Growth, Innovation, Prosperity Central to Virginia Wesleyan State of the University

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President Miller announces record enrollment and fundraising, groundbreaking on a new housing complex, and the establishment of a donor-funded program dedicated to study of African-American history.

University News | August 23, 2019
Photo Gallery: 2019 State of the University

Growth, innovation and prosperity were central to the fifth State of the University address by Virginia Wesleyan University President Scott D. Miller on August 23 in the Convocation Hall of the Jane P. Batten Student Center.

Dr. Miller announced record enrollment and fundraising, the groundbreaking for a new eight-building, public-private housing complex, and the establishment of a VWU Esports program. He also shared news of a $250,000 gift from business leader and civil-rights advocate Harvey Lindsay that will enable the University to begin expanding the study of African-American history and traditions in Virginia and beyond.

“As a top-20 national liberal arts institution in diversity, we are very pleased and honored to accept this gift,” said Dr. Miller. “We thank Harvey for funding the vision of what this program can be for the enrichment of all of us.”

President Miller spoke of factors that differentiate Virginia Wesleyan from other private institutions—the University’s focus on the environmental sciences; its Center for the Study of Religious Freedom; the highly selective Batten Honors College; the institution’s coastal-metropolitan location and many resulting community partnerships; and The Wesleyan Plan, the four pillars of a Virginia Wesleyan University experience: civic engagement, study away, research, and internships.

Mindful of concern about rising costs of higher education, he shared critical steps the University has taken to remain affordable and support students financially. Efforts have included capping of tuition and fees at their current level for both the 2018-19 and 2019-20 Academic Years; the Four-Year Graduation Guarantee; growth of January Term and Summer Session; expansion of early- and dual-enrollment programs; and the Opus student-work program.

Dr. Miller set notable goals for the future and highlighted the University’s accomplishments from the past year, including:

  • Overall enrollment at its highest point in Virginia Wesleyan history at 1,673 students for the 2018-19 academic year.
  • Dedication of the new Susan S. Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center in March and reaching three-fourths of the fundraising goal for the original Fine Arts Building.
  • Groundbreaking in May for Coastal 61 at Oxford Village, a public-private partnership with The Franklin Johnston Group that calls for an eight-building, 248-unit complex on University owned land.
  • Establishment of a new Esports program, to begin as early as January 2020, with an accompanying Esports Arena that will house state-of-the-art gaming stations.
  • Renovation of The Beacon, a structure that symbolizes Virginia Wesleyan’s heritage and the passion of its founders.
  • Expansion of online offerings with additional programs through VWU Online and new career training and continued education courses.
  • Establishment of the D. Henry Watts School of Professional Studies.
  • Opening of the new Tom and Betty Broyles Field at TowneBank Park for the Marlins’ two-time national champion softball team.
  • Launch of the Fair Transfer Guarantee, saving community college transfer students credits, time and money.
  • Initiation of many new service activities and partnerships through Wesleyan Engaged; establishment of the Bonner Leaders Program and further plans for the prestigious Carnegie Classification for Engagement.
  • Strengthening of the Westminster/Wesleyan Lifelong Learning Institute with Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay.

Despite these successes, however, President Miller cautioned of the challenging times for higher education caused by changing demographics, rapid advances in technology, rising tuition costs, and students’ customer preferences.

“Although our University has avoided many of the pitfalls impacting other institutions, we cannot be complacent,” he said. “I ask for your continued support in achieving greatness for Virginia Wesleyan University, and I pledge my own full effort, and that of our University leadership, in writing the next transformational chapters in our story.”

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