June 23, 2024

A Message from the President

Dear Mary Washington Community,

UMW President Troy D. Paino

UMW President Troy D. Paino

Last semester we contracted with the Huron Consulting Group out of Chicago to help develop a plan to improve the University’s financial future and better support student success. After several months on campus and working closely with a UMW Steering Team chaired by Dr. Jeffrey McClurken, the Huron consultants helped draft a Student Success Plan that will empower students to succeed while ensuring institutional sustainability.

The Student Success Plan is an action plan of prioritized steps to recruit, enroll, retain, and graduate students. This data-driven plan engaged a wide-range of UMW constituents including faculty, staff, students, administration, regional high school counselors, and alumni. This important qualitative data was cross-referenced with a quantitative analysis that assessed different demographic, financial, academic, and student engagement factors from recruitment to post-graduate success to better assess the challenges and opportunities involved in recruiting, retaining, and graduating students.

This analysis led to the development of goals, recommendations, and actionable tactics aimed at enhancing the UMW student experience and the University’s strategic position.

Over the next five years, we will prioritize our efforts to:

  • Increase the retention of first-to-second year full-time, first-time students by 5%
  • Increase the retention of second-to-third year full-time, first-time students by 5%
  • Increase retention rates for all students, but especially for at-risk sub-populations
  • Enhance institutional support for student career readiness
  • Enhance branding, marketing, and messaging to support the plan’s goals
  • Recruit academically prepared and diverse students
  • Increase transfer student enrollment by at least 5%
  • Increase the yield of admitted students by 2.5%
  • Increase first-time freshmen applications by at least 10%
  • Expand continuing education and adult programs
  • Consider targeted growth in academic programs that align with UMW’s values and Commonwealth strategic priorities
  • Set a pricing structure that supports the long-term financial viability of UMW while increasing accountability and transparency

The steering committee recommended strategies and tactics to achieve these goals but also made clear the need to prioritize our efforts. As a result, we will prioritize those action items that will help improve retention, rebrand the Mary Washington experience, and improve the yield of admitted students. Improved retention and yield will have an immediate impact on UMW’s ability to increase net-tuition revenue, sustain academic quality, and enhance our academic reputation.

As a part of the Student Success Plan effort, UMW is also considering changes to its tuition price structure, as the Governor looks for institutions to provide students and families greater transparency and the ability to plan financially for four years of enrollment. UMW will also develop budgets that better align tuition and fee revenue with expenses, ensuring the alignment of resources with strategic priorities as well as allowing for greater transparency and accountability.

Achieving these goals will have a positive impact on net-tuition and fee revenue that will both support new strategic investments and reinforce UMW’s reputation for student success. Implementation and realization of these goals is attainable but will require us to work together in new ways. To facilitate the implementation efforts, we will need to augment the use of data and information sharing to ensure accountability to students and the campus community.

We will be presenting a full report of the Student Success Plan to the Board of Visitors at the upcoming April 12 meeting.  Following this report, we will more broadly share with campus the substance of this plan and the data analysis that informs the goals, strategies, and tactics embedded in the plan. In addition, I will hold a meeting with all faculty and staff on May 9 in the Chandler Ballroom of the University Center to provide a report on this plan and our priorities for the next year. I will also meet with students at a Can We Talk session in the fall.

Thanks to each of you who makes this learning community so special. Despite our challenges, we have accomplished a great deal over the past year, and our reputation for academic excellence continues to rise. As we enter the home stretch of this academic year, I wish you well and encourage you to take care of yourself.