January 23, 2022

Paino Calls for Commitment at ‘Critical Juncture’

UMW President Troy Paino welcomed faculty and staff to Spring 2022 – a fifth semester of teaching and learning amid a global pandemic – yesterday in a livestreamed all-University address.

“In light of what we’ve gone through over the past two years, we’re at a critical juncture,” he said. “I’m calling for the University community to come together.”

UMW President Troy D. Paino

UMW President Troy D. Paino

Paino asked all employees – even outside of Admissions – to consider student recruitment and retention an essential part of their job, as colleges across the country struggle to yield incoming classes. Part news bulletin, part pep talk, the presentation praised resilience across campus in the face of an incorrigible COVID-19 and a damaging winter storm that pounded the area last week. The 35-minute address also looked toward the future, touching on planned capital projects, new leadership and ambitious initiatives.

But the present – today’s return to in-person classes – was key. The ability to stick with that plan was made possible, Paino said, thanks to a vaccination rate of more than 95 percent among the UMW community, and just six percent positivity among students, compared with more than 40 percent in the region, as the Omicron variant surges.

“The bottom line is that working and living in this community, which is almost totally vaccinated, makes this campus one of the safest places to be here in the Fredericksburg area,” he said.

Paino encouraged University personnel to stay strong and aware, to practice self-care and to consider at-risk individuals. He also urged the campus community to be cognizant of the contributions of healthcare partners, including the CDC, Virginia Department of Health, Rappahannock Area Health District and colleagues throughout the commonwealth.

Much of the talk focused on the University-wide need to connect with prospective students. “It’s the small things,” Paino said. “It’s the way we answer the phone, the way we interact with people on campus.” Related initiatives, he said, include the newly created Recruitment and Retention Council, the launch of a new brand and a push to engage students earlier in their high school careers.

Turning to the topic of construction, Paino said, activity continues on campus despite supply chain and inflation issues. He cited the recent demolition of Alvey; renovation of Seacobeck, which re-opened today; and the ongoing underground utilities project on Ball Circle.

After an extensive renovation, longtime dining area Seacobeck Hall has officially taken on its new role as home to the College of Education. More capital projects are in the works, President Paino announced during the Spring 2022 All-University Address.

After an extensive renovation, longtime dining area Seacobeck Hall has officially taken on its new role as home to the College of Education. More capital projects are in the works, President Paino announced during the Spring 2022 All-University Address.

More such work is on the way, he said, with a new legislative session and state administration. Preliminary funding will support the museums operated by UMW, the Office of Disability Resources and a proposed salary increase. In addition, funding will be available to plan for the construction of a new theatre and the renovation of duPont, Melchers and Pollard halls, along with Simpson Library.

Paino welcomed Chief Diversity Officer Shavonne Shorter and Director of Emergency Management and Safety Brandy Ellard, and announced the launch of a national search for a vice president for advancement.

Leadership will guide the need to reassess Mary Washington’s strategic vision, Paino said. He asked the entire University community to join in the effort of examining the four current pillars – civic engagement, immersive learning, creation of a diverse and inclusive community, and adaptation of the liberal arts to a digital world – in light of lessons learned over the past two years.

“How do we respond to this moment?” he said. “And this is a moment, let’s make no mistake about it, that we have to respond to.”

On what would have been the 102nd birthday of former Mary Washington faculty member and civil rights icon James L. Farmer Jr., Paino stressed the need to work together to help shape the next generation of engaged citizens, inspire social mobility and demonstrate a commitment to truth.

“Is it challenging work? Is it huge work? Is it hard work? No doubt,” he said. “But I feel grateful that we have a sense of purpose here at this critically important time for our democracy. Thank you for all the work you do.”

Holiday Greetings from President Paino

Dear UMW Community,

As the semester comes to an end and we prepare for winter break, I wanted to extend my heartfelt gratitude and best wishes to you and those you hold dear.

Since March of 2020, we all have endured additional strain – pandemic struggles, political and social unrest, and personal or family health and financial challenges. With cooperation and support from all of you, we have kept COVID-19 transmission rates extremely low and have made campus life as normal as possible given the circumstances. You have exemplified what it means to be a part of a caring community, and your resilience has allowed us to move forward and fulfill our mission.

I know the holiday season can sometimes exacerbate stressful feelings and situations, taking a toll on our emotional and physical well-being. Please take care of yourself and enjoy those customs that enrich your life and give you peace of mind. My hope is that you enjoy laughter, good food, family, and friends as we reflect on this past year and look forward to the next.

Warmly,
Troy

Announcement of Vice President for Advancement Search

A message from the Office of the President.

