President Sullivan visits during Fall Convocation 2014

 

By Kathy Still

Photos by Tim Cox

 

University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan joined UVa-Wise officials Tuesday in welcoming students to the new academic year during Fall Convocation 2014.

In addition to encouraging freshmen to study broadly and explore a full range of learning, Sullivan also joined Chancellor Donna P. Henry at a student activity fair, which included a picnic and a petting zoo. Sullivan and Henry bravely flanked student Rose Bennett as she held a python at the petting zoo.

Nearly 800 students, faculty and staff walked across campus to the David J. Prior Convocation Center to participate in the Convocation ceremony.

“This college and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville share a great hope for the future…hope for our students, for the future of our institutions and for the future of Virginia and its people,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan reminded the crowd that local residents convinced UVa officials to open a branch campus in Wise back in 1954. The founders of UVa-Wise were continuing Thomas Jefferson’s work to create a statewide system of education.

“Mr. Jefferson believed that an educated citizenry was the key to a strong Commonwealth and a healthy democracy throughout the American republic,” Sullivan said. “Today, here in Wise, we see a modern manifestation of Mr. Jefferson’s dream. From somewhat humble beginnings, the College at Wise has evolved into one of the nation’s top public liberal arts colleges. New students should feel proud to join this distinguished community.”

Sullivan urged the students to investigate the full range of the curriculum at UVa-Wise. A liberal arts education teaches students to be critical thinkers, perceptive of the world, to write clearly and persuasively, and to look at multiple perspectives before arriving at decisions, she said.

“These broad skills, as much as any specialized technical skill, are fundamental to the work of the 21st century,” Sullivan said. “The complex problems facing society today demand multi-disciplinary approaches to solutions. Employers tell us that they want students, their future employees, to have experience working in teams because that’s how work gets done in the 21st century. A liberal arts education is one of the best ways to prepare for that sort of teamwork.”

Sullivan said Charlottesville and Wise share more than the UVa name. Both are connected by a commitment to the values of honor and integrity and the principles of personal responsibility and accountability.

“These values and principles bind us together as members of the UVa family,” Sullivan said. “I’m delighted to welcome today’s new students to the family.”

Sullivan also administered the oath of office to new Student Government Association President Shannon Walker. UVa-Wise Provost Sanders Huguenin installed Cynthia James as chair of the Honor Court.

Following the Convocation ceremony, the crowd walked to the Lawn by the Lake to participate in the student activity fair, picnic and petting zoo. Classes begin tomorrow.