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Head of the class
Welcome to UMW's new president, and congratulations to the school for 100 years

Date published: 3/12/2008

ONE HUNDRED years ago this Friday, the Virginia General Assembly founded what was then called the State Normal and Industrial School for Women at Fredericksburg. It seems fitting, then, that this week the school now known as the University of Mary Washington has announced the appointment of its first woman president, Judy G. Hample.

Ms. Hample, chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, is in a sense coming home. Now the overseer of a system of 14 universities educating 110,000 students, on July 1 Ms. Hample will become president of one university with 4,000 undergraduates. From working in an office in Harrisburg, Pa.; receiving oversight from a 20-member board of governors; schmoozing with state legislators; and acting as CEO for an entire system, she will now live in Fredericksburg, work with a 12-member board of visitors, and focus on one school. She says she's looking forward to again being on a university campus--and surely for anyone who has spent a lifetime in academia, a campus like Mary Washington's is "home."

The university is ripe for change. After the long presidency of William Anderson, and the shorted tenure of William Frawley, UMW needs a solid leader for its next century. Challenges and chances lie ahead: the challenges of tight state budgets and of the need to rationally diversify the faculty lounge and the student body; and the chances for growth, such as that created by UMW's acquisition of the Park & Shop property. There are realities to face, visions to pursue, students to educate, and teachers to inspire. Ms. Hample has a strong record of fiscal and academic oversight and a manifest desire to beneficially apply her talents. The community wishes her well.

The University of Mary Washington began in 1913 by graduating 32 teachers. Last May, over 1,100 men and women received diplomas in courses ranging from education to economics. In 1938, the school up the hill was the Liberal Arts College for Women of the University of Virginia. Today, that school serves men and women in both undergraduate and graduate studies as an independent state university.

Whatever its form or program, UMW is a crucial part of Our Town. We congratulate it on its 100 years--and its promising new president.