Board of Trustees: Members and structure explained

The Board of Trustees rests at the top of the organizational pyramid of Virginia Wesleyan. President Miller describes the board as “a self perpetuating and… governing body of Virginia Wesleyan University.” He holds a seat on the board as an ex officio trustee, as do all presidents of the university.

Board officials are given specific terms they preside in their positions for. Those who rotate off the board are granted Trustee Emeritus/Emerita status. Currently the board includes 59 individuals. All are community members who are leaders in business and industry, education and the United Methodist Church.

Each nomination is “screened by the Committee on Trusteeship,” Miller said, and undergoes “a thorough vetting process” before “new members are presented by the Committee to the current Board members for a vote.”

The board focuses on the five main areas of university authority, which are: Academic Affairs, Student Life, Advancement, Finance and Administration and Enrollment. They also have the power to oversee endowment investments.

Mainly the board’s “responsibilities include supporting the University’s mission, securing adequate financial resources for the operation of the University, and establishing long-range goals and institutional policies,” Miller said. 

This is accomplished through three full meetings a year with the full board and three to seven meetings a year for each of the seven committees. Each of the five vice presidents of the university serve as liaisons for the committee focusing on their area of concern. Therefore each can raise concerns and questions with the board.

The full board agenda and committee agendas are organized by the president, vice presidents and the committee chairs, with the full agenda needing approval from the Chair of the Board of Trustees. Currently the chair is John F. Malbon.

Malbon was elected in 2019. He is a retired chairman and CEO of PAPCO, Inc., which is a petroleum marketing and distribution company based in Virginia Beach.

Trustees are members of the campus community. Aside from having their names on various buildings across campus, trustees “attend VWU arts events, lectures, athletic events and interact with faculty and staff between meetings,” Miller said. 

Members of the campus community are also able to speak at meetings. “Faculty, staff and students are often invited to make presentations at committee and full Board meetings,” and the “six faculty deans are invited to participate in Board meetings as faculty representatives,” Miller said. Despite alterations because of the pandemic, this is still an option at meetings. Students have recently spoken about their experiences in the Batten Honors College and at Lakeland University in Japan.

In 1996, the board established a rule that no chair member could serve a term more than three years long. To begin on July 1, 2022, the board has elected Jonathan E. Pruden (Chair), Nancy T. DeFord (Vice Chair), J. Timothy Bailey ’83 (Treasurer) and Mavis E. McKenley ’11 (Secretary).

Chair John F. Malbon and Vice Chair Susan S. Goode will be stepping down from their positions that they have held for the past three years and will be staying on the board. They will be honored at the May 2022 Commencement Ceremony for their time in leadership positions.

On June 30, 2022, a number of trustees will be retiring their positions, as well. Gary D. Bonnewell ’79, H’16, David L. Kaufman H’19, Howard P. Kern, Kenneth G. Trinder II, George K. Tsantes III ’83, Anthony O. Walters and Michael J. White ’81 have served their terms and are relinquishing their seats to new members.

By Rhian Tramontana