UVa-Wise students to benefit from $4 million gift from Hancock estate

UVa-Wise students to benefit from $4 million gift from Hancock estate

A recently announced $4 million gift from the estate of Robert Charles Hancock will fund scholarships to benefit students in their educational endeavors at The University of Virginia’s College at Wise.

Hancock, who passed away in 2007, served the region as a pharmacist in Dickenson County for four decades and had served as a member of the College’s Foundation Board since 2005.

A lifetime philanthropist who gave to many charitable and nonprofit organizations, Hancock established the Thelma Meade Hancock Scholarship Fund in 2003 in memory of his mother, a public school teacher in Russell County. Hancock’s estate gift will fund that scholarship, which supports UVa-Wise students in Southwest Virginia.

During a May 16 ceremony, Frank Kilgore, a 1977 alumnus of the College and the executor of Hancock’s will, announced the gift to Hancock’s friends and colleagues, including members of the College Board, Foundation Board and Campaign Cabinet.

“Thelma Hancock and the apple of her eye, Bob Hancock, leave a legacy of supporting higher education in the Virginia coalfields,” Kilgore said. “That legacy serves and will continue to serve many generations of students.”

The new gift will add $180,000 annually to the scholarship fund.

“The College is honored that Mr. Hancock chose to benefit our students with this generous gift,” said UVa-Wise Chancellor David J. Prior. “This gift should contribute to our continued reputation for graduating students with a low debt load.”

According to the latest issue of U.S. News and World Report’s annual college guide, UVa-Wise graduates students with less debt than any of the nation’s other public liberal arts colleges. In the previous three years, UVa-Wise has graduated students with less debt than any other liberal arts college, public or private.

The $4 million gift is a welcome addition to the College’s “Fulfilling the Dream” fundraising campaign, which began in 2004. Including Hancock’s gift, the campaign has raised $36.6 million, 73.2 percent of the $50 million goal. The campaign, which will conclude in 2011, has yielded $17 million for scholarships at the College.

The only branch campus of the University of Virginia, UVa-Wise is ranked among the nation’s top ten public liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report. UVa-Wise offers Virginia's only undergraduate degree in software engineering, among 28 other degrees and professional programs in the liberal arts tradition of Thomas Jefferson.