The University of Virginia’s College at Wise convened its College Board Friday to discuss and get input on a $14.8 million plan for academic programs and enrollment growth.
Academic programs outlined in the plan, which also includes some graduate programs, would require state funding and approval from the College Board, University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors, State Council of Higher Education in Virginia and Southern Association for Schools and Colleges Consortium of Colleges.
If approved, the College could offer reduced tuition and increased recruitment, marketing, IT and operational support. The proposal would result in the hiring of approximately 110 additional faculty and staff. The plan outlines a proposal to offer graduate programs in teaching, social work and computer science. Undergraduate program plans center around business program accreditation, online registered nurse to bachelor of science in nursing, and a bachelor of science in integrated science and technology. If the plan goes well, the education graduate program could begin in 2019.
Chancellor Donna P. Henry explained that the College has had most of the items in the proposal in mind for several years, but growing UVa-Wise became a focus of the Virginia gubernatorial campaign as both candidates touted the College’s importance as an economic engine for Southwest Virginia. Henry said the timing was right to unveil the projects as one proposal.
“It is a living plan for moving forward,” Henry said. “We can’t move forward unless we have the resources to allow us to do so.”
The board learned that the proposal and any funding must also have the approval of the state legislature, and that some lawmakers asked UVa-Wise to submit a proposal in time for the 2018 Virginia General Assembly session. College officials hope to have the full plan ready for review by next week.
The proposal calls for continued investment in undergraduate education initiatives, including strengthening the liberal arts core, undergraduate research, international study, internship programs, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics programs. UVa-Wise has Virginia’s only four-year software engineering program already. In addition, the proposal calls to add additional accreditation for chemistry, business, music, and art programs. The College already has accreditation for its computer science, software engineering, nursing and education programs.
In terms of recruitment and marketing, the proposal calls for state funding to enable a $2,000 tuition cut for each Virginia full-time student. Marketing measures would include website enhancement, updated admission materials, social media marketing, additional recruiters and program specific marketing and recruiting
In terms of capital improvements, the College Board was briefed on anticipated capital improvement projects, including renovations for Wyllie Hall and renovations to the Sandridge Science Center Lab Wing. Those items are not included in the proposal that was unveiled Friday as the $15 million is operational funds. These capital projects have been submitted through the Commonwealth of Virginia’s capital planning process.
Henry will draft a letter to Governor-elect Ralph Northam that outlines the College’s proposal and to ask for his thoughts and feedback. Northam campaigned on a plan to provide $15 million to spur growth and graduate programs at UVa-Wise.