December 7, 2022

A Message from President Paino

A message from the Office of the President.

As many of you heard me mention in the All-University Address a few weeks ago, UMW Vice President Sabrina Johnson has announced that she will retire at the end of the spring semester. At the time of her retirement on June 24, she will have served at Mary Washington for 24 years. She began her tenure in 1997 at the helm of the University’s Department of Human Resources – first as assistant vice president and then as associate vice president. For the past three years, Johnson has held the role of UMW’s Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President for Equity and Access.

The first to hold this position, she was uniquely qualified by her professional experiences, including teaching in the arts and serving in Virginia’s Department of Human Resources Management in Richmond, as well as her formal education in law. Her compassionate approach has allowed her to become a voice for underrepresented populations such as first-generation and low-income students, ethnic minorities, students with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ+ communities, veterans and international students. She has championed those who felt marginalized, regardless of reason. As the momentum behind the University’s ASPIRE values and chief institutional advocate for a variety of viewpoints, Vice President Johnson has broadened the UMW community’s understanding of important and often overlooked issues.

I plan to consult with the campus community as I consider next steps in the process to identify a new leader for equity and access. Later this spring, we will celebrate the invaluable contributions of Vice President Johnson. In the interim, please join me in expressing our gratitude for her extraordinary contributions to our community.

President Troy Paino

President Paino Gives Updates, Expresses Gratitude

As the University of Mary Washington embarks upon yet another “unusual semester,” President Troy Paino yesterday offered via Zoom a message filled with hope and honesty. Channeling FDR’s “Fireside Chats,” he spoke from the heart, delivering his all-University address near the fireplace in Brompton.

UMW President Troy Paino
UMW President Troy Paino

UMW faculty and staff have shown a “willingness to adapt to changing circumstances,” Paino said, thanking those working from home as well as faculty teaching in the classroom and remotely. He expressed gratitude toward frontline workers in residence life, dining, housekeeping, maintenance and university police, who have made it possible for students to return to campus this weekend. He also singled out Mary Washington’s mental health community for supporting students, faculty and staff during these challenging times.

Surveys that went out last semester indicated students were proud of how the UMW community persevered and kept its coronavirus case numbers low through the fall, Paino said. Despite the January uptick in local COVID-19 cases, he remains confident that Mary Washington’s comprehensive plan and MMDC campaign – monitoring, masking, distancing and cleaning – will minimize risks for the campus and the community.

UMW is even more prepared this spring in terms of testing, he continued. The University plans to administer tests to all students – residential and commuting – upon their arrival on campus and to randomly test 500 students each week throughout the semester. With the need for additional tests and other COVID-related resources, Paino has requested more funding from the state legislature. Read more.

President Paino Gives Updates, Expresses Gratitude

As the University of Mary Washington embarks upon yet another “unusual semester,” President Troy Paino yesterday offered via Zoom a message filled with hope and honesty. Channeling FDR’s “Fireside Chats,” he spoke from the heart, delivering his all-University address near the fireplace in Brompton. UMW faculty and staff have shown a “willingness to adapt to […]

Democracy is not a state

Monroe Hall after a snowfall. A message from the Office of the President. 

“Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.”

John Lewis

The New York Times, July 30, 2020


To members of the UMW Community:

Like you, I watched with shock and horror as a mob attacked our nation’s Capitol on Wednesday afternoon. I struggled that night and Thursday with what, if anything, to say to the Mary Washington community in the wake of this travesty. Adding my voice to the chorus of condemnations from across the globe seemed gratuitous.

On the other hand, given our mission, proximity to DC, and the reality that this event, along with the stress of the pandemic, has impacted all of us in a very real and profound way, does the Mary Washington community need to hear from me at this time?  At the very least, I do feel compelled to give voice to our calling and mission in the face of such a national disgrace.

Wednesday was a manifestation of a dangerous undercurrent that has been a part of our national story since its beginning. As we have learned, it does not take much to unleash that destructive force. As if we needed to be reminded, the biggest threat to our nation’s future is from within; it always has been.

Mary Washington’s mission calls us to be nothing less than a counterforce to the darkness and self-interest that can lie in the human spirit and to make sacrifices for the common good. As a public, liberal arts institution, UMW’s purpose and community values are grounded in and defined by the fundamental principles of a democratic civil society.

