Brian Wills, director of the Center for the Study of the Civil War Era and professor of history at Kennesaw State University, will visit The University of Virginia’s College at Wise to speak about the history of the Confederate flag.
Wills, who taught history at UVa-Wise, will lead a meaningful discussion on the timely subject that has stirred controversy recently. The talk is scheduled for Sept. 2 at 7 p.m. in the Rhododendron Room of the Slemp Student Center. The public is invited to attend the free academic program.
“In light of recent events, I think it is wise for the College to sponsor an event that can present a meaningful discussion on the history of the Confederate flag, how it has been used by various groups, and what it means to different people,” said Brian McKnight, a history professor at UVa-Wise. “We feel it is important to say that this is an academic program without political consideration.”
The banner that is generally considered the Confederate flag was one of many different flags used by the southern armies during the Civil War. The use of the flag and its changing meanings remain controversial.
About Brian Wills
Brian Steel Wills is the director of the Center for the Study of the Civil War Era and Professor of History at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia. He had a long tenure at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise and is the author of numerous works relating to the American Civil War, including a new volume – The River Was Dyed with Blood: Nathan Bedford Forrest and Fort Pillow. His other titles include:
A Battle From the Start: The Life of Nathan Bedford Forrest
Reprinted as: The Confederacy’s Greatest Cavalryman: Nathan Bedford Forrest. This work was chosen as both a History Book Club selection and a Book of the Month Club selection. He also authored, The War in Southeastern Virginia, released in October, 2001, and No Ordinary College: A History of The University of Virginia’s College at Wise, (2004), both by the University Press of Virginia. Gone with the Glory: The Civil War in Cinema appeared in 2006. An updated edition of the James I. “Bud” Robertson, Jr., Civil War Sites in Virginia (Virginia, 2011) arrived just in time for the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, and in 2012 and 2013, Brian authored George Henry Thomas: As True as Steel and Confederate General William Dorsey Pender: The Hope of Glory.
For more information on the lecture, contact College Relations at 276-376-1027.
Strong and creative learning opportunities at The University of Virginia’s College at Wise have earned the public liberal college recognition among the nation’s Colleges of Distinction.
“It is gratifying that UVa-Wise has earned recognition as a national College of Distinction for our innovative learning opportunities,” said Chancellor Donna P. Henry. “Our students earn college credit and valuable life experience by participating in study abroad programs, service learning, internships, undergraduate research, and other educational programs that are models for higher education across the nation.”
UVa-Wise received notification of the recognition on Aug. 10.
“Colleges of Distinction is delighted to honor UVa-Wise for its success in expanding programming by developing competencies relevant to graduates’ lives,” said Tyson Schritter, executive editor for Colleges of Distinction. “Active engagement is well recognized as a key to ensuring that undergraduates get the most out of their educations, and it has proven correlation with on-time graduation as well. Students increasingly demand access to hands-on learning, and Colleges of Distinction congratulates UVa-Wise for leading the way in the development of new methodologies that prepare students for the future.”
Schools must demonstrate results across the Four Distinctions—Engaged Students, Great Teaching, Vibrant Community, and Successful Outcomes. High school counselors and educators make nominations and each school is evaluated on key indicators including student engagement, student empowerment, and curricular innovation. Colleges that have distinguished themselves in each of the Four Distinctions and that have demonstrated dedication to enriching student outcomes through innovative learning opportunities are then invited to join Colleges of Distinction.
The annual process to select the nation’s Colleges of Distinction also includes a review of each institution’s freshman experience, as well as its general education program, strategic plan, and alumni success and satisfaction measures.
“Colleges of Distinction provides more than just a ranking or a tally of test scores,” Schritter said. “We identify colleges that offer every student an educationally rewarding experience, The Colleges of Distinction have earned solid reputations for nurturing and serving their students across every measure. Like UVa-Wise, our member schools provide the affirming undergraduate experience every student deserves.”
To view UVa-Wise’s profile or to find more information about the innovative learning experiences it offers, visit CollegeosfDistinction.com.
About Colleges of Distinction
The Colleges of Distinction website and e-guidebook recognize and honor schools throughout the U.S. for excellence in undergraduate-focused higher education. The member schools in the Colleges of Distinction consortium distinguish themselves through their focus on the undergraduate experience. CollegeofDistinction.com provides dynamic college profiles, customized tools, and more for students, parents, and high school counselors. For more information, visit CollegesofDistinction.com
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Summer Session II
Jessica Miller, a 2015 graduate of UVa-Wise, is researching a 128-year-old shipwreck that took the lives of five U.S. Life-Saving Service surfmen as they made an unsuccessful but heroic attempt to rescue the German crew of the Elizabeth.
Miller, a history major, is working as an intern at the Coast Guard Museum in Virginia Beach. The U.S. Life-Saving Service later became the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Elizabeth wrecked between Dam Neck Mills Station and Little Island Station during a Jan. 8, 1887 snowstorm. Miller’s research reveals the dedication and bravery of the seven surfmen who worked hard to rescue the 22-member Elizabeth crew. Two of the seven surfmen who attempted the rescue survived.
