University of Virginia President James Ryan spent his fourteenth day on the job visiting the University of Virginia’s College at Wise Tuesday as students, faculty and staff celebrated the beginning of the new academic year.

Ryan, speaking at Fall Convocation in the David J. Prior Convocation Center, offered advice to the UVa-Wise Class of 2022, and he complimented them on their decision to attend the College at Wise.

“It’s one of the wisest, so to speak, decisions you’ve made,” Ryan said.

He told them of his experiences as a first generation college student, and said he understands how it feels to be in a new place.

“It opened doors for me that I never knew existed,” he said of his college experiences.

He reminded the freshmen that it is normal to feel out of place in new surroundings.

“You belong here,” he said. “It won’t take long for you to feel at home.”

President Ryan also shared some sage advice that his father gave him.

“Never forget where you are from and always give back,” he said.

President Ryan told the students that they do not have to wait until graduation to give back to the community. He also welcomed the students to the larger UVA family.

“We are bonded together by a common sense of purpose and a strong bond of affection,” President Ryan said.

Following Convocation, President Ryan and UVa-Wise Chancellor Donna P. Henry attended the Student Activities Fair and had lunch at the Lawn by the Lake. He also got a sneak peek at the new UVA Students and Employees Health Wise Clinic. A grand opening for the clinic will be held on Friday, Aug. 17, at 1 p.m.

About President Ryan

James E. Ryan serves as the ninth president of the University of Virginia. A leading expert on law and education, Ryan has written extensively about the ways in which law structures educational opportunity. His articles and essays address such topics as school desegregation, school finance, school choice, standards and testing, pre-K, and the intersection of special education and neuroscience. Ryan is also the coauthor of the textbook “Educational Policy and the Law” and the author of “Five Miles Away, A World Apart,” which was published in 2010 by Oxford University Press. Ryan’s most recent book, “Wait, What? And Life’s Other Essential Questions,” based on his popular 2016 Commencement speech, was published in 2017 by HarperOne and is a New York Times bestseller. In addition, Ryan has authored articles on constitutional law and theory and has argued before the United States Supreme Court.