The University of Virginia’s College at Wise dedicated the plaza of its new $37 million library in honor of John T. Casteen III, the University of Virginia president emeritus who strengthened ties between the two schools and helped guide tremendous enrollment and facilities growth at the Wise campus.
“Mr. Casteen has left an indelible mark on UVA-Wise,” Chancellor Donna P. Henry said. “Members of this community can say emphatically that John T. Casteen has always stood with and for the college.”
The dedication, which took place Wednesday, was attended by Casteen, several former UVA-Wise chancellors, current UVA President Teresa A. Sullivan, other leaders from UVA and its College at Wise, and a crowd from campus and the local community.
Henry said the open space at the library’s fourth floor main entrance would serve as a gathering place for those who come together to explore common interests and share new ideas.
“I hope that this plaza adequately reflects Mr. Casteen’s love for learning, his love of the arts and his love of community,” Henry said.
Sullivan said naming the library entrance in honor of Casteen, UVA’s president from 1990 until 2010, is appropriate because of his long service to the University and his steadfast support for the University’s libraries and for UVA-Wise.
“During his two decades as UVA president, he strengthened the relationship between the University in Charlottesville and the College in Wise,” Sullivan said. “He understood the importance of this college to the people here and to the region of Southwest Virginia, and he appreciated the deep bonds that have connected UVA to the College for more than a half-century.”
Sullivan told the crowd that the College at Wise experienced remarkable growth during Casteen’s presidency, and that he was “a steady hand” during leadership transitions.
John Macfarlane, a UVA Board of Visitors member and chair of the Committee on UVA-Wise, called Casteen a visionary leader who is dedicated to advancing higher education throughout Virginia.
“John made the success of Wise a priority,” Macfarlane said. “The buildings and grounds, as well as the people around us, are his legacy. He believed in the mission of the college and in the value which it creates not only for southwest Virginians, but for all Virginians.”
Jay Lemons, a former UVA-Wise chancellor, said it is easy to see the handiwork of Casteen across the campus. He said Casteen first visited the region in his early 20s, and never forgot the region. Casteen stood with the college in difficult times, Lemons added.
“He will forever be known as the college’s greatest protector,” said Lemons, currently president of Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania.
In his remarks, Casteen expressed thanks to those attending, spoke of the College at Wise’s history and offered thoughts for the school’s future and its relationship with the University.
“Maybe someday times will change, but my own aspiration is, at least in my time and our time, the relationship continues to be vigorous and productive,” he said. “The college continues to be the stepping point to personal futures for the young men and the young women who continue to come here year after year.”
He praised Sullivan and Henry for working together to find ways to articulate the vision for UVA-Wise in today’s time.