An Introduction to Ferrum College

An Introduction to Ferrum College

Statement of Mission

Ferrum College is a liberal arts institution founded on Christian principles and related to The United Methodist Church. It is our mission to educate students in the disciplines of higher learning and to help them be thoughtful and perceptive, to be articulate and professionally capable, and to be caring and concerned citizens of their community, nation, and world. We therefore commit ourselves to developing the whole student, both in openness to a wide range of intellectual discovery, and in the physical, spiritual, and social aspects of life.

Our campus environment supports service to others and the development of a personal code of values. Toward these ends, we expect all members of the campus community to treat each other with compassion, to respect each other’s diverse qualities and backgrounds, and to support each other in the common pursuit of insight and discovery. In all these endeavors, we encourage students, faculty, and staff to appreciate excellence and to dedicate themselves to achieving it.

Hallmark of a Ferrum College Graduate

The Ferrum College graduate possesses integrated knowledge in the liberal arts and a depth of knowledge in a chosen major field of study. He/she thinks critically, communicates effectively, appreciates diversity, and serves his/her community, nation and the world.

Ferrum College Student Learning Outcomes

The Ferrum College graduate develops integrated knowledge in the liberal arts and depth of knowledge in a chosen major field of study. Learning experiences span across the five broad domains enumerated below. 

  1. Liberal Arts
    Through experiences in the Core Requirements, the Ferrum College graduate will
    • Demonstrate integrated knowledge in the liberal arts
    • Demonstrate information literacy, using available technology when appropriate
    • Demonstrate competency in quantitative skills and reading
  2. Critical Thinking
    Through opportunities to engage in critical thinking, both curricular and co-curricular, the Ferrum College graduate will
    • Think critically and solve problems through analysis, evaluation, and inference.
  3. Communication Skills
    Through experiences in both the Core Requirements and the Major, the Ferrum College graduate will
    • Communicate with unity of purpose and coherent organization consistent with standard rules and recognized conventions using appropriate methodologies
  4. Competence in Academic Discipline
    Through experiences in the Major, the Ferrum College graduate will
    • Demonstrate a depth of knowledge, capability and ethical reasoning in a chosen field
  5. Citizenship
    Through opportunities, both curricular and co-curricular, the Ferrum College graduate will
    • Demonstrate awareness of local, national and global issues
    • Demonstrate personal responsibility
    • Collaborate with people of diverse cultural attitudes, beliefs and values

Learning at Ferrum

The nature of a college is determined by the goals it sets for itself.  But it is also determined by living and working within the college’s lovely physical setting, experiencing its traditions, enjoying daily encounters with caring teachers and developing new ideas and friendships in a supportive learning community.  In its ninety-six year history, four qualities have emerged which give Ferrum College its distinct character: accessibility, dedicated faculty, community pride, and preparation for life in the world beyond the campus.


Ferrum was founded by The United Methodist Church for the purpose of bringing quality secondary and higher education to students in the beautiful hill country of southwest Virginia.  Our founders believed that there were able young men and women in the region who, with the advantage of a caring, quality education, could realize their potential and go on to higher achievement for themselves and for their fellow human beings.  The first faculty members at Ferrum believed that it was their responsibility as teachers to make knowledge accessible by reaching out and showing students the way to the top.  Thus began a tradition of caring instruction and willingness to work with any student with the determination to succeed.

Education is not accessible if it is too expensive to be afforded by those who desire it.  As most of the early Ferrum students could not afford the cost of an advanced education, from the beginning, every effort was made to keep costs low.  Today the college continues its commitment to keeping costs low while providing the faculty, staff, and facilities for a quality education.  Financial aid options provide each student the most affordable college education possible.  We have been and still are an outstanding educational value.

Dedicated Faculty

At the heart of the Ferrum experience is the college’s earnest effort to enable students to learn.

Through the years Ferrum faculty have sought to draw out the innate abilities in each of their students.  We believe today, as we believed in 1914 when the doors of the institution opened, that human beings mature and learn at different paces and in different ways.  Good teaching demands flexibility and imagination every bit as much as it demands thorough knowledge of the subject matter.  To be a teacher in the finest sense of the word requires the ability to recognize the interests, capabilities and ambitions of the individuals to be taught, and the ability to bring these qualities to bear on the mastery of a subject.

It is gratifying when Ferrum alumni tell us that their college experience was the turning point in their lives.  More often than not they will single out a particular teacher or two at Ferrum who made all the difference.  We believe that such quality instructors are absolutely essential to the learning experience at Ferrum.  We consciously seek the teacher who enjoys working closely with students, who understands that giving help outside the classroom is a part of the job, and who approaches the art of teaching open-mindedly and creatively for the purpose of enabling college students to learn and grow.

