October 1, 2020

Patrick Catullo: Courting Victory

In tennis, timing is key.

UMW Athletic Director Patrick Catullo. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

UMW Athletic Director Patrick Catullo. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

Patrick Catullo started his Mary Washington athletics journey, a psychology major on the men’s tennis team, just as the ’90s edged onto the court. Later, Catullo returned to his alma mater to coach women’s tennis, advancing the team to one conference championship after another.

A 16-year Mary Washington career led to the ledge of the top spot in college sports – Athletic Director. He’d held the interim post for more than a year when he landed the job after a nationwide search. That was February. And we all know what happened in March.

“Rumor has it these are truly ‘unprecedented times!’ ” Catullo said. “The focus of our department is on maintaining a high-quality student-athlete experience.”

With the pandemic handing UMW athletics a time-out through winter, he said, “committed, resourceful” coaches and staff are building Eagle momentum for spring through corporate sponsorships, social media campaigns and a project highlighting past and present student-athletes.

“It’s truly been awesome to see the ‘come togetherness’ of this group,” Catullo said.

And then there’s the practicing – masked and monitored, of course – with modified strength and conditioning starting this month. “Goolrick and Anderson are buzzing with (socially distanced) activity,” said Catullo, who served previously as UMW’s assistant director of athletics and director of compliance.

As Athletic Director, he’s poised to get student-athletes back in the swing when competition picks up. In tennis – and in all of UMW’s 20-plus varsity sports – timing is key.

Q: How did your passion for sports begin?
A: I was actively involved in sports growing up, and my parents introduced me to tennis at a young age. After college, I continued to learn about the game from the coaching side, and began my head coaching career at the community college level.

Q: What do you miss most about coaching?
A: Daily interaction with student-athletes. But I feel I have far greater impact and reach in my current role.

Q: What’s your favorite sport?
A: I have the great pleasure of having 25 favorite sports! Any opportunity to see our Eagles compete, while maintaining a rigorous academic schedule and engaging in the campus community, is a true “win.”

Q: What’s the current mood of players and coaches?
A: Eager! Right now, everyone is working to mitigate risk for our student-athletes, staff and coaches, and return to practice in a safe, healthy way. I have no doubt we’ll be back to cheering on our Eagles soon.

Q: What does it mean to be a Division III athlete?
A: For our student-athletes, it truly means being students first, playing for the love of the game and finding a sense of balance in their college careers. We compete at a very high level, with several of our sports earning NCAA Tournament berths and National Ranking recognition.

Q: Who do you root for, besides the UMW Eagles?
A: I support a variety of sports, from football to ice hockey to tennis, and I’m a big fan of the Capitals and Nationals.

Q: How do you spend your free time?
A: I enjoy spending time with my sons, Ryan and Chase, and of course hitting a few tennis balls whenever I can!

President Paino: UMW Will Persevere Through Pandemic

A situation easily seen as short on hope is filled with it because of the hard work and dedication of faculty and staff, University of Mary Washington President Troy Paino said Monday morning during an all-University address delivered on YouTube and Zoom.

UMW President Troy D. Paino

UMW President Troy D. Paino

From the early clearing of campus last spring to the recent delay of in-person classes, employees have shown resilience throughout the COVID-19 crisis, he said, working together to pursue UMW’s primary mission of serving students. Visibly moved by the months-long effort, he expressed personal gratitude to individuals, departments and the collective community, and pledged that the preservation of jobs will remain a top priority.

Despite challenges that lie ahead – from public health and economic crises to political upheaval and a renewed focus on achieving racial equity – Mary Washington should emerge stronger than ever, according to Paino. That’s because of the institution’s bedrock principles. “Our care, compassion, empathy and commitment hold us together in the face of all those forces that could have divided us,” he said.