As Congressman Lewis’ final words instruct, we must act in the face of this unraveling. It is easy to gain notoriety and even political support by sowing seeds of division, hate, and resentment toward those with whom you disagree. It is much more difficult to work with those on the other side of the political divide, to listen to dissenting views and counterarguments, to love your enemies, and sow seeds of hope despite all the reasons to feel hopeless.

What we need now more than ever, though, is just that – the moral courage of both leaders and citizens to confront inconvenient truths and work together toward solutions with humility, grace, empathy, and an eye toward the common good. This is what can heal a divided nation. It is UMW’s mission to prepare a generation to do just that, to do its part to build a nation at peace with itself.

Let’s get back to work.


Troy D. Paino

Interim Provost Job Announcement

A message from the Office of the President.

Dear Colleagues,

Due to the pending retirement of Dr. Nina Mikhalevsky, Provost, I want to make you aware of the following opportunity:

Interim Provost Job Announcement

The University of Mary Washington is conducting an internal search for an interim Provost for the next two academic years, to begin on July 1, 2021. The individual chosen to serve in this role will lead the university through the next SACS-COC reaffirmation process scheduled to conclude in 2023.

The Provost is a key member of the President’s cabinet and is the chief academic officer reporting directly to the President. As the chief academic officer, the Provost is responsible for adapting and implementing an evolving vision for the university and for developing strategies to accomplish that vision.

The Deans of the College of Arts & Science, the College of Business and the College of Education report to the Provost. The Provost also oversees the offices of Academic Engagement and Student Success, Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment, Continuing and Professional Studies, University Museums, and University Library. Other key areas under the Provost’s supervision include the Office of Disability Resources, Academic Services, Office of the Registrar, Career and Professional Development, International Education and Study Abroad, the University Teaching Center and Digital Learning Support.

The Provost must be able to work collaboratively with faculty and staff effectively within the confines of shared governance. Toward that end, the Provost conducts oversight of all academic programs, curriculum, academic planning and budgets, and works closely with the Deans and the faculty to provide leadership of major university initiatives in teaching, research and creative activities. Working closely with faculty and staff, the Provost also has the responsibility of reviewing, improving, and enforcing all University educational and academic policies.

Reaffirming the university’s accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS) is a top priority at this time, so this individual must have extensive experience with SACS and the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV).

Due to demographic shifts and changes in higher education accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, this individual must have experience with budget and resource management at the university level.

Enrollment and student success continue to be a top priority for the university, so this individual must understand effective strategies to both recruit and retain students. These efforts include making academic programs resonate with prospective students and an understanding of the university’s collaboration with EAB in the development of an education data hub.

A successful candidate must have experience in institutional planning, management, accreditation, and program development.

This individual must have a demonstrated commitment to the university’s public liberal arts mission, strategic vision including diversity initiative (especially as it relates to faculty and staff recruitment and curriculum development), and community values (ASPIRE).

This person must have a terminal degree and demonstrate a record of academic accomplishment and scholarship that merits tenure and advanced Associate Professor or Full Professor rank.

To be considered, please submit a letter of interest, curriculum vitae, and three references to the President’s Office, Attention Dr. Jeffrey McClurken, Chief of Staff, by February 8, 2021.

If you have any questions regarding this opportunity, please contact me at



Troy Paino

An end-of-semester message from President Paino

A message from the Office of the President.

To the campus community:

What a year this has been! While there are many aspects of it I’m happy to move beyond, I believe we also learned a great deal about ourselves and our ability to overcome unimaginable challenges.

As 2020 draws to a close, I wanted to take a moment to thank you for all you have done to persevere and project positivity during this pandemic. While many people went to extraordinary lengths to prepare for our return, ultimately the success rested on each individual’s decision to put the good of this community above personal interest. All of you showed resilience, dedication, and adaptability as we encountered hurdles and faced unknowns.

I’m deeply grateful to you; your sacrifice and sense of responsibility for each other allowed us to have a successful fall. Your commitment to this community was inspiring, and the people of UMW demonstrated that it was possible to continue living and learning in the midst of COVID. My pride in this student body, faculty, and staff is difficult to articulate, but I invite you to watch this video message for all members of this community.

