The University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors unanimously approved Donna Price Henry as UVa-Wise’s eighth chancellor at a meeting Friday morning in the college’s convocation center.
Henry, 52, will start work Jan. 18 as the college’s first female chancellor. She succeeds David J. Prior, who died unexpectedly in February of an apparent heart attack after serving seven years as the college’s leader.
“David Prior did a superb job of putting the College at Wise in [a] position to grow and to succeed at the highest level,” said UVa President Teresa Sullivan. “He really helped building the foundation. And now, Donna is the right person to continue that momentum and take the College to even greater heights.”
Since 2005, Henry has served as dean of the Florida Gulf Coast University College of Arts and Sciences in Fort Meyers, Fla., where she was a founding faculty member. The school was founded in 1991 but first held classes in 1997. Since then, the institution has experienced aggressive growth.
About 150 people came out to witness the Board meeting and announcement following, which was held in the David J. Prior Convocation Center, a building that was championed by the late chancellor and later named in his memory.
At a press conference following the Board’s vote, Sullivan said Henry stood out from among three finalists presented to her by the college’s search committee because of her experience in capital construction, strategic planning, community partnerships and academic growth.
“Donna brings a commitment to engage faculty, students and the community, and a set of ideas that have already worked in the setting of a fast-growing university,” Sullivan said.
Henry’s husband, Allen, is a pilot for Federal Express. The couple has twin, 13-year-old daughters, Jessie and Margaret.
“I am honored to have this opportunity to lead the College at Wise at such an exciting time,” she said. “My family and I are looking forward to joining the Wise community.”
Henry has been in the running for at least two other executive-level jobs in the past year, according to media reports. She was one of three finalists for president of Mansfield University of Pennsylvania in Mansfield, Pa., and one of six for president of Nevada State College in Henderson, Nev.
See video from the announcement, courtesy of UVa-Wise: