In August, the Board of Visitors approved a strategic plan submitted by my team in June.

The plan is the result of more than 10,000 hours of work by faculty, staff, students, members of the community and friends of the University who shared their thoughts about the future of UVA. The process was led by Margot Rogers, who is senior adviser to the president for strategic initiatives, and Mike Lenox, who is the Tayloe Murphy professor of business, senior associate dean and chief strategy officer at the Darden School of Business. Putting the plan together was a monumental effort, and I am sincerely grateful to everyone involved.

In this letter, I would like to offer a brief overview of the major elements of the plan, which you can read in full at (See also related story)

The plan starts with statements about our mission and vision, lays out key goals, and then identifies 10 key initiatives.

As I shared in my last letter, our aspiration is to be the best public university in the country in 2030, and one of the best in the world, whether public or private. We believe the way to achieve that aspiration is by being both great and good.

The plan identifies four over-arching goals that define more concretely what it means, in our view, to be a great and good university. The first goal is to strengthen our foundation, which is really about attracting and supporting outstanding students, faculty and staff.

Second, we aim to cultivate the most vibrant community in higher education, building on UVA’s exceptionally strong student experience.

The third goal is to enable discoveries through teaching and research that enrich and improve lives. And finally, we will strive to make UVA synonymous with service to the commonwealth and beyond.

The 10 initiatives that follow represent essential investments to advance the goals. These initiatives, importantly, are not meant to encompass everything that the University does and will continue to do. That would be impossible. Instead, they are meant to focus our attention on a set of priorities that are both ambitious and as concrete as they can be at this point.

The initiatives focus on students, faculty, staff, research and teaching, our relationship with Charlottesville and the surrounding counties, and our plans for the Emmet-Ivy corridor and Northern Virginia. To give a better sense of what they entail, allow me to describe two in more detail.

Our goal: Attract and support great people, enable them to work together, and live our values by being a good neighbor and serving others.

The first is an initiative we are calling “Citizen-Leaders for the 21st Century.” Our ultimate goal, which brings forward the original, animating goal of the University, is to prepare our students to be citizen-leaders in an increasingly diverse and globally connected world. As part of this initiative, we will establish a series of residential communities to house all first- and second-year students, give all students the chance to have at least one international experience before they graduate, and create more opportunities for public service.

The second example is an initiative focused on moving from prominence to preeminence in research. UVA is a major research university and has increased its research productivity over time, especially in recent years, but there is room for improvement. As part of this initiative, we will invest more in research infrastructure, provide seed funding to help launch and grow initiatives, and focus on a few key areas of research where UVA can be an international leader: democracy, environmental resilience, precision medicine, the brain, and digital technology and society.

There are eight more initiatives like these, all tied together by the fundamental belief that we will be both a great and good university if we attract and support great people, enable them to work together, and live our values by being a good neighbor and serving others.

I feel incredibly privileged to be a part of the UVA community again, and I have been heartened over the past year to see so many of you who still feel a deep connection to this remarkable place. With your help, I look forward to making this University the very best it can be.

Signature of Jim Ryan
James E. Ryan (Law ’92)
President of the University of Virginia