Emory & Henry College
Seal of Emory & Henry College
MottoMacte Virtute (Latin)
Motto in English
Increase in Excellence
TypePrivate, liberal arts college
Established1836; 188 years ago (1836)
Religious affiliation
United Methodist Church
Endowment$91.3 million (2020)[1]
PresidentJohn Wells [2]
ProvostMichael Puglisi [3]
Academic staff
98 (Full-Time) & 88 (Part-Time)[4]
Students1,292 Spring 2021[4]
Undergraduates1,019 Spring 2021[4]
Postgraduates273 Spring 2021[4]
Location, ,

36°46′25″N 81°50′00″W / 36.77361°N 81.83333°W / 36.77361; -81.83333
Colors   Blue & gold
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division II
South Atlantic Conference
Emory & Henry College
Emory and Henry College is located in Virginia
Emory and Henry College
Emory and Henry College is located in the United States
Emory and Henry College
Nearest cityEmory, Virginia
Architectural styleColonial Revival, Other, Georgian Revival
NRHP reference No.85003695[5]
VLR No.095-0098
Significant dates
Added to NRHPJanuary 30, 1989
Designated VLRJanuary 18, 1983[6]

Emory & Henry College (E&H or Emory) is a private liberal arts college in Emory, Virginia. The campus comprises 335 acres (1.36 km2) of Washington County, which is part of the Appalachian highlands of Southwest Virginia. Founded in 1836, Emory & Henry College is the oldest institution of higher learning in Southwest Virginia.[7]


Bishop John Emory by American painter George Esten Cooke (1793–1849). The painting is dated 1838 and is housed at Emory & Henry College.

Emory & Henry College is named after John Emory, a renowned Methodist bishop, and Patrick Henry, an American patriot and Virginia's first governor,[7][8] though some research suggests the name honors Henry's sister Elizabeth Henry Campbell Russell, who lived in nearby Saltville and Chilhowie.[9] The college was founded upon the principles of vital faith and civic engagement by Creed Fulton, a Methodist minister; Colonel William Byars; Tobias Smyth, a Methodist farmer; and Alexander Findlay, a Methodist businessman.[10]

American Patriot and Virginia Governor Patrick Henry

The foundation for Wiley Hall was laid on September 30, 1836. The Board of Trustees hired Charles Collins (1838–1852) as the institution's first president, with classes beginning in the spring of 1838, with 60 students enrolled.[11]

The college closed in April 1861 during the Civil War and was commandeered by the Confederate States of America in 1862, operating as a hospital until 1865. During this time the campus saw battle during the Battle of Saltville. The hospital was the setting of Lieutenant Smith's murder on October 7, 1864, by Champ Ferguson. After the war ended, the college reopened.[11]

Martha Washington College

The administrative operation of Martha Washington College, a Methodist-affiliated school for women located in Abingdon, Virginia, was merged with that of Emory & Henry College in 1918.[12] At its November 1918 session held in Johnson City, Tennessee, the Holston Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, decided to merge Martha Washington College with Emory & Henry College; all of the property of Martha Washington, including its 8-acre Abingdon campus, would be transferred to Emory & Henry in exchange for Emory & Henry assuming the debts of Martha Washington and operating Martha Washington College as a "co-ordinate woman's college".[13] This arrangement lasted for about a decade, until Martha Washington College completely closed in 1931.[12]

World War II and beyond

During World War II, Emory & Henry was one of 131 US colleges and universities that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program which offered students a path to a Navy commission.[14] Presently, the institution is proud to have a diverse academic community, encompassing a total of 1,082 undergraduate students, alongside 273 graduate scholars, and maintains a dedicated faculty comprising 97 full-time professors.[15]


Located in the Virginia Highlands, the Emory & Henry central campus encompasses 168 acres (0.68 km2) and is surrounded by an additional 167 undeveloped acres in the village of Emory. The entire central campus is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register.[16]


With many campus buildings dating from the mid-19th century, several major academic buildings are part of a historic district that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including Wiley Hall, which was built 1838 and was used as a Confederate hospital during the Civil War. In recent years, Emory & Henry has experienced a building boom, most notably with the construction of the James H. Brooks Field House, a major expansion of Byars Hall, and the construction of the Woodrow W. McGlothlin Center for the Arts.

Residence halls

Emory & Henry boasts modern and newly renovated campus housing. Among the residence halls are the newly built Elm and Hickory halls, which feature double occupancy rooms, each with its own bathroom. In the Emory "village" students enjoy Prillaman and Linden houses, modern residences that feature single and double occupancy rooms in a home-like setting. Other residence halls include Stuart Hall, Martha Washington Hall and Hillman Hall.


