What is the Poor Farm Society?

The Poor Farm Society was established  in 1982 as a brain child of Professor Edward L. “Buck” Henson.  The name derives from the previous use made of the land upon which Clinch Valley College (now University of Virginia’s College at Wise) was founded in 1954.  The purposes of the Society may be summarized as follows:  
·    To lend support to the organizational efforts of the Alumni Association
·    To promote the College through personal contacts and community activities
·    To enhance the cultural and intellectual life at the College.
     These purposes have certainly been fulfilled in many ways.  Before the Alumni Association was fully viable, the Society maintained a mailing list of alumni, provided funds to support the Association, and assisted in providing news of alumni.  The Society has sponsored a statewide essay contest on Thomas Jefferson,  given a beautiful walnut mace for use in academic processions, hosted wine-and-cheese parties during commencement events, provided guest speakers for special occasions, supported the Faculty Colloquium, and similar activities.   The periodic publication of the Poor Farm Gazette provides news of Society activities.
    In 2001, the Society assumed the responsibility of sponsoring  a history of the college, with emphasis on the period after 1968  when it  became a four-year college.   Perhaps the most significant activity of the Society is the support of a scholarship program.  At present, a total of eighteen scholarships, named in honor of retired or deceased  faculty or staff,  are provided to outstanding students. These scholarships,  the expenses of the history project, and all other activities of the Society are financed entirely by contributions of members.
Membership in the Society is by invitation, and currently there are approximately seventy-five family memberships.   It is administered by a nine-person Board of Managers, and there is an annual Harvest Dinner with soup beans and all the trimmings.