Chris Dearth has only been behind the desk as Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management for less than a month, but he already has a plan to grow enrollment, boost retention, and overcome perceived challenges by building a strong coalition across the University of Virginia’s College at Wise campus.

He barely had time to move his family to Wise before he jumped straight into meeting the admissions staff, attending senior staff meetings and learning more about both the College’s challenges and its successes. Dearth, who comes to UVA Wise from Wesley College and from the SUNY system previously, likes what he’s seen so far.

“We are on the cusp of a lot of great things happening,” he said. “It’s a very exciting time.”

A liberal arts education is something Dearth believes strongly in, and the things UVA Wise is doing now point to the right direction. 

“I see that as a series of really good opportunities,” he added.

UVA Wise needs to differentiate itself from the University in Charlottesville in some ways in order to explain the differences to prospective students and their families.

“We are a destination college,” Dearth explained. “We are not near the interstate or a big urban area, but we are a great opportunity for students who are looking for the right college to meet their needs. We need to show them that this is a special place.”

Dearth plans to be a good colleague who is supportive of the entire campus. Being fiscally responsible, addressing issues that arise and increasing enrollment and retention will be some of his key focuses this academic year and beyond. Closely examining past practices and policies, revising the way the Office of Admissions do things, striving for increased efficiency and working smarter are also part of Dearth’s plan.

He has already started to pull people together across campus so they can be part of the solution to any challenges. The new recruitment area opened up by the state law that allows UVA Wise to offer in-state tuition to students from the Appalachian region from New York to Mississippi has opened up a large area for recruitment. The 2020-2021 academic year will be the first UVA Wise will have to take full advantage of the ARC program.

“We will be aggressive in that area,” he said. “Many may not know about UVA Wise or even know much about the region. It will be a great opportunity for the College and the students from the ARC region.” 

A long-term goal for Dearth is to develop a five or six year enrollment plan, and he will, in the meantime, form a campus wide retention and enrollment committee so an aggressive and solid plan can be developed with buy in from across campus.

The iPad program, innoVAte2elevate, will also be an exciting initiative for the entire campus. All full-time students, staff and faculty will receive an iPad, keyboard and Apple pencil at the beginning of fall semester to boost learning and level the technology gap.

Dearth, who enjoys reading, fishing and spending time with his family, wants the campus to know that his door in Crockett Hall is always open. He is looking forward to the start of the semester so his can put many of his proposals in place.

“When we overcome the challenges, things will be looking pretty good,” he said.