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UMW President Troy Paino wins national award for student-centered work

From UMW:

Students, families, alumni, faculty and staff at the University of Mary Washington have long recognized President Troy D. Paino’s commitment to their work, well-being and success. Now his dedication on campus has earned national acclaim, with NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education selecting Paino to receive the 2023 President’s Award.

“He is, above all, a student-centered leader,” UMW Vice President for Student Affairs Juliette Landphair said in the nominating letter. She emphasized Paino’s compassionate approach to strategic planning and decision-making, his personal attention to student ideas and feedback, and his commitment to understanding diverse perspectives – viewpoints he intentionally seeks during regular dinners with students at his residence, Brompton.

UMW President Troy Paino and wife Kelly (front) pose for a selfie during one of the regular dinners he hosts for students at his home at Brompton.
President Paino and wife Kelly (front, right) pose for a selfie during one of the regular dinners they host for students at their home at historic Brompton.

Gabby Taroc ’26 attended one of those dinners and described President Paino as welcoming: “It was a great time! He was so interested in each of the students’ stories and what we want in life. It was wonderful meeting him and his wife!”

Aloysious Kabonge ’26 noted the president’s empathy: “I was super excited because I wanted to share my experience with him as an international student and tell him about my country, Uganda,” he said. “We talked about my experience as a new student here in the USA. I told him about my classes and how everything was going so far and he told us about his story as well, before he came to Mary Wash… It involved perseverance, hard work and commitment, virtues that I myself am trying to build up on. It was an amazing experience filled with laughter, sharing and great counsel. I would always interact with him whenever I get a chance.”

Paino hosts an ice cream social at his Brompton home each fall to welcome students to - or back to - campus life.
Paino hosts an ice cream social on the lawn at his Brompton home each fall to welcome students to campus life.

As president of UMW since July 1, 2016, Paino has promoted the values of service, community and civic engagement and prioritized immersing students in applied, impactful learning experiences. He is a demonstrated leader in adapting the liberal arts to the knowledge economy and a global digital environment and has focused on creating a diverse and inclusive community as an essential requirement to fulfill Mary Washington’s public purpose. A personable, student-focused leader, he is deeply committed to UMW’s public liberal arts and sciences mission of providing academic excellence and social uplift.

Paino is a member of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) President’s Trust for Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP). He is past president of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC), a member of the NCAA Division III President’s Council, and a board member of the Northern Virginia Technology Council and the Virginia Business Higher Education Council. He earned doctoral and master’s degrees in American studies from Michigan State University and holds a law degree from Indiana University and a bachelor’s degree in history and philosophy from Evangel College.

Paino cheers for another class of graduating seniors during Commencement in May.
Paino cheers for another class of graduating seniors during Commencement in May.

The national NASPA honor follows Paino’s receipt of the Region III President’s Award for 2022 presented during the summer regional conference. The national award goes to a college or university president or chancellor who has, over a sustained period, advanced the quality of student life on campus by supporting the institution’s student affairs staff and initiatives. It is the highest honor NASPA bestows on a college or university president or chancellor.

Paino and the other annual award recipients will be honored in April as part of the 2023 NASPA Annual Conference in Boston, Massachusetts.

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