To the University Community,

As you may be aware, we are beginning a national search for a new Vice President for Advancement.  We are seeking a highly qualified individual for this critical area of operations for the University and will work diligently to ensure that we get the right person to lead this unit.

I have asked Jeffrey McClurken, Chief of Staff, to chair the search committee. The other members of the search committee are:

  • Devon Cushman, Class of 1993 and BOV Chair of Administration, Facilities, Finance, and Advancement committee
  • Jackie Gallagher, Professor and Chair, Geography Department, UFC representative
  • Patti Kemp, UMW Foundation Board, Class of 1969
  • Keith Mellinger, Dean of Arts and Sciences
  • Dana Norwood, Biology major, Social Justice minor, Class of 2022, SGA representative
  • Marion Sanford, James Farmer Multicultural Center
  • Catherine Seller, Advancement
  • Mark Thaden, Alumni Relations, Class of 2002
  • Alicia Tisdale, Financial Aid, USC representative
  • Susan Worrell, Interim Vice President for Advancement

The committee will be assisted in its work by Greg Duyck, Principal and Advancement Practice Leader of the executive search firm of WittKieffer with the goal of having candidates on campus in the spring.

Troy

President Paino Focuses on What Matters Most in UMW Address

As the University of Mary Washington welcomes students to campus this week, President Troy Paino expressed “true joy” as he gathered with many of his colleagues on Monday for the first time since March of last year. Speaking in Dodd Auditorium, Paino was visibly moved as he delivered his all-University address in person to more than 100 faculty and staff, while those still teleworking watched on livestream.

UMW President Troy Paino. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

UMW President Troy Paino. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

Paino, who wore a mask in adherence to UMW’s indoor face coverings policy, shared his concerns about the Delta variant. But having witnessed the campus community’s commitment to mitigating the spread of the virus, he said he was confident in Mary Washington’s resilience and ability to adapt. “Our capacity to serve our students and fulfill our mission” will be renewed and strengthened after the adversity we’ve all faced, he said.

Touting a 90 percent vaccination rate among students and employees, Paino said the University will continue to monitor the situation and follow guidance from local and state health authorities. Finishing the last academic year among schools with the lowest number of cases, Mary Washington has been a model for the Commonwealth, he said. Furthermore, Chief of Staff Jeff McClurken, who managed UMW’s pandemic response with Interim Provost Tim O’Donnell, was asked to chair a team of COVID directors from Virginia colleges and universities.

Flanked by banners declaring the values that matter at Mary Washington, Paino announced that more than 7,000 members of the UMW community helped create “a collective expression … that is authentic to who we are.” Mary Washington will continue to collaborate with Atlanta-based firm Mindpower to refine and reinforce the Matter brand to tell our story to prospective students and their families, he said.

 

 

He also encouraged faculty and staff to focus on fostering connections with current students, especially those who came to UMW during the pandemic. “Individualized attention … the human interaction with our students inside and outside the classroom,” he said, “that’s the Mary Washington experience.”

The president also provided updates on construction projects, including the newly renovated Virginia Hall, which new students began moving into this week; the anticipated spring 2022 completion of Seacobeck as the new home of the College of Education; and the Maxine and Carl D. Silver Hillel Center, which will serve as a hub for UMW’s Jewish students. Funds have been secured from the General Assembly to start planning for a new theatre, Paino said, as well as a revitalization of the duPont, Pollard and Melchers arts complex.

Mary Washington has begun a nationwide search for a new chief diversity officer to succeed Sabrina Johnson, who retired earlier this year, Paino said. Citing UMW’s recent rankings on the Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges and Washington Monthly’s list of institutions that serve a public good, he added that Mary Washington is on the verge of hiring a full-time sustainability coordinator.

Paino concluded his address with praise for faculty and staff, emphasizing their role in helping UMW students discover what matters most to them. “I wish you well as we welcome our students back to campus,” he said, “and be reminded of the important work we do together.”

 

A message from President Paino

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

On Monday, I recorded this video as a year-end message of appreciation and encouragement for all of you. At that time, we had no idea when a verdict would be rendered or what to expect in the trial of Derek Chauvin. Now that we know the outcome, my sentiments expressed here take on even more poignancy and meaning. We must continue to strive to be better and to hold ourselves and our nation accountable as a place where all can live with dignity, purpose, and acceptance.

When I consider all the visible and unseen challenges each of you has confronted this past year, I realize that this year has come at a great price, but also with tremendous reward. The way that this great community continues to overcome the unimaginable fills me with a sense of hope for the future.

Wishing you all the best,

Troy Paino
President

 

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.

