By DAVID CONCEPCION
The Virginia General Assembly honored University of Mary Washington president Richard Hurley by presenting him with the joint resolution on the floor of the House of Delegates on Monday, Jan. 25 where Speaker Bill Howell brought up the commendation. Overseeing the creation of new buildings, raising $50 million and opening a new campus center were some of the responsibilities taken on by Hurley over his six years at UMW’s president, who will retire on June 30.
“He earned the respect of his peers for his transparency, collaborative leadership style and responsiveness to the needs of students, faculty and staff,” according to the commendation.
“I was very honored that the General Assembly took the action that they did,” Hurley said. “It’s not something they do very often and to be singled out that way was certainly high praise and very humbling.”
After a series of controversial presidents at UMW, Hurley took the mantle of president when his predecessor, Judy Hample, resigned in June 2010. Hurley was the vice president of UMW at the time of Hample’s resignation.
Previous presidents of UMW faced a variety of controversies. Hample was found to have spent $28,000 on bookcases for Brompton and was also found to have used the parking deck’s alarm system where she lied about saying she needed help for the purpose of a demonstration of UMW’s security system
The incident caused controversy because UMW police officers responded in force, which raised concerns that she would be charged with filing a false police report.
Her predecessor, William J. Frawley, was fired after being arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. The two incidents took place in Fredericksburg and Fairfax County in 2007. The incident in Fairfax had resulted in an accident that caused his University-owned car flipping over.
Frawley was given a $500 fine by the Fredericksburg General District Court in addition to court costs, suspended his driver’s license for a year and ordered him to attend substance-abuse counseling. In Fairfax, the judge suspended a 30-day jail sentence; suspended his driving privilege in Virginia for a year; fined $1,000 but suspended all but $300 and directed him to attend the state’s substance-abuse counseling program; and put him on one year’s probation.
Gary Richards, chairman of the English, linguistics and communication department, acknowledged the past issues with UMW presidents and said he has felt grateful for Hurley’s time as president.
“There had been series of presidents who had been less than effective. I think the faculty remain grateful to President Hurley for what he has done,” Richards said. Hurley’s tenure as president was marked by various accomplishments, but particularly overseeing the construction of multiple projects on campus.
Hurley first oversaw the creation of the Anderson Center, which hosts multiple large events throughout the year; The Convergence Center, which has brought a variety of technological resources onto campus, was recently renamed the Hurley Convergence Center after him. The latest building that Hurley saw built was the University Center, where the new dining hall, the Chandler Ballroom and retail restaurants such as Qdoba and Jamba Juice are located.
Hurley also led the UMW First Campaign, which raised $50 million to fund multiple projects such as scholarships, the different colleges and fields of study, and $3 million for a future renovation of the amphitheater.
Despite the amount that has been done by Hurley, the honeymoon period of Hurley’s tenure seems to be over with as disagreements formed between faculty and Hurley.
“Yes, the shine has come off the apple since the early post-Hample days of standing ovations, and familiarity does bring a little bit of contempt, but I think when most people step back, they appreciate him being willing to come into the situation and for doing what he’s done for these year,” Richards said.
To students, Hurley is very engaged on campus and is seen giving high fives and going to big campus events.
“He’s cool, I like the High-Five Hurley campaign,” Maggie Magliato, a junior biology and environmental science major, said. “He comes on campus often and socializes with students and he has a very cool mustache.”
The commendation given by the General Assembly and this upcoming record displays the improvements that Hurley has done for UMW since becoming president in 2010 and the University’s response to these improvements. His active engagement with students and faculty have brought some friction, but the transparency that was lacking in previous administrations has been corrected. Whoever Hurley will pass on the torch to, will have to live up to the expectations that Hurley has set.