WISE — The University of Virginia’s College at Wise is moving forward with its latest construction project, a long-anticipated set of improvements that solidifies the college’s commitment to encouraging fitness on campus and across the region.
The $8.3 million project, made possible by a gift from the Richard and Leslie Gilliam Foundation, will include a new 11,000-square-foot addition to the C. Bascom Slemp Student Center’s existing fitness center and renovation of 5,833 square feet of the college’s Fred B. Greear Gymnasium.
The new UVa-Wise Health and Wellness Center will house a new exercise area; a multipurpose room for yoga, dance and other activities; two conference rooms for individual and group health advising and instruction; and locker rooms. The center is scheduled for completion at the end of next year.
The new facilities will also support the efforts of the Healthy Appalachia Institute, a partnership between the college and the University of Virginia to promote wellness in the region.
“Major projects like this come to fruition only with the concerted, combined efforts of visionaries and doers,” said Marcia Gilliam, a 1982 UVa-Wise grad and chair of the college board. “Richard and Leslie Gilliam are doers. For many years they have made good things happen at UVa-Wise and in Southwest Virginia.”
Leslie Gilliam said the college has always been “tremendously important to the Gilliam family.”
She said one of the primary reasons the family supports UVa-Wise is the wealth of opportunities the college offers the region.
“We have not forgotten where we come from,” she said. “We’re so excited about the future of UVa-Wise.”
While visiting other colleges with their children, Leslie Gilliam said she and her husband noticed that most had fitness and wellness centers. Establishing such a facility at UVa-Wise could help attract and retain students, she said, while also making a positive impact on the region’s health.
The Gilliams recommended the facility be named in honor of Winston Ely, a longtime employee at the college. The UVa-Wise College Board has approved the request and dubbed the facility the Winston Ely Health and Wellness Center.
“We’ve noticed through the years how much Winston Ely cares about the students,” Leslie Gilliam said.
David C. Gordon, co-director of the Healthy Appalachia Institute, said UVa-Wise is taking bold action to promote health and wellness on campus and the community.
“The climb to wellness begins at UVa-Wise,” he said.