Sincerely,

Troy D. Paino
President

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.

Troy

 

Virginia Business Profile on UMW

Lee Hall

President Troy Paino, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Keith Mellinger and Professor of Communication Anand Rao were interviewed for a Virginia Business profile on the University of Mary Washington entitled, “The Mother of Innovation.”

Don’t try to be something you’re not.

That’s one way to sum up the approach that Troy Paino has taken to guiding the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg since assuming the school’s presidency in July 2016.

“I knew as an outsider that Virginia had a crowded and competitive marketplace for higher education,” says Paino, who previously served as president of Missouri’s Truman State University. “I don’t think I fully appreciated it until I got here.” Read more.

 

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: UMW Will Persevere Through Pandemic

A situation easily seen as short on hope is filled with it because of the hard work and dedication of faculty and staff, University of Mary Washington President Troy Paino said Monday morning during an all-University address delivered on YouTube and Zoom.

UMW President Troy D. Paino

UMW President Troy D. Paino

From the early clearing of campus last spring to the recent delay of in-person classes, employees have shown resilience throughout the COVID-19 crisis, he said, working together to pursue UMW’s primary mission of serving students. Visibly moved by the months-long effort, he expressed personal gratitude to individuals, departments and the collective community, and pledged that the preservation of jobs will remain a top priority.

Despite challenges that lie ahead – from public health and economic crises to political upheaval and a renewed focus on achieving racial equity – Mary Washington should emerge stronger than ever, according to Paino. That’s because of the institution’s bedrock principles. “Our care, compassion, empathy and commitment hold us together in the face of all those forces that could have divided us,” he said.

Noting the faculty’s lightning-speed, four-day transition last spring from in-person to online instruction, Paino singled out creative feats like UMW Theatre’s impromptu livestream production of Much Ado About Nothing and the fiscal maneuvering of a budget cut by millions. With nearly 2,000 attendees across the globe and dozens of facilitators, the COVID-19 in Context course, launched by College of Arts and Sciences Dean Keith Mellinger and Professor of Communication Anand Rao, spoke to the University’s resilience, Paino said, and helped make sense of the world.

A COVID-19 task force, directed by Chief of Staff Jeff McClurken and Associate Provost for Academic Engagement and Student Success Tim O’Donnell and splintered into working groups involving more than 100 faculty and staff, was charged with preparing for the return of students this fall. The entire UMW community, Paino said, from frontline workers to alumni, “did not skip a beat,” rising to meet the demands of a rapidly shifting reality while maintaining care and concern for one another and for students.

The COVID-19 in Context course, launched by College of Arts and Sciences Dean Keith Mellinger and Professor of Communication Anand Rao, spoke to the University’s resilience, Paino said, and helped make sense of the world.

In his all-university address, President Paino said UMW’s popular COVID-19 in Context course spoke to the University’s resilience, and helped make sense of the world.

“It’s uncertain when the uncertainty will be behind us,” said Paino, adding that UMW will continue to monitor the virus’ spread, testing capacity and other factors before reaffirming its plan to begin welcoming students back onto campus Sept. 10. He reinforced the decision to issue pro-rated room and board discounts to compensate for reduced time on campus and re-iterated his resolve to save jobs. “We want to do everything we can, we want to look under every rock, before we ever get to that point.”

A renewed focus on its core values, including civic engagement, and diversity and inclusion, will help see UMW through the pandemic, Paino said, acknowledging the unwelcome interruption of the yearlong Farmer Legacy 2020 celebration. The commemoration recognizes not only the 100th birthday of the late civil rights icon and Mary Washington professor James Farmer but also the centennial anniversary of women’s right to vote and the 30-year mark of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The recent renaming of Trinkle Hall in honor of Farmer, Paino said, demonstrates UMW’s commitment to continue the commemoration.

New initiatives like ASPIRE Speak, emphasizing respect, empathy and civility in discourse, and the student-led Day on Democracy, aimed at encouraging and enabling all to exercise their right to vote, he said, will serve to keep the University moving in the right direction. He also emphasized the need for the entire Mary Washington community to adhere to the mantra of the #ForwardUMW MMDC campaign: monitor, mask, distance and clean.

Plans for fall in-person learning to end before Thanksgiving, and students’ return to campus in late January, 2021, will give the University ample time to prepare for what will hopefully be a full spring semester and two May Commencements, for the Classes of 2020 and 2021.

“If we’re able to get there, I cannot think of a more joyous occasion for the Mary Washington community,” Paino said. “On the other side of this pandemic … I see a stronger and more self-assured UMW. This has brought us together in a powerful way, and now it is up to us to stay together.”