December 4, 2020

Governor Announces UMW Board of Visitors Appointments

The Virginia Governor’s Office today announced the appointment of Charles S. Reed Jr. ’11 of Sterling to the University of Mary Washington Board of Visitors. In addition, Sharon Bulova of Fairfax and Edward B. Hontz of Stafford have been reappointed to second terms on the board. The appointees will serve four-year terms, which will expire […]

Message #4 from the Task Force

A message from the President’s Task Force.

Colleagues,

This is the fourth in a series of weekly messages from the COVID-19 Task Force. And while every week since the pandemic began has been difficult in its own way – from first learning about an abrupt pivot to remote instruction and telework and hearing challenging budget news, to our collective sadness about not being able to properly celebrate the accomplishments of our students – the Task Force pauses to acknowledge this especially painful week of violence and injustice in our community and across the nation. Yet, because higher education is both a force for social justice and a powerful antidote to individual and systemic racism and the anti-democratic impulse, we bring renewed determination to our efforts to return to campus this fall.

For the Task Force, the pace has quickened as the full-scope of fall planning comes into view. Our first attempt has undergone revision as we receive additional guidance from the Governor’s Office and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and consult with colleagues across the Commonwealth. Late last week, VDH released directions regarding testing and contact tracing. Contrary to the claim from some universities across the country that they will have large scale testing of all members of their community on reentry while using random sampling throughout the semester, VDH is urging institutions to focus scarce testing resources on symptomatic individuals and contacts of those who test positive. On Tuesday, Governor Northam introduced the Virginia Blueprint’s Phase II Guidance, which has many instructions for organizations and their operations and we are working to incorporate these best practices in our situation, even if the distinctive nature of a residential university like ours must be more restrictive than these phases. And, looking ahead to next week, we expect to receive additional guidance from the Governor’s Office and the state-wide education task force. Considering all of these inputs, we will then need to adapt UMW’s plan.

Also, you should know that we are planning for multiple scenarios, and striving to build a plan that is flexible and capable of adapting as circumstances change. As an example, we are modeling out different “COVID capacities” for our classrooms and learning spaces. We have seen estimates from other schools set the bar at 100 square feet/person while others have settled on 36 square feet/person. Our entire room inventory is being recalibrated and mapped to maximize opportunity for participation while minimizing the risk of transmission. We look to share those new capacities in the next week or two so that faculty and staff can continue the important work of reimagining the spaces in which we teach, learn, and work.

One thing is clear: The campus and the campus experience will be very different this fall. From an employee perspective:

  • We will wear masks
  • We will self-monitor our symptoms
  • Many of us will continue to telework and offices will develop rotations for employees to help ensure social distancing
  • Many of our reception and information desks/windows will be protected by plexiglass or similar barriers
  • Zoom will continue to be our meeting room for gatherings large and small

For our students, things will also be different:

  • On-campus dining will be grab-and-go, rather than gathering around a table
  • Common spaces in our residence halls will be limited and some halls will be empty, set-aside as quarantine and isolation spaces
  • Classrooms will be at lower capacities to account for social distancing
  • Some students will participate remotely
  • Events will be smaller and some of our traditions like Honor Convocation will be virtualized
  • Many meetings and office hours will be conducted virtually
  • And masks will be worn

And therein lies our challenge. What we know about what matters most in college – connections with others and deep learning experiences – are in many ways in direct conflict with the plans we are putting in place to return to campus. How then can we maximize opportunities, connections, and experiences while prioritizing the health and safety of all members of our community? How then even as we put up plexiglass and develop protocols for separation can we are introduce new ways of gathering and interacting?

Harnessing our collective creativity and energy to adapt to what we know matters is the task ahead. It is the work of the next weeks, months, and indeed, the next year. So, as always, if you have thoughts, concerns, or questions, you may reach out to us or other members of the Task Force. (For previous messages, go to EagleEye.) At the same time, we also really want to hear your ideas for how we might meet the challenge before us.

 

Jeff McClurken and Tim O’Donnell

Members of the President’s Task Force

“I stand with you.” A message from President Paino

To the University of Mary Washington Family:

Thank you for living our community values in your everyday lives in the midst of a global pandemic. Thank you for your unwavering commitment to social justice on campus, in the Fredericksburg community, and beyond. Thank you for lending your voices to righting wrongs and addressing the challenges of the past with a keen eye toward the promises of the future. Thank you for working tirelessly to make this world a better place for everyone.