Vision Statement

Ferrum College’s unparalleled setting in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains forms an inspiring backdrop for a unique and multifaceted educational experience that will focus on leading-edge learning opportunities, diverse outdoor, cultural, and service activities, and spiritual enrichment.

Statement of Aspiration

As it seeks to uphold its historic mission and continue on its journey toward excellence as a comprehensive, residential liberal arts and professional studies institution, Ferrum College aspires to grow in stature, size, and strength.

Preparation for a Life in the World Beyond Campus

“Not Self But Others” proclaims the Ferrum College motto, a most apt byword for a college whose history brims with the unselfish dedication of many teachers and staff persons.  It is not surprising that when the college heeded the request of many students and expanded its curriculum to the bachelor’s degree, it did so initially with five programs committed to human services.  The first of these majors, social work, is now a professionally accredited program.  Strongly reliant on field experiences, this major led the way to the extensive use of internships, which is today a significant characteristic of the Ferrum undergraduate program.

This brief example from college history illustrates that Ferrum strives to prepare students to go out and interact meaningfully with the world beyond the campus.  It is our hope that the quality of life of our community and the caring nature of its residents will serve as a model of excellence for our graduates moving out into the world.  The college believes that learning should not occur in isolation and that its graduates must develop the skills necessary to meet the demands of the contemporary world in which they must compete for the realization of their goals.

Ferrum believes that liberal arts study is the best foundation for undergraduate majors, and the courses basic to our curriculum are within the mainstream of liberal learning.  Ferrum is a college with a difference, however, the difference being the range of majors specifically directed toward serving today’s needs.  In addition to traditional majors, Ferrum offers programs in teacher education, accounting, recreation leadership, agriculture, social work, international studies, and environmental science, to name just a few.  It is a varied array of programs, more commonly found in universities rather than small colleges.  This curriculum reflects the college’s belief that it must equip students for the challenges and opportunities of our time.

As a college in partnership with a major Christian denomination, we believe that we must help our students learn to live with dignity, with physical and psychological well being, and with a commitment to making the experience of living as meaningful and fulfilling as possible for themselves and men and women everywhere.

At its beginning, the Ferrum Training School opened vistas of knowledge to students who had never before been able to look beyond the everyday concerns of the Blue Ridge life.  We have evolved from this regional perspective into a four-year college with an outlook on the global community of today.  It is to the reality of our time and to the challenge of tomorrow that the Ferrum learning experience is directed.

Becoming a Ferrum Student

Ferrum recognizes that different people learn differently and that no single college campus will bring out the best performance in all students.  Therefore, in reviewing the applications of prospective Ferrum students, it is our task to determine if our learning environment and the applicant will have the proper fit to bring about success.  We also recognize that during the high school years many students are changing and growing and are only beginning to give a true account of their academic capability by the time they earn diplomas.  We look at all of the information available to us – high school grade-point average, rank in class, SAT/ACT scores, as well as high school activities, evidence of leadership, dependability, industry.  We also look for candid recommendations by guidance counselors and teachers.  We may also request that the student come for an interview or will defer an admissions decision until the current semester’s final grades can be reviewed.  We bring together as much information as is appropriate to help us determine if Ferrum and the applicant are the right match for each other.

It is important for all prospective students to understand that Ferrum will probably make more demands on their time and energy than any institution they have previously attended.  This reality determines the qualities we look for in selecting students for admission: 1. Adequate secondary school preparation and the ability to accomplish college academic work.  2. The motivation, maturity, and self-discipline required to apply one’s efforts effectively to the fulfillment of college requirements and objectives.  3. An understanding that, although Ferrum offers much academic support, it is by individual effort that course content must be mastered and graduation requirements fulfilled.  4. A college expectation consistent with the mission and educational goals of Ferrum College.

If we believe that an applicant possesses these qualities, we will gladly offer an invitation to join our student body.  We recommend, though, that all future Ferrum students visit our campus, walk about the grounds, eat in the dining hall or on-campus Subway, visit the library and the residence halls, and meet staff and students in an effort to get a good feeling of what it is like to go to college here and to feel comfortable in our campus environment.

Ferrum is a distinct community, not simply because it is a group of people living and working in a common place, but because it is a group of people striving for a common purpose and subscribing to the goals and values outlined in our mission.  Students in harmony with this community will likely do well at Ferrum and come to value it – as so many of our alumni have – as one of the finest experiences of their lives.


