Virginia Wesleyan University Magazine | Summer 2021

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VirginiaWesleyan Summer 2021

Greatest of all Time Hanna Hull leads Marlins softball to its third national championship while becoming the all-time winningest pitcher in Division III history






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Construction on Campus (Clockwise from top left) The new Virginia Beach Business Collaboration Studio is located off the O’Rourke Foyer in Clarke Hall. The studio is a part of a larger renovation project on the first and second floors funded through a grant collaboratively developed with our partners at the Virginia Beach Department of Economic Development. Upgrades to Clarke Hall include new and modernized classroom space to accommodate VWU’s growing business department and workforce development courses. Athletic Facilities continue to be upgraded through donor gifts. A gift from Trustee Emeritus John Trinder allowed for upgrades to the women’s locker room and facilities at the Trinder Center (pictured). A gift from Trustee Emeritus Bill Shelhorse '70 will soon add a 10-lane digital scoreboard to Betty S. Rogers Track and Field. The David L. Kaufman Center for Enrollment, named after a long-time Board member, now houses the entire enrollment team under one roof with a friendly and comfortable Welcome Center for prospective students in Godwin Hall. DeFord Manor, named in honor of long-time Trustees and benefactors Bob and Nancy DeFord, is expected to be completed in mid-November 2021. It is designed with extensive indoor and outdoor entertainment areas on the ground level and the president's private residence on the second floor. The Malbon Center for Technology in Pruden Hall now boasts a collaboration studio and private workspaces. The space is named after John Malbon, generous benefactor and Chair of the VWU Board of Trustees. The University has partnered with Parcel Pending to provide a package delivery system via Amazonstyle lockers. Located outside the University Store in the Jane P. Batten Student Center, these branded lockers not only improve campus services, but are less staff-dependent. Construction is underway on the new Brock Commons addition that connects the Boyd Dining Center and the Batten Student Center. This is the final stage of a comprehensive three-phase renovation of the dining facilities over the past two years. The area is named in honor of long-time VWU Trustee Emerita and benefactor Joan P. Brock H'10. The Barclay Sheaks Gallery has been relocated to Hofheimer Library. The new gallery is much larger than the previous space and features a rotating exhibit of works from the University's permanent Sheaks collection. The paintings are now available to the public during extended library hours. A new Kiln Shop has completed the final renovations to Susan T. Beverly Hall (the original Fine Arts Building), named for the Trustee Emerita and generous benefactor. A dedication for the building will be held on Founders Day on September 9, 2021. Read more on page 4.

President's Message

Welcome to this summer edition of Virginia Wesleyan University Magazine! Despite all the challenges and uncertainty of the last year, Virginia Wesleyan offered our students two full semesters of in-person instruction in the 2020-21 academic year, an incredible feat! I cannot tell you how proud I am of the Marlin community for their dedication and commitment to the health and safety of our campus. Along the way, we created new academic programs, like the online Master of Education and the Bachelor of Musical Arts, and engaged new leaders with incoming Trustees G. Robert Aston H'20, W. Taylor Franklin ’04, Michael Rawls ’91, and Matthew Nusbaum. VWU capitalized on tremendous talent within our Marlin family, naming Heather Campbell ’04 as Vice President for Enrollment and Andrea Hoover-Erbig, former Head Volleyball Coach, as Executive Director for Intercollegiate Athletics. Most notably, our Marlins softball team won their third national championship in four complete seasons. The Marlins were led by Hanna Hull, the winningest pitcher in NCAA Division III history (and two-time NFCA Player of the Year), Jessica

Goldyn, the NCAA Player of the Year, and Head Coach Brandon Elliott ’03, who reached 500 career wins during the season. This team is an amazing example of the Marlin winning spirit that carried us through the last 18 months of national crisis. After hosting a virtual Commencement for the Class of 2020, we were thrilled to celebrate the Class of 2021 in person, albeit through modified Commencement exercises. As you’ll read, the five small graduations for the five academic schools of the University resulted in intimate ceremonies for our graduates and guests. Progress and facility improvements continue to be a theme at Virginia Wesleyan. Susan T. Beverly Hall, formerly known as the Fine Arts Building, underwent a major modernization of nearly all aspects of the building. We are incredibly grateful to the donors who made this possible—Susan T. Beverly ’72, H’21, the Hofheimer family, The Mary Morton Parsons Foundation, the Alison J. and Ella W. Parsons Foundation, the Hampton Roads Community Foundation, and James A. Hixon. Finally, the University has continued to devote much attention and resources to improving diversity, equity, and inclusion in our community and region. We have partnered with 68 other National Liberal Arts Colleges to form LACRELA, the Liberal Arts Colleges Racial Equity Leadership Alliance, led by the University of Southern California’s Race & Equity Center. VWU was also chosen to represent the Commonwealth of Virginia in the Unity Flag Project, and we dedicated Heritage Plaza in the heart of campus. While much work remains at all levels, VWU will continue with our best effort to make positive change. Enjoy reading all the VWU news! Sincerely,

Scott D. Miller, Ph.D. President of the University





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Greatest of All Time

Hanna Hull leads Marlins softball to its third national championship while becoming the all-time winningest pitcher in Division III history

A Commencement to Remember Virginia Wesleyan University Class of 2021 celebrated with several socially-distanced ceremonies during COVID-19 pandemic









John F. Malbon, Chair Scott D. Miller, Ph.D., President Susan S. Goode, Vice Chair Mavis E. McKenley ’11, Secretary J. Timothy Bailey ’83, Treasurer David L. Kaufman H’19, Immediate Past Chair G. Robert Aston, Jr. H’20 J. Timothy Bailey ’83 Gary D. Bonnewell ’79, H’16 Alisa W. Crider ’10* Nancy T. DeFord, Ph.D. W. Taylor Franklin ’04 Susan S. Goode Sharon S. Goodwyn William W. Granger III David L. Kaufman H’19 Howard P. Kern Seonyoung Kim* Sharma D. Lewis* John F. Malbon Vincent J. Mastracco, Jr. Robert W. McFarland Mavis E. McKenley ’11 Scott D. Miller, Ph.D.* Matthew R. Nusbaum Eric C. Nyman ’94 Tassos J. Paphites ’79 Deborah M. Paxson ’75, J.D. Jonathan E. Pruden Michael R. Rawls ’91 Robin D. Ray Louis F. Ryan Alan H. Shaw James H. Shumadine Lee T. Stevenson ’85 Joseph R. Thomas Kenneth G. Trinder II George K. (Chip) Tsantes III ’83 Anthony Walters Michael J. White ’81 Douglas B. Wilson ’86

Scott D. Miller, Ph.D. President Maynard Schaus, Ph.D. Vice President for Academic Affairs Kimberley J. Hammer, J.D. Vice President for Advancement Special Assistant to the President Mary Ryberg Vice President for Finance Keith E. Moore, Ed.D. Vice President for Campus Life and Operational Management Heather Campbell ’04 Vice President for Enrollment Andrea Hoover-Erbig Executive Director for Intercollegiate Athletics Kelly Cordova, MBA ’21 Executive Assistant to the President

*Ex Officio


Jane P. Batten H’06 Susan Torma Beverly ’72, H’21, Ed.D. George Y. Birdsong H’16 Joan P. Brock H’10 Thomas C. Broyles Robert W. Collenberg II ’90 Robert H. DeFord, Jr. O. L. (Butch) Everett William J. Fanney Ronald M. Kramer Lemuel E. Lewis John E. Lingo, Jr. Elizabeth F. Middleton ’91 Emily S. Miles William S. Shelhorse ’70 William H. Thumel, Jr. John A. Trinder D. Henry Watts H’07, D.B.A.

