May 11, 2021

Malcolm Holmes: Heart of the Matter

One national search, two busy years, 10 auditioning firms, 6,000 consulted constituents.

UMW Director of Marketing Malcolm Holmes has been leading the arduous effort to launch a new Mary Washington brand. Following nearly two years of research and consultations, rollout is just around the corner.

UMW Director of Marketing Malcolm Holmes has been leading the effort to launch a new Mary Washington brand. After nearly two years of research, in collaboration with the Atlanta-based firm Mindpower, rollout is just around the corner.

Malcolm Holmes’ world is awash in data. As UMW’s director of marketing, he’s wrapped up in recruitment, advertising, web and social media content, photo and video shoots. And for many months, something else – new branding.

Honing in on the essence of UMW has been quite the process. Of the 10 firms that vied for the job, Holmes said, Atlanta-based Mindpower best aligned with Mary Washington’s mission and culture. A flurry of forums and focus groups, surveys and meetings, churned out a new brand – “Matter” – which President Paino shared with the Board of Visitors in February. More than a tagline, Holmes said, it’s an “accountability measure,” a “claim of distinction,” a “promise.”

“A guiding light for the stories and images we use to promote the university, and most importantly, in how we treat and speak to each other, our students and those we encounter each day. As members of the UMW community, we’re all representatives of the brand.”

When he came to Mary Washington in 2013, Holmes brought a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from VCU, a master’s in public relations from Norfolk State University and a wealth of experience. Director of marketing communications and public affairs, and special assistant to the president, at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, he’d earned a spot on the Reynolds Executive Cabinet.

You Matter. stickerSuccess, Holmes said, hinges on teamwork: “We cannot meet our marketing goals without collaboration across departments.” Nor if a pandemic puts the brakes on your project.

When the branding campaign resumed this winter, “the world looked a lot different,” he said, providing an “opportunity” to re-test and re-visit, make sure the effort was on the right track.

“A lot is happening behind the scenes right now,” said Holmes, who plans a brand rollout with new visuals, Web pages and admissions materials, plus a targeted advertising campaign. “We are extremely excited to begin this process!”

 

Q: What does “Matter” mean to you?
A: This project took me on a spiritual journey. So much has happened over the last year. It’s comforting to know that I’m part of an organization that’s making a difference. Just as the University as a whole matters, our individual contributions matter. We all matter! 

Q: Anythingfun” involved in the rollout?
A: A big celebration on Ball Circle the first week of fall classes with T-shirts and other surprises (if COVID protocols allow).

Sample advertisement guided by UMW's new brand, "Matter."

Sample advertisement guided by UMW’s new brand, “Matter.”

Q: What’s most rewarding about your job?
A: The collaboration. You cannot work in a silo and be successful in this business. I’m blessed to be surrounded by a mission-focused team that understands it takes all of us to make marketing magic.

Q: Most challenging?
A: Keeping up with innovations in digital marketing that seem to appear overnight.

Q: What’s the best thing on your desk?
A: A picture of my three kids – all young adults. They’re my motivation, my inspiration and my “on-call” focus group for anything related to social media!

Q: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
A: Visiting Virginia wineries. There are more than 300 across the state.

Q: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: I started attending Mary Washington when I was in high school. I came every summer as part of the Upward Bound program. Dr. Venitta McCall was the program director at the time. I credit her with setting me on the trajectory to be where I am in my career today.

Q: What’s your motto?
A: To whom much is given, much is required.

Miriam Liss: Research Persistent

After her first interview for an academic position – at Mary Washington – Miriam Liss knew right away she wanted the job.

Professor of Psychological Science Miriam Liss

Professor of Psychological Science Miriam Liss

“It was so much fun. I loved everything about it,” said Liss, who earned a doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Connecticut. “The people were wonderful. The students were wonderful. The town was charming.”

That was 20 years ago. Since then, she has risen in rank from assistant to full professor in the Department of Psychological Science. This fall, she’ll take on the role of chair.

