Greer Environmental Sciences Center Dedicated on Founders Day

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Green-themed Founders Day culminates with ribbon cutting and dedication of state-of-the-art building on Sept. 7

Surrounded by members of the Virginia Wesleyan University Board of Trustees and special guests, former Virginia Wesleyan President William T. “Billy” Greer, Jr., Mayor of the City of Virginia Beach William D. Sessoms, Jr., and Virginia Wesleyan University President Scott D. Miller cut the ribbon for the new Greer Environmental Sciences Center. The ribbon cutting ceremony took place as part of the University's annual Founders Day on Sept. 7.

News Release | September 7, 2017

It was a historical moment in the life of Virginia Wesleyan University Sept. 7 as ceremonial ribbon was snipped on the steps of the University’s highly anticipated Greer Environmental Sciences Center. The ribbon cutting was the culmination of a day-long series of environmentally themed Founders Day events celebrating Virginia Wesleyan’s steadfast commitment to sustainability.

“This magnificent facility devoted to the study and preservation of our natural environment has been more than three years in the making," Virginia Wesleyan President Scott D. Miller told guests. "The Greer Environmental Sciences Center is a state-of-the-art, second-to-none contribution to teaching and research in environmental sciences, and it is national niche for this University.”

Construction of the state-of-the-art Greer Environmental Sciences Center was completed in July. Organized thematically around the earth’s four spheres, the 44,000-square-foot facility—surrounded by 145,000 square feet of teaching gardens—features sophisticated learning spaces that embody “science on display” and promote hands-on experiences, interactive learning and interdisciplinary research. The building will provide unprecedented opportunities for students while fostering regional collaboration with organizations like the Virginia Aquarium and the Virginia Institute for Marine Science (VIMS).

The environmental sciences center honors former Virginia Wesleyan President William T. “Billy” Greer’s advocacy for the sciences and commitment to sustainability during his 23-year tenure as president. It is the University’s first academic building dedicated since Clarke Hall in 1999, named in honor of Virginia Wesleyan’s second president, Lambuth M. Clarke.

A dedication dinner followed the ribbon cutting inside the Greer Environmental Sciences Center, attended by dozens of dignitaries and special guests including Billy and Fann Greer, many members of the Virginia Wesleyan Board of Trustees, and Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms.

Earlier in the day, the University held its annual Founders Day Convocation inside the Jane P. Batten Student Center, giving students, faculty, staff and special guests an opportunity to honor the institution's founding and recognize important individuals in its history. The occasion also celebrated the new year and welcomed new faces to the University community.

“Today is the 56th year since the founding of Virginia Wesleyan, and I’m proud to say that we open this academic year with tremendous optimism and great good wishes for our promising new class of students—the first official class of Virginia Wesleyan University,” said President Miller. “We celebrate the efforts of all who, over the last half century, have strived to make Virginia Wesleyan what it is today. Now it is our turn to add tradition, to shape our success, and to be entrusted with the legacy of our founders.”

Serving as keynote speaker was Dr. Janet L. Adams, a 1990 Virginia Wesleyan graduate and microbiology and general biology professor at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Richmond. She shared her excitement for the Greer Environmental Sciences Center and the opportunities it will provide for all students, not just those majoring in the environmental sciences.

“I hope all of you will consider taking advantage of this wonderful new resource as part of your own personal sustainability plan,” she said. “As you think about what will sustain you into the future, I also challenge you to think about what you will contribute to the sustainability of Virginia Wesleyan University.”

Virginia Wesleyan’s 2017 Alumni Awards recipients were also honored during the convocation event. President Miller and Alumni Council President Mavis McKenley ’11 introduced the awards recipients—Doug Wilson ’86, Executive Vice President of LifeNet Health (Distinguished Alumni Award); Taylor Franklin ’04, Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of The Franklin Johnston Group (Alumni Service Award); and Sydney Covey ’16, Sustainability Program Analyst for Hourigan Construction (Graduate of the Last Decade Award).

A recognition ceremony for the Batten Honors College occurred over lunch in the Shafer Room inside Boyd Dining Center. Forty members of the first class were pinned with special Honors College lapel pins, and as a part of the ceremony, Batten Fellow Aleah Brinn '21 spoke on behalf of the class about their first 18 days in the program together. Dr. Joyce Easter, Dean of the Batten Honors College, was presented with the initial Dean's Medallion that will be worn at all formal academic functions of the Batten Honors College and Virginia Wesleyan University.

A number of environmentally themed activities took place as part of Wesleyan’s Founders Day, including an oyster cage build service project, unveiling of new signage for the University’s 12-acre old-growth beech forest, and a Chesapeake-Bay themed sustainable seafood dinner for students. A “Wesleyan EcoFestival” was held on the lawn in front of the Greer Environmental Sciences Center, featuring displays from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Eastern Shore Watermen, Lynnhaven River Now, Norfolk Botanical Garden, Sierra Club, Sodexo, Tidewater Fiber, and the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center.

Chartered in 1961, Virginia Wesleyan first opened its doors to students on September 14, 1966. Since its first graduating class of approximately 75 students in 1970, the Virginia Wesleyan community has grown to include approximately 1,500 students and nearly 10,000 alumni. The Founders Day tradition honors the University's founding, recognizes important individuals in its history, and celebrates the institution's bright future.