Faculty Values and Practices
Virginia Wesleyan has, by design, recruited faculty members whose primary interest and commitment is to classroom teaching. In addition, faculty members are engaged in a wide range of scholarly and artistic activities and community service. They hold earned degrees from over 140 colleges and universities, both in the U.S. and abroad. The richness of this educational experience is felt in their influence at Virginia Wesleyan. The faculty at Virginia Wesleyan are committed to the following academic values and practices that underlie the academic program:
1. Offering an academic experience that is student-driven. The curriculum emphasizes inquiry-based learning in which students learn to develop intellectual interests and independent questioning skills that lead them to new knowledge as they pursue their goals. Faculty teach essential course content, but they also see the necessity of entrusting the academic lives of their students to the students themselves.
2. Providing individualized attention. The small student-to-faculty ratio allows professors to assist students individually by working closely with them on class projects and papers, by holding them accountable for regular work and other course responsibilities, and by helping them respond to intellectual challenges.
3. Supporting the creation of substantial pieces of student work. In most courses, faculty guide students through the production of major papers and other projects. They also mentor students who choose to pursue a variety of independent research opportunities, including those sponsored by the Undergraduate Research Program, which culminates in an annual symposium. These programs are open to all students, not only those accepted into the honors program or those going on to graduate school.
4. Providing opportunities for experiential learning. In addition to the many opportunities offered through course enhancements, faculty members are committed to developing and supporting the wider academic program, which offers an array of experiential learning opportunities, including the PORTfolio program, travel abroad in January Term, semesters abroad, community service opportunities such as the annual Homeless Shelter week, internships and externships related to specific academic disciplines, and intercollegiate academic activities such as the Model U.N. and Ethics Bowl programs.
5. Offering a multi-faceted educational experience. Although faculty members have their own academic specialties, their interests tend to be broad and their experiences varied, so that the educational program as a whole manifests a commitment to considering multiple approaches to intellectual questions. This flexibility is evident in the faculty's support of First-Year Experience and the General Studies Program, as well as the various experiential learning opportunities listed above.
6. Providing quality faculty advising. Faculty assist students personally as they choose majors, minors, and elective courses; they also mentor students as they address issues related to their academic performance, plan their careers, and apply to graduate and professional schools.
7. Encouraging civic engagement. Faculty designed the curriculum to encourage reflection on the ethical dimensions of human experience by asking students to think about their values and their civic and human roles and responsibilities. While no specific cause or ideology is promoted, they intend that students should come to recognize and value their involvement in various local, regional, national, and global communities.