Mission & Vision

Located in southeastern Virginia, just a few miles from the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia Wesleyan University is Coastal Virginia’s premier university of the liberal arts and sciences. Situated on a 300-acre park-like campus in Virginia Beach, the University annually enrolls approximately 1,600 students in undergraduate, graduate and online programs.

Coastal Virginia is also home to a diverse population of more than 1.7 million, as well as to major military installations, and reflects the broad diversity that has been a hallmark of Virginia since its early beginnings.

Grounded by the values upheld in the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom and the First Amendment, the Robert Nusbaum Center focuses on diversity, dialogue, faith, and freedom. 

The Nusbaum Center embraces diversity in all its forms. We believe that an inclusive and welcoming environment that creates safe space for civil dialogue is fundamental to preserving the strength of our nation and upholding the values of our Constitution.

Since its inception in 1996, the Center has brought individuals and communities into deep and meaningful dialogue about the most important values in society.  The Center is grounded in Virginia Wesleyan’s commitment to a rigorous liberal arts education and its United Methodist heritage, both of which have long recognized religious freedom as a basic human right, and diversity as the bedrock of a strong foundation.

The Center aims to create a civil society through education, respectful dialogue, and mutual understanding. It is dedicated to equipping and empowering students, and members of the broader community, to be leaders and citizens who value diversity and who understand how the reconciliation of religious, racial, and ideological differences create meaningful opportunities for civil solutions to difficult and urgent problems.

Vision: Through high-impact learning experiences, the Robert Nusbaum Center informs, transforms, and equips individuals to be engaged leaders and citizens, as they increasingly understand why diversity, dialogue, and religious freedom are fundamental to preserving basic human rights.

Mission: The Center INFORMS by providing students with a nuanced understanding of the important significance of diversity and religious freedom; TRANSFORMS by engaging students in high-impact learning experiences that shape their perspectives on diversity and religious freedom; and EQUIPS by teaching the skills needed to recognize fundamental differences between people, to combat prejudice in all its forms, and to find ways for society to mediate and work through substantive challenges towards meaningful solutions.

Initiatives:  Center activities include mediation training, intergenerational dialogue, peace literacy, study away opportunities, student contests, and world-renowned speakers. Initiatives also include the NEXUS Diversity Dialogue Series, the annual Justine L. Nusbaum and Catharine Cookson Lectures, the Robert Nusbaum Student Contest, the Life Matters series, and town hall discussions, along with speakers and discussions that confront timely issues involving religion, law, politics, race, gender, and sexuality.

Each year, the Center engages students and the broader community in a variety of initiatives that not only educate minds, but also touch hearts. The Center strives to transform communities by equipping and empowering individuals to be agents of change.

The Center does not advocate any particular political or religious perspective, but does stand for principles of liberty, equality, and engaged citizenship.