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The University of Virginia’s College at Wise Spring 2010


WRITING PROJECT Under the leadership of Amy Clark ’92, the AWP has helped teachers improve learning in the classroom for 10 years

PLUS • The great dialect debate • Write a story in just 6 words

ALSO | Honoring U.Va. President Casteen | Construction progress & photos | Notebooks & memories from ’54

from the





spr ing 2 010 • Vol . I x • No. 2

Dear Alumni and Friends,

In this issue of The UVa-Wise Magazine, we honor the Class of 2010 and the joyful Commencement celebration we shared with them, their families and friends. You will meet two of our remarkable graduates and learn of their plans for the future. And though we know we won’t see them on campus as frequently, the Class of 2010 will always be part of the UVa-Wise family as they join the thousands of UVa-Wise alumni who continue their commitment to this College.



Commitment and passion are two apt descriptors for John T. Casteen III, who steps down this summer as President of the University of Virginia. Mr. Casteen has been this College’s most avid champion throughout his presidency. Most of the successes that UVa-Wise has enjoyed are because of his belief in what we do and his vigilance in steering us toward the dream of who we could be. He will become President Emeritus at the conclusion of his 20th year on Aug. 1. Inside, read more about Mr. Casteen’s remarkable journey and join us in wishing him more magical adventures in the years ahead. Our cover story features the Appalachian Writing Project. Approaching 10 years of excellent outreach to our region’s public school teachers, the Appalachian Writing Project carries on the work of our College founders in being a true partner with our K-12 colleagues. I know you will enjoy learning about how the AWP is making a difference in the lives of these remarkable teachers and their students.

12 featur es A bust of University of Virginia founder Thomas Jefferson serves as a backdrop for Chancellor David J. Prior’s remarks during the College’s Founder’s Day celebration on April 12.

And don’t miss the excellent article on how we all can weather this economic downturn. Members of our business and economics faculty weigh in on the best strategies to face these challenging times.

12 A Woman of Many Words Amy Clark ’92 discusses 10 years with the Appalachian Writing Project and dialect research. Plus, AWP teachers tell stories in just six words.

30 A man of honor Provost Gil Blackburn, the man behind the College’s reinvigorated honor system and new ROTC program, will retire this summer.

16 Hail to the Chief John T. Casteen III, the man who

31 Back to Belize UVa-Wise students, faculty and

has mentored seven UVa-Wise chancellors, is stepping down after two decades as president of the University of Virginia.

As always, we thank you for your generous and consistent support which helps UVa-Wise fulfill its mission to make a college education accessible and affordable.

20 Page by page The College’s story unfolds with the


pages of one alumna’s scrapbook and notebooks from the 1950s.

24 Framing the campus “Building the Dream” is now more apparent than ever as UVa-Wise approaches the culmination of the largest construction phase in its history. David J. Prior Chancellor


28 Taste of campus The new Hunter J. Smith Dining Commons shows just how far eating on campus has changed since the College opened in 1954.

friends make a return trip to help the sick of the impoverished South American country.

d e par t m en ts

2 Word to the Wise Your letters to us 3 Headlines @ Wise News and highlights 32 Alumni News News for UVa-Wise graduates 36 Classnotes Updates from alumni



Editor Roger Hagy, Jr. ’05 Assistant Editor Cassandra J. Sproles ’00 Alumni Editors Pamela J. Collie ’93 Jo Stewart ’84 P r i n c i p a l Ph o t o g ra p hy Tim Cox, Tim Cox Photo/Graphics Co n t r i b u t o r s Darrell-Dingus Ely ’10, Jason Montgomery, Sydney Perry, Jenny Salyers, Kathy Still ’84, Brittany Wichtendahl Magazine Design Roger Hagy, Jr. ’05 Ad v i s o r y B o a r d Angel Cox, Tim Cox, Greg Edwards ’70, Amy Greear ’97, Walter Littrell ’83

Co n t a c t U s Send us your comments, concerns, questions and story ideas. Your “Word to the Wise” may be printed in a future issue of The UVa-Wise Magazine, with your permission. We reserve the right to edit letters and e-mails, with writers’ consultation. E-mail: Phone: 276-328-0130 The UVa-Wise Magazine One College Avenue Wise, VA 24293 2 the uVA-WISE MAGAZINE

Headlines @ Wise

Word to the Wise

From you to us


Satisfied readers I am a visitor to Wise, and I was first shown older issues of the magazine. But what I saw in fall/ winter ’09 is clean and thoroughly professional. I just felt so much better about the magazine. You have set a fine, high standard. Thanks for making me feel better. Craig Nilsen, professor, Visual Arts Center, Tidewater Community College I just wanted to let you know that I had a chance to look at the newest issue of The UVa-Wise magazine online today. I was incredibly impressed, and I wanted to let you know how wonderful I thought it was. I have always felt that it is a good, quality publication by the College, but I think this one took it to a whole new level. I loved the depth and versatility of the articles, but I was blown away by the creativity that I saw throughout (especially with the “Building the Dream” section). I don’t know how often you hear feedback from alumni who receive

News and highlights from UVa-Wise


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climbing is band is e a-Wise, th usic scen Born at UV the top of the m to y their wa ni w alum PLUS Ho siness of in the bu ment are entertain the ffin ’05 g rin Adam Cha he at we inson ’03 Emerald Rob onomy tough ec

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the magazine, but I wanted to take a few minutes to brag on you and your team. UVa-Wise truly is a wonderful place, and your team has done a fantastic job of displaying that in the current issue! Jessica Leigh Kennedy Hood ’05

Naming game In Allie Robinson’s article in the fall 2009 issue, “Tradition and Legacy,” we asked readers to identify the mystery folks in the story’s images from years past. Ginger Baker Lane ’76 tells us the students facing the camera while playing Rook (top right) are Jim Blackburn ’78 and Norman Lewis. The female hands are those of Lane herself. (“Wow... look at those nails,” she writes.) Kenny Gilley ’73 identifies himself in the bottom right photo as “the studious gentleman at the table playing poker (discussing economics) in the dark-colored jacket.” Let us know if you can identify the other mystery players in these photos!

Call for letters: Share memories of your favorite professors We want to know how your professors made an impact in your life during your time at the College. What lessons did they offer for your life outside the classroom? What unforgettable memories do you carry with you to this day? We want to hear from both alumni and current students. E-mail your letters and thoughts to today!

n ’04

UVa-Wise theater students perform a scene from William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” the first official UVaWise stage production in the newly dedicated Gilliam Center for the Arts.

Gilliam Center for the Arts officially dedicated The Gilliam Center for the Arts was officially dedicated in an April 12 ceremony that featured University of Virginia President John T. Casteen III and others honoring the Gilliam family’s contribution to the facility. The Gilliam Center for the Arts embodies the essence of a true liberal arts college, President Casteen said. The facility stands as a testament to the unwavering and generous support the Gilliam family has provided the College throughout the years. UVa-Wise Chancellor David J. Prior described a vibrant energy that flows from the Gilliam Center when bands and choirs rehearse and students put final touches on various fine arts projects. The facility is the jewel of the campus, he said. Chancellor Prior presented the plaque installed in the building to mark the dedication. The plaque inscription points out that Richard and Leslie Gilliam and Marcia and Marvin Gilliam, Jr. have “provided unwavering and generous philanthropic support for the College” for many years. The Gilliams have been prominent leaders in the coal industry and are staunch advocates for education and cultural activities throughout the region. Betty J. Gilliam, the family matriarch, joined the College faculty in 1960 as the first art professor. She was named professor

of art emerita in 1989. Mrs. Gilliam attended the dedication ceremony with her family. A highlight of the ceremony was a performance of “A capella Mass” by the Highland Singers. The work was composed and conducted by David Volk, assistant professor of music. The facility opened last fall and houses all fine and performing arts programs under one roof for the first time in the College’s history. Construction on the facility involved renovating the original theater building, which tripled the available space. The Gilliam Center has a black box theater, a large scene shop, a green room, a costume shop and a storage area for props. The theater has robotic lighting, a large motorized turntable that provides flexibility with scene design, and a digital audio console with editing and playback software. The music section includes rehearsal space for bands and choirs, digital audio and piano labs and student practice rooms with recording and playback capabilities. The two-story, 8,525-square-foot studio art wing includes art studios, a ceramics studio, a dark room, faculty offices and a paper arts studio. The art gallery allows the College to host professional, juried and private collection shows.

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Headlines @ Wise


Sullivan to become eighth U.Va. president

Going ‘postal’

Software engineering students develop software for campus post office to easily track packages By kathy Still ’84 The chocolate barcode on the UPS cake hinted that April 23 was a special day for Jean Good and her campus post office staff. The group of software engineering students snugly crowded around the front office computer left no doubt that Friday afternoon was not a typical day in the mail room. Assistant Professor Abrar Qureshi was all smiles as he watched five seniors work out the final details of a capstone project designed to make it easier for students to receive care packages from home or merchandise from an online shopping spree. Good, clutching a bottle of sparkling grape juice, gave up any pretense of containing her excitement. “This is wonderful,” Good said. “These students have worked so hard on this project. It will make such a difference.” Erica Dell ’10 picked up a package and Daniel Vanover ’10 scanned the barcode. The results of a year’s worth of hard work were revealed in just seconds when the package tracking information entered the computer. Good says the new system will not only help the staff keep track of the nearly 9,000 packages the post office receives each year, but will also have the capability of notifying students, faculty and staff via e-mail when a package has arrived. Qureshi said designing the project gave the seniors valuable real-world experience while meeting the needs of the campus. “It is all about communication,” Qureshi said. “Software engineers must work with customers to determine their needs, then they must work to create a program that meets those needs.” 4 the uVA-WISE MAGAZINE

The post office definitely needed the software. “We average up to 200 packages a day, depending on what time of the year it is,” Good said. “I’ve looked for several years to find a package tracking system, but the most inexpensive ones cost around $23,000.” Good said the talent pool is deep at UVa-Wise, so she decided to ask the software engineering department to lend a hand. “The students learned that spending a lot of time up front means spending less time later on,” Qureshi said. Working as a team is necessary for software development, Qureshi said. Some team members are better at certain tasks than others, so teamwork proves efficient. The valuable experience they gained will prepare them for a hot job market and a potential $85,000 annual salary. “It was easy for us to find our roles,” Dell said. “Working with these guys means I am always learning something. It gave me an excellent preview of what to expect in the workforce.” “If one of us was unsure of something, we could go to others on the team for help,” said Justin Stewart. “I like the fact that this project will actually help someone.” “It gives you confidence,” added Vanover. “This has given me valuable experience for the future,” said Alfredo Montilla, a native of Spain. “We have something that we can put on our résumés and something to talk about in a job interview,” said Scott Downie. “This is real world experience.”

UVa-Wise, Darden School announce partnership

jane haley, public affairs

Campus Post Office Manager Jean Good (far left) pops open a bottle of sparkling grape juice, to celebrate the first scan using package scanning software built by UVaWise software engineering students. Joining in the celebration are (standing) Alfredo Montilla, Assistant Professor Abrar Qureshi, Scott Downie, (seated) Erica Dell, Daniel Vanover and Justin Stewart.

Teresa A. Sullivan, the University of Michigan’s provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and a leading scholar in labor force demography, will become the University of Virginia’s eighth president on Aug. 1. Sullivan was unanimously elected by the University’s Board of Visitors in January. University Rector John O. Wynne, who chaired the board’s Special Committee on the Nomination of a President, officially welcomed Sullivan to the University community, calling her “an extraordinary talent who brings to the University an enormous depth and breadth of experience in every aspect of public higher education.” Sullivan, 60, will succeed John T. Casteen III, who announced last summer that he will step down as president at the end of his 20th year.

