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The Blue & Gray Press | August 17, 2017

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UMW hosts public forums in wake of presidential search

UMW hosts public forums in wake of presidential search

By THE BLUE & GRAY PRESS STAFF

The University of Mary Washington’s Board of Visitors hosted public
forums to receive thoughts, opinions and ideas from University of Mary
Washington students, faculty, alumni and the surrounding community for
the next UMW president, who will be replacing current president Rick
Hurley in the summer of 2016.

There were five open forums, which took place between Tuesday, Aug. 25
and Thursday, Aug. 27. Rector Holly Cuellar, who is also director of
the presidential search advisory committee, led the meeting with
Martin Baker and Matthew Cullinan, representatives of Baker and
Associates LLC, an executive search firm aiding the committee in
choosing a new president.

There were also forums for specific groups, including alumni, student
leaders, area community leaders in Fredericksburg, the Staff Advisory
Council and members of the President’s Cabinet.  Members of the
committee also set up a table at Club Carnival on Wednesday, Aug. 26,
where they asked UMW students to fill out a short survey regarding
their thoughts on the presidential search.

Their goal, according to Baker, was to listen to members’ concerns and
compliments about UMW, and to know what qualities they want to see in
the next president.

For instance, sophomore sociology major Shelton Piland hopes that the
new president will be similar to President Hurley in engaging with
students, being involved on campus and making students feel welcome.

Piland said that the new president should be, “someone who [works]
with students, even though there is a lot of us. Someone more down to
earth.”

Transparency was another issue voiced by UMW students. “We need
someone who communicates with the [students] as much as he
communicates with the faculty,” said freshman Aaron Hoffman.

In addition, qualities that participants of the survey mentioned
included a president who would know how to make difficult decisions,
was invested in UMW and in the community, embraced technology and
expanded the university’s medical and athletic programs.

Forum members had different opinions on topics during the first forum,
where members of the audience often disagreed with one another. Some
members wanted the next president to build on UMW’s past and
traditions while others wanted the next president to take charge in
pushing into the future.

Another difference in opinion was what background the next president
should possess. For instance, many in the audience demanded a
president with a higher education background while others wanted one
with a business background.

Following the forums, the Board of Visitors will have a meeting on
Sept. 16, where the board and the search team will determine what
qualities, based from the input of the community, the next president
should have, according to Cuellar.

The Presidential Search Committee will then present a page online and
begin accepting candidates.

Students also have the option, if they did not attend the meeting, to
fill out a form on the UMW Presidential Search website. The form is
two questions long, including a section where students can add their
own comments about the presidential search.

Sophomore mathematics major Kevin Perera believes the administration
made sure the students are involved in the presidential process. “They
have been pretty open about it,” Perera said.

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