August 30, 2011 — Richard and Leslie Gilliam, natives of Southwest Virginia, have pledged $8.3 million to the University of Virginia's College at Wise for a new health and wellness center and renovations to Fred B. Greear Gymnasium to house the Healthy Appalachia Institute.
Richard Gilliam, a native of Wise, is a 1974 graduate of U.Va.-Wise (formerly Clinch Valley College), and Leslie Gilliam is from Jonesville. Their gift, the largest in the history of the school, will provide both a new addition to its fitness center and the renovation of 5,833 square feet of the Greear Gymnasium.
The health and wellness center and gymnasium improvements will leverage the work of the Healthy Appalachia Institute, a partnership between U.Va.-Wise and the U.Va. Health System created to improve the health, education, environment and prosperity for residents of central Appalachia.
"The strong commitment that Richard and Leslie Gilliam have shown to U.Va.-Wise and Southwest Virginia will have a tremendous impact on the health of our students and the residents of our region," Chancellor David J. Prior said.
"My wife Leslie and I are delighted to help provide U.Va.-Wise with new facilities for fitness," Gilliam said. "Our goal is to provide for U.Va.-Wise in a way that will assist the school in attracting and retaining students and to support and encourage a healthy lifestyle for students."
Construction of the health and wellness center will add 11,000 square feet to the current fitness facility. The center will house a new exercise area, a multipurpose room for yoga, Pilates, dance and other activities, two conference rooms for individual and group health advising and instruction, and locker rooms.
The renovation to portions of Greear Gymnasium will feature a new entry and refurbished restrooms and locker rooms. The project will provide excellent space for group exercise and intramural activities.