Type your search keyword, and press enter

In-person classes and free college funding for Fall

Virginia Western Community College announces plans to provide a full array of in-person classes for its Fall Semester, which begins on Aug. 23, 2021. New funding from the state’s G3 program, the Re-Employing Virginians (REV) campaign and other initiatives means many students can begin the education and training they need for high-demand career fields free. Open enrollment for new students begins May 10, and on April 21 for returning students at www.virginiawestern.edu

The college will provide in-person classes with social distancing in place, adhering to guidelines from the Governor’s Office, the Virginia Department of Health and the CDC. In addition, the college will also provide a mixture of online and remote learning formats along with online advising services for students who do not choose to attend on campus. 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.

“We are thrilled to be able to welcome more students back to our beautiful campus this fall for in-person classes,” said Dr. Robert H. Sandel, Virginia Western President. “We have learned a great deal throughout the pandemic about the best ways to deliver high-quality instruction online. At the same time, we know that many of our students learn best when they are in a classroom on campus. With the changing health and safety guidelines, we are now able to offer the best of both worlds. And now, many students can attend for free!”

Gov. Ralph Northam signed legislation recently for his “Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back” initiative, or G3. The $36 million program makes tuition-free community college available to an estimated 36,000 low and middle-income students pursuing jobs in high-demand fields.

G3 is just one option for attending college free in the fall. Interested students can read about G3 and other funding initiatives, and find out if they qualify by visiting: www.virginiawestern.edu/freecollege. Some funding initiatives are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis when available, so students should apply today!

“After more than a decade of our Community College Access Program (CCAP) providing tuition assistance for students graduating high schools in our region, we have seen the difference it has made on individuals’ lives as well as upon the local economy,” said Sandel. “The Governor’s new G3 program is poised to have a tremendously positive impact by helping more adult learners access the skilled training they need to build a career in healthcare, information technology and computer science, manufacturing and skilled trades, early childhood education and public safety.”

In addition to courses in Virginia Western’s academic calendar, the School of Career and Corporate Training (CCT) provides state-of-the-art training and retraining resources with short-term training and credentialing programs, many of which have additional funding opportunities. To find out more about CCT courses, visit: https://www.virginiawestern.edu/cct.

Get on the road with VWCC’s Motorcycle Safety Program

Virginia Western Community College announces the re-opening of its in-person Motorcycle Safety Program, licensed by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) as a Virginia Rider Training Program training site. Virginia Western recently purchased a fleet of 15 new motorcycles through the DMV’s motorcycle fund for students to improve their skills.

Upon completion of the Virginia Rider Training Program, students will earn a course completion certificate to provide to DMV, which will exempt them from completing both the motorcycle knowledge exam and the road skills exam. The certificates are valid for a period of one year from the date of course completion. 

Virginia Western provides the only Virginia Rider Training Program in Roanoke City and the immediate surrounding counties, with certified motorcycle safety instructors who can teach beginning and experienced riders new techniques in a controlled, safe environment. Classes are held on Friday evenings, Saturdays and Sundays throughout the spring, summer and fall semesters. To find out more information and enroll, visit: https://www.virginiawestern.edu/academics/btt/motorcycle.php.

“Following in person classes returning to campus in July, 2020 and a reorganization of our program and renewed partnership with DMV, we are very happy to resume this critical training riders need,” said Roger Hamner, the program’s lead instructor. “The addition of these beautiful new motorcycles will mean more riders can learn valuable safety and awareness techniques and be confident they are learning on the latest equipment and technology major manufacturers have to offer, which is important to the continued growth of our program.”

Virginia Western’s motorcycle fleet includes BMW G310R, Yamaha TW200, Yamaha VStar 250, Yamaha XT 250, Suzuki TU250X and Kawasaki Z125 PRO motorcycles. Students in the Basic Rider 2-Wheel Course attend one weekend of classes: Friday from 6:30-9:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m-4 p.m. Students who pass both the written and skills tests will earn their DMV provisional motorcycle license. The current in-state tuition cost for the course is $170.09.

In addition to the Basic Rider 2-Wheel Course, Virginia Western offers an Experienced Rider 2-Wheel Course and a One-on-One Course. 

For more information or help enrolling, contact course coordinator Tammy Meador at 540-857-6402 or tmeador@virginiawestern.edu.

