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■ College Profile: UNIVERSITY OF VIRIGNIA’S COLLEGE AT WISE


The University of Virginia’s 1954


College at Wis e at a glance Founded


Location


Wise, Virginia on 396


Appalachian mountain acres


Enrollment 2,067


Student to faculty ratio


Average class size


Faculty 13 to 1 17 students


69 percent have highest degrees in their field


Academic offerings


30 majors, 32 minors and 24 teacher licensures plus preprofessional programs in the fields of dentistry, engineering, forestry, law, medicine, physical


therapy and veterinary medicine


Athletics


Member of NCAA Division II


Mountain East Conference


80 OCTOBER 2016


Mountain grown F


ar Southwest Virginia’s faltering economy troubled Donna Henry,


chancellor of the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, when she took the school’s helm in January 2013. “When I


Henry


came, it was sort of the beginning of this downward spiral,” Henry recalls. Coal was caught in


what seemed to be a “perfect storm” of competition from cheap natural gas and tighter environmental regulations on the industry and its custom- ers. Coal’s collapse, marked


by mining company bank- ruptcies and thousands of layoffs, came a lot faster than anyone expected, she says. Henry could see the


impact at her college, where roughly half of the student body of about 2,000 comes from rural counties west of Roanoke. The families of some U.Va.-Wise students were leaving the region. Enrollment in local public schools was declining. Col- lege students were needier, and some had families who were unable to support them. This summer, the unemploy- ment rate in Virginia’s most coal-dependent counties was running more than double


College seeks to rebuild Southwest Virginia’s economy by Greg Edwards


the state average. The struggling economy


prompted Henry to make U.Va.-Wise’s 9-year-old eco- nomic development program a part of the chancellor’s office last fall. Having an economic development office — uncommon for small lib- eral arts colleges — is one of many ways U.Va.-Wise serves the Cumberland Mountain region of Central Appalachia to which it owes its existence.


Request made in 1954 In 1954, three Wise


men made a pilgrimage to Charlottesville to ask Uni- versity of Virginia President Colgate W. Darden Jr. to


Photo by Tim Cox


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