From the Alumni Board President

Headshot of Alumni Board president

Alumni Board President JB Blair

Greetings fellow Mary Washington Alumni,

Isn’t spring the best season to stroll through the UMW campus?

As many of us celebrate receiving vaccines and interacting with friends and family members we haven’t seen in months due to COVID-19, I am eager to visit our campus with all the spring blooms and renovations in progress.

As much as I’ve enjoyed the UMW-sponsored virtual programs and gatherings this past year, nothing compares to a stroll down Campus Walk to remind me of the good times while a student, the excellent education I received, and the relationships that still mean so much to me.

By the time you read this, the university will have held commencement exercises May 6 through 9 for the classes of 2020 and 2021, and we welcome these recent graduates to our alumni association of more than 42,000 members.

Despite the challenges in our communities and in higher education, UMW continues to provide an outstanding liberal arts and sciences education to students on campus and virtually.

If you have not yet participated in a virtual town hall with President Troy Paino, I encourage you to do so. You will learn we have much to be proud of in how our alma mater’s faculty, staff, and students have responded to the challenges brought on by COVID-19.

Earlier this spring, Dr. Paino provided the report of the UMW Police Community Advisory Panel (CAP). This report follows up on the Fredericksburg protests related to George Floyd’s death in May 2020 and outlines recommendations to align university policing with our ASPIRE community values. It suggests ways to reframe campus policing to respond to evolving expectations in the region and nation. This is but another way our alma mater is responding to concerns of the greater university community.

Your alumni association also has navigated these challenging times, moving events virtually. We anticipate resuming in-person events in the fall.

Last fall’s virtual homecoming featured networking events for alumni in education and business, the Between Two Ficuses young alumni video, and Kahoot! Trivia. Alumni from all classes enjoyed the Mary Wash memorabilia video from Dean Cedric Rucker ’81. His collection spans decades and includes stories of many traditions we all share.

Other online experiences available to alumni include Dr. William B. Crawley’s Great Presidential Lives and the popular Mary Talks featuring UMW faculty and administrators.

In an early April Zoom session, several hundred alumni heard from Matt Paxton ’97, who shared the launch of his PBS program, Legacy List, a series about our homes, hidden treasures, heirlooms, and the precious memories attached to those items. These are only a few examples of how we’ve stayed connected to UMW this past year.

A post COVID-19 visit to campus will surprise you! While Willard Hall has reopened to students, Virginia and Seacobeck halls are still undergoing construction and should open this fall and next spring, respectively. The College of Education looks forward to moving into Seacobeck. A brand-new Hillel Center has opened on College Avenue across from the University Center, a welcome addition to our faith-based centers near campus.

In my first year as alumni association president, our board discussed expansion of alumni benefits, better promotion of our alumni awards nomination process, and how we can improve student-alumni career networking. We continue to diversify our board, not only in class years but in career and volunteer expertise, race, gender, and sexual orientation.

As alumni, we play an important role in the continued success of UMW. Encouraging prospective students to apply for admission, hiring UMW students as interns or employees, attending virtual and in-person networking and affinity events, and nominating classmates and friends for awards are just some of the ways you make a difference.

Many thanks to those of you who have supported UMW through your donations of time and gifts, especially to the Fund for Mary Washington, the university’s most flexible, unrestricted source of support for students and the alumni association.

I encourage you to stay involved and connected, whether via Zoom with classmates (as I’ve done each Sunday evening since March 2020 with a few members of the Class of ’82) or through your local networks and affinity groups. Share ideas for speakers, events, and programs with your leadership locally. We want to remain connected even as our opportunities to meet in person are limited. Your alumni board members are also here to support you!

I hope to see many of you at Reunion Weekend in 2022. It will be an event to remember!

Be well and #MW ForeverTrue,

Jenifer “JB” Blair ’82

President, Alumni Board

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