The institution was founded in 1908 as the State Normal and Industrial School for Women in Fredericksburg. The name was changed in 1924 to the State Teachers College at Fredericksburg, and again in 1938 to Mary Washington College, having transformed over the years to Virginia’s public liberal arts college for women. Then in 1944, Mary Washington College became affiliated with the University of Virginia as its women’s undergraduate arts and sciences division. In 1970 the entire University became coeducational and in 1972, by action of the General Assembly of Virginia, the College became an independent, state-supported institution for women and men, with its own governing board. In 1999, responding to accelerating demographic changes that increased the demand for educational services within the region, a new campus was opened in nearby Stafford County. On July 1, 2004, the General Assembly named the institution the University of Mary Washington.
Through an emphasis on quality, the University attracts students from all areas of Virginia, particularly the urban areas of Northern Virginia, Richmond, and Tidewater. Approximately twenty-five percent of its on-campus resident students are from other states and foreign countries, with the largest population coming from Southern, Middle Atlantic, and New England states. Located in the middle of a rapidly growing Washington-Richmond “urban corridor,” the University serves the educational needs of both full-time and part-time commuting students.
To meet the diverse academic needs of today’s students, the University is organized into three colleges. The College of Arts and Sciences is organized into twenty academic departments of one or more disciplines and offers more than thirty undergraduate programs in the liberal arts and sciences. An emphasis upon excellence in the pursuit of liberal learning has traditionally been at the core of the University’s educational philosophy, and commitment to this concept will continue even as new organizational units are developed. In 2010, the College of Business and the College of Education were established to unify and enhance the programs offered in those subject areas. By organizing business and education curricula into separate colleges, UMW provides high quality graduate and professional programs that respond effectively to local and regional professional community needs, and offer students enhanced opportunities within the regions UMW serves. The University developed a third campus at Dahlgren to support specialized programs and training for military and contract personnel as well as community members in that area. The Dahlgren campus opened in January 2012.
The University of Mary Washington is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097; telephone number 404/679-4500; http://www.sacscoc.org) to award Bachelor and Master’s degrees. The institution was initially accredited in 1930, was last reviewed and reaffirmed in 2003, and will undergo its next reaffirmation of accreditation review in 2013.