Virginia Wesleyan University
MottoSapientia Illuminat Viam
Motto in English
Wisdom lights the way
Established1961; 60 years ago (1961)
Religious affiliation
United Methodist Church
Academic affiliations
Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities (CUMU), Council of Independent Colleges (CIC), National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU), Campus Compact, Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges (VFIC)
Endowment$60.3 million (2020)
PresidentScott D. Miller
Academic staff
90 Full-time & 40 Par-time[1]
Location, ,
United States

36°52′4.8″N 76°11′15.4″W / 36.868000°N 76.187611°W / 36.868000; -76.187611Coordinates: 36°52′4.8″N 76°11′15.4″W / 36.868000°N 76.187611°W / 36.868000; -76.187611
CampusUrban, 300 acres (1.21 km2)
ColorsDark Blue, Grey/Silver, and Coastal Blue      
AthleticsNCAA Division IIIODAC
MascotBob Marlin

Virginia Wesleyan University (VWU) is a private university in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The university is nonsectarian but historically affiliated with The United Methodist Church.[5] It enrolls approximately 1,600 students annually in undergraduate, graduate, and online programs, approximately 400 students at LUJ/VWU Global (Japan), and approximately 3,000 non-credit learners in VWU Global Campus. Virginia Wesleyan transitioned from a college to a university in 2017.[6]

The Virginia Wesleyan University campus is also home to the Chesapeake Bay Academy, an educational institution founded in 1989 that educates and guides students with learning disabilities, including attention disorders (ADHD), dyslexia, and dysgraphia, and the Tidewater Collegiate Academy, an innovative laboratory for teaching and learning that extends from the primary grades through high school.

Through academic collaboration with local arts and sciences partners, on-site learning experiences are also provided at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach (the university and aquarium jointly own and operate "The Ocean Explorer," a marine science research vessel); The Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk; Busch Gardens Williamsburg; and the Norfolk Botanical Garden.[7]


The school was chartered in 1961 as Virginia Wesleyan College under the initiative of Methodist minister Joseph Shackford Johnston, later the college's first president.[8] It became a university in 2017.[9]

Presidents of Wesleyan
Name Tenure
Scott Douglas Miller 2015-
William Thomas Greer Jr. 1992-2015
Lambuth McGeehee Clarke 1966-1992
Joseph Shackford Johnston 1965


Colleges and schools

Virginia Wesleyan University consists of four schools devoted to specific areas of study: the Susan S. Goode School of Arts and Humanities, the Joan P. Brock School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Birdsong School of Social Science, and the D. Henry Watts School of Professional Studies.[10]

Batten Honors College

The Batten Honors College, named for Virginia Wesleyan Trustee Emerita Jane Batten and her late husband Frank Batten, Sr., was founded in 2017 with a mission to "inspire, engage, and prepare academically talented students to become leaders, environmental stewards, and impactful citizens in the global community."[11]

VWU Global Campus

With the addition of LUJ/VWU Global (Japan), University College at Virginia Wesleyan University was renamed VWU Global Campus. VWU Global Campus operates all for-credit programs outside of the traditional undergraduate program, the campus in Japan, and also supports non-credit, continuing-education offerings.[12]

Westminster/Wesleyan Lifelong Learning Institute

The Westminster/Wesleyan Lifelong Learning Institute is a component of Virginia Wesleyan's University College was launched in 2017. Several courses will be taught during each of two regular semesters, and roughly half will be on faith-related topics.[13][14] Over 1,100 learners enrolled in WWLLI courses in the 2018-19 academic year.[15]

Diversity and inclusion

Virginia Wesleyan often states its commitment to inclusivity and one of the institution's core values within its Preeminence '28 strategic plan reads, "Inclusive and Caring Community that empowers members to form meaningful relationships through listening, understanding, and communication."[16]

The university was ranked in 2018 and 2019 by U.S. News & World Report among the top 25 institutions in Campus Ethnic Diversity for National Liberal Arts Colleges.[17] According to the university profile, students represent 34 states and 10 countries, with 43 percent from underrepresented populations.[18]

Virginia Wesleyan's campus is the South Hampton Roads home for the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities. The 83-year-old organization opened a satellite office at VWU in December 2018. "By opening the VCIC Hampton Roads office at Virginia Wesleyan University, the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities demonstrates our commitment to stand up to hatred, both by increasing our capacity to respond when ... tragic incidents occur, and by deepening our local work to proactively prevent bias, bullying and discrimination," VCIC Tidewater Chapter Chairman Martin A. Einhorn said at the time.[19]

Business leader and known civil rights advocate Harvey Lindsay made a $250,000 gift to Virginia Wesleyan in 2019 to enable the university to begin expanding the study of African-American history and traditions in Virginia.[20]


The Greer Environmental Sciences Center at Virginia Wesleyan University.
The Greer Environmental Sciences Center at Virginia Wesleyan University.

