University of Mary Washington

The University of Mary Washington (UMW) is a public university in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Founded in 1908 as the Fredericksburg Teachers College, the institution was named Mary Washington College in 1938 after Mary Ball Washington, mother of the first president of the United States, George Washington. The General Assembly of Virginia changed the college's name to the University of Mary Washington in 2004 to reflect the addition of graduate and professional programs to the central undergraduate curriculum, as well as the establishment of more than one campus.

University of Mary Washington
George Washington Hall at University of Mary Washington
Former names
  • State Normal and Industrial School for Women at Fredericksburg (1908–1938)
  • Mary Washington College (1938–1944; 1972–2004)
  • Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia (1944–1972)
MottoPro Deo Domo Patria
Motto in English
For God, home, and country
Endowment$49.9 million
PresidentTroy Paino (since 2016)
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Location, ,
United States

38°18′07″N 77°28′30″W
CampusSuburban, 176 acres (71.22 ha)
ColorsNavy Blue and Gray
AthleticsNCAA Division IIICAC
AffiliationsAASCU COPLAC
Location in Northern Virginia
University of Mary Washington (Virginia)
University of Mary Washington (the United States)

Each year, students pursue more than 60 majors and programs of graduate and undergraduate study through the university's three colleges: Arts and Sciences, Business, and Education. One third of UMW's undergraduate students study abroad before graduation, taking advantage of 121 study abroad programs in 56 countries. UMW Athletics' 23 teams compete in the NCAA Division III Capital Athletic Conference. Known as the UMW Eagles, 308 of these student-athletes have been named to All-American teams.


On March 14, 1908, Virginia Governor Claude A. Swanson signed into law legislation for the establishment of the new State Normal and Industrial School for Women. It was called Fredericksburg Teachers College. The institution was renamed Mary Washington College in 1938 after Mary Ball Washington, mother of the first president of the United States of America, George Washington, and longtime resident of Fredericksburg.[2][3]

In 1944 the college became associated with the University of Virginia as its women's college. Until that time, the University of Virginia had not admitted women as undergraduates, except in its education and nursing programs, although its postgraduate programs were coeducational. Following UVA's transition to coeducational status in 1970, the Virginia General Assembly reorganized Mary Washington College in 1972 as a separate, coeducational institution.[4]

The General Assembly of Virginia enacted legislation changing the college's name to University of Mary Washington on March 19, 2004,[5] to reflect the addition of master's degree programs and the establishment of more than one campus.

The university's first LEED-certified building, CGPS North Building, was built in 2007. The university houses stops along the route of the Fredericksburg Regional Transit System (FRED). The school signed an Energy Performance Contact with the energy service company NORESCO from 2005–2007, enabling the campus to install water saving devices which reduced campus water consumption by 50%. NORESCO also installed low energy light fixtures, occupant sensors, HVAC controls, and completed replacement of leaking condensate piping.[6]


The University of Mary Washington is a public liberal arts university accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.[7] It is not a research university, but instead focuses on undergraduate education.

Much of UMW's Fredericksburg campus is located on Marye's Heights, a steep hill which, like Sunken Road (the campus' northeastern boundary), played an important role in the 1862 Battle of Fredericksburg. The campus is within walking distance to the historic downtown with shops, restaurants and the Rappahannock River.[8] Other campuses are Stafford Campus, seven miles north of Fredericksburg, and Dahlgren Campus, near the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division.

UMW has five pre-professional programs: pre-dental, pre-law, pre-med, pre-pharmacy, and pre-veterinary. Bachelor's degrees include a Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts, and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in addition to two degree completion programs – a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and a Bachelor of Liberal Studies (BLS).[8] Master's degrees include a Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Education (M.Ed.), Master of Education for Professional Development or Added Endorsement (M.Ed.), Master of Science in Elementary Education (M.S.) and a Master of Geospatial Analysis (MSGA). UMW also offers a Geographic Information Science certificate.[9]

First-year seminar courses allow students to explore nontraditional topics in nontraditional ways. While topics vary, classes are all capped at 15 students, focus on the development of writing and speaking skills and use active, discussion-based formats. Previous first-year seminars have included "Beyond the Selfie: Exploring Digital Identities," "Cold Case: Theatre Mysteries," "The Art of Mathematics," "Race & Revolution," and "Science and Technology – Because We Can, Should We?"

Many UMW students study abroad before graduation. The university offers 121 approved programs in 56 countries, five exchange programs, and more than 15 programs led by UMW faculty during spring breaks and summer sessions.


By statute of the Code of Virginia, the University of Mary Washington is governed by a Board of Visitors, one member of which is elected every two years to serve as Rector. The UMW Board of Visitors is composed of twelve members appointed by the Governor of Virginia and confirmed by the General Assembly. At least six members of the Board must be alumni of the university, and no more than three may be nonresidents of Virginia. Each member serves a term of four years and may be eligible for reappointment to one successive term.[10]

Troy Paino arrived at UMW July 1, 2016 as its 10th and current President.[11] Prior to coming to UMW, Paino served for six years as president of Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri.