Over the past few days, I have heard from several members of the Mary Washington community concerning a host of issues – most stemming from the systemic racism that’s embedded in the fabric of our nation – and the resulting injustices that have manifested themselves time and again throughout our troubled history. These injustices have caused immense pain and anguish for generations of African Americans. To our African American students, faculty, staff, and alumni, we stand in solidarity with you during these troubling times and we boldly proclaim that black lives matter.

We denounce the senseless killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Sean Reed, George Floyd, and a multitude of men and women who have died unjustly simply because of the color of their skin. We denounce police brutality, unfair judicial practices, and all forms of institutionalized racism that have created deeply entrenched racial disparities in this country.

We stand by our Guiding Principles and Values. UMW is dedicated to providing a diverse, accepting, and supportive environment that holds all of its members to the highest standards of conduct, scholarship, integrity, inclusiveness, respect, and engagement. We live this by fighting against explicit and implicit bias and for equity and access.

Our students of color must feel safe and valued on the entire campus and not just in “safe places” like the James Farmer Multicultural Center. I have heard students tell me that seeing more faculty who look like them, who have their shared experiences, would go a long way toward creating a more inclusive community. The progress we have made on this front over the last couple of years is just a start, we must continue those efforts by recruiting and retaining more faculty of color.

At yesterday’s town hall with students and throughout the week, I have heard great disappointment, hurt, and anger regarding the presence of UMW police when city police used tear gas and other means to disperse protesters on the streets of Fredericksburg. We will conduct a full and independent review of the incidents this week to determine the role of UMW police. In the days to come, I will announce the nature of that review and will commit to transparency throughout the process. I have reached out to city officials, including the police chief, mayor, and city manager, to ensure that UMW can work with the city toward a better understanding of what happened that evening.

What I do know is the individuals we have assigned to the regional crisis response team are not certified to deploy tear gas. Chief Mike Hall and the police report indicate that our officers were called in to protect a building and did not participate in any efforts to disperse the crowd. If engagements are found to have taken place outside established protocols, I will take action. Our police officers are public servants who have taken an oath to protect and serve. Chief Hall and the UMW police force hold themselves to a higher standard because of the critical role they play in helping all members of our community go safely about their daily lives. We expect them to stand by the principles of good community policing, and we pledge to be transparent in all law enforcement matters as not to erode public trust.

On April 25, 2020, I published a column in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. In it, I expressed hope that we come out of the pandemic with a better understanding of how meaning and purpose grow in direct proportion to how much we invest in other people’s lives. I expressed how grateful I am for this opportunity to lead an institution whose mission is to prepare students to contribute to a community built on values of justice, equal opportunity, and love for one another. I stated that “it is not by accident that the first pillar of UMW’s vision, An Investment of Hope for the Future, is to promote the values of service, community, and civic engagement.” Those are the means by which we build that “Beloved Community” envisioned by Dr. King.

During this great time of pain and sorrow, I have been so proud of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni who have stood up against systemic racism and for social justice. I stand with you as we carry on this fight in the name of love.

Sincerely,

Troy Paino

“I stand with you.” A message from President Paino

To the University of Mary Washington Family: Thank you for living our community values in your everyday lives in the midst of a global pandemic. Thank you for your unwavering commitment to social justice on campus, in the Fredericksburg community, and beyond. Thank you for lending your voices to righting wrongs and addressing the challenges […]

Message #3 from the Task Force

A message from the President’s Task Force.

Colleagues,

This is the third in a series of weekly communications with the campus community from the COVID-19 Task Force. There have been several developments over the past week that are important to share.

First, the Task Force has completed an initial draft of the University’s “return to campus plan” and we anticipate refining it over the next few days. The plan outlines “gating conditions” or prerequisites for a return to campus, as well as detailed recommendations for repopulating the campus, monitoring and containment. It also includes a comprehensive technology plan as well as budget estimates for many of the costs necessary to support health and safety as part of instruction on a residential campus.

We are, however, in a bit of a holding pattern at this point, as we await the guidance of the state-wide education task force which is also completing its work. We anticipate receiving appropriate guidance from the Governor’s Office on or about June 9. We have also learned that our plan, which will need to align with the Commonwealth’s expectations, will then need to be reviewed by both the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). While it is our hope that this process will be expedited, it may, unfortunately, constrain our ability to finalize and share the plan more widely.

