I often say to people, close your eyes and imagine what a college campus looks like, and you’ll be standing on the University of Mary Washington’s campus in Fredericksburg. Just south of the nation’s capital, between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean, lies a gem of a school. The University of Mary Washington, located in historic Fredericksburg, Va., attracts motivated, intellectually curious students who want to become involved on campus and in the classroom. We preach involvement, No. 1, and we want our students to get involved in the life of the institution. I think that most students and members of the broader community have a little more sophisticated understanding of what it means to be a community at Mary Washington. When I first got here onto campus, we were introduced to the university president, all the upperclassmen were there to welcome us onto campus, and the community really wanted to give back. Everyone supports one another. You can leave your door open, your money on a table. It’s a really great honest community to be a part of and live in. From a women-only school that opened high on Marye’s Hilltop at the turn of the 20th century in an area where Civil War battles were fought and the father of our country was raised, Mary Washington has transformed itself into a premier, coeducational, public liberal arts and sciences university. Like the gift it gives its graduates, this selective institution has the tools it takes to reinvent itself in an ever-shifting world, to flourish in the face of challenge and change. And as the University of Mary Washington continues to shine, so too does its family. Princeton Review just ranked the top 300 professors in the United States of America and many of our teachers were on that list. Eighty-six percent of our faculty have terminal degrees in their field. They’re real-life experiences that they bring into the classroom, and we definitely benefit from that. One of our professors, Claudia Emerson, is a distinguished poet and Pulitzer Prize winner. Our alumni garner Emmys, lead corporations, and hold powerful positions in City Hall and on Capitol Hill. Across the country and around the globe, the University of Mary Washington’s great minds get to work. Whether they’re making a living doing something they love or making living easier for somebody else, members of the UMW family are masters of stepping forward, committed to giving back, and bent on building a better world. The University of Mary Washington is No. 1 in the United States in terms of active Peace Corps volunteers at institutions with enrollments of 5,000 or less. We have 33 active Peace Corps volunteers serving right now. Mary Washington has long had a tradition of appealing to students that are very bright, hard-working, engaging, that want to be able to take the opportunity to make the most of it. There are a lot of community service opportunities in the Fredericksburg area. Everyone recognizes that there’s so much more to life than just your schoolwork, and so you can really get involved in the community life and just really know that you’re making a difference. Within the past couple of years, everyone that we’ve graduated from our program has either been placed in a job or in a post-graduate program within six months of graduating from Mary Washington. They learn in classrooms across the continents through UMW’s rich study abroad programs. Mary Washington wraps more than 60 undergraduate majors, minors, and courses of study around a liberal arts and sciences education that crosses boundaries. What I like best about Mary Washington is how different it is from other state schools, in that, you know, a lot of places will cater specifically to art students or engineering students, whereas here you have people from all across the spectrum of disciplines, and I think that really builds a strong, diverse community. One of the main things that I tell prospective students is that they’re going to have small class sizes, their professors are going to get to know them, they’re going to get to know their professors, and we’re really going to work together to make sure that they’re reaching their goals. They’re going to leave here with a certain set of skills that sets them apart from other people in the marketplace. And I think that’s really what we can offer at the University of Mary Washington. The Chronicle of Higher Education, U.S. News & World Report, the Fiske Guide to Colleges, Forbes, Kiplinger, and Barron’s, all give UMW top marks. The Princeton Review recently called the University of Mary Washington a small school with a big heart and an atmosphere that pushes you to your potential. Steeped in tradition but focused on the future, UMW is experiencing change now more than ever. University of Mary Washington students can attend new colleges of business and education or study on a campus in Stafford or another in Dahlgren. A walkway rises over Route 1 bridging UMW’s Fredericksburg campus with the multipurpose Eagle Village. The new 2,000-seat William M. Anderson Center is hosting concerts and NCAA tournaments. The 90-year-old amphitheater, long one of the campus’s most endearing spots, is slated for a facelift. Student dining and activities will move into a state-of the-art campus center, now in the development stage for the heart of the campus. A nearly 77,000-square-foot convergence center will ensure that students continue to have access to cutting-edge technology. One of the things that I enjoy doing is traveling around the country and meeting alums, and I always ask them, what was special about your experience at Mary Washington, and I hear the same answer regardless of the decade in which they graduated, and that is my relationships with my faculty and the friends that I formed for life. We create that, we work to enhance that in every way we can and make that a special experience in their four years here on this campus. Whether they study historic preservation or design their own majors, UMW students learn to think independently and believe in themselves. They leave Mary Washington to start jobs, chase dreams, change the world.