ADVANCEMENT AND ALUMNI RELATIONS Lori L. Harris ’94 Associate Vice President for Advancement and Executive Director of Alumni Relations alumni relations general inquiries

VirginiaWesleyan UNIVERSITY



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Refreshed for the Future: Susan T. Beverly Hall UPGRADES TO THE ORIGINAL FINE ARTS BUILDING INCLUDE A NEW DIGITAL MEDIA LAB, IMPROVEMENTS TO VISUAL ART STUDIOS, HOFHEIMER THEATRE, AND MORE For there is always light, if only we're brave enough to see it. If only we're brave enough to be it. Visitors to the newly renovated Susan T. Beverly Hall are greeted by murals created by Professor of Art John Rudel and his Painting II class. The murals flanking the front doorway in the Alison J. and Ella W. Parsons Fine Arts Entrance and Lobby (pictured) reflect on National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman's "The Hill We Climb," recited during President Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony in January 2021. The murals and their poignant, timely message are just the beginning of numerous improvements and upgrades to the building during the past year. Newly named in honor of longtime Virginia Wesleyan Trustee and Alumna Dr. Susan T. Beverly ‘72, H‘21, the eponymous building—VWU’s original Fine Arts Building—has undergone substantial renovations. Improvements include the addition of the Hixon Music Studios which were equipped with a Steinway-designed

Boston piano in each of the six studios; the Parsons Ensemble Room, freshly outfitted with new sound and rehearsal equipment; a renovated Hofheimer Theatre that now has new curtains, theatrical lighting, and new sound equipment; the Cabell Foundation Visual Art Studios, complete with improved lighting and a new photography studio, as well as space for seniors to prepare their capstone projects; and a new Kiln Shop that houses three Skutt electric kilns, a downdraft-style gas kiln for stoneware firings, and a Raku kiln. A new Digital Media Lab, in the Visual Arts Wing, is another upgrade to the facility. “Our biggest goal in designing this lab was to make it as versatile as possible,” says Travis Malone, Professor of Theatre and faculty liaison for the renovation of Beverly Hall. “We wanted to make sure it would be a lab that could advance as many aspects of the arts programs on campus as possible.” The Digital Media Lab is equipped with 16 top-of-the-

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line computers with advanced processors, video cards, and audio cards that enable each computer to run the advanced software required for digital music, digital art, and photography classes. Each of the lab's computers also has a 44 Key MIDI controller for use in music theory and digital music classes. In addition, the new lab sports a 77-inch, 4K television in the front of the room, as well as high-end Behringer speakers that enable students to present their work directly from their own computers. A room in the back of the lab also serves as both a recording booth and a virtual reality studio. With the photography studio right across the hall, the Digital Media Lab will support digital art and photography students, while also serving to support the digital music and technical theatre programs on campus. A formal dedication for Susan T. Beverly Hall is scheduled for Founders Day on September 9, 2021.


VWU Joins Liberal Arts Colleges Racial Equity Leadership Alliance

Virginia Wesleyan's original Fine Arts Building has been updated and renamed to honor longtime VWU Trustee Dr. Susan T. Beverly ‘72, H‘21, pictured at the entrance to the facility in April 2021.

Virginia Wesleyan University President Scott D. Miller announced in November 2020 that he joined with presidential colleagues from 60 National Liberal Arts Colleges to form the Liberal Arts Colleges Racial Equity Leadership Alliance (LACRELA). VWU was an inaugural member of the partnership, facilitated by the University of Southern California Race and Equity Center. "We are committed to building a campus culture of diversity, inclusion, and equity," said Dr. Miller. "We must always work and strive to deepen our understanding and sensitivity regarding all perspectives surrounding diversity." Membership in the alliance includes a variety of professional learning opportunities for faculty and staff, and in spring 2021, featured the administration of the National Assessment of Collegiate Campus Climates (NACCC) to VWU students. This rigorous, quantitative survey measures belonging and inclusion as well as students’ appraisals of institutional commitment to diversity and inclusion and other related topics. Presidents of alliance member colleges also meet quarterly to share strategies, seek advice, and identify ways to leverage the alliance for collective impact on racial equity in higher education. Virg in ia We sle ya n U n ive rsit y Ma g a zin e | S ummer 2021 / 5 /

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Board of Trustees Elects New Members

G. ROBERT ASTON, JR. H'20 Executive Chairman of the Board, TowneBank

W. TAYLOR FRANKLIN '04 Chief Operations Officer, The Franklin Johnston Group

MICHAEL R. RAWLS '91 Chief Executive Officer, Xome

MATTHEW R. NUSBAUM Asset Manager, Partner S.L. Nusbaum Realty Co.





Heather Campbell '04 Named Vice President for Enrollment Heather Campbell '04 was named Vice President for Enrollment at VWU during the 2020-2021 Academic Year. “Since returning to Virginia Wesleyan in 2015, Heather has been an important leader in recruiting, marketing and special events,” said VWU President Scott D. Miller. “Her leadership will continue to be instrumental to our institution.” Campbell oversees the David L. Kaufman Center for Enrollment, which includes recruiting for all undergraduate and graduate traditional and non-traditional programs, as well as VWU Online, Early Enrollment, and non-credit programs. She earned a B.A. in recreation and leisure studies from VWU and an M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration from Northeastern University. She was honored with the VWU Distinguished Alumna Award in 2010. She is a native of Augusta County, Virginia, and now lives in Norfolk with her wife, Emily, and young daughter, Sutton.

NATIONAL UNITY FLAG PROJECT COMES TO CAMPUS TRAVELING EXHIBIT OPENED AT VWU ON INAUGURATION DAY, BUILDING EMPATHY THROUGH THE ARTS The Unity Flag Project, a nationwide traveling exhibit inspiring empathy and bipartisanship, made a stop at Virginia Wesleyan in winter 2021, hosted by the Robert Nusbaum Center and Neil Britton Art Gallery. As an expression of national unity, the exhibit opened on Inauguration Day and continued through March. The project was initiated in anticipation of the final presidential debate at Belmont University in October 2020 and was designed to encourage civil discourse and bridge political divides through the visual arts. Artists were invited to create representations of the U.S. flag that expressed empathy for bipartisanship, and the Robert Nusbaum Center of VWU was selected to create the Unity Flag for Virginia.

Created under the direction of the Robert Nusbaum Center by VWU Branding and Design Manager Christine Hall, "A Beacon of Hope” (inset) was one of 30 state flags displayed during the final presidential debate at Belmont University. Its lighthouse and heart images are symbols of welcome and hope. (Pictured top) Dr. Craig Wansink, the Joan P. and Macon F. Brock, Jr. Director of the Robert Nusbaum Center, speaks to a local media outlet about the exhibit.

