Thomas Jefferson envisioned that his University of Virginia would prepare the young citizens of the Commonwealth and the nation to pursue productive careers in public service, agriculture and commerce; and for ninety years, students have pursued the ideal of higher education in the buildings that Jefferson designed almost 200 years ago.
In 1915, the University of Virginia organized a Bureau of Extension to deliver its academic resources to people throughout the state in the spirit of Jefferson’s “hope [that] the education of the common people will be attended to.” Subsequently, the University added to its Statement of Purpose and Goals an injunction to provide public service activities and continuing and professional studies programs of the highest quality to the citizens of Virginia and the nation. Today, the University of Virginia’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies serves annually more than 30,000 individuals in credit and noncredit courses of study, as well as conferences, seminars, and training programs. In all academic pursuits, the School has adhered to a standard of lifelong learning, established first by Jefferson’s notion of “education on the broad scale,” whereby adults vigorously attend to their education throughout their lives.
And yet, while maintaining “the broad scale” of learning, the School of Continuing and Professional Studies has not lost sight of the practicality necessary for education in the twenty-first century. The School creates opportunities for adult students to learn about the most recent advances in research and scholarship, in an environment conducive to liberal learning, and from faculty members actively engaged in a plethora of scholarly studies.
Through the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, University of Virginia faculty members share the results of their inquiries and test the implications of their findings with a variety of individuals from diverse personal backgrounds and career experiences. At the same time, program participants broaden their knowledge and hone such critical skills as strategic thinking and problem solving. Above all else, the School aims to cultivate the highest quality of education balanced with the broadest sense of learning.
The School of Continuing and Professional Studies trains executives from business and industry, and professionals from many fields, to respond quickly and successfully to the ever-changing challenges in their work lives. Political and community leaders engage in focused study of significant public policy issues, examine the problems facing the institutions which they support or govern, and consider the assumptions about quality of life and civic responsibility which guide their communities.