Faculty celebrates 35 years, decades of friendship

35 years ago, in 1987, Drs. Linda Ferguson and Denise Wilkinson both stepped foot onto the campus of Virginia Wesleyan University, which was then Virginia Wesleyan College, for the first time. Since then, Ferguson, professor of Management, Business and Economics, and Wilkinson, professor of Mathematics, have both grown to love the family-like community of the University.

“While my house is in Suffolk and part of my heart is in PA, VWU is my home,” Ferguson said. “It is filled with my family to include my current, and 35 years of former, students and colleagues.”

Coming to VWU, Ferguson and Wilkinson both had a similar teaching experience under their belts. Ferguson began teaching and coaching at her hometown high school in Middletown, Pa., before moving to a community college and then finally coming to Virginia Wesleyan. Similarly, Wilkinson began as a graduate teaching assistant in Tennessee and then spent two years at a community college in Kentucky. She eventually moved to Virginia Beach in 1987 and began her career at VWU.

“I have to say the time has moved by quickly; however, there have been many changes on this campus in 35 years,” Wilkinson said. “When I first began, the math department used a mimeograph machine to make copies of our hand-written quizzes and tests. We could always tell when someone was making copies, as the machine’s duplicating fluid put off a distinct fragrant aroma.”

Since coming to VWU in 1987, both professors have made unforgettable memories with the campus community. Ferguson shared that she never expected to “play a Wooly Mammoth in a theater production, take students on a dozen study abroad adventures, serve as a dean, director of strategic planning and faculty team advisor or work with [her] students on a project for the FBI and be a liaison to the Alumni Board over the course of three and a half decades.” Adding to this, Wilkinson and her husband were even able to have their wedding reception in the Boyd Dining Center in 1995.

Ferguson and Wilkinson express that they are both honored to continue to be a part of such a welcoming environment here at VWU, as they are excited to see what the future holds. 

“[Our] learning continues with the saturation in the liberal arts infusing our daily interactions, the opportunities for growth into new ways of teaching, the demands of evolving technology and feeling the effects of our campus filling in spaces that were early dreams of our founders,” Ferguson said.

Both professors also express their overwhelming appreciation for their friendship.

“I didn’t know many faculty at first, so I connected with Linda Ferguson right away,” Wilkinson said. “We had both started the same year, and I was drawn to her bubbling and welcoming personality.”

With 35 years at Virginia Wesleyan University already behind them, Ferguson and Wilkinson look forward to the many years they have ahead of them as a part of our campus community.

By Carey Seay