Mentorship Program Connects Current Students With VWU Alumni Erin Highsmith ’21 planned to attend law school after graduation in May 2021. Patrick Keady ’08 was happy to help her navigate the process. The two were introduced through VWU’s newly established Marlin to Marlin Mentoring Program, designed to cultivate meaningful relationships between VWU alumni and current students. The program originated in The Lighthouse: Center for Exploration & Discovery as a way to connect graduates who completed immersive internships, study away

experiences, or undergraduate research with current students. The mentoring relationships provide support and guidance and foster productive conversations about planning, preparation, and participation in experiential learning opportunities. Learn more and get involved at

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1,608 students


average class size


out-of-state students


–year graduation guarantee


academic majors


students receiving financial aid


athletic teams


academic associations and honor societies


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graduates employed or continuing education within a year VWU.EDU

Marlins Mourn the Passing of Hall of Famer Don Forsyth IN HIS MORE THAN 29 YEARS AT VIRGINIA WESLEYAN, FORSYTH SERVED AS A MENTOR AND FRIEND TO ATHLETES ON AND OFF THE COURT The University community continues to mourn the February 2021 passing of longtime head men's basketball and golf coach, athletic director, and Hall of Famer Donald M. Forsyth, the father of Virginia Wesleyan Athletics. Hired in 1969 as the first full-time employee in Virginia Wesleyan Athletics, Forsyth served as men's basketball coach, golf coach, and athletic director. He was instrumental in the formation of 14 varsity sports and guided the development of the athletic fields and construction of Cunningham Gymnasium (CMAC) before retiring in 1998. He was also a member of the inaugural class of the VWU Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009. In his more than 29 years at the University, he served as mentor and friend to athletes on and off the court. In men's basketball, he led Virginia Wesleyan to two conference championships in 1978 and 1979, three NCAA berths, nine consecutive winning seasons, and two 20 plus-win seasons. His awards include being

named three times as Dixie Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, National Association of Basketball Coaches South Atlantic Region Coach of the Year, and the Virginia Beach Sport Club Director's Award. Today, the Marlins compete on the Donald M. Forsyth Court in TowneBank Arena in the Jane P. Batten Student Center. It is because of his leadership during the infancy of the program that the Marlins are a powerhouse in many sports today. Coach Forsyth will always be remembered for his commitment and dedication, and the University is thankful for his leadership and unwavering Marlin spirit.

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Life was certainly different during the 2020-2021 Academic Year. Words like masking, social distancing and quarantine, and references to Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson became the new normal as the campus community adjusted to life during the global COVID-19 pandemic. Marlins showed their resolve to remain on campus and their resilience to challenge and change, and the Virginia Wesleyan community came together to keep one another safe and healthy. 1. Students took some time to play in the quad during a snowy day in January 2021. 2. Even campus icon John Wesley masked up for safety during the academic year. 3. Special education major Nyah Liz Washington '24 stayed socially distant while studying in Hofheimer Library. 4. Ashley Roehrman of Virginia Beach graduated cum laude on May 8, 2021, during the Commencement Ceremony for the Joan P. Brock School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. She double majored in environmental studies and biology and earned a Bachelor of Arts. 5. Virginia Wesleyan University's Office of Gender and Sexuality Equity hosted a Diversity Walk on November 6, 2020, on University Commons. The walk was part of programming for LGBTQ+ History Month and provided an opportunity for VWU community members to learn more about themselves and others. Dr. Jennifer Slivka, Director of Gender and Sexuality Equity, read a passage from Ijeoma Oluo's "So You Want to Talk About Race" during the event. 6. A virtual Commencement Ceremony was held for the VWU Class of 2020 on December 4, 2020, followed by in-person Graduate Recognition Hours on December 5 in the Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center. Graduate Matthew Freeman '20 posed for a photo with his older brother Andrew Freeman '19. 7. The color guard processed during Virginia Wesleyan's annual Veterans Day Ceremony on November 11, 2020, by the Veterans Memorial Monument on Godwin Hall Lawn.

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hen one thinks of college softball greats the names of Cat Osterman (Texas; ‘02-’03. ‘05-’06) and Monica Abbott (Tennessee; ‘04-’07) come to mind, both medal-winning Olympians, Division I athletes, and greats in their own right. But another name has recently made the rounds as one of the greatest pitchers of all time, and she happens to be Virginia Wesleyan’s very own Hanna Hull. A native of Chesterfield, Virginia, Hull came to Virginia Wesleyan in the fall of 2016 with her first collegiate season to start in the spring of 2017. At that time no one knew she would become the powerhouse she is. An athlete who shattered the NCAA Division III career pitching wins record. A pitcher who ends her career with 1,353 strikeouts, top-four in the NCAA records. And one of the most decorated pitchers in all of NCAA softball history with over 100 honors and recognitions. Hull got her beginning in softball when she was just five years old, playing with some family friends on local little league teams. Softball was not the first sport she played, but it was her last. She had tried gymnastics when she was younger and in her own words, “I learned soon after that I was not very coordinated, and I still can’t do a cartwheel." Gymnastics was definitely not for her, she says, and softball was the next sport she tried. The road to Virginia Wesleyan began late in the game. Hull played high school softball at Clover Hill in

Chesterfield and was not heavily scouted heading into her senior season. A few ODAC schools expressed interest, but there weren’t any serious offers until VWU Head Softball Coach Brandon Elliott '03 came along. Elliott helped guide Hull to campus and cultivated a young student-athlete into a powerhouse pitcher. Hull says it was Elliott’s personable and outgoing personality that drew her to the school. “In high school, talking to college coaches was a very intimidating process. [Elliott] always made me feel comfortable and valued, which was really important to me. The small campus and previous success of the softball team were also contributing factors.” After the 2017 season began, Hull quickly drew the spotlight, throwing 220.1 innings as a freshman in 41 appearances. Her first season she recorded an Earned Run Average (ERA) of 0.51, the lowest nationally, to go along with a record of 32-3 in the pitching circle. And in 2017, the Marlins captured the program’s first, but not last, NCAA Division III National Championship Title. Hull earned national accolades including the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Player and Freshman of the Year awards, NFCA All-American honors, and NCAA Championship Most Outstanding Player, to name a few. She came back the following year and topped her own statistics from the previous season with 267.2 innings pitched, throwing 376 strikeouts, all while collecting 40 wins and just two losses. The Marlins again went to the

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NCAA Division III Softball National Championship and won their second title in as many years. Hull shared her thoughts on what it was like to follow the 2017 season with another championship season in 2018, which was statistically one of the best years for VWU softball in program history. “I think it was the expectation and taste of success," she says. "The second year, we felt a little like it was expected of us to win, which created a lot more pressure. Also, the feeling I had the first time we won is something I will never forget. You have so many emotions running through you in that moment, and it was something that I knew I wanted to experience again.” The Marlins were on par to make another appearance in the 2019 NCAA Softball National Championship Tournament, but the team was defeated by ODAC foe Lynchburg in the regional. Hull says it was a rough day to process, as it was the first time she had been knocked out of postseason play. “I remember the disappointment and sadness we all felt. I especially remember how awful it was for the seniors. I really felt like we had a good shot to win it that year, and I don’t think any of us were expecting to get knocked out so early. It was definitely motivation, as I knew I never wanted to experience that feeling again.” When VWU softball returned to action in spring 2020, they were off to a great start with 11-1 before the season came to a screeching halt. COVID-19 put a pause on Hull’s senior season. “We were all at a loss for words,” she says. “It was so unexpected, and we felt like we had so much more to prove. Like any team, we just weren’t ready to give it up yet.” Following the COVID-19 disruption, the NCAA granted all spring sport athletes a year of eligibility back, which Hull took advantage of while pursuing a Master of Business Administration at VWU. “A lot of that decision [to come back] had to do with my teammates, especially the other girls in my class [Madison Glaubke and Jessica Goldyn]. I knew that it would kill me to watch them play knowing that I had the opportunity to be a part of it. I felt like I would not have been able to gain closure and move onto the next chapter of my life without finishing what I had started at Virginia Wesleyan. I was also excited to pursue an MBA and felt that it would be beneficial from a professional standpoint.” Hull came back to one of the hardest seasons in collegiate athletics, as teams across the country navigated

