Bristol Herald Courier
EMORY — In preparation for the arrival of 450 new students, Emory & Henry College has relocated the Admissions and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) offices in order to turn workspace into student housing.
This is not the first time the college has had to get creative with its student housing situation. Jennifer Pearce, E&H’s vice president for enrollment management and external affairs, explained how the college navigated a similar situation last year and emphasized that this year the focus has been creating on-campus housing for new students.
“We were creative last year when we purchased some homes and rented some homes along Hillman Highway. We added some new space there and then took over some houses that we already own, like the Coltrane house and the Blakemore house,” Pearce said. “This year, we were thinking, ‘what can we do to keep students on campus, to have that on-campus experience?’”
The admissions office, which was located at the Emily Williams House, will now be working out of Wiley Hall, and the DEIB will now work out of the McPherson Center.
The 450 new students, 138 of which are Tri-City locals, and 13 international students will join the 700 undergraduates returning to the Emory campus, taking the overall undergraduate enrollment to around 1,100 students, with 280 graduates enrolled at the Marion campus.
E&H anticipates 900 students will live on campus, which would break the overall record that was set by the college just last year.
Pearce emphasized that the colleges growth, everything from the new Equine Center and the Sportsplex, to the construction of two new residence halls, the new school of business, the nursing program and the School of Arts and Sciences, to the transition to D2 athletics, is all a part of a three-year strategic plan.
Peace attributes E&H President John W. Wells’ leadership as part of the reason why the college has been able to continue growing through the COVID-19 pandemic and the current economy, even as other colleges of a similar profile to E&H see enrollment declines.
“It’s the leadership of the president and the board of trustees, especially during COVID. You know, we could have sat back and just like the sky was falling and have a fear of what’s going to take place,” Pearce said. “We’re very fortunate to have that vision and a leadership team that believes in Emory & Henry that want to take it to the next level, so it continues to thrive.”
E&H counts on the support of its alumni, which gifted a total of $15 million last year to the college.
Despite the growth, Pearce stressed that E&H’s mission continues to be the same and hopes that they can keep the positive momentum going.
“We have no aspirations to be like a Virginia Tech. Our mission is to remain small and have that faculty staff connection in the classroom,” Pearce said. “If we can maintain this 400 to 450 every year and graduate that every year. We will be doing a great service to Southwest Virginia and our surrounding region.”