On Thursday, October 7, Dr. Vivia L. Fowler, President of Wesleyan College, released this statement:
At the end of this academic year I will mark fifteen years at Wesleyan—ten as your provost and five as your president—and I will be forever grateful for the students, faculty, staff, alumnae, trustees, and friends of the College who support this institution and each other every day. Together we have accomplished great things at Wesleyan, and I know that her greatest days can lie ahead. As Wesleyan looks forward to her third Century, this seems to be an opportune time for a new leader to envision that future; therefore, I will continue my service to the College as president through June and then will step aside to allow for new leadership.
When I became president, many people asked: “Are you enjoying being president?” My answer was: “I may not enjoy every day, but I find joy every day in leading Wesleyan College.” That was true then, and it is true now. What we are doing here is good, noble, and so very important—educating, empowering, and inspiring women for lives of purpose, justice, and leadership. It has been my honor and privilege to contribute to a small part of who Wesleyan is, and it will be my great joy to work with all of you for the remainder of the academic year.
During Dr. Fowler’s tenure at Wesleyan as president and as provost, the College made significant progress in numerous areas including the expansion of academic programs, enrollment growth, and facility improvements. In her first year as president, the College developed a strategic three-year plan that was fully implemented through June 2021. Under her leadership, the College experienced four years of the highest institutional enrollment in the last twenty years. Academic offerings grew substantially due to Dr. Fowler’s guidance and support. In the past four years, undergraduate and graduate programs expanded to include the addition of the bachelor of fine arts, applied data analysis and public health majors, and three new master’s programs.
She led efforts to complete the funding for the renovation of Willet Memorial Library, which will be finished in January 2022. The Panoz Soccer Complex was refurbished and dedicated in 2020. Numerous improvements were made to the Nancy Ellis Knox Equestrian Center and the residence halls were enhanced with new furniture and flooring.
While serving as provost, Dr. Fowler was instrumental in initiating and developing Wesleyan’s bachelor of science in nursing program, which is now the College’s largest major. She also created the Wesleyan Academy for Lifelong Learning (WALL) as an outreach program for the community. Additionally, she implemented and supervised the College’s Confucius Institute and developed a dual-degree program with Guangzhou University. Due to her extensive travel to China, Dr. Fowler strengthened Wesleyan’s historic relationship with China and forged new potential partnerships throughout the country.
Most recently, Dr. Fowler formed the Lane Center for Social and Racial Equity by partnering with the Council on Independent Colleges through a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The Center will be located in the historic Porter House and will provide equity programming and initiatives for the campus and community.
Board Chairwoman Amy Rauls said, “Wesleyan College’s Board of Trustees joins me in thanking Vivia for her leadership, guidance, and dedication to Wesleyan during the past four years. While much has been accomplished under her presidency, her management during the challenges of COVID-19 is unparalleled and the Wesleyan community remains safe and well. The Trustees will begin a presidential search beginning this fall and appoint a search committee in the near future. In the meantime, we look forward to honoring Vivia for her faithful service during the remainder of this academic year.”