West Virginia Wesleyan College will kick off Homecoming weekend with their traditional Founders Day Convocation at 11 a.m. on Friday, October 17 in Wesley Chapel. This year, Wesleyan is honoring one alumnus and two professors of the College with honorary doctorate degrees. Dr. Douglas Miller ’59 and Dr. Kenneth Welliver will be awarded the Doctor of Divinity degrees and Dr. John Saunders will receive the Doctor of Humane Letters degree, while also delivering the Convocation’s keynote address.
Dr. Miller, a 1959 Wesleyan graduate, has served as the pastor of two small United Methodist churches bordering the Delaware River and as the team leader of the Red Bird Missionary Conference in Beverly, KY. He served as the Interim Vice President for Advancement at Wesleyan from 2006-2007 and was a special assistant to the President from 2002-2005. From 1993-2000, Dr. Miller was the District Superintendent for the Delaware District of the Northern New Jersey Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church, where he managed and coordinated 76 churches. He served as the senior pastor at Cranford United Methodist Church in Cranford, NJ, and at The United Methodist Church in Demarest, NJ. He also was the senior pastor at First United Methodist Church in Montclair, NJ and Chaplain at Montclair State College. Dr. Miller earned his B.A. from Wesleyan, a Master of Sacred Theology from Boston University, and a Doctor of Ministry from Drew University. He is a life-time Eagle Scout and United States Naval Reserve veteran. In 2002, he received the Wesleyan President’s Medal for his tireless work as a recruiter of students for the College.
Dr. Saunders, Associate Professor of English, Emeritus, served as a full-time member of the English faculty at Wesleyan from 1983-2005. He joined the Wesleyan campus community in 1977 and served as Placement Director and Director of Academic Services for three years. He was honored by the National Academic Advising Association for his work as an academic advisor, and was selected by members of the senior class at Wesleyan’s Favorite Professor in 1988, 1998, and 2000. In addition, he was recognized for his teaching by The United Methodist Church Board of Higher Education. Since his retirement in 2005, Dr. Saunders has served as Director of Scholarships and Awards. Under his leadership, 13 students have been named U.S. Fulbright Scholars, two as Gilman Scholars, one as a Mitchell Scholar, and one as a U.S.-Arab Critical Language Scholar. In addition, other Wesleyan students have received highly competitive NCAA Post-Graduate awards, accepted in the Teach For America program and participated in the Clinton Global Initiative program. Dr. Saunders received the Extra Mile Award from Wesleyan Alumni in 2007. He earned a B.A. and M.A. from Oklahoma State University and a Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
Dr. Welliver served as Wesleyan’s Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College from 1979-1987. He joined the Wesleyan faculty in 1964 as Associate Professor of Bible and Religion and was promoted to Professor of Religion, a rank he held until his full-time retirement in 1997. He continued to teach part-time until 2012. He and his wife, Mary Lee established a scholarship to assist international students and the couple frequently hosted Wesleyan international students in their home. He also served as a credentials analyst for international applications for the Admissions Office, and was an active member of numerous College and faculty committees. He earned his B.A. with distinction from DePauw University and his B.D. cum laude from Yale Divinity School. He holds a M.A. in New Testament Studies from Yale where he was a Hooker-Dwight Fellow, and a Ph.D. in New Testament Studies from Yale. He and his wife received the Extra Mile Award from Wesleyan alumni in 1999.