Construction on DeFord Manor, the newest addition to Virginia Wesleyan’s campus, “is expected to begin any day and be completed by December,” Keith Moore, Vice President for Campus Life and Operational Management said. The manor is to be President Scott Miller’s on-campus residence, located on Smith Drive across the street from the Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center.
“In its early years, Virginia Wesleyan owned a president’s house in Norfolk,” Moore said. “It was later sold and the president was provided a housing accommodation. When Dr. Miller arrived in 2015, he purchased his own home in Ocean View.”
Over the course of the past year, Miller has written about this project in his weekly Nota Bene updates, stating that without this addition, VWU is the only four-year institution in this region to not have a campus-based president’s residence.
The building itself will have the president’s living space on the second floor, with “extensive indoor and outdoor entertainment areas downstairs,” according to one update.
“A president’s house was identified as an institutional need in the 10-year facilities master plan developed in 2016 by the planning firm of Derck and Edson of Lititz, PA,” Moore said.
The record status of the plan on the City of Virginia Beach Planning Commission website states that it will be a 7,771 sq ft residence. Other president’s residences at nearby universities are similar in size, with CNU’s being 7,000 square-feet and worth $5 million and ODU’s Jacobson House on the Elizabeth River being worth $2 million.
Moore states that the residence will be used in similar ways as universities such as Old Dominion University, which utilizes their president’s residence as a center for social activity and community engagement where all are welcome. This would include using the building to host important campus functions and events.
Funding for the manor is being provided by donors, among whomst are Bob and Nancy DeFord, for whom the manor will be named. The DeFords are long-time Trustees and benefactors of the University, even having the gatehouse at the entrance to campus and a hall in Honors Village named in their honor.
The same firm that designed ODU’s president’s house, as well as various buildings at VWU including the Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center, designed DeFord Manor and will be carrying out its plans with the help of Hoy Construction. The school has obtained verbal approval to begin, but is waiting on written permission to break ground.
As updates from Miller continue to promise an innovative addition to the campus community, students express curiosity at its prospect.
“Although there are other things we could be prioritizing on campus, I’m interested to see how the mansion will turn out,” sophomore Divinity Richards said. “It’s at least something new, and I think it will be an interesting addition.”
By Will Farkas