May 29, 2024

Help Shape UMW’s Future By Sharing Your Voice

A Message from the President

Dear Mary Washington Community,

Last spring, the University began sharing plans to engage in rebranding to ensure that UMW is authentic, distinctive, and compelling on the higher education landscape. After a national search for firms that understand education, but can consistently present universities in fresh ways, ten firms were invited to campus for preliminary pitches to a group of faculty and staff. The field was narrowed to four firms, ranging from small boutique shops to international, full service agencies, and then further narrowed to two groups that demonstrated the most alignment with and affinity for UMW’s mission, culture, and community.

During the fall All-University Assembly for employees, I announced that the University had selected from that final two a branding partner: Mindpower ( of Atlanta. Mindpower has worked with more than 100 higher education institutions and was heartily recommended by schools ranging from Harvey Mudd to Indiana State to Mount St. Mary’s. Each school commended Mindpower’s ability to listen intently to the community, to interact respectfully and collegially, and to develop authentic and distinctive creative concepts. When asked “Why UMW?” Mindpower’s CEO, Lisa Jordan, responded that UMW was “ready to zag,” signifying our willingness to chart our own path and to stand independently against short-lived trends and short-sighted goals. In other words, they saw that Mary Washington wants to make its mark in a way that stands the test of time.

When a brand stands for something, not everyone will agree with it. In fact, if a brand is universally embraced, it probably doesn’t stand for much. We understand this, and yet, we believe a strong brand is rooted in truth, which should come from the people who live the UMW experience.

This is why I am asking for your help. UMW needs your voice in this work.

There are two ways I ask you to be involved: 1) Participate in a group or open forum in October to share what you think makes UMW exceptional, and 2) Complete a comprehensive survey later this fall that will help validate and refine the initial qualitative research.

Our timeline is ambitious for the process. Mindpower began its conversations on campus this past week, hosting multiple focus groups of students, faculty and staff who represented the broadest cross section of campus possible. The team will return twice in October: once to meet with external groups like alumni, parents, and donors, and a second time to converse in more depth with the campus community.

From October 22 to 24, the team will be on campus and they want to hear from you. Please join one of our two open forums for faculty and staff on Wednesday, October 23, at 4 p.m., or on Thursday, October 24, at 9 a.m. The locations will be announced later this month. Your opinion and willingness to share your input is all that is required. The qualitative research will inform a comprehensive survey that will be sent to the entire campus and every constituent for whom we have current contact information. After the research phase in the fall/winter, Mindpower will work diligently through the spring and summer to develop a creative concept for UMW. Our goal is to launch the new brand in the fall of 2020.

Please join us in shaping the way UMW is presented, framing the stories we tell, and giving our message a fresh and compelling narrative. If you have questions or would like to learn more about the process, please contact Vice President for Advancement and University Relations Lisa Jamison Bowling ’89 ( or Director of University Marketing Malcolm Holmes ( We have a shared goal of creating and establishing a brand that is as exceptional as UMW.


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