how to play through the pandemic. The Marlins saw early success opening the 2021 season on a 10-game winning streak before falling to No. 5 Salisbury University. After taking the loss, the mental toughness was challenged and on top of softball, Hull had school and a full-time job to focus on. Following their third loss of the season, the Marlins went on a 12-game winning streak including a 10-day span where games were postponed due to opposing squads quarantining for COVID protocols. Eight wins over seven days brought the regular season to a close. VWU got a shock when they dropped two games late in the season, to Shenandoah and Roanoke, heading into the ODAC tournament, but again the team got back on track and put together a 13-game run that took them into the best of three series against the reigning 2019 NCAA Champions, the Texas Lutheran University Bulldogs. Hull gave up two runs early in game one, but closed out the game for a 4-2 win to go up 1-0 in the series. Game two saw the Bulldogs hold on for dear life to emerge with a 3-2 win, tying the series and forcing a third game, which Hull came back out to the circle to pitch. She threw four scoreless innings—during which her teammates scored eight runs—and was only three outs away from ending her career with an 8-0 five-inning National Championship victory. The Bulldogs managed to get one run on the board, but the Marlins bats kept scoring as VWU won 9-1 with a walkoff single by Ariana Rolle. Reflecting on the season, Hull shared her thoughts on what made the team so successful in 2021. “I think knowing that this was it for a lot of us was our driving factor," she says. "We wanted to go out on a high note, and with the strong bond and talent we had, we knew we had the ability to win it all again.” Hull ended her collegiate career on the highest of highs, winning a third National Championship in four complete seasons and was able to leave Virginia Wesleyan knowing she set out what she came back to do. Hull graduated in August 2021 with her MBA and will now turn focus to her career. Looking ahead, she also has a wedding to plan. She got engaged to former Marlins men’s lacrosse player Robert ‘Bobby’ Mazingo '21 in the middle of the 2020-21 season. Hull thanks her family, teammates, coaches, and Virginia Wesleyan for always believing in her, even when she didn’t, and for giving her the confidence to go forward on this journey over the last five years.

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Five separate ceremonies celebrated the VWU Class of 2021 in May in TowneBank Arena in the Jane P. Batten Student Center.

A Commencement to Remember

VIRGINIA WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY CLASS OF 2021 CELEBRATED WITH SEVERAL SOCIALLY-DISTANCED CEREMONIES DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC It was a Commencement Day like no other for Virginia Wesleyan University. With COVID-19 precautions in place, four socially-distanced ceremonies celebrated the nearly 330 members of the Class of 2021 on May 8 in TowneBank Arena in the Jane P. Batten Student Center. “We are mindful of everything it took to get here today,” said VWU President Scott D. Miller. “This year has been so different from anything we’ve experienced in our lifetimes. But you made it, and you now join our 10,000 Marlin alumni whose experiences at Coastal Virginia’s premier university of the liberal arts and sciences will continue to inform careers and contributions in this region and around the world.” Following his welcome remarks, Dr. Miller introduced commencement speaker Dr. Timothy Carter, President of the Boston-based environmental advocacy organization Second Nature. “Being a college graduate is a new identity that you now have,” Dr. Carter told graduates, “and you will continue to add identities throughout your life.” “While I am both an ecologist and a climate change professional, I can’t represent all things ecology and all things climate,” he continued. “And if my identity were so tightly wound around any one of these things, then if I don’t have the answers, then I am a phony and a professional failure.” Dr. Carter urged the graduates to hold loosely to their identity, remembering that being a college graduate is part of who they are, but not all of who they are. “The more tightly you hold things, the more sacred they are to you, so make that your guide. Don’t cling to your identities, cling to what you consider sacred. Be as authentic as you know how to be.”

His second piece of advice for the Class of 2021 was “don’t swing on your plans, plan on your swings.” He told the graduates that plans tend to make us feel comfortable and confident about the future and it can seem an easy ride back and forth on that certainty. And then, when you fall off, it really hurts. “Your future is a story you have a hand in writing, but one that is shaped by forces way beyond your control,” he said. “Whether it’s COVID, an election, or your favorite restaurant closing down, at all levels of life you’ll continue to have your plans foiled. So instead of trying to bring everything into your own control and planning for success, recognize your own limitations.” Dr. Carter urged the graduates to recognize that “swings happen in life that don’t have anything to do with intellect, effort, or hard work.” He told the Class of 2021 that you can’t help but be humble and empathize with others around you. And as a result, “relationships can be based on our shared struggles, our shared experiences and our shared humanity.” President Miller and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Maynard Schaus conferred degrees upon students earning a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Musical Arts, and/or Bachelor of Social Work. Graduates of each academic school proudly crossed the platform to receive their diplomas as cheers celebrated their promising futures. The University also presented honorary doctoral degrees to Dr. Carter; Dr. Richard Ekman, President of the Council of Independent Colleges; Dr. Susan Torma Beverly ’72, Retired School Administrator and Philanthropist; and Dr. David R. Black, President-Emeritus of Lakeland University and Eastern University and this year’s Baccalaureate Speaker. (COMMENCEMENT, continued on page 18)

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(COMMENCEMENT, continued from page 17) Four distinguished Virginia Wesleyan faculty members received awards during the ceremony. The 2021 Samuel Nelson Gray Distinguished Teaching Award was presented to Professor of Management, Business and Economics Linda Ferguson; The Frank and Jane P. Batten Distinguished Scholar Award to Professor of Communication Terry Lindvall; the Service and Community Engagement Award to Professor of Chemistry Joyce Easter; and the United Methodist Church General Board of Higher Education and Ministry 2021 Exemplary Teacher Award to Assistant Professor of Management, Business and Economics Elaine Dessouki. The ceremonies concluded with the University’s Alma Mater led by Dr. Bryson Mortensen and Virginia Wesleyan Vox Vera, and a benediction from then University Chaplain Marie Porter. “I offer my sincerest congratulations, to these very special graduates and the family, friends, and faculty and staff members who helped them along the way,” President Miller said. "We will always remember the Class of 2021 for their resilience and adaptability. These qualities, along with their world-class liberal arts education from VWU, will help them achieve their personal and professional goals.” A fifth Commencement Ceremony was held on May 16 for students in Virginia Wesleyan University Global Campus who earned a Master of Arts in Education, Master of Business Administration and undergraduate degrees completed through VWU Online or the Evening and Weekend Program. “You are a different kind of graduate,” said President Miller, “because you either completed your degree online or you started your degree as an adult. . .To be a non-traditional student likely means that you have real-world personal and professional experience to enrich discussions and enhance the learning environment. You juggle the life you had before you started at Virginia Wesleyan with the life of a student. To be a non-traditional student is a remarkable feat, and we are so proud of you.”

