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The Blue & Gray Press | August 19, 2019

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“America’s Coolest College President” to take reins from Hurley as UMW’s 10th president

“America’s Coolest College President” to take reins from Hurley as UMW’s 10th president


Announced aptly on President’s Day, Troy Paino has been confirmed by the University of Mary Washington to be its 10th president following Rick Hurley’s retirement on June 30. Paino will be on campus Friday, Feb. 19 from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Chandler Ballroom at the University Center to meet students.

Paino is currently the President of Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri after taking the role in May 2010. Paino teaches and specializes in American higher education, 20th-century cultural and social history and American legal history.

He has prior experience employed with universities, serving as the dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Winona State University in Minnesota from 2004 to 2008. Before that, he was an assistant professor of history at Winona State University in 1997 and promoted to professor in 2007.

Paino has practiced law in Indianapolis and received his Juris Doctorate from Indiana University Robert H. McKinney. He also has a doctorate and a Master of Arts degree in American Studies from Michigan State University.

His experience with American higher education may have given him insight into the current issues that students faced. Paino said that he taught an interdisciplinary course last semester about the role of higher education in America’s democracy. While in the class, Paino said he heard students tell their stories about struggling to break even in order to get an education. Paino said he wants to explore this issue further at UMW.

“After I get to UMW, I will learn more about our students, their debt burden, and their ability topay back their student loans,” Paino said. “While there are no easy fixes to a problem that has been a long time coming, I am pretty familiar with the forces at play that has put access to a high quality higher education out of reach for far too many young people.”

Paino has made his mark outside of the university, called “America’s Coolest President” byWashington Monthly for two videos, one that was featured on Huffington Post, detailing how he spends his holidays when students at Truman State University are on break. In addition, TSU students reportedly refer to Paino as “T-Pain” and have recently expressed their displeasure with the leaving of their president, but congratulate UMW on securing a successful, fun president. President Hurley has given Paino a positive endorsement. When reached for comment, Hurley gave a statement regarding Paino’s experience and what he will bring to UMW.

“I am delighted that Dr. Paino has accepted the [Board of Visitor’s] offer to become our next president,” Hurley said. “He has the experience of being a president and has a strong academic background plus the demeanor and a great personality. He is exactly who we need at this point in our history.”

Also, Hurley said that he and Paino met before, and that it was a positive experience. “Yes, I met him and totally enjoyed our time together,” Hurley said.

According to the news release by UMW announcing Paino as the next president, The Board of Visitors will hold a public vote to ratify the contract for appointment of UMW’s 10th president at its regular meeting on Feb. 18.

“With a career marked by overlapping academic interests and personal experiences, [Paino’s] life portfolio positions him well to lead our diverse, caring, and intellectually-curious students,” said Juliette Landphair, vice president for student affairs. “His academic pedigree brings the liberal arts to life (law, history, and philosophy) and in my experience, university leaders with such interdisciplinary intellectual interests really understand the intersections of the student experience, from the classroom to the athletic fields to the residence hall to the stage and finally, to their families back home.”

Landphair said that Paino will potentially continue the principles that Hurley established at UMW during his presidency.

“When it comes to putting students first, President Hurley will be a hard act to follow,”

Landphair said. “With his experience, humor, and humility, Dr. Paino will continue that important legacy of President Hurley’s leadership.”

Katarina Soerensson, junior art history major, had read the email and was interested in Paino’s previous history as college president and dean. However, she has concerns as he is not a Virginia resident.

“I feel like he will be a good fit, but I am a little worried, especially as he’s not from Virginia,”Soerensson said.

Kelly Paino, Troy Paino’s wife, reportedly has family who lives 50 miles from Fredericksburg, according to the publication Kirksville Daily Express.

Claire Merenda, senior English and psychology double major, saw the announcement regarding Paino but said she does not know very much about him. She said she hopes traditions that started with Hurley will continue with Paino, such as the ice cream social and the lottery dinner.

“I want the sense of community to stay here,” Merenda said. “Not just change because the president has changed.”

Paino will begin his office as UMW president on July 1.

Editor’s note: The spelling error in the original headline had been corrected from “reigns” to “reins.” The publication, Kirksville Daily Express, was originally misspelled as Kirkville Daily Express. The title has been corrected. – Emily Hollingsworth, News Editor 

Truman State University /


  1. Reins, not reigns

  2. Anonymous

    The word is “reins”. Please correct the spelling in the headline.