That said, we are able to share some of the decisions around which we have consensus. For example, consistent with CDC guidance, face coverings will be a critical piece of our return to campus. We will also modify the academic calendar to hold classes on Labor Day, cancel Fall Break, and move to remote instruction after Thanksgiving. The best information we have tells us that minimizing, as much as possible, the back and forth of travel for breaks can make a difference in reducing transmission; a notion explained by Dr. Anthony Fauci in an interview with the Chronicle of Higher Education this week. These adjustments will be reflected in the official calendar and posted in the Office of the Provost in the coming days.

Second, the Virginia Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM) has issued guidance on workplace safety which is being adapted by the Office of Human Resources for application to UMW. Executive HR Director Beth Williams will be sharing this guidance along with directions for every office to begin to develop its individual return to work plan. While there are many elements of our plan that will be standardized and uniform across campus (e.g. signage, face covering expectations, and social distancing requirements), there are others that will be unique to individual units. The expectation is that supervisors would start developing those plans soon and submit them for feedback from the Task Force. More information about timelines and a template for what to include will be communicated through our HR office.

As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, or questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us or other members of the Task Force.

Jeff McClurken and Tim O’Donnell

Members of the President’s Task Force

 

Message #2 from the Task Force

A message from the President’s Task Force.

Colleagues,

This is the second in a series of weekly communications with the campus community from the COVID-19 Task Force. Over the course of the last week there has been significant movement on a number of fronts in planning a return to campus this fall.

First, President Paino established guiding principles to inform planning efforts and the important decisions that will need to be made by the Task Force.  These tenets shall also inform the individual planning of campus units working towards a COVID-19 response:

  1. Protect the health, safety, and well-being of students, faculty, staff, and the surrounding community.
  2. Preserve the ability to fulfill our mission – teaching and learning that serves the public good.
  3. Maintain those University operations that support student success and our ability to fulfill our mission.
  4. Preserve the University’s financial capacity as well as its long-term financial health to fulfill our mission now and into the future.
  5. Honor our community values (ASPIRE – Accountability, Scholarship, Personal and Individual Integrity, Inclusive Excellence, Respect and Civility, Engagement).

Second, the Task Force has begun utilizing the information and research developed in the topical areas of the seven subgroups, which we described in last week’s communication (Public Health, Academics, Student Life, Residential Life, Dining, Work Life, and Technology) in order to build several plans. It has become readily apparent that many concerns and issues facing campus are intertwined among the groups. Addressing these broad scale issues requires greater conversation and cross pollination among the teams. In response, President Paino charged the Task Force subgroup chairs with meeting and coordinating the subgroup efforts.

The subgroups and the chairs are framing their work around four plans:  1) reopening campus, 2) monitoring and responding to health conditions of the campus community, 3) containment to prevent the spread of disease if/when detected, and 4) return to remote operations if that becomes necessary.  Chairs of the subgroups are drafting recommendations that fit within each of these plans. Included in these recommendations are projecting cost estimates (e.g. testing, PPE, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, technology, etc.), which must be factored into the many costs associated with a return to campus.

Already the Task Force has identified dozens of logistical issues that must be considered and operationalized such as….

  • Should the academic calendar be altered, accelerated, or abbreviated?
  • What is the best method to calculate occupancy limits for classrooms under social distancing guideline?
  • How can classroom assignments be configured so that every classroom may be cleaned according to CDC recommendations?
  • What is an appropriate density of occupation for the residence halls?
  • What policies will be in place regarding students, faculty, staff and visitors regarding masks/facial coverings?

Even as we are planning, the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 Education Work Group is developing guidelines for safely reopening that allow for coordination and compatibility among the state’s educational bodies. Ultimately, these recommendations, which are expected to be released on June 5, will complement the work of our internal groups.

Finally, one decision that has been made is that we will restrict all room and facility reservations for the fall semester. This is important to do both because 1) it is not clear what events and programs the University will be able to hold in the fall, and 2) to the maximum degree possible, event and meeting facilities need to be available to be repurposed into instructional and classroom spaces to allow for adequate social distancing.

Next week, managers will receive additional guidance from the Work Life subgroup regarding ways to develop further working protocols and safety guidelines. These recommendations will be based upon the direction of the Virginia Department of Human Resource Management.

In many of our initial communications, we may have more questions than answers; yet we will strive to keep you informed in a timely and transparent way. We also invite you to share your thoughts, concerns, and questions with the members of the subgroup, names of whom were shared in the first Task Force email on May 14.

 

Jeff McClurken and Tim O’Donnell

Members of the President’s Task Force

 

Message #1 from the Task Force

A message from the President’s Task Force.

