The last time the Board of Visitors of the University of Virginia held a formal meeting at UVa-Wise it was to discuss changing the school's name from Clinch Valley College.
The governing board had an equally important decision to make Friday morning as they voted on a new chancellor for the school. For the first time in the school's history, a woman will lead UVa-Wise.
In the convocation center named for the last UVa-Wise chancellor, David J. Prior, the University of Virginia's Board of Visitors made their decision for his successor. Prior died unexpectedly last February, which led to a search for a new leader.
"This is a different process that we've gone through before. We had chancellor searches but this was considered a confidential search," UVa-Wise board chairman Marcia Gilliam said.
The search led them to Donna Price-Henry, former dean at Florida Gulf Coast University. "It feels familiar to me. In Florida, the university that I was at was a university that the community fought for to get it in the area. As dean I worked closely with the community to make connections and partnerships," says the new chancellor.
Not only is the college an educational institution, it is a big part of the region's economy. "This is a very important role obviously in the lives of a lot of colleges and universities but much more so in our region I believe because the college is an economic engine in the region," Gilliam says.
The new chancellor and her family should fit in quickly, as she and her husband have twin girls entering middle school in January. "My daughters are looking forward to snow here so and as we were driving around the other day they said, this isn't flat like Florida, it's really cool," Chancellor Henry said.
The Board of Visitors found that it was necessary and proper to hold the vote and announcement publicly at the school. "We thought this was the perfect place to make the announcement have the election and then introduce donna to the community all at once. It seemed the natural thing to do," UVa President Teresa Sullivan said.
The new chancellor will spend the holidays in Florida and then begin the move to Wise. She will officially begin her duties on January 18.