The Appalachian Region is a 205,000-square-mile region that follows the Appalachian Mountains from southern New York State to northern Mississippi. It includes all of West Virginia and parts of 12 other states, including: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Within these states, there are presently 420 counties that comprise the Appalachian Region.
Although improvements have occurred, some rural geographical areas are still identified as distressed counties, those characterized by lower educational attainments with higher unemployment and poverty rates compared to those living in non-Appalachian areas of the nation. Forty-two percent of the Region’s population is rural, compared with 20 percent of the national population.
The main campus of Ohio University and its five regional campuses are geographically located within the 32 southeast Ohio counties identified by the 1965 Appalachian Regional Development Act as Appalachia. Since Ohio University is surrounded by a large portion of Ohio’s most vulnerable economically disadvantaged residents, the university has made a commitment to addressing many of the most critical needs in the region, especially those related to health.
Figure 1. Map courtesy of Appalachian Regional Commission, 2013.