Good afternoon,

This is the first of weekly communications with the campus community from the Task Force that President Paino has initiated to answer questions about what resuming face-to-face education in the fall might look like.

As we’ve gotten beyond the initial discussion of the overarching issues, President Paino has added to the Task Force to include representatives from the University Faculty Council (UFC) and the Staff Advisory Council (SAC), as well as a number of other units and areas of expertise. The Task Force has divided its efforts into seven subgroups: Public Health, Academics, Student Life, Residential Life, Dining, Work Life, and Technology. Each of these subgroups has membership beyond the core Task Force and is focused on the many different issues that we must work on in order to be prepared to open. Subgroup topics covered include, but are not limited to, the following:

Public Health: alignment with federal and state guidelines; testing, contact tracing, isolation capabilities; sufficiency of personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as policies and legal analysis of PPE requirements; regional preparedness including the adequacy of area health care facilities and relationship building with partners.

Academics: faculty development and support for remote/online instruction; governance and approval of remote/online instruction; planning for a variety of alternative ways to provide instruction; analysis of classroom limits and social distancing requirements; sufficiency of academic support services and resources; academic policies and procedures; guidance and plans for remote/online laboratory, studio, and experiential classes; cleaning of academic facilities; classroom policies.

Student Life: protocols for remote/online student support services; planning for behavioral issues; redevelopment of co-curricular events and activities in accordance with social distancing; alterations to the campus infrastructure to reduce large gatherings; athletic team competition; fitness facilities.

Residential Life: adequacy of isolation spaces; evaluation of reasonable student density and placement within residence halls; policies and procedures to support social distancing in residential spaces; move-in plans; staff training; closure and cleaning protocols.

Dining: design and implementation of plans to promote social distancing in dining facilities; development of plans for quick pick-up, delivery and takeout; processes to ensure delivery of meals to students in isolation; policies and procedures around personal protective equipment (PPE) for Sodexo workers and patrons.

Work Life: adequacy of the University’s infectious disease preparedness and response plans; implementation of infection prevention measures; policies for prompt identification and isolation of sick employees; development, implementation, and communication about workplace flexibilities and protections, including PPE; implementation of workplace protocols to encourage safe practices.

Technology: assessment and remediation of gaps in student and faculty access to computers, internet access, and specialized software (especially focused on addressing the digital divide and the equity imperative); adequacy of telecommunications and infrastructure to continue to support remote instruction and work.

See the membership lists and chairs below for the Task Force and these subgroups. We encourage you to contact members of the subgroups to share your ideas and suggestions.

Currently the Task Force is raising and beginning to answer questions about all the areas that we would need to address to be ready for the fall. The work is framed in four primary scenarios:  1) reopening campus, 2) monitoring the health conditions to detect infection, 3) containment to prevent the spread of disease if/when detected, and 4) return to remote operations if that becomes necessary. The Task Force is also identifying the needed resources to improve our readiness in all of these areas (for example, how much PPE and how many masks we would need to acquire and how). Again, the prevailing goal is to move forward on fulfilling our educational mission while addressing the safety needs of staff, faculty, and students.

The work of the Task Force is influenced by research and guidance from a variety of agencies, offices, and organizations, including Governor Northam’s “Forward Virginia” plan, the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins, the Harvard/Rockefeller Foundation “Roadmap to Pandemic Resilience,” the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the American College Health Association (ACHA) and the Report of the Higher Education Subcommittee to Reopen Connecticut, among others. The Task Force is also looking forward to further guidance from both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). 

As President Paino announced in his email two days ago, in addition to a weekly email from the Task Force, you can expect to see a number of interactive sessions going forward, including the UFC meeting yesterday and more Zoom/YouTube Q&A sessions with campus leaders. We will also be setting up a web page for the Task Force with a place where you can submit your ideas and suggestions.

Our hope is to provide information to you regularly, quickly, and transparently as the Task Force and its subgroups examine complex issues and identify solutions to allow the University to move forward safely and successfully.

