Alumni Board President 2016-2017
Share the Wealth!
Sheila Cox Combs earned a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics with a certification to teach from Clinch Valley College in May, 1972. During her time at the College, she worked in the work study program as an assistant in the mathematics department where she graded papers, conducted study groups and filled in when an instructor needed her. She was a charter member of Sigma Zeta honor society and the first recipient of the Theo Gibson math award.
Sheila began her professional career as a high school teacher at John Battle High School in Washington County, Virginia. Within a year, Sheila was offered a National Science Foundation fellowship to pursue a Master’s Degree in Education at Radford University while teaching. She completed the MS in Education with concentrations in mathematics (statistics) and counseling and was hired to work with the Student Support Services unit at Clinch Valley College in the spring of 1975. From there Sheila moved to director of financial aid in 1978. She continued teaching in the math department when possible but the majority of her time was consumed in directing student aid programs and veterans’ support programs. For the next 14 years, Sheila became an active member of VASFAA, SASFAA and NASFAA, the Virginia, Southern and National Associations of Financial Aid and Admissions professionals. She held various offices in these associations. Her hard work, dedication and professionalism earned her a $1000 contribution to a scholarship of her choice. She chose the Alumni Miner’s Family Scholarship as a way to honor her father, James Cox, a lifelong coal miner from Southwest Virginia.
From 1987 to 1995, Sheila was enrolled at Virginia Tech where she completed 26 graduate hours in higher education and math. During this time she continued as financial aid director and became active in the SACS accreditation process. In 1992, Sheila’s life changed drastically. She resigned from an Old Maid’s Club to marry Michael Combs from Red Fox, Kentucky. She and Mike will celebrate their 25th anniversary during her year as Alumni President. Also during 1992, she was actively involved with the Pound Lions Club where she was elected the first woman president. The club’s national magazine did an article on her as a successful woman in a male-dominated organization. After 14 years she left the financial aid office to become registrar of the College. Here she started the automation of registration processes to improve access to student and faculty academic records. Her quest for excellence resulted in many improvements in computerized academic records and reporting. Throughout her career in the Registrar’s Office she taught classes, helped start the ROTC program, was actively involved in student athletic eligibility and supervised the Information Technology unit. By 1999, she had added assistant dean to her duties. From 1992 to 2010, Sheila was a contract grant reader for the U.S. Department of Education. This work involved reading proposals from educational institutions from the entire U.S., grading the application against the requirements for the grant, and final determination of the level of funding.
After retiring from UVa-Wise in 2010, Sheila was employed as a grant manager for the Health Wagon.
During her time at Clinch Valley College, Sheila commuted two years, lived in McCraray Hall one year and in an apartment in Wise one year. She was a member of SNEA, Student National Education Association, attended school functions and supported many organizations. She states that the best memories of campus life revolved around the Jefferson Lounge. Sheila has remained active in the life of the College since retirement through her involvement in the UVa-Wise Alumni Association and the Twin Leaf Society. She has served on the Alumni Board of Directors for many years where she serves on several committees. She is currently an officer in the Twin Leaf Society. Sheila will focus her time as the alumni association president to aid, strengthen, and expand the alumni’s involvement with the growth of UVa-Wise.
“After spending over half my life at the college I am dedicated to making sure others have the same opportunity,” she said.
Sheila lives in Pound, Virginia with her husband Michael Combs. They have enjoyed traveling on their Honda Gold Wing trike until last year when health complications curtailed their riding. Sheila enjoys cooking, gardening, working in the Combs’ wood shop and she volunteers at the Raven Rock Dialysis Center. She and Mike recently became new grandparents when their daughter Nicole gave birth to Connor Michael Combs on September 9.