At the time of its founding in 1913, Ferrum’s community was the mountains of southwest Virginia, and students came from homes in the southern Blue Ridge Mountains.  Public education in the area at that time was also in its infancy.  In the Ferrum system of five branch schools in Franklin, Floyd, Patrick and Madison counties, teachers struggled to bring elementary and secondary education to a student body that at one time numbered 600.

Among those responsible for the founding of Ferrum was Dr. Benjamin M. Beckham, then presiding elder of the Danville District, who became the school’s first president.  The Woman’s Missionary Society, under the leadership of their president, Miss Lutie Roberts, and the Board of Missions of the Virginia Annual Conference of the Methodist Church provided the initial funds.  Together they were able to secure land for the campus, a faculty of six, and ninety-nine students when the school opened its doors in 1914.

Ferrum continues to operate under the auspices of the Virginia Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church and the United Methodist Women of the Virginia Annual Conference.

As public educational facilities became more available, Ferrum’s branch schools were closed.  In the early 1940s the elementary division was closed, and in 1955 the high school department was discontinued so that the educational programs could be concentrated in the junior college work that had begun in 1926.  The junior college received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1960.

Under the guidance of Ferrum’s seventh president, Dr. C. Ralph Arthur, the college’s enrollment increased to over 1,000, and the campus experienced dramatic physical improvements, with over 11 new facilities being constructed in the early 1970s.  They included modern classroom, dormitory, and athletic buildings, as well as a new student center, library, audio-visual center, science laboratories, chapel, gymnasium, and football stadium.

In 1974 the college began to offer bachelor’s degrees in five human service fields.  In December 1976 the college was awarded accreditation as a four-year college by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.  The last associate degrees were awarded in 1991.

Today the College offers thirty-one major degree programs leading to the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Social Work degrees.

The presidents of Ferrum have been Dr. Benjamin M. Beckham, 1913-1934; Mr. John A. Carter, 1934-1935; Dr. James A. Chapman, 1935-1943; the Reverend Luther J. Derby, 1943-1948; Dr. Nathaniel H. Davis ’24, 1948-1952; the Reverend Stanley E. Emrich, 1952-1954; Dr. C. Ralph Arthur, 1954-1970; Dr. Joseph T. Hart, 1971-1986; Dr. Jerry M. Boone, 1987-2002; and Dr. Jennifer L. Braaten, 2002-present.


Set in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwest Virginia, Ferrum College provides the ideal environment for study and cultural enrichment.  The college’s proximity to the mountains and to nearby lakes enables students to enjoy many outdoor activities, including picnicking, hiking, camping, fishing, boating, swimming, and skiing.

The Blue Ridge Parkway, one of the nation’s most scenic highways, is only a 30-minute drive from campus.  Even closer to the Ferrum campus in a wooded setting within sight of the Blue Ridge Mountains is beautiful Philpott Lake.  In nearby Patrick County is Fairy Stone State Park, which takes its name from the lucky fairy stones found in the region.

A few miles to the east of Ferrum lies Smith Mountain Lake, well known for its recreational facilities that feature campgrounds, picnic areas, and marinas.  In this natural setting, Ferrum College offers a unique opportunity for the student and the lover of nature.

Ferrum is located just 35 miles southwest of Roanoke, Virginia, where an abundance of shopping, dining, and cultural-recreational facilities are to be found.  Air and bus transportation are available to other points from Roanoke.  The college, however, is not responsible for the transportation of students at any time.  Rocky Mount, the county seat and the center of commercial activity for Franklin County, is about 10 miles from the college.

Academic Sessions

The college operates on the semester system. The Fall semester lasts usually from August until December and the Spring semester lasts usually from January until May. The College has its Experiential Term (E-Term) for three weeks in May.

Notification of Rights Under FERPA

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their education records.  These rights include:

  1. The right to inspect and review the student’s education records within 45 days of the day the College receives a request for access. Students should submit to the registrar, dean, head of the academic department, or other appropriate official, written requests that identify the record(s) they wish to inspect.  The College official will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected.  If the records are not maintained by the College official to whom the request was submitted, that official shall advise the student of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed.
  2. The right to request the amendment of the student’s education records that the student believes is inaccurate.  Students may ask the College to amend a record that they believe is inaccurate.  They should write the College official responsible for the record, clearly identify the part of the record they want changed, and specify why it is inaccurate.  If the College decides not to amend the record as requested by the student, the College will notify the student of the decision and advise the student of his or her right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment.  Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the student when notified of the right to a hearing.
  3. The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.  One exception, which permits disclosure without consent, is disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests.  A school official is a person employed by the College in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); a person or company with whom the College has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent); a person serving on the Board of Trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks.  A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility.  Upon request, the College may disclose education records without consent to officials of another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll.
  4. The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the College to comply with the requirements of FERPA.  The name and address of the office that administers FERPA is:
    Family Policy Compliance Office
    U.S. Department of Education
    400 Maryland Avenue, SW
    Washington, DC 20202-4605

