In the annual State of the College address, UVa-Wise Chancellor Donna P. Henry outlined the many initiatives and programs the College has created recently, and she previewed additional strides the liberal arts college will serve the academic mission and the region.

Speaking at the David J. Prior Center on Wednesday, Sept. 3, Henry said faculty, staff and administration have both a privilege and responsibility to create opportunities for students, help them succeed, and equip them with skills and knowledge that will serve them and their communities for a lifetime.

“Our students are here to pursue an education and better their lives,” she said. “They plan to graduate and get good jobs or go on to graduate or professional school.”

“This is our mission,” Henry said Monday in the David J. Prior Convocation Center. “We strive to be a place where dreams survive and thrive, where the entire campus community instinctually facilitates the success of students, and where we stop short of nothing to see dreams fulfilled.”

The College has always been a beacon of hope for its students and the region, and she urged those attending to never lose sight of that fact. The mission in service to the students is fulfilled when they are offered a quality liberal arts education to instill an interdisciplinary view of the world and make students lifelong learners, she added.

Henry said statistics reveal that half of today’s jobs did not exist five years ago, and that means graduates must be prepared for the workforce changes. Graduates are expected to lead, think critically and analytically, to research, evaluate, assess, communicate and act, she explained.

Faculty and staff fulfill the mission by practicing the philosophy of inclusion for students, and by striving to provide a reasonable solution for student obstacles and challenges, Henry added.

“We do not turn students away when they seek help,” she said. “We strive for a solution in all situations. We are creative. We work together across departments to find solutions.”

Faculty and staff also do the following:


  • Model community engagement for students
  • Institute a learning for all approach
  • Are rigorous and intentional in all aspects
  • Remain committed to college affordability and access
  • Fulfill the commitment to the region


Henry also outlined several initiatives and programs that are now in place for students and the college community at UVa-Wise.


  • B.S. Chemistry degree program earned American Chemical Society Accreditation
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectrograph (NMR)
  • New Minor in Public Health
  • UVA Strategic Investment Fund (SIF) to support the UVa-Wise Innovation Ecosystem, $3.5 million
    • Supporting new faculty in math, cyber, entrepreneurship as well as program staff
    • Also supporting STEM marketing, turbo classes and Summer Program in Cyber and Entrepreneurship
  • RN to BSN program approved by Board of Visitors (first online program)
  • M.A. in Teaching approved by Board of Visitors (first Master’s program)
  • Commissioned the Students of Color Workgroup
  • Established the Office of Inclusion led by Jewell Worley
  • NCAA Division II South Atlantic Conference (SAC) effective July 1, 2019, enabling student-athletes to reduce travel time to conference competitions and reducing travel costs for the College
  • Initiated Student Success Workgroup (recommendations pending)
  • College’s inaugural Research Day on April 20, 2018 featuring presentations by faculty and students (classes canceled)
  • Celebrate Appalachia Research Day, showcasing research and creative activities relating to Appalachia, March 9, 2018
  • One-hundred undergraduate research presentations at local, regional, national and international conferences
  • In-state tuition for Tennessee and Kentucky residents within a 50-mile radius
  • The college’s largest gift of $10 million from the Hunter Smith Family Foundation to establish the Carl W. Smith Bicentennial Scholarship Fund and the Carl W. Smith Bicentennial Scholar-Athlete Scholarship

The chancellor concluded by reminding the faculty and staff of additional initiatives she has planned, including regular breakfast or lunch roundtables with her, recognition of general faculty awards, twice a year employee questions and answers sessions, and she reminded all that the UVa-Wise College Board meetings are open to the public, including employees who want to learn more about the governance of the College.