

Additional highlights from the past month include:

DACA: A Concern for All of Us: The Trump administration's decision to end the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program is a matter of grave concern to our colleagues in higher education as well as many Americans of all walks of life. I reiterated in early September my commitment, and that of Virginia Wesleyan University, to inclusiveness and acceptance of those seeking academic and life success at our institution and others. Congress has six months in which to enact legislation to address the issues that affect some 800,000 individuals who have sought to pursue the American dream. We stand in sympathy with those aspiring citizens, and we urge our leaders in the Congress to pass responsible, humane legislation that will preserve access to our institutions of higher education and other avenues that will ensure that those who are registered for DACA or defined as "undocumented" may continue to make contributions to America that are already, indeed, documented and valued.

VWU Ranked 20th Nationally in "Ethnic Diversity": I am pleased to share that Virginia Wesleyan University has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report in two categories of its 2018 Best Colleges rankings, released September 12. We are ranked 20th in "Ethnic Diversity" among National Liberal Arts Colleges, and we are also featured among 229 "Best National Liberal Arts Colleges." It is an honor to be included in these rankings among America's best and most well-rounded institutions. I hope you take as much pride as I do in this recognition.

Spring 2017 President's List: We held a reception on campus last month to recognize Virginia Wesleyan students named to the Spring 2017 President's List. Provost and Vice President Timothy O'Rourke and I were pleased to congratulate those in attendance and to present them with certificates of achievement. The President's List recognizes full-time students who earn a grade point average of 4.0 during a given semester. To qualify for this honor, students must have taken nine semester hours of traditionally graded courses and have no grades of incomplete or grades of F. These individuals demonstrate a remarkable level of dedication to their academic pursuits, and we are proud of their accomplishments. Photos taken during the reception are available on the Virginia Wesleyan Flickr page.

Virginia Wesleyan University Magazine Fall 2017: I am pleased to share the fall 2017 edition of Virginia Wesleyan University Magazine. This edition's feature stories include: From College to University: What it Means for Virginia Wesleyan; Campus Master Plan: Blueprint for the Future; Call Them the NCAA Champs: Virginia Wesleyan Softball Brings Home First-ever Division III National Title; Exploring Sustainability in Alaska; and Graduate and Online Programs Come to VWU. We hope you enjoy these special updates and many other features highlighting the latest news and exciting developments on campus. Be sure to pass along your favorite articles to family, friends, and fellow Virginia Wesleyan supporters.

University College at Virginia Wesleyan University: I announced during my State of the University Address the establishment of a fifth academic division, University College. University College operates all for-credit programs outside of the traditional undergraduate program and also supports non-credit, continuing-education offerings. University College will be an important source of enrollment, will expand our presence in the higher-education market, and will coordinate planning and promotion of future educational opportunities in the increasingly popular non-traditional market. It will not be an auxiliary enterprise; rather, it will be a fully integrated unit of our curriculum. Provost and Vice President Timothy O'Rourke is fine tuning the organizational structure, and leadership of the program will be announced in the near future.

Westminster/Wesleyan Lifelong Learning Institute: A signing ceremony was held September 26 to formally mark a new partnership --- the Westminster/Wesleyan Lifelong Learning Institute --- which brings courses taught by Virginia Wesleyan University faculty to the campus of Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay. Several courses will be taught each semester, and roughly half will be on faith-related topics. Courses are offered at no cost to Westminster-Canterbury members, who will also receive free admission to many VWU athletic and cultural events on our campus. We are extremely grateful for our ongoing relationship with Westminster-Canterbury, as it is a natural fit and truly a win-win. It allows Westminster-Canterbury members to stay challenged and energized as they continue their path of education and growth, and it gives Virginia Wesleyan opportunities to share the talents and leadership of our faculty, students, and community.

VWU Digital Broadcasting Network: I am pleased to report that the VWU Digital Broadcasting Network is now live on the Virginia Wesleyan website. This media production unit serves the University community by recording and web streaming a wide range of institutional, educational, cultural, and athletics programs. From Founders Day and Commencement to distinguished lecturers and cultural programming, live video is streamed and then archived for later on-demand viewing. Marlins athletics fans can watch live action and archived sporting events. Our network has introduced VWU to a truly worldwide audience, and we are grateful for the generosity of a private gift that made the network's state-of-the-art video equipment possible.

# # #

Finally, I invite you to join me on campus this week for our Homecoming and Family Weekend activities! This Wednesday, October 4, we'll hold our annual #MarlinSpiritDay (be sure to share a photo in your favorite Marlin gear!) followed by a Wesleyan Wednesday Singles Mingle in the evening. Friday through Sunday festivities include the Homecoming Parade, Friday Night Flights Alumni Social, Homecoming Tailgate, Inaugural Chili Cook-off, alumni and varsity athletic games, tours of the Greer Environmental Sciences Center, the Class of 2017 Tree Planting Ceremony, an interdenominational worship service, and more.

We look forward to welcoming you home for this very special Wesleyan tradition.
Scott D. Miller, Ph.D.