Student Conduct Records

The Office of Residence Life and Housing has the responsibility of maintaining judicial records of all documented violations of Community Standards.  These records are maintained for a period of three years from the time a student graduates or leaves the College.  Records of a disciplinary suspension or failure to complete sanctions will be kept for a period of ten years.  If a student is judicially expelled from Ferrum College the records are kept indefinitely.  The Office of Student Affairs will not release any information concerning a student’s disciplinary record to any individual or agency outside the College without the prior written consent from the student unless the records are subpoenaed or unless the release is otherwise required or allowed by law.

Notice Regarding Directory Information

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a Federal law, requires that the College, with certain exceptions, obtain student's written consent prior to the disclosure of personally identifiable information from student education records.  However, the College may disclose appropriately designated “directory information” without written consent, unless the student has advised the College to the contrary in accordance with College procedures.  The primary purpose of directory information is to allow the College to include this type of information from student education records in certain College publications.  Examples include:

  • - College Directory;
  • - Honor roll or other recognition lists;
  • - Graduation programs;
  • - Sports activity sheets, showing weight and height of team members;
  • - News/publicity releases.

Directory information, which is information that is generally not considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if released, can also be disclosed to outside organizations without the student's prior written consent.

If a student does not want the College to disclose directory information from their education records without prior written consent, he or she must notify the College’s Registrar, Ferrum College, P.O. Box 1000, Ferrum, VA 24088, in writing by September 15th (if the student begins school with the second semester, by January 31st).  The College has designated the following information as directory information:

  • - Student’s name
  • - Legal home permanent address
  • - Hometown
  • - High school attended
  • - Previous or future institutions of study
  • - Parents’/Guardians’ names and hometowns
  • - Electronic mail address (campus email)
  • - Photograph or video clip
  • - Dates of attendance
  • - Class year
  • - Major field of study (major and/or minor)
  • - Degrees, honors, and awards received
  • - Grade point average, in recognition of academic achievement
  • - Research or special curricular projects
  • - Athletic information (as provided on athletic bio form)
  • - Participation in officially recognized activities

No other information will be made available unless the student gives Ferrum College written permission to release information to specific individuals regarding academic progress, student conduct, and financial services.  Students wishing to waive their right under FERPA can complete an Education Record Release Form. Forms are available in the offices of Student Services and Registrar.

Campus Facilities

Student Residence Halls

All college-owned student housing has the following amenities: cable, internet, free laundry, parking decal if needed, meal plan, furnishings and paid utilities.
FERRUM VILLAGE EAST AND WEST, 602 Apartments, and HILLCREST APARTMENTS house approximately 100 upper-class men and women students in one and two bedroom apartments.  Students living in these facilities will have a choice of a modified meal plans.
ARTHUR and MOORE HALLS house 50 students each.  Each student room has cable and ethernet connection. Students living in these apartments have a full meal plan.
BASSETT HALL houses approximately 420 students in an attractive suite arrangement.
DYER HALL new for 2011.  This modern student residence hall is a companion facility to Clark Hall.  It houses 117 students with the availability of a 1,000 square foot conference room for activities.
ROBERTS HALL, a historic campus building, was built in 1921 and completely renovated in 2006. This residence hall houses 45 students and faculty offices.
CHAPMAN, RIDDICK, and SUSANNAH WESLEY HALLS are situated around scenic Adams Lake and together house approximately 450 students.   
MARGARET CLARK HALL houses 117 students with hotel-style rooms with private bathrooms. This facility currently houses upper-class students and is located adjacent to Chapman Hall.

