September 26, 2023

Rankings Affirm UMW’s Best Attributes in Affordability, Liberal Arts and Civic Engagement

Once again, UMW
Once again, UMW is getting great recognition in rankings publications.

The University of Mary Washington is once again among the top 100 schools, earning regional accolades, recognition for its liberal arts and sciences mission, and top marks from students via annual surveys.

Washington Monthly, known for guiding students and families toward institutions that contribute to the common good, included Mary Washington in rankings released this month, September 2023. UMW ranks 78th of 199 institutions in the Best Liberal Arts Colleges listing, which rates schools on contributions to social mobility, research and providing opportunities for public service. Read more.

UMW to Host Virginia Senate and House of Delegates Debates

Joshua Cole (D) and Lee Peters III (R) for Virginia’s 65th District House of Delegates. Tara Durant (R), Monica Gary (I), and Joel Griffin (D) for the District 27 Virginia State Senate.

The University of Mary Washington will host two public debates next month between candidates for local elected office.

Tara Durant (R), Monica Gary (I), and Joel Griffin (D) will vie for the District 27 Virginia State Senate seat on Wednesday, Sept. 27. The debate will take place at 7 p.m. in George Washington Hall’s Dodd Auditorium. On Wednesday, Sept. 13, in the Weatherly Wing of UMW’s Seacobeck Hall, Joshua Cole (D) faced off against Lee Peters III (R) for Virginia’s 65th District House of Delegates seat.

“I am delighted that the local candidates have agreed to participate in this important community service,” said Professor of Political Science and Center for Leadership and Media Studies Director Stephen Farnsworth, who will moderate the hourlong debates. “Candidates standing side by side to discuss current policy challenges provides vital opportunities for voters to compare the alternatives offered on the ballot.” Read more.

UMW President Named to Virginia 500 ‘Power List’

UMW President Troy Paino

Virginia Business magazine has announced the Virginia 500: The 2023-24 Power List, naming University of Mary Washington President Troy Paino among the commonwealth’s most powerful and influential leaders in business, government, politics and education this year.

“When I give my elevator speech about the Virginia 500, it usually starts this way: It’s like the Fortune 500, but instead of companies, it’s about people,” Virginia Business Editor Richard Foster said in his opening letter. “There is an aspirational joy to reading about the career journeys of the leaders in these pages.”

Paino’s career journey has included the presidential role at two of the nation’s top public liberal arts and sciences universities. He joined the University of Mary Washington in 2016 after serving as president of Truman State University in Missouri. This year proved to be a “big year for Paino and the public liberal arts university he oversees,” once again earning recognition by Virginia Business. Read more.

Gwen Hale Resource Center Helps Feed UMW Students in Need

Tamara Garrett ’23, an alum and AmeriCorps member, stocks shelves in the Gwen Hale Resource Center.

Tamara Garrett ’23 arranges boxed macaroni and cheese, cans of soup and packaged snacks on shelves. With the fall semester underway at the University of Mary Washington, she wants to ensure that the Gwen Hale Resource Center (GHRC) is fully stocked.

“Most people don’t like to ask for help, but we want students to know that no matter what they need, Mary Washington has resources available for them,” said Garrett, who graduated in May. Now working on the UMW campus as part of AmeriCorps, she’s focused on alleviating food insecurity among college students.

Years in the making, GHRC began on a much smaller scale to address that very issue, thanks to a caring UMW administrator who noticed students who didn’t have enough to eat. Members of the Mary Washington community banded together, donating funds totaling $9,000 to open and operate a two-room food pantry in the attic of Lee Hall in 2019, joining other public and private colleges and universities across Virginia that have developed similar programs. Committed to carrying out Gwen Hale’s legacy, the University renamed the space in her honor after she passed away in 2021. Read more.

Students, Families Embrace New Beginnings on Move-in Day

First-year student Matt Serafin adjusts to his new room while dad Bob Serafin works on setting up a bunk bed. (Suzanne Carr Rossi photo.)

First-year student Matt Serafin adjusts to his new room while dad Bob Serafin works on setting up a bunk bed. (Suzanne Carr Rossi photo.)

It was only 5 a.m. when Matt Serafin and his parents drove away from their home in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, headed for Matt’s first year at the University of Mary Washington.

If Tamara and Bob Serafin felt any anxiety about taking the older of their two children to college, Matt wouldn’t have known. Once settled in the car with a semester’s worth of possessions, he went right back to sleep.

