Mary Baldwin Named One of Nation’s Leading Colleges That Encourage Character Development

October 25, 1999

Mary Baldwin University in Staunton, Virginia has been recognized for its leadership qualities in The Templeton Guide: Colleges that Encourage Character Development, a guidebook released nationwide on Friday, October 22, 1999.

Designed for students, parents, and educators who believe that character matters, The Templeton Guide contains profiles of 405 exemplary college programs in ten categories; 50 college presidents who have exercised leadership in character development; and 100 colleges and universities named to the Templeton Honor Roll for their record of commitment to inspiring students to lead ethical and civic-minded lives.

Of the 17 Virginia colleges selected for inclusion in The Templeton Guide, Mary Baldwin was one of eight other Virginia colleges named to the Templeton Honor Roll and President Cynthia H. Tyson was one of three Virginia college presidents profiled in the publication.

Serving since 1985 as Mary Baldwin’s eighth president, Dr. Tyson demonstrates both a respect for tradition and heritage and a strong vision for the future. President Tyson has led Mary Baldwin to a focused and intentional emphasis on character development, setting a strong example with her own words and actions.

For example, Dr. Tyson led the development of 12 “Characteristics of the Well-Educated Person of the Third Millennium” that Mary Baldwin would work to develop in its students. She was also recently honored by eight alumnae of Mary Baldwin who named a $2.2 million endowment in tribute to the president, the Cynthia Haldenby Tyson Endowment for Leadership Development.

The Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership (VWIL) was the only student leadership program in Virginia featured. VWIL trains young women to become ethical and skilled leaders by offering a holistic approach to leadership development that integrates academic study, mentoring, community service, and extra curricular activities.

Mary Baldwin’s Quest was one of only two spiritual growth programs of the Virginia colleges highlighted. Quest helps students integrate religious commitment, intellectual development, and service through spiritual direction, academic courses, and enrichment activities that supports the student’s efforts to make sense of life, learning, and faith.

“Mary Baldwin’s strong commitment to character development and the strength of its program make it a model for colleges and universities nationwide,” said Arthur J. Schwartz, Ed.D., director of character development programs at the John Templeton Foundation. “With The Templeton Guide, we hope to help prospective college students and their parents who want to know what colleges are doing to promote the core values of honesty, self-control, respect, and service to those less fortunate. The Templeton Guide identifies colleges that encourage students to understand the importance of personal and civic responsibility, which will help them succeed in college and beyond. Mary Baldwin’s work in this area is most impressive.”

More than 300 four-year public and private colleges across the country are included in The Templeton Guide. Individual programs were selected in the following categories: First-Year Programs; Academic Honesty Programs; Faculty and Curriculum Programs; Volunteer Service Programs; Substance-Abuse Prevention Programs; Student Leadership Programs; Spiritual Growth Programs; Civic Education Programs; Character and Sexuality Programs; and Senior Year Programs.

Intended for high school students, parents, guidance counselors, college administrators, trustees, faculty, and alumni, The Templeton Guide recognizes programs that represent the best practices in the field of character development during the college years. The programs were chosen through a highly selective process that considered clarity of vision and statement of purpose; institutional resources; involvement of institutional leaders; impact on students, faculty, campus, and community; integration into the core curriculum or academic study; longevity; external awards and recognition; and assessment.

Mary Baldwin University is a multi-faceted liberal arts college with three residential programs for women–the traditional program, the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted, and the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership–as well as the coeducational, non-residential Baldwin Online and Adult Programs and Master of Arts in Teaching program. Mary Baldwin offers the B.A. and/or the B.S. in 32 majors as well as the M.A.T. degree with K-8 emphasis. The oldest women’s college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., Mary Baldwin was also the first women’s college to be granted a circle of the national leadership honor society Omicron Delta Kappa. The college is also home to a chapter of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa honor society.

Established in 1987, the John Templeton Foundation works closely with educators, scientists, theologians, medical professionals, and other scholars throughout the world to support more than 100 programs service three chief purposes; to encourage character development in schools and colleges; to encourage an appreciation for the benefits of freedom; and to stimulate serious and scientific research on the relationship between spirituality and health. The Foundation’s College and Character Initiative supports national programs that offer meaningful opportunities for college students to learn about, reflect upon, and practice the virtues of personal and civic responsibility.

The Foundation has created a College and Character website – – that provides information on the initiative, links to the home pages of colleges selected for The Templeton Guide, and other features.