UVa-Wise shares $12 million Buchanan gift with MECC and SWCC

The University of Virginia’s College at Wise, Mountain Empire Community College and Southwest Virginia Community College announced the receipt of a generous gift that will boost thousands of college students in Southwest Virginia.


The estimated $12 million estate of Carol Phipps Buchanan will be shared among the three colleges to support higher education initiatives in Southwest Virginia. Each college will receive approximately $4 million. The gift was announced at a joint press conference on Monday, May 5.


Mrs. Buchanan, although a very private person, was a strong believer in education,” noted William Sturgill, the estate executor.


“This was demonstrated in her work with the Columbus Phipps Foundation, an educational foundation which bears the name of her grandfather,” Sturgill said. “She committed her own wealth to her belief in education and left a lasting legacy which will benefit future generations.”


The University of Virginia's College at Wise will use the gift to create an endowment in order to fund new initiatives outlined in its strategic plan.


“Mrs. Buchanan knew the value of education and how important access to higher education is for Southwest Virginia,” UVa-Wise Chancellor Donna Henry said. “We plan to honor her generosity and devotion to education by creating an endowment, and we will use the funds generated to support the new initiatives in Envisioning 2020, our strategic plan. We are so truly thankful to Mrs. Buchanan and the trustees of her Estate.”


Mountain Empire Community College plans to utilize the Buchanan gift to create an endowment that will support student success and completion initiatives at MECC.


“Mountain Empire Community College is very grateful to the late Carol Buchanan for entrusting us with an unrestricted legacy gift of approximately $4 million,” said MECC President Scott Hamilton. “This is the largest private gift ever received by the college. I only wish that I had been able to personally express my appreciation for her generosity which will allow so many students from Southwest Virginia the opportunity to fulfill their dreams of going to college.


Southwest Virginia Community College, which is wrapping up the “No Limits” Major Gifts Campaign, will provide additional funding for three community-driven initiatives: Workforce Development, Academic Excellence, and Scholarships for Access and Success.


“This gift to SWCC will be used to support new initiatives that will benefit our students, staff, and the community-at-large,” said SWCC President J. Mark Estepp.  “We are so grateful for Mrs. Buchanan’s desire to promote education for the people of this region.”     


Carol Phipps Buchanan was a daughter of Dr. Rufus L. Phipps and the wife of Dr. John C. Buchanan. Her husband was a former Virginia state senator who sponsored the first state statute providing workers’ compensation for coal miners suffering from black lung disease. Her husband also worked as a physician in Wise, Va., from 1971 until his death in 1991.


Mrs. Buchanan served as a trustee on the Columbus Phipps Foundation until her death in 2011 at the age of 86. A community-minded, yet private person, she was a strong supporter of education and requested her estate be used to promote education in Southwest Virginia. Mrs. Buchanan established the John C. Buchanan Professorship in Biology at UVa-Wise in 2012. In addition, she contributed her 40-acre estate to the Wise Industrial Development Authority for the establishment of an animal sanctuary and walking park. As a trustee of the Columbus Phipps Foundation, Mrs. Buchanan also supported numerous education initiatives in the Southwest Virginia region.