March 1, 2024

Message from President Paino Regarding Diversity and Inclusion

To the UMW Community,

In the few short months since I became president, I have listened and learned much about Mary Washington.  I have found this to be a welcoming and supportive community that values and celebrates diversity.  At the same time, however, I feel that we have much work to do—to substantially increase diversity in all areas, to promote a campus climate that is fully inclusive, and to ensure that effective systems are in place to help prevent and to address incidents of bias.

My strong personal commitment to diversity and inclusion is shared by all of the members of my senior leadership team and the Board of Visitors.  Accordingly, this is one of the top-level strategic priorities that I will be addressing during my first year as president.  I am writing to inform you of the formation of two important groups that, working in concert, will be developing pathways to achieving the goals of greater diversity and inclusion.

I have appointed a university-wide Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion.  This task force is chaired by Dr. Leah Cox, Special Assistant to the President for Diversity and Inclusion, and includes a broad representation of UMW faculty, staff, and students.  I have charged this group with addressing the following questions:

  • What is the climate on campus related to diversity and inclusion and how is it experienced by individuals and members of the community?
  • What is needed to recruit and retain a more diverse faculty, staff, senior administration and student body?
  • What measures can be taken to productively provide education as well as prevent insensitivity and discrimination?
  • How can we best address reported and suspected instances of bias for investigation and appropriate action?

The work of the task force will engage the entire UMW community, including students, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni and the Board of Visitors to formulate a diversity action plan.  The plan will include specific recommendations for moving the University forward.

Also, as a reflection of its deep commitment to these issues, the Board of Visitors has established a Diversity Ad Hoc Committee.  The ad hoc committee is chaired by Ms. Rhonda Van Lowe and includes a total of seven members of the Board.  This committee will meet regularly throughout the year to focus on diversity concerns and will interface with the Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion to support the work of that group.

As you are aware, our nation has faced critical challenges in recent years regarding racial injustice, religious intolerance, and gender identity.  In order for Mary Washington to truly fulfill our mission as a public liberal arts university, it is crucial that the UMW community model the values of diversity and inclusion.  This can be achieved only when we respect one another and learn from our different perspectives and experiences.  As members of this community, we need to have the often difficult conversations around the issues of diversity, insensitivity, bias, inclusion and equity.

Please be open to questions posed by your colleagues who are grappling with these issues, and be willing to offer feedback and observations.  Becoming a more diverse and inclusive campus is important to all of us.

Thank you,

Troy D. Paino, J.D., Ph.D.