April 23-May 27, 2004
Vol. 34, Issue 8
Back Issues
‘We want to see results!’
Board of Visitors calls for progress on diversity issues
Adams sees program review as an engine of progress
Senate to students: Reject lying and cheating in your midst
Headlines @ U.Va.
Faculty Actions
U.Va. digital history center reaches out to Virginia schools
It’s Personal: An aspiring group of teachers makes learning meaningful
Casteen: Budget stalemate won’t close University
Wise leadership
WHTJ marks Brown anniversary
Feast for the soul: Sufi devotional music of Pakistan
Talk to cover Health System’s master plan
Bowen urges ‘class-based affirmative action’
Wise leadership

Ern named interim chancellor

Ernest H. Ern, who has served in many capacities during his 38-year career at U.Va., will become interim chancellor at the College at Wise, President John T. Casteen III announced April 14.

Ern, who begins his new role in May, will serve a yearlong term while the University conducts a search to replace the College’s outgoing chancellor, Steven H. Kaplan, who leaves next month to become president of the University of New Haven.

“I am delighted Ernie Ern has agreed to take on the chancellorship at Wise,” Casteen said. “He will provide steady leadership that will ensure that the College continues its progress during this year of transition. I am committed to supporting him in every possible way.”

Kaplan said that he is especially pleased that an interim chancellor of Ern’s stature has agreed to lead the Wise campus. “It would be hard to imagine a better leader for this time when the College will be pursuing reaffirmation of its accreditation, approval of its new software engineering program and additional progress with regard to the physical development of the campus,” Kaplan said.

Reporting directly to Casteen, Ern will lead the College’s administrative team in overseeing academic programs, fiscal matters, campus life, private fund raising and local and state relationships. While he will be the liaison between the College and the University’s Board of Visitors, he also will work closely the Wise board.

“Throughout my various admin-istrative assignments in Charlottes-ville, my personal and professional associations with faculty and staff at the College at Wise and with friends in Southwest Virginia have been especially meaningful, productive and enjoyable,” Ern said.

“Accordingly, my wife and I very much look forward to serving the College and the University during this transition.”

Ern retired from U.Va. in 2000, having served for the last nine years as senior vice president. He joined U.Va. in 1962 as an assistant geology professor. His scholarly work included analyses of geological conditions related to mining in the Appalachian region.

Three years after joining the faculty, he became assistant dean in the College of Arts & Sciences, then served as dean of admission from 1967 to 1973, and as vice president for student affairs from 1973 to 1993. The same year he became senior vice president, in1993, the board created the Ernest H. Ern Distinguished Professorship in Environmental Sciences and named him a University professor, U.Va.’s highest academic rank.

Ern, with his wife Petie, will move to Wise in June, working first from Charlottesville to prepare for the transition.

Blackburn new provost and senior vice chancellor

Gilmer W. Blackburn, an historian with more than 30 years of experience in higher education, will be the next provost and senior vice chancellor at the College at Wise, U.Va. President John T. Casteen III announced April 19.

“I am pleased Mr. Blackburn has agreed to join the College at Wise,” Casteen said. “He will arrive during a time of transition at the College, and his leadership and experience in higher education will be key to helping guide the college community in the coming years.” Blackburn will assume his duties on July 1. An accomplished scholar, Blackburn will hold professorships in history and education.

“With Ern and Blackburn in place,” Casteen said, “I believe the College at Wise will be in the hands of two capable and visionary academic administrators.”

Blackburn is currently coordinator of special projects at
Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, N.C. He came to Gardner-Webb in 1968 as a professor of history and has continued to serve the institution in a variety of roles including director of graduate studies, associate dean of academic affairs and dean of academic affairs. Before being named to his current post in 2003, Blackburn spent a decade as vice president and dean of academic affairs. He helped develop a new core curriculum, which was recognized as one of the most distinctive in the nation, and also oversaw the creation of an MBA program and graduate-level courses in education, counseling and nursing.

“I am extraordinarily excited about beginning my work at U.Va.-Wise,” Blackburn said. “I look forward to working to continue to enhance the quality of the College and to continue to expand its academic offerings.”
A former Fulbright Scholar to Germany, Blackburn is the author of “Education in the Third Reich: A Study of Race and History in Nazi Textbooks,” as well as numerous other scholarly works.

A North Carolina native, Blackburn completed his first two years of college at Gardner-Webb and graduated from Wake Forest University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history, and went on to earn his doctoral degree in education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill .

Blackburn and his wife, Martha Burke Blackburn, a retired kindergarten teacher, will move to Wise in June.

Now celebrating its 50th anniversary, U.Va.-Wise is ranked among the nation’s top 10 public liberal arts colleges by U.S. News & World Report. It is home to 1,700 students.

Harris to continue as academic dean

To ensure a smooth transition between administrations at the College at Wise, Amelia J. Harris, associate professor of modern languages at the College at Wise, has accepted a three-year contract to remain at the institution as academic dean.

“Dean Harris brings a wealth of experience at the College and continuity to this position,” said President John T. Casteen III of the decision.

Harris has been a full-time member of the U.Va.-Wise faculty since 1992, teaching both German and Spanish. She was an adjunct instructor from 1980 until 1992.  

A Fulbright Scholar to Germany, she earned her bachelor’s degree in German from Vanderbilt University and her doctorate, also in German, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She was selected to attend the Bryn Mawr Summer Institute for Women in Higher Education Administration and was a recipient of the King Juan Carlos Fellowship, a summer program in Madrid for teachers of Spanish.

Harris has served as academic dean since the summer of 2003. Prior to that appointment, she served three years as dean of the faculty and associate provost. She chaired the College’s Department of Language and Literature from 1997 until 2000.

During her tenure as an administrator, Harris is leading the effort to revise the College’s core curriculum, helped develop a campus Writing Center and worked to forge sister institution relationships with universities in Spain and Austria. She currently serves as the accreditation liaison for the College’s ongoing SACS self-study.


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