Noting the faculty’s lightning-speed, four-day transition last spring from in-person to online instruction, Paino singled out creative feats like UMW Theatre’s impromptu livestream production of Much Ado About Nothing and the fiscal maneuvering of a budget cut by millions. With nearly 2,000 attendees across the globe and dozens of facilitators, the COVID-19 in Context course, launched by College of Arts and Sciences Dean Keith Mellinger and Professor of Communication Anand Rao, spoke to the University’s resilience, Paino said, and helped make sense of the world.

A COVID-19 task force, directed by Chief of Staff Jeff McClurken and Associate Provost for Academic Engagement and Student Success Tim O’Donnell and splintered into working groups involving more than 100 faculty and staff, was charged with preparing for the return of students this fall. The entire UMW community, Paino said, from frontline workers to alumni, “did not skip a beat,” rising to meet the demands of a rapidly shifting reality while maintaining care and concern for one another and for students.

The COVID-19 in Context course, launched by College of Arts and Sciences Dean Keith Mellinger and Professor of Communication Anand Rao, spoke to the University’s resilience, Paino said, and helped make sense of the world.

In his all-university address, President Paino said UMW’s popular COVID-19 in Context course spoke to the University’s resilience, and helped make sense of the world.

“It’s uncertain when the uncertainty will be behind us,” said Paino, adding that UMW will continue to monitor the virus’ spread, testing capacity and other factors before reaffirming its plan to begin welcoming students back onto campus Sept. 10. He reinforced the decision to issue pro-rated room and board discounts to compensate for reduced time on campus and re-iterated his resolve to save jobs. “We want to do everything we can, we want to look under every rock, before we ever get to that point.”

A renewed focus on its core values, including civic engagement, and diversity and inclusion, will help see UMW through the pandemic, Paino said, acknowledging the unwelcome interruption of the yearlong Farmer Legacy 2020 celebration. The commemoration recognizes not only the 100th birthday of the late civil rights icon and Mary Washington professor James Farmer but also the centennial anniversary of women’s right to vote and the 30-year mark of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The recent renaming of Trinkle Hall in honor of Farmer, Paino said, demonstrates UMW’s commitment to continue the commemoration.

New initiatives like ASPIRE Speak, emphasizing respect, empathy and civility in discourse, and the student-led Day on Democracy, aimed at encouraging and enabling all to exercise their right to vote, he said, will serve to keep the University moving in the right direction. He also emphasized the need for the entire Mary Washington community to adhere to the mantra of the #ForwardUMW MMDC campaign: monitor, mask, distance and clean.

Plans for fall in-person learning to end before Thanksgiving, and students’ return to campus in late January, 2021, will give the University ample time to prepare for what will hopefully be a full spring semester and two May Commencements, for the Classes of 2020 and 2021.

“If we’re able to get there, I cannot think of a more joyous occasion for the Mary Washington community,” Paino said. “On the other side of this pandemic … I see a stronger and more self-assured UMW. This has brought us together in a powerful way, and now it is up to us to stay together.”

Livestream Session Addressed Return-to-Campus Culture

Faculty and staff attended a live Q&A webinar via Zoom yesterday, as the state entered Phase 3 of the governor’s “Forward Virginia” reopening plan. Called “Commitment to Community,” the session focused on how the University will help students prepare for and commit to behavioral and social expectations and requirements when they return to campus next month.

UMW Chief of Staff Jeff McClurken moderated the livestream event, which featured panelists Vice President for Student Affairs Juliette Landphair, Associate Vice President and Dean of Student Life Cedric Rucker, Assistant Dean for Residence Life and Housing David Fleming, and University Physician and Director of the Student Health Center Nancy Wang.

“We know how much our students want to come back to campus,” Landphair said. “They want to resume their holistic Mary Washington experience as much as possible.”

Landphair explained that establishing a culture of compliance – an environment that encourages adherence to sound public health principles and a purposeful intent to prevent the spread of disease – is a “gating requirement,” or prerequisite to re-opening. In that vein, UMW’s Return to Campus Plan will be submitted to SCHEV for approval and shared with campus on Monday, July 6.

The plan, panelists said, focuses on moving forward the core mission of Mary Washington and builds on existing codes of conduct, as well as the University’s statement of community values, known as ASPIRE.

