April 4, 2020

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

Letter from the President: Remote instruction continues through end of semester

To all members of the Mary Washington community,

It would be difficult to overstate how unprecedented the last several days have been. Our lives and institutions have been disrupted in ways that we never could have imagined when the semester began. Like many of our colleagues across the Commonwealth and around the country, our decision to temporarily suspend face-to-face classes last week was done with the hope that such an interruption would be brief and that normal operations would return in a short period of time. It is now clear that this will not be the case as a more concerted national social distancing effort is needed.

Guidance from public health officials tells us that we should limit gatherings for several additional weeks as we all do our part to take the necessary steps to limit the spread of COVID-19. As a result, we have reached the very painful conclusion that we will not be returning to normal operations this semester. So, UMW will continue remote instruction through the end of the semester and final exams. In addition, all campus-based or sponsored events at Fredericksburg, Stafford, and Dahlgren are cancelled through May 15.

Remote instruction, academic advising and all other instructional support activity going forward will be done remotely through the end of the semester, with grades still being due on May 5. All current academic support areas, including the Teaching Center, Digital Learning Support, Library, Office of Disability Resources, Academic Services, Financial Aid, Registrar, etc. will continue at their current levels and hours.

Faculty and Staff

Thank you for your ongoing commitment and patience during this complicated time. Although we’re being challenged to alter the way in which we deliver instruction and conduct business, it is our intention and desire to keep our employees working and paid. Supervisors have been urged to make every effort to identify telework opportunities, even for positions that do not typically lend themselves to telework. These opportunities may include alternative duties, training and professional development, or both. We are also continually researching options for various types of leave and other resources that may become available as the state responds to the unique challenges employers are facing as a result of the spread of COVID-19. If teleworking faculty or staff need to return to their offices to pack up and take home additional materials, we encourage them to do that as soon as possible. When on campus, please observe social distancing and minimize interactions.


Students will soon be receiving an email from Vice President for Student Affairs Juliette Landphair about the timeline and process for residential students to move their belongings out of their rooms and, for the students whose only option is to remain on campus, about the petition-to-remain process. Given CDC and Virginia Department of Health advisories and emergency actions and other advisories issued by the state and federal governments, we strongly encourage any student who can get home to do so as soon as possible. Public health officials are strongly recommending that people of all ages stay at home with limited outside contact with others.

Housing and Dining

UMW intends to give a credit or refund for housing and dining due to this announcement. However, we ask for your patience as we determine the appropriate amount of credit or refund for each student. With many of our employees working remotely and the variety of meal plans and housing fees to consider, this will take a little time to analyze.


We are aware that Virginia’s prohibition, as of today, of gatherings of 10 or more people and the CDC’s recent recommendation on gatherings over 50 people for the next eight weeks will affect UMW’s commencement. We are exploring potential options and alternatives. As we know more, we will reach out about how we can best and safely celebrate our amazing graduates.

Community Programming

UMW regrets that it must cancel all remaining community special events and programming through the remainder of the academic year.  Through at least May 15, University and privately sponsored arts, cultural, and general special events and functions will be cancelled, including exhibitions, performances, and lectures. This action will include the UMW Philharmonic performances, Great Lives and ElderStudy lectures, and other fee-based or complimentary services and gatherings.

Let me close by telling each of you how much I appreciate the sacrifices you have made to be a part of the UMW community in the first place, and especially during the disruptive, even traumatic, changes of recent days and weeks. Know that I am proud of us and what we have done as a community to come together (even from a safe 6-foot distance). I am confident that we will survive these challenges, and UMW will be stronger than ever once the crisis passes.

Be well and stay safe,

UMW announces new work protocols for all employees

Following the announcement of further Virginia guidelines and restrictions to manage the impact of COVID-19, effective today, March 16, 2020, UMW is implementing new working protocols for employees, whether their roles may be fulfilled virtually or must be done on-site. Please read this communication in full for further details as to how these protocols may affect your role.

First, and most importantly, the safety of the entire campus community is a top priority for UMW and the Commonwealth. The steps described in this email are being taken in an abundance of caution and because it is our public and social responsibility to help diminish the potential spread of COVID-19. Self-quarantine by a few members of our community is a safety precaution, not an  indication of a COVID-19 diagnosis. Please help reduce anxiety or fear by correcting and refuting rumors. There have been no reported or confirmed cases of COVID-19 on our campuses.

