Pillars

Re-imagine the Curricular Structure and Core Requirements

One of our primary goals is to equip students with the critical thinking skills necessary to understand the complex nature of knowledge and how to integrate diverse and distinct perspectives in a global environment. They should be able to translate theory into practice and should possess the communication and leadership skills necessary to navigate, with positive impact, the challenges of professional and community settings. We want to encourage a deeper self-awareness in our students so that they respond to others with empathy, justice, and concern for their welfare.

We believe that a well-articulated and cohesive liberal arts curriculum will address these expressed goals, will boost retention of our students, and will ensure that a higher percentage of our students complete their degrees, fully prepared to tackle post-baccalaureate study, to launch their careers, and to have impact in their communities.

To achieve these goals, we will:

Restructure our Liberal Arts Core curriculum so that it is competency-based rather than course-based. Our plan is to propose a curriculum that is grounded in foundational courses that equip students with writing, communication, and quantitative skills that prepare them to explore big and enduring ideas, develop essential research and evidence-based reasoning skills, and accomplish integrative learning through a series of interdisciplinary seminars. This shared intellectual experience, regardless of declared major or long-term goals, will provide our students with the adaptability to respond to changing circumstances in the world around them and the transferable skills necessary to achieve their life goals.

Integrate Experiential Learning and Professional Development into the Curricular and Co-Curricular Experience. Beginning with a required first-year seminar during which we introduce students to the resources, the people, and the tools essential to their learning and holistic development, we will systematically equip them for deep engagement and success. As part of the first-year seminar and with the resources of our Innovate2Elevate (iPad) initiative, students will create a digital portfolio. This portfolio will feature essential professional tools (e.g., a resume and a self-narration/cover letter) as a means of capturing signature pieces that reflect their core competencies and values. In addition, during their time at UVA Wise, all students will participate in at least one community-based experience, at least one experiential learning program (an internship, a research project, or global engagement), and a culminating experience that encourages integration of learning across time, setting, and disciplinary perspective (via a seminar, capstone, or project). The essential skills (interpersonal, communication, time and project management, collaboration) for effective professional and community engagement will be interwoven throughout the student’s UVA Wise experience.

Intentionally prepare students for leadership and success. By ensuring their experience at UVA Wise is integrated and cohesive at all levels and through all programs, we will thoroughly equip students for their future goals. The College will analyze the organizational structure which provides co-curricular and extra-curricular programs and experiences to ensure efficacy and efficiency of all academic and student support programs and services in order to ignite the passions and realize the potential of our students.

Create Guided Pathways through Intentional Advising and 4-Year Academic Plans. Using the digital portfolios and other technological tools introduced in the freshman seminar, we will work with individual students, focusing on their unique circumstances (e.g., student athletes, honors students, first generation students, transfer students, working adults) to develop a comprehensive plan that maps out core and major requirements, experiential learning goals, and professional development opportunities and essentials. These plans and the supporting technology will be used by advisors and mentors as they provide critical guidance to students during their time at UVA Wise and beyond.

Re-vamp our Academic Calendar to include either a January term (“Jan-Term”) or May term (“Maymester”). Other considerations include an extended summer session or a quarter-based academic calendar. Using a data-informed approach and by drawing on the best practices of peer institutions, we will consider a structure for the academic calendar that best fits the needs of our students and their families. In particular, we believe that the addition of either a Jan-Term or Maymester will create unique and exciting opportunities for experiential learning.

Coordinating Team: Mark Clark, Narda Porter, Neva Bryan

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Align Program Portfolio with Institutional Mission, Student Demand, and Regional Need

As the educational leader in Southwest Virginia, UVA Wise prepares students to be successful in their journey beyond our campus and, in the process, enables them to be productive citizen-leaders regardless of their chosen professions or careers. As such, UVA Wise will create a methodology that calibrates the extent to which our portfolio of programmatic offerings aligns with student interest and addresses employment needs within the broader region. Preparing students for a life of public service through curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular programs that are mission-driven, resourced for excellence, and structured for efficiency, we will embark on a collaborative and consultative self-study in the 2021-22 academic year that establishes the methodology for an annual program review process.