Emergency preparedness a priority for crisis team No one wants to think about what would happen if a crisis erupted on the UVaWise campus, especially one that endangers the lives of students, faculty and staff. However, being prepared for such situations is the harsh yet necessary reality facing all college and university campuses today. At UVa-Wise, the Crisis Management Team (CMT) has been working for nearly three years to develop best practices for emergency preparedness. “We’ve definitely elevated awareness of preparedness on campus,” says Gary Juhan, vice chancellor for administration and the chair of the CMT. “You can never assume a crisis won’t happen on our campus.” The team has installed a telephone alert system and an outdoor siren for emergency notification, in addition to the campus e-mail, website and television options already available. The CMT has also collaborated with its sub-group, the Crisis Communication Team, to conduct crisis simulations to practice responding to different types of emergencies. The team has faced a fictional drowning, a fictional hostage situation and a fictional science laboratory explosion and dealt with what could be the ramifications in each scenario. “I’m always intrigued by – regardless

of what happens – how we learn something new each time we have these drills,” Juhan says. “Nothing can prepare us fully, but it definitely helps us know at least some of the challenges we might face during a crisis.” What about the challenges ahead? “We need to keep up with technology as it develops,” Juhan says. “There may always be something better out there we can use to communicate to the campus during an emergency.” Juhan says the CMT has been successful because of the team’s chemistry. “When you talk to the members of this team, there’s no doubt of their commitment to the institution and wanting to do what’s right,” he says. “It’s easy to get together and discuss serious issues.” The team now includes members who represent areas that must be critically involved in any emergency situation. Today, the roster includes Keith Fowlkes, vice chancellor for information technology; Joe Kiser ’00, director of college services; Steve McCoy, campus police chief; John Reeves, director of the physical plant; Kathy Still ’84, director of news and media relations; Lora Williams ’71, science safety compliance officer; and Jewell Worley ’76, dean of students.

UVa-Wise and the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business began offering courses this spring as part of the new “Darden/UVaWise Partnership for Leadership Development.” The joint venture between the U.Va. institutions – both founded in 1954 – hosts an option of six key courses. Participants at companies in Southwest Virginia select four courses to complete the full program and earn a certificate in leadership development.

Healthy Appalachia receives national grant The Healthy Appalachia Institute has received a grant from the National Network of Public Health Institutes, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, to foster a healthier citizenry in Southwest Virginia. Housed at UVa-Wise, HAI is one of six emerging public health institutes to receive the support to undertake a range of activities intended to cultivate partnerships, enhance executive leadership and build the capacity to inform health policy.

Resident advisor named outstanding programmer Leah Arthur, a student and resident advisor at UVa-Wise, was named the Outstanding Programmer of the Year at the annual Virginia Association of College and University Housing Officers’ Resident Advisor Conference at Shenandoah University. More than 300 resident advisors from 27 colleges and universities throughout Virginia attended the conference, including eight members of the College’s Office of Housing and Residence Life.

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Headlines @ Wise

Headlines @ Wise ATHLETICS NEWS

When the men’s basketball team finished up its 2009-2010 season, they left a lasting legacy with a tie for the Appalachian Athletic Conference regular season championship and the school’s second trip to the national tournament. Following a 2-2 non-conference start, UVa-Wise opened its final season of AAC play with an overtime game against Union. Despite putting four players in double figures, the Cavs fell. The Cavaliers continued to experience ups and downs throughout the first part of the schedule. After again falling to Union, the men righted the ship and ran off an impressive seven-game winning streak to get back into the regular season race. In that streak, UVa-Wise outscored its opponents by an average of more than 15 points per game. The run enabled the squad to tie for the regular season championship. The opening round of the AAC tournament found the Cavs facing Tennessee Wesleyan. The UVa-Wise team was paced by six double-figure scores and a 26-point performance from point guard Travis Berry. The Cavs advanced to the conference semifinals with a 99-88 victory. Bluefield, the defending conference champs, couldn’t overcome the Cavs’ balanced scoring attack. All five starters posted double figure totals to take a win (86-80) on Bluefield’s home court. A familiar foe awaited the UVa-Wise squad in the conference championship game. As expected, the game came down to the wire. With the Cavs leading by one

point, Beau Brown hit two free throws for Union to give his squad a one-point advantage with just 8.8 seconds remaining. From there, Berry would race down the floor to put up a jump shot that came off the rim. However, teammate Kevin Perry was there to save the day. Perry tipped in the miss with 0.8 seconds remaining to send UVa-Wise to the national tournament. That night, four UVa-Wise players scored in double figures, and the total marked the third consecutive tournament game in which at least four players scored double digits. The team traveled to Point Lookout, Mo., to play Indiana Southeast in the 2010 NAIA National Tournament. Indiana Southeast came into the contest ranked in the nation’s top 10. Sam Eligwe (center) attempts a jump shot over Indiana Southeast defenders. However, the Cavaliers put up a fight jumping out to an Brannon ’10 were named to the AAC All early lead in the contest. The lead soon Academic team. Lee Clark, who has been evaporated, as Indiana Southeast would take advantage of cold shooting from UVa- at UVa-Wise for 14 years, was named AAC Wise to take the lead and pull away for the Coach of the Year. Next season, his team moves up to Division I NAIA, where they 81-56 victory. will compete in the Mid-South. Seniors Pance Kecev ’10 and Travis

Women’s basketball team finishes final AAC season with 16 wins It was a season of highs and lows for the women’s basketball team, which will leave the Appalachian Athletic Conference and make a move to the Mid-South next season. First-year coach Jason Montgomery saw his team end the season with 16 wins after being in first place with a two-game lead early in February. UVa-Wise will enter NAIA Division I play in 2010-2011 as one of the highest scoring teams in the nation. Using a blend of ferocious full-court defense and up-tempo offensive firepower, the women averaged 76 points per game and were 14th in scoring offense. The team ranked in the top 50 nationally in field goals, 6 the uVA-WISE MAGAZINE

shooting assists per game and three-pointers made per game. Brittany Maxwell ’10, the lone senior, hit 32 percent of her attempts from beyond the arc and ranked among the most efficient players in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio (16th). Maxwell finished her solid career with 909 points and a career three-point shooting percentage of 34.4 percent. Sophomores Amber Carter and Kristin Mullins were named first team all-conference performers. Carter garnered the AAC Defensive Player of the Year title. Mullins led the team in scoring (15.43 percent) and rebounding (8.19 percent). She finished 17th nationally in field goal percentage.

PHOTO BY melanie lane, the coalfield progress

Men’s basketball team wins AAC tourney, competes at nationals

Young, smart, ambitious

At 17, Nicholas Moss ’10 is the youngest UVa-Wise graduate ever B y j o d i d e a l , t h e c o a l f i e l d p r o g r e ss Decked out in a business suit and sitting in his student government office at The University of Virginia’s College at Wise one spring afternoon, senior Nicholas Moss ’10 sighs playfully. “I was looking at some of the incoming freshmen today, and they looked so young! It made me feel old,” Moss says with a wry smile. “They’re older than you!” his father, Bill Moss, exclaims. Nicholas graduated from UVa-Wise in May with a bachelor of arts degree in government, with an emphasis on political science. The McClure resident started classes at the College last spring. He was 15 at the time and already had an associate’s degree from Mountain Empire Community College under his belt. Moss, who just turned 17 in March, has already been accepted to the Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville. He’ll be the school’s youngest student ever. Sure, Moss says, folks tell him all the time that he’s rushing things, that he’s wasting his youth and should slow down to enjoy life’s milestones in a more “normal” timeframe. Sometimes, he admits, a little break sounds nice. But ultimately, Moss says, he wants to keep going, because he doesn’t believe there’s time to slow down. “I don’t care what’s down that other

road. I’ve chosen my path, and I like where it’s leading me,” Moss says. “I tell people, don’t settle. Don’t ever settle. Don’t give in to a system of control set up by society that says, ‘You need to stop now.’ I say keep going until you’re dead.” Bill Moss says he knew early on that he had a bright child on his hands. Nicholas, whose mother, Marinela, died when he was 2, knew his ABCs at 19 months of age and was reading the newspaper before he turned 3. “I didn’t feel like public schools could keep up with him,” says Moss, who noted that he didn’t want his son to stagnate, but never intended for him to rocket through education so quickly. Bill opted to pull Nicholas out of public school after the fifth grade. At home, the youngster burned through all the sixth-grade materials his father had gathered within two months, and was still maxing out standardized tests. “I just let him go at his own pace,” Bill says. Dad provided structure and discipline, setting specific start and stop times for studying, but never pushed. While he didn’t push, Bill did encourage learning, Nicholas notes. “Dad used to label everything in the house, and make me tell him what everything was,” Nicholas says, recalling his early childhood.

“I just didn’t limit his exposure. I didn’t stop him from asking questions. There are no dumb children, you just have to let them learn,” Bill says. Moss aims to pursue a career in corporate law; that is, once he finishes school and goes on the two-year missionary trip customary for young men who are members of the Church of Latter Day Saints. He may one day pursue a congressional seat, but ultimately hopes to land on the Supreme Court, he says. “That’s where law is made,” Moss says. And since Supreme Court appointments are lifetime jobs, it’s a pretty safe gig. Why law? It’s a good fit, says Moss, who admits with a grin that he’s an avid arguer. “I love to argue and debate. I love sparking people. That’s how you see what really defines someone,” says Moss. Moss also wants to start a family, but not until he finds his footing in the work world, he noted. He’ll probably wait until he’s at least 25 to marry, he predicts. “Education is my first priority. I need to get my education, get a stable job and have the ability to afford a wife, a house and kids. I don’t want to be scrounging,” Moss says. (Reprinted with permission from The Coalfield Progress, April 9, 2010)

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Headlines @ Wise

Headlines @ Wise

of education.” The Class of 2010 must be willing to question things when they notice something in society that needs changing, Phillips said. With help from the graduates, there is no reason Southwest Virginia can’t have the best education, jobs, health care and quality of life in the nation, he said. “You have the opportunity and responsibility to be leaders in your communities, your nation, and the world,” Chancellor David J. Prior said. “The complexities of our times should not discourage you, but rather should drive you to build a better society.” Chancellor Prior urged each graduate to pass the gift of learning to others in the community. Each graduate received a copy of the book “The Little Engine That Could” as a gift from the College and the Napoleon Hill Foundation. Prior asked the graduates to encourage a child to dream of going to college by reading the book to a youngster. Student speaker Bruce Blansett, who graduated summa cum laude with Peake College Honors, urged his classmates to remember the encouragement they received from the faculty and staff at UVaWise. “We’ve discovered a great many things,” Blansett said. “We have grown during our time here. You were part of something extraordinary.”

Above, Sara Keith ’10 and Kandace Kilgore ’10 celebrate upon receiving their degrees. Left, Mandy Mullis ’10 proudly shows her decorated cap and congratulatory bouquet of flowers after the ceremony.

Student speaker Blansett ’10 finds the link between science and literature Class of 2010 graduates capture some last-minute memories before processing for the Commencement ceremony.

Delegate Phillips ’74 congratulates Class of 2010

Virginia Delegate Clarence “Bud” Phillips ’74


Virginia Delegate Clarence “Bud” Phillips ’74 urged the UVa-Wise Class of 2010 to improve the quality of life in their communities by carrying the “torch of education” with them as they enter the next phase of their lives. Phillips delivered the keynote address for the 252 UVa-Wise graduates and their friends and families who gathered for the May 15 ceremony, held at the Lawn by the Lake.

UVa-Wise graduates have a moral responsibility to use their education, leadership skills and vision throughout their lives, Delegate Phillips said. Future generations will benefit as the Class of 2010 works to improve society, he added. “We all have hope for the region, and you are it,” Delegate Phillips said. “You will transform Southwest Virginia through a culture of education. You must endeavor and persevere to create a culture

Bruce Blansett ’10 arrived at UVaWise four years ago with every intention of earning a degree in biology so he could attend medical school after graduation. Blansett took a heavy load of science courses, but his plans changed once he enrolled in “London and Literature.” “I really loved it,” said Blansett, the 2010 Commencement student speaker. “It was my second semester here. I had enough classes to declare a major, so I picked English.” Blansett, 21, did not scrap his plans for medical school. He continued piling on plenty of science courses along with a heavy load of English classes. He soon discovered that science and literature made a good combination.

