UMW Presidential Address Ushers in 2022-23 Academic Year

University of Mary Washington President Troy Paino kicked off the fall semester — and the 2022-23 academic year — Tuesday morning during an in-person address to faculty and staff.

Troy Paino, UMW President

“I haven’t been able to greet you like this in a while,” Paino said from the stage in Dodd Auditorium at George Washington Hall.

The start-of-semester meeting came after what Paino called a busy summer and a highly successful legislative session in which the Commonwealth made a historic investment in UMW. The President spoke about funding plans, the launch of a new strategic vision expected to be unveiled this fall, the staffing of key administrative positions and, most importantly, the importance of welcoming a strong and diverse incoming class.

As the University enters its fourth year of regular in-state undergraduate tuition, Paino listed upcoming upgrades, including the renovation of the Mary Washington Performing Arts Complex and the construction of a new theater intended to strengthen ties with the Fredericksburg community. The funds will also be used to make accessible buildings on campus and support UMW museums and the Office of Disability Resources, which serves Mary Washington’s large percentage of students with disabilities.

He pointed to a host of senior staff, including Tim O’Donnell who, after months as acting provost, will officially take over as the University’s director of studies. Other UMW offices – including Admissions; Advancement; the Center for Community Engagement; Communications; diversity, equity and inclusion; Emergency management; Residence life and housing; Student Affairs; and Title IX – have also held leadership positions.

Reflecting on an eventful summer, Paino praised what was considered the “Mother of All Meetings,” which hosted more than 1,300 alumni, including those whose celebrations had been delayed due to the pandemic, back to their alma mater. And he spoke about the weekend’s conclusion, the emotional renaming of the structure that serves as the campus’ main center for student life as the Cedric Rucker University Center, in honor of the longtime dean who has recently retired to join the Peace Corps.

Paino touted UMW’s summer enrichment program, a residential experience introducing high school students to college life. And he praised a successful orientation for incoming students that brought new members of the university community — and a lot of energy — to campus.

“As we head into fall, we have things to look forward to,” Paino said.

The Commonwealth made a
The Commonwealth made a “historic investment” in UMW during its recent legislative session. President Troy Paino told faculty and staff Tuesday morning that he believed the move reflected UMW’s “essential role” in higher education.

New UMW flags throughout downtown Fredericksburg welcome students to the area, and ASPIRE banners are back by student demand, showcasing standards of responsibility, scholarship, personal and institutional integrity , inclusive excellence, respect and civility across the University.

“Student leaders this year are going to do a lot around those community values…and how they guide a lot of our decision-making and how we interact with each other.”

A new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, Paino said, will move UMW away from institutional mandates, toward guidelines that call for individual accountability.

The move to a new Carnegie classification, affirming Mary Washington’s mission in the liberal arts and public sciences, will better reflect the University’s position among institutions of higher education leading to a bachelor’s degree. And the initial phases of a website redesign, focused on prospective students and their families, should be launched at the start of the semester.

Efforts are underway on a new quality improvement plan to reaffirm SACSCOC (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges) accreditation. And a climate action task force, formed last spring, will aim to create a plan to reduce the university’s carbon footprint.

Also new, UMW’s Talley Center for Psychological Services is offering extended hours of clinical counseling to help identify and assist those in distress.

Paino concluded his talk by painting a picture of current trends in higher education, changing demographics, and the underlying value of a degree.

“One thing that is within our control is to think deeply about the work we do…” he said. In addition to preparing students for successful careers, “we must not lose sight of the most important thing we do as a public liberal arts university. We try to challenge our students to think about the choices they are making, to think deeply about those choices, what they are going to invest in and what is worth investing in… I am proud to be part of from a place like this.”

Comments are closed.