At this time, several hundred students have registered to remain on the Fredericksburg campus; however, this number is fluid and changes day by day. Even as we continue to encourage students to go home, remaining on campus is the safest or only feasible option for many. We will continue to serve them to the best of our ability, providing for their physical, emotional, and academic needs. This said, UMW may need to modify the services we have provided to this point. If your department was previously designated to remain open, please consult with your supervisor as to any changes that may affect your work.

UMW is continuing with plans to begin online and virtual instruction today for all students. We have a duty to ensure that students can successfully complete their spring classes and make appropriate progress towards graduation.

Staff and Supervisors

Given the lack of clarity on how long Virginians will need to practice social distancing, supervisors will be expected to identify optimal ways to work with employees remotely and to be available for all typical guidance and direction.

In addition to establishing telework protocols and accountability, supervisors are encouraged to think creatively about new means of accomplishing core functions. Supervisors may also use this time to have employees work on strategic and tactical plans, complete professional development and training, participate in virtual meetings and team activities, or other duties as assigned. Supervisors will work with employees to make sure deadlines are met, duties are fulfilled, and responsibilities completed, albeit remotely.

Please read below for additional information on continuing our work and mission:

Supervisors should take steps immediately to contact their employees to notify them whether they are considered:

  1. Essential personnel—physical presence on campus,
  2. Essential personnel—physical and/or remote presence,
  3. Non-essential personnel—no telework option or
  4. Non-essential personnel—telework only.

Wherein possible, we are starting the process of redeploying all those employees who may work remotely, both essential and non-essential, to telework status. Decisions related to your designation or where your work may be completed are subject to change as circumstances evolve. Your supervisor will reach out as things change, so pay attention to your email and phone.

Supervisors (in consultation with their division VP) should be moving, as appropriate, all eligible employees to telework. Supervisors should consult with their employees about assignments and challenges to working remotely. Supervisors will email HR (Debra Wander – dwander@umw.edu) with a list of employees, job titles, brief summary of what each employee will be doing, while teleworking in their unit.

Supervisors will document telework assignments as follows: email each employee their telework status (see above for the four options), the nature of their remote work assignments, and procedures and dates for checking in with their supervisor or other team members.

All employees will continue to work, but the nature of different roles will require varying campus availability. In most cases, employees will be expected to work their normal shifts and/or complete their full hourly requirements whether remotely or on campus. Employees who need scheduling flexibility to address family or personal needs should contact their supervisors.

As usual, non-exempt employees should complete their time cards to reflect their actual working hours. If you cannot complete your timecard electronically via MyTime, submit your hours to your supervisor in written form via email or text. Employees will be fully compensated at their normal pay rate, assuming they are meeting their onsite or telework assignments and requirements as well as their standard number of working hours per pay period.

Further, employees, whether working on site or remotely, essential or non-essential, should expect to assist wherever needed during these extraordinary circumstances. Many or all may be expected to complete tasks outside their normal job description.

Resources about telework and working remotely can be found at HR’s site and the Help Desk’s advice on working remotely. Additional links will be added as available.


Faculty will continue with remote instruction. Department chairs, associate deans, and deans are available to help assist with your general academic questions. The Center for Teaching, Digital Learning Support, Digital Knowledge Center, the Library, and other support centers remain available to assist faculty and students.

All Employees

This transition to telework, where possible, will support the social distancing strategy recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and will follow guidance from the Virginia State of Emergency declared by Governor Ralph Northam.

The UMW community’s response to this fast moving and ever-changing situation has been professional and positive, and we are grateful for the way all of you have put the needs of students above personal impact. Your flexibility and agility have been evident, and we will continue to call upon them and your best nature. In times like this, the strength of our community is truly demonstrated, and we thank you for your commitment.

Paul Messplay
Vice President for Administration Finance

Nina Mikhalevsky

In keeping with ASPIRE, we are committed to a learning environment that supports the wellbeing of all students, staff, and faculty free from harassment, discrimination and unfair bias. If you who have questions or concerns are encouraged to report a bias incident or may contact Terri Arthur at tlockhar@umw.edu or Sabrina Johnson at sjohnson@umw.edu, directly.

Stay Connected With SAE Playlists

With laptops in tow, Many UMW faculty, staff and students have hunkered down in their bedrooms, at their kitchen tables and in home offices, firing up search engines, virtual meetings and social media – anything to keep the semester on track.

