What makes Mary Washington shine in Virginia’s intensely competitive higher-education environment? According to President Troy Paino, it’s connections and a sense of community. He delivered that message at his All-UMW Assembly on Friday, where he shared accomplishments, updates and reflections with a roomful of faculty and staff, as the campus prepares to welcome a new and diverse class of students this week.
In a world where news headlines show that human bonds are increasingly frayed, Paino told the crowd in Dodd Auditorium, Mary Washington is “a place where transformative relationships are formed.” He pointed to studies that show college graduates attribute their future success to three factors: mentorship experiences, opportunities to apply learning outside the classroom and a strong sense of community. That’s precisely what UMW offers, Paino said.
The sense of teamwork he sees on campus and in the Fredericksburg community gives him hope, he said, and provides “the best medicine for what is ailing our republic.”
Many of Mary Washington’s upcoming initiatives, Paino said, speak to those values, including a yearlong celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of the late civil rights icon and UMW professor James Farmer and other significant human-rights milestones. UMW’s new Center for Community Engagement, designed to propel students, faculty and staff to work more closely with local organizations, will hold its official opening next month.
Mary Washington also plans a major re-branding campaign to coincide with the start of the fall 2021 recruitment season. Atlanta firm Mindpower, chosen after an exhaustive cross-country search, will lead the effort.
“I really felt they got us,” said Paino, who also praised campus-wide participation during last May’s Mary Wash Giving Day, which garnered more than 4,000 separate gifts, and touted the University’s fundraising efforts, yielding $9.5 million dollars throughout the past year, exceeding their goal by 26 percent. “So many people care so deeply about Mary Washington.”
He gave updates on ongoing and planned renovations to buildings across campus, including Seacobeck, the new home for the College of Education; Willard and Virginia residence halls; and the Melchers, duPont and Pollard arts complex.
Paino wrapped up his hour-long address by sharing a newly created video showcasing alumni who attribute the success they’ve found in their fields to the mentors they found at Mary Washington, and by welcoming a strong incoming class.
“I look forward to you all getting a chance to meet [the new students.] They move in on Wednesday,” said Paino, who shared five final words with the crowd: “Go out and change lives.”