March 1, 2021

Blood Relative’s Injury Spurred Red Cross Club President

Cindy Ramirez was 8 years old when her sister was injured in a sledding accident that broke her sacrum, a pelvic bone that supports the weight of the upper body. “I was really nervous, but all I could think about in that moment was how I could help her,” said Ramirez, now a senior at […]

Mary Washington Classics Program Shines No. 1 Among Students

University of Mary Washington sophomore Brooke Prevedel considered dozens of schools on her quest to study ancient Greece and Rome in college. What she learned about the classics program at UMW catapulted it to the top of her list and convinced her to move 2,000 miles across the country from Colorado. “Now that I’m attending […]

Democracy is not a state

Monroe Hall after a snowfall. A message from the Office of the President. 

“Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.”

John Lewis

The New York Times, July 30, 2020


To members of the UMW Community:

Like you, I watched with shock and horror as a mob attacked our nation’s Capitol on Wednesday afternoon. I struggled that night and Thursday with what, if anything, to say to the Mary Washington community in the wake of this travesty. Adding my voice to the chorus of condemnations from across the globe seemed gratuitous.

On the other hand, given our mission, proximity to DC, and the reality that this event, along with the stress of the pandemic, has impacted all of us in a very real and profound way, does the Mary Washington community need to hear from me at this time?  At the very least, I do feel compelled to give voice to our calling and mission in the face of such a national disgrace.

Wednesday was a manifestation of a dangerous undercurrent that has been a part of our national story since its beginning. As we have learned, it does not take much to unleash that destructive force. As if we needed to be reminded, the biggest threat to our nation’s future is from within; it always has been.

Mary Washington’s mission calls us to be nothing less than a counterforce to the darkness and self-interest that can lie in the human spirit and to make sacrifices for the common good. As a public, liberal arts institution, UMW’s purpose and community values are grounded in and defined by the fundamental principles of a democratic civil society.

As Congressman Lewis’ final words instruct, we must act in the face of this unraveling. It is easy to gain notoriety and even political support by sowing seeds of division, hate, and resentment toward those with whom you disagree. It is much more difficult to work with those on the other side of the political divide, to listen to dissenting views and counterarguments, to love your enemies, and sow seeds of hope despite all the reasons to feel hopeless.

What we need now more than ever, though, is just that – the moral courage of both leaders and citizens to confront inconvenient truths and work together toward solutions with humility, grace, empathy, and an eye toward the common good. This is what can heal a divided nation. It is UMW’s mission to prepare a generation to do just that, to do its part to build a nation at peace with itself.

Let’s get back to work.


Troy D. Paino

2020 in Hindsight: A Look at the Top 10 News Stories

No one really wants to rewind to the past year. But through 10 months taken hostage by a pandemic, riddled with political strife and torn by racial unrest, the University of Mary Washington persevered. And we’ve got the stories to prove it. From the launch of the James Farmer centennial celebration and the theatre department’s […]

College of Education Awarded Accreditation

The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) recently announced that the University of Mary Washington was awarded accreditation for its College of Education (COE), one of the first institutions to undergo a virtual site visit through this accrediting body. In 2010, the same year UMW’s education program became the College of Education, the […]

John Morello: The End of an Era

When John Morello first set foot on the Mary Washington campus in February 1989, the day was bright and balmy, Ball Circle was abuzz with Frisbees flying, and the campus seemed vibrant.

Associate Provost for Academic Affairs John Morello is retiring after over three decades at UMW.

Associate Provost for Academic Affairs John Morello is retiring after over three decades at UMW.

It felt right.

Tomorrow, when Morello leaves the UMW campus, his 31 years of career accumulations in tow, it will likely be chilly and cloudy, with no students and few employees in sight.

It will feel right.

No – he’s not being driven out by the pandemic or by pending accreditation reaffirmation. Morello, 72, said he has done everything he could do at Mary Washington, and retirement is the next step. “It’s like an aging athlete,” he said. “You know when it’s time to go.”

But during his more than three decades at UMW, Morello has been a high-scorer who adeptly played multiple positions, and his departure will leave quite a void in the University’s strategic operations. He started out as a speech professor in the English department as well as director of the Mary Washington debate team.

With an undergraduate degree from the College of William and Mary and a master’s from Northern Illinois State University, Morello – a native New Yorker who grew up in Virginia – took his first job at James Madison University. While working there and during leave time, he earned a doctorate from Wayne State University. He next landed at Simpson College in Iowa. He held tenured positions at both JMU and Simpson, as well as at Mary Washington.

