Fall 2018 Convocation

Ryan: College “had opened doors for me that I never knew existed”

Students and faculty came together on August 14 at the David J. Prior Convocation Center to welcome new students, new faculty and a new president for the University of Virginia.

UVA President James Ryan speaks during UVa-Wise's Fall Convocation Aug. 14.
UVA President James Ryan speaks during UVa-Wise’s Fall Convocation Aug. 14.

The 2018 academic year began with a 317-member freshman class, according to UVa-Wise College Relations Director Kathy Still.

The University of Virginia’s College at Wise fall convocation began with the six-year old tradition of marching through the Cavs Gap, which began a new era for first year students and for UVA’s ninth president, President James E. Ryan.

Ryan, an alumnus of UVA and the former dean of Harvard Graduate School of Education, was selected as president after former president Teresa A. Sullivan decided to leave the university after her contract expired in July of 2018.

“I share something in common with all of the first years,” Ryan said, “I am brand new as well, in fact this is my fourteenth day”.

He also congratulated students on making the decision “to come to college and to come to this one in particular”.

“I think you’ll look back on as one of the wisest, so to speak, choices that you have ever made” Ryan said.

Ryan also spoke to first generation college students, saying that he was also a first generation college student.  “[College] had opened doors for me that I never knew existed,” Ryan says.

Ryan also reassured new students that they not only belonged here but that “it won’t take long until you feel at home.”

UVa-Wise Chancellor Donna Price Henry welcomed new students saying, “Today marks the beginning of four years of study, engagement and growth for the class of 2022.”

UVa-Wise was started in 1954 by citizen activists who wanted to bring higher education opportunities to those in Southwest Virginia, therefore UVa-Wise is a college that was “founded by the people, for the people” Henry said.

Henry said that UVa-Wise has always been “a college for all”, citing the college’s history of Korean War veteran students and coal miners.

Kellen Michael Larkin was sworn in as the Honor Court Chair and SGA President Gray Hamilton was sworn in for the 2018 academic year.

Hamilton urged students to “take every opportunity to learn”, from their professors, staff, upperclassman, and peers. Hamilton said “I would strongly, very strongly encourage you to be kind and inviting to everyone you meet this year,” Hamilton said, “Don’t make assumptions about others…learn how to see things from a different perspective.”

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