In his first address to the Class of 2022 as the University of Virginia’s president, Jim Ryan had some advice for UVA’s newest students. 

“When in doubt, build a bridge,” he said.

He urged students to live connected lives. He asked them to reach out to each other, to professors, to UVA employees and to Charlottesville’s neighboring communities.

“Don’t be afraid to engage with people or ideas that are different from you. It is one of the best ways to sharpen your thinking and even change your own mind,” he said. “When in doubt, build a bridge, even if you are not sure where it is going.”

This idea isn’t limited to new college arrivals: faculty members reach across disciplines to solve complex problems, students make connections across cultural divides, staff members make a difference in our local communities. 

Here, find just a few of these stories. Know of someone who is building a bridge at UVA? Let us know at

“The Booker T. Washington Papers” is considered one of the great documentary editions in American scholarship. Washington had close ties to Black leaders in Charlottesville.
Roneil Jackson built an entire network to make small-scale donations to help people’s lives, and he thinks more people should do the same.
What can you do to help members of the Latino community in Charlottesville who have suffered greatly during the pandemic? Here’s a good place to start.
Olivia Pavco-Giaccia, who launched a company, worked for the White House and produced and hosted shows for the Discovery Channel and Facebook Watch, aims to inspire young girls through science.
UVA play-by-play announcer Dave Koehn’s voice is the soundtrack of successful Cavalier sports teams. Now he’s hoping he can use it for something else he deeply cares about: climate and sustainability efforts.
Five local nonprofits share how UVA faculty and staff can help make a difference in the community during the pandemic.
UVA’s new Center for Community Partnerships, located downtown, will serve as both a front door to the University for community members and a collaborative space for UVA’s existing community efforts.
The UVA Volunteer Center is helping Hoos give back during the pandemic, partnering with numerous Charlottesville organizations – including Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry.