Meet UVA’s Whirlwind Matchmaker

September 19, 2023 By Alice Berry, aberry@virginia.edu Alice Berry, aberry@virginia.edu

Tens of thousands of people will come to the University of Virginia’s football game against North Carolina State University, a rare home matchup on a Friday evening. Wynne Stuart helps make sure faculty teaching classes that overlap with the game know where to park.

Hosting a weeknight football game is a huge logistical undertaking, as some classes are still in session at that time. Tailgating fans, students and professors will share parking around Scott Stadium. Stuart has to work that out with the registrar’s office and Parking and Transportation, then she has to reach out to the people with permits to park in the lot.

“At this point, quite frankly, I saved the report from 2021, the last time we did this,” Stuart said.

If all goes well, her behind-the-scenes work will go unnoticed.

The associate provost for academic support and classroom management is behind many “invisible” things like this at the University. She makes sure that a student who wants to put on a concert won’t disrupt nearby classes, and that a professor who uses a wheelchair teaches in an accessible classroom.

It’s Stuart’s job to ensure that classrooms have what both students and instructors need, and that University events don’t interfere with learning. “I’m a matchmaker,” Stuart said.

Sometimes, that means she’s putting people in touch with who they need to talk to about an idea to improve the University. Other times, she’s making sure that a graduate student teaching assistant with back-to-back classes has all of those classes in the same building.

Her logistical talent has been years in the making. Stuart came to the University of Virginia in the late 1970s as a graduate student in French. She’s been here ever since. She decided that she didn’t want a teaching job and instead accepted an administrative position in the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.

“We have faculty who are wonderful, and touch our students, but in administration, although it’s unseen, you can have a positive effect for many students,” Stuart said.

From there, she went to the provost’s office. She started as an assistant to the associate provost for academic support and classroom management. Now, she’s the associate provost herself.

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After 35 years of service to the University, she has won the Elizabeth Zintl Leadership Award, which recognizes a woman whose service and commitment to UVA is outstanding.

“Having been at the University so long is an asset,” Stuart said.

Those who work with her agreed.

“My first impression of her was that she knows how to move things forward,” said Lori Kressin, an academic accessibility coordinator at UVA who has worked with Stuart for about 25 years. “She knows who to contact for everything.”

But it’s not just that she has an “encyclopedic knowledge” of UVA, Stuart’s colleagues said. She’s driven by the human side of every problem that comes to her attention. After she heard about a student in a wheelchair who avoided events on the Lawn, she helped push to get ramps installed on the historic site. That’s one of the many changes she helped spark to make UVA more accessible.

“Nobody sets out to win an award. You set out to do the right thing.”

— Wynne Stuart, associate provost for academic support and classroom management.

“She is the heart and soul of the University,” said Lela Marshall, a classroom support manager who has known Stuart since the early 2000s.

Stuart can’t help but mentor people, whether that’s in an official or unofficial capacity, Kressin said. Her goal is to help others and to help the University. That’s one reason why being an adviser to second-year and transfer students in the College is one of her favorite parts of her job.

“Nobody thinks of the second year as being challenging, and it is,” Stuart said. She sees working with students as collaboration, just like how she works with Housing & Residence Life or Parking and Transportation.

Stuart’s colleagues say that she is full of energy, able to get whatever you need done.

“I call it ‘the whirlwind of Wynne,’” Kressin said.

But for Stuart, service to the University is a reward in itself. “Nobody sets out to win an award. You set out to do the right thing,” Stuart said.

The Zintl Award annually honors a female UVA employee whose service surpasses job expectations and whose excellence in her work makes a direct and significant impact on the core academic enterprise of the University. The award’s namesake, Elizabeth Zintl, an accomplished writer and journalist who served as chief of staff to the UVA president, died in 1997. Previous winners include Carrie Heilman, an associate professor in the McIntire School of Commerce and the University’s faculty athletics representative; and former associate dean of the Office of African-American Affairs Sylvia Terry.

While she’s honored, Stuart won’t have much time to celebrate this week. After all, that home football game is just a few days away.

Media Contact

Alice Berry

University News Associate Office of University Communications