Heritage and Mission
The University of Virginia's College at Wise, formerly Clinch Valley College of the University of Virginia, is the only four-year, state-supported college in far Southwest Virginia and the only branch of the University of Virginia.
Situated on 396 acres in Wise County, Virginia, UVa-Wise is an incredible example of the determination and perseverance of the Southwest Virginia region. Before the College was created, there were no public colleges in Virginia west of Radford. Higher education was simply out of reach for most residents of Virginia's mountains.
When local residents made their case to the University of Virginia for establishing a college in Wise, the Commonwealth of Virginia supported the cause by offering $5,000 to open, staff, and operate the two-year school for one year. Another $5,000 was appropriated for the second year, if there was to be a second year.
Local citizens donated over $6,000 to furnish and equip the classrooms. Wise County donated property and two sandstone buildings, remnants of the county poor farm, to house the first classes. All of this happened in the winter of 1954. In September of that same year, Clinch Valley College opened its doors to 100 freshmen.
The first classes of graduates went on to become some of the region's most successful professionals. As more graduates of the two-year college expressed their preference to stay closer to home to complete their baccalaureate degrees, the College began the process to become a senior institution. The College first granted Bachelor of Arts degrees in June 1970. Bachelor of Science degrees were first awarded in 1973. Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees were first awarded in 1996. Approximately 6,000 students have received baccalaureates in one or more of the College's academic disciplines.
The small college once nicknamed "Poor Farm University" is now a vibrant senior institution. Perhaps the most significant event in the College's recent history is its adoption of a new name. After extensive research and consultation with the College's many constituencies, the College's governing board decided a name change was needed to more accurately reflect the institution's association with The University of Virginia. On July 1, 1999, following passage of legislation by the Virginia General Assembly, Clinch Valley College became The University of Virginia's College at Wise.
In recent years, UVa-Wise has broadened its outreach. In 1998, the College forged a sister institution agreement with Istanbul University, Turkey's oldest and largest institution of higher learning. An agreement was reached with Dumlupinar University in Kutahya, Turkey in 1999. Cooperative programs beneficial to the students and faculty of the institutions will be developed, including mutual exchanges. A third sister institution agreement with the University of Seville in Spain was signed in December 2000.
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.
Approved by the University of Virginia Board of Visitors on February 4, 2004. SCHEV staff reported approval to SCHEV Board on January 11, 2005. Re-affirmed by the University of Virginia Board of Visitors on June 5, 2014.
The University of Virginia’s College at Wise has as its goals:
• To provide its students the finest possible education in the public liberal arts tradition that has guided the College since its inception.
• To give students the ability, confidence and initiative to use their undergraduate educational experience as a springboard for greater accomplishment.
• To encourage critical thinking among our students and enable them to make decisions based on research and evidence while retaining their commitment to fairness and compassion.
Through these goals, UVa-Wise students will be introduced to the concept of personal and professional excellence. By inculcating in them an appreciation for the benefits of lifelong education and teaching them the skills necessary to carry that habit forward, UVa-Wise is helping lay the foundation for the success of future generations. Through these habits, they will develop leadership skills based in honor, integrity, effort and knowledge. As a result, graduates of UVa-Wise are globally aware, prepared for the responsibilities of citizenship and poised to become stewards of their community, state, nation and world.
With these goals in mind, The University of Virginia’s College at Wise is striving to become an outstanding liberal arts college recognized for its commitment to and expansion of the College’s traditional liberal arts foundation. In order to achieve this, the College is committed to a series of endeavors that will strengthen the institution and its mission. UVa-Wise will continue to strengthen its liberal arts core in ways that will make it a regional leader in interdisciplinary education, engaged learning and community service. The College will increase its commitment to experiential learning through international study, guided research and internship opportunities. The College will utilize the liberal arts as a way to enhance and expand STEM-H programs. The student body will be better qualified, more inspired and possess greater diversity as primary elements in our path toward excellence. To fulfill our mission, the College will expand its outreach and service efforts within our local community and region. These interconnected elements will provide a transformational impetus to existing programs and encourage the development of new initiatives.
Approved by the University of Virginia Board of Visitors on June 5, 2014.
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Free Speech Zone
The University of Virginia's College at Wise has designated the Gilliam Sculpture Garden as a Free Speech Zone.