Lake with fountain view of campus

Our Mission & History

High Ridges. Deep Roots.

The University of Virginia’s College at Wise is a public, four-year residential liberal arts college located in the beautiful mountains of Southwest Virginia. 

What makes UVA Wise one of the best public liberal arts colleges in the nation?

  • Proven academics. While offering a variety of academic degrees, pre-professional study tracks, and teaching licensures, our leading liberal arts college maintains an impressive 13:1 student-faculty ratio.
  • Dedication to reducing or eliminating student debt. Eighty percent of our students receive financial assistance, and 97 percent of our graduates are currently employed or seeking a higher degree.
  • Thriving student life. With more than 50 student organizations, spirited NCAA athletic programs, and near-daily campus events, our students have many opportunities to get involved, grow as individuals and discover their passions.
  • Picturesque campus. UVA Wise sits on an expansive 396-acre campus nestled amid the Appalachian Mountains, where students can experience unique cultural flavor as well as the great outdoors.

“At UVA Wise, our mission is simple: student success and service to the region.” — Donna Price Henry, Chancellor

Our Mission

The University of Virginia’s College at Wise, a public liberal arts institution, provides students with learning experiences that offer opportunities to develop the insight, competence, sensitivity, and integrity necessary for living enriched lives and for enriching the lives of others. 

Established in 1954 as a college of the University of Virginia, it is guided by the values of citizenship and altruism. Proud of its Appalachian heritage, the College continues to honor its commitment of service to Southwest Virginia, the nation, and the world. The College is guided by a legacy of teaching and scholarly excellence and by a dedication to quality in both the arts and sciences and professional programs. 

Above all, The University of Virginia’s College at Wise is a diverse community of people who believe that information can be transformed into knowledge and that teaching and learning create a foundation for wisdom.

Learn more about our evolving mission and strategic planning process.

Our Heritage

Before UVA Wise was founded, there were no public colleges in Virginia anywhere west of Radford. As a result, postsecondary and higher education was out of reach for individuals and families living in Virginia’s mountainous western and southwestern regions.

After local residents made a case to the University of Virginia for establishing a college in Wise, the school opened in 1954 on farm property with 109 full-time students. Two-thirds of those students were Korean War veterans.

The Commonwealth of Virginia supported the college, originally called Clinch Valley College of the University of Virginia. An ambitious dream of local citizens in an under-resourced farming community, the College survived its first year and has continued to thrive ever since.

Learn more about our historical milestones.