Emory & Henry College. Photo courtesy of the school.

Here’s a roundup of news briefs from around Southwest and Southside. Send yours for possible inclusion to news@cardinalnews.org.

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Emory & Henry receives $200,000 to support Appalachian studies 

A $200,000 gift will support Appalachian studies at Emory & Henry College.

The gift, from The Judith S. and James D. Moore Jr. Endowment for Appalachian Studies, will allow the college to become “a repository of accessible scholarship and engaged learning that celebrates and examines Appalachia from many historical and contemporary lenses,” Lisa Withers, the college’s dean of arts and sciences, said in a news release.

“We envision the resources of this gift providing opportunities for students and scholars to collaborate in the work of understanding the place and culture of this rich region in which Emory & Henry resides.”

The Judith S. and James D. Moore Jr. Endowment for Appalachian Studies was established in 2023 by Judith Moore, a member of the Emory & Henry College class of 1997, and her husband with an initial gift of $200,000.

Its purpose is to provide financial support to help underwrite initiatives that highlight or explore Appalachia. Those initiatives include the college’s Literary Festival; the Watershed Project, an exploration of Southwest Virginia that helps tell new stories of the region; experiential education and digital scholarship; courses that focus on the food, geography and history of Appalachia; and support to allow faculty members to modify existing courses or create new courses that focus on Appalachia. 

More information about the Emory & Henry College Appalachian Center for Civic Life can be found at https://www.ehc.edu/appalachian-center-for-civic-life/

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A grant of up to $100,000 from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority is designed to help EarthLink LLC prepare to open its new customer support center in Norton.

EarthLink, a high-speed internet service provider, announced in fall 2021 that it would invest $5.4 million to establish a center in Norton.

The grant will be used to train employees in sales, customer service and advanced technical support skills, Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA’s executive director/general counsel, said in a news release. The money also may be used to develop training facilities. The company projects to create 288 full-time jobs within five years, Belcher said.

The company temporarily located its operations in part of the old Sykes call center building in the Lonesome Pine Regional Business and Technology Park in Wise. The building was financed partly by VCEDA, and VCEDA holds a deed of trust on the facility.

For the customer support center’s permanent location, a 30,000-square-foot facility will be built at the Project Intersection development in Norton, at the intersection of U.S. 23 and U.S. 58A, the release said.  

“We appreciate the support of VCEDA that allows EarthLink to create opportunities for employment and growth,” EarthLink CEO Glenn Goad, a native of Wise County, said in the release. “It gives me great pride to utilize these grant funds to help enhance and diversify the economic base of the VCEDA region as we continue our partnership with the community. These funds are allowing us to build bright futures for hundreds of families within the region.”

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Virginia Tech’s Bodnar and Xiao elected to the National Academy of Sciences

Robert Bodnar, University Distinguished Professor of Geochemistry, and Shuhai Xiao, a paleobiologist and geobiologist, have been elected as members of the National Academy of Sciences.

Bodnar and Xiao are among 120 new members and 23 international associates recognized for their achievements in original research, according to a news release from the university. They join 15 other active Virginia Tech faculty who have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, or both. Bodnar and Xiao are both faculty with the Department of Geosciences, part of the Virginia Tech College of Science.

Bodnar has been a geosciences faculty member since 1985. He was named Clifton C. Garvin Professor of Geochemistry in 1997 and University Distinguished Professor in 1999.

His work has used fluid chemistry to help decipher clues about the earth’s processes by researching tiny amounts of fluids trapped in rocks. He has created new techniques for studying the trapped fluids and melts in everything from granites to meteorites.

Xiao, the Patricia A. Caldwell Faculty Fellow in the College of Science, received the National Academy of Sciences Award in the Evolution of Earth and Life-Mary Clark Thompson Medal in 2021.

His research crosses geology, paleontology and geochemistry. His discoveries have allowed scientists to see more clearly how life on the planet transformed from largely microbial into organisms that developed the ability to walk on their own. In 2020, he discovered 1 billion-year-old fossils that evidenced the oldest green seaweeds ever found.

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