Our planning has been focused on identifying the larger questions that define our underlying character and values. Through this process, we are developing a deeper understanding of our place in the higher education landscape while exploring the thought provoking and inspiring ideas that will drive the College’s future.
Some of the questions guiding our discussions include the following:
- In the 21st century, what should be the purposes of a liberal arts education?
- Where are we positioned to shape the frontiers of new knowledge and field-shaping research?
- How can we do a better job of helping students translate their education into meaningful vocations connected to a larger sense of purpose?
- How can we cultivate an ethic of civic engagement and responsibility among our students, during their time on-Grounds and after they graduate?
- How can we encourage and nurture innovation and creativity, risk-taking and entrepreneurship?
We are in an enviable position. Among a select few universities, U.Va. has the unique history and set of characteristics to drive the national conversation on the place of a liberal arts education in society.
Our Committee on Academic Priorities (CAP) is working on initiatives and strategies that will help us shape what a world-class liberal arts education looks like in the 21st century. Through the work of CAP as well as town halls, task forces and other meetings with faculty, staff and students, we are charting our future through a broad and participatory approach toward planning.
For the first time in 40 years, we are revising the undergraduate curriculum for students in the College—taking a profound look at the knowledge and competencies that will prepare our students not just for their first job after graduation, but for the full course of their lives. As we take on this important work, we want to take advantage of our distinctive strengths as a leading research university committed deeply to undergraduate education. Task forces and committees are completing reports and making recommendations on a new arts initiative, digital literacy, writing and rhetoric, research development, and strengthening graduate study, among other goals. We are particularly committed to advancing diversity on multiple fronts—in our faculty, our curriculum, our staff and student body—and are planning an open forum for faculty, staff and students in the fall semester to report and seek wider feedback on these efforts. Additionally, we are assessing our global strategies and partnerships as we seek to inspire our students and to prepare them to be active global citizens.
In August, as the new academic year begins, I will share with you a series of important reports, working documents, and updates from these and other committees and invite you to provide feedback in a variety of ways.
We need your voice in this process as we frame the A&S strategic plan for discussion in the fall. Our work over the next few years—particularly related to faculty hiring and curriculum reform—will have an impact for decades. I strongly encourage you to participate in faculty or staff meetings and town halls in the coming year, to learn more and to share your ideas and feedback.