Dr. Timothy G. O’Rourke is Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Virginia Wesleyan University. He previously served, since 2007, as the University’s Vice President for Academic Affairs and Kenneth R. Perry Dean of the University.
Dr. O'Rourke's academic vision draws on the name "Virginia Wesleyan University," which speaks plainly and directly to our distinctiveness, mission, and vision. Below are reflections from O'Rourke's vision statement:
The Virginia Setting
Located within a few miles of the place where John Smith first landed in America, Virginia Wesleyan values its connection to the commonwealth's rich heritage of political leadership, which gave us the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, and which produced eight presidents.
Virginia Wesleyan is the only private liberal arts university in the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News Metropolitan Area, the nation's 34th largest. The metropolitan area overlays the region known as Hampton Roads and extends from Virginia Beach westward to the historic cities of Yorktown and Williamsburg. Virginia Wesleyan's 300 heavily-forested acres sit on the border of Norfolk and Virginia Beach, just a few miles from the Atlantic Ocean. The greater metropolitan area features a vibrant and diverse economy (Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, Norfolk Southern), myriad cultural institutions (the Virginia Symphony, the Virginia Zoo, the Virginia Air & Space Center, the Chrysler Museum, the Virginia Aquarium), the world's largest naval base (Naval Station Norfolk), and highly innovative local governmental arrangements (as in the consolidated city-counties of Chesapeake, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach).
Virginia Wesleyan connects its students to the history, culture, ecology, and politics of the region through courses, internships, and community service projects that provide practical know-how and skills, which lead in many cases to jobs after graduation. Equally important, these practical experiences are lessons in community involvement.
The Wesleyan Heritage
The Wesleyan component of Virginia Wesleyan University speaks to the fact that we were founded as a Methodist-related institution committed to the example and principles of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. Wesley's example promotes charity and civic engagement. His principles celebrate the pursuit of faith through religious freedom and recognize that the quest for truth involves a spiritual dimension.
The Wesleyan tradition encourages students to place their studies and career preparation into the larger context of a well-ordered and good life. Thus, the University asks students to subscribe to the nine elements of the Virginia Wesleyan Creed and to the Honor Code, which builds on Thomas Jefferson's observation that "[a]n honest heart" is "the first blessing," and "a knowing head is the second" (Letter to Peter Carr, Aug. 19, 1785, in Merrill Peterson, ed., The Portable Thomas Jefferson).
The University Community
Virginia Wesleyan is a liberal arts university, which means, in part, that we are small (about 1,400 students). We encourage students to interact with eminent faculty (over 90 percent have terminal degrees) in small classes (most have about a dozen students) and to undertake significant independent research projects and recitals under the supervision of a faculty mentor. A liberal arts curriculum encompasses study across the disciplines, from mathematics to literature, from philosophy to biology, from history to foreign languages. With a broad foundation in the liberal arts, Wesleyan students choose among 33 majors. While many of our students graduate into the workplace, others go on to medical school, law school, and graduate school.
Providing the foundation for a good career is only a part of a Virginia Wesleyan education. First and foremost, Wesleyan seeks to prepare each student to be an honorable, caring, and culturally literate person who will lead a good and reflective life in service to family and community. This is the transformative Wesleyan experience.