Pivotal Projects

Transformation through the Liberal Arts

We see the liberal arts as a way of thinking, a way of engaging, and a way of connecting. We believe that the cultivation of the mind and character encouraged by a liberal arts education is the most powerful means of social mobility and personal freedom that we can provide for our students. Therefore, we will establish YOU are WISE, a network of advisors and mentors, employees from every sector of the campus who understand the purpose and value of the liberal arts and reflect them in their actions and interactions. Believing that the modes of inquiry and intellectual values undergirding a liberal arts education are not confined to a classroom or a course syllabus, we will build a Campus Immersed in Discourse initiative. Through thematic lecture series, roundtables, inquiry groups and other events and activities, we will model the behaviors of civil society, contemplating as a whole campus community the enduring, contemporary, and most challenging questions that have perplexed and inspired human beings through the ages.

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Broadening Access and Closing the Gap

The UVA Wise student is at the heart of everything we do. We are committed to the academic, professional and personal development of each UVA Wise Highland Cavalier and in fulfilling this commitment, we will nurture a student-centered culture which engages every faculty and staff member in the mission of student growth. Every interaction we have with our students is an opportunity to teach, coach, encourage, and invest in their development, and every member of the institution will have a role in this mission. Our student-centered approach will be designed intentionally to encourage diversity and to address inequities in access and outcome. Recruitment practices, scholarship packages, and the manner in which we integrate students into our community will ensure that any student who wants to attend UVA Wise has the resources to do so and has full access to the opportunities we offer. Through our YOU are WISE initiative, we will focus on the holistic development of our students by considering the possibility of offering first and second-year living-learning communities that appeal to a range of interests and that match students with faculty, staff, and peer mentors who are invested in their success at earning a bachelor’s degree.

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Bridges and Pathways

The moment that we begin to recruit a student to UVA Wise is the moment we commit to their success. From generous scholarship packages to academic bridges to guided pathways, we want students to thrive and take full advantage of the full range of opportunities offered to them. We will build Academic Bridges in the form of pre-college programs, academic support services and interventions, academic coaches and mentors, and peer mentors that address the full range of needs for students as they prepare for and acclimate to their time at UVA Wise. We will create Guided Pathways in the form of tools that help all students and their advisors map out plans for completing graduation requirements in a timely and orderly manner, for participating in experiential learning activities that align with the student’s long-term goals, and for seeking the professional development necessary for success in the student’s chosen field. In addition to the programs and tools, we will create a Student Success Collaborative, a management structure and communication network for student success that brings together all of the entities that are working on academic support and retention to ensure a cohesive approach to meeting the individual needs of students. We will also develop an Experiential Learning and High Impact Hub that connects, through a director and technological tools, the various programs – freshman seminar, Center for Career Discovery and Planning, Wise Connects, International Studies, Undergraduate Research – that provide opportunities for students to meet core academic requirements outside of the curriculum.

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Equipping and Empowering our People

We know that investment in the people who make up our community at UVA Wise is an essential commitment. Therefore, we will take steps to ensure that everyone is fully equipped and empowered to manage the responsibilities in their designated areas with confidence and intentionality and in a manner that meets the high standards we have set for the institution. To facilitate this equipping and empowering initiative, we will develop a Center for Educational Excellence and Innovation that provides a full range of workshops, trainings, and mentoring focused on the holistic preparation of faculty and staff to understand and be able to articulate and implement the educational mission of the institution. As part of the Center, to address the training needs of students in leadership, mentoring, and ambassadorial roles on campus, we will create a Peer Education program that provides coursework, support and supervision to students who step into these critical roles on campus.