Along the way, her life has woven itself into her work, which always focuses on students. With them, and with many fellow faculty members, she’s explored and published on myriad topics, from feminist identity and body image to sensory processing and self-injury. When Liss became a mother herself – to Emily, 12, and Daniel, 14 – her research turned toward the subject of parenting.

More recently, she’s embraced the concept of mindfulness. The results of a three-year study – with UMW professors Mindy Erchull, Dan Hirshberg, Angela Pitts and David Ambuel – appear in the current issue of The Journal of Contemplative Inquiry. Their research, a collaboration between the departments of Classics, Philosophy and Religious Studies, along with Psychological Science, found decreased levels of depression and anxiety in students who take UMW’s Contemplative Practice course.

Miriam Liss has pursued a wide range of research at UMW, involving students every step of the way. Results of a recent study conducted with felllow faculty members were published in the current edition of 'The Journal of Contemplative Inquiry.'

Miriam Liss has pursued a wide range of research at UMW, involving students every step of the way. Results of a recent study conducted with felllow faculty members were published in the current edition of ‘The Journal of Contemplative Inquiry.’

Liss hopes to instill the idea of mindfulness, and its effects on mental wellness, at an even earlier age, by collaborating with Mary Washington students and a social worker at Spotsylvania’s Riverview Elementary School to implement a first-grade curriculum. She’s guiding her research team to get the program off the ground and evaluate its effects, and to explore how mindfulness might protect against a variety of mental health outcomes in college students.

From the first course she taught, after that “fun” and fortuitous interview, to the classes she’s teaching, virtually, this semester – Psychology of Women, using the textbook she wrote with Erchull, and Abnormal Psychology – students have remained front and center.

“That’s one of the things I like so much about Mary Washington,” Liss said. “We’re allowed to develop our research agenda in any way we want as long as we’re involving students.”

Q: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
A: Working with students, especially my research students, and allowing their interests, along with my own, to shape what I do. Over the years I’ve worked with so many amazing students.

Q: What’s most challenging?
A: Balancing everything. Sometimes I feel like I have so many balls in the air I’m afraid I’m going to drop one.

Q: Any big plans as department chair?
A: My colleagues and I have been working to develop a course through the Department of Psychological Science to prepare students for careers after college.

Q: What’s the one thing people would be most surprised to learn about you?
A: They might be surprised to know how involved I’ve been with theater. I made my Fredericksburg début in 2015 as the mother in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. I love singing. I can do a mean show tune. My true fantasy is to retire and get on the stage.

Q: Any mottos you live by?
A: Don’t get so tangled up in your thoughts. Just because you think it, doesn’t mean it’s true. Also, I have a general motto of self-acceptance. We’re all going to mess up. It’s OK. We can still love all the parts of ourselves, not just the great parts.

Rev. Aaron Dobynes to Deliver UMW’s Martin Luther King Jr. Keynote Speech

Rev. Aaron Dobynes

Rev. Aaron Dobynes

The 10th pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church (Old Site), Dobynes will deliver the Martin Luther King Jr. keynote speech via Zoom on Wednesday, Jan. 27, at 6 p.m. A fourth-generation preacher who holds two doctoral degrees, Dobynes attended high school in Selma, Alabama, and will draw on his personal experiences and advanced studies to deliver an emotional presentation dedicated to Martin Luther King, Jr. Presented by the James Farmer Multicultural Center. Registration is required.

Employee Honors Awarded at Presidential Luncheon

UMW President Troy Paino, during a virtual luncheon Tuesday, expressed his gratitude to faculty and staff for their commitment to seeing the University through a “remarkable” fall semester. Staff Advisory Council President Michelle Pickham, Executive Director of Human Resources Beth Williams and Chief of Staff Jeff McClurken also spoke during the event.

Clockwise from top left, Executive Director of Human Resources Beth Williams, President Troy Paino, Chief of Staff Jeff McClurken and Staff Advisory Council President Michelle Pickham spoke at Tuesday's Presidential Luncheon and award presentation.

Clockwise from top left, Executive Director of Human Resources Beth Williams, President Troy Paino, Chief of Staff Jeff McClurken and Staff Advisory Council President Michelle Pickham spoke at Tuesday’s Presidential Luncheon and award presentation.

