Master Plan Will Unravel the Tight-Knit UMW Community

By MOLLY SULLIVAN

I remember spending my first few days at Mary Washington feeling refreshed and relieved by its atmosphere: small and tight-knit, it was the kind of place which welcomes new students rather than overwhelming them.

Having transferred from a large school of over 20,000 students, I was shocked that a university could run smoothly with only one student bookstore and one dining hall. The Mary Washington community feels like a small town rather than an educational machine.

This fact alone was one of the main reasons I felt I ought to spend the remaining three years of my undergraduate education in Fredericksburg.

However, in my first year, I started to feel as though all of this was going to change, and sooner than I would have liked it to.

With rumors circulating that the school would eventually increase its student body to 10,000, I was deeply disappointed in the community which I would know as home. The announcement of the Master Plan, with its blueprints for a “superdorm” to accommodate the influx of future students, led to further upset among what seemed to be the majority of the student body, myself included.

I found myself wondering why expansion was such a top priority. Bigger is not always better. Small schools exist in the first place to fit the needs of those who prefer not to attend dauntingly large universities.

In my opinion, the most valuable aspect of this school is the amount of individual student attention from professors, which cannot exist if the student to faculty ratio changes. A modern, manicured campus with state-of-the-art facilities is a luxury by any standards, and Mary Washington is in desperate need of some renovations (for instance, Simpson Library and Chandler Hall could use some serious updates).

However, the money being invested in expanding does not feel like money invested in improving our school. The news of expansion and drastic changes coming our way, in my opinion, is undeniably a UMW problem. While no one can be certain of what Mary Washington’s future looks like, we can only hope that our current UMW problem can transform into a UMW solution by maintaining a small community of students who receive unprecedented faculty attention and exceptional education.

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5 Comments

  1. Four years of school, and then it’s into the ‘Job World’. I will still remember my times at Mary Washington, and I’ll keep the community that I will graduate (and hang around) with. Mary Washington can do whatever they want to when I’m long gone, and possibly buried, but I just don’t want to be chipping in for something that I don’t gain any value from. This will be the only piece of the Master Plan that I will not agree with.

  2. Yup says:

    The student population is capped between 4000 and 4500, with no intention of having that number increased. UMW is not expanding, it’s renovating. Both Chandler Hall and the library are slated to be changed/renovated within the next 8 years.

  3. “The current effort will inform Mary Washington’s development over the next 10 to 15 years. Rather than approach campus growth and improvement haphazardly, the master plan provides a framework that will accomplish several vital goals:”
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    Source: http://masterplan.umwblogs.org/
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    “The existing classrooms and laboratories can handle an additional 365 students, but UMW will need an additional 50,000 square-feet of academic space by 2020 as enrollment grows, he said. Most of the residence halls, however, are in poor shape and don’t meet the expectations of today’s students.”
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    Source: http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2010/072010/07172010/562336
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    “Increase the number of applications for admissions.”
    “Increase enrollment of students from traditionally underrepresented populations.”
    “Increase number of transfer articulation agreements, particularly with emphasis on STEM
    programs.”
    “Support new English as a Second Language program and agreement in effort to increase
    international students.”
    “Increase Office of Admissions budget to enable increased recruiting travel, and to
    especially target areas where recruiting efforts have lagged due to lack of sufficient
    funding (such as international recruiting).”
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    Source: http://www.umw.edu/president/initiatives/documents/UMWStrategicPlanGoalsandObjectives2011-12AcademicYear090111final.pdf
    (OBJECTIVE 1. B: Recruit, enroll, and retain a high-achieving and diverse student body) – Page 1-2, OBJECTIVE 1. B: Points 1,3,5,7,8
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    I think it’s pretty obvious that the school is expanding, since they say so directly..yup, I think they are.

  4. Yup says:

    I don’t want to troll or be aggressive, no need for that. i sit in on the planning meetings with numerous administrators. there is a difference in what is being discussed and what the bullet reports.

  5. Thomas Bowman says:

    None of those linked to the bullet. That was the UMW blogs master plan site, the school website, and the Free-lance Star

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