In 1998, Morello moved into administration with UMW’s Office of Academic Affairs. He eventually became the University’s associate provost, where he’s handled myriad responsibilities, including compiling the course catalog. Previously printed, it’s now completely online. Building out that system was one of many factors that delayed his retirement.

Under ordinary circumstances, the presidential election this fall would have cast Morello in a role he has traditionally played every four years: instructor of a class on communication and the presidential election campaign.

While his areas of academic expertise include presidential political campaign communication strategy and political oratory, Morello said he found the current state of political communication and televised presidential debates too depressing to teach the course one last time.

Morello with Provost Nina Mikhalevsky with a special ukulele given to him by Academic Affairs in honor of his retirement. Commissioned and built by local luthier and UMW adjunct instructor Larry Hinkle, the ukulele was made from materials salvaged from an old piano soundboard as well as wood from a tree grown on Washington Avenue, across from Kenmore Plantation. Learning to play will be another retirement activity.

Morello with Provost Nina Mikhalevsky with a special ukulele given to him by Academic Affairs in honor of his retirement. Commissioned and built by local luthier and UMW adjunct instructor Larry Hinkle, the ukulele was made from materials salvaged from an old piano soundboard as well as wood from a tree grown on Washington Avenue, across from Kenmore Plantation. Learning to play will be another retirement activity.

Many alumni, including current Board of Visitors Rector Heather Crislip, have fond memories of classes he taught. She sang her former professor’s praises at the November Board meeting, noting that Morello is the only person she’s ever met who can recite all the U.S. presidents in order, both forward and backward.

Crislip said the phrase he used to accomplish that feat is one she recites to her own children now: “Train your brain.”

Morello groupies – and by now there are many – nearly universally mention his dry wit and self-depreciating demeanor.

“He comes across as a curmudgeon,” said President Troy Paino, “but he has a humongous heart.” A frequent partner on the golf links, Paino said of Morello: “His work ethic, gift for critical analysis, memory, eye for detail, humor, kindness and commitment to Mary Washington’s students and mission will be impossible to replace.”

No debate about it, the reservoir of Morello’s institutional knowledge will be irreplaceable.


Q: What are your retirement plans?
A: Before the pandemic, my wife Tami and I planned to do a lot of traveling. We’re still optimistic. Meanwhile, I have projects around the house. And there’s always golf – the ultimate social-distancing sport.

Q: What will you miss most?
A: Since 1966 (when I entered W&M), my life has revolved around a college campus. I will miss walking on a campus and knowing I am a part of that environment.

Q: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A:  I spent a brief and undistinguished time in the Army. I also have a hobby of collecting all of Jimmy Stewart’s movies. I’m about halfway there.

Q: What are your favorite movies?
Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard, Field of Dreams and most movies with Jimmy Stewart.

Q: What’s your favorite motto?
A: A lot of people know that I’m a fan of quoting lyrics from songs or passages from old movies. But what motivates me most is a golf-related quote: “One shot at a time.” You need to try to focus on the next shot (or task) rather than obsessing about the mistake you may have just made.

Alumni Couples Wed Beneath Brompton Oak

It had been seven years since they’d met on this very spot, new Mary Washington first-years eating sherbet and mint chocolate chip on the president’s lawn. That day, during the annual ice cream social for freshmen, Caroline Deale ’17 made a wish. Last month, it came true. “Your youth may fade away, but your smile […]

Virtual ‘Great Lives’ Season Showcases UMW Faculty Expertise

In a year when many are sticking close to home, the upcoming William B. Crawley Great Lives lecture season, now in its 18th year, will be virtual this spring, returning to its roots by featuring the expertise of University of Mary Washington faculty. Authorities in their respective fields, they will chronicle the lives of Goethe […]

When the Pandemic Struck, UMW Persevered

Eager to begin her college career at Mary Washington, Sarah Bazemore moved into Willard Hall in September, stocking her room with masks and sanitizer. Little did she know that she would end her first semester living in Marshall Hall under quarantine. Bazemore and two of her friends were among several dozen students who were either […]

UMW Bike Study a Boon for Fredericksburg

Most children learn how to ride a bike around the same time they lose their first tooth. For Olivia Mason-Lucas, the memory is more recent. She first got on two wheels at age 15, when her father taught her to ride so she could visit a friend. “I still remember feeling nervous because the parking […]