University of Mary Washington Then & Now

A Photography Exhibition

Posts in the george washington hall category

There have been a variety of formal events at UMW throughout the years. Some of the more iconic formal events have included the Junior Ring Dance, the Senior Ball, and the Spring Formal, all of which today are put on by the Class Council. The Junior Ring dance, however, another notable formal function, began in the 1950s as a part of the Junior Ring Ceremony where juniors are presented with their college rings.1 The Junior Ring Dance “developed in the course of a quarter century to become the biggest campus social event of the spring semester” and is still put on today, but with much less of an emphasis as a major school event, and more as an opportunity for juniors to receive their junior glasses.2 The Grad Ball, a dance for graduating seniors held during “Dead Week,” (the week between the last day of classes and Commencement) is more popular today since it is the last time the seniors can dress up and go to a University event with their friends as students at the school. The Grad Ball is also where seniors can get their senior glasses. Lastly, Spring Formal, known for its off-campus venues, started in the 1990s.3 Spring Formal today is the only Class Council event that costs money for a ticket since the venue is always off-campus. The venue is kept a secret in order to keep the event safe and without drunk driving since those students who are over 21 can consume alcohol at the formal.

Formal Function at Dodd Auditorium, 1940

Formal Function at Dodd Auditorium, 1940
From left to right: Winnie Hudson, Leighton Stevens, Mary Wilcox, Katherine Roberts, Lee Keith, and Harold Weiss
"Formal Function at Dodd Auditorium," 1940, The Centennial Collection, UMW Digital Archives, University of Mary Washington.

Junior Ring Dance, March 13, 2014

Junior Ring Dance at the Jepson Alumni Center, March 13, 2014
From left to right: Gibran Parvez, Jessica Reingold, Elizabeth Henry, Catherine LeBouton, Lauren Johnson
Ethan Lane, "Junior Ring Dance at the Jepson Alumni Center," Junior Ring Dance, March 13, 2014, UMW Class Council Facebook, University of Mary Washington.


Show 3 footnotes

  1. William B. Crawley Jr., University of Mary Washington: A Centennial History, 1908-2008 (Fredericksburg: University of Mary Washington Foundation, 2008), 450.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid., 719.

During the 1930s when President Combs and Dean Alvey were running the College, Ronald W. Faulkner was hired in 1937 for music and arts.1 His job was to create an “academic program in instrumental music,” but he surpassed this expectation and also created a concert orchestra, a dance orchestra, and a marching band.2 In 1971, James Baker,” (who joined the music faculty in 1965,)3 created a new orchestra that by combining local musicians with the student musicians in order to “established close ties to the area.” It was called the Mary Washington College-Community Symphony Orchestra.” 4 Later in 1976, Dominion Bank provided funds for the College-Community Orchestra “to underwrite an additional performance” to their three annual performances, and thus was born the Pops Concert.5

Today, the College-Community Orchestra is known as the University of Mary Washington Philharmonic Orchestra. Continuing on into its 43rd year, the University of Mary Washington Philharmonic Orchestra has 90 members and “is one of the most successful organizations on campus.” 6 The orchestra has about six concerts annually, and also performs annually for the UMW Commencement exercises in May.7

Show 7 footnotes

  1. William B. Crawley Jr., University of Mary Washington: A Centennial History, 1908-2008 (Fredericksburg: University of Mary Washington Foundation, 2008), 35.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid., 627.
  5. Ibid., 225.
  6. UMW Philharmonic Orchestra,“About the Philharmonic,” University of Mary Washington, http://philharmonic.umw.edu/about-the-orchestra/(Accessed April 6, 2014).
  7. Ibid.

According to University of Mary Washington: A Centennial History, 1908–2008, “Among the new campus activities that appeared during the 1970s, the most extraordinary (and inexplicable) was something called the Wo-Man Contest.  The event was conceived in the fall of 1977 by the Afro-American Association, whose only male member, freshman Cedric Rucker, took the lead in the contest’s development and promotion.” 1  The event was immediately popular, and the popularity of the Wo-Man contest continued into the early 1990s, but was eventually phased out; however, in October 1999, the Mr. MWC contest appeared.  “Though Mr. MWC obviously shared certain farcical elements with the late Wo-Man contest, according to the Free Lance-Star it was ‘nothing like the controversial’ predecessor. ‘The new, feel-good Mr. MWC contest,’ it asserted, ‘is far kinder and gentler than Wo-Man.” 2

Today, the Mr. MWC tradition continues, simply under a different name: Mr. UMW.

Mr UMW

Mr. UMW Contest, 2013
Contestants include: Mr. Alvey: Tyler Gimple; Mr. Apartments: Rob Jarvis; Mr. Arrington: John Rowley; Mr. Bushnell: Frank Kear; Mr. Custis: Drew Kalasky; Mr. Eagle Landing: Ethan Lane; Mr. Framar: Sam Relken; Mr. Jefferson: Brandon Smith; Mr. Mason: Kyle Phalen; Mr. Marshall: Nathan Bradley; Mr. Randolph: Ben Cunningham; Mr. Russell: Josh Mwandu
Alyssa Lieurance, "Mr. UMW," November 4, 2013, Personal Collection of Alyssa Lieurance, University of Mary Washington.

Show 2 footnotes

  1. William B. Crawley, Jr., University of Mary Washington: A Centennial History, 1908-2008 (Fredericksburg: University of Mary Washington Foundation, 2008), 252.
  2. Ibid., 721.

Construction on George Washington Hall (also known as GW Hall) began in 1938 and was completed the following year.1 The building was established to answer the need for classrooms and administrative space necessary to serve the growing student population. The building also contained an auditorium capable of seating 1,624 people and included a stage with dressing rooms located below. 2 In 1980, the auditorium was named Eileen Kramer Dodd Auditorium in honor of a former professor who retired after forty four years at the College.3 Located below the auditorium was a mirrored ballroom known as the “Hall of Mirrors” used for events and formal dances. The roof of George Washington Hall contained a roof garden used for special events but also as a recreational area for students to relax and eat. Today, GW is the home of administrative offices, including the office of the president. Neither the roof garden nor the Hall of Mirrors are present today, however, Dodd Auditorium is still a central part of student life. The auditorium holds formal events, performance art shows, and “Cheap Seats” a program that shows popular movies for students for only a dollar admission.

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George Washington Hall, 2014
Meaghan Sullivan, "George Washington Hall," March 21, 2014, Personal collection of Meaghan Sullivan, University of Mary Washington

Show 3 footnotes

  1. William B. Crawley Jr., University of Mary Washington: A Centennial History, 1908-2008 (Fredericksburg: University of Mary Washington Foundation, 2008),43
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.,44.
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