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Virginia Western Student Food Co-op continues to provide much-needed aid

Melissa Spangler doesn’t have much free time. As a full-time student in Virginia Western’s Phlebotomy program, she carries a heavy load of classes that include labs and clinicals. She also works part-time on campus, and cares for her young grandson. 

With that schedule and a limited income, finding time and food to cook is a challenge. The Virginia Western Student Co-Op, fueled by Kroger has helped her get through this strange semester with one less burden. She typically visits the Co-op every other week, and is able to get both snacks and staples to throw together easy meals. 

“It’s nice that the College takes the time to care and help us all, especially during these times as busy and hard it is for everyone during this COVID-19 era,” Spangler said. 

Melissa Spangler

Like many other services, the pandemic forced the Co-op, which opened in fall 2019, to make some adjustments with students not on campus and to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines. Students can visit the Co-op by appointment only, allowing for limited contact with others, while still meeting food assistance needs. 

This year, students are visiting the Co-op once a week, on average; last year, they visited multiple times within a week. With reduced frequency, the students tend to get more food per visit, and they don’t seem to mind the adjustments, according to Natasha Lee, Student Activities Coordinator. 

“This ends up being more efficient and less time-consuming for most students, and they use less gas money not having to come to campus multiple times a week,” Lee said. 

As the pandemic continues, basic needs for students are increasing. Food security is considered a basic need, and when it goes unmet, a student’s chance to succeed in the classroom is jeopardized. The combined donation of $20,000 from Kroger and Kraft Heinz will certainly help continue the essential service the Co-op provides to students.

“These days and times are hard for everyone, so I hope others take advantage of this gift the college has provided, and no one be scared or ashamed to ever ask, accept or appreciate help of any kind,” Spangler said. 


Click here if you’d like to donate to the Virginia Western Student Co-op.

Or contact Amanda Mansfield, Philanthropy Director at the Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation, at amansfield@virginiawestern.edu or (540) 857-6962.

Why I Give: A Q&A with Dr. Allan Sklar

(To be published in the Winter 2021 edition of IMPACT! magazine, a publication of the Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation.)

A lifelong learner, Allan Sklar, M.D., is an area nephrologist who has spent the past 15 years practicing in Roanoke, Martinsville, Blacksburg and the New River Valley. Two years ago, as he approached retirement, Dr. Sklar sought to satisfy a lifelong desire to study modern physics with an ultimate goal to study the philosophy of physics. Initially, he thought that he would have to move to a university town to achieve this goal. He met with the head of the physics department at Virginia Tech, who recommended that he begin his studies at Virginia Western Community College, a stone’s throw from his home in Roanoke. A physics professor, Dr. Yangsoo Kim, who formerly taught at Virginia Tech, was now at the College. Dr. Sklar ultimately took not only Dr. Kim’s courses on university physics at the college but, over a two-year period, five advanced math courses that are required to comprehend the language of physics. His experience as a student at Virginia Western inspired him to establish the Virginia Western Student Tutoring Fund.

Q: What are your impressions of the academic environment at Virginia Western?

Early on, I had concerns that I might encounter a lot of sophomoric behavior at the College but, instead, discovered a healthy, mature and mutually-respectful environment. My experience at Virginia Western has given me confidence that we are raising a generation of young people that will be capable of leading us to a better future.

 I was impressed with the work ethic and ability of many students whom I encountered in class and at the Tutoring or STEM Center. There is a contingent of students who are military veterans, and they lend an added dimension of discipline and goal orientation to the academic experience. I found myself among a very intelligent and committed group of students in their freshman and sophomore years, several of whom moved on with an associate degree to university programs.  I was glad to see that Virginia Western’s motto — “We’ll take you there” — is actually true.             

 I was also very impressed with the caliber of and commitment to teaching by the faculty members.  In addition to holding regular office hours, these instructors devote time to the STEM Tutoring Center on a daily basis to provide students with more in-depth explanations of homework problems in a more casual setting. In general, the faculty make themselves more available to students than do many of their counterparts, often involved in research activities, on the larger university campuses.

Q: You spent a good deal of time at the STEM Tutoring Center. Why?

The Center is a perfect place to study with other students and receive extra support and attention. While the bulk of tutoring falls on the shoulders of senior students who have been selected to help others, there are often more experienced tutors available as well.

For example, there is a senior perennial tutor, Robin Johnson, who has a phenomenal level of math and science knowledge as well as excellent teaching skills and has been of tremendous help to the students who flock around her. Again, what makes the Center truly special is faculty involvement.   

Q: In addition to the STEM Tutoring Center, how did you find the facility overall?

The STEM building is brand new, with state-of-the-art classrooms and laboratories, equipped with modern instruments including a phase contrast fluorescence microscope, a multiphoton confocal microscope, a scanning electron microscope, spectrometers, 3-D printers and a collaborative robot. The classrooms, labs and equipment are not at all usual for a community college, perhaps not even for many four-year universities. It needs to be promoted!

Q: What was your experience like as a nontraditional student?

Well, on a personal note, despite my “senior status” I felt embraced by the faculty and students alike. My presence at the STEM Tutoring Center opened up another door for me. The supervisor at that time, Patti Tyree, introduced me to a new tutor, a PhD physics graduate who had just arrived from Oxford University in England. I am now receiving private lessons in modern physics from him. We have reviewed electricity, magnetism and special relativity in depth, and are now digging into quantum mechanics. These disciplines heavily depend on understanding of integral and multivariable calculus taught to me by Ms. Ruth Sherman and linear algebra and differential equations that I learned from Mr. Joshua Shelor. So the College definitely has “taken me there.”

Q:  Can you share your thoughts on philanthropy in general and on your choice of Virginia Western as a focus for your philanthropy?

Philanthropy has to fill the void that persists in social, artistic, educational and other human endeavors for which funding from state and religious institutions may be inadequate. There’s certainly a gap in funding and support for various nonprofits. The arts, education, social needs, medical research – that’s where philanthropy comes in.

Why Virginia Western as a target for my financial support?  I believe that it derives from a feeling of indebtedness and gratitude to the institution.  I think of it not so much as “giving” as “giving back.”

Q: What drove you to support the Virginia Western Student Tutoring Fund?

 Again, I found myself among a very intelligent and committed group of students at Virginia Western, often working one or two jobs to support themselves through college. One of my math teachers informed me about the fact that many of these students struggle financially, even suffering with food insecurity, and could use some support. These students are going to be important members of our society and leaders in their fields of endeavor. I wanted to support that next generation of excellence, as well as help those in critical or emergency need as a result of the pandemic.

Q. What advice would you give a student sitting in front of you, trying to frame their own future?

 The first step is to identify a field that not only appears to offer a stable future career opportunity but also one for which you have a real passion in which you can sustain interest.  Pursuing a professional career involves a great deal of tenacity and hard work. There’s no way to cut corners or take shortcuts if you want to succeed. I would recommend taking a look at your community college to initiate the journey along that long road to professional satisfaction. In our region, Virginia Western Community College is truly a jewel with much to offer.

New $1.8 million Title III grant to support adult learners at VWCC

Virginia Western Community College was awarded a 5-year, $1.8-million grant from the U.S. Department of Education Title III Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP) to develop and support educational pathways to help underserved adult learners graduate and achieve successful employment. The program, titled Get REAL (Refocus Education on Adult Learners), will support the up-scaling of services to effectively reach out to and support adult learners, especially those from low-income circumstances.

“Now, more than ever, adult learners need our support as they seek the education and hands-on training they need to build a career and improve their families’ lives,” said Dr. Robert H. Sandel, President of Virginia Western. “This grant will help us focus on these students’ unique needs and boost our region’s economic recovery. The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected us all, but it has had a disproportionate impact on individuals who struggle to make ends meet during the best of times. Now we will have more opportunities to help these people find their pathway to the middle class through higher education.”

