‘Splendid next step’
David J. Prior Appointed Seventh Chancellor Of
University Of Virginia’s College At Wise
July 20, 2005 --
University of Virginia President John T. Casteen III today announced that David J. Prior, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, will become the seventh chancellor of the University of Virginia’s College at Wise. Prior will begin his duties onSept. 1.
In announcing the appointment, Casteen said, “He has had long and successful experience as a scholar and administrator in liberal arts colleges and in regional public colleges, including some 15 years in Appalachia. He is described as a thoughtful, compassionate academic leader whose vision has made him essential to the University of Wisconsin at Superior, which is a college much like the College at Wise. Faculty members and the search committee have found him to be wise about the matters that make for success in the College, thoughtful in responding to questions, and deeply sympathetic with the College and its region.
“In every sense, this appointment is a splendid next step for the College.”
Prior’s arrival comes at a time of growth for the College at Wise, which has enrolled record numbers of freshmen in each of the past three academic years. It is expected to grow from its current 1,800-student enrollment to 2,000 by the fall of 2007. A new, 120-bed dormitory is due to open in January, and the College has plans to renovate and expand its theater and to renovate its main administration building. A major fund-raising campaign — the second in the school’s 50-year history — is expected to kick off in fall 2006.
“The College at Wise has a clear image of its future as a liberal arts college and as a resource to support the entire Southwest Virginia region,” Prior said. “My wife and I are proud to become part of the Wise family.”
Prior’s appointment ends a 16-month search process. More than 300 candidates submitted applications to the consulting firm of Korn/Ferry International, which forwarded 22 names to the search committee for consideration. Three finalists made public visits to U.Va-Wise in June before the committee made its recommendation to Casteen.
“David Prior is a man of great vision and wonderful leadership ability,” said James M. Gott, who is chairman of both the chancellor search committee and the University of Virginia’s College at Wise Board. “The Priors are very excited about becoming a part of our college, our community and our region.”
Prior succeeds Steven H. Kaplan, who resigned in March 2004 to become president of the University of New Haven in Connecticut. Ernest H. Ern, a retired senior vice president and professor of the University of Virginia, finished a one-year as interim chancellor in June.
Prior earned a Ph.D. in neurophysiology from the University of Virginia in 1972. Before that, he earned an A.B. in biology from Olivet College in Michigan in 1965 and a master’s in animal physiology and biochemistry from Central Michigan University in 1968. He was also a post-doctoral fellow in neurobiology at Princeton University from 1972 to 1973.
“My time at U.Va. was wonderful; my wife and I really fell in love with the University,” Prior said. “The campus in Wise embodies very much the overall spirit of the University.”
He began his teaching career in 1973 at the University of Kentucky, where he eventually held dual full professorships in biological sciences and physiology and biophysics. He left in 1987 to become chairman of the Department of Biology at Northern Arizona University, and was named dean of the College of Arts and Sciences there in 1992.
In 1995, he was named dean of graduate studies and research at Northern Michigan University. In 1998, he became provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, first at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and in 2002 at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.
As a researcher, he had 23 years of continuous funding and is credited with more than 100 research publications, symposium presentations, review articles and book chapters.
Prior, 61, grew up in Rochester, Mich., a small town north of Detroit. He will be accompanied by his wife, Merry Lu, to Wise.
Founded in 1954 as the Clinch Valley College of the University of Virginia, today the University of Virginia’s College at Wise is a nationally ranked, public liberal arts institution and the only branch of the University of Virginia. It has a full-time faculty of 82, plus 124 full-time staff members. The school offers 25 majors and grants the degrees of bachelor of arts, bachelor of science, and bachelor of science in nursing.
Contact: Dan Heuchert, (434) 924-7676