 

Jeff McClurken, Chief of Staff

Tim O’Donnell, Associate Provost

 

Task Force Membership

Troy Paino (chair)
Lisa Bowling
Audrey Burges
Andrew Dolby
Dave Fleming
Sabrina Johnson
Pete Kelly
Juliette Landphair
Lynn Lewis
Jeff McClurken
Keith Mellinger
Nina Mikhalevsky
Mike Muckinhaupt
Tim O’Donnell
Christy Pack
Anand Rao
Lynne Richardson
Jerry Slezak
Debra Schleef
Stuart Sullivan
Nancy Wang
Beth Williams
Kimberly Young

 

Public Health Subgroup

Jeff McClurken (co-chair)
Mike Muckinhaupt (co-chair)
Anna Billingsley
Lisa Bowling
Patrick Catullo
Dave Fleming
Melissa Jones
Juliette Landphair
Sue Lafayette
Lynn Lewis
Paul Messplay
Nina Mikhalevsky
Tim O’Donnell
Chris Porter
Stuart Sullivan
Nancy Wang
Beth Williams
Susan Worrell

 

Academics Subgroup

Nina Mikhalevsky (chair)
Andrew Dolby
Pete Kelly
Jeff McClurken
Keith Mellinger
John Morello
Tim O’Donnell
Anand Rao
Lynne Richardson
Debra Schleef
Kimberly Young

 

Student Life Subgroup

Juliette Landphair (chair)
Dave Fleming
Melissa Jones
Brittanie Naff
Cedric Rucker
Kelly Shannon
Nancy Wang
Tev Zukor

 

Residence Life Subgroup

Dave Fleming (chair)
Nolan Akau
Matt Brooks
Megan Brown
Cece Burkett
Michelle Brooks
Lee Roy Johnson
Jessica Machado
Mike Muckinhaupt
Hunter Rauscher
Stuart Sullivan
Mary Taylor
Nancy Wang

 

Dining Subgroup

Juliette Landphair (chair)
Dave Fleming
Mike Greenfield
Roy Platt
Chris Porter
Cedric Rucker

 

Work Life Subgroup

Beth Williams (co-chair)
Christy Pack (co-chair)
Rosemary Arneson
Terri Arthur
Mike Hubbard
Sabrina Johnson
Melva Kishpaugh
Mike Muckinhaupt
Michelle Pickham
Stuart Sullivan

 

Technology Subgroup

Jerry Slezak (chair)
Hall Cheshire
Jeff McClurken
Keith Mellinger
Tim O’Donnell
Anand Rao
Debra Schleef

A Message from the President

A message from the President. 

To faculty and staff:

While the conclusion of our spring semester was one none of us could have imagined in January, through the talent of our faculty and staff, resilience of our students, and hard work of all, we were able to bring our academic year to a successful conclusion. This semester was a testament to the vital role each person plays in providing a university of this quality and a mission of this significance. As we return to work following Employee Appreciation Day, I want to extend my and my cabinet’s deepest gratitude to every one of you. I hope yesterday served as a reminder that you are valued as a person and professional.

The virtual celebration of graduates this past weekend provided a joyful reflection, as well as a vantage point of what it means to be an Eagle over a lifetime. I encourage you to watch it and be reminded of how timeless our work is. To me, the video also points to how nimbly and agilely the whole campus responded when put to the test. I believe we can face the future with a sense of confidence in ourselves and each other, as well as our collective ability to navigate well if pressed into a new path.

As we look to the summer, we realize that this season will be different than any we’ve experienced. With online summer school and virtual orientation, faculty and staff are being asked to again find new ways to do their work. Success will demand our best effort, as it is critical that students’ experiences lead them to a deeper relationship with the University and commitment to return in the fall.

Students will have every right to expect us to prepare for multiple contingencies and to enhance our offerings, whatever form they may take. This spring we had to react, but now we can proactively plan for myriad possibilities. To that end, I have assembled a Task Force charged with the responsibility of considering all the options before us in terms of reopening. The Task Force is comprised of seven subgroups that have begun to examine operational issues in areas that touch every member of the University community: Public Health, Work Life, Academics, Student Life, Residence Life, Dining, and Technology.

As you may imagine, comprehensive planning in the face of so much uncertainty is enormously complex. The subgroups will look at issues both broadly and in specificity. However, each one of you understands your role in a way that no one else can. I ask you to think deeply about the issues that may not be obvious to others. If ever there was a time for anticipatory planning and thinking ahead, this is it.

I ask each supervisor to ensure that every employee not only learn about this communication, but that all be informed about the issues that will be shared in the months to come. For employees without direct access to digital communications, managers should help ensure a means of regular communication to and from them.