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Building Community, Strengthening Ties

UVA Wise is located in the land of opportunity – rich in beauty and biodiversity, primed for economic revitalization, and immersed in the self-reflection necessary to sustain significant change. We are an integral part of this community as one of the largest employers and the only 4-year public institution in far Southwest Virginia. We are preparing to significantly increase our student population and to recruit new faculty and staff to the area as our student population grows. Through our Ties that Bind Collaborative, we will seek to work side by side with leadership in the town of Wise and surrounding communities, as well as business leaders and economic development officials, to prepare for growth. By further developing the infrastructure and amenities that are integral to a vibrant and welcoming community, we believe we will successfully recruit people to the region who will stay for many years. A variety of housing options, availability of child care, and a network of retail establishments will meet the daily needs of individuals and families. Cultural offerings, outdoor gathering spaces and parks, walking and biking paths, recreation, restaurants and coffee shops will promote health, wellness and joy as a value in our community. A strong network of businesses and corporations that bring job opportunity will allow dual career families and young professionals to make Wise their home. As part of this project, we will pledge to enhance educational opportunities for the citizens of Wise County through bachelor degree programs, professional certificates and master’s programs, and flexible learning options (online programs, early morning, evening and weekend classes) that align with regional needs and the interests of our neighbors. We will throw open wide the doors of our campus, inviting the community to arts events, lectures and book clubs, sports competitions, and to enjoy our library, our fitness center, our dining facilities, our walking trails and our green spaces. We will also strengthen our Appalachian Studies program as we continue to seek deeper understanding of the history and culture of the region.

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Programs that Align, People that Lead

As the educational leader of the region, UVA Wise will continue to be mindful of academic programs that attract a broad diversity of students to our campus and equip them for success in their chosen careers and in the opportunities that regional businesses and corporations offer. We will contribute to the economic revitalization of the region, in partnership with business, industry, government, and nonprofit organizations, through our Program Portfolio Annual Check Up, a data-informed approach to ensure that our academic programs are properly resourced for sustainability and that we offer a mix of programs that align with emerging needs in the area. This check up will provide necessary information regarding the areas of graduate education we should pursue, as well as the opportunities for collaboration with academic divisions and programs at UVA.

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Telling our Story and Reaching New Audiences

A compelling characteristic of Appalachian culture is the sharing of stories that portray the lives of the people, the joys and the hardships they experience in the rugged Appalachian Mountains, and the strength of character they develop as a result. Through the work of our new Marketing division’s Wise in the Spotlight campaign, we will tell with intentionality and enthusiasm the stories of our students, our faculty, our staff, and our neighbors and the impact they have in the region through their discovery and their creativity. In the process of sharing, we will reach new audiences –students from beyond the borders of SWVA, adults in and outside the region who are seeking educational attainment to enhance career opportunity, and post-baccalaureate students with an interest in graduate degrees. We know our stories will echo far and wide, attracting a vibrant and diverse community of learners with the drive to serve and lead in their communities, the nation, and the world.

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Bringing Technology, Innovation, and Economic Growth to Southwest Virginia

In alignment with regional focus on bringing scientific innovation and data analytics to Southwest Virginia, UVA Wise will continue to build strong programs in computer science, cybersecurity, software engineering, mathematics, data analytics, and the natural sciences. Through the resources of our Tech Talent Pipeline we will work to establish the systems necessary to ensure that students are fully prepared to pursue STEM majors, to be successful in STEM internships and research placements, and to transition smoothly into STEM-based careers. Concomitantly, we will partner with economic development and government representatives across the Commonwealth as they work to bring STEM-based business and industry to Southwest Virginia.

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Health and Wellness for All

We will work to improve the health and wellness for residents of central Appalachia by collaborating across communities and organizations, generating and implementing new ideas, and engaging the social, economic and scientific issues that exist at the interface of health and the Appalachian culture. Through our collaborative work with the Healthy Appalachian Institute, UVA’s School of Nursing, and Ballad Health we will bring together health educators, policy makers, healthcare systems, the business community and the region’s citizens to provide the necessary resources, ideas and strategies to foster a healthier citizenry in Central Appalachia. In particular, we will aim to create pipelines into health professions through expanded educational opportunities, including graduate education in nursing and behavioral health.

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Increasing Capacity through Maturation of Leadership Structures, Preparation of Leaders, and Systems that Sustain our Work

The constellation of pivotal projects and plans that we are proposing for the next decade will require a mature organizational structure and strong management systems. Project Wise Growth will carefully consider the staffing and administration necessary to ensure that our plans come to fruition and have the technology and other resources necessary to manage programs and initiatives in a manner that supports efficiency and productivity.