Instructional Buildings

BECKHAM HALL was built in 1921, completely renovated in 2005, and is used for business, mathematics, computer science, and liberal arts courses.
BLUE RIDGE INSTITUTE AND MUSEUM, the Virginia State Center for Blue Ridge Folklore since 1986, is located on the main campus near the Blue Ridge Farm Museum.  It provides offices for the Institute staff and contains exhibit areas, classroom and archives area.
BRITT HALL houses classrooms and faculty offices.
GARBER HALL includes the mathematics, science and computer classrooms and laboratories along with a 175-seat auditorium, a greenhouse and student/faculty research and lab space.
GROUSBECK MUSIC CENTER houses the music department.  In addition to classrooms, the building has a 100-seat recital hall, an ensemble room, practice rooms, media center, and faculty teaching labs.
SCHOOLFIELD HALL was built in 1924 as a chapel and later renovated as a performing arts center.  The facility, which includes the Sale auditorium and a separate flexible theater, houses the college drama department.
STANLEY LIBRARY contains approximately 115,000 volumes supplemented by over 400 periodical subscriptions, 40,000 electronic books, and a growing collection of multimedia materials, including computer software.  In addition to the book stacks and the periodical and reference areas, the building houses the Academic Resources Center, an audio-visual center, two auditoriums, 3 computer labs, and classrooms.  The library also contains the campus art galleries.  An open stack policy gives students ready access to all printed materials.  Stanley Library is open every day of the week during the academic year.  Construction of an 8,500 square foot addition to the library was completed in Fall 2003.  The new addition houses classrooms, a computer laboratory, seminar rooms, and other academic space with state-of-the-art equipment.
SWARTZ CLASSROOM ANNEX new for 2011.  Offers state-of-the art interactive classrooms.
VAUGHN CHAPEL, a unique fairy stone-shaped building, includes a 600-seat chapel and an education wing which houses the art department and classrooms.  A freestanding bell tower houses the 23-bell carillon.

Physical Education and Sports Facilities

W. B. ADAMS ATHLETIC COMPLEX includes a 5,000 seating capacity football stadium, soccer/lacrosse field, new lighted baseball field, softball field, 10 all-weather surface tennis courts, and a field house.
HANK NORTON FIELD HOUSE contains locker rooms for both the Panthers and visiting teams, showers, toilets, laundry, equipment storage for both baseball and football, training room, and film room.  Offices for the coaches are also located in the Field House.
INTRAMURAL FIELDS are available for football, soccer, lacrosse, and softball.
W. P. SWARTZ GYMNASIUM houses a 1,200-seat basketball court, a swimming pool, weight lifting and exercise rooms, locker facilities, and athletic offices.  An addition to this facility houses a weight room and conditioning area.
FERRUM FITNESS CENTER houses two basketball courts, two racquetball courts, and a weight and exercise area.

Supplemental Facilities

ADAMS LAKE, in the center of campus, and two nearby ponds stocked with fish are used for class instruction.
TITMUS AGRICULTURAL CENTER is an area used to demonstrate agricultural and environmental techniques and provide practical experience in the application of principles and techniques studied in the classroom.  This tract of 80 acres contains pasture and cropland and storage facilities and a barn and greenhouse completed in 2009. It is located within a mile of the main campus.
AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH CENTER is used by faculty and students for laboratory and research use in agriculture-related projects.
The BOOKSTORE offers text books as well as supplies and gift items, and Starbucks coffee in the News Cafe.
The ENGLISH BIOMASS ENERGY AND RESEARCH COMPLEX.  This facility, currently under construction, will use alternative renewable fuels to heat and provide a portion of the electricity to campus.  The complex also includes a research component for faculty and students to investigate options for renewable fuels.
FRANKLIN HALL provides dining services and houses student activities offices, post office, lounges,  conference rooms, Papa Johns and Subway restaurants. This facility was completely renovated in 2005.
RICHESON HALL houses History and Political Science faculty offices.
JOHN WESLEY HALL, the oldest building on the Ferrum campus, was opened in 1914 and houses the College’s administrative offices.
SPILMAN-DANIEL HOUSE, originally a staff residence, was initially renovated through a gift from the late Mr. and Mrs. Louis Spilman and expanded in 1998 in memory of Mr. John W. Daniel by his wife Mrs. Ethelyne Fulcher Daniel ’43.  It houses the Admissions and Financial Aid Offices.
EARL G. SKEENS ALUMNI/CONFERENCE CENTER.  This 16,000 square foot addition to Franklin Hall, completed in 2006, offers a premier banquet and meeting space for up to 250 guests, meeting and lounge space for alumni and the nationally known Anthony Giesen Gallery of American Brilliant Cut Glass.
While some campus facilities do not fully accommodate students with specific disabilities, special needs are addressed on an individual basis.  Ferrum College is making reasonable efforts to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act.  The Campus 504 Coordinator, at (540) 365-4235, can provide detailed information about facilities and services for disabled students.