Ours to Shape

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As UVA enters its third century, we invite you join the conversation and help shape our future. To get involved, share a comment below, attend an event, submit an essay – or all three.


Upcoming Events

Group Date Time Location  
Ours to Shape Event November 27 2:00-3:00 pm Newcomb Hall  

Past Events

Group Date Location
UVA College at Wise Convocation August 14 David J. Prior Convocation Center
UVA Convocation August 26 The Lawn
Ours to Shape Event October 29 The Great Hall in Garrett Hall
Athletics August 30 John Paul Jones Arena
Students September 10 McIntire Amphitheatre
Faculty Senate September 18 Newcomb Hall
Madison House October 10 Madison House
School of Nursing October 12 McLeod Hall
Young Alumni Council October 13 Alumni Association
UVA Club of Richmond October 15 Richmond

Ours to Shape Essay Invitation

As we begin our third century, we have the opportunity to address a set of fundamental questions. What are our dreams and aspirations for the University? What is our purpose as a public university? What impact can UVA have on the commonwealth, nation and society at large? We invite the community to submit essays of 400 – 700 words, answering President Ryan’s questions below or broadly addressing the themes of community, discovery and service. Please submit these, in either Microsoft Word or PDF format, to ourstoshape@virginia.edu.


Share Your Ideas


How do we create an unparalleled residential experience for students, in and out of the classroom? How do we strengthen the sense of community on Grounds, with the greater Charlottesville region, and with our alumni?


How do we best enable faculty to discover new knowledge? How do we best enable students to learn about the past, themselves, and the world around them?


How do we provide the most valuable service to the Commonwealth? How do we prepare our students for a lifetime of service, regardless of their chosen fields?

What people are saying

UVA's Aviator Monument
Inter-disciplinary and cross-grounds collaborations are essential if UVA is to be a leader. The existing organizational structure of the University's Departments, Colleges, and Schools no longer corresponds to the reality we and our students operate in. This is reflected in the demand for new majors and courses. The previous Strategic Plan helped launch several mechanisms for fostering inter-disciplinary research and teaching (e.g. cluster hires, funding for faculty proposals) but these need vigorous financial and intellectual leadership from the President and Provost if they are to have the desired impact.
Faculty, Parent, Community Member & Supporter
I believe that the University should engage a study group across the Grounds to examine the likely impact of augmented and artificial intelligence going forward from both a research and educational perspective. Harvard had a university-wide retreat on the topic last year and the results were such that they plan to have a follow-up conference next year. AI is a very multi-pronged development with implications for many scientific disciplines and also stiff challenges for the humanities.
The Strategic Planning Committee for the University does not include any staff. Not having staff serve on this committee means that the diversity of perspectives will be very narrow. I feel its wrong to exclude staff from serving on this committee when the staff does incredibly valuable work for the University and are members of the community.
Staff, Alumna/us & Community Member
UVA students cooking together
Add a mandatory volunteer class (could have a variety of available classes or opportunities that engage in bettering the Charlottesville community) to graduation curriculums in E-School and the college.
Create an innovative way to connect volunteer opportunities with people seeking to volunteer. Perhaps an online portal? Many students can't commit to a scheduled post via Madison House, yet want to volunteer and aren't aware of opportunities in our area. Can we create a website that allows needs to be presented by local organizations and then filled by our willing and generous community on a recurring basis or as a "pop up volunteerism" concept? Let's make it easier to donate time and talents.
Alumna/us & Community Member
Emphasize brain research as a data-driven science of discovery, linking basic and clinical neuroscience with data science resources to aggregate large scale data on brain form, function, and connectivity. Brain imaging would be a particularly relevant focus in the era “big data”. Hire dynamic, energetic, and visionary faculty. Give them the resources to do the best possible science, map the brain, understand clinical syndromes, and advance the field. Promote participation of students through courses, internships, and volunteer opportunities. So doing will put UVA at the forefront of brain research at the national and international level.
UVA President James E. Ryan addresses a community meeting
Consider expanding the Center for Undergraduate Excellence to include graduate students and even potentially faculty. Actively seeking and assisting these populations in securing prestigious fellowships would bolster UVA's already strong standing and could also help with recruitment of top-caliber graduate students and faculty.
Student, Staff, Alumna/us & Community Member
Create community gardens where students have a role in harvesting food for the University's consumption. The ultimate goal could be for a large percentage of produce consumed to be produced by the University. This would promote a sense of community in a very different but meaningful way.
I think we need to walk the walk with supporting people, whether it be students, staff, or faculty. There is distrust within the University community and between UVA and the larger community. But there is an opportunity there--to do better, to be better. We can earn trust among ourselves, which will enable us to be better equipped to build trust in the Charlottesville and Albemarle County community. Let's be true to our word. Let's be clear and transparent in our communication. Let's be kind. Let's be steadfast in our integrity and willing to acknowledge mistakes and challenges and then all roll up our sleeves to do better because of them.
A member of the UVA Hoo Crew shows his school spirit
Empower everyone with a sense of ownership of this community; elevate our students' vision above their classroom materials so they may see the social meaning of what they are preparing to do; sincerely help our students so they may sincerely help others
Two of my children attended UVA. One also has a Masters degree and the other completed the pre med Post Bac program. For both who wanted to stay on grounds their second year, having no on grounds housing available to them after first year impaired their sense of being a part of the community and thrust them into isolated apartment living. Both found smaller communities -- a sorority and a Christian group-- but they missed interacting with a more diverse group of students that dorm living would have provided. In my view, UVA has neglected this important aspect of care for students' physical needs and has missed an opportunity to build a stronger sense of community for undergraduates.
Parent & Community Member

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