ASL Courtyard Named in Honor of Retiring Dean Sandy McGlothlin

GRUNDY, VA (SEPTEMBER 10, 2019) – The Appalachian School of Law Courtyard was dedicated in honor of retiring Dean Sandy McGlothlin last Tuesday during an event to honor her and to welcome incoming ASL Dean, Justice (ret.) Elizabeth McClanahan.

The event was hosted by The United Company and Mr. and Mrs. James McGlothlin, long-time supporters of the law school. Family, friends and members of the community attended the event held in the courtyard.

Delegate Will Morefield welcomed attendees to the evening’s event, extending special thanks to the Buchanan County Board of Supervisors and the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority for their support of the Appalachian School of Law through the years.

“Without the board of supervisors and VCEDA, this institution would not be here today,” Morefield said.

ASL Board of Trustees Chairman Jerry Kilgore, former Virginia Attorney General, spoke about the opportunities ASL has provided for students throughout its history and how the school has improved access to justice numbers for the Appalachian region and beyond since it graduated its charter class.

Kilgore recognized McGlothlin for her service as dean at the school since she first agreed to accept the post. Under her guidance, he said, the school achieved its continuing accreditation. He recognized her for demonstrating grace under pressure.

“We are thrilled she is not leaving us and is returning to our faculty and to a new role to energize our alumni to be actively engaged with the school,” Kilgore said.

In announcing the new courtyard was to be named in McGlothlin’s honor, Kilgore said the ASL board wanted to do something to recognize her service as dean and determined naming the courtyard in honor of her would be fitting.

A rock in the courtyard inscribed with the words: “The Sandra Keen McGlothlin Courtyard – Dedicated in recognition of Dean Sandy’s enduring devotion to the Appalachian School of Law and its students” was unveiled.

McGlothlin thanked Kilgore, the board and those present for the honor, noting the things that have meant the most in life for her have been her three sons and the past 20 years she has spent at ASL working with students.

“ASL,” she said, “is an unfinished project. Justice McClanahan, I have faith you will lead and meet all the challenges ahead to make this an even better school for our region and beyond. I never dreamed I would be standing here in the courtyard for a celebration like this. I will forever cherish this as one of the best days of my life. Thank you.”

McClanahan, a native of the Garden Creek area of Buchanan County, was recognized and introduced by Kilgore as the 11th dean of the school.

“Southwest Virginia is first in her heart,” Kilgore said, noting McClanahan had chosen to lead ASL instead of taking one of the other opportunities afforded to her elsewhere as she retired earlier this month from the Virginia Supreme Court.

“We could not be more proud of her decision,” Kilgore said of McClanahan, who also once served as chief deputy attorney general at the time he served as Attorney General of Virginia. “In every position she has held, she has been a force for change, a leader who looks for positive change. I present to you your new dean. She’s coming home.”

McClanahan said she was pleased to have been a part of ASL from its early stages when in 1997, she sat as a member of the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia. It was then that SCHEV voted to approve the formation of the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy.

She recognized members of the McGlothlin family, including the late Woodrow McGlothlin and Jim and Fran McGlothlin, for their support of the school through the years — both personally and through the United Foundation.

“It has impacted an untold number of students,” McClanahan said. “It is said you should carve your names on hearts, not tombstones. Jim and Fran, you are the embodiment of this sentiment and you have crafted a legacy that will live on for generations. I am deeply grateful and honored to be the dean and to carry on the legacy of the Appalachian School of Law that was so important to Woodrow McGlothlin.”

Jim McGlothlin also briefly addressed those present noting ASL’s long history in the community. He also took note of the fact that ASL, with two female deans, has had the good fortune to have not one, but two women from the community “break the glass ceiling” by assuming the role.

“It is a great example of what can be done by someone who cares,” he said. “I am so proud of you both.”

Both McGlothlin and McClanahan were presented with stone sculpture plaques by the Southwest Virginia Community College art department. The plaques depicted their Buchanan County high school alma maters. On hand for the presentation were Dr. Tommy Wright, SWCC president; Morgan Gilbert, SWCC art instructor; and Johnny Hagerman, the brick sculptor who made the two plaques.



September 10, 2019

Media Contact: Cathy St. Clair – 276.202.0383 or

Posted February 13th 2021 Posted by Brian Presley