Practicing social-distancing in an effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, can’t keep the UMW community from staying connected. The Office of Student Activities and Engagement (SAE) believes in the power of music to help us do that. Its new “Playlist Spotlight” program features favorite song selections submitted by faculty and staff to share with each other and with students.

Appearing each week in SAE’s Monday newsletter (and on its Facebook page Monday, Wednesday and Friday), the Spotify lists will keep us movin’ and groovin’ – even though we’re sequestered – and all UMW employees are welcome to submit the music that inspires them.

With events and on-campus engagements on hold, “we’re looking for the best ways to build community online,” said UMW senior and SAE intern Lillian Lester, who plans other “digital student activities,” like craft DIY videos, cooking tutorials, joint movie streaming and video game tournaments. “We know it’s never going to replace all of the big events that our students were looking forward to, but it’s the least we can do for our people.”

Assistant Director for Campus RecreationBrittanie Naff was quick to get in on the act, stacking her playlist, Dance Fitness With Naana, with the tunes she uses to teach weekly classes, now on hold with the Fitness Center closed until further notice. Think Party Favor and Cardi B.

“I hope it inspires you to have some fun, get a little silly and smile!” she wrote on her playlist.

Assistant Director of Student Activities Crystal Rawls filled her playlist, KPOP Mania #1, with songs from the eclectic K-pop genre from South Korea.

“This idea was started because we felt that music was one of the best ways to bring people together during such an uncertain time,” Rawls said. “We wanted to keep students engaged online as best as we could.”

Up next? COAR’s selections. A little Billy Joel, anyone?

All UMW faculty and staff are invited to send their own Spotify Playlist for possible inclusion in the newsletter. To contribute, email Crystal Rawls at crawls@umw.edu or Lillian Lester at llester@mail.umw.edu.

University of Mary Washington Postpones 2020 Giving Day

The University of Mary Washington has postponed its fourth annual day of online fundraising, Mary Wash Giving Day, originally set to take place Thursday, March 19.

In light of the unparalleled impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on UMW, the Fredericksburg community – and the nation, the University instead encourages its constituents to focus on each other, their loved ones, and their communities.

The generosity of UMW alumni, students, parents, faculty, staff and friends during past Giving Days has made a vast impact on the University’s mission and ability to serve students. The University will consider rescheduling Giving Day at a future point in time.

Themed “Come Together,” Mary Wash Giving Day 2020 will be poised to do just that. It will bring together those who care about UMW and all it stands for – education, empowerment, integrity, caring and compassion.

In the meantime, the University of Mary Washington encourages its campus and community to work together for the common good and to “come together” in ways that reflect UMW’s commitment to humankind.

Watch the video message from President Troy Paino:


Message from Department of Theatre & Dance

A video message from Gregg Stull, Professor and Chair, Department of Theatre & Dance, updating patrons, donors and alumni on the state of UMW Theatre. “We are grateful for your concern … ”



Kelly Paino: A Valentine Story

A study session washed down with a meal at Godfather’s Pizza brought two college students together. That was nearly four decades ago. Kelly Ragsdale and Troy Paino, who’d both just arrived at a small school in Missouri, have been stuck ever since – to each other and to education.

Chloe, Sophia, and Troy and Kelly Paino on the lawn at Brompton.

Chloe, Sophia, and Troy and Kelly Paino on the lawn at Brompton.

Married 34 years with two grown daughters, Sophia and Chloe, the Painos moved their family across the Midwest – Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri. In 2016, they landed in Fredericksburg, where Troy took the reins as UMW’s 10th president.

As her husband earned degree after degree, so did Kelly, who holds a bachelor’s in business administration, and certifications in elementary and early childhood education. She’s taught preschool and elementary school, and held posts as a reading interventionist and an early childhood education coordinator.

These days, she volunteers alongside UMW students at James Monroe High School and St. George’s Episcopal Church, and observes student teachers in the role she accepted this year as a supervisor in UMW’s College of Education.

She wouldn’t reveal the couple’s plans for Valentine’s Day but said they often snuggle up in front of the TV, binge-watching the latest show they’ve latched onto.

In the midst of it all, Kelly said, she embraces her title as Mary Washington’s first lady. At least she’s working on it.