To achieve these goals, we will:

Evaluate our program portfolio. Through an annual data-driven approach which analyzes enrollment trends over time, cost, workload, and broader impact while ensuring course management plans and guidelines are in place and fully executed, we will perform a regular analysis of the extent to which programs are delivering on established goals. We will design data dashboards to facilitate real-time use of data in decision making about degree programs and associated recruitment plans, as well as timelines supporting the priority needs of academic programs. The resource needs of existing and new programs will be identified and prioritized, and plans will be developed to address these needs.

Ensure our program portfolio anticipates student interest and employer demand. By consistently analyzing existing data, as well as regional and state-level demand for specific employer needs, we will keep our programs aligned with our recruitment, retention, and graduation goals. Utilizing the analyses to inform ongoing strategic decisions as it relates to opportunities for program expansions along with the identification of new student populations, UVA Wise will also stay informed of opportunities for new partnerships in support of experiential learning and post-graduate job opportunities.

Explore the addition of masters-level programs and online degree programs to increase access to ongoing professional and educational development needs for the region’s citizens. Using data-informed analyses, we will identify opportunities to broaden UVA Wise’s reach into graduate education and will explore effective ways to increase remote learning access as well.

Leverage the unique assets and expertise of UVA to support the strategic plans for the College at Wise. By co-creating a plan for program-based collaboration, jointly-led initiatives, and shared resources, we will realize collective impact through meaningful partnerships.

Coordinating Team: Trisha Folds-Bennett, Shannon Blevins, Huda Aden

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Invest in Faculty and Staff Recruitment and Development to Achieve Diversity, Collaboration, and Commitment

Attracting, supporting, and retaining a diverse and talented team of faculty and staff who are dedicated to the educational mission of UVA Wise is essential. We aim for a campus culture wherein all employees – full time or part time, professor, counselor, coach, officer, administrator, director, mentor, advisor, assistant, housekeeper, landscaping crew, or facilities managers -- know they are valued and believe they are important members of the team that nurtures the growth of our students. We realize that retaining a quality team requires investment in their preparation and training, as well as the acknowledgment that their needs extend beyond the boundaries of our campus. Therefore, we will strengthen our habit of listening and seeking to understand how we might fully support the needs and address the concerns of our faculty and staff.

To achieve these goals, we will:

Embed Diversity and Inclusion in the Faculty and Staff Recruitment and Retention Plan. Recognizing that inclusive excellence is an ongoing, collaborative process uniting students, faculty, staff, and alumni, we will use our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion strategic plan (developed in 2020-21) as the foundation for creating an intentional process that incorporates goals for diversity into the hiring plan.

Establish a Center for Educational Excellence & Innovation. The Center will provide the infrastructure to support training and professional development of faculty and staff and fully equip them to deliver the educational mission of UVA Wise. The Center for Educational Excellence and Innovation (CEEI) will be led by a team of faculty and staff trained in designing and developing instructional programming based on the needs of our College and professional development based on the needs of our employees.

In addition, a branch of the Center will target the professional development of our students who are interested in pursuing any campus leadership opportunities (e.g. peer mentors, resident assistants (RAs), expedition leaders, SGA, Honor Court, Student Conduct Board, etc.) or that are otherwise choosing to expand their leadership knowledge for curricular or career enhancement.

Develop an Employee Onboarding Process and First-Year Mentoring Program. Our goal will be to prepare each new employee with the full range of tools available to do their jobs well and with efficiency and to provide a mentor who will steer them toward resources and provide support as they navigate the challenges of a new community.

