UMW President Troy Paino and James Monroe, the fifth president of the United States, shared the stage in the University’s Monroe Hall on Monday, Feb. 20, for a one-of-a-kind Presidents Day press conference focused on the themes of leadership and civic responsibility.
James Monroe was inaugurated for his first term on March 4, 1817. President Paino will be inaugurated as UMW’s 10th president on April 21, 2017.
“In celebration of Presidents Day, the James Monroe Museum is presenting a unique opportunity to have a discussion with both presidents on the cusp of their presidencies, looking forward to the path of leadership before them,” said Scott Harris, director of the James Monroe Museum. Re-enactor James “Jay” G. Harrison III will portray James Monroe.
Harris noted striking similarities between the two leaders. Both stress the importance of having an educated and civic-minded citizenry in order to have a healthy democracy and a bright future for the nation.
Speaking at Washington College in Pennsylvania on Sept. 4, 1817, Monroe said, “In providing for the prosperity and happiness of a country, a careful attention to literary institutions, and the education of youth ought ever to occupy a high place. To the youth we must look with an eye of deep interest – they are the hope of our country.”
Monroe’s thoughts seem to have been reflected in Paino’s address when he was introduced to the UMW community on Feb. 19, 2016: “What we really are about here at Mary Washington and what really attracted me was that we produce young people who have a servant’s heart, who become passionate about something and want to improve the world, who want to be fully engaged in their communities, and want to advance our democracy in a positive way, and to me that’s why I do this work.”