President Sullivan delivers keynote address at 2012 Fall Convocation

University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan encouraged the 365 freshmen at The University of Virginia’s College at Wise to “study broadly, be curious, dig deep and explore the full range of learning” during their time as students at the University’s only branch college.


“Don’t pigeon-hole yourself,” she told the students. “If you’re good at math, study math by all means, but also try something new. Study art, or philosophy, or sociology, or economics. Learn a new language. Investigate the full range of the curriculum.”

President Sullivan delivered the key address during Fall Convocation, the traditional start of the academic year at UVa-Wise. Faculty, staff and upperclassmen also attended the Aug. 21 event in Greear Gymnasium.

“This College and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville share common interests, common commitments, and common hopes for the future of our institutions for our students, and for the future of Virginia and its people,” President Sullivan said.

After telling the new students the story of the College’s founding in 1954 when local residents convinced the University of Virginia to open a branch campus in Southwest Virginia, she said the founders picked up where University of Virginia founder Thomas Jefferson left off more than a century earlier when he dreamed of a state-wide educational system in Virginia.

“Today, here in Wise, we see a modern manifestation of Mr. Jefferson’s dream,” she said. “From somewhat humble beginnings, the College at Wise has evolved into one of the nation’s top public liberal arts colleges. New students should feel proud to join this distinguished community.”

There are financial benefits of earning a college degree, but a liberal arts education teaches students to be critical thinkers, which is crucial to the modern workplace, she told the students.

“The complex problems facing society today demand multi-disciplinary approaches to solutions,” she said. “Employers tell us that they want students-their future employees-to have experience working in diverse teams because that’s how work gets done in the 21st century. A liberal arts education is one of the best ways to prepare for that sort of collaborative work.”

President Sullivan and those gathered at Fall Convocation watched as Student Government Association President Phillip Blevins and Honor Court Chair Katherine DiRosa took their oaths of office. She reminded the crowd that the same ceremony would happen in Charlottesville in a few days.

“This means that our communities in Charlottesville and here in Wise share more than the U.Va name,” she said. “We are connected by a commitment to the values of honor and integrity and the principles of personal responsibility and accountability. These values and principles are ties that bind us together as members of the U.Va family.”