Dean Buckingham retires after 33 years

Thomas Mills | Marlin Chronicle
Thomas Mills | Marlin Chronicle

By Kellie Lagoy

Virginia Wesleyan students will no longer be able to walk the campus and see a man with a bowtie bustling around. Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Enrollment Services David Buckingham will retire effective Dec. 31.
The community received word of Buckingham’s departure in one of President Scott D. Miller’s daily Nota Bene emails. The email flooded campus inboxes on Oct. 6, before VWC’s fall break.
Buckingham has been part of the college since Feb. 1, 1982. He joined the Marlin family as the dean of students and a history professor at the beginning of his 33-year-long tenure. His term would have lasted 34 years if he were to stay until the end of January.“But hey, who’s counting,” said Buckingham.
During his time with the college, Buckingham has held numerous positions. He was special assistant to the president and acting director of college communications before he came into his current titles.
When asked the reason for his retirement, Buckingham shrugged and answered, “just because.”
This decision has come as a shock to the student body, because Buckingham has not only been at Wesleyan for more than three decades, but he has been instrumental in some of the most important changes that have happened on campus. Buckingham emphasizes that “there is no ‘me’ in Wesleyan, there is a ‘we,’” because he was not the only member helping the school expand to what it is now.
“Anything that I’ve done with any measure of success is because of other people I’ve worked with. Students I’ve worked with. Faculty I’ve worked with. Coaches I’ve worked with. Parents I’ve worked with. Staff I’ve worked with. That needs to be said at the outset,” said Buckingham.
Some of Buckingham’s accomplishments include his large role in changing athletics from the Dixie Conference to the ODAC, growing and creating the offices of residence life and counseling services and bringing an adopted pep band to VWC for three years.
With his departure comes some sadness. Many have expressed their heartache, but quite a bit comes from Keith Moore.
“It’s sad in some ways because he has been a close colleague, a good friend and someone that I learned quite a bit from. It’s going to be a different place without him. We were fortunate to have his leadership for as long as we did, and he bleeds Marlin blue,” Moore said.
As stated in Miller’s email, “Effective immediately, Dr. Keith Moore will serve as acting Vice President for Student Affairs during the transition period and will become Vice President for Student Affairs on January 1, 2016. David will assist him in the transition for the remainder of the calendar year.”
Moore served as Dean of Students before getting the chance to fill Buckingham’s shoes, and he has been looking for the opportunity to work in this capacity since he began working in higher education.
“I have always aspired to be a chief student affairs officer. I have explored opportunities at other institutions in the past, even as recent as last year. I’ve always had my vision for what would be a student affairs division, and I have my understanding of my own leadership style and management style. It’s just fortunate that I get to execute those at an institution where I have been and to work with people that I’ve been working with,” Moore said.
The news was just as much of a shock for Moore as it was for the rest of the community. Moore said he had only found out the news the day before the Nota Bene was released to everyone. Just as quickly, the college has changed his title on the website to read Associate Vice President of Student Affairs.
“My hope was that I would be able to continue at Virginia Wesleyan for as long as I could in my career. I was here for 16 years and always had hoped that I would be able to work my way to that level. I know that David Buckingham served the school for a number of years and I didn’t know what his intentions were, so when it was announced I was [Vice President of Student Affairs], I was pleasantly surprised that I was given the opportunity to serve the school in that capacity,” Moore said.
Just as Buckingham ends his tenure on New Year’s Eve, Moore will take his place as Vice President of Student Affairs on New Year’s Day.