Situated on 300 acres (1.2 km2) in Virginia Beach, the university is separated into four villages. Bray Village (Village I) and Allen Village (Village II) offer combined living-learning environments built on the Jeffersonian model, with multi-purpose buildings. Brock Village (Village III) and Honors Village (Village IV) are solely housing units.[21] Construction began on a fifth village, Oxford Village, in June 2019 with an expected completion in late 2020.[22]

The Robert "Bobby" T. Williams Trail, leading from the Blocker Youth Center to Lake Taylor, was dedicated in October 2019 in memory of the 1975 graduate who was killed in the Virginia Beach Municipal Center shooting in May 2019.[23][24]

The Greer Environmental Sciences Center, dedicated in 2017, received the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s National Conservationist of the Year Award in 2018.[25] The facility is a state-of-the-art center for teaching and research.[26] The 18-acre Wilson Arboretum was established in 1995 in memory of William M. Wilson, dean of the University from 1971 to 1994. Since 1997, retiring faculty members have chosen a tree to be planted within the arboretum to honor their service to the institution[27]

The 12-acre Beech Forest, a rare example of an old-growth stand of beech trees, was designated a Natural Heritage Resource by the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1992.[28] The campus features over 13 miles of biking and hiking paths and trails.


The Susan S. Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center opened in March 2019.
The Susan S. Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center opened in March 2019.

The following complexes and buildings, with completion dates noted, now house the university's academic, administrative, and residential functions.

The following complexes and structures house additional administrative buildings as well as athletic and student activities facilities:


Main article: Virginia Wesleyan Marlins

Virginia Wesleyan University sports teams are known as the Marlins. The university participates in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) and is a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III.

Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cheer, cross country, golf, lacrosse, soccer, swimming, tennis, and indoor/outdoor track and field. Women's sports include basketball, cheer, cross country, field hockey, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, indoor/outdoor track and field, and volleyball.[29]

The university maintains an Athletic Hall of Fame honoring those who have made lasting contributions to Virginia Wesleyan's intercollegiate athletic program through outstanding achievements or service.[30]

In recent years, Virginia Wesleyan University has earned recognition as one of the top NCAA Division III programs in the country. The men's basketball team won the national championship in 2006, and the following year returned to the championship game, which they lost. The women's soccer team made it to the final four in 2006 after winning the ODAC tournament for the first time in program history. In 2016, Evan Cox was the Individual NCAA National Champion for Men's Golf. The Virginia Wesleyan softball team won the 2017 NCAA Division III National Championship with a record 54 wins.[31] Head Coach Brandon Elliott was named ODAC Coach of the Year and State Coach of the Year, while his coaching staff earned Regional and National Coaching Staff of the Year honors. Freshman pitcher Hanna Hull earned 2017 Schutt Sports/NFCA Division III National Freshman of the Year and honors as the first National Player of the Year in program history.[32] In 2018, they repeated as NCAA Division III champions.[33] Hull was again named National Player of the Year, and Elliott's staff again earned National Coaching Staff of the Year honors. Despite a 42-6 overall record, and number one regular season rating in the NFCA Division III poll, the Marlins lost to the University of Lynchburg in the 2019 NCAA Regional Finals.[34] Hull was again Schutt Sports/NFCA Division III National Pitcher of the Year with a 29-4 record and .55 earned run average.

Through a private gift, Virginia Wesleyan added an esports arena and competitive esports program in 2019.[35]

Notable alumni

This article's list of alumni may not follow Wikipedia's verifiability policy. Please improve this article by removing names that do not have independent reliable sources showing they merit inclusion in this article AND are alumni, or by incorporating the relevant publications into the body of the article through appropriate citations. (August 2018)


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  5. ^ ""This is not how we love each other": Local United Methodists react to church's controversial ruling".
  6. ^ "Virginia Wesleyan University to expand presence to Japan with new partnership".
  7. ^ "Accolades".
  8. ^ Mansfield, Stephen S. (2010). Wisdom Lights the Way: Virginia Wesleyan College's First Half-Century. Donning. ISBN 978-1-57864-643-2.
  9. ^ ""Virginia Wesleyan Announces Transition to University Status"".
  10. ^ "Academics".
  11. ^ "Virginia Wesleyan University welcomes the 1st class of the Batten Honors College".
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  13. ^ The Wesleyan Review, October 2017,
  14. ^ Virginia Wesleyan University Magazine, Fall 2018
  15. ^ Nota Bene, Fall 2017 and Spring 2019
  16. ^ "Preeminence '28". Retrieved 2020-01-13.
  17. ^ "U.S. News & World Report Campus Ethnic Diversity".
  18. ^ "Virginia Wesleyan University College Profile" (PDF).
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  20. ^ "Growth, Innovation, Prosperity Central to Virginia Wesleyan State of the University". Retrieved 2020-01-13.
  21. ^ "Campus Map".
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  23. ^ Albiges, Marie. "Bobby Williams' service to Virginia Beach was honored multiple times over 41 years". Retrieved 2019-11-13.
  24. ^ "The Wesleyan Review - October 25, 2019". Retrieved 2019-11-13.
  25. ^ Mayfield, Dave. "Virginia Wesleyan wins top conservation award from Chesapeake Bay Foundation". Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  26. ^ Pennecke, Sandra. "New building at Virginia Wesleyan more instructional than most". Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  27. ^ Michalski, Annalisa. "Three very different facilities, each an arboretum". Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  28. ^ "Historic Campus Architecture Project (Council of Independent Colleges)". Artstor. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
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  30. ^ "Athletic Hall of Fame".
  31. ^ "DIII softball championship: Virginia Wesleyan sweeps final against St. John Fisher".
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  33. ^ "Virginia Wesleyan wins the 2018 DIII Softball Championship |". Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  34. ^ Correspondent, Jim Hodges. "Lynchburg stuns Virginia Wesleyan in NCAA Div. III softball regional final". Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  35. ^ "Virginia Wesleyan becomes second college in Hampton Roads to launch E-Sports team". 2019-10-22. Retrieved 2019-11-13.
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  42. ^ "Keller Williams".