Due to inclement weather, UVa-Wise is closed on Thursday, March 5.

Donna Price Henry installed as eighth chancellor of UVa-Wise



By Kathy Still

Photos by Tim Cox

Donna Price Henry was formally installed Tuesday as the eighth chancellor of The University of Virginia’s College at Wise in front of a large crowd of faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends.

“Thank you for your belief in our beloved College and your confidence in my ability to serve as your chancellor,” Henry said in an address that often referenced the inauguration theme of ‘Minds on opportunity. Hearts on service.’ “You have my pledge to lead, to contribute, to create and to join you in making a difference at UVa-Wise.”

Henry said she is often asked what surprised her the most about UVa-Wise and the region when she and her family arrived on campus a little over a year ago.

“There have been no surprises,” she said. “UVa-Wise is who it purports to be, authentic to its core and a true part of the community.”

The College has a deep commitment to fulfill its mission to engage minds and hearts in opportunity and service as a public liberal arts college, the chancellor told the crowd. As a result, the college will seek out new academic opportunities to meet the needs of the region’s economic and quality of life needs, she added. It will rely on its new Envisioning 2020 strategic plan to carry out those tasks, she told those gathered in the David J. Prior Convocation Center.

“UVa-Wise will incorporate the best practices in technology in every discipline so students, whether they are majoring in the social sciences, history, communications or literature benefit as much from the strengths of technology as do students in the natural sciences,” Henry said. “The challenges our region faces over the next six plus years are considerable but our resolve is strong.”

The College will work with its partners in the region to reimagine Southwest Virginia’s future, build stronger alliances and work together toward renewal and prosperity, the chancellor pledged.

“Our College will do all of these things and thrive because we are fortunate to have remarkable employees, alumni, friends and a parent institution that give us the extraordinary capacity for innovation and growth,” Henry said.

University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan charged Henry with the task of providing a strong day-to-day leadership while shaping a superb future for UVa-Wise.

“I know that you are well-prepared for the task and eager to embrace the challenge, and I look forward to applauding your successes in the years ahead,” Sullivan said to Henry.

Henry leads the College as it embarks on its new strategic plan. Sullivan said the University and the College at Wise each have similar strategic plans and similar priorities, including efforts to build faculty excellence and to enhance the student experience through experiential learning, while promoting diversity and affordable access.

 “U.Va. and the College at Wise share many of the same priorities because we share a sense of purpose and a vision,” Sullivan said. “Our purpose and vision are based on a set of commitments we make as public institutions of higher learning, commitments to our students, to our communities and to the Commonwealth of Virginia and its people.”

University of Virginia Rector George K. Martin administered the oath of office to Henry and presented her with the College medallion. Joseph C. Smiddy, the College’s first chancellor, handed the medallion to Martin, and the Henry family, husband Allen and daughters Jessie and Margaret were by Chancellor Henry’s side during the installation.

“Chancellor Henry has the skills and dedication to lead the College to new levels of scholarship, excellence and achievement,” Martin said.

Roy E. McTarnaghan, founding president of Florida Gulf Coast University, delivered the keynote address. McTarnaghan worked with Henry at FGCU for many years and said he watched her grow into an insightful and strong leader who leads by example. He told the crowd that Henry has immersed herself in the life of Southwest Virginia and the Commonwealth, and is involved with the organizations that will bring ideas, resources and recognition to UVa-Wise.

“Chancellor Henry understands how this institution has developed and is prepared to take it onward to the next level,” he said. “With vision and commitment, and your support within the university and in the region, UVa-Wise is well positioned to continue this successful road.”

Delegates representing dozens of learned organizations and colleges and universities across the nation participated in Tuesday’s inauguration ceremony.

Three former chancellors of the College--Chancellor Emeritus Joseph Smiddy, Jay Lemons and George Culbertson--attended the inauguration ceremony.


Donna Price Henry was elected chancellor of The University of Virginia's College at Wise by the University of Virginia Board of Visitors on Dec. 7, 2012 and assumed office on Jan. 18, 2013. As the college's eighth chancellor, she is responsible for leading UVa-Wise and its constituents in fulfilling its mission of student success and service to Southwest Virginia and the Commonwealth.

Chancellor Henry is active in the community and the Commonwealth. She serves on the Wise County Chamber of Commerce, Southwest Virginia Public Education Consortium, Cove Ridge Foundation and Advisory Committee, Powell River Project, Southwest Virginia Health Authority and LEAD Virginia. She provides leadership to the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and the Mountain East Conference for athletics.

A biologist with extensive experience in higher education, she spent 16 years in a variety of positions at Florida Gulf Coast University. She was a founding faculty member at FGCU, was faculty senate president and served as a member of the University Board of Trustees. Henry served as dean of the FGCU College of Arts and Sciences, an assignment that demanded meticulous strategic planning and leadership that allowed the College to grow rapidly while continuing to improve academic quality.

Chancellor Henry earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biological Basis of Behavior from the University of Pennsylvania, where she also minored in Spanish. She earned a Doctorate in Physiology from Thomas Jefferson University. Chancellor Henry is a professor of biology on the UVa-Wise faculty.

Henry is married to Allen Henry, a pilot for Federal Express. The Henrys have twin daughters, Jessie and Margaret.