“We don’t want to see a situation where individuals feel stigmatized in any way,” said Rucker, who has spent the past several weeks speaking with incoming students. “That’s why ASPIRE is also important. We want to celebrate everyone but also make sure that everyone is committed to ensuring that the academic process moves forward as smoothly as possible.”

Students, faculty and staff will be asked to complete training modules focused on “MMDC” – monitoring, masking, distancing and cleaning – and all individuals must pledge to uphold the guidelines.

Among their many questions, employees who tuned in to the hourlong session asked how faculty and staff will be expected to enforce behavioral guidelines, how claimed health exemptions to regulations will be handled and how the University is collaborating with city officials.

The Return to Campus Plan will address many of yesterday’s topics of concern, such as quarantine and isolation, testing and tracing, and communication of positive cases, McClurken said. If questions still exist after reading the document, he encouraged employees to restate them at next week’s livestream Q&A event on Wednesday, July 8, at 3 p.m., via Zoom or YouTube.

Watch yesterday’s Q&A below.



Virtual Town Hall Addresses Campus ‘Hurt’

UMW President Troy Paino addressed an audience of concerned students yesterday afternoon during a virtual town hall meeting.

The event – planned for an hour but extended by 15 minutes to allow more students to speak – was called in light of protests taking place throughout the country and in the Fredericksburg area since the May 25 murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.

“I just wanted to let you all know that my mind and my heart have been with you over the past week and a half, and really since we left each other back in March,” Paino said at the start of the session, hosted live via Zoom.

While a number of faculty and staff members expressed interest in participating, President Paino wanted to have an exclusive conversation with students. Their concerns centered on the presence of UMW Police Sunday night during a protest when city police used tear gas to displace protesters. Other topics included the university’s stance on systemic racism and on the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Black lives do matter,” said Vice President for Equity and Access Sabrina Johnson, who joined Paino yesterday as a panelist, along with UMW Police Chief Mike Hall. “I want to mention the names our leaders mention: Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd. I want their names to be in this space during this very important discussion.”

Just hours before Floyd’s first memorial service was set to be begin in Minneapolis, students took their turns onscreen to pose questions to Paino, who told them that he has lined up discussions with Fredericksburg officials, including the police chief, city manager and mayor. The university is committed to working through what happened, he said, and to maintaining transparency in communicating those findings.

Paino pledged that UMW will continue its efforts to recruit a more diverse faculty and to live by its code of community values, also known as ASPIRE. He acknowledged his intent to join in solidarity with students who planned a peaceful walk from Mary Washington to Fredericksburg’s Market Square this afternoon. The march, officially announced in a UMW email today from Student Government Association President Kyree Ford,was meant to support students of color and “to show the campus community that black lives matter and hate has no home at Mary Washington.”

UMW Introduces New Fully Searchable Course Catalog

The new University of Mary Washington course catalog is out.

The fully searchable, online publication, available at catalog.umw.edu, has been thoughtfully consolidated to avoid waste, and includes all the bells and whistles.

With a single URL for both graduate and undergraduate programs, the new catalog features “bubbles” that pop up with descriptions drawn directly from Banner when users hover over hyperlinked course numbers. A navigation bar includes sections containing general information about UMW, specifics about fees and financial aid, and other details that apply to both grads and undergrads.

The catalog also comes with a course search option, directory of programs and A-to-Z index of topics, and is available in a PDF format that can be printed or saved.

Software provider CourseLeaf designed the publication based on a UMW style guide, after the decision to stop printing was made early last year. Administrators also made the change in order to sync the catalog with course records in Banner, meet accessibility guidelines and accommodate multiple browsers.

Led by Associate Provost for Academic Affairs John Morello, the group behind the new catalog includes Kevin Caffrey, Rita Dunston, Angie Sawyer, Evie Sherlock and Brian Ogle from the Registrar’s Office; Ben Kjar from IT; Amy O’Reilly and Ginny Irvin from the Provost’s Office; Mike Breitenbach and AJ Newell from University Relations; Jen Cirbus from Academic Services; and Provost Nina Mikhalevsky and Associate Provost for Academic Engagement and Student Success Tim O’Donnell.

