Chancellor Henry delivers State of the College address at Convocation 2013
The University of Virginia’s College at Wise is on a clear
path toward greater vitality and distinction, and is fortunate that the region
it serves is eager to keep the College moving forward in the spirit of mutual
respect, integrity, stewardship and excellence, Chancellor Donna P. Henry said
in her first State of the College address.
Henry, the College’s eighth chancellor, delivered the
address to a large audience of students, faculty, staff and guests during Fall
Convocation 2013, the official beginning of a new academic year. In the
address, Henry spoke of her first seven months at UVa-Wise and how her family
has enjoyed becoming a part of Southwest Virginia and its culture. She also
outlined many ongoing projects the College is undertaking to keep true to its educational
“Convocation is also a good time to assess where we are as
an institution as well as to look ahead to the coming year and beyond,” she
A new strategic plan, known as Envisioning 2020, was crafted
by a committee of faculty and staff to evaluate the College’s strengths and
challenges with the goal of visioning what the campus needs to be in the future.
The plan, once approved by the UVa-Wise Board and the University of Virginia
Board of Visitors, will guide the College in its decision-making, Henry said.
Henry informed the audience that the State Council for
Higher Education of Virginia has received the College’s six-year plan that
addresses Virginia’s priorities and complements the Envisioning 2020 plan. The
Chancellor will travel to Richmond this month to officially present the
six-year plan to SCHEV and answer any questions the council has about UVa-Wise.
The College is also up for reaffirmation of its accreditation with the Southern
Association of Colleges and Schools, a review that happens every 10 years. The
SACS reaffirmation process is arduous, but essential and beneficial, Henry
“By looking closely at our educational and operational
processes and services, we have new opportunities to improve and excel, which
is the UVa-Wise way,” Henry said. “Our Envisioning 2020, our six-year-plan and
the SACS reaffirmation process are gateways to being a better UVa-Wise, and all
reinforce our commitment to learning.”
A large portion of Henry’s address was devoted to students
and what they can expect during the new academic year. She welcomed the
freshmen and transfer students to the UVa-Wise family, and outlined some
changes to the upperclassmen.
“Opportunities in experiential learning are expanding at
UVa-Wise,” she said. “Undergraduate research opportunities are available in
every discipline, and are an outstanding way to extend what you learn in the
classroom in the discovery of new knowledge or creative works guided by a
UVa-Wise has answered Virginia’s call for colleges to
increase the number of students who earn degrees in science, technology,
engineering, mathematics and health, she said. The College continues to work
hard to pursue national accreditation by the American Chemical Society for the
chemistry program to add to the accredited STEM-H programs in software
engineering, computer science and nursing.
“And special kudos to our nursing department,” Henry said.
“Our 2013 nursing graduates achieved a 100 percent pass rate on the national
boards, which very few institutions in the country can boast.”
Henry outlined upgrades to online education, academic
enhancement funds for student experiences, lectures, positive changes in
residence life, campus safety, food services, athletics, and the College’s move
toward NCAA Division II during her address.
The success of the Fulfilling the Dream campaign raised
$67.7 million and helped put the College’s endowment ahead of all 26
institutions in the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges and better than
some older and larger institutions in Virginia benefits the College in many
ways, she said. Construction of a new six-story $37 million library and the Ely
Health and Wellness Center are also ongoing and will change the campus in many
ways, she said.
“This is an exciting time,” she said. “We do recognize that
getting around campus will be more difficult, but we will do everything
possible to help get you to where you need to be.”
She encouraged the students, faculty and staff to be good
neighbors to the town of Wise and city of Norton by shopping at the many stores
and patronizing area restaurants.
“One of the primary goals in the Envisioning 2020 plan is to
build closer ties with our region, especially through an increase in our
personal and collective public service and civic engagement,” Henry said. “I
challenge all of us, students, staff and faculty, to seek new avenues for
public service and civic engagement, whether it is through club or
organizational initiatives, a graded classroom project or a personal commitment
to participate in our spring Day of Service or other ongoing research
Henry concluded her address by saying UVa-Wise is on a
“I am honored to be part of such a passionate community that believes in our mission as a public liberal arts institution,” she said.
Photos by Tim Cox