His capstone project involved studying science of the Civil War and using literature to debunk some of the scientific notions of that period. Blansett wants to teach English at the college level. A summa cum laude graduate, Blansett will enter a master’s degree program in English at Virginia Tech. A doctorate degree is the next step for the first-generation college student. He credits the faculty and staff at UVa-Wise for his successful college career. Gaining a liberal arts education at a small college was a perfect fit, he said. “UVa-Wise really helped me grow as a person,” he said. “All the faculty and staff are very supportive and nurturing. They helped me reach my full potential.”

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Culbertson fund helps students in emergencies By kathy Still ’84 The Fred and Anna Lee Culbertson Emergency Fund, a fund that has prevented dozens of students from dropping out of college due to unexpected financial strain, got its start in 1995 when a struggling student needed help for a required health insurance premium. “We had just started the nursing program at the College at the same time the University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors implemented a policy that required all students to have health insurance,” says former interim chancellor and professor emeritus of mathematics George Culbertson ’57. “A young mother who was coming back to school for the nursing program came to me in tears because she could not financially handle

the insurance premium.” A friend from the University of Virginia wrote a check to cover the student’s health insurance premium, but the encounter with the young mother made Culbertson realize that other students were likely experiencing unexpected financial difficulties at times. Culbertson started the fund, which was eventually named after his parents. His sister, Freda Atwood, came up with a plan to keep contributions flowing. Sue Fischer, his other sister, helped the fund, as well. “She suggested that we make contributions to the fund in lieu of birthday presents,” Culbertson says. “It has helped a lot of students.” Culbertson says creating the fund

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means a lot to the family. “It’s a pretty good feeling,” he says. “Unexpected things happen quickly, and this fund can help.” The fund receives contributions from others as well. Culbertson suspects that some students who received help from the emergency fund have also made contributions. “Without the assistance of the Culbertson Fund, I would not have been able to stay in school my senior year,” says one anonymous student. “I would’ve had to quit college to find a job.” Those interested in contributing to the Fred and Anna Lee Culbertson Emergency fund may contact the Office of Development at 276-328-0129.


New funds announced at scholarship luncheon UVa-Wise scholarship recipients had the opportunity to meet their benefactors during the 19th Annual Scholarship Appreciation Luncheon in March. The following were recently established scholarships announced at the luncheon: • Morgan and Betty Bolling Scholarship • Margaret C. Costa Academic Travel Fund • CVC Class of 1970 Scholarship Fund • Fay Bond Gillespie and Donald M. Gillespie International Studies Fund • Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity Hawpe Donathan Alumni Scholarship • Phillip Andrew Stallard Memorial Scholarship • Twinleaf Society Scholarship • Roy & Ruth Wells Scholarship in Chemistry • Wise County Family & Community Education Club Scholarship

Campaign Update (as of April 30, 2010)

Thanks to your support, we are now $800,000 from our campaign goal! Help us reach our goal by giving today! E-mail or call 276-328-0129 to discuss your gift with a development officer. Goal Gifts to date Scholarships $10 million $ 20,644,566 Professorships $ 3 million $ 4,144,742 Academic Programs $ 4 million $ 3,778,651 Athletics $ 8 million $ 8,691,570 Dining Commons $ 8 million $ 4,000,600 Residence Hall $ 2 million $ 0 Convocation Center Project $10 million $ 500 (Supplemental funds for Convocation Center, Greear Gym renovation) Gilliam Center for the Arts $ 4 million $ 4,000,300 Great Ideas $ 1 million $ 3,999,328 Total $50 million $ 49,260,257


Above, Senior Campaign Advisor Winston Ely ’61 with Frank Kilgore ’77 Left, Provost Gil Blackburn (far left) and Chancellor David J. Prior (far right) stand with Tice Award winners Samantha Burton, Curtis Gibson, Jessica Shartouny, Cassandra Dowdy and Debbie Vanover.

Napoleon Hill Foundation gives $100K for UVa-Wise scholarship The Napoleon Hill Foundation recently presented UVa-Wise with $100,000 for the Napoleon Hill Scholarship Fund. The donation was made during the annual Napoleon Hill Day on Oct. 26. Charles Johnson, chairman of the Napoleon Hill Foundation Board, presented the check. The Napoleon Hill Foundation has given approximately $1,000,000 to provide scholarships that allow students to participate in the Napoleon Hill Scholars program. The leadership program provides training on the principles of success from Hill’s writings. The Foundation has also funded a professorship at UVaWise in Hill’s honor.

“I know we are making a difference with the scholarships,” said Don Green ’61, executive director of the Napoleon Hill Foundation. Headquartered at UVa-Wise, the Napoleon Hill Foundation is a nonprofit educational institution dedicated to promoting Hill’s philosophy. Hill was born in poverty in a one-room cabin on the Pound River in 1883. He became an advisor to presidents and a best-selling author. First published in 1937, “Think and Grow Rich” has sold millions of copies worldwide and continues to appear on the list of top business books.

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“I learned not to fear the blank page. I learned that I too, am a writer.” Ask any teacher who has participated in any of the Appalachian Writing Project’s learning opportunities, and you’re likely to get a response like that of Powell Valley High School teacher Grace Bradshaw above. Headquartered at UVa-Wise, the AWP is clearly doing something right, as it celebrates its tenth anniversary next year under the continuous leadership of Amy Clark ’92, director of the AWP and associate professor of writing and rhetoric. “I think of myself more as a coach,” Clark says. She’s downplaying A her role, of course. Under her guidance, the AWP has helped regional teachers become better WOMAN writers, spark their imaginations and find new, effective ways of teaching writing to students in a OF variety of disciplines. “Our goal is to create reform on how writing is taught,” MANY Clark says. “SOLs and assessment keep teachers stifled... There’s a disconnect between what we know about the cogni-tive and social development of writers and the assessment that’s being done. Research is not being taken into account.” To teach writing successfully, Clark says that teachers have to wrap For nearly 10 years, Amy Clark ’92 has led the Appalachian Writing Project, their mind around one simple concept: “Summative assessment is productoriented, but helping local teachers learn best practices for teaching writing in the classroom, writing pedagogy is process-oriented... It’s all about the journey.” The AWP began its collaborate on education research and rediscover their own creativity. journey when Amelia Harris, academic dean at UVa-Wise, approached Clark in 2000 By Roger Hagy, Jr. ’05 about launching a local site of the National Writing Project, whose aim is to improve writing instruction in the classroom. Harris said Clark would be a good fit for leading the new site, thanks to her past experience as a public school teacher in Patrick County and her studies in teaching pedagogy. “I had actually been in a rut,” Clark says of her public school days. “I didn’t like the way I was teaching writing... I went back and began learning writing pedagogy... I got excited and wanted to share that.” Since the closest writing project was based at Virginia Tech, what would become the Appalachian Writing Project would serve teachers in the cities of Bristol and Norton and the counties of Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington and Wise. Clark agreed, and the UVa-Wise administration and the National Writing Project were supportive of...

Words I

learned not to fear the blank page. I learned that I, too, am a writer.” Ask any teacher who has participated in any of the Appalachian Writing Project’s learning opportunities, and you’re likely to get a response like that of Powell Valley High School teacher Grace Bradshaw above. Headquartered at UVa-Wise, the AWP is clearly doing something right, as it celebrates its 10th anniversary next year under the continuous leadership of Amy Clark ’92, director of the AWP and associate professor of writing and rhetoric. “I think of myself more as a coach,” Clark says. She’s downplaying her role, of course. Under Clark’s guidance, the AWP has helped regional teachers become better writers, spark their imaginations and find new, effective ways of teaching writing to students. “Our goal is to create reform on how writing is taught,” Clark says. “Teachers are constantly telling me that standardized testing stifles creative teaching, even if the techniques are rooted in research that says


spring 2010 13

they work. There’s a disconnect between what the research tells us about the cognitive and social development of writers and how writing is assessed. We’re trying to bridge that gap and give teachers the support they need.” To teach writing successfully, Clark says that teachers have to wrap their mind around one simple concept: “Summative assessment is product-oriented, but writing pedagogy is processoriented... It’s all about the journey.” The AWP began its journey when Amelia Harris, academic dean at UVa-Wise, approached Clark in 2000 about launching a local site of the National Writing Project. Harris said Clark would be a good fit for leading the new site, thanks to her skill as a writer and ability to engage students in her composition classes. “I had actually been in a rut,” Clark says of her days as a public school teacher. “I didn’t like the way I was teaching writing... I went back and began learning writing pedagogy... I wanted to share that.” Clark agreed, and the UVa-Wise administration and the National Writing Project were supportive of the new site in Southwest Virginia. But that wasn’t the challenging part: She now had to recruit the first summer cohort of local teachers. “It was so daunting,” Clark says. “I had to convince a group of teachers to invest so much of their time in the summer.” However, Clark found and persuaded eight teachers, and they took the “leap of faith” for the first summer writing institute, with no promise of undergraduate course credit and no possibility of a stipend. “It was a strong cohort,” Clark says. “All but one (who passed away) are still involved, are current leaders for the program and have ownership in building the AWP.” “When I go back home and grandfather, I want to return to comfortable using ‘ain’t’


‘Howdy’ versus ‘hello there’

Clark & AWP teachers research dialect and code-switching

ow do you pronounce “Appalachia”? Most people in the UVa-Wise region say “App-uhLATCH-uh.” But watch them cringe when they hear someone say “App-uh-LAY-shuh.” Amy Clark says either is correct. “People in Pittsburgh pronounce it with the long ‘A,’ ” says Clark, who attended graduate school near the Pennsylvania city. “But natives of Pittsburgh identify themselves as Appalachian just like us... It really feels like home there, with the mountains and coal country.” She understands how the disagreement over the pronunciation of “Appalachia” can spark a little debate, though. Dialect is a reflection of a person’s identity, says Clark, who, in addition to her leadership of the Appalachian Writing Project, teaches rhetoric and has conducted research in sociolinguistics. She knows dialect is a prime characteristic that sparks stereotypes among different people. “In the AWP, we strive to fight that,” 14 the uVA-WISE MAGAZINE

Since that first summer writing cohort, the AWP’s annual Summer Writing Institutes now invite teachers across all content areas, from kindergarten through college, to spend four weeks writing, learning, discussing and researching, all for the purpose of improving their classroom instruction, especially in writing. “When you teach, you don’t always have time to write or research,” Clark says. “This gives teachers a theoretical foundation and action research to take back to their classes and colleagues.” The cohorts have also developed in-service programs for local teachers, which are then offered by graduates of the program, dubbed “teacher consultants” or “TCs.” “Teachers are the best at teaching fellow teachers,” Clark says. “I can’t offer any advice to a third-grade teacher like a thirdgrade teacher who’s finished the program can... Our teachers have the knowledge and research to best help their fellow teachers in particular grade levels and content areas.” When teachers graduate from a summer institute, they are far from finished. As teacher consultants, they remain involved with the AWP and are paid to offer their in-service programs. “Our goal is to keep them, so we can reinforce the relationships we’ve built with them,” Clark says. “They are also expected to stay current in their research.” One way the AWP achieves continuity with its more than 85 graduates is an annual writing retreat at Breaks Interstate Park, where participants get to meet and work one-on-one with Appalachian authors like Silas House and George Ella Lyon. Plus, workshops help TCs turn their action research into published articles and local and national presentations. Today, after officially launching in 2001, the AWP is funded by UVa-Wise, the Commonwealth of Virginia and a grant from

Clark says. “We need to change the negative perceptions of the people who live here without asking Appalachians to change who they are.” A major part of that effort is the study Clark and AWP teacher consultants are conducting thanks to a $5,000 grant from the National Writing Project. In the study, Clark and her colleagues are examining how formal and informal dialects influence student writing from elementary school through college. Their study results will be used in the development of culturally sensitive approaches to teaching writing in areas with vernacular dialect patterns. “Vernacular can be wonderful, and it’s necessary for dialogue,” Clark says. “Dialect is your culture, so when someone is critical of how you talk, they’re attacking that.” The challenge of the AWP study – which draws inspiration from past research of African-American dialect – is finding the best way to teach students how to “code switch,” which involves striking the right

sit on the porch with my my home voice,” Clark says. “I’m and double negatives...”