BEING COVID CONSIDERATE: AN UNPRECEDENTED YEAR FOR SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT An interview with Sarah Guzzo, Director of Student Activities Returning to campus in fall 2020 did not mean business as usual. Strict COVID-19 restrictions made keeping Marlin Nation active and connected a considerable challenge. Director of Student Activities Sarah Guzzo and her staff reinvented campus life with activities from pool paddle board yoga and bubble soccer to take-and-make terrariums and cat walk costume contests. Throughout it all, being "COVID Considerate" was key. What were some of the biggest challenges during COVID? The biggest challenge initially was thinking differently about our approach to campus engagement—planning within an attendance limit and accounting for social distancing, but once that became the “new normal,” the planning process was second nature. An ongoing challenge was how COVID affected our campus traditions. We decided that if restrictions impacted the essence of the tradition, we would wait until there was an opportunity to host in better circumstances. That was disheartening, but the safety of our campus was the priority. How did you keep students engaged? It was evident that students were “zoomed out,” so we focused on providing safe, in-person events. Our “take-and-make” events were the most popular. We provided craft kits for clay modeling nights, nail and string art, tye dye kits, LEGO kits, custom Bob Marlin puzzles, paint-by-number kits, and so much more! Students would set alarms in their phones to be sure they didn't miss out. We provided 85 customizable terrariums, and they were all picked up within 34 minutes! Were there any silver linings? More silver linings than we can count! Although it was challenging, our student leaders and staff really stepped up to the plate and we all discovered new ways to be connected as a community.

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Tidewater Classical Guitar Presents Silviu Ciulei BROCK THEATRE, GOODE CENTER | 7:30 PM

A spectacularly rare musician, Silviu Ciulei has been earning top prizes in international competition since the age of 13. Featuring both the Classical and Flamenco guitar styles. $30/$25, Free to VWU students, faculty, and staff


23 - DECEMBER 7 Art Rosenbaum and Margo AUGUST



Newmark Rosenbaum: Journeys in Art, Music, and Folklore NEIL BRITTON ART GALLERY

Paintings, drawings, and photographs featuring the people and places that Margo and Art have encountered in their years of travel documenting and playing roots music. On loan from and curated by John Lee Matney of the Linda Matney Gallery. Free to the public




8 Tidewater Classical Guitar OCTOBER

Presents Gohar Vardanyan BROCK THEATRE, GOODE CENTER | 7:30 PM


Charles J. Woodward, Artistic Director The Virginia Chorale is the premier professional vocal ensemble in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Founded 38 years ago, the ensemble has grown from a community-based early music chorus to today’s dynamic group of professional singers.


Virginia Wesleyan Instrumental Recital


Students present instrumental work from the semester's lessons and ensembles. Free to the public


Vocal music majors take the stage to present their finest work from the semester. Free to the public


Tidewater Classical Guitar is a non-profit arts organization with an all-volunteer board that cultivates awareness and appreciation of classical guitar by presenting world-class concerts and advancing guitar education. TCG presents concert series which feature many of the world's best-known and most outstanding guitarists.


This dynamic ensemble, all members of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, will thrill you with their interpretations of the very best music written for string quartet, from classical favorites to the most recent compositions of celebrated contemporary composers. $15/$10; Free to VWU students, faculty, and staff

The Wesleyan Choirs, VWU Jazz Ensemble, and Theatre Department perform a collection of numbers celebrating the Arts at VWU. Great opera choruses and jazz classics, and a sneak preview of the fall theatre production. Free to the public



Under the direction of Justin Stanley, an evening of traditional music for the string orchestra, including music by Mozart and Holst. Free to the public



Homecoming Performing Arts Showcase

We are excited to welcome two organizations as Artists in Residence in the Susan S. Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center for the 2021-2022 season. Each group will host a series of concerts at VWU, providing free tickets for VWU faculty, staff, and students while also open to the general public. Both groups are representations of artistic excellence and dedication to the role of the arts in a liberal arts education.


Virginia Wesleyan Orchestra

Ambrosia String Quartet




Widely admired for her technique, artistry, and passionate performances, Armenian guitarist Gohar Vardanyan has performed throughout the United States and internationally. Guitar International Magazine has described her as “the complete package,” “with a musicality and emotional quality . . . that one would expect from someone much older than the young wunderkind.” $30/$25; Free to VWU students, faculty, and staff



The SpongeBob Musical by Kyle Jarrow and Tina Landau


The VWU Fine and Performing Arts Department presents the Coastal Virginia premiere of The SpongeBob Musical. When a natural disaster unleashes chaos on the residents of Bikini Bottom, an unexpected hero rises to save everyone from disaster and themselves. SpongeBob, Patrick, Sandy, and all your favorite characters come to show us how the power of optimism can save the world. Presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals ( $15/$10; Free to VWU students, faculty, and staff

Virginia Wesleyan Vocal Recital BROCK THEATRE, GOODE CENTER | 11:00 AM



A Wesleyan Christmas


The Virginia Wesleyan Camerata and Virginia Wesleyan Vox Vera present a concert of carols, both old and new, and songs to celebrate the season. $10/$5; Free to VWU students, faculty, and staff



Virginia Chorale: Sing We Nowell BROCK THEATRE, GOODE CENTER | 7:30 PM

The Virginia Chorale welcomes the holiday season with sparkling songs and carols for chorus and guitar. Featuring prize-winning guitarist Dr. Todd Holcomb. $28/$15; Free to VWU students, faculty, and staff



Members of the philosophy department celebrated the retirement of one of their own in May 2021 in Wilson Arboretum. (From left) Philosophy faculty Larry Hultgren, Steven Emmanuel, retiree Cathal Woods, and Patrick Goold.

HONORING RETIRING FACULTY Four longtime faculty members—Hilve Firek, Michael Hall, Jayne Sullivan, and Cathal Woods—were honored in fall 2020 and spring 2021with the traditional faculty Tree Planting Ceremony in Wilson Arboretum. “In the same way that we plant the seeds in our students and then give them a lifetime to grow," said Vice President for Academic Affairs Maynard Schaus, "this ceremony represents the lasting impact of these colleagues. They have planted ideas that will take root in the hearts and minds of thousands of students over the years, and these ideas and their inspiration will continue to grow and make an impact on the world long after they have left the Virginia Wesleyan campus.”


Professor of Education 10 years of service (2020)


Professor of English 40 years of service (2020)


Associate Prof. of Education 22 years of service (2020)

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Associate Prof. of Philosophy 16 years of service (2021)


Online Master of Education Launches

VWU Adds Bachelor of Musical Arts Degree Serena Smith (pictured) was one of the first students to graduate from Virginia Wesleyan with a Bachelor of Musical Arts (BMA) degree in May 2021. The new degree option enables students to choose from one of three concentrations—performance, choral and vocal studies, and composition and music technology. What makes the BMA unique, says Associate Professor of Music Bryson Mortensen, is that students are required to design and pursue a cognate field (a course of study outside of music) in addition to their musical studies. They are then expected to integrate this into their capstone project. Smith, a music education major, focused on English as her cognate field, taking courses in poetry and writing. Her capstone included a series of her original poems set to her own musical composition. As part of her studies, she also completed an internship with the Virginia Chorale, Virginia’s premier professional vocal ensemble. This fall she will continue her education at VWU, pursuing a Master of Arts in Education.