Graduation Update

Prior to Governor Ralph Northam’s recent update, Virginia Western determined it would host a virtual commencement ceremony in accordance with health and safety information developed by the CDC, the Virginia Department of Health and the Governor’s Office. The new limit for indoor events is a 500-person maximum, or 30 percent of a venue’s capacity. That is not enough to accommodate our college’s graduates, faculty and staff, even without counting an audience. While the state is now permitting outdoor ceremonies to have larger numbers of attendees, with corresponding safety measures, the limitations as well as availability of such locations in our region do not make a regular in-person Virginia Western graduation ceremony feasible this year.

The college’s re-opening plans this academic year have focused on making campus and academic settings as safe as possible for our students, faculty and staff. The Commonwealth is not in the vaccination phase for the majority of our employees and students, and we believe it is in the best interest of our community’s health to proceed with a virtual event. We look forward to planning a full in-person graduation ceremony next year.

Updated March 19, 2021

Graduation message from President Sandel

As we approach the midpoint of Spring Semester, I sincerely thank you for your resilience through this academic year and all the changes necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. I know there have been many challenges as we have striven to keep our college community as safe as possible. Our students’ success is a testament to their determination and to the outstanding work of our faculty and staff.

The end of the academic year is traditionally a time to celebrate, and our commencement ceremony is what I look forward to the most. As much as I would like to speed up the timeline of returning to normal operations, we continue to follow Governor Northam, and Virginia Department of Health guidelines; and are unable to hold an in-person graduation as we have done in the past.  It is not feasible at this time to host an alternate ceremony with the number of graduates and families we would expect.

This year, we will confer degrees through a graduation video ceremony on Friday, May 14, 2021, on our website and on YouTube. We will feature a traditional speaking agenda with national bestselling author Beth Macy providing a speech along with a student speaker. Our school deans will read our graduating students’ names and those students will be able to submit a photo and a quote for their fellow students or families to see.

For students to be included, they must first apply for graduation. To find out how, visit: https://www.virginiawestern.edu/graduation/apply.php. Those who wish to submit a photo and quote for the graduation video, should log in to their student email account from MyVWCC, then visit the form here: https://forms.gle/P7jTyp2tRckN7rdi9.

We hope that as many students as possible will participate in the creation of this video to make it special for themselves and their families.

Thank you again for all you have done during this challenging time to better yourselves and your community.


Dr. Robert H. Sandel


Virginia Western Community College

New scholarship to help increase diversity in advertising fields

February’s Black History Month is an important time to recognize and honor the contributions African-Americans have made in the United States and to acknowledge the hardships they have faced. It is also a time to examine our institutions and advance ways to strengthen them through enhanced diversity.

The Virginia Western Educational Foundation is proud to launch new annual and endowed scholarships, with support from an area advertising agency, intended to create greater diversity in the communications and advertising fields. The Virginia Western BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) Annual Scholarship will be available to students in communications and advertising fields in Fall Semester 2021.

Interested students may apply for the scholarship beginning on March 1 at: https://virginiawestern.edu/foundation/scholarship/index.php.

 “We acknowledge that this scholarship is not a solution and is only one small step in welcoming new voices and new talent to our industry,” said Tony Pearman, President and CEO of Access Advertising & Public Relations which launched the fund with a lead gift. “Access, along with others, still has a lot of work to do; but our hope is that our peers will join us in creating opportunities to inspire BIPOC students to share their voices with the world through our industry.” 

“We are extremely grateful for this generous gift from Access to launch the BIPOC Annual Scholarship,” said Dr. Robert H. Sandel, President of Virginia Western. “Access understands the intrinsic value of higher education and we hope this scholarship will open doors for a diverse array of students to seek their careers in communications and advertising.”

The scholarship will provide tuition assistance to a student enrolled in at least six credits per semester in a communications/advertising program of study. Applicable coursework at time of establishment includes Visual Design, Communication Design, Management, Administrative Management Technology, Web Programmer and Management: Entrepreneurship.

Access Advertising & Public Relations has served clients both domestically and internationally from its Roanoke office for more then 24 years.

For more information on how you can support the BIPOC Annual Scholarship or others, contact:
Amanda Mansfield, Philanthropy Director
Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation
(540) 857-6962

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. 

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

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.