With hopeful news of a COVID vaccine on the horizon, I look forward to a 2021 full of promise and possibilities. Meanwhile, I wish you a warm, healthy, and relaxing winter break.



UMW Proceeds With Plans for In-Person Learning

Welcoming students back to campus is the right decision for Mary Washington. That’s what UMW President Troy Paino said in a video released late yesterday, in which he announced that, following a three-week delay of in-person classes, students will begin returning to campus on Sept. 10 and to limited in-person learning on Sept. 14.

UMW President Troy Paino
UMW President Troy Paino

“I will state the obvious,” Paino said in the nearly 19-minute video. “There is no consensus on how to proceed.”

He said he made the painstaking decision after conferring with medical experts, presidential colleagues, parents and others, always keeping the health and wellbeing of students, faculty, staff and area residents foremost in mind. He made the call, he said, for two primary reasons: his belief in the commitment of UMW students and University community members to make personal sacrifices for the greater good, and his confidence in a strong and adaptable plan thoroughly developed by faculty, staff and administrators throughout the past six months.

With an effective, widely available vaccine as far away as 18 months, Paino said, he was forced to weigh the risks of bringing students back to Mary Washington against those of going fully remote, foregoing the meaningful relationships and self-discovery that come with campus life.

“We cannot put this generation on hold for that long,” said Paino, the father of a college student and a recent college graduate. “They need to see that despite the challenges this virus presents, we can move forward with our lives.” Read more.

President Paino’s All-University Address

The following message is from the Office of the President.

As is his tradition, President Paino will launch the upcoming semester with an all-University address on Monday, August 17, from 9 to 10 a.m. This session, however, will not be in Dodd Auditorium; it will be via your computer screen. Please plan to access the live address via Zoom or YouTube. Neither platform requires registration, and the YouTube recording will be available afterward for those unable to join Monday morning.

A message from President Paino about the start of on-campus instruction

A message from President Troy Paino:


To our faculty and staff,

Like you, I have been closely following recent trends with the COVID-19 virus. It goes without saying that the increase in the number of cases in Virginia and across the country gives us pause. We had hoped and believed, just a month ago, that we were headed in the right direction. However, after careful study of the most recent data, a thorough discussion of our options with the COVID-19 Implementation Team, consultation with our local public health and health care officials, and deliberation with my senior leadership team, we have made the decision to delay move-in and the start of on-campus instruction.

This means that we now aim for the following:

  • All classes will still begin on Monday, August 24, but in-person and hybrid courses will be conducted remotely for the first three weeks.
  • Residential students will return to campus by Monday, September 14 (move-in will take place September 10-13).
  • Classes on September 10 and 11 will be cancelled to support residential student move-in.
  • Residential students will still return home on Friday, November 20.
  • As previously announced, classes will resume remotely on Monday, November 30, and the semester will conclude with exams the week of December 7.

What has caused us to adjust our plans? Since we completed our plan – #ForwardUMWand shared it with you at the beginning of July, the pandemic’s impact has worsened, both here in Virginia and around the country. The number of daily cases has gone up, as have hospitalizations and test positivity rates. We remain fortunate that our region (the Rappahannock Health District) has not witnessed the increases in cases and hospitalizations that are cause for alarm in other areas of our commonwealth. In addition, our health care partner, Mary Washington Hospital, continues to report that the demand remains low for intensive care beds – a key measure of hospital surge capacity. Nonetheless, we have observed that both here and nationally the availability of tests has tightened, while the return time on results has lengthened. Both of these conditions – trends in public health and the ability to test adequately – are critical to our ability to return fully to campus this fall. Today’s announcement provides a little more time to monitor and evaluate these conditions.

You might be asking, “why shouldn’t we just move the entire semester online at this point?” I understand this perspective. It would be an easier way forward and would provide the certainty that we would prefer to plan our courses, organize our labs, and design our assignments. It is not, at this time, the right approach for our students. Deciding prematurely to forego an on-campus experience for our students would deny them a critical opportunity for growth and development that is optimized through the residential experience. We have invested significantly and developed substantive engagement opportunities at every level of the institution this fall. Therefore, we need to extend, as much as possible, the chance for our students to have an experience that we all recognize as transformational.