Virginia Wesleyan University Global Campus launched a new online Master of Education (M.Ed.) in May 2021 with a concentration in Teacher Leadership. “The program is designed especially for licensed teachers who are passionate about teaching and learning,” said VWU President Scott D. Miller. “This opportunity will expand career options for educators and provide a timely and flexible avenue for them to become leaders in the profession.” The 10-course program is offered fully online and delivered by full-time faculty in collaboration with adjunct instructors who bring practical expertise to the program. Courses are aligned to the National Competencies of Teacher Leadership and the Teacher Leader Model Standards. Courses are taught in eight-week sessions, and the program can be completed in as few as 16 months. Interested candidates can enroll on either a full- or part-time basis and can enter during any online term. VWU Global Campus also offers an online Master of Business of Administration (MBA), nine online undergraduate programs, as well as continuing education career training certificate programs, personal and professional development courses, and culinary certificates for non-degree seekers.


Travis Malone Appointed Dean of the Batten Honors College Dr. Travis Malone has been appointed Dean of the Batten Honors College of Virginia Wesleyan University effective with the 2021-22 Academic Year. He replaces Founding Dean Dr. Joyce Easter, who will return to the VWU faculty as Professor of Chemistry. Dr. Malone is in his 15th year at VWU, having served as Professor of Theatre and the Founding Dean of the University's Susan S. Goode School of Arts and Humanities. In the latter capacity, he assisted with fundraising and served as faculty liaison for construction of the Susan S. Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center and the renovation of Susan T. Beverly Hall. He received his Ph.D. in theatre from Bowling Green State University, his master’s from Kansas State University and his bachelor’s from Sterling College. The Batten Honors College is a highly selective residential program that inspires, engages, and prepares academically talented students to become impactful leaders and environmental stewards in the global community. The program enrolls approximately 160 scholars across four cohorts and offers 20 full-tuition and 20 two-thirds tuition scholarships annually.

Each fall, first-year Batten Honors College students convene for a formal Matriculation Ceremony.

FOCUS ON FACULTY: WAYNE POLLOCK Dr. Wayne Pollock, Associate Professor of Sport and Recreation Professions, has served on the faculty of Virginia Wesleyan since 2000. He teaches all courses in the recreational therapy track as well as core curriculum courses. His research interests have involved measuring the functional outcomes of individuals with dementia using a technology based intervention, and promoting the ethical practice of recreational therapy. He has also served on regional and national boards of directors, working to advance the recreational therapy profession. He is the 2020 recipient of the Virginia Wesleyan University Exemplary Teaching Award by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church. What is most interesting about your field? The field of recreational therapy has often been misunderstood. I've even heard folks say, “Oh, you get paid to play." Well, not exactly. I attempt to enlighten others by explaining that our field uses recreation, along with other activity-based modalities, to help improve health and increase independent functional abilities leading to an improved quality of life. Most people get some level of pleasure from engaging in the recreation activity of their choice. Using their interests to help them improve their physical, social, cognitive, or emotional level of functioning is what is most exciting about this field. Seeing individuals transfer skills they have learned while in treatment to their personal lives is so rewarding.

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How would you describe your teaching style or philosophy of education? I have always thought that education should be enjoyable, informative, and engaging. I try to instill that same philosophy in my students. I find that sharing experiences I've had with individuals I have worked with when I was a practitioner helps students grasp theories and concepts that might otherwise seem a bit difficult to understand. In some ways I guess you could say I am a storyteller. I, along with all my department colleagues, attempt to have students engage in numerous community-service experiences where they can observe and practice skills learned in the classroom. Experiential learning is wonderful!

Living & Learning

What does it take for a student to be successful in your class? Showing up and participating in the class discussion is obviously of utmost importance. Reading assigned material, asking questions, completing assignments, and preparing for quizzes/exams are all vital if a student is to succeed. An unknown author once said, "There are three groups of people in the world. Those that make things happen. Those that watch things happen. And those that wonder, what happened?" I encourage my students to be in the first group. What's next? I'm winding down my career so I'm not as active as I have been. I recently retired from the board of directors positions with national and regional professional organizations, but remain active in advocating for the advancement of recreational therapy, the need for ethical guidelines in practice, and the use of evidence-based research in delivering our service. What do you most enjoy doing in your leisure time? Spending time with my children, 'grands', other family members and friends brings me the most joy; although it's been difficult in our current COVID-19 environment. I enjoy reading, walking, playing golf, spending time at the beach, and traveling, especially by car. I look forward to the day VWU/ODAC athletics can be fully resumed, as watching our student-athletes perform is also very enjoyable. Favorite advice to share with students: Life is not a dress rehearsal. Find your passion, pursue it, and enjoy life.

Building Connections in the Field During the summer of 2020, Ukari Perkins ’21 (pictured) completed an internship at Brentwood Animal Hospital near her home in Maryland. An aspiring veterinarian, she was eager for hands-on experience and the opportunity to build connections in the field. Realizing that entrance into veterinary school is very competitive, Perkins completed the required 200 hours of experience, an essential step in her formal preparation. What she did not anticipate was just how hands-on the work actually was. "I was very surprised with how much they let me do," she said. (BUILDING CONNECTIONS, continued on page 24) Virg in ia We sle ya n U n ive rsit y Ma g a zin e | Su mmer 2021 / 23 /

Living & Learning (BUILDING CONNECTIONS, continued from page 23) "The doctors were open to teaching me and then trusting me to complete procedures such as administering vaccines, drawing blood, and obtaining skin scraping samples. This experience solidified my career path and helped me to see whether I want to be a surgeon, specialize, or own my own practice." During the internship, Perkins served as a veterinary technician, tasked with assisting with the triaging of patients, filling prescriptions, working with animal and human clients, assisting in surgeries, administering x-rays, and caring for animals in the hospital boarding facility. She reflects that the most memorable moment of the internship was during a surgery. "I was assisting in a surgery where we had to remove mammary gland tumors from a dog. Unfortunately, during the operation, we found the cancer had gone deep in the tissue and spread. This was my first time truly seeing cancerous tissue and because of the histology course I took at VWU, I was able to look at the biopsy and identify the cancerous cells in the dog’s tissue." When asked about her most important takeaway from the experience, Perkins shared a personal revelation. "I learned that I need to trust myself and believe in myself because when you are confident, many things are possible." She found the internship invaluable in so many ways. "This experience will help me so much in veterinary school. Not only do I now have prior knowledge walking in, but I’ve also gained valuable mentors in the profession. The veterinarians I worked with expressed how willing they are to help me and guide me on my own journey to becoming a veterinarian, and the hospital owner and lead veterinarian offered me a position after graduation. I look forward to his mentorship in the year between VWU and veterinary school." Perkins provided advice for students considering an internship: “Go for it! An internship gives you so much insight and creates vital connections.”

