On the last day of September, University of Mary Washington students, staff, and faculty, along with community members, honored guests, and distinguished speakers, once again gathered in George Washington Hall’s Dodd Auditorium to welcome a new leader. The scenario was familiar, but this inauguration – the long-awaited ceremony that would formalize Richard V. Hurley’s title as UMW’s ninth president – felt overwhelmingly different.
“When the Board of Visitors of the University of Mary Washington selected President Hurley, they selected the best leader possible for their academic institution,” said Stefanos Gialamas, president of American Community Schools of Athens, for which Hurley delivered the June commencement address in Greece. “Even though sometimes it takes a couple of efforts.”
Gialamas’ remarks produced ripples of laughter throughout the audience, but the University couldn’t have been more earnest about embarking on a new era with a loved and respected leader who is committed to making UMW the best it can be. The crowd’s collective affection for Hurley was palpable during the Friday afternoon installation, the cornerstone of a celebration that would last until midnight and set the Mary Washington campus aglow with lights, laughter, and a lofty goal for the future.
The hour-and-a-half inaugural ceremony fell at the end of a week packed with events that illustrated the inaugural theme, “Engaging Minds. Serving the World.” The Fredericksburg Forum unfolded at Dodd Auditorium, the Stafford Campus hosted multiple conferences, and students, who had participated in Thursday’s service activity on Ball Circle, took their civic-minded endeavors “Into the Streets” during a Saturday benefit for the Fredericksburg community.