By SOPHIE AHAVA
The University of Mary Washington has gone through several major changes in the last few years, some more beneficial to students than others. There have been changes to residence halls, academic buildings, and even changes regarding what classes and majors are offered. While it may be too late for the current student body to fully reap the benefits of these changes, starting in the fall of 2019, resources will be available to incoming freshmen that were never available before.
The Jepson science building is being expanded by about two times its original size. This addition is expected to be finished and ready for use by fall 2019.
“The new addition will be helpful because it will provide more space for the growing science program. It has a strong potential in attracting prospective students because it can compete with other universities with newer buildings,” said sophomore biochemistry major Jackie Ardo.
Ardo said she wishes there were more classrooms in Jepson because so many science classes have been redistributed to DuPont and Combs because of the lack of space. Though construction complicates the location of classes and disrupts others located in the building, it will ultimately improve science academics at UMW. The addition to Jepson will serve to not only increase learning space, but will also help the university stay in competition with nearby schools and attract prospective students interested in the sciences.
Previously a residence hall consisting of single rooms for upperclassman, Willard Hall is currently being completely renovated. It is expected to open fall of 2019 as a first-year residence hall with double rooms.
“I was surprised they were reopening Willard as a freshman residence hall. However, as a tour guide it will be beneficial to have the new building centrally located so that we can show it to prospective students,” said Katie O’Keefe, a current junior and Washington Guide.
Previously, Randolph and Mason were the newest residence halls on campus, now with Willard opening up, there will be another updated option for incoming students. Willard Hall is one of the original residence halls on campus, built in 1908.
Seacobeck used to be home to the campus dining hall prior to the opening of the University Center, but soon it will open as the new home of the College of Education.
“As an out-of-state student part of my draw to Mary Washington was the College of Education and its five-year program so I think that having a building specific for the COE will be a great attraction to future students who want to pursue teaching,” Bliss Weatherall, a sophomore sociology major in the College of Education.
“I wish it opened sooner because it would’ve been nice to be a minute from my classes and it is much better it is being used for education classes then just sitting empty,” said Jasmine Courts, a graduate student in the College of Education.
New buildings are not the only recent change at UMW. In the last year, new majors have been offered to students. The first is the communication and digital studies major. This innovative discipline combines technology and communication into one coherent major.
Sophomore Haley Denehy who just declared communication and digital studies as her major this past fall, said, “Declaring my major was very intimidating for me, but communication and digital studies is allowing me to expand my knowledge on public speaking and gives me the confidence I need.”
Biochemistry is also a new major here at UMW that became official in the fall 2018 semester. Kelly Keane, a sophomore majoring in biochemistry has had the opportunity to work on independent research this past summer.
“[The major will] definitely draw students in because it saves them from having to choose between biology and chemistry,” Keane said. Keane had interests in both disciplines and so this major proves to be beyond beneficial.
This major is unique in the sense that it combines two of the most popular majors on campus. Other universities offer biochemistry as a major, so now that UMW does as well, it will be more competitive for prospective students.
Mary Washington is a small liberal arts university and the additions being made to campus will not only improve student life significantly, but will serve to help UMW compete with larger universities with similar resources. The Jepson Science Center will provide new and improved resources for labs and research. Willard Hall is going to be a beautiful new residence hall that incoming freshmen get to utilize and explore. Seacobeck will give education students a designated home they can feel comfortable taking their classes in a building solely designed for their field of study. Biochemistry and communication and digital studies are versatile degrees that students can take advantage of and use to excel in their respective careers. Mary Washington has continuously been making changes and has more in store for the future to benefit student life and well-being on campus.