Kathleen Vanden Berg '22 Named Newman Civic Fellow Rising VWU senior Kathleen Vanden Berg ‘22 was one of just 212 students nationwide selected as a 2020-21 Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact, a Boston-based nonprofit working to advance the public purposes of higher education. This year's Fellows, who represent Campus Compact member colleges and universities from 39 states, Washington, D.C., and Mexico, are nominated based on their potential for public leadership. An art and biology major from Chesapeake, Virginia, Vanden Berg is active at VWU as a member of the University’s Batten Honors College, serving on its programming council. She is the social media coordinator for the Chesapeake Bay Sierra Club and served as marketing officer for the Marlins Go Green student environmental organization. She is an illustrator for the student newspaper, The Marlin Chronicle, and is working closely with art faculty to develop her senior project with the Museum of Contemporary Art in Virginia Beach to blend the visual arts with sustainability and the environment. “Kat is an incredibly high-performing student,” says VWU President Scott D. Miller. “She is consistently named to the Dean's List and her academic performance is complemented by a strong work ethic. A natural born leader and devoted agent for change, Kat's calling is truly making a difference in our world and in the lives of others.” As a 2021 Newman Civic Fellow, Vanden Berg will have access to a variety of virtual and in-person learning opportunities during the 2021-2022 Academic Year. Campus Compact provides learning and networking opportunities that emphasize personal, professional, and civic growth, as well as pathways to exclusive scholarship and post-graduate opportunities.

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Living & Learning

Christopher Noxon's watercolor painting of Irene Morgan, a pioneer of the civil rights movement.

'GOOD TROUBLE' EXHIBIT EXPLORES CIVIL RIGHTS LESSONS Overwhelmed by today’s political climate and accompanying pessimism, journalist and illustrator Christopher Noxon found encouragement on a visit to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. He left inspired and determined to learn the deeper lessons of the movement, resulting in his latest book, Good Trouble: Lessons from the Civil Rights Playbook. Several of Noxon’s pen and watercolor illustrations from the book were displayed for students, faculty and staff in the Neil Britton Art Gallery during the 2020-2021 Academic Year. The experience was created for the campus community by the Robert Nusbaum Center and John Rudel, VWU Professor of Art and Curator of Exhibitions. The artwork was generously loaned from the United Jewish Federation

of Tidewater (UJFT) and the Leon Family Gallery at the Simon Family JCC. "The confluence of a global pandemic, racial unrest, and political divisiveness has left many people feeling overwhelmed, hopeless, and fearful for the future," says Craig Wansink, the Joan P. and Macon F. Brock, Jr. Director of the Robert Nusbaum Center. "The lessons outlined in Good Trouble might be just what we need to inspire and give us hope to move forward to create a better future." The Good Trouble exhibit launched a year-long project by the Nusbaum Center to create an action guide to complement Noxon’s book. Borrowing from the lessons of the civil rights movement, the guide is meant to offer practical tools for activists in the 21st Century.

India Khanna Receives McKenley Award India Khanna '21 is the 2021 recipient of the Mavis McKenley '11 Award, given annually to a student who practices the ideals set forth by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.—courage and conviction in valuing differences, commitment to seeing beyond borders by building inclusion, compassion for humanity, and/or commitment to social change. Khanna is known for their civic activism and inclusion efforts on campus in organizations such as Spectrum, the Student Diversity Board, the Caribbean Student Association, Black Student Union, Debate, Planned Parenthood Generation Action, and the Presidents Council for Inclusive Communities. Virg in ia We sle ya n U n ive rsit y Ma g a zin e | Su mmer 2021 / 25 /


Going for Gold(yn) The 2021 softball season was one of true amazement and success as the Marlins won their third NCAA Division III National Championship in four complete seasons. One key component to that success was from the watchful eyes of catcher Jessica Goldyn. A young woman with something to prove, Goldyn returned for her fifth year of eligibility with the hopes of achieving great success—and boy did she ever. Goldyn led the Marlins, the ODAC, and the nation in a number of statistical categories. The Virginia Beach native led the nation in stolen bases (73 on 75 attempts), stolen bases per game (1.38), doubles (23), hits (84), total bases (153), triples (11), and ranked third nationally in RBIs (54).

After her spectacular season, Goldyn earned the 2021 National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) National Player of the Year title, the 2021 Diamond Sports/NFCA Division III Catcher of the Year award and earned the 2021 New Balance/NFCA Golden Shoe honor. Goldyn was also selected as an NFCA 1st-Team All-American and 1st-team All-Region honoree and was the Most Outstanding Player at the NCAA Atlantic Regional. She also claimed the VaSID Player of the Year, the ODAC Player of the Year, and spots on the NCAA Regional and ODAC Championship AllTournament Teams.

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Andrea Hoover-Erbig Named VWU Executive Director for Intercollegiate Athletics Andrea Hoover-Erbig has been named Executive Director for Intercollegiate Athletics at Virginia Wesleyan University effective June 1, 2021. She previously served as Head Women's Volleyball Coach, Senior Woman Administrator, and Academic Integration Coordinator at the University. “After our national search was suspended last spring because of unique circumstances created by the pandemic, we concluded that the best candidate was right here,” said VWU President Scott D. Miller. “She has a history of winning, and winning with integrity...she has demonstrated a deep passion for aspects of the department that are critical to our University mission.” Prior to VWU, Hoover-Erbig served as an assistant volleyball coach at Marietta College. She was also head coach of Northern High School in Maryland and led the squad to state championships in 2000 and 2001. She is a four-year member of the Regional Advisory Committee (RAC) for NCAA volleyball through December 2021 and was also a member of the all-region selection committee of the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) from 2010-2014. Hoover-Erbig succeeds Joanne Renn, who came out of retirement in 2020 to serve as the interim athletics director during the pandemic.

Virginia Wesleyan Athletics faced a challenging semester with COVID-19 forcing the fall seasons to be postponed and all 22 Marlin-sponsored sports to compete in the spring of 2021. In addition, VWU needed to raise the funds to pay for COVID-19 rapid tests needed to test student-athletes throughout the spring—a large mountain to climb. Under the leadership of Joanne Renn, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Emerita, and with the help of coaches, athletes and staff, Marlin Athletics set out on a campaign aptly named #HelpUsPlay. The initiative began in mid-November and ran through the end of the year, and through numerous contributions the Marlins raised just shy of $57,000 dollars. Thank you to the 200+ fans who gave generously to the campaign, providing COVID-19 testing supplies and getting VWU studentathletes back into action. Go Marlins!

Then Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Joanne Renn (left) presents a check for $56,886 to VWU President Scott D. Miller and Vice President for Advancement Kim Hammer in the new TowneBank Arena.

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Pictured at the 2021 NCAA Division III National Championship meet in Greensboro, North Carolina (from left): Assistant Track and Field Coach Richmond Letterio '12, Assistant Director of Men's and Women's Cross Country and Track & Field Cameia Alexander, Jaylyn Lane '21, Geni Roberts '22, Director of Men's and Women's Cross Country and Track & Field Jesse Weiner, and Marlin athletics leadership Joanne Renn and Andrea Hoover.

