The University of Mary Washington marked a milestone occasion Friday, April 21, with the inauguration of its 10th president, Troy D. Paino. A crowd of nearly 1,000 students, alumni, faculty, staff and community members packed George Washington Hall’s Dodd Auditorium for the momentous event.
Recounting the rich history of the University, which rose from Civil War ashes in 1908 to prepare female teachers, Paino spoke of its transformation from a Normal School to the premier public coeducational liberal arts and sciences institution it is today. He reflected on Mary Washington’s trailblazers who, empowered with a liberal arts education, paved the way for pursuing challenging careers in science, government, industry and education.
“Mary Washington is at its best when it is reminded of its mission to serve,” Paino said. “Mary Washington thrives when it understands that its very existence is an investment in hope – a hope in the students we educate and a hope in our Republic’s future. Mary Wash is Mary Wash when it engages the whole person – head, heart and soul – and creates an intimacy that is born out of our sense of common purpose.”
Since taking UMW’s top role on July 1, 2016, Paino has made a point to listen to the UMW community and formulate thoughts about how to achieve the school’s public liberal arts and sciences mission of creating academic excellence, engaged citizens and social uplift.
As it has for more than a century, the University will continue to prepare the very best teachers, strive to reflect on increasing the diversity of the Republic and offer an education that empowers students to change the world, said Paino.
“Here at Mary Washington, we understand that we are bound together through mutual respect and our values of honor, leadership and service,” he said.
Mary Washington will lead the way in reshaping the liberal arts for the digital age, Paino said. “We do so by intentionally fostering the ability in our students to consume and produce digital knowledge critically, ethically and responsibly, as well as creatively adapt to emerging technology, while developing the intellectual skills necessary to address the world’s most vexing problems.”
He noted that the job of the University is not to teach people what to think but to teach them how to think.
“Here at Mary Washington, we have been given a great gift, the gift of purpose,” said Paino. “Maybe the most important work we do is to help our students in their personal search for meaning at a time when it is increasingly difficult to do so.”
Presenters included Virginia Speaker of the House Bill Howell, R–Stafford; Fredericksburg Mayor Mary Katherine Greenlaw; Mary Washington Healthcare Executive Xavier R. Richardson; UMW Alumni Association President Angela Mills; University Faculty Council Chair Anand Rao; Staff Advisory Council President Julie Smith; and Student Government Association Vice President Ethan P. Carter.
Board of Visitors Rector Fred M. Rankin III officiated the ceremony and retired Fredericksburg Judge J. Martin Bass administered the oath of office. Paino’s predecessor, former UMW President Richard V. Hurley placed the presidential collar around Paino’s neck, with assistance from Holly Cuellar, former board rector. An academic mace, carried by Faculty Marshal Porter Blakemore, was a symbolic reminder of the newly inaugurated president’s embodiment of power, authority, autonomy and sovereignty.
Close friend and colleague Craig M. Phelps, president and provost at A.T. Still University, which has campuses in Kirksville, Missouri, and Mesa, Arizona, told the audience that Paino brings wisdom, experience and humor to the position, and together with wife Kelly, “they are an unyielding force for good.”
A cappella groups and a brass quintet performed. A reception, with food stations, performances and music, followed in the University Center.
The festivities also included a 5K “Glow Run” on campus on Wednesday evening.
A student-focused leader, Paino is president of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges and a member of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and President’s Trust for Liberal Education and America’s Promise.
Before arriving at UMW, Paino spent six years as president of Truman State University, a public liberal arts and sciences school in Kirksville. He served also as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Truman and as dean at Winona State University’s College of Liberal Arts.