When John Wesley founded the Kingswood School in England in 1748, educational ministry became an integral part of the Wesleyan heritage. Since its earliest days, Methodism has provided access to church-related higher education to all who desire it. United Methodist-related schools share a common commitment to the wholeness of persons and to the values of the Church. Each year, approximately 300,000 students choose to attend one of the 119 United Methodist schools in the United States.
Virginia Wesleyan was founded by the Virginia Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church and chartered in 1961. From its first days into the present and beyond, Virginia Wesleyan sees itself in partnership with the United Methodist Church, drawing upon the church's heritage and values while cultivating students of diverse ages, religions, ethnic origins and backgrounds in a rigorous liberal arts education to be productive and engaged citizens.
The University fulfills this mission in a variety of ways:
Centers and Institute
The Robert F. Boyd Institute offers continuing education for clergy, aspiring clergy, and laity through seminars with renowned guest speakers. These seminars are eligible for Continuing Education Units for clergy members in the Virginia Annual Conference. The Institute also hosts conference and district events which have included Awakening, the annual Virginia Conference youth gathering; the Tri-District Leadership Workshop which brings local church leaders to campus for an all-day training session; and the annual pastor's licensing school.
Robert Nusbaum Center is an academic initiative that promotes the education and foundation needed to meet the challenge of fostering religious freedom in a diverse world. The Center offers a forum for people of deep faith and abiding conscience to share common goals that transcend denominational boundaries—a place where students, faculty and people of all faiths join together to forge a common ground of mutual concern, working to achieve civil solutions to difficult problems.
- The Presiding Bishop of the Virginia Conference serves as an ex-officio member of the Board of Trustees.
- In 2015, Dr. Scott D. Miller became Virginia Wesleyan's fourth president. A lifelong Methodist, Dr. Miller earned his undergraduate degree from West Virginia Wesleyan and served as President of the Methodist affiliated Wesley College in Delaware from 1997-2007. He is past President and Chair of the Board of Directors of the North American Association of Methodist Schools, Colleges and Universities (NAAMSCU), a member of the Board of Directors of the International Association of Methodist Schools Colleges and Universities (IAMSCU), and is former Chair of the Association of Educational Institutions (AEI) of the UMC.
- The Director of Campus Ministries serves students and the campus community at-large.
- Established through the Birdsong Endowment for Community Service, this office engages students in volunteer experiences addressing community needs while enriching students' lives.
- Projects have included Alternative Spring Break trips, Habitat for Humanity builds, Potato Drops through the Society of St. Andrew, and the Winter Session Homeless Shelter
- More than 60 graduates serve as pastors in United Methodist churches in the Virginia Annual Conference.
- Another 40+ alumni clergy serve in other annual conferences or denominations
- Virginia United Methodist students entering full-time Christian service in the Virginia Conference receive up to one-half tuition assistance.
- Dependent sons, daughters and spouses of Virginia conference clergy receive up to one-half tuition.
- Virginia Wesleyan University Dollars for United Methodist Scholars provides a $1,000 VWU matching scholarship when a Virginia Conference student's home church contributes $1,000 in tuition assistance to the student.