By Susan Larson

Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016 – An email to Fredericksburg.Today from the University of Mary Washington:
President Paino would like to clarify that he told the attendees at the city’s Economic Development breakfast that UMW plans to hire a director who will focus on getting the university more involved in continuing and professional education. A school of continuing and professional studies might evolve from the work of this individual, but the exact nature of that school has not been determined at this time.
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The University of Mary Washington (UMW) is planning a new school for graduate, online and continuing education studies, and is initiating the search for an executive director this month.

“We will be offering educational opportunities to the region that tie directly to economic needs,” UMW President Troy D. Paino told those attending the city’s Economic Development Breakfast.

Paino said changes in technology and funding have impacted higher education, just as they have other industries. “Challenge number one at UMW is the changing economy,” he said. “I look at running a university over the next 15 years to be more entrepreneurial.”

More students are coming to higher education having already earned college credits online or in programs through their high schools. This means fewer will look to traditional four-year programs for their degrees, and first-year classes will be smaller. Even students attending four-year colleges today are simultaneously earning credits online from other schools.

Another rising trend is graduate certificates. Those with degrees or partial degrees take a selection of courses to build upon what they already have, Paino said. He called it “retooling.”

“We’re going to brand around our liberal arts tradition, but move aggressively into continuing education and the online market to generate revenue for the school and meet the job needs of the region,” he said. He pointed out the University of Richmond as a “good model.”

The continued decline in state funding for higher education is another issue Paino believes the new school will help address. UMW is now receiving about 23 percent of its overall budget from the state, but Paino believes it will fall to the teens within the next ten years.

“We’re having a hard time recruiting and retaining faculty and staff, because salaries have not kept pace,” Paino said.

This year the General Assembly passed a three percent increase for university workers, but in the end couldn’t follow through because the state had overestimated its income. “We can’t sit back and wait for the Commonwealth,” he said. “We have to figure out how to pay our employees a competitive wage on our own.” He said most faculty and staff at the school are earning in the low to mid $50,000 range.

On Friday, Sept. 16, the university’s board of visitors unanimously approved a salary increase, the largest in a decade. All teaching faculty will receive an across-the-board raise of 2.5 percent. One-time bonuses of $1,000 will be given to full-time administrative staff, classified staff and professional faculty. Staff working on average 20 hours-per-week will receive a $500 bonus.

Paino said his staff found the $840,000 for the raises and bonuses from revenue generated by larger than expected enrollment, the portion originally set aside by the school for increases, and $400,000 in extra funds appropriated to UMW by the state.

Paino is looking to a combination of public, private and individual funding to keep the university affordable. “We can’t keep increasing tuition and fees for our students,” he said.

“We have to have the engine of intellectual capital in the region, and think how we can partner and what programs are needed,” Paino said. The new school would begin with expanding the existing nursing partnership with Germanna and Mary Washington Healthcare into a masters of nursing. He also mentioned cybersecurity, and the school’s current MBA program.

Paino said the executive director will shape the new school. “We need someone out there full-time talking to the people who are looking for employees and the people looking for jobs,” he said. “I would refer to this executive director as our chief entrepreneur, as we think very intentionally about the programs we can create to meet workforce needs.” He hopes to have the executive director on board by the end of this school year.

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