Develop a Faculty Mentorship Program. Aimed at fostering a collegial and trusting environment and acclimating new faculty to all facets of their responsibilities, the program will be characterized by a reciprocal process for sharing experiences among senior and junior faculty, providing formative feedback to junior faculty and introducing senior faculty to new pedagogies and technologies.

Create a Differentiated Faculty Workload Plan. The plan will align faculty responsibilities with the faculty member’s contributions, enabling us to differentiate teaching loads according to a faculty member’s involvement in research with students, student mentoring/advising, and special projects. Teaching loads will be determined through evaluation of the productivity of a faculty member using a holistic approach and with the particular needs of each discipline in mind. This individualized approach will increase faculty productivity by aligning faculty strengths with the College’s mission of educational excellence.

Collaborate with Community Leaders to Create a Vibrant Community. On the belief that connecting the local community with the endless potential of our UVA Wise students, faculty and staff will create benefits for all, a committee of UVA Wise employees and community and regional leaders, established in the 2021-22 academic year, will work to inform the community and the College of ways to enhance engagement. An additional goal will be to co-create programming, projects and other factors conducive to vibrancy in the Town of Wise and surrounding region. Members will be tasked with researching other rural areas and peer institutions and with analyzing best practices to see what could be applicable for our area. Our primary focus will be on establishing relationships, building on current partnerships and identifying, with a holistic approach, what our communities envision for the future.

Coordinating Team: Sabrina Qureshi, Tabitha Smith, Debbie Vanover

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Attract, Engage, and Retain Students Who Will Thrive at UVA Wise

The very existence of UVA Wise is dependent on successful recruitment and retention of students. Therefore, in the next decade we will aim to increase our undergraduate population of full-time students, introduce programs with flexible schedules and course modalities that meet the needs of adult learners, and establish a graduate studies division that offers opportunities for advanced degrees in the region and beyond. We will also put in place best practices for the retention and timely graduation of all students.

To achieve these goals, we will:

Develop a comprehensive, data-informed model of student recruitment for our undergraduate programs. Starting with the acknowledgment that our primary recruitment areas are SWVA and the ARC, and rural and suburban regions across Virginia, we will sharpen our admissions focus on students interested in attending an undergraduate institution in a rural setting, with a public liberal arts mission, and characterized by a highly personalized mode of student development. We will also expand our transfer and nontraditional student populations with careful attention to the programs and pathways that serve their needs.

Solidify our recruitment approach to transfer students. In particular, we will work to strengthen our partnerships with regional community colleges as together we build pipelines for students toward baccalaureate and post-baccalaureate degrees. We will continue to rely on the Transfer VA initiative as an important driver in this effort.

Determine a strategy to address the needs of adult learners through degree completion and certificate programs. Building on the remarkable success of our Center for Teaching Excellence (that serves provisionally licensed and licensed teachers throughout the Commonwealth), we will seek understanding of degree and certificate programs that would attract adult learners. Recognizing that non-traditional students often face barriers to learning that traditional students do not (e.g. work, family, childcare), we will work collaboratively with campus, local and regional partners to provide the necessary supports for adult learners. These programs would be developed to address the need for flexibility (online programs, evening, weekend, and early morning classes) and for professional development geared toward adults who are pivoting to new careers.

Market our new graduate offerings as they come online to ensure their viability and that they are meeting the needs of the region. We will consider 3+1 programs for students completing bachelor’s degrees at UVA Wise, flexible course modality and class scheduling, and accelerated programs that include summer and weekend classes.

Develop academic bridges that address general needs and those of specific cohorts of students as they navigate the demands of academic programs and graduation requirements. We will work with academic departments to determine the areas of academic performance most in need of support either through course pathways, tutoring, or other methods of intervention. Considering various cohorts of students (e.g., athletes, pre-professional, first generation, transfer), we will evaluate current systems of support and intervention for efficacy. Where gaps exist, we will consider new models drawn from a comparative analysis of best practices from other institutions, including the extent to which we should focus on pre- college intervention, required coursework, academic coaching and tutoring, and peer mentors to address identified needs.

