Regions Shenandoah Valley

University status results from 6 years of change

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Print this page by Joan Tupponce
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Mary Baldwin College is preparing to change its name.
Photo by Ian Bradshaw, courtesy Mary Baldwin College

After years of planning, Mary Baldwin College will officially become Mary Baldwin University on Aug. 31.

“To me the significance is not about the name change per se, but that Mary Baldwin University will accurately reflect the ongoing character of this institution,” says the university’s president, Pamela Fox. “We have been advancing the institution with a series of initiatives for the past six years, and this brings us to the point that we truly are a distinctive, small university.”

Mary Baldwin, which will mark its 175th anniversary next year, was founded as Augusta Female Seminary in 1842. It became Mary Baldwin College in 1923 when baccalaureate degrees were first awarded.

Long known as a college for women, Mary Baldwin now has an enrollment of 1,700 students, including men and women. Its residential program remains all female, but men and women participate in its online, adult and graduate programs.

“As we become Mary Baldwin University, we are serving the broadest spectrum of individuals, from certificates to doctoral programs, in class and online. We have a diverse group of students,” Fox says.

Mary Baldwin has campuses in Staunton and Fishersville as well as 11 regional locations throughout the state. As a university, it is shifting to an organizational structure that includes several colleges — the College of Education, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business and Professional Studies, and the Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences. Mary Baldwin also has the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership, the nation’s only all-female corps of cadets.

Mary Baldwin added doctoral programs in 2014. The first two  — programs in physical therapy and occupational therapy — are offered by the Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences. “We will hand out our first doctoral degree in May 2017,” says Crista Cabe, Mary Baldwin’s vice president for communication, marketing and public affairs.

After the name change, Mary Baldwin plans to announce new program initiatives, some of which will help streamline a student’s path from a bachelor’s to a master’s degree. Education students, for example, will be able to earn bachelor’s and a master’s degrees in four years. “We will also have a year-round track for earning bachelor degrees in biology, psychology and health sciences in three years,” Fox says.

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