balance between maintaining their cultural dialect while using more formal language when a particular kind of writing requires it. Communicating with a supervisor, for example, should be understood as necessarily different from communicating with one’s family. “When I go back home and sit on the porch with my grandfather, I want to return to my home voice,” Clark says. “I’m comfortable using ‘ain’t’ and double negatives in an environment where I’m not being judged. “But we’re not saying ‘anything goes.’ We need to support students’ right to their home voice as part of their culture and reinforce it as a positive thing while teaching them how to use the ‘power’ dialect expected of them from some audiences,” she says. “Teachers can really influence how students perceive themselves... how to keep their dignity and identity intact. It’s important to embrace and celebrate that.”

the National Writing Project. Clark has to secure funding for the project on a yearly basis, writing proposals and grants, while also managing the project (see sidebar for their current NWP-funded research project). Balancing that work with full-time teaching and student advising at UVa-Wise and being a mother to two children (including 2-year-old son Landon and newborn Riley Bryanne), Clark is thankful she can depend on her teacher consultants to lead the various programs for the ever-growing AWP. “Without them, the site wouldn’t exist,” Clark says. The positive feelings are mutual. “Because of Amy and the AWP, I’ve never looked back,” says Rebecca Elswick, a TC who, after joining the AWP, decided to begin teaching advanced English after teaching special education for 25 years. “My love of writing surfaced like a lost life preserver, and I grabbed it and hung on for dear life.” “The AWP has challenged me to examine myself as a writer, and it has helped me to see the value of writing with my students,” says Karen Peters ’73, a Coeburn High School English teacher and the coordinator for the AWP’s Wise County Young Writers Camp. “Without Amy, the AWP would not exist.” The teachers agree that just teaching their students is not always enough. Sometimes “doing” with students is best. “I generally do every writing assignment I give my students,” says Bradshaw, who now serves as the in-service coordinator for the AWP. “I am better able to model the writing process for them.” Moreover, the teachers realize that writing needs to be emphasized beyond just those classes where William Shakespeare and correct comma usage are the highlights. “Writing can act as a bridge between the many subjects students must master,” says Leah Kiley Mullins ’02, co-director of the Summer Institutes and a special education teacher at Coeburn Middle School. “There are so many opportunities to insert writing instruction into history, science and math classes, but teachers often hesitate at the chance.” “Imagine meeting and exceeding the SOL expectations for teaching history through individualized writing that reveal student insights into an era, science through concrete student approaches to abstracts, or math through introspective student journaling about mathematical concepts,” says Robin Charles ’85, AWP continuity director and a Haysi High School English teacher. The benefits are obvious, graduates say. And they can’t recommend enough to their fellow teachers nationwide the benefits of joining a local writing project like the AWP. “Educators who are not familiar with the work of the AWP will be pleasantly surprised to find that affiliation with this organization may just be the greatest opportunity they have ever had to further themselves as professionals,” Peters says. “Teachers who attend the institute are rejuvenated and excited about getting back into the classroom with researchbased teaching strategies,” says Renia Clark, a librarian, reading specialist and TC who also happens to be Amy Clark’s mother. So what’s next for the AWP? Clark hopes the program will continue to be as successful as its first 10 years. “I hope we continue to grow,” Clark says. “We’d like to see more outreach, more counties utilizing our in-service programs.... We’d like to continue to publish books, add new programs and really reach out to the community.” With sentiments like that of Charles – “I teach differently, I think differently, I live differently” – the AWP is well on its way to forever changing local education for students and teachers alike.

It is said way once short


Six-word stories

AWP teachers tell very short stories

Hemingwrote a story...

t is said Ernest Hemingway once wrote a short story using only six words: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” In the spirit of discussing writing, we asked some AWP teacher consultants to write their own six-word stories. Some were inspired by writing itself, while others offered more mystery, almost begging the question of “What happened next?” Below is a sampling: • Bestseller: never written, never read, lost. - Renia Clark • Words swirl, pens swish, stories breathe. - Grace Bradshaw • Blackboard. Whiteboard. Still needs an eraser. - Keela H. Smith, Marion Middle School • Mother vanished on my sixth birthday. - Rebecca Elswick • Patience. I can’t wait for that. - Keela H. Smith • Amazingly wondrous pedagogy; abundantly writing pupils. - Cyndi Newlon ’92, UVa-Wise

Tell us your six-word story! What kind of story can you share in just six words? Something about yourself? About a memorable experience at the College? A tall tale in very short form? Send it to us! We want to include your six-word stories in an upcoming feature in The UVa-Wise Magazine. E-mail your stories and your name to with the subject line “Six-word Story” or mail your stories to The UVa-Wise Magazine, One College Avenue, Wise, VA 24293. Be creative and feel free to submit multiple stories! Your story may appear in an upcoming edition of The UVa-Wise Magazine!

spring 2010 15

Hail to the

C H I E F ★

By Kathy Still ’84

John T. Casteen III, the man who has mentored seven UVa-Wise chancellors and stood firmly with the College during its contentious name change, will step down in August after two decades as president of the University of Virginia.

University of Virginia president John T. Casteen III at the UVa-Wise celebration of Founder’s Day on April 12.


spring spring2009 2010 13 17

U Under President Casteen’s tENure, UVa-Wise has received national recognition for academic excellence as a top public liberal arts college, has experienced significant growth in enrollment and has seen tremendous capital construction. According to a resolution of appreciation approved by the UVa-Wise Board, the College improved its academic, athletics and student life programs, freshman profile, faculty salaries, graduation and retention rates, and overall student satisfaction under Casteen’s extraordinary leadership. “President Casteen has been the College’s most avid champion,” says UVa-Wise Chancellor David J. Prior. “His understanding and deep appreciation of UVa-Wise and Southwest Virginia are genuine and thorough. Although he is leaving the presidency, he is not stepping away from his commitment to us.” Don Pippin ’58, chair of the College at Wise Committee for the U.Va. Board of Visitors, has worked closely with President Casteen for many years. “He is talented and gifted in so many ways,” Pippin says. “He understands exactly what we are trying to do in Wise, and why. He knows our history, believes in our mission and identifies with our people. He believes that education equals the public good, and he’s proved it with his good heart and his distinguished career.” Pippin recalls the contentious time when the College decided to change its name from Clinch Valley College to a moniker that better reflected its relationship to the University. Initial opposition in Charlottesville and Richmond put the measure in jeopardy.


Casteen (right) with Rhonda Perkins ’73 and former chancellor Jay Lemons at Commencement 1999.

President Casteen’s staunch leadership during that time had an impact on Pippin. “I’ll never forget the courage he showed during the name change controversy,” Pippin says. “He stood tall for us at great personal risk.” During his visit to UVa-Wise on Founder’s Day in April, President Casteen recalled when it appeared the Board of Visitors would not support the name change. He noted the sheer determination of those who supported it, including the region’s legislative delegation. “There was a sense of common purpose,” President Casteen said. In an interview several weeks after he announced his decision to step down, President Casteen said a major challenge the College faced early in his tenure was to decide whether it wanted to keep its affiliation with the University. “The Board in Wise assessed arguments in all directions and considered all benefits and downsides,” President Casteen says. “The Board adopted a resolution reaffirming its desire to have the affiliation go forward. The Board of

Visitors adopted a similar resolution.” There are many reasons why the relationship with the University is necessary to the College’s prosperity, President Casteen says. Financing new buildings is one reason that close relationship is so important. UVa-Wise is a young institution that found it necessary to build more facilities, he says. Students pay the debt service on those particular facilities, but because UVa-Wise can put its debt service into the University’s pool of debt, the bonds can be financed at a better rate. “It lowers the rate charged to Wise very dramatically,” President Casteen says. President Casteen has seen UVaWise grow and change during his tenure. The College has developed academic programs that support both an individual’s independence and the region’s economic prosperity. The success of UVa-Wise makes Southwest Virginia a better place to live. The College’s work to improve public health through the Healthy Appalachia Institute and its work with the UVA Health System, including the School of Nursing

“President Casteen understands exactly what we are trying to do in Wise, and why. He knows our history, believes in our mission and identifies with our people. He believes that education equals the public good, and he’s proved it with his good heart and his distinguisehed career.” Don R. Pippin ’58 member, board of visitors

Casteen with Carl W. Smith at the 1997 campaign kickoff

“This College is, in fact, Mr. Jefferson’s child.” john t. casteen III and the School of Medicine, to provide various specialty health services in the region are examples of how UVa-Wise benefits the region. The College’s role as an economic development engine in the region is also vital, President Casteen says. It has helped Southwest Virginia become a “little Switzerland” where people have phenomenal training and talent. “Southwest Virginia has a pool of talented workers,” President Casteen says. “The region has a reputation of having ample numbers of educated people who can do high-tech jobs.” UVa-Wise is preparing people who can attract companies such as Northrop Grumman, CGI, Crutchfield and other computerbased companies, he says. President Casteen is interested in the College’s “capacity to free people from constraints” through education. “My father was a shipworker, but shipyards are not the future,” he says. “Chances are that coal mining is not the future either. UVa-Wise gives people options. As the College continues to grow, it will be good for the whole region.” UVa-Wise is carrying out Thomas Jefferson’s vision for education in Virginia, President Casteen says. “This College is, in fact, Mr. Jefferson’s child,” he says.

Casteen at the College’s “Fulfilling the Dream” campaign kickoff in 2006.

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Page Page BY

The College’s story unfolds with the pages of one alumna’s scrapbook and notebooks from the 1950s

By Cassandra J. Sproles ’00


very life is a journey, and in every journey there is a story. Charlotte Comer Dison ’56 chose to journey to Southwest Virginia and become a member of the pioneer class at a fledgling little college in Wise. Lucky for her alma mater, she chose to chronicle those early years in a scrapbook and leave it for future generations. Yellowing tape holds down two strips of faded newspaper that bear four words that Dison says still defines the College today: “Jefferson’s Dream Spans Mountains.” It was across the mountains from Staunton that Dison came with two friends to look for jobs in a region that needed nurses.


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Published Nov. 12, 1954, the first issue of The Highland Cavalier, the College’s student newspaper, features a hand-drawn cover and news about the College’s first days.

Charlotte Dison’s notebooks for zoology and biology classes at the College were meticulously organized and received high marks from her professor, Chancellor Emeritus Joseph C. “Papa Joe” Smiddy.