The Get REAL project’s main goals are to: (1) Improve College Access (enrollment) for all, especially adult and underrepresented learners; (2) Improve Academic Success (student outcomes), especially for underrepresented adult learners; and (3) Begin to track and improve Economic Success (labor market outcomes) for Career and Technical Education (CTE) program graduates (courses intended to lead to immediate employment).

“Virginia Western offers adult learners many excellent career training and re-training opportunities. More people could benefit from these programs and that’s why this grant is so important,” said Dr. Milan Hayward, Vice President of the School of Corporate and Career Training and the Get REAL project director. “Working with Achieving the Dream and CAEL will help us focus new and existing resources to ensure more adult learners – especially those from under-represented groups – achieve greater academic and economic success. It’s a college, community, and national imperative.”

A key facet of the Virginia Western proposal is that the college will work with national education reform organizations Achieving the Dream (ATD) and the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) to develop the program. The college will incorporate best practices to create more relevant programmatic experiences, improved workplace readiness, organizational alignment and fiscal stability. Adult learners will not only gain hands-on training experiences, but will also learn how to manage their finances and thrive in the workplace.

“Informed by data, benchmarks and best practices, this Title III SIP grant will strengthen and better serve our adult learners-particularly those who are the neediest to better economic success,” said Marilyn Herbert-Ashton, Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Director of Grants.

The Get Real project officially started on October 1 and will run until Sept. 30, 2025, although lessons learned and best practices will continue for years to come.

New PTA Program accepting applications for Fall 2021

Are you interested in a hands-on health career that will allow you to help people maximize their quality of life? Would you like to work with various patients in a wide range of healthcare settings and help people rehabilitate and recover from injuries or chronic conditions? Are you also interested in helping people get stronger, healthier, more active, and more independent? If the answer to these questions is yes, then the new Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) Program at Virginia Western might be for you!

The PTA program is now taking applications for a planned start in the Fall Semester of 2021. To find out more about the program and the admission requirements, check out the program website. If you are interested in applying, you can find full application instructions here.

For any questions about the program, please contact Program Director, Dr. Jordan Tucker at jtucker@virginiawestern.edu

Note regarding program accreditation status:

Graduation from a physical therapist assistant education program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314; phone: 703-706-3245; email: accreditation@apta.org is necessary for eligibility to sit for the licensure examination, which is required in all states.

Virginia Western Community College is seeking accreditation of a new physical therapist assistant education program from CAPTE. The program is planning to submit an Application for Candidacy, which is the formal application required in the pre-accreditation stage, on December 1, 2020. Submission of this document does not assure that the program will be granted Candidate for Accreditation status. Achievement of Candidate for Accreditation status is required prior to implementation of the technical phase of the program; therefore, no students may be enrolled in technical courses until Candidate for Accreditation status has been achieved. Further, though achievement of Candidate for Accreditation status signifies satisfactory progress toward accreditation, it does not assure that the program will be granted accreditation.

A message from President Sandel

Through a great deal of thoughtful planning and preparation, we have had a successful re-opening of Virginia Western’s campus for Fall Semester. I wish to applaud our faculty and staff for their efforts to support our students whether they are taking classes online or in-person. I also wish to thank our students for their diligence in following safety protocols such as mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing while on campus.  

Like most colleges, we have seen positive COVID-19 cases among individuals who have been to campus. Thanks to those individuals self-reporting, we have responded quickly to each case with deep cleaning and have worked directly with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) to identify and inform any people who may have been in close contact. Fortunately, we have not seen campus spread. Please help us continue to respond appropriately if you believe you may be positive for COVID-19 or are being tested by self-reporting through forms on our dedicated webpage: https://www.virginiawestern.edu/covid19/.  

In an effort to share available information on self-reported positive COVID-19 cases to our campus community, we are launching a new data dashboard at: https://www.virginiawestern.edu/covid19/dashboard/. Virginia Western is committed to maintaining the privacy of individuals affected by COVID-19 and will not be sharing other information that may potentially identify them. All learning areas identified through tracing and investigation related to these positive tests are thoroughly cleaned to the standards set forth by the VDH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.   