Full PDFs will be posted sometime this summer, Morello said, as academic program and calendar particulars are shored up. Meanwhile, course catalogs from previous years are available by visiting catalog.umw.edu and clicking the link listed under “Archived Catalogs,” and through UMW Libraries’ Special Collections.

Q&A Session Focused on Recruitment and Retention

UMW faculty and staff tuned in yesterday to a Zoom presentation and Q&A session centered on fall enrollment and retention in the time of COVID-19. Facilitated by Chief of Staff Jeff McClurken, the hour-long event included Vice President for Enrollment Management Kimberley Buster-Williams, Director of Undergraduate Admissions Melissa Yakabouski, Executive Director of Continuing and Professional Studies Kimberly Young and Director of Graduate Admissions Christy Pack.

Vice President for Enrollment Management Kimberley Buster-Williams

Vice President for Enrollment Management Kimberley Buster-Williams

Buster-Williams and Yakabouski, who together have worked half a century in college admissions, said that the recruitment-related woes they’ve faced throughout their careers have been trumped by unemployment rates, health concerns and other disruptions caused by the current pandemic.

COVID-19 has taken an increasingly competitive college-enrollment landscape to new heights, the administrators said, forcing them to re-imagine strategies for recruiting and retaining students, and pose innovative solutions. At the time of the talk, first-year deposits stood at slightly more than 100 less than anticipated, according to Buster-Williams. This mirrors a downward trend across the country, she said. Mary Washington, like other schools, has extended the enrollment deposit deadline to June 1.

“We find ourselves in the midst of a recruitment crisis, and the outpouring of support has been truly appreciated,” she said of faculty, staff, alumni and other members of the Mary Washington community who are pitching in to help yield a strong incoming class.

Director of Undergraduate Admissions Melissa Yakabouski

Director of Undergraduate Admissions Melissa Yakabouski

After working for years to build a 2020-21 UMW undergraduate cohort – visiting schools, attending college fairs, reading applications and more – “our entire operation went online,” Yakabouski said. Without the overwhelming support, she said, “we could not have pivoted as quickly or as well.”

Among incoming students’ top concerns, she said, are a need to connect and a desire to know if Mary Washington will be able to meet its goal of providing in-person learning this fall or if the coronavirus crisis will force courses back online.

Pack and Young said they also have been “sorting through uncertainties” to meet the changing demands of adult learners by enhancing testing and pathway options, and financial support opportunities.

Director of Graduate Admissions Christy Pack

Director of Graduate Admissions Christy Pack

Together, Pack said, the two have hosted virtual sessions throughout the past six weeks for 150 students interested in enrolling in UMW’s MBA, M.Ed., MSGA, BSN, BLS, GIS-certification and other professional development programs.

“Uncertainty means we have hope,” said Young, who is keeping a close eye on the ways in which UMW can help meet the changing needs of area industries, such as offering COVID-19-influenced courses required of educators.

Participants posed a host of questions about such topics as how other schools’ decisions impact UMW’s admissions operations and what unique enrollment strategies are being considered.

“We are making sure we’re being really brilliant at the basics,” Buster-Williams said.

Executive Director of Continuing and Professional Studies Kimberly Young

Executive Director of Continuing and Professional Studies Kimberly Young

In answer to Professor of Chemistry Nicole Crowder’s question on how the entire UMW community can continue to support this crucial effort, Yakabouski suggested being responsive to inquiries from prospective students and their parents, and sharing innovative ideas.

“Recruitment isn’t just about the four of us on this panel,” Young said. “It’s about all of us.”

Watch the May 20 Q&A session on YouTube.

Paino Addresses Faculty/Staff Concerns in Live Chat

President Paino spoke to faculty and staff yesterday in a live online forum designed to address questions and concerns that have surfaced throughout the past weeks as the University community has dealt with the coronavirus pandemic and worked to adjust to a “new normal.”

