Heritage and Mission

Our Heritage

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.

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.

Desired Accomplishments/Goals

Teaching and learning at The University of Virginia’s College at Wise are transformational experiences.

• Students gain the skills necessary to continue to educate themselves.

• Students are prepared to assume responsibility of citizenship.

• Students learn to appreciate and respect diverse cultures.

• Students discover the importance of being involved in the community.

• Students understand the value of education.

• Students acquire an international perspective.

• Students value honor and integrity.

• Students develop leadership skills.

The University of Virginia’s College at Wise is nationally recognized for academic excellence in the liberal arts and specialized programs of study and is the college of choice for Southwest Virginia students.

• The College is a community of learners supported by all constituents, faculty, staff, and students.

• The College attracts and retains a talented faculty.

• The College provides resources necessary for the continued professional growth and development of the faculty.

• The College recruits a talented, culturally and geographically diverse student body.

• The College’s staff believes in its mission, support its programs, and genuinely care about its students.

• The College combines the natural beauty of Southwest Virginia with state-of-the-art campus facilities.

• The Colleges offers nationally recognized science and technology programs, which have a strong foundation in the liberal arts.

The University of Virginia’s College at Wise has built a strong sense of community and improved the quality of life for the region.

• The College is the cultural center for the region.

• The College is an engine for economic growth.

• The College continues to strengthen the quality of K-12 education in Southwest Virginia in partnership with local schools.

• The College is a leader in environmental stewardship.

• The College plays an integral role in improving access to and the quality of healthcare in the region.

Code of Ethics

The University of Virginia's Code of Ethics:


  • In response to the Commonwealth of Virginia’s legislatively-mandated call, SB431, regarding fiscal transparency of state agencies and organizations, UVa-Wise is providing a link as referred to in § 30-133 of the Code of Virginia as a hyperlinked icon located on our institutional website.

Freedom of Information Act

Free Speech Zone

The University of Virginia's College at Wise has designated the Gilliam Sculpture Garden as a Free Speech Zone.

Grow by Degrees