To move forward, I have asked Provost Mikhalevsky, to work with the college deans and the leadership of faculty governance to recommend any adjustments to the academic calendar that this delay may require. I expect that those decisions will be made by the end of this week and shared with you as soon as they are final.

I know that for our faculty members who had planned to start their classes in-person, whether face-to-face or hybrid, this is difficult news. While our decision to start with remote learning is not something any of us were seeking, I know that your preparation and talents in the classroom will translate to our students,  regardless of modality. I am well aware of how much we have asked of you these past few months and am so very grateful for your continued dedication and commitment to our students.

And to our staff, who have been working so diligently to provide for an outstanding student experience, irrespective of whether our students are on campus or at home, I know that this is also disappointing news. However, I am confident that your efforts to engage and support students through advising, counseling, activities or events will be realized in new and different ways.

We are all here to welcome our students to the fall semester, regardless of modality or on-campus start date. We know that our students are eager to join us. We also know that their desire for residential living, despite the circumstances, remains high. We will do everything we possibly can to see that this is possible in what will now be a more compact on-campus experience. We do this because we know that residential living provides opportunities for growth, discovery, and personal development that cannot be realized in any other way.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge again what I have said previously, this pandemic has put us – along with our colleagues in higher education across the state and around the nation – in a precarious financial situation. This decision, made in the interest of public health, is the right one for us despite the fiscal challenges that it presents. Difficult decisions often don’t offer simple solutions.

We will continue to provide updates to keep you informed and are planning Q&A sessions with both faculty and staff, as well as students and their families, next week. In addition, we have focused on Tuesday, September 1, as a date to provide further updates about the fall semester.

So many have done so much in support of our return to campus this August, and we have done everything in our control to make this possible. And though we cannot foresee the future, we will continue to adapt and respond as new information is available. While this virus has repeatedly demonstrated that it doesn’t care about our best laid plans, I am confident that the strength of our community will prove resilient and ready.



UMW Chooses New Name for Building: James Farmer Hall

The University of Mary Washington Board of Visitors today voted to change the name of Trinkle Hall to James Farmer Hall. With this action, the Board memorialized a beloved member of the Mary Washington community who spent most of his career fighting injustices.

University of Mary Washington’s Board of Visitors voted to change the name of Trinkle Hall to James Farmer Hall. Dr. James L. Farmer Jr., one of the “Big Six” leaders of the civil rights movement, spent his final years as a professor of history at Mary Washington. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

University of Mary Washington’s Board of Visitors voted to change the name of Trinkle Hall to James Farmer Hall. Dr. James L. Farmer Jr., one of the “Big Six” leaders of the civil rights movement, spent his final years as a professor of history at Mary Washington. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

“I commend the action of the Board today,” said Rector Heather Crislip. “We are talking about one of the most beautiful and iconic buildings on campus, and its name should reflect our community and our values.”

The vote to change the name of this building comes at a pivotal time in our nation’s history. Today’s action was precipitated by the exhaustive work of UMW’s Campus Environment Presidential Ad Hoc Committee. That group was charged in 2017 with evaluating campus art, monuments, and other representations of the University’s history and community in order to ensure that Mary Washington is a welcoming environment for all.

In its subsequent 74-page report presented to the Board in November 2019, the committee’s research revealed that certain works of art and artifacts present a one-dimensional interpretation of UMW’s history. The Board unanimously voted to endorse all 17 of the committee’s recommendations for addressing the issues, with the greatest urgency placed upon identifying a new name for Trinkle Hall, named for a former governor of Virginia who was an active proponent of eugenics and segregation. The board further directed that the new name provide an opportunity for celebration, positive growth, and affirmative identity of the campus.

Earlier this year, a Naming Committee of UMW alumni, faculty, staff, and students solicited nominations for consideration. The committee then narrowed the field by tallying the top five nominees, surveyed the community regarding these nominees, and conveyed the results to President Troy Paino, who voiced his support of the committee’s recommendation to the Board. Read more.