Virginia Intermont College
MottoNil sine numine
Motto in English
Nothing without Guidance
TypePrivate school
Endowment$4 million (as of 2011)[1]
ChairmanKathleen O'Brien
PresidentArt Rebrovick
ProvostDr. Cynthia Ward
Academic staff
45 (as of 2011)[1]
Students591 (as of 2011)[2]
Location, ,
36°36′18″N 82°10′35″W / 36.6050°N 82.1764°W / 36.6050; -82.1764Coordinates: 36°36′18″N 82°10′35″W / 36.6050°N 82.1764°W / 36.6050; -82.1764
CampusSuburban, 147 acres
ColorsBlack and Vegas Gold
AthleticsNAIA Division II
AffiliationsAppalachian Athletic Conference
Virginia Intermont College
Virginia Intermont College
LocationMoore and Harmeling Sts., Bristol, Virginia
Coordinates36°36′18″N 82°10′35″W / 36.60500°N 82.17639°W / 36.60500; -82.17639
Area5 acres (2.0 ha)
ArchitectTinsley, Walter P.
Architectural styleLate Victorian
NRHP reference No.84000032[3]
Added to NRHPOctober 4, 1984

Virginia Intermont College (VI) was a private, four-year liberal arts college in Bristol, Virginia. Founded in 1884 to create additional education opportunities for women, the College had been coeducational since 1972. It experienced significant financial difficulties during the last years of its existence, was denied accreditation in 2013, and announced its closure on May 20, 2014.[4]

The name "Intermont" was a reference to the College's mountain setting. The Holston Range, which merges into the Blue Ridge Mountains, can be seen from the campus in Bristol, Virginia, part of the Tri-Cities region, which also includes Johnson City and Kingsport, Tennessee.


Main building, seen from southwest
Main building, seen from southwest

The college was founded as Southwest Virginia Institute in Glade Spring, Virginia, on September 17, 1884, by Reverend J.R. Harrison, a Baptist minister, as a means to bring higher education opportunities to women in southwest Virginia. Instructing both boarding and day students, the school steadily grew until it outgrew its facilities in less than ten years.

The college began moving to a new site in Bristol, Virginia, in 1891, completing its relocation with the beginning of classes on September 14, 1893. Shortly after the move, the name was changed to Virginia Institute, then to Virginia Intermont College in 1908. A reorganization of the curriculum in 1910 brought the college into the junior college movement and the college became the first two-year institution to be accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.[5]

During the 1960s, five new buildings were constructed to accommodate the school's growth. In the early 1970s, Virginia Intermont became a four-year institution granting baccalaureate degrees. 1972 marked another major milestone as VI admitted men and became a coeducational institution.

In July 2010, the college hired its first female president, Dr. E. Clorisa Phillips, who came to VI following 30 years in administration at the University of Virginia. Phillips worked on fundraising initiatives for ongoing renovations and upgrades to the historic campus, and added academic and athletic programs for the 2012-13 academic year.

Decline and closure

In January 2014, faced with declining enrollment, the college announced plans to merge with Webber International University in Babson Park, Florida,[6] but this measure failed in April.[7] On May 4, 2014, faculty president, Dr. Robert Rainwater announced during the 2014 graduation ceremony, that VI would close its doors after 130 years of education in the community.[8] Just one day after the 2014 graduation, the board of trustees accepted the resignation of President Clorisa Phillips. A statement issued by the college said Phillips stepped down due to personal reasons. She served as president for nearly four years. The board of trustees placed the day-to-day leadership of the college with Compass Executives of Nashville with Art Rebrovick serving as interim president and restructuring agent. The College set up teach out programs so it might be possible for students to complete their undergraduate educations with other colleges.[9][10]

On June 1, 2014, Virginia Intermont released custodianship of student academic records to King University for the purpose of issuing official academic transcripts.[11]

Sale of campus

Bluefield College expressed interest in purchasing the property, but backed out when inspections indicated there was $20 million in deferred maintenance to the buildings. In December 2016, the campus was sold for $3.3 million to Chinese businessman George Xu, as a representative for U.S. Magis International Education Center, a New York-based Chinese owned company.[12] Magis intends to open it as a college at a future date.[13] A health-care concern had reportedly agreed to pay a far higher price for the property, but the bank proceeded to auction the property, closing out the prospective buyer.[14] An aggregate of over $5 million in salaries to faculty and staff remain unpaid.


Virginia Intermont College was accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) to award the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Social Work. Virginia Intermont's accreditation was reaffirmed in early December 2011, but the College was issued a one-year warning for not meeting the agency's financial standards. In December 2012, the college's accreditation was not renewed and the college was placed on probation for six months. At the end of that review period, the SACS board of trustees recommended the college be removed from SACS membership for failure to "comply with requirements for financial resources and stability.".[15] The college appealed and won a temporary court injunction to retain its accreditation albeit in a probationary status.[16]


The original campus buildings built between 1891 and 1893 consisted of the main hall (which featured a dining hall, room for 200 boarders, a gymnasium, and indoor pool) as well as a fine arts building and two out buildings which housed classrooms. The original structure, which only consists of the main hall today, was added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 4, 1984.[17] The first major addition to the school was in the early 1920s when Hodges Hall and the current president's home were constructed. These were followed by the construction of what is currently known as East Hall in 1922. The gymnasium was built in 1930 which was followed shortly by the Library and the Humanities building. No further major construction would take place until the early 1960s when Intermont Hall, Science Hall, the student center, Harrison-Jones Auditorium, and the Worrell Fine Arts Center were constructed.

