December 8, 2019

Message from the President: Campus Environment Presidential Ad Hoc Committee Final Report

To the campus community:

In 2017, the Board of Visitors asked me to appoint a Campus Environment Presidential Ad Hoc Committee to evaluate the campus environment and make recommendations to ensure that Mary Washington is welcoming to all.

After a nearly two-year exhaustive study of art, monuments, and other representations of the University’s history and community, the committee identified incidences where the portrayals are inaccurate, historically incomplete, or inconsistent with UMW’s public education mission and community values.

As the committee looked at campus, it became clear that the University’s history and its depiction of UMW life was frozen in time. Select murals and buildings present a one-dimensional interpretation of UMW’s history.  Further, they reflect only a fragment of its students and alumni. The final 74-page report, which was further shaped by the input of the campus community and alumni, was presented to the Board of Visitors at its November 15 meeting. A copy of that final report accompanies this email.

Following the presentation, the UMW Board of Visitors unanimously voted to endorse all of the committee’s 17 recommendations. Effective immediately, the Board authorized the President to convene a new standing committee to develop a plan that is expedient, but judicious and fiscally responsible, to implement these recommendations. Among the specific actions to be undertaken are:

  • Reinstituting the full names associated with campus buildings, thus recognizing the contributions of leaders, particularly women, over the University’s history. For instance, Lee Hall would return to its given name of Anne Carter Lee Hall.
  • Identifying a new name for Trinkle Hall in 2020, utilizing this opportunity for celebration, positive growth, and affirmative identity of the campus.
  • Explore avenues of contextualization, concealment, or relocation of select murals and providing insights on the cost and logistics of these options.
  • Commission the development of new and inclusive murals focused on UMW as it exists today and in more recent history, ensuring broad representation of its community. 

In endorsing the recommendations, Rector Heather Mullins Crislip ’95 said, “This is an important moment for Mary Washington. The Board of Visitors took action to deepen our roots while communicating that we are an inclusive and welcoming environment for the students of the future.”

This Board of Visitors has stated its commitment to creating an environment that attracts students of every background and affirms the campus as a welcoming, vibrant community. The Board is cognizant of the faculty, staff, and students’ deep connection to the campus and recognizes they must have an active voice in planning and implementing these changes. Thus, the Board has charged me with establishing a standing committee with up to nine diverse representatives of these groups. Independently, a committee of alumni and campus members will be selected and charged with soliciting input and making recommendations for the Trinkle Hall renaming.

The Board expects demonstrable progress towards all the goals within three years, but leaves it in the hands of me and the administration to define the timeline and sequence of events to occur. It anticipates the first report of the standing committee, as well as recommendations from the committee on Trinkle Hall’s renaming, by April 2020.

The Board of Visitors’ intent is not to reinterpret history but, rather, to expand upon it, by fully conveying the stories – plural – of the people who make and have made UMW extraordinary. The goal is to share the entirety of its account and to ensure that it provide an environment where students of any backdrop and persuasion can thrive. The Board’s acceptance of the Campus Environment report allows UMW to open its doors wider and to confidently know it is truly serving its public mission.

I look forward to announcing the memberships of the standing and naming committees in short order after consulting with our institutions of shared governance. 

Finally, I want to thank publicly all of the members of the Campus Environment Presidential Ad Hoc Committee for all their work over the last two years.

Troy 

Comments

  1. Mary Reynolds says

    Perhaps the full name of University of Mary Ball Washington could be reinstated as well as campus buildings.

  2. Carolyn Hawker Ginsberg says

    Happy to hear that these thoughtful plans are underway at UMW. The aims and process outlined in this announcemnt seem to be rooted in the best values I took with me when I graduated June 1964.

  3. Can you share a little bit more about why Trinkle Hall was specifically chosen to be renamed?

  4. Morgan Golladay. ‘68 says

    I graduated over 50 years ago, when the University was still a College for women. In the ensuing years MWC has grown into a University, with all of the responsibilities attached. It is far beyond time when total inclusion is not just preached, it is practiced as a visible statement of mission and purpose. This is a vital step in the visible message we give to the University community, the state, and the world. Thank you!
    As alumni, we still hold our College in honor, as we still consider ourselves College graduates. Times change, and these bold steps, seemingly small, echo our hopes and dreams for a place that values it history and tradition, while maintaining an eye to our future.

  5. Morgan Golladay says

    In 1924, Virginia Governor E L Trinkle signed the Racial Integrity Act. The Act, which provided a basis for determining race, essentially forced racial segregation in Virginia. Read more about this act in any good encyclopedia, in Wikipedia, or in the downloadable 74 page report from the Committee to President Paino.

  6. Morgan, thank you! Knew there had to be a reason, I wanted to know what it was. I’m definitely on board to change the name.

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