September 27, 2023

UMW Zaps in on Esports, Betting it’s a Winner

Mary Washington students are used to going ballistic over an at-the-buzzer 3-pointer or a fast-as-lightning volleyball spike in a brightly illuminated Anderson Center. But how do offense and defense play out in a dimly lit room with video consoles – and mashing and peeling and speed-boosts? Get ready, UMW. Esports is on the way, and […]

First-Year Leadership Program Inspires Student Success

Stephen Covert ’93 sees information about all kinds of collegiate leadership programs cross his desk as principal of Pine View School for the Gifted in Osprey, Florida. An email from his alma mater stood out. It described a program that “will serve as a springboard for already stellar students to learn from leaders and use […]

Q&A Session Focused on Recruitment and Retention

UMW faculty and staff tuned in yesterday to a Zoom presentation and Q&A session centered on fall enrollment and retention in the time of COVID-19. Facilitated by Chief of Staff Jeff McClurken, the hour-long event included Vice President for Enrollment Management Kimberley Buster-Williams, Director of Undergraduate Admissions Melissa Yakabouski, Executive Director of Continuing and Professional Studies Kimberly Young and Director of Graduate Admissions Christy Pack.

Vice President for Enrollment Management Kimberley Buster-Williams

Vice President for Enrollment Management Kimberley Buster-Williams

Buster-Williams and Yakabouski, who together have worked half a century in college admissions, said that the recruitment-related woes they’ve faced throughout their careers have been trumped by unemployment rates, health concerns and other disruptions caused by the current pandemic.

COVID-19 has taken an increasingly competitive college-enrollment landscape to new heights, the administrators said, forcing them to re-imagine strategies for recruiting and retaining students, and pose innovative solutions. At the time of the talk, first-year deposits stood at slightly more than 100 less than anticipated, according to Buster-Williams. This mirrors a downward trend across the country, she said. Mary Washington, like other schools, has extended the enrollment deposit deadline to June 1.

“We find ourselves in the midst of a recruitment crisis, and the outpouring of support has been truly appreciated,” she said of faculty, staff, alumni and other members of the Mary Washington community who are pitching in to help yield a strong incoming class.

Director of Undergraduate Admissions Melissa Yakabouski

Director of Undergraduate Admissions Melissa Yakabouski

After working for years to build a 2020-21 UMW undergraduate cohort – visiting schools, attending college fairs, reading applications and more – “our entire operation went online,” Yakabouski said. Without the overwhelming support, she said, “we could not have pivoted as quickly or as well.”

Among incoming students’ top concerns, she said, are a need to connect and a desire to know if Mary Washington will be able to meet its goal of providing in-person learning this fall or if the coronavirus crisis will force courses back online.

Pack and Young said they also have been “sorting through uncertainties” to meet the changing demands of adult learners by enhancing testing and pathway options, and financial support opportunities.

Director of Graduate Admissions Christy Pack

Director of Graduate Admissions Christy Pack

Together, Pack said, the two have hosted virtual sessions throughout the past six weeks for 150 students interested in enrolling in UMW’s MBA, M.Ed., MSGA, BSN, BLS, GIS-certification and other professional development programs.

“Uncertainty means we have hope,” said Young, who is keeping a close eye on the ways in which UMW can help meet the changing needs of area industries, such as offering COVID-19-influenced courses required of educators.

Participants posed a host of questions about such topics as how other schools’ decisions impact UMW’s admissions operations and what unique enrollment strategies are being considered.

“We are making sure we’re being really brilliant at the basics,” Buster-Williams said.

Executive Director of Continuing and Professional Studies Kimberly Young

Executive Director of Continuing and Professional Studies Kimberly Young

In answer to Professor of Chemistry Nicole Crowder’s question on how the entire UMW community can continue to support this crucial effort, Yakabouski suggested being responsive to inquiries from prospective students and their parents, and sharing innovative ideas.

“Recruitment isn’t just about the four of us on this panel,” Young said. “It’s about all of us.”

Watch the May 20 Q&A session on YouTube.

Continue UMW traditions by helping us recruit the next generation of Eagles!

Hello Eagle family,

I hope you and yours are well during this unusual time in our lives. Our community, alumni included, are rallying to assist in bringing in our entering class during this unprecedented situation. Between #WhyMaryWash videos, legacy letters to parents, and alumni messages to students, we have been communicating all the reasons to choose Mary Washington.

I wanted to share that we have seen a slight uptick in late inquiries and applications for this fall. COVID-19 may affect high school seniors’ initial decision regarding where they will attend. Please know that you can refer a student and provide an application fee waiver. The Admissions team is working with students and families as they navigate the impact of this pandemic. And as President Paino recently shared with our community, our hope and plan is to welcome students on campus this August.

In addition to sharing an application fee waiver, feel free to share this video. I anticipate that some of these same reasons ring true for you as they do for the current students featured.

Be well,

Melissa Yakabouski ’94
Director of Undergraduate Admissions


Dates for Admitted Student Phone-a-thon Moved

Admitted Student Phone-a-thon – Volunteers Welcome

The Office of Financial Aid mailed more than 1,000 financial aid awards to admitted first year and transfer students in January. Join us as we personally reach out to students to confirm its receipt and remind them of the next steps toward enrollment. This is an important outreach effort that will help with the success of the university’s enrollment goal for Fall 2020.

5-7 PM

Monday, February 3rd
Tuesday, February 4th
Thursday, February 6th

Anyone who completes a call to 10 students will be entered into a drawing for a reserved parking space for one month. (One entry per 10 completed calls)

• Calling from Lee Hall Fourth Floor – Admissions Operations Suite
• Pizza and drinks will be provided each evening

Please contact Melissa Yakabouski at to volunteer

Admissions Needs Your Help!

The Office of Financial Aid has mailed nearly 1,000 financial aid awards to admitted first-year and transfer students. Join us as we personally reach out to students to confirm its receipt and remind them of important next steps toward enrollment. Calls will be made from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the following evenings: Thursday, Jan. 19; Monday, Jan. 23; and Wednesday, Jan. 25.

Calls will be made in the Admissions Operations Suite in Lee Hall on the fourth floor. Pizza and drinks will be provided to volunteers each night. Please email Melissa Yakabouski, Director of Admissions, at to volunteer.

Thank you in advance for helping us recruit next year’s class!

Seeking Parent Feedback on the Admissions Process

Have you just survived the College admission process this year with your soon-to-be high school graduate? The Office of Admissions invites you to join a candid conversation about your recent personal experiences in this process.

  • Everything is on the table for discussion:
  • Recruitment brochures
  • Campus visit (info sessions, tours, open house, admitted student events)
  • Off campus activities hosted by other universities
  • Admission communication with your student (from email to the decision letter)
  • Parent specific communication
  • Faculty, student, alumni interaction

What stood out to you (or your child) positively or negatively?  What did you like or not like about the process?  What do you wish you knew then that you know now?  What great ideas should UMW consider implementing?

Join Melissa Yakabouski, Director of Undergraduate Admissions for lunch on Wednesday, June 8 from noon to 1 p.m. in Lee Hall for a conversation about the good, the bad, and the so-so.  Gather your thoughts and perceptions about UMW and other schools your child was considering. RSVP no later than June 6 at or  Unable to attend but have something to share, please email Melissa to schedule time to speak about your specific takeaways.

We look forward to hearing from you!