September 28, 2023

Dave Fleming: Move-In Magic

The first of a weekly series of candid Q&A’s with the people who make Mary Washington shine.

This time of year, papers pile up on Dave Fleming’s desk. His inbox takes on a life of its own. Even his pulse starts to rev up a little. That’s because, for Fleming, UMW’s assistant dean for residence life and housing, Move-In Day (which took place yesterday, with hundreds of new students settling in to residence halls across campus) might just be the best day … ever. And, after helping students haul fridges and fans, mirrors and movie collections into their new college digs for the past 16 years, he’s seen it all. Or has he?

David fleming

Dave Fleming on move-in day.

Q: What’s the most memorable item you’ve ever seen a student bring to campus?

A full-size arcade game – Mission Command, I believe.

Q: What are the three words that best describe the spirit of Move-In Day?

Frenetic (it’s controlled chaos), inviting, hopeful

Q: Including this year’s, how many college move-in days have you been involved in?

16! Two as an RA, two as a graduate student and the rest as a professional.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge – and reward – of managing the daily life of thousands of college students?

Challenge: Each student comes to campus with individual needs. How their identities mesh with the community is complex. We rely on our student staff to have a finger on the pulse of their floors and communicate to us what they learn.

Reward: Witnessing the way one conversation, resolution or quick response can affect a student. I often say to RAs that if we made a positive impact on one person, it was worth our time and investment.

Q: What do you love most about your job?

Two days in Residence Life and Housing are never the same. I’m a problem solver, and there are always opportunities to examine a problem and develop solutions. Making a positive impact on students is the icing on the cake.

Q: Why is UMW Move-In Day one of your favorite days of the year?

It’s the range of emotions during the day, the anticipation and excitement in the air. Students are excited and nervous for a new beginning, while their families reflect on the work they’ve done to get their student to this point. I often see the last hug before Mom and Dad leave campus. It’s a heartfelt moment that I’m honored to witness.

Q: What’s special about move-in at Mary Washington?

Move-In Day at UMW embodies the spirit of being part of the Eagle Family. Upper-class students, faculty, staff and administrators join in welcoming new students and their families. A highlight is seeing President and Mrs. Paino in Move-In T-shirts, greeting new students and accepting selfie requests. It really speaks volumes about the kind of university Mary Wash is.