Academic buildings include McGlothlin-Street Hall which includes Emory & Henry's science programs as well as programs in education, political science, business and history. Historic Byars Hall was recently expanded to include classrooms, rehearsal spaces and office space for the Division of Visual and Performing Arts. The Hermesian and Calliopean rooms, which are home to the college's historic debate societies, have been restored to their early elegance. Students also attend classes on the main E&H campus in the Creed Fulton Observatory, Miller Hall and Wiley Hall.

Other buildings

Other campus buildings include Memorial Chapel, Kelly Library, the King Athletic Center, Brook Field House, Martin-Brock Student Center, Van Dyke, Emily Williams House, and Tobias-Smyth Cabin (a reconstructed log house which was home to one of the college's founders; now a museum and meeting place).[16]


Emory & Henry College's liberal arts academic program is based upon a required four-year core curriculum of history, literature, and culture. The college has more than 25 academic programs of study, offers more than 50 bachelor degrees, and offers master's degrees in education and community and organizational leadership. The college's programs in public policy and community service and international studies have been nationally recognized.

Students have the opportunity to study abroad or travel abroad with professors. They may attend a range of lectures and cultural events, called Lyceums, led by political figures, area experts, or artists.

Civic Engagement

Emory & Henry has a long legacy of commitment to civic engagement. Students are involved in a wide range of long-term, meaningful projects in partnership with a variety of community groups and organizations. The college has a unique undergraduate program in Civic Innovation that is centered around a project-based curriculum related to issues of citizenship, social change, and public activism. This program is based in the nationally recognized Appalachian Center for Civic Life, which also oversees the Bonner Scholars program and the Civic Leaders Scholars program.

Student research

E&H professors prepare students by providing research opportunities. Students studying biology might collect microbes 150 feet (46 m) under water. Physics majors could find themselves photographing binary stars. Students doing research for a political science class might present their work to a major conferences such as the Western Political Science Association.

Study abroad

The International Education and Study Abroad Program is an important part of the liberal arts curriculum. In a partnership with CIEE, students have spent semesters or summers abroad, or participated in Emory abroad courses — short-term international programs led by the E&H faculty. Through active engagement, the program enhances global awareness through an understanding of cultural diversity and global interdependence.


Each year, Emory and Henry holds close to 100 concerts, lectures, theatre performances, dance performances, films, exhibits, and poetry readings to complete the academic experience. Of the lyceum events, the biggest are a literary festival each November and a Spring Forum focused on a particular social issue.

Outdoor program

The college is located in the Appalachian Mountains with forests to hike, mountains for cross-country skiing, creeks to paddle, cliffs for rappelling, and caves for spelunking. The Appalachian and Iron Mountain Trails, the Virginia Creeper Trail, the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, the Jefferson and George Washington National Forests, and the New, Nantahala, and Clinch rivers are all close by.


Main article: Emory and Henry Wasps

Emory and Henry College's sports teams, nicknamed the "Wasps," participate in NCAA Division II in the South Atlantic Conference (SAC).[17] The college sponsors a wide range of athletic teams, including men's teams in football, soccer, basketball, baseball, cheer and dance, golf, equestrian, lacrosse, track and field, cross country, and tennis, as well as women's teams in cross country, volleyball, basketball, softball, soccer, cheer and dance, golf, rugby, equestrian, lacrosse, track and field, tennis, and swimming.[18]


The official Emory & Henry mascot is the Wasp. While there are many rumored origins of the nickname, the most commonly accepted story is that Emory & Henry was first called the Wasps after the football team played its first game in Neyland Stadium at the University of Tennessee.[19] Despite the Volunteers from Tennessee being heavily favored, they only held a 6-0 lead at halftime, this is due to the defensive efforts of Emory & Henry. The local Knoxville newspapers described the college team as the "Wasps" because of the tenacious and swarming defense they displayed, akin to the persistence of wasps in protecting their nest. This description was inspired by the distinctive uniforms worn by the Emory & Henry players, which included blue-gold striped socks and jerseys adorned with blue-gold stripes on the chest and sleeves.[18]

Student activities

There are more than 70 student organizations active on Emory and Henry's campus. Community service projects are also a way that many students, especially Bonner Scholars, spend their free time. Often students mountain bike or hike on the numerous trails in nearby Damascus or Abingdon, or participate in rock climbing, kayaking or other outdoor sports. Sports such as football, basketball, soccer, baseball, and volleyball are offered as both intercollegiate and intramural sports.

Greek life

Emory and Henry allows both local and national social fraternities and sororities, but currently only one national organization exists on campus.

The currently recognized social sororities on campus are Alpha Beta Chi, Delta Omicron Pi, Delta Rho Delta, Kappa Phi Alpha, Pi Sigma Kappa, Sigma Upsilon Nu, and Zeta Phi.

The currently recognized local social fraternities on campus are Beta Lambda Zeta, C Phi C, Dom-I-Necher, Phi Gamma Phi, Phi Pi Alpha, Pi Delta Chi, Sigma Alpha Kappa, Sigma Iota, and Theta Chi Epsilon.