Thank you again for all you are doing during these extraordinary times. Together, we will get through this. 

Sincerely, 
Robert H. Sandel, Ed.D.
President
Virginia Western Community College

Virginia Western announces Spring Semester plans

Virginia Western Community College will provide a full array of Spring Semester classes with a mixture of online and remote learning formats along with in-person technical training, clinical and lab instruction. The college strives to meet the safety, health and well-being of the entire community, and to continue its mission to provide quality educational and training opportunities.

Virginia Western will provide the majority of lecture and general education courses online and will be prepared to pivot its hybrid and hands-on courses to online should that be necessary. Some online courses are structured to meet at specific times on tools like Zoom, just like a traditional in-person class, so students can engage with their instructor and classmates together. Others offer a chance to learn material at one’s own pace, needing simply to complete assignments or take exams by specific deadlines. Our faculty stand ready to help students succeed, regardless of which mode they prefer.

Read more about Virginia’s Community Colleges and their system-wide plans in a letter from Chancellor Glen DuBois: https://www.vccs.edu/blog/a-letter-from-the-chancellor-to-our-students/.

Anderson Hall: Building played critical role in growth of Virginia Western

students leaving Anderson Hall in the past

By Tiffany Michelle Stevens

As a young mailroom clerk working in Anderson Hall in the late 1990s, Amy Maiolo knew she didn’t have to worry about reaching her car safely after work. Lou Bass, a Virginia Western Community College professor who taught biology in the building at the time, was looking out for her.

“Back then, the lights in the parking lot above Anderson were constantly going out,” Maiolo said.  “I was a young girl right out of college and he and another biology teacher were concerned about my safety.”

Years later, Maiolo said, Bass remained a comforting and protective presence in the building. Even after he died, she still sometimes was reminded of him while walking through Anderson. 

“When I’d get in the elevator to take the deliveries upstairs, all of the sudden I could smell Lou,” Maiolo said. “There was a certain smell from the brand of cigarettes he smoked — I don’t know what brand he had — and the formaldehyde from the lab. Sometimes at night, I would all of a sudden smell that when I was getting ready to leave. It wasn’t frightening; it was comforting, like Lou was watching over me.”

Lou Bass’s memory is only one of several that faculty, staff and students alike associate with life in Anderson Hall. Over the years, the building has played a critical role in Virginia Western’s development. The college’s science, technology, math and dental programs all can trace their start to the historic building, and many programs outside of the school’s STEM offerings have taught their classes in Anderson as well.

“It was really a foundation for many of the programs we have now. So many programs and people can trace their root to Anderson Hall,” said Amy White, Dean of the School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). 

New generations of Virginia Western students will not have an opportunity to become acquainted with Anderson, however. The building was demolished during the summer of 2020; a potential green space is slated to take its place, with room in the future for an amphitheater to be built that students, faculty and visitors alike can enjoy. Hill Studio conducted an intensive architectural study in 2019 to lay out potential future uses for the area.

“From a sentimental standpoint, it is bittersweet. I went up there one day when it was being demolished and just paused for a little while and thought about the last 15 years,” White said. “It was a great time to reflect on so many talented people who came through those doors and grew within those walls.”

The Virginia Community College System established Virginia Western as its first of 23 institutions in 1966. Erected between 1967 and 1969, Anderson Hall was one of the first three buildings constructed as part of the new college. Located on the northern part of campus in the Court of the Four Seasons, it is neighbored by the other two buildings constructed between 1967 and 1969 — Brown Library and Fishburn Hall. Anderson Hall was named for William Anderson, a Revolutionary War veteran and local official who lived in Botetourt County in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. 

