State of the University: With Challenge Comes Opportunity

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Virginia Wesleyan saw growth and prosperity in 2019-2020 despite global challenges

President Scott D. Miller delivers the 2020 State of the University address on August 21 in the Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center.

University News | August 21, 2020

Despite challenges faced globally, the 2019-2020 Academic Year was one of growth and prosperity at Virginia Wesleyan University, said VWU President Scott D. Miller during his virtual State of the University address on August 21.

Dr. Miller cited the impact of the COVID-19 crisis along with the civil unrest across the nation, but shared the University’s resolve to find silver linings.

“These events were painful and challenging in different ways,” said Dr. Miller, “but they also provided a chance for reflection and opportunity as we plan for the future in ways we never imagined.”

Among those opportunities, he said, came the University’s recommitment to assessing its practices, reflecting on its mission and culture, and further educating the campus community on how it can be part of the solution for much-needed positive social change. He said it also provided a chance for the VWU family to band together through incredibly difficult circumstances, showing compassion, understanding and resiliency and lifting one another up in a time of need.

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

  • Overall headcount enrollment at its highest point in Virginia Wesleyan history at 1,677 students for the 2019-2020 academic year.
  • Expansion of the University’s global presence with the joint acquisition of a campus in Tokyo—Lakeland University Japan and Virginia Wesleyan University Global.
  • Continued campus construction in year four of the University’s capital improvement plan, including renovation of the all new TowneBank Arena, updates and additions to Boyd Dining Center, upgrades to Susan T. Beverly Hall (the original fine arts building), and progress on Coastal 61 at Oxford Village, a luxury apartment complex on campus in partnership with the Franklin Johnston Group.
  • Establishment of a joint Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree with the Sentara College of Health Sciences.
  • Furthering of the University’s commitment to environmental stewardship and education through development of formal Environmental Guiding Principles.
  • A reimagined affordability model that expands options and makes a Virginia Wesleyan education more accessible to students, including the launch of the Work and Learn Program.
  • Awarding of the Carnegie Foundation’s prestigious Community Engagement Classification, the leading framework for assessment and recognition of community engagement in U.S. higher education.
  • New academic programs such as a Bachelor of Musical Arts, Bachelor of Science in psychology, new minors in Africana Studies and Data Science, and certificate programs in Advanced and Applied Microscopy, Biotechnology, Civic Engagement, Music Technology and Sound Recording, and Supply Chain Management and Logistics.

Despite these successes, however, President Miller cautioned of the challenging times for higher education and the need to remain vigilant in planning.

“The current social, political, health, and economic challenges have made clear how crucial it is that we can all think, analyze, communicate, learn, create, and embrace multiple perspectives,” he said. “These skills are the foundation of the liberal arts and the core of what we do, and I would argue that what we do has never been more important.”

He concluded with words of support and reassurance for the campus community.

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