May 21, 2022

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.



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.”

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.

Executive Summary of #ForwardUMW – Return to Campus Plan

Dear University of Mary Washington Community,

Thanks to everyone who has worked so hard in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that forced students, faculty, and most staff off campus back in March. Your efforts during very trying circumstances made it possible for our students to successfully complete the 2019-2020 academic year.

Since then, dozens of individuals have worked tirelessly to develop plans for the return of students to campus in August. This #ForwardUMW – Return to Campus Plan is a high-level summary of all the preparation that has gone into bringing our students back for face-to-face instruction this fall.

Developing this plan was extraordinarily complicated and exhaustive work. The Task Force I appointed to lead the effort was charged under the following guiding principles:

  1. Promote 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)

Please note that this plan to repopulate the campus must remain adaptable as circumstances change. Until there is a vaccine for the coronavirus, life on campus will not return to normal. Social distancing, face coverings, and methods to monitor and contain the spread of the virus will become part of everyday life at UMW. We will also make changes to the academic calendar to minimize the risk of transmission associated with breaks. To better protect the health and safety of our community, particularly the most vulnerable among us, we must remain diligent in adhering to the guidance issued by public health experts.

In the tradition of our Honor Code, we must take a pledge to do our part. We are fortunate to be a part of a community that understands that sometimes we must make sacrifices to contribute to the common good. Even still, it is important to remember that this plan is intended to mitigate the risk of exposure to the virus, but it cannot completely eliminate that risk.

Thanks again for everyone who has worked so hard during this stressful time. Even though we have operated in isolation these past several weeks, your response to this challenge has demonstrated the strength of this community. As we inch closer to the day we begin moving students back into residence halls, I am increasingly confident that the 2020-21 academic year will serve as a testimony to Mary Washington’s resolve and commitment to our students.

With gratitude,



#ForwardUMW – Return to Campus Plan
University of Mary Washington
Executive Summary
June 18, 2020



This is an executive summary of the work of the President’s Task Force charged with developing a “return to campus” plan for the University. It is designed to provide further details to the UMW community about the fall semester and is being released now to give our community the first preview of a much more detailed plan to be submitted to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) by July 6th. All institutions of higher education in the Commonwealth are required to submit plans for “reopening” which will be reviewed by SCHEV. The University’s final plan will be available to all members of the UMW community on concurrent with its submission to SCHEV.

UMW’s campus plan follows the guiding principles outlined by President Paino[1] early in this process and is based upon the guidance of the Governor’s Forward Virginia Blueprint, the Higher Education Reopening Guidance, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), the American College Health Association (ACHA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The plan includes details for (1) repopulating campus, (2) monitoring health conditions to detect infection, (3) containment to prevent the spread of the disease when detected, and (4) shutdown considerations as dictated by severe conditions and/or public health guidance. It is important to note that the fluidity of this pandemic only allows for a snapshot, using the conditions and knowledge of this moment, as a framework. Planning and tactical implementation will necessarily evolve and change as circumstances warrant.

We are planning for multiple scenarios this fall. Faculty – with the support of the Center for Teaching, Digital Learning Support; the Office of Disability Resources; and the Library – are engaged in intensive work to support all forms of instruction, including accessible online instruction and remote learning. Regardless of the three campuses’ operational status, these will be features of our approach to instruction. Our intention is to support, to the extent possible, all of our students regardless of where or how they receive instruction.

This summer, faculty are participating in a newly offered four-week instructional design workshop with the goal of ensuring the best aspects of the UMW experience – substantive interactions, collaborations, and connections between faculty and students – are infused in every class. The topical focus of this workshop will include (a) structure and communication, (b) assignments and feedback, (c) content creation and curation, and (d) student engagement. This tremendous effort by our faculty will ensure that we maintain the same high standards and quality, regardless of modality. Ultimately, a quality educational experience is about the knowledge and expertise of the faculty and how much time and attention they give to their students’ development and work, as well as students’ commitment to learning.

In order to support the many different needs of students and faculty, as well as the University’s social distancing requirements, UMW will offer myriad types of classes this fall. We know students value in-person experiences, so the majority of our fall 2020 classes will be just that, with “social distancing” incorporated. For sure, all courses will employ some aspect of virtual experiences, if for no other reason than the fact that following Thanksgiving, the final week of instruction and finals will be conducted remotely. All classes, regardless of modality, will continue the Mary Washington tradition of valuing close interactions between faculty and students.

