Will VWC lose its small town charm if it gets too big?

We are in a period of growth at Virginia Wesleyan College. At the State of the College Address on Tuesday, Aug. 23, President Scott Miller told us about the many changes that are coming to VWC. Such changes include the establishment of three schools within the college, the new Batten Honors College, a new fine arts center and renovation of the baseball field. There is also the new apartment complex, the YMCA building and two new master’s programs that were announced a couple of months earlier. VWC is on its way to becoming a full-scale university.

As a proud Marlin, I am excited to see my alma mater grow. I believe these changes are taking the college in the right direction and they will help attract more students. As the campus grows, it is reasonable to conclude that the student body will grow along with it. While I am excited to see my school grow, I can’t help but feel a little concern at the same time.

What attracted me to VWC was the fact that it was a small school. When I was a high school senior touring the campus, I felt a sense of community that I did not feel when I toured the large state universities such as the University of Virginia  and Virginia Commonwealth University. That sense of community was my deciding factor in choosing VWC. I got exactly what I was hoping for and better. I love how I know my professors, that I can go to Batten and find someone to hang out with and that the deans know me by name. These are all wonderful things that I love about this college that I am afraid we will lose if it becomes too big.

I feel that a lot of students do not realize the benefit of actually knowing their professors. This makes it easier to approach them if you are struggling with a class. I took a class at George Mason one summer and I did not have the same relationship with that professor that I have with my professors here. There were thirty students in class, which is considered small by George Mason standards, and the professor was not very approachable. I am not trying to put down George Mason University in any way. George Mason is an excellent university and I have the utmost respect for it, but taking a class there made me realize how lucky I am to go to a small school.

There a lot of great people that I have met since coming to VWC. These are people whom I’ve met through my different classes, clubs and just simply walking around campus. It makes me so glad to know that whenever I go through Batten I will easily find someone to hang out with.  This creates an intimate community you can only find at a small school.

Most college students cannot say their deans know them by name unless they did something really great or they really messed up. At most large state schools, the deans are figureheads who students only see at press conferences or college events. At VWC, the deans will greet you as you walk pass them. They will ask you how your day is going and are generally interested in hearing about your college experience.

I realize that the changes discussed by Miller are not going to happen overnight. We are still a small school and do not need to worry about becoming too big anytime soon. By the time the college does grow to that size, my class will have long since graduated. I just want to make sure that future Marlins can have the same experience that I did. The small campus community is what brought me to VWC and I don’t want us to lose that charm. I want the college to grow, just not too much.

Michael Willson