“We wanted to change health care,” says Dison, who became a registered nurse after attending a program at Lynchburg General Hospital. “We wanted to be in an area that we thought we could benefit.” The three friends drove throughout the Appalachian region filling out job applications. A short time later, Norton Community Hospital called her for an interview to be a night supervisor. The young nurse fell in love with the area and found that she was accepted quite easily. At the same time, the former Wise County poor farm was being transformed into a college. Dison saw this as an Charlotte Dison ’56 opportunity to further her education and began to attend classes at what was then Clinch Valley College. “I worked in the emergency room from 3 to 11, and when there weren’t any patients, I could study,” says Dison. Dison paid $60 for 17 credit hours of classes, according to a receipt dated Sept. 13, 1954 – the opening day of Clinch Valley College of the University of Virginia. Her classes consisted of English, history, education and biology, which she attended on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings with professor Joseph C. “Papa Joe” Smiddy. “He was really impressed with my pen-on-paper drawings,” says Dison with a laugh. The two notebooks she gave to the College are very impressive. The black binders are filled with yellowed pages that contain dates of biology and zoology experiments. The precise handwriting and professional-looking drawings are a teacher’s dream. Smiddy’s initials appear on various drawings with the word “O.K.,” which was obviously Smiddy’s way of saying “outstanding.” Dison received a “100” and an “Excellent” on her notebooks. Also included in the scrapbook are the College calendar with general information and a schedule of fees, issues of The Highland Cavalier student newspaper and several newspaper clippings about the institution’s first years. Dison said she felt compelled to keep all these things because of her connection to the beginnings of the school. “I was just so proud to be a part of that pioneer class,” she says. “I learned so much from my classmates. We were on a journey together, and there was a strong pride in CVC.” As proud as those first students were, Dison says faculty members were even more committed to success. “We were being prepared to move into a university setting,” says Dison. “Even to exchange our colloquialisms for ‘proper English.’” After finishing her time at CVC in 1956, Dison attended Florida State University, where she earned a bachelor of science

degree in nursing education. She came back to Norton for a year before deciding she wanted to further her education and go into nursing administration. So Dison headed to the Ivy League. “I never thought that a girl like me from the mountains could go to Columbia University,” says Dison. There she earned a masters degree in nursing administration. She was later an inaugural inductee into the Teachers College of Columbia University Nursing Hall of Fame. She accepted a position with the Baptist Hospital of Miami, Fla., to help with the development of products and services and to be a part of a project that developed a patient center with some of the first private patient rooms in the nation. Dison didn’t expect to stay long at Baptist Hospital and told her administrator so. “I told him that when I ran out of challenges, I’d move on,” says Dison. “But I never did.” She stayed at the hospital for 32 years, leaving in 1998 after garnering much praise in her career. A Google search for Dison’s name brings up a newspaper clipping from 1975 in which a patient of the hospital declared, “Florence Nightingale, eat your heart out,” in response to patient evaluations, which Dison implemented during her time as nursing director. The article goes on to state that in her 32 years on the job, Dison introduced many new trends in the profession, including an increase in male nurses and a change in uniforms. She felt the image of the woman in white with the starched cap “was a symbol of authoritarianism and often intimidating.” After leaving the Baptist Hospital, Dison went on to work for the American Nurses Credentialing Center and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. It was through this program that she worked with Betty Johnson, who helped establish the UVa-Wise nursing program. Recently, Dison was inducted in the Florida Nurses Association Hall of Fame. She is regarded as one of the pillars in the community and an advocate for registered nurses who temporarily leave the clinical setting. Her proactive approach and commitment to education and patient care have often been praised. Dison returned to UVa-Wise for the College’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2004 and says she was impressed with the remarkable growth. She says in those beginning years the students, faculty and staff always hoped it would become a fouryear college. Even though it was only a two-year institution for nearly 20 years, Dison said it served a need in the area and still does today. “It was certainly the cornerstone of my education,” says Dison. And because of her forethought and love for her alma mater – evident in her pristine scrapbook and notebooks, now housed at Alumni Hall at UVa-Wise – future generations of students will know what it was like for the first students, the pioneers of Clinch Valley College.

Newspaper clippings feature the story of the College’s beginnings and pictures of early students and faculty, including “Papa Joe” Smiddy working with students in the bottom photo above.

Included in Dison’s scrapbook is an early College catalog featuring the institution’s “Purpose and Programs” in the 1950s.

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CAMPUS Thomas Jefferson would have been proud. “Building the dream” is now more apparent than ever as UVa-Wise approaches the culmination of its largest construction phase ever.

By Cassandra J. Sproles ’00


hey are places to gather, to grow and to look at the stars. As construction on campus winds down, take a look at projects that are framing the future of UVa-Wise. The most dramatic change has taken place away from the center of campus. The Convocation Center has seemingly sprouted from the ground since the winter months. The renovation of Smiddy Hall has begun, and in the new information technology facility, offices are now occupied. Two new facilities – completed in conjunction with the ongoing renovation of the original Science Center – of which Mr. Jefferson would surely approve are the new greenhouse and observatory. Jefferson revered agriculture, calling it a “science of the first order” and had his own greenhouse at Monticello. At the University of Virginia, he stressed the importance of astronomy. He considered the science to be almost as important as architecture and always intended for his school to study the stars. While we’re looking at the stars and dreaming about the College’s future, enjoy the progress of the College’s latest construction projects. We think Mr. Jefferson would have given his seal of approval.


spring 2010 25

Convocation Center


In fall 2011 when the $30 million Convocation Center is complete, it will serve as a place for the region to gather for athletics, music and other events. The center, which will seat 3,000 for sporting events, concerts or convocation activities, is the largest single capital project in the College’s history. It will give Southwest Virginia a large venue for a variety of events and will boost the region’s economy. The project is on schedule with most of the structure now under roof. The pouring of concrete floor slabs is in the early stages.

Students and faculty are making good use of the new greenhouse that recently opened behind the Science Center. Kevin Jones, associate professor of biology, has begun to use the greenhouse in courses featuring plant life. Jones is also advising a student garden club.


IT Facility/Smiddy Hall With the completion of the new IT Wing, 14 members of the technology staff have found a new home. A 12-seat conference room with the latest audio/video and networking teleconferencing equipment provides ample meeting space. The heart of the campus information infrastructure is located on the first floor of the new wing. The state-of-the art campus datacenter features reliable and redundant power, air conditioning and fire suppression systems as well as an alert system for temperature and humidity control. A diesel-powered generator is able to support the power needs of the center for up to 72 hours between refueling. The renovation of Smiddy Hall has been put on hold after partial demolition revealed that the existing structure was weaker than project engineers had anticipated. A plan to shore and reinforce the walls is being developed. The project will resume in the near future. The ultimate 26 the uVA-WISE MAGAZINE

impact of this delay on the project’s finish date is not yet clear. The completed renovation will bring systems in the building up to date, address accessibility issues and

result in the construction of new classrooms and faculty offices. The exterior will be addressed to provide a focal point to the entrance of the campus.

Although some equipment has yet to be installed, the new observatory (located near the commuter lot and intramural softball field) began to be used in the spring for small-scale viewing projects. Melinda Kellogg, assistant professor of physics, has also hosted “Open Telescope Night,” which attracted a crowd of 50 people from the campus and the community. With three 8-inch portable telescopes, stargazers are able to see Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Mars, the moon, as well as various nebulae, star clusters and galaxies. Kellogg has plans to teach students how to take photographs through the telescopes, both for aesthetic value and for studying the motions of various moons and asteroids. The solar panels have not yet been installed, but the dome and piers for portable telescopes are in place. The large telescope will be installed inside the dome later this year.

spring 2010 27

Left, an outdoor dining area further expands the space available to students at the new Smith Dining Commons.

Students enjoy the atmosphere of the new Smith Dining Commons, which opened in January.

Executive Chef Barry Boothe helps feed the hungry masses of UVa-Wise.

Below left, the former Jefferson Lounge in Zehmer Hall was the place to grab a bite to eat and have a conversation with friends or professors. Below, Cantrell Hall’s dining area fed thousands of students during its 28 years of service.

Taste of campus


ince opening in January, the Hunter J. Smith Dining Commons has lived up to its hype as students, faculty and staff regularly fill the new cafeteria to enjoy meals and time with classmates and co-workers. Shortly after the facility’s opening, students expressed appreciation for the new dining commons by leaving notes on the bulletin board near the entrance, complimenting the staff on the delicious food. Most agree that the smaller tables make it easier to chat with friends during meals. Others note that the Smith Dining Commons seems more quiet than the former cafeteria in Cantrell Hall. The various food service stations strategically placed in the Smith Dining Commons make long lines a thing of the past as patrons move freely from one area to the next. “It’s really more of a social area now in the new cafeteria,” says Bruce Blansett ’10. “I really like the layout. It’s what you think of when you think of a college cafeteria.” The opening of the Smith Dining Commons also gave many on campus a chance to reflect on the other dining venues that served the College throughout the years. For example, the first crop of students at the College relied on Elmer Webb’s snack shop for a quick bite between classes in Crockett Hall. The College has grown since the days when


Sous Chef Caleb Arwood works at the exhibition station in the new Smith Dining Commons.

The new Hunter J. Smith Dining Commons shows just how much eating on campus has changed since the College opened in 1954. By kathy still ’84

students grabbed a pack of Nabs and a Coke in Crockett Hall. In 1960, the Jefferson Lounge in Zehmer Hall became a focal point for the campus. Students, faculty and staff gathered around tables in the Jefferson Lounge to play cards, eat and engage in philosophical arguments. Entertainment in the evening was also an attraction for students, faculty and staff in the College’s early years. “If you needed to see anybody on campus, all you had to do was go sit in the Jefferson Lounge,” says Richard Davidson, professor emeritus of education. “Within 15 minutes, the person you were looking for would probably walk through.” One reason for the Jefferson Lounge’s popularity was its location. Faculty offices and classrooms were just a few steps away. Professors, on a break from office hours, could go from table to table and chat with students between classes. Bonnie Elosser, former dean of students, arrived on campus in 1968. She says the deep discussions that occurred in the Jefferson Lounge could go on for hours at a time. “The Jefferson Lounge was such a special place,” she says. “I spent a lot of time in there. It is hard to describe how wonderful it was to sit down and talk about current issues, literature and other topics. We learned a lot from that environment. Our students

remember it fondly.” Elosser remembers when Cantrell Hall opened in 1982, giving the campus a new dining experience. The dining facility in Cantrell was modern and offered a greater variety of meals, including the Cavern, a small short order restaurant and pub. The Cavern lasted a few years, but the name of the smaller facility was later changed to Papa Joe’s. The Cantrell Hall cafeteria had a great view, but it lacked the drawing power of the Jefferson Lounge. The trek down the hill to Cantrell Hall made it difficult for faculty and staff to drop in for a quick bite to eat or to chat with students. “A lot of people didn’t want to go down there,” Elosser recalls. However, both Jefferson Lounge and the cafeteria in Cantrell Hall had one person in common: Helen Bass, the cafeteria manager. “Before Helen arrived, they used to serve a lot of packaged food and cakes,” Elosser says. “She did away with that and made everything from scratch.” Bass, one of the region’s best known cooks, knew how to create menus to keep students, faculty and staff content. The meals she served during the weekdays were always delicious,

and her Sunday dinners were legendary. Local families from the surrounding community would arrive each Sunday after church to enjoy chicken, mashed potatoes and Bass’s homemade rolls. “People packed in there on Sundays,” Elosser says. “They loved her chicken and dumplings.” In addition to being a quality cook, Bass was an extraordinary businesswoman, Elosser says. She would manage to make ends meet during tough economic times but never skimped on the quality of her food, Elosser says. Bass worked at the College for nearly 20 years before retiring and opening her own restaurant in Wise in the Roberts House. UVa-Wise has had several smaller eating establishments around campus. The opening of the C. Bascom Slemp Student Center resulted in the establishment of the new Papa Joe’s, giving students another place to grab a bite to eat between classes. Books and Brew in the John Cook Wyllie Library has quickly grown in popularity as students enjoy a sandwich or a cup of coffee as they browse the Internet. Dining venues have changed over the decades, and the new two-story Hunter J. Smith Dining Commons stands ready to write its own entry in the history of UVa-Wise.

spring fall 2009 2010 2329


Man of

Provost Gil Blackburn, the man behind the College’s reinvigorated honor system and new ROTC program, will retire this summer. B y c a ss a n d r a j . s p r o l e s ’ 0 0


fter six years of service to UVa-Wise, Provost Gil Blackburn will hang up his administrative hat and move into retirement this summer. When Blackburn came to the College in 2004, it was at the beginning of great physical transformation and growth – the kind that Blackburn doubts many colleges or universities ever see. “I wanted to make sure that our academics increased at the same rate as our physical growth,” Blackburn says. “We have attracted some talented faculty members throughout the years and started new programs to achieve that.” One of those new programs that Blackburn was instrumental in bringing to UVa-Wise is the ROTC program, which began in fall 2009. While the program is not strictly academic, it upholds values, one of which Blackburn values highly: integrity. Blackburn has diligently worked to hold up the integrity of the College’s academics with his work to make the honor code more important among students and faculty. Now, a framed copy of the College’s honor pledge hangs in every classroom on campus. Even during these times of economic hardship, Blackburn says he is proud that the College has always found ways to accomplish things for free. Blackburn cites the success of students from early in the College’s history as examples of what makes UVa-Wise great. “Whatever funding we have, you can’t keep me from teaching and you can’t keep students from learning,” he says. When asked for words of wisdom for the next provost, Blackburn gave three pieces of advice: be mentally tough, have the ability to be fair-minded and always tell the truth. While he has no specific plans for retirement, Blackburn says he will relish not having any obligations for a while. He would also like to do some serious writing and perhaps editorial work for a newspaper. “My wife and I would also like to travel the country by car and take our grandchildren on trips,” says Blackburn. During spring break, Blackburn and his wife Martha did a bit of traveling themselves while volunteering with a medical mission to Belize along with UVa-Wise alumni and nursing students (see “Back to Belize,” page 31). Looking back on his time at UVa-Wise, Blackburn says there are many things that will stand out in his mind. He says the loyalty of the College’s alumni is outstanding – something that


Pre-med student Dru Morgan holds an infant treated for a lung infection.

