Officially founded on July 1, 2010, the UMW College of Business builds on the Mary Washington tradition of a well-rounded undergraduate program in the liberal arts, with small classes that encourage direct interaction with its expert faculty. As other schools of business are just discovering the value of a solid grounding in the liberal arts for tomorrow’s leaders, our undergraduate business program has been, and will remain, firmly rooted in its liberal arts foundation. Our graduate programs have from their inception been devoted to providing a solid academic core curriculum and innovative programming designed to meet the changing needs of the next generation of business leaders in the Fredericksburg region. We intend to continue both these long standing traditions.
UMW has a long history of teaching business-related subjects, dating back to 1919 when the Virginia State Board responsible for the four Normal Schools in Virginia, decided that the Fredericksburg campus would specialize in “commercial” subjects. We graduated our first business “teacher” in 1924, the same year we began offering commercial courses in the evening to “interested townspeople”.
Since the 1920’s Business has been an integral part of Mary Washington, evolving as the school did from primarily preparing teachers to preparing future leaders in a wide variety of fields. In the late thirties and early forties, the Commercial Education major gained National recognition, as the first program to require all majors to have real business experience before they could graduate. Currently, our undergraduate internships and graduate externships, while not required, continue this legacy.
Under James Harvey Dodd’s leadership, the Commercial Education major became the largest on campus and encompassed about half the student body in 1944, the same year Mary Washington officially became the Women’s College of the University of Virginia (UVA). In 1945, as Mary Washington prepared to change from an independent Teachers College to a new Liberal Arts College associated with UVA, then Dean of the College, Edward Alvey, presented the faculty’s plan for the change to the Chancellor of UVA in which he wrote:
If some courses of a liberal arts college also prepare its students for economic competence, the college does not thereby become less of a liberal arts college, provided it holds to its true objectives. In fact a person’s ability to make a living may be essential to his capacity for leadership in the higher things in life. (Edward Alvey, History of Mary Washington College, 1974)
So as the shift to a Liberal Arts College began Mary Washington continued its tradition of Business as an applied liberal art. In 1948 Mary Washington began offering a Economics and Business Administration major, separating them officially into two departments with separate majors in 1980, adding that same year a Masters of Business Administration degree. In 1999, Business was one of two evening programs (the other was Education) opening at our new Stafford Campus, thus continuing the tradition of serving the educational needs of the “interested townspeople” and now the growing region.
Today, our alumni can be found in an amazing array of businesses, government agencies, schools and not-for-profit organizations. Some have risen through the ranks to executive positions here and abroad, some are entrepreneurs running very successful enterprises, and some are teachers and professors. We are very proud of our heritage and excited about our future. We hope you will join us as we create the latest iteration of business education in the public liberal arts university that Mary Washington is becoming.
Dean’s Office on Fredericksburg Campus:
Woodard Hall, Suite #225A
Faculty and Staff on Fredericksburg Campus:
Woodard Hall, Fredericksburg, VA 22401