Past presidents

  • Edward H. Russell (1908–1919)
  • Algernon B. Chandler, Jr. (1919–1928)
  • Morgan L. Combs (1929–1955)
  • Grellet C. Simpson (1956–1974)
  • Prince B. Woodard (1974–1982)
  • William M. Anderson, Jr. (1983–2006)
  • William J. Frawley (2006–2007)
  • Judy G. Hample (2008–2010)
  • Richard V. Hurley (2010–2016)
  • Troy Paino (2016–present)

Student life

Honor Convocation is held at the start of each academic year. Eagle Gathering is a candlelit celebration on Ball Circle that marks the start of the year and officially welcomes the newest class to UMW. During Family Weekend, typically held in the fall semester, families visit the campus to get a taste of student life through events, performances and tours. Spirit Week is a series of student events that lead up to Homecoming and the return of UMW alumni to the university for athletic contests and tailgating. Senior Countdown is an event that celebrates 100 days until graduation for the undergraduate class. Spring Formal gives students an element of surprise – students learn the location of the formal (unique each year) only once they're on the buses heading over. Mr. UMW is a one-of-a-kind talent show in which contestants perform to be named "Mr. UMW" by the end of the night.[12] WMWC is the school's unlicensed student run campus radio station.[13]


In 2018, Peace Corps named UMW was a Top Volunteer-Producing Colleges and Universities for the tenth year in a row, ranking it fourth among small schools. A total of 261 UMW alumni have served in the Peace Corps since the agency's founding in 1961.[14] UMW became a Peace Corps Prep Program partner in 2017.[15]

UMW was ranked among the top 382 colleges in the nation by The Princeton Review, which featured UMW in its 2018 issue of "The Best 382 Colleges."[16]

UMW was unranked nationally for US News and World Report's 2018 college rankings, but ranked 17th in the South region.[17]

Forbes included UMW in its 2018 "America's Top Colleges," ranking the university 276th of 660 undergraduate institutions.

In 2017, the school's debate team was ranked 43rd by the Cross Examination Debate Association.[18] In 2009, the team ranked 3rd overall in the National Debate Tournament.[19]

The university's women's rugby team became champions for Division II in May 2014.[20] UMW's men's rugby team won the USA Rugby's D1AA Fall Championship in 2017.[21]

Notable people


Current, former, and emeritus faculty


  1. "E24: Fall Headcount by Tuition Status and Level".
  2. Alvey, Edward (1974). History of Mary Washington College 1908–1972. University of Virginia Press. p. 227. ISBN 978-0-8139-0528-0.
  3. "H. Res. 77" (PDF). The Library of Congress. January 21, 2009. Retrieved January 24, 2010.
  4. Alvey, Edward (1974). History of Mary Washington College 1908–1972. University of Virginia Press. pp. 278, 511. ISBN 978-0-8139-0528-0.
  5. "Bill Tracking - 2004 session > Legislation".
  6. "Water Conservation Measures". University of Mary Washington. Retrieved October 27, 2014.
  7. "Institution Details". Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. 2009. Retrieved January 23, 2010.
  8. "Undergrad Catalog" (PDF).
  9. "Graduate Catalog" (PDF).
  10. "Board of Visitors". University of Mary Washington. Retrieved January 22, 2010.
  11. "UMW Announces Tenth President - News". February 15, 2016.
  12. "Traditions - Undergraduate Orientation".
  13. "About Us", WMWC: UMW Campus Radio. Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  14. "UMW Again Named Top Peace Corps Producer - News". February 21, 2018.
  15. "UMW Adopts Peace Corps Prep Program - News". April 3, 2017.
  16. "Princeton Review Ranks UMW Among Nation's Best - News". August 1, 2017.
  17. "University of Mary Washington | Mary Washington Overall Rankings | US News Best Colleges". US News and World Report. Archived from the original on June 21, 2018. Retrieved June 21, 2018.
  18. Cross Examination Debate Association. "CEDA Point Rankings". California State University, Fullerton. Retrieved January 24, 2009.
  19. Hanson, Jim (2009). National Debate Tournament: Fall 2009 Report (Report). Whitman College. Archived from the original on June 3, 2010. Retrieved January 24, 2010.
  20. "Women's Rugby Team Wins National Championship". University of Mary Washington. Retrieved April 1, 2016.
  21. "UMW Men's Rugby Storms Way to USA Rugby D1AA Fall National Championship; Tops St. Joseph's, 37-13". December 3, 2017.

Further reading

  • Alvey, Edward (1974). History of Mary Washington College 1908–1972. University of Virginia Press. ISBN 978-0-8139-0528-0
  • Crawley, William Bryan (2008). University of Mary Washington: A Centennial History, 1908–2008. University of Mary Washington. ISBN 978-0-615-21015-5
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