On the heels of a similar live student Q&A session, hosted on Zoom and YouTube, Paino answered more than 20 questions from employees in departments across the University. He covered a range of issues, from plans for students’ return to campus and admissions yield strategies to budget concerns and telework situations.

“Going through this, we’re going to learn a lot about ourselves and our operations moving forward,” Paino said. “I think that this will probably cause us to have a lot of deep conversations about our work in a variety of ways that we weren’t expecting just a month ago.”

Paino said he remains optimistic that students will be back on campus for the start of the fall semester and that he is putting together a task force to think through how that might work.

Provost Nina Mikhalevsky and Executive Director of Human Resources Beth Williams joined Paino in the live chat, answering questions related to their respective areas. Together, they addressed concerns about how altered operations have impacted students, how the overall UMW landscape could change, and the importance of community-wide contributions to admissions efforts.

Paino praised faculty for their ability to make a quick change from in-person to remote teaching and urged all employees to take time to care for themselves, both physically and emotionally.

“I think the thing that I’m most gratified by is that I get to work, even if it’s remotely, with such amazing people, and that has lifted my spirits,” he told Procurement Services’ Michelle Pickham, who joined the conversation to ask about Paino’s personal well-being.

“Even through the challenge and uncertainty of these times, I get to work with … people like yourself and others on campus who have given me such encouragement and such a sense of optimism that we’re going to meet this challenge and make it through.”

Hear the live Q&A session in its entirety on YouTube.

It’s Census Time: Help Get UMW Counted

It’s Census time, and the Center for Community Engagement is working to get the word out to all UMW students. Please take a look at the CCE’s Census FAQs, and contact CCE Associate Director Sarah Dewees for social media posts that you can share. Thanks for helping get UMW counted!

UMW Receives ‘Tree Campus USA’ Recognition

University of Mary Washington has earned recognition as a 2019 Tree Campus USA® by the Arbor Day Foundation. The honor goes to colleges and universities, and their leaders, for promoting healthy trees and engaging students and staff in the spirit of conservation.

To obtain this distinction, University of Mary Washington met the five core standards for effective campus forest management: a tree advisory committee, a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance and student service-learning project.

“Tree Campuses and their students set examples for not only their student bodies but the surrounding communities showcasing how trees create a healthier environment,” said Arbor Day Foundation President Dan Lambe. “Because of University of Mary Washington’s participation air will be purer, water cleaner and your students and faculty will be surrounded by the shade and beauty the trees provide.”

A Message to the Class of 2020

Class of 2020 President Eleanor Kilmon shared a moving message with her classmates.

To My Fellow Seniors,

One week ago, I sat down on Ball Circle surrounded by the bustle of excited students emerging from their residence halls ready to enjoy the first touches of spring in the air. I began writing the greeting I would share as we prepared to receive our diplomas on commencement day. And now, I sit on my bed in my sweatpants and an XL t-shirt surrounded only by my own emotions and an embarrassingly large amount of tissues. Still though, I am writing to my people, the UMW Class of 2020. Ironically, my speech was going to focus on what I like to call the “uncomfy” zone. The space where at Mary Wash where I have built my character as a friend, a leader, and a grown to be a better person. I was going to encourage you to find that growth in your own “uncomfy” zone as you move into an unfamiliar world where we don’t see our friends, professors, and mentors every day. Little did I know, we would all be thrust into an undeniable sense of uncertainty and uncomfortable so soon. While we mourn the loss of what could have been, I would like to share what I know for certain. The UMW community stretches beyond the brick and mortar of our beloved buildings. I find solace in my privilege of existing in these “uncomfy” times surrounded by a what I believe to be the best “Class of 2020” I could have imagined. I hope to see you all soon and celebrate IRL. By the way, what is stopping us from screaming IT’S FRIDAY, having a higher than average love of goats, or painting a rock in our yards?


Eleanor Kilmon

Class of 2020 President