“I just couldn’t be more proud of the Mary Washington community,” Paino said, thanking students, area partners and all UMW employees, with a special shout-out to those with children at home who are juggling multiple roles. “We’ve really gone through this together.”

Paino told participants that UMW’s performance throughout the pandemic, and the reimagining of operations it caused, had exceeded his expectations. He talked about the road ahead for the University, emphasizing the importance of practicing mental health and continuing to follow MMDC (monitor, mask, distance and clean) guidelines.

The panel answered questions on topics such as the University’s rebranding efforts and slated construction on campus. And the winners of the Hurley, Coleman and Atkins employee awards were announced. A twist this year is that two employees were doubly honored.

  • Digital Knowledge Center Associate Director Shannon Hauser received the Richard V. and Rosemary A. Hurley Presidential Commendation. This award goes to a UMW employee, with preference for an administrative/professional faculty member who has performed exceptionally meritorious service to the University, demonstrated strength of character and maintained steadfast dedication to the University’s mission.
  • Assistant Building Attendant Manager Sharon Neville received the Charles Coleman Service Award. This honor goes to classified and hourly employees who have demonstrated loyalty and dedication to the University, displayed care and concern for others, and maintained a positive “can do” attitude regarding assigned duties and responsibilities.
  • Hauser (AP faculty), Neville (classified) and Center for Career and Professional Development Career Coach Mary Becelia (wage) received the Staff Advisory Council’s Larry Atkins Award. This honor goes to employees who lend a helping hand to their teammates, go above and beyond in each and every task, and set a positive example for their colleagues.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” Paino told employees who joined Tuesday’s luncheon. “We’re going to come back for a better 2021.”

Jan Clarke: Giving for a Living

Jan Clarke practices what he preaches. After all, he was an undergrad at Averett, a private Baptist college in Danville, Virginia, when got his first taste of fundraising working the phonathon. Not that Clarke is a preacher himself, but he is a philanthropist.

Assistant Vice President for Gift Planning Jan Clarke

UMW Assistant Vice President for Gift Planning Jan Clarke

As assistant vice president for gift planning at UMW, he helps fulfill the wishes of those who want to contribute to the future of Mary Washington – and the students it serves – through their estates. And Clarke, who makes monthly investments to a retirement account set up to benefit the University, is doing the same.

He was a year into a hospitality career when the vice president of institutional advancement at his alma mater offered him an opportunity. At the time, “I didn’t realize this whole fundraising world was really a thing,” said Clarke, who was a natural fit for the role, moving on to a similar position at Radford University before joining UMW in 2003.

“It never occurred to me how much grease it takes to spread over all the wheels to keep everything turning [at a university],” he said. “It’s so much more than the check the parent writes for tuition.”

Planned gifts – set up through donors’ wills, stocks, trust funds and insurance policies – can be substantial, with pledges in the millions of dollars. With that much at stake, the job calls for patience and a personal touch.

Givers come from all perspectives. “Some people want their name on the side of the building,” said Clarke, who takes great care of his clients, sending handwritten notes, delivering groceries or just stopping by for a visit. “Some people would rather die than have their name on the side of the building, but they still want to help.”

With enthusiastic Mary Washington alumni scattered far and wide, Clarke finds himself in constant motion – at least in non-pandemic times – traveling the country and beyond to meet with them. Then he matches donor dollars and passions with programs and initiatives across campus.

“We’re out there actively trying to cultivate relationships and align people’s interests with UMW’s needs,” Clarke said. “There’s a certain cross section of the population that understands the need for philanthropy and helping the next generation. That connection is meaningful.”

Q: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
A: Putting all the pieces together to help people fulfill their wishes for how they want to help Mary Washington, seeing them satisfied and watching a student benefit from what they’ve done.

Q: Most challenging?
A: When you know someone has the resources to be able to help but they don’t get why they should. I try to help people who don’t get it, get it.

Q: What’s your motto?
A: Just keep on keeping on. If something gets in your way, you find a way over it, around it or through it.

