4-VA promotes innovation and advances the commonwealth

4-VA is a collaborative partnership between eight Virginia universities that is powered by 4 initiatives. Our mission is to promote collaborations that leverage the strengths of each partner university and improve efficiencies in higher education across the Commonwealth of Virginia.

We carry out this mission by advocating unprecedented partnerships between faculty and departments to generate significant, innovative solutions to educational and real-world problems. Since 4-VA’s inception, we’ve sponsored advancements in research, pilot courses, redesigned courses, shared courses, online programs, industry-focused adult degrees, new technologies, interventions, workshops, conferences and other programs.


2010 – 4-VA aims to advance the commonwealth

In 2010, the presidents of George Mason University (GMU), James Madison University (JMU), the University of Virginia (UVA) and Virginia Tech (VT) combined forces with Governor Bob McDonnell, other members of Virginia’s government, and Cisco Systems, Inc. to launch 4-VA in response to three areas of Virginia’s legislation:

  • The Governor’s Higher Education Commission
  • The Governor’s Commission on Economic Development & Job Creation
  • The Virginia Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2011, “Preparing for the Top Jobs of the 21st Century” (TJ21)

The focus on STEM education and innovation to “better position Virginia to create jobs and grow the economy” led to a broad challenge for the universities that continues to guide the work of the growing collaborative.

2014 – ODU joins 4-VA for increased statewide impact

Early growth gained momentum and 4-VA continued to expand in scope and further develop its infrastructure. In December 2014, 4-VA welcomed Old Dominion University (ODU) as a new member.

ODU is a forward-focused research university with rigorous academics, entrepreneurial research and collaboration, and initiatives that contribute nearly $2.1 billion to the economy. ODU offers 4-VA over 30 years of distance learning expertise and infrastructure and an established 20-year statewide collaboration with the Virginia Community College System (VCCS). Academic strengths at ODU include engineering, computer science, bioelectrics, oceanography, physical therapy, counseling and STEM-H.

2015 – JMU serves as executive office

In early 2015, 4-VA transferred management of the executive office to JMU in the Department of Information Technology.

2017 – VCU joins 4-VA and adds significant strengths

On June 1, 2017 4-VA formally accepted Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) as the most recent 4-VA partner institution. As the premier urban, public research university in Virginia, VCU has a large and growing research enterprise, a diverse student body, and a collaborative nature that fits 4-VA’s initiatives.

With over 2,000 full-time faculty, VCU offers a large, collaborative research environment. The university has more than 31,000 students who come from 102 countries, making it one of the most racially and ethnically diverse schools in the U.S. To serve this large population of students and researchers, they are expanding their online presence, which will help 4-VA improve access and help more Virginians complete their degrees.

2019 – WM and VMI join 4-VA for increased statewide impact

On September 9, 2019 the 4-VA Management Board unanimously voted to accept the College of William and Mary (WM) and the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) as the newest members of 4-VA.

These universities bring unique strengths to the collaborative and with their addition, 4-VA is now present at almost all of the large state higher education institutions in Virginia, allowing for greater impact across the commonwealth.


4-VA supports real-time collaboration across Virginia with telepresence technology

In partnership with Cisco Systems, Inc., 4-VA utilizes telepresence systems to connect university administrators, staff, faculty and students in live, virtual environments across Virginia.

Identical videoconferencing rooms on each campus allow for seamless conference spaces that virtually conjoin the two halves of the room—each on a different campus—to create a cohesive learning environment and eliminate the time and fiscal costs of travel. By deconstructing barriers to collaboration, classes can take place in real time in two places with disciplinary experts working together to deliver innovative instruction.


4-VA provides assistance in collaborative efforts for multidisciplinary research, course sharing and educational initiatives

Through each university’s RFP process, faculty submit requests for research projects to generate initial data and create connections with faculty across the commonwealth. This seed funding is designed to springboard pilot projects for national granting agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the National Institute for Health. Support is also given to course redesigns, pilot courses, course sharing, degree completion, and other educational initiatives.

Learn More

Learn more about 4-VA in our Annual Report.