Martin A. Wilder Jr., chief of staff at the University of Mary Washington, has been recognized by the Potomac and Chesapeake Association for College Admission Counseling (PCACAC). Wilder received the John A. “Jack” Blackburn Award for Ethics in College Admissions for his achievements in promoting high ethical standards and integrity, and ensuring equity in access to higher education.
Since coming to work at Mary Washington in 1979, Wilder has spent decades in the college admissions profession, holding vice presidential positions in enrollment and communications, enrollment management, admissions and financial aid, and serving as associate dean of admissions. He’s filled the role of chief of staff under UMW presidents Richard V. Hurley and Troy D. Paino.
“He was the one who, for so many years, folks would turn to for advice when encountering difficult situations in the admissions process,” said PCACAC Past Presidents’ Committee Chair Mike Carter, director of college counseling at St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School. “The people Marty mentored and guided now represent some of the top voices for ethical college admissions not only in our region, but nationally.”
The Blackburn Award illustrates PCACAC’s mission of supporting and advancing college admissions professionals as they guide their institutions, students and families in an ethical manner. Named for the late John A. “Jack” Blackburn, longtime University of Virginia dean of admissions, the award was established in 2010 to recognize those who exemplify Blackburn’s commitment to ethics, integrity and the promotion of equity in the college admissions process.
The honor is particularly poignant for Wilder, who considered Blackburn a close friend and colleague, and also a role model who represented the University of Virginia, where Wilder earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He also earned his doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies at U.Va.
He was “a terrific guy,” Wilder said of Blackburn, “just a wonderful, wonderful person.”
For being such a competitive business, college admissions employs some incredibly collegial professionals, said Wilder, who served as PCACAC’s president from 1989 to 1990, during the association’s 25th year. He also received its 1993 Richard L. Apperson Award for extraordinary service to students and the college counseling profession.
“Even though we may be competing for students,” Wilder said, “we’re also very much attuned to the whole idea of what this is about – a student-centered process.”
During his tenure as PCACAC’s president, Carter said, Wilder “helped propel our association to be one of the strongest affiliates of our national organization” – the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC).
UMW Coordinator of Community Events Ali Hieber presented Wilder with the Blackburn Award at PCACAC’s 52nd annual conference in Williamsburg on Sunday, April 23. “In his numerous roles throughout his career,” Hieber said, “Marty has demonstrated the highest commitment to our professional standards through tremendous sustained active involvement in both PCACAC and NACAC.”
In addition to student recruitment, admissions and enrollment functions at Mary Washington, Wilder, who has announced his September retirement, has provided leadership in external relations, communications, marketing and student services.
“It’s very humbling and a wonderful honor,” he said of receiving the Blackburn Award. “Jack is someone I respected and loved as a colleague and friend for so many years.”