October 1, 2020

Virginia Business Profile on UMW

Lee Hall

President Troy Paino, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Keith Mellinger and Professor of Communication Anand Rao were interviewed for a Virginia Business profile on the University of Mary Washington entitled, “The Mother of Innovation.”

Don’t try to be something you’re not.

That’s one way to sum up the approach that Troy Paino has taken to guiding the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg since assuming the school’s presidency in July 2016.

“I knew as an outsider that Virginia had a crowded and competitive marketplace for higher education,” says Paino, who previously served as president of Missouri’s Truman State University. “I don’t think I fully appreciated it until I got here.” Read more.


Mary Washington Makes Princeton Review’s 2021 ‘Best Colleges’ List

UMW is one of fewer than 400 four-year schools to make Princeton Review’s 2021 “Best Colleges” list. Photo courtesy of Princeton Review.

UMW is one of fewer than 400 four-year schools to make Princeton Review’s 2021 “Best Colleges” list. Photo courtesy of Princeton Review.

The University of Mary Washington is among the best in the country, according to Princeton Review’s The Best 386 Colleges guide. The 2021 edition of the rankings publication, released last month, lists UMW among the top 13 percent of the thousands of four-year colleges and universities throughout the nation.

One of the longest-running and most well-respected guides of its type, the publication has been used for nearly three decades by degree-seeking college applicants and their parents looking for the best undergraduate academic experiences available in the U.S. Results published in this year’s book are based on 143,000 student surveys gauging both on- and off-campus involvement.

The guide describes each school’s student body, and provides ratings in such categories as campus life, academics, admissions selectivity, financial aid and sustainability. UMW received high marks in all categories, including academics, with students reporting to find faculty members both interesting and accessible.

“Perhaps what [they] value most is the level of communication they have with their professors,” the publication states. “As one impressed undergrad explains, ‘UMW professors go the extra mile to help students and ensure that they succeed, and students never hesitate to take time out of their day to go see their professors during their office hours for extra help’ … It’s quite evident that ‘they love what they teach and want you to love it as well.’ ” Read more.

Service Project Takes UMW Students ‘Into the Streets’ to Build Community

From right to left: Caroline Mowdy, Paige Beidelman and Lance Whitesel spread mulch with Tree Fredericksburg on Saturday as part of COAR’s Into the Streets. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

From right to left: Caroline Mowdy, Paige Beidelman and Lance Whitesel spread mulch with Tree Fredericksburg on Saturday as part of COAR’s Into the Streets. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

Early Saturday morning, a group of University of Mary Washington students gathered on Ball Circle. Wearing masks and social distancing, they came together on that crisp fall day to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty, completing outdoor service projects for Into the Streets. The autumn tradition is hosted by UMW’s COAR (Community Outreach and Resources), whose mission is to provide structural support for community engagement, volunteerism and service.

“At a time when we are all unable to do many of the things that give us joy, satisfaction and focus,” said Leslie Martin, faculty director of UMW’s Center for Community Engagement (CCE),  “volunteering reminds us that we are all still connected and able to work together for the betterment of our shared community.”

The Center, which opened last fall, helps build bridges – and strengthen existing ones – between Mary Washington and organizations in the greater Fredericksburg area. Several of CCE’s community partners are navigating budget cuts and layoffs as a result of the pandemic, Martin said, so “our community needs us now more than ever.” Read more.

Tragedy Turned Alumna’s Focus to Suicide Prevention

UMW alumna Julie van Ommeren had barely begun her coursework toward a bachelor of liberal studies degree when tragedy struck. The experience led her to shape her degree toward the work she plans in suicide prevention.

UMW alumna Julie van Ommeren had barely begun her coursework toward a bachelor of liberal studies degree when tragedy struck. The experience led her to shape her degree toward the work she plans in suicide prevention.

It’s 2 a.m., and there’s a police officer sitting on Julie van Ommeren’s gingham-print loveseat. Another stands by his side. But where is Kyle? She hears someone scream, then suddenly realizes the voice is her own.

This is a story of how a liberal arts education – and a custom-made major – can map to more than a college degree, even when it detours to the darkest of places. Van Ommeren was two weeks into a bachelor of liberal studies program at the University of Mary Washington when her 19-year-old son ended his life in the family van. As she grappled with grief, her schoolwork grew even more personal.

A careful collection of classes and unflagging support from faculty brought meaning to a mother’s worst nightmare and led to a plan to help others. KYVO – named for her son – and “Dream to Live,” the platform and program born from van Ommeren’s coursework, shift the focus of suicide from death to life. Though they have not been officially endorsed, she shares them – and her story – on a website she launched this September, National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, with deaths on the rise, particularly among young people like Kyle. Read more.

COVID-19, Voting and Climate Change presentation on Zoom, Oct. 11

COVID-19, Voting and Climate Change: Becoming Agents of ChangeAre you wondering how the COVID-19 crisis intersects with climate change? Do you want to learn how your vote will count on counteracting the worst effects of both crises? And lastly, do you want to be a part of making systemic changes in our different levels of government, ranging from locally to nationally?

