Donor funds new African-American Studies Program

An academic plan for African-American studies is coming to VWU, fulfilling a big need for students and the community.

A new donor-funded African-American studies program will soon launch at Virginia Wesleyan University. On Aug. 23, 2019 at the State of the University Address, Scott D. Miller, President of Virginia Wesleyan University, announced that the University had received a generous contribution to initiate an African American-Studies program.

“We think that a program like this will benefit you not just in the degree that you get, but that it will benefit you in life as a whole , it will give a better understanding of what led to current affairs in the United States, and the history behind it… that is important to a liberal arts college education,” Miller said.

The gift came from a long-time friend of the university, Mr. Harvey Lindsay, Jr.  As a well-known business leader and civil rights advocate within the community, Lindsay has always had a passion for helping others, but the awareness of racial issues has been a top priority in his eyes.

Lindsay saw the need for Virginia Wesleyan University to become more diverse, and he chose to invest a substantial amount of money to the University to initiate the program in the amount of $250,000, which President Miller hopes to use to expand staffing capabilities and to also use some of the funds as leverage to raise additional funds.

Over the next six months, faculty and staff will be working actively to begin planning for the program. “ We as faculty have been working on this program for some time… this program will have a profound impact… if we want to understand how we got to the position we are in, we have to start from the beginning,” Associate Professor of English Rebecca Hooker said.

Though the program is still in its formative stage, planning will include exploring and establishing courses and topics through an interdisciplinary approach. “This is something that has come up in our strategic plan and…his gift makes it possible to carry out this goal and vision… to provide a broader academic experience for all students here,” Vice President for Academic Affairs Maynard Schaus said.

The new African-American Studies Program will bring the diversity and inclusion that students and faculty are craving. “Students have been begging for more diversity… we have seen progress, but this program will progress us even more” said Michael Perry, President of the Black Student Union. “This is at the right time, it’s for the right thing, and it’s just outstanding,” Miller said.

Markaysha Bryant