President Vivia Fowler sits in her office.


Wesleyan Circle logo with a W and the date of 1836.

Wesleyan's 25th President,

Dr. Vivia L. Fowler

On July 1, 2017, Wesleyan’s 25th president, Dr. Vivia Lawton Fowler, took the reins of office. A part of the Wesleyan family for ten years, first as academic dean and most recently as provost, Fowler brings to the position more than thirty years of experience in higher education, specifically at women’s colleges. The third female president of this women’s college, she is the first female ordained United Methodist minister to hold the office once traditionally held by Methodist clergy. 

Following her graduation from another women’s United Methodist-affiliated college, Columbia College, in South Carolina, Fowler earned her master of arts degree in religion at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary and worked as a minister in two UM churches in Columbia and Orangeburg. She returned to her alma mater as a teacher and there discovered her call to the ministry of education. “My great joy as a higher education administrator is seeing the transformation that our students so often experience as a result of being in the unique environment provided by a small liberal arts college.” She earned her Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of South Carolina.  

As provost, Fowler was instrumental in initiating Wesleyan’s bachelor of science in nursing program. The success of the program led to the decision to add a spring cohort beginning in January 2018, a move that will eventually double the number of Wesleyan’s BSN graduates. Fowler is responsible for other additions to the College’s academic offerings such as study in equine-assisted therapy, sport management, forensic science, organizational behavior, and a bachelor of fine arts in art. Fowler also had a key role in institutionalizing Wesleyan’s commitment to bringing together students’ liberal arts studies with preparation for life after Wesleyan. The resulting “From Here to Career” initiative means “our students will stand head and shoulders above their competitors when they apply for graduate school and employment.”

Being president of one of only 37 remaining women’s colleges in the United States presents challenges, but Dr. Fowler sees a unique opportunity to distinguish our institution as a beacon for women’s leadership and education. “When I talk with prospective students, I urge them to do themselves a favor for four years – to study at a place where we believe in them, where women are the student, athletic, and academic leaders, where they can learn from and work alongside women leaders, where their mentors will be women, where their confidence can grow.”  

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