When the Serafin family arrived at UMW, they and hundreds more students, parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents and other helpers found the unloading process running smoothly.

This year’s entering class numbers 770, with another 260 transfer students. But several student groups had arrived on campus days early to participate in pre-semester activities, and returning upperclass students will move in this weekend. So first-year move-in day – Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023 – was chill both figuratively and literally. Read more.

UMW President Opens Semester by Sharing Plans and Progress

A liberal arts and sciences education is more valuable than ever.

University of Mary Washington President Troy Paino addresses the faculty and staff at the start of the 2023-24 academic year. Photo by Sam Cahill.

University of Mary Washington President Troy Paino addresses the faculty and staff at the start of the 2023-24 academic year. Photo by Sam Cahill.

That’s what University of Mary Washington President Troy Paino confirmed to an auditorium full of faculty and staff during the annual welcome-back presentation ushering in the 2023-24 academic year. The state-of-the-university address, held August 21, 2023, in George Washington Hall’s Dodd Auditorium, covered record-setting fundraising efforts, campus construction, the student experience, life after Mary Washington and more.

“We have alumni, we have friends, we have donors who are so invested in the work we are doing here at Mary Washington,” said Paino, referencing record-breaking fundraising efforts, with more than $21.3 million in gifts and pledges raised during the 2022-23 fiscal year. That number was bolstered by a portion – $6 million – of a transformational $30 million gift from alumna Irene Piscopo Rodgers ’59, the largest donation in UMW’s 115-year history.

The funding will help ensure continued student success, Paino said. Among recent accolades, UMW students have received two prestigious Goldwater awards within the past three years and claimed last year’s honor scholar of the year award for both Virginia and West Virginia. The incoming fall 2023 class – numbering just over 1,000 with transfer students included, and boasting an average GPA of 3.75 and SAT score of 1244, and more honors students than ever before – promises to be just as successful. Read more.

StoryCorps Is Coming to UMW This Fall – Oct. 24-28, 2023

One Small Step, powered by StoryCorps, is coming to UMW this fall 2023 to record conversations on campus. The opportunity is open to the campus community and the greater Fredericksburg region, from the University of Mary Washington to Richmond, one of the anchor communities. Read more.

Enter Your Voting Era: The Importance of Civic Engagement, Sept. 7

The James Farmer Multicultural Center is co-sponsoring an event with the Center for Community Engagement and Students Educating and Empowering for Diversity, for UMW students, faculty and staff, as well as area high school students and the greater Fredericksburg community.

The event, titled “Enter Your Voting Era: The Importance of Civic Engagement,” will take place on Thursday, Sept. 7, at 6 p.m., in Chandler Ballroom C inside the Cedric Rucker University Center.

Jessica Atkinson, Director of Elections, City of Fredericksburg; Derrick Lewis, National Field Organizer, NAACP; UMW Political Science Professor Jared McDonald; and Kate McDaid ’23, Field Organizer, NextGen, will speak to the audience about why it’s important for people to become politically and civically engaged, the structure of the General Assembly and how it functions for citizens of Virginia, how local and statewide elections can impact their everyday lives through public policy, the power of being an informed citizen by casting their vote each election cycle, and staying involved with the civic engagement process.

For more information, or with questions regarding disability-related accommodations, contact the James Farmer Multicultural Center at 540/654-1044 or

Latino Identities Month Kick-Off Celebration, Sept. 15

UMW’s Latino Identities Month Kick-off Celebration will take place Friday, Sept. 15, at 4 p.m., in front of Lee Hall. Rain location: Chandler Ballroom, Cedric Rucker University Center.

Join us for an exciting event filled with food, music, and craft vendors! Meet our vibrant community as we kick off this celebration of togetherness and cultural diversity. You will connect, celebrate, and support local artisans as you Indulge in a delightful array of delicious food, groove to the rhythm of lively music, and explore unique crafts from talented vendors. See you there!

Find more information and the entire Latino Identities Month schedule on the James Farmer Multicultural Center website.

NEH Grant Supports UMW’s Papers of James Monroe Project

The University of Mary Washington has been awarded a three-year, $345,000 National Endowment for the Humanities grant for continued publication of The Papers of James Monroe.

The grant, among those announced Aug. 15, 2023, will support the preparation for publication of Volumes Eight and Nine of a projected ten-volume series of Monroe’s papers. Since 1989, UMW researchers have collected, transcribed, annotated and published documents bearing on the life and legacy of Monroe, the nation’s fifth president. Seven volumes have been published to date. Read more.