The University’s Cornerstone Strategic Plan aspires to establish “a vibrant global presence that fosters global knowledge, inquiry, and cross-cultural understanding among all faculty and students” at the University of Virginia. This critical task is seen in the pressing needs of students, faculty, and the University itself.
Students’ lives will be global. Employer surveys put strategic international understanding and cross-cultural experience among the top four valued employee traits. Studies show that students who engage in deep cross-cultural experiences develop significantly more in creativity and complex thinking than those who do not. Alumni similarly benefit from a University that has a global presence and reputation, that has institutional links in the countries they work in, and that provides opportunities for continuing education and networking across the world.
Global capacity is also important for faculty who increasingly work with collaborators from other countries. The nature of research funding is changing as well: less funding is available within the United States; foreign governments and organizations are now offering more grants open to international recipients. As in Jefferson’s day when over half of the new U.VA. faculty was foreign, the pool of talent for the best faculty will be increasingly global.
Finally, a global strategy directly serves Virginia’s mission as a public University that provides human talent and knowledge to sustain the Commonwealth. Virginia must operate across national boundaries. A 2013 U.S. Department of Commerce report concluded, “Exports support jobs for Virginia’s workers…Exports sustain thousands of Virginia businesses…Foreign investment creates jobs in Virginia….Virginia depends on world markets.” U.VA. provides the leaders and knowledge that sustain the Commonwealth’s successful international engagement.
U.VA.’s global approach features initiatives across curriculum, research, student experience, and international presence that reinforce one another, and cumulatively aspire to reshape the capacity of the University. What follows describes some of the initiatives in 2013 and 2014 that advance the University as a leader in promoting the pursuit of discovery and the exchange of ideas among nations and peoples.