“It’s hilarious to think of being any kind of ‘first lady,’ and I always think people are referring to someone else when they say that to me,” said Kelly, who just likes to be called “Kelly.” “But I love being part of the UMW community, and I’m so happy we’re here.”

Q: What did you fall for about Troy Paino?
A: He was cute, with his wavy hair (yes, hair!), and tan from working outside all summer, but more importantly, he was funny and kind. I grew up surrounded by joy and laughter, and I place a high premium on humor. No one can make me laugh like Troy! Neither of us takes ourselves too seriously and if one of us does, we get called out.

Q: Where did you honeymoon?
A: Bermuda. We had a blast riding a moped around the island and snorkeling. I hadn’t traveled much and this was a great adventure for me. For people who enjoy the ocean and warmth, we lived in cold places all our married life – until we got to Virginia.

Q: Any secrets for keeping a marriage fresh after three and a half decades?
A: We keep it spicy (don’t worry, I’m not going to say anything inappropriate) by making sure we spend time together. Besides binge-watching TV, we enjoy taking our dog Oscar on walks, playing pickle ball and doing some traveling.

Q: What are you binge-watching right now?
A: Broadchurch and the last season of Homeland.

Q: What little things do you appreciate about Troy?
A: 1) His willingness to be goofy; 2) his ability to find humor in almost any situation; 3) his patience with my need to process (and process …); 4) if he has his phone and one of our daughters calls, he always answers – not always the case with my calls; and 5) he puts the toilet seat down every time.

Brian Baker: Boardwalk, Baby!

Brian Baker ’84 grew up taking Boardwalk, and all the top spots, in epic family Monopoly competitions.

As head of UMW's Small Business Development Center, Brian Baker helps entrepreneurs bring their businesses to fruition and contributes to the economic wellbeing of the Fredericksburg region. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

As head of UMW’s Small Business Development Center, Brian Baker helps entrepreneurs bring their businesses to fruition and contributes to the economic wellbeing of the Fredericksburg region. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

His work at UMW calls for that same business savvy, but it’s no board game. As Small Business Development Center (SBDC) executive director, Baker helps local entrepreneurs make their ideas – and the local economy – flourish.

His most recent Boardwalk? The Prince Woodard Leadership Award he received last weekend from the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce for his lifetime commitment to the area’s fiscal development.

In the nearly two decades Baker has been at its helm, SBDC has risen in stature among similar centers, ranking in Virginia’s top five. He and his team are credited with engaging thousands of small businesses and launching more than 550, while creating or retaining nearly 8,000 jobs.

His involvement in sports – from football to field hockey – has added to Baker’s competitive spirit, and that, he said, is what business is largely about. As a Mary Washington student, he earned bachelor’s and MBA degrees, and learned about finance and economics from the likes of professors Steve Greenlaw and Robert Rycroft.

“They only thought I was asleep during lectures,” said Baker, who also met his wife, former UMW Assistant VP for Business Services Erma Ames Baker ’82, in college and went on to own his own business for decades.

When he decided to sell, he planned to take a year off, recharge and work on the house. But another Mary Washington opportunity knocked, and he joined the SBDC. That was 19 years ago.

“The work on the house is waiting on me.”

Q: What’s most rewarding about your job?
A: I get to work with brilliant, hard-working people – clients, community stakeholders, students and faculty – in diverse and dynamic ways. I call them “builders.” They create investment opportunities and jobs. They’re amazing.

Q: What’s most challenging?
A: What’s this thing they call sleep? I’d like some of that.

Q: What are three qualities needed for successful business?
A: 1. Get over yourself and learn to be a good listener. It’s easy to be impressed by your own ideas, but if no one wants to buy them, what good are they? 2. Welcome failure. Failure is memorable; it helps refine how we manage risk. Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I found 10,000 ways that will not work.” 3. Do it.  Progression is more valuable in business than perfection.

Q: You taught a recent experiential entrepreneurship course for the College of Business. Would you do it again?
A: Without hesitation. The class was a startup itself. The students were bright, engaged and hardworking. They presented their concepts to a panel of judges and generated business plans that demonstrated market potential and a strategy for making money. There were many champions in that class.

Q: What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?
A: I went hang gliding in the dunes at Kill Devil Hills with my daughter. It did not end well.

Q: Any mottos?
A: Live to eat … never trust a skinny chef.