Virginia Intermont College was founded in 1884 by Reverend J.R. Harrison, a local Baptist minister who wanted to establish a school for the higher education of women. Educating women remained a radical idea in the early 1880s but became a reality as the doors opened with three teachers and 13 students, as Southwest Virginia Institute in Glade Spring, Virginia.
In 1891, the College moved to Bristol to the current location atop the hill on Moore Street, where the original buildings still stand as the Administration, West and Main Halls and are listed as a historic landmark. The name was changed to Virginia Intermont College, with “Intermont,” meaning “among the mountains,” and in 1925, the College became the first two-year institution to be accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Virginia Intermont (VI) became one of the South’s prestigious institutions for the education of women, establishing a tradition of liberal arts-based career preparation that, to this day, remains a hallmark of the College. Continued growth into the 1960s led to construction of the Turner Student Center, Fine Arts Center, Science Hall, Intermont Hall and Harrison-Jones Memorial Hall. In the early 1970s, VI became a four-year institution granting baccalaureate degrees. 1972 marked another major milestone as VI admitted men and became a coeducational institution.
Throughout its history, VI has embraced opportunities to develop new programs and meet changing educational needs. An adult learning program was established in 1990 (The Evening and Weekend College) and continues to serve the educational needs of adult learners in the Tri-Cities and southwest Virginia region.
VI’s recent history includes having its first woman president, Dr. E. Clorisa Phillips, who took the helm in late 2010. She continues to advance the College by implementing new educational programs in the arts, humanities and sciences and obtaining major funding for campus upgrades including the total renovation of Science Hall, VI’s largest academic building. Dr. Phillips’ administration spearheaded a new academic focus with the initiation of a “QEP” Comprehensive Studies program and has launched new student development programs and athletic teams.
As the College has made great leaps in more than a century of higher learning, VI continues to center on providing opportunities for students encouraging them to discover their passion and find their voice. A vibrant leader in private, higher education with a proud history and an exciting future, Virginia Intermont commits to maintaining its long tradition of excellence in collegiate life.