Chancellor Donna P. Henry kicked off the new academic year by predicting UVA Wise will bring the liberal arts experience into the 21stcentury and will elevate the College, local communities, Virginia and the nation by embracing new technology to enhance the higher education experience.

It starts, she said, by equipping full-time students, faculty and staff with new iPads, Apple pencils and keyboards as part of a new initiative to bring more technology to higher education. The chancellor did just that during Convocation 2019 on Aug. 20.

The program, innovate2EleVAte, will allow students and faculty to explore ways the growing technology can improve the classroom experience.  The $1.6 million program is funded through private money.

“We have decided to do something revolutionary,” Henry said. “That is innovate2leVAte.”

Henry explained that technology is a fundamental tool to prepare students for the future.

“We also know that not all of our students have access to personal computing devices to complete homework, to conduct research, to collaborate with peers or to participate in online exercises,” she said. 

Henry added that the devices would help students imagine the possibilities in all disciplines and would engage students in academics, in activities and will help create a strong community.

“As you explore the possibilities, remember that innovate2eleVAte is a new initiative,” she said. “Our campus community is collectively learning how to harness the power of these devices through best practices.”

Henry told the students, faculty, staff and UVA President Jim Ryan that she looks forward to watching how the UVA Wise community uses the technology in the classroom, in student life and in athletics.

“This initiative will be an exercise in discovery, in big and small delights, in collaboration and individual learning, in grappling with novelty” she said. “In this way, innovate2eleVAte is a complement and metaphor to your education and to the liberal arts experience. Don’t let anyone tell you that technology is the opposite of the liberal arts. They are wrong. We are innovating the liberal arts experience, bringing it into the 21st century and we will elevate ourselves, our communities, the Commonwealth and the nation as a result.”

UVA President Jim Ryan helped distribute iPads to freshmen just before Convocation. He also told the students about his fears as a teen on the Disney ride Space Mountain. He spoke about his sister’s bravery and his own fear of riding the indoor coaster. He used the story to relay a message to the freshmen.

“Don’t be afraid of Space Mountain,” he said. “It’s not going to be easy, but that’s true for everyone here. Being easy, at the end of the day, is not the point of college. If you really want to do something, don’t let your fear of the unknown stop you. College may be your personal Space Mountain.”

Ryan also enjoyed meeting with students at the Student Activities Fair and he took time to have lunch with them as well.

UVA Wise begins classes on Aug. 21, and the students have been urged to have their iPads fully charged when they spend a full day of classes.


photo by Earl Neikirk.