Our United Methodist Heritage
Virginia Wesleyan was founded by the Virginia Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church and chartered in 1961. From its first days into the present and beyond, Virginia Wesleyan sees itself in partnership with the United Methodist Church, drawing upon the church’s heritage and values while cultivating students of diverse ages, religions, ethnic origins and backgrounds in a rigorous liberal arts education to be productive and engaged citizens.
The University fulfills this mission in a variety of ways:
Centers and Institute
- Center for the Study of Religious Freedom is an academic initiative that promotes the education and foundation needed to meet the challenge of fostering religious freedom in a diverse world. The Center offers a forum for people of deep faith and abiding conscience to share common goals that transcend denominational boundaries—a place where students, faculty and people of all faiths join together to forge a common ground of mutual concern, working to achieve civil solutions to difficult problems.
- Center for Sacred Music offers performance opportunities and educational programs designed to foster understanding and to encourage an appreciation of diversity and excellence in the sacred arts. The Church Music Certificate Program offers courses at the undergraduate level (also offered for Continuing Education Units) to prepare students for service in church music ministry, or enhance the skills of adults working in the profession.
- The Robert F. Boyd Institute offers continuing education for clergy, aspiring clergy, and laity through seminars with renowned guest speakers. These seminars are eligible for Continuing Education Units for clergy members in the Virginia Annual Conference. The Institute also hosts conference and district events which have included Awakening, the annual Virginia Conference youth gathering; the Tri-District Leadership Workshop which brings local church leaders to campus for an all-day training session; and the annual pastor’s licensing school.
- The Presiding Bishop of the Virginia Conference and two area district superintendents serve as ex-officio members of the Board of Trustees.
- The University's Board of Trustees includes members of the United Methodist Church.
- In 2015, Dr. Scott D. Miller became Virginia Wesleyan’s fourth president. A lifelong Methodist, Dr. Miller earned his undergraduate degree from West Virginia Wesleyan and served as President of the Methodist affiliated Wesley College in Delaware from 1997-2007. He is on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Schools and Colleges of the United Methodist Church (NASCUMC) and is Chair of the Association of Educational Institutions (AEI) of the UMC.
- The Chaplain of the University is an ordained Methodist pastor who serves students and the campus community at-large.
Curriculum and Learning Opportunities
- A course on the history of Methodism explores Methodism as a significant cultural movement within the realms of women, abolition, labor laws, temperance, and other religious social concerns
- In spring 2017, the religious studies department will offer a new course on mediating religious conflicts. The course will highlight the kinds of conflicts, disagreements, and differences that exist between religions in the United States and will include interreligious experiences and facilitation training. Methodist ministers and other faith leaders will participate in experiential and skill building components of the course.
- A Servant Leadership Internship was established in 2014 as an integrative experience to help prepare students for a life of service in careers with non-profits, religious organizations, or specific ministries.
- Travel Abroad: The University offers students the opportunity to travel to England and other parts of Europe to trace the path of Methodism’s beginnings and the Protestant movement at-large
- The University is recognized for programs in academic honesty and spiritual growth in The Templeton Guide: Colleges That Encourage Character Development.
- The Chaplain supports the members of the University community in their spiritual journey through personal interaction and a variety of programs, including assistance to students of other faiths to gather together and create a community on campus
- Marlin Ministries provides a Christian inter-denominational campus ministry of discipleship, evangelism, service, counseling, hospitality and faith-related educational initiatives to students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the University. Currently Marlin Ministries hosts fifteen (15) different gatherings each week including a Sunday worship service and a student-led Monday night worship gathering.
- The Chaplain gives special attention to students who are considering ministry within the United Methodist Church
- Faculty and staff enjoy fellowship and opportunities for spiritual growth through such activities as a Lenten Bible Study and the “Life Matters” series which offers members of the Wesleyan community opportunities to share autobiographical reflections on their emotional, intellectual, and spiritual experiences.
- Established through the Birdsong Endowment for Community Service, this office engages students in volunteer experiences addressing community needs while enriching students' lives.
- Projects have included Alternative Spring Break trips, Habitat for Humanity builds, Potato Drops through the Society of St. Andrew, and the Winter Session Homeless Shelter
- More than 60 graduates serve as pastors in United Methodist churches in the Virginia Annual Conference.
- Another 40+ alumni clergy serve in other annual conferences or denominations
- Virginia United Methodist students entering full-time Christian service in the Virginia Conference receive up to one-half tuition assistance.
- Dependent sons, daughters and spouses of Virginia conference clergy receive up to one-half tuition.
- Virginia Wesleyan University Dollars for United Methodist Scholars provides a $1,000 VWU matching scholarship when a Virginia Conference student's home church contributes $1,000 in tuition assistance to the student.