The year 2010 marks 25 years for the Appalachian Studies Program on the Virginia Tech campus. During this time we have expanded our student base to approximately 600 students taught per year, increased our course offerings in our minor, engaged in multiple community engagement activities that have garnered numerous scholarships, grants, and awards for students and faculty, and have amassed a significant body of scholarship among our core and affiliated faculty. Several have won prestigious Appalachian Studies Association awards.
Over the years, former program directors Dr. Jean Haskell and Dr. Elizabeth Fine have worked tirelessly with Virginia Tech administrators and personnel to preserve and restore Solitude House on the Virginia Tech campus. A former plantation home of Robert Preston and founding home of Virginia Tech, it signifies the role Appalachia has played in forming, shaping, and sustaining the University and its faculty, students, alumni, and support personnel. Currently, a grant from the Parson’s Foundation with matching funds from the University, is making this restoration possible and work will begin in March 2010. Appalachian Studies will move into this building during Fall 2010.
Solitude will provide a visible home for Appalachian Studies where academic and community events can be held, the Earl Palmer Collection and other, small exhibits displayed, students can feel at home, and faculty offices housed. We have, indeed, come a long way from the first years of simply making our presence known on campus through single sections of a few classes.