Songs of Spirit and Tradition Heard on Campus

02-28-2017

At noon, those on campus will now hear Virginia Wesleyan’s fight song, “On Virginia Wesleyan,” and at 5 p.m., the College’s alma mater will ring across campus.

“Celebrating school pride and honoring our College’s legacy is incredibly important to me,” says President Miller. “It is for this reason that I recently requested that our campanile, known to many as simply “The Bell Tower,” begin sharing these songs of spirit and tradition. “

Virginia Wesleyan's Monumental Chapel and its adjacent Frank E. Brown Campanile are landmarks on campus that not only symbolize our United Methodist heritage but also represent the passion of the College’s founders and the progress of those who have earned their degrees from VWC.  According to Dr. Stephen Mansfield's book Wisdom Lights the Way: Virginia Wesleyan College's First Half-Century, these historic structures came about in an “unusual fashion”:

“The minister and leaders of Portsmouth's Monumental United Methodist Church indicated during 1972 that they would like to provide funds for a Virginia Wesleyan project as part of the church's 200th anniversary celebration. Monumental's decision to raise $50,000 for a chapel was matched by a gift from the Beasley Foundation. During the planning stage, Richmond philanthropist Frank Brown offered to donate the cost of the bell tower, or campanile, which would stand near the chapel, and the Norfolk Federal Savings and Loan Company contributed the carillon, which had been a fixture of its home office since 1957. [Then] President [Lambuth M.] Clarke observed that it was unique within Virginia United Methodism, and perhaps the entire denomination, for a congregation to fund a college building. He saw significance for United Methodism's commitment to higher education in Virginia's oldest continuous congregation making such a contribution to the denomination's newest college. The completed chapel, campanile, and carillon were consecrated in February 1975.”

Our Alma Mater and fight song carry significant histories of their own. The College’s Alma Mater was written in 2002 by Dr. Sandra Billy, Director of the Center for Sacred Music, and Professor Emeritus Dr. David Clayton, VWC’s first full-time music professor. From the Alma Mater came the College’s Latin motto, sapientia illuminat viam, or "Wisdom Lights the Way.” Our fight song, “On, Virginia Wesleyan!” was written in 2011 by Joanne Renn, Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, and Bill Bishop, a veteran area sports announcer.