Miller’s research shows that a handful of life-saving stations were operated along the Virginia Beach coastline in the later part of the 1800s. Each station had a keeper and several surfmen to patrol the shore.
According to Miller, a surfman from the Little Island Station and a surfman from the Dam Neck Mills Station were on routine patrol when they discovered the wreckage of the Elizabeth.
“Both surfmen returned to their respective stations to inform the two life-saving crews of the shipwreck,” Miller said. “After arriving at the scene of the accident, the surfman attempted to make contact with the ship’s distressed crew by using a Lyle gun. Their efforts, however, were unsuccessful and the German sailors were forced to abandon the Elizabeth and crowd into a large lifeboat.”
In her research, Miller learned that Abel Belanga, the keeper of the Little Island Station, made a decision to deploy a surfboat to rescue the crew. The keeper picked six surfmen to accompany him as oarsmen.
“From his own station, Belanga chose surfman John T. Etheridge, John H. Land, George W. Stone and Frank Tedford,” she said. “He also chose James E. Belanga and Joseph Spratley from the Dam Neck Mills Station.”
James E. Belanga was the keeper’s brother and Tedford and Spratley were his brothers-in-law.
“When the life-saving crew reached the German sailors, Keeper Belanga informed Frederick G. Halberstady, the captain of the Elizabeth, that the 22 Germans would be transported to the beach in three trips,” Miller said. “As the surfmen attempted to bring the first group of men to shore, an immense wave overturned both the surfboat and the large lifeboat.”
The surfmen and the Elizabeth crew fought to survive the cold and choppy water, but Etheridge and Tedford were the only survivors.
Miller said the internship is giving her real world experience that she can use in the future, regardless of her career path. She plans to pursue a master’s degree, but has not decided whether to pursue the degree in history or criminal justice.
“The history department helped me develop marketable skills such as researching, writing and critical thinking,” she said of her time at UVa-Wise. “I feel like my major did prepare me for life after college. The professors in the history department are also willing to help students with their resumes and cover letters as well as providing students with continued advice and support after graduation.”
“The system, which will go live on August 7, will allow for prompt reporting of instances of prohibited behavior that we learn about, witness or experience,” said Tabitha Smith, Title IX Coordinator and Director of Compliance Programming.
Smith explained that UVa-Wise is committed to maintaining a respectful, professional and nondiscriminatory academic, living and working environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors.
“This includes having an environment free from sexual and gender-based harassment, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking sexual exploitation, complicity and retaliation,” Smith said.
Smith said Katelyn Sturgill, a senior majoring in history with a minor in women’s studies, came up with the name for the system.
“The Office of Compliance and Conduct encourages every member of the UVa—Wise community to use the Be Wise. Report It. system to promptly report incidents and to also have full confidence those reports will be treated seriously and investigated timely and impartially,” Smith added.
The “Be Wise. Report It” system will be available at https://home.uvawise.edu/complianceforms/forms/incidents-report-form
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The Marching Highland Cavaliers continued the band’s tradition of boosting the region’s high school music programs by donating several drums and accessories to Lee High School.
Rick Galyean, director of bands at UVa-Wise, said the Marching Highland Cavaliers have helped the music program in Dickenson County and at Twin Valley High in Buchanan County by donating gently used instruments and equipment from time to time. Several high schools have also been given a needed instrument or two over the years as the Marching Highland Cavaliers purchase replacement horns and equipment.
The Marching Highland Cavaliers came into existence nine years ago when the College began a full-fledged music program. The band has less than 100 members, but the Marching Highland Cavaliers top bigger Virginia colleges and several peer institutions in terms of the percentage of enrolled students who join the band.
A generous gift from the Hunter J. Smith Foundation helped the band grow over the years. Smith, in making the gift, expressed the hope that the band could promote music programs in the region’s schools and communities. Galyean said the band honors Smith’s intention by performing at various events in the region, helping local band programs and assisting local band directors when possible.
The music program at UVa-Wise has produced several graduates who are now teaching music or band in schools across Virginia and in other states. Ben Harding, band director at Lee High, is a 2010 graduate of UVa-Wise. Galyean said the donation to Lee High was special because the drums were donated to an alumnus who was part of the College’s first year of the marching band program.
“Purchasing new drums would have been a major financial hurdle our boosters would have had to face,” Harding said. “They can now use the money they would have spent on the drums on other pressing matters.”
Galyean, who often visits local schools to recruit students for the music program, noticed that Harding and his students had patched up their 20-year-old drums with duct tape or other adhesives.
“Our drums were 10 years old, but they were in much better shape that those 20 year-old drums,” Galyean said. “We were at the point where we had to purchase new ones, so we decided to help Lee High out.”
Harding said his students were excited to receive the drums and accessories. He said the equipment would make a difference, especially as the Generals get ready for another performance season. The drum donation amounts to about $15,000 worth of equipment.
Lee High has 78 band members on its roster this season. Harding said he always tells the students about his experiences at UVa-Wise, and he encourages them to keep his alma mater in mind when they begin to consider colleges.
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