The 300 first year students and the 120 transfer students at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise were welcomed to campus Tuesday by Chancellor Donna P. Henry as she challenged them to build confidence in the face of uncertainty, have conviction in the face of doubt, and to think, explore, communicate, question, listen, and analyze as they pursue an education in Wise.

The freshmen participated in Convocation, the event that officially begins a new academic year each fall. Health and safety measures that prohibit large gatherings during the pandemic forced the College to livestream the event. First year students who opted for in person instruction this semester participated in Convocation from socially distanced desks in their freshman orientation classrooms.

Henry said the Class of 2024 would be known as the first high school graduating class who persevered during a senior year that was disrupted in countless ways. The first year students at UVA Wise have earned the right to discover their “superpowers” they garnered during these unprecedented times, Henry added.

She encouraged the students to get to know the campus and to participate in the numerous student organizations and activities at UVA Wise.

“Everyone on our campus has your best interests in mind,” Henry said. “In the months and years ahead, establish a support system and reach out regularly. Should you lose your footing or lose your way, someone can help you find your place and your path.”

UVA President Jim Ryan urged the Class of 2024 to make connections by engaging with fellow students, faculty, staff, and the local community. Ryan asked the students to look for ways to give back to the community, treat each other with kindness, compassion, and respect.

Henry stressed the need for personal accountability toward maintaining the health and safety guidelines that are in place to stem the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Henry outlined the College’s safety measures, including the face covering policy, limits on social gatherings and crowds, and the requirement that each student and employee on campus use the Hoos Health symptom tracker app each day.

Professor Trevor Makal, chair of the Faculty Senate, delivered the Charge to Faculty during Convocation. Makel urged the faculty to welcome, encourage and care about the students. He also asked faculty to serve as mentors and role models and to perceive and encourage their potential, recognize their challenges and help students overcome their difficulties. He also challenged faculty to foster intellectual curiosity, instill a deep respect for scholarship and research, and to work in partnership with students to be the best they be in all ways.

Student Government Association President Mason Phillips and Honor Court Chair Sydney Rouss were also installed into office during Convocation. Rouss led the Honor Pledge oath to the 300 first year students.

Classes begin on Wednesday, Aug. 26.