University of Virginia President Jim Ryan announced to the Board of Visitors today an anonymous $5 million gift that will create new opportunities for students at Piedmont Virginia Community College who wish to transfer to the University of Virginia.
The new endowed fund will provide scholarships to PVCC students transferring to UVA who have been selected as recipients of UVA’s University Achievement Award. The scholarship, which covers full in-state tuition and fees for their time at UVA, will be called the Piedmont Scholars Program and recipients will be referred to as Piedmont Scholars.
Late last year, the University announced an additional investment of $30 million in strategic matching funds to support need- and merit-based scholarships at UVA and UVA’s College at Wise. With a dollar-for-dollar match on endowment gifts of $100,000 or more to the University Achievement Awards, $4.5 million of the gift will be matched with $4.5 million in UVA matching funds to create a $9 million endowment. The first cohort of Piedmont Scholars will be selected from applicants for the fall of 2021, and within two years, UVA anticipates that 25 scholarships will be awarded annually.
“This generous and community-minded gift will provide a robust transfer scholarship program for PVCC students to UVA,” Ryan said. “We have always had a strong relationship with PVCC, and this scholarship program will make that relationship even stronger, while at the same time providing support for students at both schools. I couldn’t be more excited about this program, which I believe will be great for the students, PVCC, the University and our local communities.”
“Since the 1980s, PVCC and UVA have had a unique partnership. It has been recognized as a national model for a community college and an elite university by national publications including Money Magazine and The Wall Street Journal,” PVCC President Frank Friedman said. “Thanks to this partnership, thousands of PVCC students have transferred to, and graduated from, UVA. This includes many students who could not have attended UVA otherwise. This new initiative will take this partnership to the next level by providing financial and student support services for PVCC students. It will enable thousands more PVCC students, most from right here in Central Virginia, to reach their educational goal of a bachelor’s degree from one of the world’s great universities, the University of Virginia.”
The gift also provides immediate funding for a PVCC-UVA liaison to champion the partnership between both institutions. Each year, approximately 150 students transfer from PVCC to UVA, many of whom have attended local high schools, including in Charlottesville, Albemarle County and the surrounding counties. The liaison, who will split time between PVCC and UVA, will focus full-time on supporting PVCC students in applying and transferring to UVA, and will serve as UVA’s “front door” for PVCC students – from the moment they express interest in UVA, through application, to arrival and acclimation on Grounds. This will include programs designed to provide information about schools, majors and opportunities at UVA; individual guidance about course offerings, credit transfer and the application process; and a commitment to connecting PVCC transfer students with meaningful experiences so that they thrive at UVA.
The gift also includes another key element geared toward student success: a summer bridge program for PVCC transfer students. The PVCC-University Summer Advancement Program will build on an existing pilot program designed to help PVCC transfer students adjust to the University’s academic and social environment before entering in the fall. Students take summer courses, develop close mentee relationships with faculty members and engage in life at UVA. The liaison will identify, advise and encourage those students who would most benefit from participation.
“This innovative gift addresses two of the University’s main priorities – recruiting top prospective students and increasing access and affordability for undergraduates,” Stephen Farmer, UVA’s vice provost for enrollment, said. “It will bring to Grounds outstanding students from all walks of life – students who will make everyone around them better. It will also strengthen the partnership between UVA and PVCC – a relationship that’s crucial for our students and our community. Working together, we’ll help students see that there are many paths to the University and to the bright futures that await them. And we’ll show them that we believe in them and are on their side, first and last.”
University Achievement Awards
The University Achievement Award supports students from the commonwealth who demonstrate academic merit, leadership and outstanding citizenship. Recipients are selected by UVA’s Office of Admission in coordination with Student Financial Services and in accordance with the criteria and process established for the University Achievement Award.
All in-state applicants are automatically considered for this award, which covers full tuition and required fees. A student must also satisfy at least two of the following conditions: have a history of overcoming adversity; be a first-generation college student; be a member of an underrepresented minority or ethnic group; be a member of a low/moderate income family; reside in a rural or inner-city location; have been raised in a single-parent household.
The University Achievement Awards were highlighted in the final report of the University’s Racial Equity Task Force, which recognized the role the program has played in “significantly expanding opportunities for previously excluded populations.” The report called for a doubling of the number of University Achievement Awards, “to attract top underrepresented students and first-generation scholars in Virginia.”
For more information on the University Achievement Awards, visit this site.