History and Purpose
For over three decades, Virginia Wesleyan parents have been a major support group for the College.
According to former President Lambuth M. Clarke (1966 – 1992), “From its inception in 1969, the Parents Advisory Committee was an important and highly supportive group of special friends of Virginia Wesleyan. Because there were no alumni at the time, the committee was especially helpful as it interpreted the College’s program in the members’ home communities in Virginia and beyond. In effect, the Parents Advisory Committee members were among the college’s first goodwill ambassadors.”
The Parents’ Council began as the Parents Committee in the fall of 1969 and it consisted of 12 Wesleyan parents and the chairman of the Parents Committee was Dr. R. Townsend Artman of Suffolk. These parents were active “Friends” of the college and were called on to assist the College in a variety of capacities to include planning and participating in the first Parents Day program held on March 7, 1970. Over the course of the 70’s and 80’s, the Parents Committee continued to grow with the college.
During these early years, the name of the Parents Committee was changed to the Parents Advisory Committee and a second committee titled the Parents Fund Committee was also established. The purpose of each of these parent groups was threefold: 1) to be ambassadors for the College, 2) to give counsel to the administration on matters of concern to parents and students, and 3) to support the fundraising goals of the College with some specific support through the Parents Fund sub-committee of the Parents Committee.
In the spring semester of 1990, at the suggestion of parents and college officials alike, the Parents Advisory and Fund Committees were merged together and renamed the Parents’ Council. Like its predecessors, the Council again had three major purposes: 1) to continue to serve as ambassadors for the College, 2) to give the College counsel on matters of concern to parents and students, and 3) to support the fundraising goals of the College with some specific support through the parents fund. Additionally at this time, the Parents’ Council established a set of by-laws and eventually over the next several years formed three sub-committees within the Council that were co-chaired by members of the Parents’ Council. These committees concentrated their efforts in three general areas: student services, academic programs and admission, and fundraising. Staff support was provided for each committee, and several programs and projects were implemented by the parents and staff working in tandem.
Following President Clarke’s retirement, the College’s new President, Dr. William T. Greer, Jr., continued the tradition of involving the parents in the life of the College. In the opinion of President Greer, the Parents’ Council has always been an excellent sounding board for parent and student concerns alike. President Greer frequently states, “Parents are essential to their student’s success and the future of our institution.”
As the College moved into the new millennium, it was agreed by both the parents and staff that the committees would be combined once again into one large group. Notwithstanding the changes to the structure of Parents’ Council, the missions of this support group remain constant. Specifically, members of the Parents’ Council are asked to help the College in the following ways: 1) to serve as ambassadors for the College in our constant effort to expand our public visibility, 2) to support Wesleyan financially through private philanthropic gifts including becoming Fellows in the Virginia Wesleyan Society through gifts of $500 or more to the Virginia Wesleyan Annual Fund, 3) to assist the College in identifying potential students who will benefit from the College’s unique curricular and co-curricular programs, and 4) to provide us with advice on specific needs that arise from time to time.