The national fraternity on campus is Kappa Sigma.

Student media


Traditions at Emory and Henry College include:

Service Plunge – the college's annual "Service Plunge" is a tradition and a requirement of all incoming freshmen in which they perform community service for a day during the first month of school (usually a Saturday).[20]

Running of the Bulls – The Running of the Bulls is a bi-annual event in which girls who are pledging a sorority are sent running out of the front door of Wiley-Jackson (MaWa) and are told to run towards the sorority which they intend to pledge. The event, although short, is often attended by much of the student population due to its humorous nature.

The Rock – Every athletic team that plays their games at Fred Selfe Stadium touches a giant rock taken from the late Fred Selfe's hometown. Coach Selfe was a long-time assistant coach for the Emory and Henry football team who died of cancer and whose saying "Trust in your teammates, trust in yourself" is painted in the football locker room. Touching the Rock is seen as not only a unifying gesture, but it is supposed to also be a "recognition of all those who wore the blue and gold before you."

The Duck Pond – Emory and Henry is known for having ducks year round at its duck pond. This is because the pond is naturally heated due to a spring (which can be seen in the corner closest to Wiley Hall in the foundations of the old well house).

Rankings and recognition

In the 2024 edition of Best Colleges, Emory & Henry College has achieved a ranking of #21 among Regional Universities in the South.[21]

Notably, Emory & Henry College received the Corporation for National and Community Service Presidential Award from President Obama in March 2010. This distinction marked a historic milestone as Emory & Henry became the first higher education institution in Virginia to receive this award for their contributions to national and community service.[22][23]

Notable alumni

This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (November 2010) (Learn how and when to remove this message)
The E&H Alumni Plaza sits midway between Wiley Hall and Memorial Chapel.

Literature, television and arts



Science, research, and medicine

Politics and government


Sports and athletics


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2020. U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2020 Endowment Market Value and Change in Endowment Market Value from FY19 to FY20 (Report). National Association of College and University Business Officers and TIAA. February 19, 2021. Archived from the original on February 21, 2021. Retrieved February 20, 2021.
  2. ^ "New President Has Busy First Day". Ehc.edu. Archived from the original on September 20, 2018. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
  3. ^ "John Wells". Archived from the original on August 23, 2019. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d "College Navigator - Emory & Henry College". Archived from the original on April 16, 2021. Retrieved April 16, 2021.
  5. ^ "National Register Information System – (#85003695)". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  6. ^ "Virginia Landmarks Register". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved June 5, 2013.
  7. ^ a b Salmon, John S. (1994), A Guidebook to Virginia's Historical Markers, Charlottesville, Virginia: University of Virginia Press, p. 51
  8. ^ Heatwole, Cornelius Jacob (1916), A History of Education in Virginia, New York, New York: MaCmillan and Company, p. 162
  9. ^ Columnist, Margaret Linford |. "String of Pearls: Could the 'Henry' in Emory & Henry be for Elizabeth?". SWVa Today. Archived from the original on March 23, 2021. Retrieved December 3, 2017.
  10. ^ [1] Archived April 14, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ a b [2] Archived July 11, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ a b "History". Emory & Henry College. Archived from the original on July 9, 2019. Retrieved September 17, 2020.
  13. ^ Burrow, J.A. Official Record of the Holston Annual Conference, Methodist Episcopal Church, South, Ninety-Sixth Session, Held at Princeton, W. Va., October 8-14, 1919. pp. 53–55. Retrieved September 17, 2020.
  14. ^ Wongsrichanalai, Kanisorn. "Emory and Henry College during the Civil War". Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved November 7, 2023.
  15. ^ "Facts & Figures". www.ehc.edu. Retrieved November 7, 2023.
  16. ^ a b [3] Archived November 4, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ "Emory & Henry College to Join South Atlantic Conference; Will Begin Competition in 2022-23". November 17, 2020. Archived from the original on November 17, 2020. Retrieved January 5, 2021.
  18. ^ a b "GoWasps.com | The Official Site of Emory & Henry College Athletics". Emory & Henry. November 6, 2023. Retrieved November 7, 2023.
  19. ^ [4] Archived July 25, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ [5] Archived August 15, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ "Emory & Henry Ranks 21 of 135 Regional University (South) Rankings from U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges". www.ehc.edu. Retrieved November 7, 2023.
  22. ^ "Emory & Henry College". Times Higher Education (THE). October 19, 2021. Retrieved November 7, 2023.
  23. ^ "Emory & Henry College: News". Archived from the original on May 8, 2010.
  24. ^ Hempstead, Fay (1911). Historical Review of Arkansas. Vol. 2. Lewis Publishing. p. 1032.
  25. ^ "About the Congressman". Archived from the original on December 27, 2011. Retrieved February 3, 2012.
  26. ^ https://bioguide.congress.gov/search/bio/R000234