Pre-med student Rachel Hensley takes a break from her work in the clinic to entertain and play with the children waiting outside for medical care.

Back to Belize

UVa-Wise group makes return trip to impoverished country B y c a ss a n d r a j . s p r o l e s ’ 0 0

G isn’t often seen at other institutions. But perhaps his fondest memory is the day that he sat with University of Virginia President John T. Casteen III for nearly two hours interviewing for the job. “I was impressed that he was concerned enough to really care who was in this position,” says Blackburn, who joins Casteen in retirement this summer (see “Hail to the Chief,” page 16). Blackburn came to UVa-Wise from Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina. He began as a professor of history in 1968 and continued to serve the institution in a variety of administrative roles, including director of graduate studies, associate dean of academic affairs and dean of academic affairs. A former Fulbright Scholar to Germany, Blackburn is the author of “Education in the Third Reich: A Study of Race and History in Nazi Textbooks,” as well as numerous scholarly articles and presentations. A North Carolina native, Blackburn completed the first two years of his undergraduate education at Gardner-Webb. He graduated from Wake Forest University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history and went on to earn his doctoral degree in education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

iving someone a pair of eyeglasses or a bowl of ice cream may not seem like much. But when given with a hug, proper medicine and the skill of a caring doctor, it turns out to make a big difference. UVa-Wise nursing students and alumni found out just how much of a difference they can make in the lives of the people of Belize when they returned for the second straight year on a medical mission to the impoverished country. The UVa-Wise medical mission team consisted of students and alumni Leah Arthur, Megan Buchanan, Nicole Fones ’10, Bryant Gray, Clay Guynn ’10, Brittany Hartgrove ’09, Rachel Hensley, Brooke McNew ’09, Dru Morgan and Aaron Wolfe. Also on the trip were Provost Gil Blackburn and his wife Martha, nursing faculty Loretha Boggs ’95 and Tauna Gulley ’89, Rev. Jim Collie, Chancellor Emeritus Joseph C. “Papa Joe” Smiddy and his son, Dr. Joe Frank Smiddy ’60. Participants spent eight days in Belize, where they opened up a free medical clinic to provide health care. “Going on the trip is one of the best

decisions I have ever made,” says Gray, a junior nursing student. “I thought I was going down there to greatly impact their lives… but I never imagined they would impact me as significantly as they did.” Students worked in different roles registering patients, taking medical histories and performing exams. Many of the students recounted the story of a woman who brought her infant to the clinic for treatment. The mother had been told that her baby had a lung infection and there was nothing more to do unless the infant could see a lung doctor, which could not be found in the area. “She asked if our doctor could help her baby,” says Hensley, a junior premed student. “A team member replied, ‘No, ma’am, but our lung specialist (Dr. Smiddy) definitely can!’ ” McNew says her most memorable experience was seeing an oral maxillofacial surgeon pull a small watch battery from a child’s ear. No one knew how the battery got into the child’s ear, but it caused the child to have a slight hearing problem. As a pre-med student, Guynn performed a number of medical duties on

the trip but also made use of his Spanish minor by translating for patients. Pre-med student Morgan knew why he was being called to Belize before the trip began. “Here I am, living a privileged life, and there is an entire world full of sickness with little answer,” he says. “For 514 patients, we provided that answer.” Blackburn, who helped hand out eyeglasses, says that getting to know the students on a different level was an added bonus for him. However, it was a simple ice cream social at a local church that Blackburn says he will always remember. “It was eye-opening to see how much pleasure something so small could bring to so many,” says Blackburn. “When I came back to the United States, I felt ashamed that I had all of these things, and there are people out there in the world that are happy but have far less than I do,” says Wolfe. For many of the students, the trip was an opportunity to give back. “I believe that we are all equal, no matter what walk of life we come from,” says Fones. “It is our responsibility to help each other.”

spring 2010 31

Alumni News

News for UVa-Wise graduates

McReynolds ’87, Wells named 2009 Volunteers of the Year

Alumni celebrate arts emeriti at Gilliam Center Alumni and friends of UVa-Wise visited the new Gilliam Center for the Arts in March for a special event celebrating the College’s arts emeriti faculty and their impact on the fine arts in the school’s history. D. Michael Donathan, professor emeritus of music, Betty J. Gilliam, professor emerita of art, and Charles W. Lewis, professor emeritus of theater, were honored during the presentation.

Kathy Stewart ’77 beckons Donathan to the floor after telling several humorous stories of her mentor and friend. Lewis receives a kiss from granddaughter Vanessa Yanez Cyphers ’10

Gilliam with May Straughan (left) and Joyce Winston (right)

Ben Mays ’85, technical director and production designer at UVa-Wise, shares memories about Lewis.

Donathan greets the audience.


Suzanne Adams-Ramsey ’80, chair of the College’s Department of Visual and Performing Arts, speaks about Gilliam.

Robinson ’01 named new alumni president Laura Faye Mullins Robinson ’01 has been named the president of the UVa-Wise Alumni Association for the 2010-2011 year. During her time at the College, Robinson served as treasurer for the Student Government Association and as chair of the Judicial Board. After earning a BS in business administration from UVa-Wise, Robinson attended the University of Tennessee, where she earned both a master’s degree and a law degree. After graduating from UT, Robinson returned to her hometown of Clintwood to practice law with her brother, Freddie Mullins ’96. Robinson performs general legal services, as well as representing the Dickenson County Department of Social Services. Laura Faye married Brad Robinson ’01 in December 2003. The Robinsons make their home in Clintwood with their son Anderson, who was born in July 2008.

Mark your calendar!

Professor Emeritus of Music D. Michael Donathan, Professor Emerita of Art Betty J. Gilliam and Professor Emeritus of Theater Charles W. Lewis

Sarah Love McReynolds ’87 and Ruth Wells were named the 2009 Volunteers of the Year at UVa-Wise for their dedicated support of the College. Chancellor David J. Prior presented the awards to Wells and McReynolds during the annual Benefactors Celebration on Oct. 17, 2009. “Sarah Love McReynolds and Ruth Wells have exhibited their support for our College for many years,” Prior said. McReynolds is retired from Coastal Coal Company and is an active community leader and a member of various organizations, including the Wise County Chamber of Commerce and the Spearhead Trails Committee. She has been a member of the UVa-Wise Alumni Board since 1999, where she serves on the Alumni Homecoming Committee and enthusiastically assists with a variety of projects. In 2003, she was inducted into the Southwest Virginia Community College Alumni Hall of Fame. McReynolds is also a member of the Highland Cavalier Club Board. Wells worked in the College’s library from 1968 until 1970 and then owned and operated a successful insurance agency for three decades. She has been a member of the Life Underwriters Association and the Board of Directors of the Gladeville Presbyterian Church. She serves on the Wise Downtown Revitalization Promotions Committee and the Town of Wise Zoning Appeals Board. An avid

Sarah Love McReynolds ’87 (left) and Ruth Wells (right) hold decorative keepsake boxes - each adorned with an image of Crockett Hall - while standing with Chancellor David J. Prior. They received the gifts after being named the 2009 Volunteers of the Year.

supporter of the College, Wells serves as secretary of the Highland Cavalier Club and is instrumental in the success of the athletics host parent program.


OCT. &


Reconnect with fellow alumni, friends and former professors while watching the Cavs take on West Virginia Tech! Oct. 1 “20 Years of Cavalier Football” reception 50th-year reunion: Class of ’60 30th-year reunion: Classes of ’79, ’80, ’81 Oct. 2 Alumni Picnic Watch your mailbox, e-mail inbox and the Alumni website at for more info, coming soon.

spring 2010 33

Alumni News

Alumni News

Fraternity endows scholarship for 30th anniversary The Epsilon Epsilon Chapter of the Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year by doing something no other Greek social organization has done before at UVa-Wise: endowing a scholarship. The Board of Alumni Advisors of the Epsilon Epsilon Chapter established a permanent endowment fund known as the Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity Hawpe-Donathan Alumni Scholarship. It is named in honor of George L. Hawpe and D. Michael Donathan. As faculty members, Hawpe and Donathan made significant contributions to the fraternity from the initial chartering of the chapter in 1980 throughout the past three decades. Hawpe, the first chapter advisor, and Donathan, longtime chapter advisor, provided leadership, guidance and vision for the fraternity The scholarship will be awarded to students who have been active members of the Epsilon Epsilon Chapter for at least one academic year. The students must be in good standing with UVa-Wise and the Epsilon Epsilon Chapter. Eligible students must apply for the scholarship by April 1 of each academic year. Donathan, who was surprised to learn the scholarship would bear his name, expressed his gratitude at the fraternity’s 30th anniversary celebration on Feb. 27 in the C. Bascom Slemp Student Center. Charter brothers of the Epsilon Epsilon

By sydney perry, uva-wise student

Pi Kappa Phi brothers Fran Hunt ’80, Bob Sage ’79 and Vince “Sweet Pea” Marshall ’80 at the fraternity’s 30th anniversary celebration.

Chapter joined alumni brothers from the past 30 years for the celebration. “We couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the 30th anniversary than by establishing a scholarship,” Donathan said. “We have always had a strong mission of service.” The primary fund-raising mission of the fraternity is to help children with disabilities through its national PUSH America organization. The brothers raise money throughout the year for Push America by holding various fund-raising projects on campus and in the community. To bring awareness on campus to PUSH America, the fraternity hosts a British high tea each year to which it invites the campus community as well as youngsters

from the Wise County Schools special needs program. Active brothers gain leadership and social skills that benefit them throughout life, Donathan said. “What many in the don’t realize is that the fraternity is a leadership organization,” he said. In addition to the scholarship, the fraternity decided to give a gift to the UVa-Wise campus as part of the 30th anniversary celebration. Pi Kappa Phi asked Suzanne Adams-Ramsey ’80, professor of art and chair of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts, to create an artwork that would represent both the history and vision of the fraternity at UVa-Wise.

Nominations sought for 2010-2011 Athletic Hall of Fame The UVa-Wise Athletic Hall of Fame selection committee is soliciting nominations for 2010-2011 inductees. Help recognize outstanding athletes, coaches and loyal supporters by nominating them for inclusion. The Hall of Fame selection committee is chaired by Professor of History Tom Costa and includes alumni, faculty, friends and former inductees. The committee will consider nominations for one of the following categories: outstanding athletes for achievements while at the College, outstanding coaches for contributions and achievements while at the College, and outstanding administrators, faculty, support personnel, friends and alumni who have made a significant long-term commitment to the growth, development and support of the College’s athletic endeavors. Nominees should have completed their service prior 34 the uVA-WISE MAGAZINE

Alumni share the value of a liberal arts education

to 2005, which meets the five-year eligibility requirement. Nominations may be made by any current or former college coach, alumnus, faculty or staff member, previous Hall of Fame inductee or members of the committee. The committee asks that nominations include details of the nominee’s achievements relating to the category for which they are being considered. Include as much information about honors achieved or statistics where available, as well as other useful information. Nominations, which will be accepted through July, may be e-mailed to Costa at or mailed to Tom Costa, Athletic Hall of Fame, One College Avenue, Wise, VA 24293. To view a list of former inductees, please visit our website at www. Questions may be addressed to the Director of Athletics at 276-328-0204.