Expand our scholarship portfolio to include more merit-based scholarships and scholarships. With targeted populations (e.g., honors students, athletes, ROTC, transfer, graduate) in mind, we will ensure that cost is not a barrier to attendance and that scholarship packages signal our interest in providing comprehensive support for students’ individual goals.

Enhance programs focused on the holistic development of students, including development of living-learning communities, wellness programs, and leadership programs. Success is determined by a student’s experience, primarily in the first year. We will work collaboratively with campus partners to define, commit to, as well as know and understand our students and their unique needs. From this knowledge and guided by best practices, we will establish and enhance programs and initiatives that ‘connect the dots’ for our students, guiding their development as both individuals and contributors to our campus community and beyond.

Coordinating Team: Chris Dearth, Marcia Mitchell, Josh Justice, Stephanie Shell

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Update Systems, Policies, and Processes to Ensure Sufficient Availability and Efficient Management of Resources

The UVA Wise Strategic Plan outlines ambitious goals and priorities that span all areas of the college. The plan’s success and sustainability will hinge, in part, on our ability to establish an infrastructure that enables the college to track progress, achieve operational efficiencies, integrate workflows across all areas, and optimize resources. Our IT systems, budget and financial systems, as well as our policies and processes must be nimble enough to receive inputs, extract data, and provide insights, dashboards and direction in support of all strategic goals and priorities.

To achieve these goals, we will:

Update the Facilities Master Plan to accommodate a growing and evolving institution. As the College at Wise plans for growth and expansion, including the initiation of new graduate programs, it will be necessary to review and update the facilities master plan at regular intervals. The College will conduct a regular review of classroom utilization, residential occupancy rates, and functional quality of all spaces including indoor and outdoor spaces living, working and learning. This review will ensure that classrooms and other campus spaces are sufficiently utilized, maintained, and upgraded.

Routinely upgrade technology infrastructure to maintain a commitment to digital literacy. UVA Wise seeks to harness technology and the digital age to improve student success and graduates’ global competitiveness. The College’s commitment to digital adoption began in 2019 with a major investment to disseminate an Apple iPad, pencil and keyboard to all students and employees, a commitment that has endured with every new cohort of students. As the College introduces graduate programs and increases undergraduate enrollments, all institutional infrastructure must expand. Additionally, the College must continually assess IT performance, identify strengths and address gaps in service delivery.

Achieve harmony and alignment between strategic priorities and a forward-looking, multi-year budget plan. This strategic plan will result in a modified reality in our academic and operational planning. This reality will require a fresh look at the UVA Wise budget model, which for decades has focused on an undergraduate model. The new budget model will capture and incorporate new assumptions and new sources of revenue, including graduate-level tuition and fees; it must also reflect new categories of spending for personnel, instructional and programmatic purposes.

Review and revise policies, processes and practices to streamline and automate workflows. Each academic and operational department of the College will seek opportunities to identify manual, labor-intensive processes and convert them to sleek, automated solutions using tools and resources available at the College. Similarly, the College will create a central repository of UVA Wise policies, which will provide a link to the UVA policy directory. New strategic programming and initiatives will necessitate the development and adoption of revised policies and operating procedures.

Coordinate with UVA on the launch and adoption of software program and initiatives. UVA Wise continues to work closely with the University of Virginia to implement shared systems, including finance and HR systems. The College may want to explore other opportunities within the University, for instance with the UVA libraries or other operational areas, to leverage shared licenses and programs.

Develop a communication plan to report milestones and enable continued collaboration and progress. To ensure optimal support of collaborative, inclusive, transparent, and proactive sharing of information and governance, the College will develop an enhanced communication plan, to include the institutional website.

Coordinating Team: Heather Wilson, Valerie Lawson, Scott Bevins, Francene Meade, Joe Kiser, Genna Kasun