BIG STONE GAP - Virginia H. Meador of Big Stone Gap, a longtime supporter of Mountain Empire Community College and member of the Wise County Board of Supervisors, is among recipients across Virginia of the 2007 Virginia Community College Chancellor's Awards for leadership in philanthropy.
Meador attended a reception in Richmond on Wednesday for the state's 23 outstanding community college benefactors with former Gov. Gerald Baliles handing out the awards.
In his salute to community college philanthropists across Virginia, Baliles cited their "matchless passion for the mission of community colleges and their outstanding service in education on behalf of all Virginians."
Making the pursuit of higher education more accessible to all Virginians is vital to the future of the commonwealth and the nation, he said.
"To the extent that Virginians are hampered in pursuit of their education, we all lose," said Baliles.
Community colleges and four-year colleges and universities must increasingly rely on support from foundations and philanthropic leaders to help open college doors to all, he said.
Virginia Community College Chancellor Glenn DuBois said the 2007 honorees "have given so much to the schools that make up Virginia's community college system. It's an honor to recognize and thank them."
After the presentation of the awards, Baliles was himself honored with the presentation of a Gerald L. Baliles Commonwealth Legacy Scholarship endowment. More than $100,000 was raised to establish the endowment and was presented by the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education.
The Chancellor's Award for Leadership in Philanthropy is designed to recognize the vital role supporters of community colleges play not only for their institutions but communities. Individuals eligible for the annual award include current and former foundation board members, community volunteers and other benefactors. Each college foundation determines the criteria for the selection of the nominee.
Nominees are those who demonstrate a passion for the mission of community colleges. Meador has long been known in Big Stone Gap, Wise County and neighboring counties for her enthusiastic support of Mountain Empire Community College.
Each philanthropy leader becomes the namesake for one of 23 Commonwealth Legacy Scholarships to be awarded to a student attending the community college in their region. Sallie Mae provided funds to sponsor the 2007 scholarships.
"These leaders know the secret to a better tomorrow," said DuBois. "By their work with the VCCS, they are improving their communities, the commonwealth and the nation."