A liberal arts education is designed to introduce students to the accumulated knowledge of the world in which they live. A recent forum at UVa-Wise brought together students and alumni community leaders Dr. Rick Mullins ’91, the Honorable Elizabeth Wills ’74 and Dr. Christopher Starnes ’98 to discuss the benefits of a liberal arts education. Speakers discussed their own experiences at the College and how taking classes that they were not necessarily interested in helped them later in life. “A liberal arts education teaches you how to think and how to learn in order to gain a better working knowledge of the world around you,” said Mullins, owner of Cavalier Pharmacy in Wise and Norton. Mullins referred to a liberal arts education as the “fulcrum” between the rational, analytical mode of left-brain thinking and the artistic, intuitive mode of right-brain thinking. “You’ve got to have both in the real world,” he said. “Figure out what you want to do but have fun with classes, too.”

Dr. Rick Mullins ’91

The Honorable Elizabeth Wills ’74

A broadened mind can be the key to good decision-making, according to Wills. The juvenile and domestic relations judge credits the learning of varied subjects in her everyday career. For example, Wills said analyzing poetry and looking for a poet’s purpose gave her the ability to find common ground in courtroom situations and become more comfortable in unfamiliar territory. For Starnes, a liberal arts education helped him find new interests or ones that complemented his own. “Taking courses that were not necessarily my forte made me appreciate

Dr. Christopher Starnes ’98

other things that I don’t think my interests would have allowed me to do,” he said. The three alumni agreed that the value of a liberal arts education lies in the fact that a well-rounded education is more valuable personally and professionally. “Focusing (on one subject) can cause burnout,” said Starnes. “However, staying well-rounded can help you be what you want later in life and then your job will essentially become a mere part of everything else you do.” “Fields are changing as we speak, so you have to be well-rounded to compete in the real world,” said Mullins.

Where’s Mr. Jefferson? Find him and win! Unwittingly, your fair editors have turned this issue of The UVa-Wise Magazine into one filled with images of University founder Thomas Jefferson and mentions of the Jefferson name. So we thought, why not use all these references and pictures of our founder to benefit one lucky reader? We know how many times Thomas Jefferson’s image and name appear in this issue, and the reader who can give us those

numbers will win a $25 gift card from the UVaWise Bookstore (graciously donated by Chad Gentry, director of bookstore operations). To enter, send us your name, phone number, e-mail address and mailing address with the correct number of times Jefferson’s image appears and the number of times the word “Jefferson” appears in this issue. E-mail entries to or mail to The UVa-Wise Magazine, One College Avenue,

Wise, VA 24293. Deadline for entries is Aug. 2, 2010. The winner will be notified by Aug. 9. Multiple correct entries will be placed into a drawing. If no correct entry is submitted, the entry with the totals closest to the correct totals will be declared the winner. Just to get everyone started: He’s mentioned five times in this article (not to mention the headline). Happy hunting!

spring 2010 35



What’s new? Share your alumni updates with us. E-mail news and photos to

CLASS OF 1962 Carol A. Collier has published her latest novel, “River Dreams,” a sequel to “An Appalachian Summer.” The story continues for lead character Anna Wall and her new husband as they travel to Brazil for a strange and dangerous journey on an Amazon cruise. Carol resides in Sonoma, Calif. CLASS OF 1972 Kathy Collins Barber has written a book of songs with her sister, Betty Collins Brown, entitled “Ballads, Blues, and Blessings.” Kathy and her husband Clifford live in Fairfax. CLASS OF 1974 Doris Baker is a professor and the director of the Center of Excellence in Reproductive Sciences of at the University of Kentucky. CLASS OF 1978 Dr. Randy Byington is employed as an assistant professor of allied health sciences for East Tennessee State University. In 2009, he was selected as the recipient of the Distinguished Faculty Award for Teaching in the College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences for ETSU. Randy utilizes online technologies to teach health care administration and research to allied health science students across the country. He and his wife Jo Ann live in Kingsport, Tenn.

After devoting nearly 40 years of her life in service to the College, Sheila Cox-Combs ’72 will retire as registrar in June. Combs came to the College in 1968 as a firstgeneration college student and self-proclaimed coal miner’s daughter. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in math. She came back to the College in 1975 after earning a master’s degree in mathematics and counseling with a concentration in statistics from Radford University Including her four-year stint as a work study student while attending Clinch Valley College, Combs has served as registrar, counselor for Upward Bound and Student Support Services, director of financial aid, assistant dean for Education Support Services and interim director of information technology (twice). She also has shared interim provost duties, driven a school bus and was an adjunct lecturer in the math department. Combs says she attributes her career success to “the grace of God and the wonderful people with whom I have been blessed to work.” As for retirement, Combs already has a plan in place to fill her time. “First, I’m going to throw away my alarm clock, calendar, BlackBerry and watch,” says Combs. Next, she wants to take to the road with a motorcycle trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway and plan her daughter’s wedding in September. She’ll also dive into those little projects that have piled up over the years, like organizing her photos. And if she gets bored? “No, I won’t get bored,” says Combs. “There’s too much to see in this world!” Combs lives in Pound with her husband Mike and daughter Nicole. She is active with the College’s Alumni Association Board of Directors. Combs attends Hamilton Chapel and Lone Pine Chapel, both in Pound. She has one brother, James Cox ’75 who is married to Susan Gilliam Cox ’74. - Cassandra J. Sproles ’00

Dan Poteet is a senior manager with Dominion Resources Inc. in Richmond. CLASS OF 1983

Dr. Randy Byington ’78 with wife Jo Ann


Karen N. Dickenson is assistant principal at Appalachia Elementary School for Wise County Public Schools.


Stu W. Fisher is a financial advisor with Edward Jones Investments. He and his wife Kris live in Gray, Tenn., with their sons, Derek and Nick.

Lane A. Smith III and his wife, Marquita (Honi), are retired and living in Middletown, Del.

Registrar Cox-Combs ’72 retiring after nearly 40 years of service


Morristown, Tenn., after having served as assistant store manager of the J.C. Penney store in Johnson City for the last four years. Tracy has relocated to Morristown, Tenn.

end of the current school year. She remarks that without her education from UVa-Wise she could not have taught all these years, and it has been the joy of her life. She has two grandchildren, Stephanie and Cody Lyle.

The Honorable Jerry W. Kilgore has become a senior advisor for McGuireWoods Consulting, where he will serve the firm’s government affairs clients nationally. He is also a partner with McGuireWoods LLP law partners.

Lisa D. Wooten is a special education teacher with the Wise County Public School System. She has two children, Whitney and Aaron.

Nola L. Skeens Mullins has enjoyed teaching for 27 years and is retiring at the

Tracy P. Jones has been promoted to store manager of the J.C. Penney store in


CLASS OF 1990 Lisa M. Fields Bevins is an 8th grade pre-algebra teacher at Gate City Middle School. She is involved with several school and community activities. Lisa and her husband of 20 years, Kevin Bevins ’91, have one daughter, Whitney Brooke, a junior at Gate City High School. Kevin is a collector with Citi. The Bevins family resides in Gate City. Frederick Keith Hylton received his CCAF degree in pharmacy technology in 2008. He is a pharmacy technician with the Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. Loretta Mullins Mays serves as the town manager for the Town of Coeburn. She and her husband Kevin have three children: Andrew, Haley and Shealyn. CLASS OF 1991 Shelia Rae Phipps is an associate professor in the history department at Appalachian State University and has published a book entitled “Entering the Fray: Gender, Politics and Culture in the New South.” The book brings together nine essays that examine the importance of gender, race and culture in the “New South.” Donald G. Ramey is a military science instructor for the University of Alaska Anchorage ROTC. Donald and his son DJ reside in Eagle River, Alaska. CLASS OF 1992 Monica L. Chaffin is a counselor employed by the Virginia Department of Corrections for the Wise Correctional Unit #18 of Coeburn. She has one son, John Chadwick Stanley ’10.


Devan C. Horne Brittain is a stay-at-home mother of two children, Chase and Lilly. Her husband, Nelson, is employed with General Mills. The Brittain family lives near Knoxville, Tenn. Norman Anthony “Tony” McReynolds married Karen Gail Miller on July 31, 2009, at Three Bells United Methodist Church. Tony is employed with McDonald’s. Tony has two children, Allyshea Michell and Ashlee Brianne, and his wife has one daughter, Marissa Nichole McElrath. The McReynolds reside in Duffield. CLASS OF 1994 Robert Shannon Adkins earned a doctor of pharmacy degree from the Appalachian School of Pharmacy in 2008 and is employed at the Whitesburg Appalachian Regional Hospital. Kevin M. Williams is an associate professor at Western Kentucky University. He and his wife Brooke welcomed a daughter, Alexandria Blair Williams, on June 6, 2009. She weighed 7 lbs. 5 oz.

Daughter of Kevin M. Williams ’94

CLASS OF 1995 Marlene D. Fields Salyer is an environmental specialist with the North Carolina Department of Environment & Natural Resources. Marlene has two children, James and Jennifer, and five grandchildren, Dee Dee Fields, James H. Fields, Caleb I. Havens, Erica Havens and Caitlyn M. Arnold.

CLASS OF 1996 Jerry Castle is a financial advisor with Wells Fargo Advisors in Brentwood, Tenn. Jerry has one daughter, Ava LorettaCatherine Castle. Stephanie Muncy Surrett and Michael Surrett were united in marriage in June 2009. Stephanie is the project manager of the Virginia Jobs Investment Program for the Virginia Department of Business Assistance. They live in Abingdon with her daughter Presley (12) and son TJ (9). CLASS OF 1999 Stacy M. Dotson Baker and Donald Wayne Baker, Jr. were united in marriage during a private ceremony on Feb. 5. Stacy is a technical office assistant with Thompson and Litton, Inc. The Bakers reside in Wise. Christina S. Quillen McNally and Andrew McNally ’00 have two daughters, Lilly (5) and Raegan (1). Andrew is a lieutenant for the Wise County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Division. CLASS OF 2000 Todd Harkleroad is a supervisor with Sprint and lives in Elizabethton, Tenn. Brad Lutz and Christy Trent Lutz are the proud parents of two sons, Bryson and Cannin. Brad is a special education teacher at Massanutten Technical Center and serves as the Brad Lutz ’00 and Christy Trent head football Lutz ’00 with family coach at Broadway High School. Christy is a special education teacher at J.F. Hillyard Middle School. Bobby K. Mays is in sales with Buchanan

spring 2010 37

Classnotes Pump Service. Bobby and his wife Kristy reside in Pound. CLASS OF 2001 Kandace MillerPhillips received approval from the Association of Social Work Boards by examination to practice as a licensed clinical Kandace Miller-Phillips ’01 social worker in the with family State of Virginia. She is employed at Southwestern Virginia Mental Health Institute in Marion as a clinical social worker for the extended rehabilitative services unit. Kandace resides in Abingdon with her husband Jeff and their daughter Aubri (2). CLASS OF 2002 Jacques Hensley and Amber Rines Hensley ’03 reside in Big Stone Gap with their son Jude (1). Jacques operates a construction business, and Amber is a financial analyst.

Jacques Hensley ’02 and Amber Rines Hensley ’03 with son Jude.

Arthur Lewis Muse is currently employed as an emergency room registered nurse with Lee Regional Medical Center. He has been accepted to attend the DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine at Lincoln Memorial University.

Faith and basketball are two words that have defined the life of Jarred Soles ’08 during his career at UVa-Wise and beyond. Those two words were combined during the summer of 2008 when Soles began playing basketball with a Christian organization called Athletes in Action. He says he discovered the organization during a conversation with a former Montreat College basketball player who turned professional after college. “He was telling me that he was a Christian and that he had gone on a mission trip with Athletes in Action and it was kind of like a dual trip where you do missionary work and you play against these teams,” Soles says. After further research, he discovered that Athletes in Action was similar to the Bible study group that he started on the UVa-Wise campus called Teammates 4 Life. “We were doing with Teammates 4 Life what these people in Athletes in Action were making a living doing - as far as campus ministries.” Once Soles graduated, Athletes in Action began working as his “agent” and sent him to Russia to play on an Athletes in Action team. After his short trip to Russia, Athletes in Action sent Soles to Israel, a location that concerned his parents. “They knew that I was going for a good reason,” Soles says. “To be able to play ball, but also to be able to help out with the ministries that Athletes in Action was doing over there. I was going to do the Lord’s work, so my parents just had faith that He would protect me from anything that happens.” The summer of 2009 gave Soles another chance to try and impress scouts from higher leagues. Although it looks promising, Soles says he’s not going to be disappointed if a contract with another team doesn’t come through. Soles went to Yorktown after his second season in Bethlehem. He is coaching the junior varsity boys’ basketball team at York High. Soles is looking to the future and hoping to try out with a bigger league soon. Soles is originally from Yorktown, a big area compared to Wise County, and he says this shift in culture helped him become able to adapt to a different culture when he went to Bethlehem. “Being from Yorktown and going to Wise, you go to a different culture. Even in the same state, you go to a different culture.” “I feel like my years at Wise made me a man. I feel like anything I do in life, Wise prepared me for it, even if it’s years down the line.” - Brittany Wichtendahl, UVa-Wise student

Angela L. Moore Petrini married Mark B. Petrini on June 14, 2008. Angela graduated from K9 handler school with her drug detection dog, Samantha, on Dec. 10, 2009.

CLASS OF 2003 Michelle Breeding Enders married Franz Enders on Sept. 19, 2009, at Fairmount Christian Church in Mechanicsville.

David Amos, his wife Stephanie and their son Owen Matthew Children of David Amos ’03


Baptist Church. He and his wife Stephanie Mullins Tompkins ’04 have two children, Gracie Belle and Isaiah Joshua. The Tompkins family lives in Pamplin.

Soles ’08 shoots hoops in Israel, Russia

(3) welcomed Eliza Jayde on July 2, 2009.

CLASS OF 2004 Michelle Breeding Enders ’03 and Franz Enders ’03


Joshua J. Tompkins is the pastor of Elon

Andy White is employed with the Scott County Telephone Co-Operative. He and his wife Alicia White ’06 reside in Nickelsville with their son Avery Blake. Alan R. Williams has been promoted to regional manager with DuPont Community Credit Union. He is married to Amanda Meeks Williams ’03, and they have two children, Landon (4) and Lily (2).

Alan Williams ’04

CLASS OF 2005 Andrea Robinson Belcher is a teacher with Hawkins County Public Schools. Dr. Kellie S. Burke is a pharmacy practice resident/pharmacist with the Salem Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Jessica Kennedy Hood is the owner/ manager of a new photography business, Jessica Leigh Hood Photography. She specializes in on-location, natural-light photography, creating images that are both timeless and modern. Her portfolio ranges from weddings and other events, nontraditional portraits, commercial work and nature photography. Jessica, her husband Nathan Hood ’04 and their son Braxton reside in Wise.

State University. She is employed with Family Preservation Services Inc. as an intensive in-home counselor. Brandon Adam Honaker and Elizabeth Ann Toney ’08 were united in marriage on May 4, 2008, at Cedar Bluff Community Church. The wedding party included Aaron Roop ’07, Brett Price ’07 and Kevin Cooper ’08. Brandon is employed at Southwest Virginia Community College as an instructor with the Upward Bound math/science program. Elizabeth is the youth services librarian for the Richlands branch of Tazewell County Public Libraries. They reside in Richlands. Deidra Lawson and James A. Close ’05 were married on April 25, 2009. Deidra is pursuing a master’s Deidra Lawson ’07 and James A. degree in Close ’05 with wedding party education from East Tennessee State University, where she is employed as a scheduling coordinator. James is a business consultant with Subway Development Corporation of Washington, D.C. The couple lives in Mt. Carmel, Tenn. Alumni in the wedding party were Chelsie Lawson ’06 and Jill Barber ‘09. Sheena Whitt Lee is a sixth-grade teacher at Norton Elementary School.

Sarah Huggins has been named the executive director of the Governor’s Mansion in Richmond. CLASS OF 2007 Tabitha Casey Hoffman and Matthew Hoffman were married on June 13, 2009. Tabitha works as an accountant at Ellis CPA, and Matthew is a manager at Recordsmaster. The Hoffmans live in Grand Junction, Colo.

Want the latest UVa-Wise news? Subscribe to UVa-Wise Weekly, the College’s weekly e-newsletter. For more info, visit

Steven A. Perez is a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army and is stationed at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama working as a company executive officer. Jessica Ratliff Oney is an instructor of Spanish at Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, Ky. Kari Leigh Osborne graduated from Western Illinois University with a master’s degree in sports management in 2009. She spent last summer working for a Chicago White Sox Minor League team in North Carolina. She is currently living in St. Louis, Mo., where she works as the assistant director of intramurals at Washington University. Amanda Winebarger is a mental health support therapist for Creative Family Solutions. Amanda and her husband Matthew live in Lynchburg. CLASS OF 2008 Jenna PowersDingus was recently named the public relations coordinator for Palmetto Health Foundation in Columbia, S.C., where she had previously served as Jenna Powers-Dingus ’08 an intern, assisting in the planning and implementation of public relations and communications strategies for signature fundraising and awareness events. She holds a master’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Carolina.

Ray C. Damm is a business analyst with The Doe Fund in New York.

Julie Fritz McConnell is employed as a Title 1 parental involvement specialist with Washington County Public Schools. She lives in Damascus.

Amanda Dotson earned a master’s degree in counseling in 2009 from East Tennessee

Ben Robertson is the program coordinator for health fitness at Eastman

Tabitha Casey Hoffman ’07 and Matthew Hoffman ’07

spring 2010 39

Classnotes Chemical Company. Ben and his wife Brittany Parks Robertson ’07 were married on May 16, 2009, and reside in Nickelsville.

2009. They live in Kingsport, Tenn.

Balboa Naval Hospital with the rank of ensign in the United States Navy.

Ben Robertson ’08 and Brittany Parks Robertson ’07

Brad Schassberger and Winter Harmon ’09 were united in marriage on July 24,

Jenna Haynes is pursuing a master’s degree in counseling at Western Kentucky University. Michael D. Lanthorn II is employed at

(Why not submit a Classnote and photo to help with that?)

Suzanne Stickel joined the Tysons Corner office of Goodman & Co.

We welcome your news for Classnotes.* Please e-mail photos and news of your personal and career achievements to, or mail this form to: Office of Alumni Relations, The University of Virginia’s College at Wise, One College Avenue, Wise, Virginia 24293. You may also visit our website at to submit your Classnotes.


Full Name (include maiden name) _____________________________________Class Year ____________

CLASS OF 2009 Tara Large Deel and Jeremy Deel were united in marriage on Jan. 1. Tara teaches English at Powell Valley High School. The couple resides in Pound.

Is this how your fellow alumni remember you?

Home Address ________________________________E-mail Address ______________________________ Kiley Farmer is employed with Kid’s Central as an EHS home visitor. Benjamin Harding plans to attend Morehead State University as a graduate student in tuba performance.

City ______________________________________________ State _________________ Zip ______________ Home Phone (

) ________________________ Cell Phone (

) ______________________

Employer _____________________________________ Job Title ___________________________________ Work Phone ( Spouse


) ___________________________________________ Work E-mail Address __________________________________ (include




UVa-Wise Class Year ______________________ Children’s Names & Ages _____________________________________________________

In Memoriam Ramona Delaney Branham ’83 passed away April 1. She taught English and sociology at Haysi High School for 17 years. She also taught Upward Bound and coached the football cheerleaders. She is survived by daughter, Ashley Suzanna Delaney; two granddaughters, Gabriella Rain and Diamond DaVee Delaney and grandson, Jesse David Jerryl Fuller. Teresa Annette Yates Edens ’78 passed away Aug. 21, 2009. She is survived by husband, Greg Edens; daughter, Jennifer Evans and son, Nathan Edens. Stephen Randolph Elgin ’71 passed away Thursday, Sept. 10, 2009, at Duke University Medical Center. He is survived by his wife, Sandra Elgin; son, Stephen Randolph Elgin II; daughter, Sarah Katherine Billips and three grandchildren, Savannah, Heather and Stephen Elgin III. He was the owner of 21st Century Computers. Karen E. Hartsock ’85 passed away Dec. 21, 2009. She was a former employee of the Virginia Department of Corrections and an active participant of multiple sclerosis support groups. She is survived by her husband, Jeffrey “Pete” Hartsock; son, Jeffrey Ian and daughter, Brittany Elizabeth. Steven L. Lovell ’81 passed away


April 20. He was a former assistant commonwealth’s attorney for Wise County. Brenda Gail Farmer Mullins ’76 passed away Jan. 26. She is survived by her husband Donald “Duck” Mullins and son Clyde Mullins. Jennifer Lee Ratliffe ’80 passed away Jan. 10. She was a registered nurse employed by Ask a Nurse. She is survived by a host of family and friends. Susan Dianne Jordan ’82 passed away Oct. 13, 2009. She is survived by siblings, Nancy Jordan Maine, Linda Jo Jordan, Larry Wayne Jordan and Robert Allen Jordan ’99. She was preceded in death by a sister, Patsy McReynolds, who worked for the College for 10 years. Lorraine C. Turner ’71 passed away on April 10 in Abingdon. She devoted her entire professional career to the Russell County School System as a teacher, supervisor and superintendent. She worked tirelessly to promote the Special Olympics and expand educational opportunities for children and young adults in Southwest Virginia. She is survived by her husband W. A. “Ike” Turner; her mother, Mary Cochran also of Castlewood; one sister, Sue Kennedy ’77 and husband, Red Kennedy ’86, of Wise.


New alumni directory in the works

UVa-Wise is working on a new alumni directory, which will include comprehensive biographical listings of alumni, with contact information, career overviews and family highlights. To make sure the directory is as up-to-date as possible, Harris Connect, the book’s publisher, will begin contacting alumni on June 29 to verify that the information printed is accurate and complete. Harris Connect has more than 40 years of experience researching and publishing alumni directories. UVa-Wise alumni are encouraged to help make this publication rich with the latest information about both themselves and their fellow graduates. In order to make this happen, alumni are asked to respond to the requests for information made by Harris Connect. No information provided for this project will be sold or shared with a third party; it will only be used to compile the directory. The directory will be a useful reference and will help alumni keep in touch with one another. Alumni will have the opportunity to purchase the directory through Harris Connect. If you have any questions about the upcoming directory or Harris Connect, contact the UVa-Wise Office of Alumni Relations at 276-328-0128 or

Classnote Information * __________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ I am interested in assisting with the development of a UVa-Wise alumni club in my area: __________ Yes

__________ No

* Please note that Classnote information provided will be published in a future edition of The UVa-Wise Magazine unless you note otherwise. When submitting digital photographs, please ensure the image is at least 300 dpi.

Introducing the new UVa-Wise website

Visit the site, follow us on Facebook and subscribe to our weekly e-newsletter Debuting this summer, the new UVaWise website is a fresh new online home for the College. Visitors to the site can more easily find information about different offices and departments on campus directly from the slide-out menus on the home page. Headlines and events are accessible directly from the home page, as well. Keep visiting this summer so you can be among the first to visit the new UVa-Wise website. And don’t forget to engage with the College elsewhere online, too! On Facebook, search for “The University of Virginia’s College at Wise (Official)” and “The UVa-Wise Magazine” and “like” us to stay up to date on College news and features. And be sure to subscribe to UVa-Wise Weekly, the College’s weekly e-newsletter. Visit to sign up today.

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The renovation of the original Science Center has included the construction of this new greenhouse. Read inside about this and other construction at the College.

The UVa-Wise Magazine- Spring 2010  

The UVa-Wise Magazine is published by The University of Virginia's College at Wise

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