Heather Downs joined the Virginia academic affairs staff in 2013 and in 2020 was named associate athletics director/executive director for academics and student development. In this role, she leads a student development team dedicated to academic advising, learning support, career and personal development, and community engagement. The team provides each student-athlete with individualized support, collaborating with alumni and resources across the University, to realize their academic potential and engage with the experiences available to them as student-athletes at Virginia.
Downs came to UVA with a background in student support and program management across multiple functional areas in higher education, including student retention, advising, leadership development, and residence life. She served in the Office of Student Life at California (2003-2005), managing the development and implementation of campus leadership programs. Prior to that she worked Northern Colorado (2000-2002) as the facilitator of academic advising, specifically with first-generation and low-income students.
Downs earned a bachelor of arts degree in environmental engineering from Florida and a master’s degree in student affairs and higher education from Colorado State.