A Shared Purpose

When a Pandemic Closed Colleges Around the Country, UMW’s Commitment to Community Allowed It to Aspire to Something More

By Emily Freehling As last summer ended, President Troy Paino was losing sleep, dogged by pandemic-related ethical questions. Can the university bring students back to campus while prioritizing their well-being and that of faculty and staff? What about the university’s responsibility to the community? And what sacrifices must members of the Mary Washington community make for the common good? It was, he said in a Sept. 1 video, “among the most difficult decisions I have had to make.” The announcement that UMW would move forward with its plan to bring students back Sept. 10 – three weeks after classes had started in a 100% remote format – came as many other colleges were experiencing outbreaks and sending students home soon after their own move-in days. But Paino had faith in Mary Washington – in the months of planning by administrators, faculty, and staff, and in the students themselves. A successful fall semester on campus was possible, he believed, if everyone kept … [Read more...]