Throughout campus, staff also are actively and energetically preparing their areas for a return to campus under the guiding principles set forth by President Paino. With direction and support from Human Resources and the Office of Equity and Inclusion, staff members are finalizing plans for review by their respective vice presidents and the Task Force. The guiding force in all preparations is support for the institution’s educational mission and commitment to the UMW student experience.

Fundamental to a return to campus will be an invigorated sense of community responsibility with behavioral expectations to support the health, safety, and well-being of all. Each one of us – faculty, staff, and students – will need to share in this collective task. Consequently, many of the steps outlined in this plan will be successful only through a shared sense of purpose, a commitment to equity, and communal action that aligns with our expressed values. In this respect, ASPIRE (Accountability, Scholarship, Personal and Individual Integrity, Inclusive Excellence, Respect and Civility, Engagement) serves as a critical element to anchor our efforts as we seek to return to campus. #ForwardUMW will make an educational campaign around these values a central element of our return to campus.


Public Health Conditions and Considerations for Reopening Campuses

UMW’s return to campus plan assumes several “gating conditions,” which are necessary prerequisites for the campus to open, as outlined in the Higher Education Reopening Guidance issued by Governor Northam. They include:

  • Positive trends in public health in the Fredericksburg region consistent with the Forward Virginia Blueprint
  • Health care capacity in which local health care facilities are operational and capable of serving the regional population if there is a surge in cases
  • Adherence to sound public health principles – namely that we have a plan in which the UMW community will support and embrace safety precautions that include washing hands, wearing masks, maintaining social distance, and generally agreeing to keep each other safe
  • A campus preparedness plan developed and consistent with the guidance set forth by the Commonwealth

Consistent with CDC principles, UMW’s plan seeks to minimize the risk of transmission by offering some virtual-only learning options and utilizing social distancing for all in-person classes, activities, and events. UMW will not hold full-sized, in-person classes, activities, or events for the foreseeable future. Even during Phase Three of the Forward Virginia Blueprint, in-person events are likely to be limited until a vaccine is widely available.


Repopulation Plan

To reduce the risk of transmission and community spread of COVID-19, UMW will alter its academic calendar to eliminate breaks, reduce travel, and utilize limited remote instruction and other curricular modalities and options. For fall 2020, this means that we will hold classes on Labor Day, will not have Fall Break, and will not return after Thanksgiving. The final week of classes and exam week will be conducted remotely. Definite decisions about the spring schedule will be announced as soon as possible.

Leadership for UMW’s continuing response to the COVID-19 pandemic will involve establishing the temporary role of a COVID-19 coordinator and the creation of a COVID-19 team that will be responsible for working closely on all aspects of the University’s ongoing, coordinated efforts. The COVID-19 coordinator will be a temporary reassignment of an existing employee. This team, which will include representation from Emergency Management, Student Health Services, Human Resources, Facilities Services, Student Affairs and Academic Affairs will coordinate closely with public health officials in the Rappahannock Area Health District and Mary Washington Healthcare. 

At this time, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) does not recommend campus-wide testing of students, faculty or staff upon arrival or at certain set intervals. It is not at all clear that a sufficient number of tests would be available even if indications were that this would be an effective strategy. Testing is further complicated by the likelihood of false positive or false negative test results. Instead, UMW will rely upon diagnostic testing of symptomatic individuals and asymptomatic close contacts as described below in the monitoring and containment plans.

In accordance with the Commonwealth’s guidelines, many UMW staff will continue to telework. Prior to the return to campus, members of the community will complete an initial education and training which will be part of a larger communication and shared responsibility campaign on COVID-19.  The “Mary Washington Pledge” will be a precondition for returning to campus this fall. In this pledge, each member of the UMW community will agree to (a) regular self-monitoring and attestation of symptoms, (b) agree not to come to campus if sick, (c) accept University requirements for wearing face coverings, practicing good hygiene, and adhering to social distancing expectations. As part of the campus effort to prepare for repopulation, individual offices are developing their reopening plans in accordance with both CDC and Virginia Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM) guidance.

Move-in for residential students will be staggered over several days to permit social distancing, and participation by family and friends will be strictly regulated. Students will be encouraged to bring fewer personal belongings to campus this fall. Most events for new student arrival will be virtual (e.g. Honor Convocation) so as not to exceed gathering size requirements and physical distancing guidelines.