In summer 2011, VI's largest classroom building, Science Hall, was totally renovated adding state-of-the-art labs and equipment, and updating/renovations were made in West and Main bathrooms along with air-conditioning in the recital hall and theater. All of the sidewalks on campus were re-constructed in 2011-12. The college was formulating a Master Plan for further campus renovations and campus upgrades.


The campus of Virginia Intermont is eight blocks from downtown Bristol. Campus buildings are a blend of modern and historic structures. Major buildings and facilities are described below.

Additional facilities include an outdoor amphitheater.


The school was governed by a president, provost and a Board of Trustees. The school's programs fell under four divisions: Arts and Sciences, Fine Arts, Pre-Professional Studies (Pre-Law, Pre-Med, and Pre-Vet), and Business Administration. Four-year programs of study leading to the Bachelor of Arts degree, Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, Bachelor of Science degree, and Bachelor of Social Work degree were offered.

Honors program

The college offered an honors program built on the following goals:


Virginia Intermont athletic teams, nicknamed athletically as the Cobras, were part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC). Men's sports included baseball, basketball, cross-country, cycling, golf, soccer, tennis and track and field, while women's sports included basketball, cross-country, cycling, soccer, softball, track and field, and volleyball.

The men's cross-country program won the NAIA National Championships three years in row, from 2004 - 2006.[18]

Virginia Intermont fielded equestrian teams in competitions affiliated with the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association, the Intercollegiate Dressage Association, and the International Intercollegiate Equestrian Association. VI equestrian teams had a long history of competitive success with more than 15 national championships. The riding program, along with the college's top-rated equine studies program, attracted students from across the U.S. Emory & Henry College acquired the assets of the program in June 2014.[19]

On April 16, 2014, Virginia Intermont announced that it was discontinuing support for athletics.[20]

Student clubs

School traditions

The College's long-held tradition of May Day eventually transitioned to May Court, a time to recognize seniors selected by their classmates for an honor court which occurred each year during graduation festivities.

Another spring tradition was the Torchlight ceremony, which took place after baccalaureate. Graduates marched around the campus and one by one had a torch lit by the president. The group then formed the college below Harrison-Jones Memorial Hall and sang the college song, "Nil Sine Numine." This song was written by students in 1952 as part of a tradition for students of writing and competing with a song demonstrating pride in the institution. The music for the song was taken from a song called "The Gaudeamus" which was sung in the musical The Student Prince. The school songwriting tradition ended when the school became coeducational in 1972.

Noted alumni

Noted faculty


  1. ^ a b "Virginia Intermont College - College Overview". Peterson's. 2011-08-24. Archived from the original on 2011-08-07. Retrieved 2011-08-24.
  2. ^ "Virginia Intermont College - College Overview". Peterson's. 2011-08-24. Archived from the original on 2011-06-05. Retrieved 2011-08-24.
  3. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  4. ^ "Virginia Intermont closes after 130 years". Roanoke Times. 20 May 2014. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
  5. ^ Carper, James C, edited by Thomas C. Hunt, James C. Carper (1996). Religious Higher Education in the United States : a source book. New York: Garland Pub. p. 376. ISBN 9780815316367. Retrieved 6 April 2016.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  6. ^ "Virginia Intermont College, with dwindling enrollment, intends to merge with Fla. school". The Washington Post. 31 January 2014. Retrieved 19 February 2014.
  7. ^ Anderson, Nick (15 April 2014). "Virginia Intermont College says merger collapses, raising questions about its future". The Washington Post. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  8. ^ "Virginia Intermont holds final graduation ceremony". 4 May 2014. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
  9. ^ WCYB. "Virginia Intermont College President steps down". Retrieved 16 July 2016.
  10. ^ WCYB. "Virginia Intermont holds final graduation ceremony". Retrieved 16 July 2016.
  11. ^ [VI Transcript Request], King College.
  12. ^ Seltzer, Rick (5 January 2017). "Closing Out a College". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  13. ^ "Virginia Intermont College sold during auction for $3.3 million". Bristol Herald Courier. December 15, 2016. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  14. ^ Hinds, Allie (16 December 2016). "V.I. board: Healthcare company agreed to buy campus for 'significantly more' than what it sold for". Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  15. ^ Karin Kapsidelis (June 21, 2013). "Virginia Intermont faces accreditation loss". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved June 21, 2013.
  16. ^ DeSantis, Nick DeSantis (August 23, 2013). "Virginia Intermont College Wins Court Order to Restore Accreditation". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved August 23, 2013.
  17. ^ NRHP building number #84000032.
  18. ^ "NAIA Men's Cross Country Championship", Wikipedia, 2019-12-05, retrieved 2020-07-17
  19. ^ AP (19 June 2014). "Equine program at shuttered Va. college moving". Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  20. ^ Hubbard, Nate (16 April 2014). "Coaches: VI to end support of athletics after this season". Bristol Herald Courier. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  21. ^ "The 2008 Pulitzer Prize Winners Feature Photography". Pulitzer Foundation. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  22. ^ Jules Heller; Nancy G. Heller (19 December 2013). North American Women Artists of the Twentieth Century: A Biographical Dictionary. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-135-63882-5.