The decision to demolish Anderson Hall came about, in part, due to Virginia Western’s need for expanded STEM resources on campus. In 2006, a team evaluated Anderson Hall to see if it could be remodeled to accommodate the classroom and laboratory needs of STEM students. When experts determined that features such as the building’s waffle slab structure and its inefficient energy systems would make Anderson Hall difficult to remodel, the College built the Horace G. and Anne H. Fralin Center for Science and Health Professions in 2013. A new STEM Building followed in 2019, on the south side of campus.

It wasn’t just the building’s structure that made Anderson Hall a bad fit for remodeling. Many of the departments inside the building had been making do with outdated equipment to teach students. Dental hygiene students, for example, were manually developing X-ray film instead of having access to more modern digital techniques. 

Even the space where students would practice basic cleaning techniques was outdated. Colleen McGowan, co-director of Virginia Western’s dental hygiene program, said that the dental clinic contained an open bay where students conducted cleanings.  

“It was one big room and all the chairs were set up like a horseshoe, and you could actually reach out and touch the patient next to you. You could hear the conversations to your right and left and in front of you, you could watch someone get their teeth cleaned,” McGowan said. “Given the times we’re in, and even with things like HIPAA, they don’t make those kinds of clinics anymore.” 

Marty Sullivan, dean of Virginia Western’s School of Health Professions, said complaints about the outdated equipment frequently came up in student exit surveys. In some cases, graduates complained that their employers had to train them on newer technology.

“Now we are all digital, so it’s all real time and that offers a lot less radiation exposure to patients,” Sullivan said. “We also went to a state-of-the-art dental clinic that has electronic medical records so we don’t have any more paper charts. We have modern sterilization, we have modern instrumentation and modern equipment.”

Sullivan said the improvements made to the dental hygiene program after it left Anderson Hall are in line with the vision that Alice Becker Hinchcliffe Williams had when she founded the program in 1970. 

“She was a dental hygienist and she approached the college to say you should offer this education,” Sullivan said. “That’s how the program started and it’s going strong. When Alice died, she left an endowment for dental hygiene scholarships. We also have some discretionary funding that allows us to offer some things to our students through the endowment that they otherwise might not have the opportunity to have. We’ve been able to buy equipment, we’ve been able to do faculty development through these funds, so she was really instrumental.”

Snowy tree outside of Anderson Hall

Anderson Hall did not only play host to students and faculty during its years as an academic facility. Among Maiolo and other campus veterans, the building affectionately became known as the “Critter Building” for its seemingly mystical draw over nearby fauna. In addition to chipmunks and groundhogs, the building became a frequent nesting and rest stop for local birds. Rich Crites, a beloved biology teacher at Virginia Western known by students and staff as “Mr. Wildflower,” was particularly enamored of the barn swallows that built their nests on the sides and back of the building, Maiolo said. 

“When the guys would come and mow they would swoop down — they fly like bats — and sometimes it would scare the students a little bit. They thought there were bats out in the daytime,” Maiolo said. “Rich Crites was always talking about the birds. Every time I see the barn swallows I think fondly of him.”  Another critter favorite were the chipmunks that resided right outside of Anderson. Pam Woody, a longtime Health Science advisor, fed these residents religiously; they would almost run to her when she came to feed them each day, even after she moved into the Fralin building. (Read Woody’s own recollections of Anderson here.)

Maiolo said she also fondly remembers Anderson Hall, especially the role the building played in bringing the campus together during its formative years. Since Anderson played host to the mailroom for a large portion of campus, Maiolo was able to get to know the majority of the professors and other staff members working in the business and science divisions. She fondly recalls chatting with former Virginia Western Dean Debbie Yancey back when she was a work-study student on campus. For her, Anderson Hall was a chief example of how Virginia Western’s staff and students worked hard to build a true community on campus.

“I wish I could’ve kept one of those mailboxes. That was something that reminds me of the fond memories I have of that building, when everybody would come and get their mail,” Maiolo said. “Then they’d stop for a few minutes and they’d tell me what things are going on around campus and check in on me, and then I’d check in on them. That was back when everybody knew everybody and they made an effort to get to know who was in the office. There was always a big thing about welcoming new people.”

