University of Mary Washington Then & Now

A Photography Exhibition

Posts in the Events category

The college’s first homecoming was a student-led event held in November of 1972. This event was designed as a parody of the “big weekends” that many of the female students attended at other universities. The theme of Mary Washington College’s first homecoming was “Bring the Boys Home,” an effort to make the girls’ dates come to their home school instead of the other way around. 1

In more recent times, Homecoming has become an event centering around school spirit. A whole weekend is dedicated to sports games, concerts, and activities. Commonly, students and alumni will gather in the parking lots at the Battlegrounds to tailgate before the games are held.

2013 Tailgate

Homecoming Tailgate 2013
"Homecoming Tailgate," October 25, 2013, University of Mary Washington Alumni Association, University of Mary Washington.

Show 1 footnote

  1. William B. Crawley Jr., University of Mary Washington: A Centennial History, 1908-2008 (Fredericksburg: University of Mary Washington Foundation, 2008), 161.

From its beginnings, Mary Washington has grown, constructing and incorporating numerous buildings across its campus. These expansions are important celebrations, recognizing the continued evolution of UMW. New buildings both remind us of our past and encourage us to look to the future. As can be seen below, the dedication of the Fine Arts Center in 1953 was a truly significant occasion, drawing large crowds.1 The same was true for the groundbreaking for the new Information and Technology Convergence Center in 2012, which was led by President Hurley and the UMW Board of Visitors.2

Show 2 footnotes

  1. William B. Crawley Jr., University of Mary Washington: A Centennial History, 1908-2008 (Fredericksburg: University of Mary Washington Foundation, 2008), 57.
  2. University of Mary Washington Media and Public Relations, “UMW Celebrates Construction of Convergence Center,” University of Mary Washington, (Accessed April 18, 2014).

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.

Move-In Day signifies the beginning of the academic school year for students. For freshman, it is the day where they say goodbye to living solely under their parents’ or guardians’ roof, and learn to live with people their own age. Move-In Day is typically in late August and is the first day of Freshman Orientation, which is the week before courses begin. Upperclassmen tend to move in either a few days or the day before the first day of courses.

Move-In Day, August 17, 2010

Move-In Day, August 17, 2010
Norm Shafer, UMW Photographer, "Move-In Day," August 17, 2010, University of Mary Washington.

The May Day celebration used to be one of the grandest events at UMW, especially when it was still an all-girls school. The first May Day was held in conjunction with the Field Day games in the Spring of 1914 on the lawn in front of Monroe Hall. In 1923, the event was moved to the amphitheater located behind Trinkle Hall and next to Marye Hall. The celebration would begin with a processional led by the May Queen and her attendants, Senior Maypole dancers, and then the classes followed in order wearing their color. 1 After the May song, the Queen was crowned and the seniors performed the Maypole dance. In the late 1960s, the tradition fell out of favor, as an antiquated event. By 1968, with “the war, divisive camp politics, and rabble-rousing, Bullet editorials, our attention was obviously directed elsewhere…May Court was trivial in comparison.” 2 1968 was the last year to see a May Day at the University. In January 2001, several clubs, led by the Inter-Club association and French Club tried to revive the tradition but with marked changes. The revival never really caught on however, and the May Day tradition still remains an event of the past.
Today, other celebrations have taken the place of May Day. One such celebration is Holi, the Indian celebration of the arrival of spring and the passing of winter.3 The celebration is traditionally held on Ball Circle and hosted by the UMW International Living Community. Participants wear white and dried paint is passed out to be thrown into the air for a simultaneous burst of color.

Show 3 footnotes

  1. As quoted in The Bullet William B. Crawley Jr., University of Mary Washington: A Centennial History, 1908-2008 (Fredericksburg: University of Mary Washington Foundation, 2008),16.
  2. Ibid.,125.
  3. BBC Schools, “Holi,” March 17, 2014, BBC News Network, (Accessed April 18, 2014).

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 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.

A tradition since Mary Washington’s inception, the annual commencement ceremonies have always been an important and special time for graduating seniors.  Today commencement occurs annually on Ball Circle. 

Modern Grads

UMW Graduates, 2011
Featured left to right: Caitrin Smith, Christine Melchione, Erin Lombard, Melissa Evich, and Kelly Reeder
Kelly Reeder, "Class of 2011," 2011, Personal Collection of Kelly Reeder, University of Mary Washington.

Class of 2013 Commencement (1)

The University of Mary Washington's 2013 commencement ceremony, 2013
"The University of Mary Washington's 2013 commencement ceremony," May 11, 2013, University of Mary Washington, UMW's Undergraduate Commencement 2013, University of Mary Washington Facebook page.