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Mary Washington earns 10-year accreditation from Commission on Colleges

Rebecca Barnabi
Photo by Rebecca J. Barnabi.

The University of Mary Washington has achieved a 10-year reaffirmation of accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

The accreditation was confirmed by the SACSCOC Board of Trustees at its annual meeting on Dec. 3, 2023.

“Once again, the University of Mary Washington has proved that ours is an education that matters,” said UMW President Troy Paino. “We appreciate all who contributed throughout the process and through their work each day, particularly our faculty and staff. Together, we achieve and sustain a high-quality, highly ranked educational experience that goes beyond the classroom through student learning opportunities and alumni accomplishments and connections.”

The reaffirmation process spanned more than a year with input and insight across the university and culminated in a March 2023 on-site visit by a committee of leaders from peer institutions. The committee met with students, faculty, staff and board members, reviewed documentation, policies and practices, and found zero areas for recommendations.

“Completion of the decennial reaffirmation process is validation of the quality and strength of the full scope of UMW’s operations as judged by our peers relative to the standards of accreditation. It is a testament to the good work of many across all divisions of our university,” UMW Provost Tim O’Donnell said.

A key component of the reaffirmation process is the Quality Enhancement Plan, or QEP, better known as Life After Mary Washington: Preparing Students for Life and Career QEP, which focuses on 10 core competencies selected to support students as they transition into career and life after their time on campus. Competencies include career, self-development and professionalism; civic engagement and community service; communication; critical thinking and problem solving; digital fluency; global awareness and intercultural competency; leadership; meaningful connections; teamwork and collaboration; and well-being and mindfulness.

Adopted from the competency set defined by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the criteria shape the student experience, already woven into the academic and co-curricular journey and now collected into a cultural pillar of student success. Complementary to general education requirements, Life After Mary Washington fosters student attainment of career-ready competencies, empowering students to effectively transfer and translate the undergraduate experience to the workplace, prepared for whatever comes next.

“Life After Mary Washington is about unified focus, common language and a cohesive approach to career readiness by the entire university community. The plan is a product of input from everyone –faculty, staff, students and employers. I’m grateful to all who dedicated their time and imagination to the development of this plan,” UMW QEP Co-Chair and Associate Provost of Career and Workforce Kimberly Young said.

For students, Life After Mary Washington will offer outcomes that connect their liberal arts and sciences education with 10 core competencies and instill the ability to communicate their experiences in a way that is relevant to their life and career after college. One tangible way these results are being collected and communicated is through a co-curricular transcript, providing students with the opportunity – online or printed – to showcase specific competencies and highlight activities, leadership roles, internships and volunteer activities. With access to more than 150 clubs and organizations, more than 25 sport clubs or intramural sports, and countless activities, internships and volunteer possibilities, UMW students can now document their experiences to chronicle their personal achievements and impress potential employers.

“Life After Mary Washington provides our students with applicable skills and competencies as they prepare for and navigate their post-graduation lives. The beauty of this plan is that it streamlines what the Mary Washington community already does well into specific and targeted goals. The development and implementation of this plan has been, and will continue to be, a team effort. We are so appreciative of our community’s support,” said UMW QEP Co-Chair and Associate Professor of Special Education Jennifer Walker.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.