White, too, said the building holds warm memories for her, not just as a place of employment but also as a place where her children grew up. She said her kids remember playing in Anderson’s halls and begging for sweets from Mary Perry, who served as administrative assistant over science and math. Julia Andrews, the administrative assistant over health, also played a crucial role in bringing the building’s occupants together, White said.

“Anything you needed to know about Virginia Western, you asked those two ladies,” White said. “They really ran the whole building.” 

 They were supervised by Dean Anne Kornegay, who was instrumental in the role that Anderson played on campus, and who mentored many campus leaders such as Sullivan, White and Rachelle Koudelik-Jones, who passed away in September 2020. Koudelik-Jones began as a math instructor, then served as Math Program Head and assistant dean under Kornegay. She then went on to administration and serves as the Dean of Institutional Effectiveness and led the College through the successful SACS fifth-year review.

Although newer generations of Virginia Western students won’t get to experience Anderson Hall directly, White believes the building’s legacy will continue. The building’s story, and its next iteration, is proof of the growth that Virginia Western has been able to accomplish over the past 50-plus years. 

“The way I see it, Anderson isn’t dead because it lives on in Fralin,” White said. “It lives on in the STEM Building; it lives on in the Business Science Building and in the administrative wing of Fishburn Hall. The knowledge and spirit of Anderson Hall will continue to impact students for years to come.”

Student next to Anderson Hall

Would you like to share your memories of Anderson Hall with the College community? Email Carole Tarrant at the Virginia Western Educational Foundation, ctarrant@virginiawestern.edu.

Anderson Hall: Remembering a campus ‘home’ that forged friendships

Student studying on Anderson Hall steps in the past

By Pamela Woody

On June 3, 2020, when I received an email from someone on campus who indicated that this was the week that the demolition for Anderson Hall was to occur, I had tears in my eyes.  Anderson was my “home” for over 20 years, from 1993 when I began at the College to 2015 when I moved into the newly established Horace G. and Anne H. Fralin Center for Science and Health Professions. I can remember back to the day of my interview for a newly created position to assist the health program heads with the admission processes for all the health programs and advise the pre-health students. 

Dr. J. Andrew Archer
Dr. J Andrew Archer

Dr. J. Andrew Archer had created the job, and during the interview he indicated that he could maintain the health programs but he could not help them grow. His background was in math and they had just brought the health programs to be housed with science, engineering and math. Dr. Archer indicated that, in discussions with the program heads, the need for an advisor and someone to manage the student admission files was a high priority. Dr. Archer can be credited with creating a life-changing event for myself by hiring me to work in Anderson Hall in that capacity.

My first day on the job, I met Mary Perry and Julia Andrews, the two division secretaries for both horticulture, math and engineering and science and health. Mary was first a work-study student at the College and she remained in the same office as a work-study and then as division secretary until her retirement in 2012. Not many can say that they remained in the same office during their long work tenure. 

There was a core group of about seven of us who worked in Anderson Hall and formed lifelong friendships. Lyn Hursey, one member of the group, worked in another building but would come to Anderson to collect the mail and take her break and visit with Mary and others in Anderson for 10 minutes at least one time a week. We would socially gather after work and developed lasting friendships. Patti Prevo was the chemistry lab manager and had been in the same position for the College, in Anderson Hall, for 30-plus years and was one of our group members. Mary and Patti would discuss the faculty from the past before some of us arrived in Anderson Hall. Often, we would learn so much from listening to Mary and Patti engage about the lives of faculty members and the students as well.

Dr. John Killian
Dr. John Killian

Dr. John Killian taught Anatomy and Physiology at the College and some students tried to avoid his classes. Anatomy and Physiology can be a difficult subject, and Dr. Killian’s test often involved short answers. Dr. Killian’s belief was that if a student knew enough and could write the answer, they should remember and retain the information. Often, nursing students would come into my office after being accepted into the nursing program and inform me that they were glad they had Dr. Killian for A&P.  As the nursing instructors would lecture, Dr. Killian’s former students could recall the previously learned A&P information and relate that information to the nursing aspect that the nursing instructors were discussing. They could “connect the dots” to previous learning from A&P. 