It is our hope to have most twelve-month employees return to campus as soon as possible. The task force subgroups will be working on this plan; however, the earliest that I anticipate a gradual, tiered return to be possible will be once the state begins Phase II of the Governor’s plan to reopen Virginia. Until then and perhaps beyond, the University will provide weekly updates about our planning and decision making. Some communications will be related to the task force and the subgroups, while others may be more general updates. In the first weekly update later this week, task force members Jeff McClurken and Tim O’Donnell will share a more detailed overview of the purpose of each subgroup.

The University is also providing weekly livestream opportunities for various groups through the month of May. This week, I will participate in the UFC meeting on May 13. On May 20, enrollment management staff will share a fall recruitment update, and on May 27, you can learn more about virtual orientation. The May 20 and 27 events will be broadcast through Zoom and YouTube, and they are open to all employees. My Cabinet and I are committed to communicating frequently and transparently so that you are aware of and understand the state of the University.

Financial matters are among your most frequently expressed concerns. This past Friday, the Board of Visitors met virtually to address University business. Citing the rising unemployment rate and financial uncertainties for families, the Board unanimously approved a tuition and dining cost freeze.  Housing will increase by 2% and the Auxiliary Comprehensive Fee will be raised by 8%. The total increase of $498 for a full-time, undergraduate student living on-campus and subscribing to a meal plan reflects a 2.1% for in-state students and 1.2% increase for out-of-state students.

These rates were set in March, prior to the impact of COVID-19. The University is working to more closely align room and board charges to the full cost of delivery for these services, while still ensuring its affordability and student success. Although this rate increase will be insufficient to meet the larger costs of operating in a COVID-19 environment and to balance UMW’s 2020-21 budget, the modest financial adjustment may help more students enroll this fall.

As I shared previously, we intend to have students on campus in August, assuming that we can do so in a way that is prudent and meets state guidelines. The Task Force groups are working to identify potential issues and establish protocols to allow us to return to on-campus, in-person classes, as well as the alternatives we must consider, from hybrid models to virtual ones. We know we won’t get every decision right nor be able to address every concern, but we will try to anticipate and plan for the ones that are most crucial. We’ll endeavor to prepare and be ready to pivot as needed.

Finally, I thank you again for all you do to make Mary Washington such an extraordinary University. Like a UMW education, the impact of its employees is greater even than the sum of its parts. It’s a powerful equation, and I am humbled to lead this University and community.

 

My best to all,

Troy

President Paino Column Published in Richmond Times-Dispatch

Mary Washington President Troy Paino. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

Mary Washington President Troy Paino. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

UMW President Troy Paino had a column published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “The importance of community in times of COVID-19,” on April 25.

Loneliness, isolation, social distancing. Our lives have been disrupted in ways we could not have imagined just a few weeks ago. While we know that now is not the time to leave our homes or relax our commitment to social distancing, now is the time to think about our lives after the pandemic ends. What will we have learned?

I am dubious of attempts to explain the particularities of anyone’s sorrow or the reasons for the more general suffering visited upon humanity in times of war, famine, natural disasters or pandemics. But amid the suffering, it is important to try to learn what the experience has taught us about ourselves and the world in which we live.

While nobody welcomes what we are going through, we have an opportunity to find meaning and purpose amid our collective suffering. In fact, suffering lays bare those things that infuse our lives with purpose in contrast to those things, while costly in time, energy, and money, that offer little in the way of enduring happiness and meaning. Read more.

A call for volunteers for the Virginia Medical Reserve

Dear faculty, staff, and students:

On behalf of Governor Northam, I am writing today to encourage you to consider volunteering for one of the worthiest causes in our society at this time:  fighting the COVID-19 virus. The Governor is looking for an additional 30,000 medical and non-medical volunteers to provide support for the immediate surge in our hospitals, long term care facilities and alternate care sites. These volunteers would become a part of the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps (MRC).

The MRC is a force of dedicated volunteers who stand ready to support Virginia communities in the event of a public health emergency. Signing up to help in this life-saving venture is a great opportunity for health care majors and other students interested in doing their part to assist fellow Virginians, and to fulfill UMW’s commitment to service. Medical experience is recommended but not required. There are many opportunities for everyone.

To sign up as a Virginia Medical Reserve Corps Volunteer, please visit Virginia Volunteer Health System(http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/mrc/). If you have any questions, please contact vamrc@vdh.virginia.gov.

As we approach the end of this challenging semester, I am reminded yet again of your resilience as we have been striving to provide you the best education possible during this unsettling time. I know it has not been easy, but our UMW family is strong. As is our Commonwealth. Let’s continue to work together to keep us moving forward.

 

Sincerely,

Troy Paino