UMW will employ several strategies related to physical (social) distancing. First, we will generally adhere to an 8×8 (64 square foot) per person constraint on classroom and meeting spaces. This includes all computer labs, dining facilities, common areas, and other gathering spaces on campus. Practically, this will involve moving some larger classes online and moving smaller classes to larger spaces, including facilities that have not typically been used for classes, such as Dodd Auditorium, Jepson Alumni Center Ballroom, and Chandler Ballroom. Second, we will adhere to American College Health Association (ACHA) guidance for gatherings, which will be limited to 30 for the foreseeable future. Third, UMW Dining will utilize more “grab and go” meal options, eliminate buffets, reduce capacity in dining spaces, expand outdoor dining, while simultaneously creating more spaces for pick up (for example, offering sushi pickup in the Underground).

The University will provide support for increased hygiene practices and make greater use of cleaning and disinfecting. More than 1,000 no-touch hand sanitizing stations will be strategically placed across UMW properties and plexiglass barriers will be installed in high-use windows and reception desks (e.g. Lee Hall, UC, HCC, and Simpson Library). Self-cleaning of desks and work surfaces will be part of the UMW plan, even as Facilities Services increases rotational cleaning of bathrooms and other high-touch areas. Sanitizing wipes will be available in all classroom and meeting spaces, and ubiquitous throughout UMW buildings, including offices. The time between classes has been increased to 20 minutes to permit self-cleaning of learning spaces. Facilities Services will adhere to CDC guidelines for all cleaning protocols and is purchasing 40 electrostatic spray cleaning guns to support enhanced and efficient disinfecting and cleaning.

Residential living will be different this fall. Some residence halls will have lower densities, and all will strictly reduce use of kitchens and common areas. Residence Life staff will receive increased training and new guest policies will significantly limit traffic into and through the residence halls. Student life is investigating creative means of insuring safe social interaction, entertainment, and wellness activities to encourage engagement and community building.

Vulnerable individuals (e.g. those 65 years or older, those with underlying health conditions) will be supported through options that mitigate exposure to risk, including the use of telework and moving approximately one-third of all classes to online learning. Students should work with the Office of Disability Resources, and faculty and staff should contact their supervisor and the Office of Human Resources for additional supports. International students will be required to follow CDC guidelines for quarantine prior to entering campus.

Face coverings (masks and, in some cases, face shields) will be worn by students, faculty, staff and visitors. Training and education will incorporate the face covering imperative. All members of the UMW community will be required to do this when in public spaces with others, including when at least six feet of physical distance cannot be maintained and in shared office spaces, hallways, and stairwells.

The University is exploring options to enhance student health services to support both typical health services as well as COVID-19 needs, such as oversight of quarantine and isolation spaces. All health services staff will have medical-grade PPE for COVID-19, which will be used even for basic operations and typical health services. A working group has been formed around enhancing mental health services with a report due in early July.

UMW Athletics is planning to welcome student-athletes this fall. The department has a core planning team that is focused on ways to provide sport participation in a safe, healthy, and equitable way. Ongoing planning for Athletics will align with UMW’s broader planning, and adhere to local, state and NCAA guidelines. Facility-specific health and safety protocols, personal protective equipment (PPE), administrative controls and other applicable distancing and sanitation guidelines are being addressed. Updates for return to play protocols will be communicated to head coaches and the UMW community as information becomes available.


Monitoring Plans

UMW will utilize a daily symptom self-reporting tool to monitor the health of the campus populations and will make available self-check temperature stations on campus. All members of the community, who are physically on a campus, will be expected to participate in and support campus disease surveillance. The University will also have a series of protocols for all students, faculty, and staff, which includes testing as recommended by public health.


Containment Plans

UMW will partner with the Rappahannock Area Health District of the Virginia Department of Health for contact tracing in order to support the rapid quarantining of individuals who are suspected to have been in close contact with someone who is confirmed positive with COVID-19. UMW is converting appropriate residence halls into dedicated quarantine and isolation space to support the containment of COVID-19 on campus. Such spaces will be outfitted with medical amenities (e.g. thermometers, pulse oximeters), refreshments and snacks, and supplies (e.g. linens) to support a 14-day quarantine. Sodexo will be providing meal delivery to individuals in these spaces.


Shutdown Plans

In consultation with local and state public health officials, a campus dismissal (return to remote learning) or shutdown (closure of campus offices) would be necessary under several conditions. For example, such conditions could include:

  • Sustained negative trends in public health data, including a return to Phase Two under the Forward Virginia Blueprint for the Rappahannock health district,
  • Concern from local health systems that hospital bed capacity is limited and/or testing capacity is insufficient,
  • Broadscale breakdown in adherence to sound public health principles, and
  • Supply chain or capacity constraints which undermine UMW’s repopulation, monitoring, and containment plans (e.g. insufficient cleaning supplies, lack of PPE, or exceeding quarantine capacity).