Dr. Donna Harpold, another science instructor, taught Microbiology and she would often come to my office and discuss the progress that the health students were making in her class. She was a passionate and smart instructor and so caring with her students. Dr. Harpold would sometimes share how her daughter, who became a professional dancer in California, was and which singer she was performing with at the moment. Dr. Harpold raised orchids and upon her death I bought two from the Virginia Western greenhouse in her memory. When one blooms regularly I think of Dr. Harpold and the knowledge that she shared with her students.

Sandy Myers, nursing instructor
Sandy Myers

I think of the married professors, John Starnes who taught math in Anderson, and his wife, Patsy Starnes, who taught reading improvement courses inside of Anderson Hall. I think of Joel Pack, who taught math and would grow a beard beginning in September so he could play a Bible character in the Christmas pageant that First Baptist Church would hold each year. I think of the nursing students who would hear a nursing instructor, Sandy Myers, walking down the hallway and cringe. The students would often refer to Myers as the “drill sergeant” because of her fast-paced walk and the noise that her shoes would make in the hallways. Myers was also referred to as the “drill sergeant” because of the standards she expected nursing students in her clinical groups to uphold. Often, as in Dr. Killian’s class, the students grew to appreciate Myers and her standards after they finished their rotations. They discovered, after the fact, that they had learned so much with  Myers and that she would set them on the way to success within the nursing programs because of the way that she conducted her clinical groups in the hospital.

I think of the Radiography program and Shirl Lamanca, who graduated from the Virginia Western Radiography program and returned to become program head and interim dean of the math, science and health divisions. So many of the faculty within Radiography over the years returned to be a part of the Radiography program in some faculty aspect.

I think of Virginia Garden, Ellen Holtman and Tom Olsen, who would teach Biology and their passion for their discipline and for teaching the students. I also think of the faithful math instructors, such as Sarah Martin, Ray Tucker and Jim Fightmaster, who is still teaching math in the new STEM Building, and the caring developmental math instructors who were often retired high school math teachers. In the Physics Department, I remember  Don Benson having to have his morning coffee at a certain temperature and Barry Thomas who would visit the Division Office frequently and share stories of his family vacations out West. 

I remember the day when the Division Dean, Ben Zirkle, who became the Division Dean after Dr. Archer became Vice President, called Julia and me into his office early one morning. He had this sad look on his face. Julia thought someone had passed away. He then reported that a bomb threat had been phoned in and Julia and I had to “man” the back door of Anderson and not allow any students into the building. Dutifully, we did as told but I grabbed my purse and backpack as I was working on my graduate degree and didn’t want to lose my textbook or paper that I was working on for class. Then outside we looked at one another, and said we need to move away from the building in case the threat was true. We had a wide girth from the back door. The students would just roll their eyes when we informed them that they were not allowed in the building. After this episode ended, of course Mary and Patti began stories of the bomb threats in the ’80s that would occur. 

As I sat on the steps of Fishburn, watching the demolition of Anderson Hall, I remembered the barn swallows at the back of the building that would hunt for insects as students walked to class in the morning and how some on campus would want their nest removed.

Biology teacher Rich Crites would defend the birds and inform everyone who would listen how many insects the birds ate and how beneficial the birds were and how they were raising their young and the nest needed to remain until the young fled the nest. In the front of Anderson Hall, house finches would build nests above the lights on the front porch. Again, some would complain and about the “mess” the birds made at the front door. However, the finches typically remained and returned each year. 

My office partner, Debra Tyree, and I would feed and keep a water source for the birds outside our office window. We began keeping a bird “watch list” and reached 22 different types of birds that we noted that visited the feeders outside of Anderson Hall and the chipmunks that would visit as well. We enjoyed watching the parent birds feed their young with the seed by placing the seed inside their beaks. We also remember the groundhogs out back and the other critters that caused a scare during the hantavirus outbreaks in the Midwest one year. However, I think the groundhog remained as a guest, perhaps unwanted guest, on the back of the building. 

