By HEATHER BRADY and JUSTIN TONEY
On March 14, the University of Mary Washington hosted the Centennial Convocation Ceremony in honor of Founder’s Day.
Noted historian and author David McCullough delivered the Centennial Address to the University faculty and representatives of the community.
McCullough stressed the importance of excellence in teaching, a quality that he deemed to be lacking in today’s world.
“The teachers who are the most effective– those teachers who can change your life– are the teachers who love what they’re teaching,” McCullough said.
He also emphasized the importance of historical literacy in today’s youth, as well as the need for mandatory courses, such as general education requirements, to supplement a university education.
“Students need certain subjects to be considered educated. Many colleges in the country require no second language or history for graduation,” McCullough said.
Virginia Governor Tim Kaine spoke also, saying that the efforts of universities like UMW have helped Virginia to become a leading state economy.
“We made the transition to a leading economy because of what you have done here, and what our educational institutions have done,” said Kaine.
He also stressed the importance of educating women, and said that doing so opens the door for the education of other groups, all to the betterment of Virginia.
“That spark of educating women that led to the spark of educating minorities and the spark of educating new Americans, along with investing in education, has been one of the things that moved Virginia from the position of a lagging to a leading state,” he said.
McCullough’s speech touched briefly on politics when he argued that education should never receive a budget cut, and that the No Child Left Behind Act was letting important subjects like history fall through the cracks.
“The idea that the No Child Left Behind Act has pushed history not only to the backburner but completely off the stove is a tragedy,” said McCullough.
The ceremony started with a processional of the current seniors in cap and gown, followed by the faculty in full regalia.
The processional also featured graduated class representatives from 1936 onward.
“It’s an absolute honor to be here,” said Jay Sinha, member of the Alumni Foundation Board of Directors and former SGA President.
Sinha was asked by the convocation organizers to represent the class of 2007.
“I think it’s a fascinating opportunity to give back to the school around this historic time. The way that we’re educating people these days is more of a testament to how we’re going to affect the future,” Sinha said.
Barbara Burton Micou, president of the UMW Alumni Association and representative for the class of 1969, remarked on the positive impact that UMW students have as a result of their education at the University.
“[The liberal arts foundation] has prepared thousands of Mary Washington alumni to achieve professionally, develop personally, and to flourish and contribute as citizens of the world,” Micou said.
During the ceremony, O’Conor Goolrick Ashby, grandson of the late Delegate O’Conor Goolrick, presented the University with the sterling silver wine vessel that was given to Delegate Goolrick by President Russell at the school’s groundbreaking.
Delegate Goolrick pushed legislation through to officially create the State Normal and Industrial School for Women in Fredericksburg in 1908, and is thus considered to be the “Father of UMW.”
The celebratory tone of the ceremony reflected the sentiments of the students, faculty, alumni, and honored guests of the UMW community on the occasion of the University’s Centennial.