Q: What’s the most meaningful gift you’ve ever received?
A: After my grandfather passed away, my mother gave me the pocket watch he had with him every day. That was very special.

Q: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: I like to work with my hands – carpentry, gardening. I bike and kayak. I’m not much of a cook, but I like to grill, and I make a mean mojito. They’ll sneak up on you; I’m telling you.

Worrell Wins Metzger Achievement Award

Planning a party? A performance? A prestigious event? Susan Worrell is the woman for you. Colleagues call her a dynamo, their point person, a problem-solver.

Special Assistant to the President for University Events Susan Worrell won this year's Patricia Lacey Metzger Award. Presented at this morning's Women's Leadership Colloquium @UMW, the award recognizes women who have excelled in their chosen career path.

Special Assistant to the President for University Events Susan Worrell won this year’s Patricia Lacey Metzger Distinguished Achievement Award. Presented at this morning’s Women’s Leadership Colloquium @UMW, the award recognizes women who have excelled in their chosen career path.

Now Worrell, University of Mary Washington Special Assistant to the President for University Events, has another title to add to the mix – Metzger Award winner. The annual recognition – the Patricia Lacey Metzger Distinguished Achievement Award – goes to a woman who’s established herself as a leader in her chosen field, showing personal and professional integrity along the way. Worrell has actually for years planned the event at which the award was presented. (Talk about trying to keep a secret!)

“Susan Worrell is the engine that makes so many things happen at the University of Mary Washington,” College of Business Dean Lynne Richardson said in her nomination letter for the award, presented this morning at the Women’s Leadership Colloquium @UMW. “She’s a ‘behind the scenes’ dynamo.”

If you have an event, Worrell’s team has the tools to pull it off and the polish to make it shine. They oversee hundreds of functions each year, from mammoth complexities like Commencement and glitzy affairs like Dancing with the Fredericksburg Stars to scholarly talks, holiday galas and, yes, the ever-present pizza party. Wrangling details that swivel and swirl – think flight times and forecasts – Worrell makes sure authors, politicians, musicians and more enjoy their Mary Washington stay. And she pampers high-profile alumni and donors with personal touches.

Not to mention the nuptials. A self-described “wedding whisperer,” Worrell has handled exactly 987 of them, with two more planned later this month.

“You want everything to run smoothly and be seamless,” said Central Rappahannock Regional Library Director Martha Hutzel, who presented this morning’s award. “You want them to leave with a wonderful experience and a connection to the people and place.”

That’s what Worrell delivers.

Before Mary Washington, she built a career directing military clubs across Europe and in catering with the Marriott Corp., where she opened a kosher kitchen in Richmond and a string of hotels from one coast to the other. She came to work for the Wood Company – predecessor to UMW dining services partner Sodexo – in the mid-’90s, rising to the rank of assistant vice president, with accounts nationwide.

Former Mary Washington President William B. Anderson took note, tapping Worrell to manage Brompton and open the Jepson Executive Alumni Center in 2004. She arrived, waving her practicality and ingenuity like a wand over banquets and balls, conventions and colloquiums … and weddings.

“Everywhere I worked always had weddings,” said Worrell, who insists they’re her favorite.

Her secret? Putting her personal preferences aside to bring the bride and groom’s dream day to life.

“I let them choose their own path. My job is to make sure they’re getting exactly what they want, not what I want,” Worrell said. “I’ve never had a bad experience.”

The CHAT bubble at the virtual Women’s Leadership Colloquium @UMW blew up with congratulatory messages when Worrell received the Metzger Award this morning. Here is a small sample:

  •  “Susan Worrell, that is AWESOME! Congratulations!”
  • “I knew it was you when it said grace and creativity. You embody those characteristics!”
  • “YEASSS! Congrats!”
  • “I am so happy for you, Susan! CONGRATULATIONS!”
  • “We have been so fortunate to have Susan Worrell share “the fullness of who she is” for many years!!”

Patrick Catullo: Courting Victory

In tennis, timing is key.

UMW Athletic Director Patrick Catullo. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

UMW Director of Athletics 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 – Director of Athletics. 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 Director of Athletics, 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.”