As I pondered the rich history of Anderson Hall, I remembered the celebrations held in the building with co-worker/friends. We had Christmas parties in labs. We had birthday celebrations in offices and baby showers in classrooms. We had a graduation party for a fellow staff member when she finished her graduate degree and a retirement party as well. I remember the beautiful angel and hand-made doily left on my desk by Julia and Pam Conner when I returned to work after the unexpected death of my brother and yellow day lily plant left in my office by Lee Hipp and Susan Barton, who ran the Community Arboretum.

I also began to think of the students who had class in Anderson Hall. I thought of the husband who worked while his wife finished her nursing program at the College, and how she then worked as he later finished in nursing as well. I think of Dr. John Boone, who completed the science program and then went further and became a doctor of osteopathic medicine. I think of the nursing students Stephanie and Joanna, who could always be found in the back left corner of the computer study room across from my last office — every day in between class and at the end of day, always studying in the nursing computer lab.  Both graduated and became RNs and Joanna recently graduated from Liberty as a Family Nurse Practitioner.

 I think of the nursing student Allison, who managed a divorce and co-raising three sons while at the College to become an RN and while in the program would share what a difference she was making in patients’ lives and how lucky she was to find her “calling” in life. However, I think too, of all the students who graduated and continued onward at another college or went to work upon graduation and are considered a success for the way they complete their jobs on a daily basis. 

As I rise from the Fishburn steps and gaze as the building is coming down, I think of the wonderful friendships, amazing faculty and remarkable students whose feet have walked the hallways of Anderson and I think — well done, Anderson Hall, well done.

Black and white photo of Anderson Hall

Woody is the program advisor for Dental Hygiene, Nursing, Radiography, Radiation Oncology, Practical Nursing, Phlebotomy, MLT and Physical Therapist Assistant in the Virginia Western Community College School of Health Professions.


Would you like to share your memories of Anderson Hall with the College community? Email Carole Tarrant at the Virginia Western Educational Foundation, ctarrant@virginiawestern.edu.

Pandemic increases student emergency needs at Virginia Western

When spring classes at Virginia Western Community College were abruptly moved online last spring, many students found themselves unequipped to continue learning. Many didn’t have personal computers or internet service, and they didn’t have the finances to pay for these new necessities.

That was the case for William Hobbs, who was enrolled in computer and business classes last semester on his path toward an Integrated Environmental Studies degree. His Chromebook didn’t meet the requirements for his classes, and having lost his job due to the pandemic, he was unable to afford a new computer.

William Hobbs
William Hobbs

Money from the Virginia Western Rapids Response Fund allowed Hobbs to get a Windows-based laptop and prevented him from falling behind with his course load. He is on track to finish his associate degree this spring and plans to continue at University of Virginia or Virginia Tech next fall.

“I desperately needed a new computer so I could continue working on school,” said Hobbs. “I would not have been able to complete my coursework if it wasn’t for the financial help that the emergency funds program provided me. I’m very grateful for the opportunity and help I received, and I would highly recommend it to my peers if they are in financial need.”

Established by the Virginia Western Educational Foundation in 2005, the relief fund was set up to provide financial support (up to $500 per year) to students for unexpected emergency needs such as medical issues, car repairs or technology issues. The influx in applications this spring and fall affirms the increased hardship students are facing because of the pandemic. Nearly $4,000 has been awarded this year so far, nearly three times the amount as last year.

Virginia Western Rapids Response Student Emergency Fund logo

“We don’t want students to have to choose between pursuing their academic goals and basic needs,” said Amanda Mansfield, Philanthropy Director for the Education Foundation. “Now, more than ever, our students need our support to navigate their academic and personal lives so sustaining this fund is even more critical.”

Click to donate to the Virginia Western Rapids Response Student Emergency Fund