By CHRIS MARKHAM, EMILY HOLLINGSWORTH AND SARAH GRAMMER
Dr. Troy Paino made the trek from Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri to Fredericksburg and the University of Mary Washington on Friday, Feb. 19 to meet with area media and to interact with students in a ceremony welcoming Paino’s presidency and honoring President Rick Hurley for his service.
Paino was joined on his trip by his wife, Kelly, who has family living in Arlington, Virginia. Paino cited this as one of the many draws that UMW offered him and his family.
“Geography was definitely a factor in it,” Paino said. “It was a great opportunity for me and my family. I was aware of [UMW’s] academic reputation and….I fell in love with Fredericksburg.”
Paino’s reputation of interacting with students has drawn many comparisons to his predecessor, President Hurley. Although according to Paino, he is “not nearly as good looking,” UMW”s 10th president mentioned he has “no intention of filling shoes.” Paino commended Hurley’s access to students and wants to continue that trend.
“I intend to continue the student connections,” Paino said. “I don’t want to be in a bubble.”
After the announcement of Paino’s selection as UMW’s next president, the Truman State University community poured out notes of congratulations as well as disappointment in his departure. Paino described TSU as a “community of support.”
“It’s definitely not easy to leave,” Paino said. “But it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”
The announcement ceremony, which lasted for a little over an hour and took place in the Chandler Ballroom at the University Center, held several hundred students, faculty and community members.
Board of Visitors Rector Holly Cuellar gave the introduction, describing the process to find Paino as a “journey” that started April last year, when President Hurley announced his retirement.
Cuellar described those who were involved with Paino’s hiring, including the 12 members of the Board of Visitors. The BOV ratified the employment contract for Paino, according to Cuellar, confirming his responsibilities starting July 1. Cuellar also credited the 19-member Presidential Search Advisory Committee, community and school stakeholders, Baker and Associates Search Firm, Martin Wilder, the BOV Chief of Staff and UMW students, who completed a survey last August giving feedback on qualities the potential president should possess.
“Hearing from you certainly was the easy part,” Cuellar said. “Finding the right person was an enormous challenge.”
Cuellar described Paino as someone who had stood out in the search process from the beginning. Cuellar called him the “reluctant candidate,” saying that he was not initially looking for a job when the University reached out to him. Paino made the decision, according to Cuellar, based on personal, familial and professional opportunities.
“Your hopes and expectations were so justifiably high,” Cuellar said. “I believe that we have found the person that we were all looking for.”
Cuellar’s address was followed by President Hurley, who gave a brief statement. In the statement, he said that he felt unexpectedly nervous before speaking, likening the experience to a freshman student in their first class. His nervousness, he explained, was due to excitement for the Painos’ future experience with UMW and his and Rose’s future retirement.
“Thank you for coming out today to participate in such an extraordinary moment,” Hurley said.
Hannah Tibbett, President of SGA, then introduced Paino, giving him and Kelly a variety of UMW apparel. Members of the audience laughed and cheered as Paino pulled the sweater over his head.
“I have always dreamed of being that first-round draft pick,” Paino said. “For being a 5’9” slow guy, this is pretty exciting.”
In his comparisons to President Hurley, Paino has drawn much attention for his drive to be connected to students, who says “always inspire me.”
“I want to work in a place where I’m inspired…I already have fallen in love with this place.” Paino said. “I do not want to be president of a place where I am disconnected. I want to be right down there in the mud and the muck with all of you while we grapple with some of the most challenging issues facing this country.”
Current students are excited and interested to see how Paino fits into the UMW community.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how he implements his words into action,” said sophomore English major Emma Cahoon.
Paino’s term as UMW’s 10th president will not begin until July 1. In the meantime, President Hurley will continue his retirement tour while Paino continues to acclimate himself to UMW and the Fredericksburg area while also saying goodbye to his TSU community.
“I thought it was amazing,” said freshman Kuljeet Singh. “I was kind of sad that President Hurley is leaving, but I’m excited for what the new president is going to bring.”