Virginia Wesleyan College charts course for growth

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Virginia Wesleyan College’s master plan includes adding new facilities.
Photo by Janice Marshall-Pittman

Norfolk-based Virginia Wesleyan College’s newly unveiled 10-year master plan focuses on increasing enrollment and adding new facilities.

“We want to increase [the number of residential students] from 850 to 1,000 students and take enrollment from 1,400 to 1,700,” Scott Miller, the college’s president, says.

The institution-wide planning process began in July 2015 when Miller took office. “I felt that it was really important to elaborate where we have been, where we are now and where we go in the future,” he says.

The college shared a draft of the master plan last year with stakeholders ranging from the board of trustees to Virginia Beach City Council. (Of the school’s 300 acres, 292 are in Virginia Beach.)

One of the college’s top priorities is the construction of the 40,000-square-foot Greer Environmental Sciences Center. It is on target for completion this June or July.

“An anonymous donor provided all the funds to construct, furnish and equip the building,” says Miller, noting that the center is named after former Virginia Wesleyan President Billy Greer who retired in 2015.

Other projects include the development of high-end apartments or condos on a 12-acre, school-owned tract of land across from the campus.

“It will accommodate the campus community [from upper level students to faculty] as well as the community as a whole,” Miller says. “Staff from Norfolk Academy and Chesapeake Bay Academy, which sit on either side of the college, said they were also interested in living there.”

The Susan S. Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center is another facility scheduled to be built in the next three years. Susan Goode, a member of the board of trustees, and her husband David, the retired president and CEO of Norfolk Southern Corp., donated $5 million in seed money toward the project.

Another philanthropic couple, Joan and Macon Brock, gave an additional $5 million, Miller says. Joan Brock is also a member of the board of trustees. Macon Brock is chairman and co-founder of Chesapeake-based Dollar Tree Inc.

“We now have gifts and pledges of $12.7 million,” Miller says. “When we hit $14 million sometime in 2017, then we will start the architectural design and construction.”

Within the next five years the college will also build three additional townhouses for student housing as it increases its total enrollment by 300 students.

The master plan is very doable, Miller says. “This isn’t some pie-in-the-sky project. The process alone has excited and energized donors and the campus community.”

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