February 20, 2019

President Paino Uses Address to Launch a New Semester

UMW President Troy D. Paino

UMW President Troy D. Paino

President Troy Paino addressed faculty and staff Tuesday afternoon — the first official day of the spring semester – describing 2019 as his “most ambitious year” as UMW’s president.

Paino reminded the gathering of UMW’s distinct role in the commonwealth and the importance of its response to challenges in a world where student debt exceeds 1.5 trillion dollars. He said students experience anxiety over not only the cost of college and the likelihood of gaining post-graduate employment, but also finding success in an increasingly digital world.

He mentioned the gap between state funding for and student interest in high-demand fields – technology, engineering and health care – and those that have experienced a steady national decline, such as history and English, and he said that we need to ask ourselves what that means for UMW as a liberal arts institution. In response, Paino suggested UMW rely on its four-pronged vision, which weaves together service and civic engagement, high-impact personalized learning experiences, diversity and inclusion, and the digital liberal arts, which he described as the “integration of the use and analysis of modern technology into our liberal arts experience.”

Mary Washington hosted a summit last week, he said, that brought the University together with local K-12 partners, Germanna Community College, KnowledgeWorks, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and community partners to create educational pathways for students that lead to jobs, reduce costs, accelerate time toward degrees, and promote powerful personalized learning experiences.

“I think we have to in some ways be an innovative campus that is also willing to break the model,” said Paino, who reminded the audience of UMW’s start as a normal school with the overarching purpose of educating the entire citizenry. “… I want us to make a positive difference in the world. I want us to help solve these problems.”

Paino began his address by expressing gratitude for employees’ efficient response to the sudden closure of Alvey and Arrington halls this past summer, which forced many students into off-campus housing, and for the “amazing” renovation of Arrington. “I’m really happy to say that all of our resident students are back on campus this year, where they belong,” he said.

He praised the ongoing work of the Campus Environment Presidential Ad Hoc Committee, which on the recommendation of the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, surveyed thousands of public displays on UMW’s three campuses to gauge how Mary Washington represents itself in terms of inclusivity.

And, in terms of finances, Paino spoke of possible effects of the government shut-down on both students’ ability to pay and the receipt of expected federal grant money in support of various programs. He presented an update on funds in the Governor’s budget—under consideration by the General Assembly—for additional equipment in Jepson and Seacobeck, and for employee pay increases. He also said he remains hopeful that UMW will receive requested aid for capital improvements to renovate Melchers, Pollard and duPont halls and to build a new theatre. He said the work the University is doing with consultants will help guide key decisions on recruitment, retention, pricing and budgeting.

Referring in his address to a parable put forth by Leo Tolstoy, Paino stressed the importance of focusing on the present, the people we are with at the moment, and the value of service.

“I want us all to be reminded that the time is now. The people we are here to work with are in this room,” he said. “And the most important people to serve are the students who are in our residence halls and our classrooms right now.”

Watch Paino’s address: https://vimeo.com/311673418