The University of Virginia’s College at Wise has received a $50,000 grant for the Bridging Projects Programs to fund the multicultural center and to include a focused lecture series, undergraduate research and internships. The funds come from the University of Virginia Provosts’s Bridging Projects Program.

The UVa-Wise project is entitled Community of Respect: A Collaborative Initiative to Increase Academic Excellence for Historically Underrepresented Students and will be run by the Office of Compliance, Conduct, & Inclusion. The project will create ongoing and future collaborators with UVA including their Office of Diversity, the Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights, and the Center for Liberal Arts.

The project will help the UVa-Wise community fully develop strategies to enhance diversity and inclusion on campus to begin and sustain the College’s long-term vision for unity through diversity.

“College is a formative time for students and by starting with practical steps to address structural and interactional diversity this allows the College to refocus and rethink on the core facets of our community,” said Title IX Coordinator Tabitha Smith. “We know that students who perceive their campus climate as inclusive and nondiscriminatory show greater willingness to accept intellectual challenges, and it is the hope that this project will build stronger diversity and inclusion initiatives in and out of the classroom in order to create a sense of belonging, intellectual engagement and develop active thinking.”

The following goals are part of the grant funding.

Goal 1: Establish the UVa-Wise Multicultural Center, a designated safe space where historically underrepresented students will gather, host events, and grow together academically

Goal 2: Develop diversity programming for UVa‐Wise employees and students on cultural awareness, communication across differences, and respect

 

  1. Programming on Grounds: The College at Wise will partner with the UVA Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights (EOCR) and the Office for Diversity and Equity (ODE) to provide UVa-Wise students with the opportunity to participate in a UVA educational lecture series. UVa-Wise students will travel to Charlottesville to participate in one ODE lecture each semester. This will provide a unique opportunity for UVa-Wise students to actively engage in diversity education and promote the shared goals of enriching individual lives and embracing diversity experiences with students on Grounds.
  2. Lecture Series: The lecture series will promote understanding, tolerance and respect on campus and in the community-at-large. Furthermore, it will provide a focal point for our annual activities sponsored by the Multicultural Center. A prominent Civil Rights keynote speaker will launch the speaker series. Funding for an impactful speaker will provide an opportunity for the campus community to learn about different backgrounds and perspectives and will draw significant attention to the new center.
  3. Undergraduate Research: The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), operating out of Montgomery, Alabama, has recently opened The National Memorial for Peace and Justice to remember the over 4,000 African-American men who were lynched between 1877 and 1950. EJI’s Community Remembrance Project, along with the Memorial, is a campaign to recognize the victims of lynching by collecting soil from lynching sites, erecting historical markers, and creating a memorial that acknowledges the horrors of racial injustice. This high-profile campaign provides a launching point for future undergraduate research into diversity and tolerance at the College at Wise. As part of an ongoing effort to raise college and community awareness of the importance of understanding diversity in America, the UVa-Wise Department of History and Philosophy and OCCI have begun a project to memorialize the four African-American lynchings that took place in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Wise County. Grant funding will provide the opportunity for active participation in fall 2018 and spring 2019 for the History 3180 and 3630 students, faculty, and inclusion staff to participate with the EJI memorial and campaign through undergraduate research projects.

Goal 3: Establish a student internship for diversity-enriching educational programs.