If your answer is “YES!” to any or all of these questions, I invite you to attend the upcoming “COVID-19, Voting and Climate Change: Becoming Agents of Change.” Held virtually via Zoom, this presentation is inspired by the Climate Reality Project’s 24 Hours of Reality: Countdown to the Future on Sunday, October 11th at 2 p.m. ET. Representatives from the University of Mary Washington, the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, Fossil Free Fredericksburg and the Climate Reality Project will share information regarding each topic, helping you identify ways you can help implement systemic changes in policy for our city, state, and nation. Each person attending the session will have a tree planted in their honor by the Climate Reality Project. Sign up now and get involved!

Study for Iconic Melchers on View

In the Dunes by Gari Melchers

In the Dunes by Gari Melchers

A painting entitled In the Dunes is on display at Gari Melchers Home and Studio, Belmont, as a companion to Melchers’ monumental In Holland through January 3, 2021, thanks to a generous loan by the Sue C. Lang Family Trust.

In 1887, Gari Melchers began experimenting with the concept of rustic figures meeting on the dunes of Holland. The survival of several sketches in Belmont’s archives indicates that Melchers produced numerous iterations for what would become his iconic painting In Holland. In the Dunes is just such an example, an almost exact replica of In Holland though on a far smaller scale. In the Dunes was unknown to experts until it resurfaced in a private auction in Hamburg, Germany, in 2018 and sold to a local Fredericksburg collector. Because of its cursory application of paint it presumably started life as a small-scale study for In Holland, but the artist probably returned to it later, giving it enough finish to stand on its own as an easel painting.

Fall Safe Zone Book Club

We still have some room in our Fall Book Club. We will meet twice to discuss this semester’s book: Born Both: An Intersex Life by Hida Viloria. We will meet (over Zoom) on Tuesday, October 20th and Tuesday, October 27th from 4-5:30 p.m. Registration is required, and we still have books to give to participants. Please join us!

We also still have a few seats left in our Advanced Safe Zone workshop on Thursday, October 22nd from 1-3:30 p.m. (via Zoom). The advanced training is for faculty and staff who have already completed the basic training and covers more complex topics, including bystander intervention. Registration is required.

If you would like to register for either of these events, please email Mindy Erchull at merchull@umw.edu.

If you would like more information about Safe Zone, to see the list of allies on our campus, or access LGBTQ+ inclusion resources, please visit the website at bit.ly/UMWsafezone.

UMW Celebrates Disability Awareness Month in October!

On behalf of many members of our community, ODR would like to announce a series of programming for Disability Awareness Month, celebrated in October at UMW.

We encourage all to participate in these opportunities to raise awareness and continue to reach towards our ASPIRE Principles and Values.

Please feel free to contact Office of Disability Resources (ODR) with any questions!


Join us (virtually) for #StayHomecoming

It's Almost Time to #GetDirtyGoWash. Join Us For #StayHomecoming October 19-24Join us (virtually) for Homecoming 2020!

This year for Homecoming, you won’t be #BackInTheBurg…Instead, #StayHomecoming with us online!

Because large, in-person events are impossible this fall, we had to think outside the box for Homecoming. The result is #StayHomecoming: a week-long host of events and offerings with something for everyone.


Monday: College of Education/Alumni Educators affinity group event

Tuesday: College of Business young alumni networking event

Wednesday: “Between Two Ficuses” young alumni video launch

Thursday: Kahoot! Trivia with UMW Alumni and the LGBTQ+ Affinity Group

Friday, 10/23: FXBG alumni virtual beer tasting w/ Adventure Brewing, plus MaryWash memorabilia with Dean Rucker

Saturday, 10/24: (Homecoming Day!): Bartending and tailgate food tips


Throughout the week, we’ll also have social media initiatives, including contests that can win you some big prizes. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter so you won’t miss out.

For more information and updates, check the Homecoming web page, and follow the Homecoming event on Facebook.

Then watch your email–we’ll let you know as soon as registration is open!

We hope you will #GetDirtyGoWash with us from a distance this year. Go Eagles!

UMW to Host Debate for First Congressional District

Rep. Rob Wittman

Rep. Rob Wittman

The University of Mary Washington will host a public political debate between candidates for Virginia’s First Congressional District Monday, Sept. 21, at 7 p.m.

Incumbent Rep. Rob Wittman (R) will face off against opponent Qasim Rashid (D) live via Zoom, with public viewing accessible through YouTube. Viewers may submit questions for consideration for inclusion in the debate using an online form until 11 a.m. on the day of the event.

“It’s going to be as close to a normal Mary Washington debate as possible,” said moderator Stephen Farnsworth, a UMW professor of political science and director of the University’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies.

Qasim Rashid

Qasim Rashid

The event is hosted by the University’s College Republicans, Young Democrats, and Legislative Action Committee of the Student Government Association. It’s co-sponsored by the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce, The Free Lance-Star and the Fredericksburg chapter of the League of Women Voters.

News Director Ted Schubel of WFVA Radio and Editorial Page Editor Barbara Hollingsworth of The Free Lance-Star will ask questions of the candidates during the hourlong event. Read more.