Dear UMW Community,
We approach the final weeks of the fall semester with much to be proud of and thankful for. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving break, with time spent with friends and family or a moment to reflect and express gratitude. We are especially grateful this time of year for all of the contributions of our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and family members.
These become most evident on Giving Tuesday, but your support and efforts are noted year-round. This Giving Tuesday, nearly 450 donors made 575 gifts, totaling more than $215,000 over a 24-hour period. Alumni from the Classes of 1958 through 2023 made gifts and donors offered $47,000+ in matches and challenges to inspire others to give. We are so grateful for the support of our community.
In addition, one of our recent graduates, Meghan McLees ’23, was named the 2023 Outstanding Young Adult Volunteer by the Virginia governor’s office. Her commitment to service flourished at UMW, with projects organized by COAR and other opportunities. We continue to see our students step up in service and leadership roles, as well as engage with our community in many meaningful ways.
The recent elections are another great example of this dedication. Just a few weeks ago, our nation came together to exercise the right to vote for political leaders and our UMW community showed up for Day on Democracy, encouraging voter participation and supporting civic engagement. So many in our community were actively engaged in the voting process and working alongside one another for a common goal, from creating educational materials, staffing information tables and updating social media sites, to organizing transportation to and from the polls via the Fredericksburg Trolley. Thank you to the many faculty, staff, and students who volunteered their time and passions to supporting this process.
UMW Dining and the UMW Athletic Department co-sponsored Sodexo’s annual “Stop Hunger” food drive, benefiting the campus pantry, the Gwen Hale Resource Center and the Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank with UMW Athletics alone raising 6,627 pounds of food. On November 11, we also honored our military personnel around the world on Veteran’s Day, recognizing their incredible service and sacrifice. In addition, we hosted hundreds of guests to campus for our final fall Admissions Open House, extending hospitality, showcasing our beautiful campus, and providing opportunities for prospective students and their families to learn more about our excellent academic programs, accomplished faculty, and one-of-a-kind student-centered campus life.
Our students have also competed on national and international levels in recent weeks. Proudly, the #2 UMW men’s soccer team won the second straight Coast-To-Coast Athletic Conference tournament title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament sectional semifinals. UMW’s volleyball team was selected to play in the NCAA Tournament and swimmer Amanda Sheward represented the United States at the Parapan American Games in Santiago, Chile, finishing fifth in the Women’s 100-meter backstroke. Congratulations to these student-athletes, as well as the sports in active seasons this winter. We are cheering you on.
We also received national recognition being named to The Princeton Review’s 2024 Guide to Green Schools. Receiving this accolade is only possible due to the great care and attention organized and given by so many, especially our dedicated Facilities Services team. And recently, community members attending a biannual Town and Gown Committee meeting commented that many neighbors consider the UMW campus much like a neighborhood park and enjoy its beautiful green space, walking paths, and benches. Our campus brings people together.
Our Stafford Campus will also be welcoming new students, as the Virginia Department of Education has approved the Academy of Technology and Innovation (ATI-UMW) to open in fall 2024 at the South Building. This new regional high school and lab school will enroll has many as 100 ninth-grade students from four area localities at no additional costs to students or families, and applications for eighth graders are available now. Utilizing the expertise of UMW professors and local school districts, the curriculum will focus on computer and data science, teaching excellence, and career readiness. This learning initiative underscores how UMW and our local community continue to create innovative pathways that enrich our communities.
Beyond this initiative, our UMW students now have an opportunity to expand their learning outside the classroom with the ever growing Beyond the Classroom Endowment, supporting high quality internships, study away and Study Abroad programs, independent research projects, registration and travel to conferences to present research findings, and attendance at annual Summer Research Institutes. I encourage our students to explore these opportunities and note any deadlines for applications, such as the Dec. 1 date to apply for Internship Grants from the Center for Career and Professional Development.
I want to thank the UMW staff who welcomed me to their offices this semester, offering me an opportunity to learn more about their work, their personal and collective role in supporting the mission of UMW, and their goals and ideas for enhancing their work at UMW. We identified several themes and the Cabinet and I have begun to review several topics. As we begin to focus on developing the FY25 budget, we will consider how to prioritize these needs in order to create an improved working environment.
Your work is appreciated, as is the work of our students. My wife Kelly and I always look forward to welcoming students at Brompton for Student Lottery Dinners throughout the year. We’re always left inspired by the energy, resiliency, and determination of our students as they share their personal backgrounds, academic achievements, and future goals.
I encourage you to join me in attending the many wonderful musical performances planned over the next week, ranging from recitals, ensembles, and a sing-along, to a UMW Philharmonic performance, the annual UMW Jazz and Choral Holiday Pops Concert, and more. In addition, The String Queens, a unique, Washington, D.C.-based trio of professional educators, will be sharing their musical talents in Dodd Auditorium tomorrow evening.
As we enter the final weeks of the semester, I wish each of you the best of success with end-of-semester projects, final exams, papers, grading, etc.
I hope you have a fulfilling Winter Break and look forward to seeing you next semester.