POSTSEASON SUCCESS While the softball team highlighted the postseason for the VWU Marlins, several other sports also fared well in their seasons, making deep runs to the Old Dominion Athletic Conference Championship Tournaments. Women’s soccer had an impressive season, despite it being quite unusual as the team played their fall sport in the spring. Overall the Marlins went 5-3-1 and ended their run in the ODAC semifinals against Washington & Lee. Women’s volleyball, another fall sport, also played well during the spring, collecting a 10-4 overall mark and a 9-2 record to finish the regular season second in the ODAC standings. VWU’s season fell short of returning to the conference championship match as Randolph-Macon defeated Virginia Wesleyan in the ODAC semifinal match. Both men’s and women’s tennis showed their talent

this season as the men finished the regular season second in the ODAC standing while the women were fifth. The men, helmed by the ODAC Coach of the Year, Marty Perry, and ODAC Rookie of the Year, Felix Bevc, advanced to the championship match but fell to the Generals of Washington & Lee 5-2. The women also fell to W&L in the ODAC semifinals after going 7-3 in conference regular season play. Rounding out the season was the VWU track and field program, which saw it’s highest placing male AllAmerican in program history. Geni Roberts finished sixth at the NCAA Division III National Championship meet in triple jump to take the honor of highest placing from alumnus Randy Lott ‘14, who finished seventh in the 100-meter dash. Jaylyn Lane from the women’s side advanced to nationals as well and finished 13th in the triple jump.

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ATHLETIC HALL OF FAME: THIRTEENTH CLASS Virginia Wesleyan University will induct the thirteenth class of its Athletic Hall of Fame during a special in-person ceremony during Homecoming and Family Weekend on October 2 (postponed from original date due to COVID-19). Members of the thirteenth class represent the best of the best from Virginia Wesleyan's athletic history. Joan P. Brock H’10, Tassos J. Paphites ’79 and Joanne Renn will be honored for their decades of support to the University’s intercollegiate athletics program in addition to former Marlin greats John “Jack” E. Lingo III ’01 (Men’s Lacrosse, 1998-2001), Brandon M. Massie ’11 (Men’s Soccer, 2006-2009), and Adam L. Nycz ’12 (Men’s Lacrosse, 2009-2012). The Virginia Wesleyan University Athletic Hall of Fame was established by resolution of the Virginia Wesleyan Board of Trustees in May 2007 to honor those who, by outstanding achievement in athletics, by service to athletics, or through significant contributions to athletics, have made lasting contributions to Virginia Wesleyan University's intercollegiate athletic program. Read more at




Benefactor (Athletic Inductee 2011)


Coaches/Staff (1995-2021)

Wesleyan Wednesdays Go Virtual To help keep alumni and friends connected throughout the pandemic, the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations launched a Virtual Wesleyan Wednesdays series in 2021. Hosted by Alumni Council Chair Alisa Crider '10, the meetings gave guests an opportunity to catch up with fellow Marlins, learn about the life paths of alumni guest speakers, and discuss timely topics with VWU faculty and staff. Speakers included Dr. Clair Berube '83, Dr. Leslie Caughell, Darrell Cuenca '07, Brandon Elliott '03, Tracy Keller '04, Dr. Bryson Mortensen, Joanne Renn, Matt Ryan '09, Chavon Thomas '11, and Dr. Craig Wansink. Watch archived events at


Men’s Lacrosse (1998-2001)


Men’s Soccer (2006-2009)


Men’s Lacrosse (2009-2012)

2011 Virginia Wesleyan graduate and Amazon #1 bestselling author Chavon Thomas presented as part of the Virtual Wesleyan Wednesdays series in February 2021.

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Virginia Wesleyan University's 2021 Alumni Awards recipients will be recognized as part of the University's Founders Day Convocation on September 9, 2021. Celebrated for their outstanding professional and personal accomplishments, this year's honorees are (pictured, from left) William Shelhorse ’70 (Distinguished Alumnus Award), Vanessa ThaxtonWard ’83, Ph.D. (Alumni Service Award), and Tiffany Boyle ’14 (Graduate of the Last Decade Award). Read more at

Driven to Be An Artist The digital works of freelance artist Ja’lisa Yates ’19 were featured in early 2021 in the Virginia Beach Public Library’s virtual Art Exhibit and Meet the Artist Show. Inspired by her imagination and dream-like fantasy, Yates’ work captures the diversity of human faces as she creates monochromatic portrait paintings with Photoshop and then brings them to life with brush strokes and textures. The show featured work from her Senior Ja'lisa Yates: A Self Portrait Art Exhibit, personal works, and photo/portrait studies. "Ja’lisa was a foundation of the art community for her entire time at VWU," says Professor of Art John Rudel. "It is terrific to see her continuing her work... She is destined for great things.” Explore more of Yates' art at

A DAY OF GIVING VWU's third Day of Giving, held April 23, 2021, was bigger than ever. With a matching gift challenge of $10,000 from VWU Trustees Tim Bailey ’83 and Gary Bonnewell ’79, H’16, support from the day totaled $30,010.07 from 131 alumni, parents, and friends. Gifts supported a range of priorities such as annual scholarships, academic programs, Marlin athletics, student life, and more. Thank you to all who participated in this annual event. With your support, VWU will continue to be a place of meaningful engagement, service and opportunity.

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Deborah Paxson '75 and her husband, Michael Brewer.

After completing her graduate degree at the University of Vermont, Deborah went on to the University of Virginia's School of Law. Today, she serves as a judge in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court in Virginia Beach. While addressing their estate plans, Deborah and her husband Michael decided to make VWU a beneficiary in their wills. "We felt that a legacy contribution to VWU would have a greater impact than a contribution to a university with a larger alumni base and larger endowment," says Deborah.

"Virginia Wesleyan encourages young people to become good citizens, good workers, good parents, good friends and good role models."

Leaving a Legacy While Helping Others To The Honorable Deborah Paxson '75, the opportunity to leave a legacy at Virginia Wesleyan University is just as important as helping others graduate from her alma mater. Deborah was very pleased with the liberal arts education she received. She loved how small the school was and felt that "the University's smaller student population allows the faculty to give students more individual attention." She credits the professors at VWU for teaching her "to think critically, to communicate lucidly and to pursue learning always."

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By making an investment in education at VWU, they both know that their gift will impact not only the recipient, but their community. "I'm seeing later generations of graduates making substantial contributions to our community," Deborah says. "It is important that the University produce not just good doctors, lawyers, teachers, and bankers, but also good people. Virginia Wesleyan encourages young people to become good citizens, good workers, good parents, good friends and good role models." The Lambuth M. and Alice A. Clarke Heritage Society recognizes individuals who have arranged for a deferred gift to the University through their estate plans. For a confidential conversation about including the University in your estate plans, contact Kim Hammer at 757.455.3205 or For a listing of our members, please visit


Thank You! A gift to The Excellence Fund at Virginia Wesleyan University does so much more than show your support. It helps students today become who they want to be tomorrow.


I am of the belief that one cannot truly understand the state of a country/region or its development needs until you see it yourself. Studying abroad gave me the opportunity to personally observe the development needs of Ghana and talk to people experiencing them first hand. I have a greater understanding of development needs from a local perspective and realized things that never crossed my periphery before.




This experience abroad exposed me first hand to the concept of sustainable agriculture. I was able to visit multiple farms that practiced permaculture techniques and supported the local economy. This has solidified my desire to continue studying ways to change common agricultural methods and to encourage conservation. I am inspired to volunteer abroad in the future, possibly with one of the farms I visited in Costa Rica.




While this is an internship focused on writing, I never really expected to find a writing internship in a nonprofit organization, especially one that focuses on social activism. This internship has helped me to realize that I can combine multiple passions into one career, advocating for equality and diversity while also being able to utilize my academic knowledge in both English and political science.

Support The Excellence Fund To make a tax-deductible gift, please use the enclosed envelope, visit, email or call the Trinder Center for Advancement at 757.455.3217.




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