Technology Investments

To support these plans and the continuity of operations, the University has extensively surveyed students, faculty and staff to more fully understand gaps in hardware and internet access, which were manifested when classes were forced to go remote with little warning in the spring semester. That feedback is being used to make decisions and a number of investments, including securing WiFi access spots for individuals (students, faculty, and staff) with limited home access, an enterprise site license of Zoom for all students, faculty, and staff, as well as the installation of webcams and document cameras in classrooms. Jabber, a remote access phone client, is available through the Help Desk so that individuals working remotely can answer their office phone from their computer irrespective of their location. Other investments are under investigation, including the creation of virtual computer labs so that members of the University community have access to licensed software from anywhere (thereby reducing reliance on dedicated computer labs with reduced occupancy).


Next Steps

Further details of this plan will be developed in the coming days as UMW prepares its full plan for submission to SCHEV. That plan will be posted on the UMW website prior to July 6, 2020. We know that many of you have questions. We do as well, and we will continue to refine our answers even as we encounter new questions. This is especially relevant to “move-in” dates and course modality. We anticipate having further answers to those questions by the time we submit our plan in July.

Thank you for your continuing support and commitment to reopening UMW.


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

A message from President Paino regarding ICE decision on international students

The University of Mary Washington is alarmed by the recent decision from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency barring international students from entering or remaining in the United States in the event that they are able to enroll only online this fall. UMW has and will continue to welcome international students as valuable members of our community. These changes to student visa policies are arbitrary and damaging to the University, our students, and our region.

While the University is and will continue to monitor the situation, ongoing developments, and current legal actions, UMW is also taking specific steps in response:

  • The University, with the assistance of the Attorney General’s Office, is exploring how best to support the Harvard/MIT lawsuit challenging the forthcoming rules that bar online study for international students.
  • The University’s Director of the Center for International Education, Dr. Jose A. Sainz, is closely following developments and has been in communication with and providing support to all UMW students likely to experience impact from these policy changes.
  • International students may continue to avail themselves of academic and social support services such as advising, virtual access to the library, the James Farmer Multicultural Center, and the Talley Center for mental health as long as they are enrolled at UMW.
  • As part of UMW’s plan to reopen this fall, and as documented in our submission to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), UMW has committed to materially supporting international students in meeting federal guidelines for self-quarantine following entry into the United States prior to the start of classes.

To start the 2020-2021 academic year, UMW intends to offer courses delivered in multiple modalities: online, hybrid, and face-to-face. The process of deciding which courses will be taught in which modality is ongoing and evolving as circumstances change. Such choices will always be made in the interest of public health, the well-being of our faculty, staff and students, and our commitment to high quality instruction.

A particularly pernicious aspect of the Department of Homeland Security’s decision is that it irresponsibly pressures institutions to make decisions about teaching modalities that have nothing to do with health or pedagogy. Institutions of higher education must remain flexible in order to best respond to trends in public health data and the wellbeing of students and employees. If circumstances warrant, courses that are currently scheduled to meet face-to-face on campus must have the ability to go online without derailing the educational attainment of international students.

Fall 2020 is clearly an exceptional one for the entire world. Higher education has repeatedly assured students and other stakeholders that this environment is an anomaly and adversity mitigated only when we share responsibility and work together as a community. Yet this ruling seems to indicate that international students are secondary contributors to American education. It is a misguided framework, and most educators will attest to their experience that international students stand equal with U.S. students in their intellectual, social, and financial impact. The richness and diversity of thought brought by a variety of cultures are crucial to a global perspective that benefits all students and this nation. Either we stand together during this pandemic or we are all fundamentally weakened and vulnerable.

Update on UMW’s Police Community Advisory Panel

A message from the Office of the President.

To the campus community:

As a follow up to my recent email about formation of a Police Community Advisory Panel (CAP), I wanted to remind you of this group’s charge and to announce the committee’s membership. As part of my commitment to a complete and open accounting of the events surrounding the May 31 Fredericksburg community protests, I pledged to create an independent panel to fully examine the actions of our police. I have asked members of the CAP to thoroughly review the incident and to make recommendations as to how our police can better align with UMW’s community values.

Here are the members:

Maya Jenkins
Salem Smith

Danny Tweedy

Arin Doerfler

Community Members
Pamela Jones
Claire Cole Curcio

BOV Members
Rhonda VanLowe
Allida Black

Marc Tate ‘92
Zaya Ahmed ‘18

Ex Officio
Davis McCrory, Internal Auditor

I am grateful for the willingness of each member to serve and undertake this important task, and I will keep you updated as their work progresses.

President Troy Paino