March 10-23, 2000
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Brian Wills
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Brian Wills

U.Va.-Wise professor wins Outstanding Faculty Award

By Jane Meade-Dean

Brian Steel Wills, associate professor of history at the University of Virginia's College at Wise, was among the group of 11 college professors recognized March 2 with Outstanding Faculty Awards from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. The awards are the commonwealth's highest honor for professors at Virginia's public and private colleges and universities.

After a ceremony at the State Capitol, the faculty members were recognized at the General Assembly for their teaching, research and public service.

"Brian Wills is truly a great treasure for our college and our students," said U.Va.-Wise Chancellor L. Jay Lemons. "I'm delighted his work has been recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia."

Wills, 41, came to U.Va.-Wise in 1992 and has been chair of the department of history and philosophy since 1997. A noted Civil War scholar and author, he is known as a dynamic classroom instructor who has succeeded in passing his love for history along to countless U.Va.-Wise students. Wills has also taken students on week-long research expeditions to Civil War battle sites throughout the South.

Raised in Suffolk County, Wills, the son of a peanut farmer and a fourth- grade teacher, grew up reading books about great American figures like George Washington and Robert E. Lee. "History is something that grabbed my interest from as far back as I can remember," he said.

After graduating from the University of Richmond, Wills earned an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Georgia. His second book, The War Hits Home, a study of the Civil War's impact on Suffolk County, is almost finished and should be published by year's end. Among his many ideas for future books is writing about his great-great-grandfather, Charles Hasker, a lieutenant in the Confederate Navy who served on the infamous Merrimack.


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