February 26, 2024

Important Message From the Provost

In order to continue to focus on President Hurley’s goal of aspiring to be the best liberal arts and sciences university in the nation, UMW is embarking on an examination of its programs and current expenditures. This will help establish a roadmap for the future. We will be asking such questions as:

  • Are we allocating our resources in the best possible manner?
  • How might we do things better?
  • In what areas can Mary Washington be recognized as truly distinctive?
  • How might we further enhance our strengths?
  • In an increasingly competitive environment, which new program proposals coming from our faculty might we support?
  • Which of our existing programs might we want to expand?

The reality for state-supported institutions like Mary Washington is that state dollars are severely limited and no longer provide funds for meaningful growth in either size or programs. Currently, state appropriations constitute only 20 percent of our operating budget. In addition, all colleges and universities face increasing pressures to keep tuition costs to students and families as low as possible.

It is for this reason that such examinations are becoming commonplace in universities. At Mary Washington, we plan to conduct a broad-based consultative process involving many faculty members. It is imperative that decisions about our future are made with significant faculty involvement, and not imposed from the top down. Again, through this process, we will not only identify future priorities, but also strengthen our unique niche among Virginia’s public universities.

We will be assisted in this endeavor by an external consulting firm that has expertise in developing consultative faculty decision-making processes.  The goal of the exercise is to study all academic and non-academic activities, and to conclude where we might want to invest or reallocate resources. With such a blueprint, making those decisions as we progress forward will be buttressed by widespread input from all constituencies.

The process, which will take several months, is funded by President Hurley’s Fund For the Future, which is supported by the UMW Foundation.  As the study progresses, you will be hearing more about it.

–Ian Newbould
Interim Provost


About Marty Morrison


  1. It appears the administration has confused the definitions of “liberal arts university” and “corporation.”

  2. Mary Rigsby says

    How is this different from the Strategic Plan for the university which we just recently completed?

  3. Craig Vasey says

    Like many faculty, I regret the decision the Administration has taken to engage an outside consultant, especially at this particular moment, to begin this review. We are currently in a search for a new Provost, who will arrive in July 2013. Academic Program Review is one of the central responsibilities of a Provost. Unless there is an extremely urgent problem, there is no good reason to not allow the Provost search to bring in a person whom the faculty can work with in the future to conduct this review.

    There is nothing wrong with regular program review and assessment of what we’re doing, but it should be undertaken in a way that cultivates trust amongst the faculty. This approach has the opposite effect. The Administration likes to say that the institution is what it is because of the quality of the faculty. But here it chooses to disregard the concerns of the faculty. This is very disappointing.

    Craig Vasey
    Chair, Department of Classics, Philosophy, and Religion at UMW

    The question that seems to be driving this review is

  4. Peter Hawes says

    As an alumnus, I am deeply concerned about this decision. The administration has so far failed to uphold the values of a liberal arts institution– the emphasis on new buildings rather than faculty salaries, the lack of funding for the library and its staff, and the forced implementation of standardized “outcomes assessments” testing all come to mind. Given this record, I am concerned that this process will further undermine the liberal arts at UMW.

    The message from the provost appears to be intentionally vague and misleading. I am uncertain, for example, by what could be meant by “significant faculty involvement.” Were faculty given an opportunity to reject the study altogether, and did their input determine which consulting firm was selected? Too often, “faculty involvement” comes as an afterthought after key decisions have already been made.

    The language of “reallocation,” furthermore, suggests that some programs will be eliminated or face deep budget cuts. This is not stated clearly in the message from the provost, but seems to be the central issue here. The emphasis on program expansion is, I believe, intentionally misleading. Who will bear the costs?

    Let’s have a more open and honest discussion about this issue, with specific information rather than platitudes. What ways will students and faculty be involved? Where will cuts be focused? What factors will be used to determine where expansion should take place? What is the name of the external consulting firm, and how was it selected?

    I received this message via email, and found it troubling that it contained no followup information– no phone number, no contact information. Not even the email address of the provost was included! The tone of this process, so far, should cause deep concern, as it seems to say “let us handle it for now” (“As the study progresses, you will be hearing more about it”).

    Peter Hawes
    2012 Alumnus