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News archive : February 2012

Campus and community mourn the passing of Chancellor David J. Prior

The University of Virginia’s College at Wise campus is in mourning following the unexpected death of David J. Prior, the college’s seventh chancellor.

 Mr. Prior, 68, passed away on Feb. 2. He is survived by his wife, Merry Lu, and adult children, Andrea and her husband, Tom Martin and son Christopher and his wife, Sarah.

“Marvin and I are deeply saddened by the death of our friend and associate Chancellor Prior,” said Marcia Adams-Gilliam, chair of the University of Virginia’s College at Wise Board.  “His many contributions to our college, our region and our students will continue to impact the campus for years to come. Our thoughts and prayers are with Merry Lu and their children.”

The college community received word of his death early this morning. After family members were notified, the college’s senior staff members were informed so they could brief their staff and faculty members in person. 

 “David Prior was a champion for the College at Wise, and he worked tirelessly to spread the culture of education throughout Southwest Virginia and the Commonwealth," said Marvin Gilliam, a member of the University of Virginia Board of Visitors. "He was a tireless advocate of STEM initiatives at the College, and this legacy will have a tremendous impact on the region and its economic development efforts well into the future." 

Message from President Teresa A. Sullivan

Dear Friends at the College at Wise :

 I write on behalf of your colleagues in Charlottesville to express our deep sadness over the death of David Prior, and to let you know that we share your grief and dismay on this difficult day.

As all of you know from working and interacting with David in various ways, he was a strong, capable leader with a clear vision for the College and its future. He cared deeply about the success of the College and the people of his community, and he was a respected and much-loved figure throughout Southwest Virginia. He worked hard to build relationships with students, alumni, donors, and elected officials. He was a gifted scientist, scholar, and administrator. But most importantly on this day, we remember that he was a warm, compassionate person whose kindheartedness and good humor touched many lives. He will be dearly missed.

We extend our condolences to David’s wife, Merry Lu, his children, Andrea and Christopher, to everyone in their extended family, and to all others in the Wise community.

Candlelight vigil photos

A candlelight vigil organized Thursday, Feb. 2 in memory of Chancellor David J. Prior drew more than 500 students, faculty and staff. Several students spoke about the chancellor's love of UVa-Wise and his dedication to its students. Chancellor Prior passed away early Thursday morning from natural causes.

Photos by Tim Cox


Mrs. Prior at vigil

Obituary of Chancellor David J. Prior

David J. Prior, chancellor of The University of Virginia’s College at Wise, passed away suddenly on Feb. 2, 2012 at the age of 68.

Chancellor Prior memorial service draws hundreds

Hundreds gathered in the Convocation Center Monday, Feb. 6, to celebrate the life of Chancellor David. J. Prior, a man who sparked growth and development at The University of Virginia’s College at Wise while always keeping its students and their future successes at the forefront of his administration.

Appalachian Studies professor to deliver lecture at UVa-Wise on Feb. 10

William H. Turner, Distinguished Professor in Appalachian Studies and Regional Ambassador at Kentucky’s Berea College, will deliver a lecture on the history of African-Americans in Appalachia at The University of Virginia’s College at Wise on Friday, Feb. 10.

The lecture is set for 1 p.m. in the C. Bascom Slemp Student Center's Dogwood Room.

Pro-Art presents a special performance of "Romeo and Juliet" in UVa-Wise Gilliam Center


On Thursday, Feb. 9, Pro-Art will present a special 9 p.m. performance of the Barter Theater production of "Romeo and Juliet" for The University of Virginia's College at Wise's students, faculty and staff.  The performance is free and will be in the Gilliam Center for the Arts.

For more information, visit the Pro-Art website at or call (276) 376-4520.

Army Field Band and Chorus Concert to perform at UVa-Wise Convocation Center

The military’s most traveled musicians will captivate the audience of Southwest Virginia at the Convocation Center on the campus of The University of Virginia’s College at Wise on Monday, Feb. 27 2012 at 7 p.m. The doors will open at 6 p.m.

UVa-Wise receives award from Jeffress Memorial Trust


February 1, 2012—The Thomas F. Jeffress and Kate Miller Jeffress Memorial Trust of Richmond has made its first gift to The University of Virginia’s College at Wise.

The $20,000 award will support the work of David L. Chambers, assistant professor of ecology and physiology, for his research project, “There’s a Change Coming Soon: Environmental Alternations, Stress and Disease in the Amphibians of Appalachia.”  The award will provide summer support for Chambers and one undergraduate student, cover some supply costs and fund travel for presenting results at local, regional or national conferences. 

The Thomas F. and Kate Miller Jeffress Memorial Trust was established in 1981 to support basic research in chemical, medical and other scientific research through grants to educational and research organizations in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The Jeffress Memorial Trust was founded under the will of Mr. Robert M. Jeffress, a business executive and philanthropist from Richmond, Va.  Mr. Jeffress had a deep interest in his native state and made large contributions in support of scientific research.

UVa-Wise to offer psychology cohort degree program this fall

Students have the opportunity this fall to pursue a bachelor’s degree in psychology through a cohort program offered at the Abingdon campus of The University of Virginia’s College at Wise.

Classes will be held at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon and online.

The psychology degree program is designed to prepare students for employment in the areas of human resources, social work and education. Coursework will provide the necessary background for graduate work in the field.

The psychology cohort curriculum designed to be completed within five or six semesters and is for students who have completed an articulated two-year community college degree.
The psychology cohort program is a strong effort by UVa-Wise to offer a degree program that is convenient for nontraditional students.