‘An Exceptional Day’

April 15, 2021

On April 8, MBU celebrated anniversaries of both the VWIL and PEG programs with two events on the main campus in Staunton.

On a perfect spring day as the breeze drifted through new leaves, Mary Baldwin University celebrated anniversaries of two signature programs with back-to-back events on the Staunton campus. 

“It really is an exceptional day because we’re celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership (VWIL) and the 35th anniversary of the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted (PEG),” said President Pamela R. Fox.

With these events on April 8 and throughout this anniversary year, the university community recognizes PEG and VWIL students and alumni, as well as the faculty, staff, and community members who have supported them over the years.

The university and alumni community look forward to further recognizing these programs during Homecoming 2021, held virtually, June 4–6.

On April 8, MBU celebrated anniversaries of both the VWIL and PEG programs with two events on the main campus in Staunton.

VWIL’s 25th anniversary parade

At 3 p.m. on April 8, the VWIL Corps of Cadets and MBU Marching Band took part in a parade marking the program’s 25th anniversary on SMA Worth Field.

Still the only all-women corps of cadets in the nation and a premiere leadership program, VWIL provides opportunities for cadets to develop skills for both military service and civilian careers. 

“You had courage and confidence in Mary Baldwin, VWIL, your sister nULLs, and yourselves,” said Commandant of Cadets Brig. Gen. Terry Djuric, referencing the more than 1,000 cadets who have matriculated into the program in the first 25 years. “You balanced challenging academic schedules, ROTC military training, NCAA sports, student government, clubs, and so much more. The corps of cadets is proud of each of you.” 

In her celebratory remarks, Fox announced to over 460 VWIL graduates and 100 current cadets that “you are no pale shadow,” referring to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s 1996 statement regarding United States v. Virginia. “You are a beacon of inspiration. You have my unwavering commitment and admiration.”

During the parade, the corps of cadets carried out marching formations and rifle handling, as well as a reading of the joint resolution from the Virginia General Assembly in honor of VWIL’s anniversary. 

The MBU Marching Band played an original song composed in honor of the 25th anniversary for the corps’ pass in review. 

Commandant of Cadets Brig. Gen. Terry Djuric (left) speaks at the VWIL 25th anniversary parade and MBU President Pamela R. Fox (right) at the PEG 35th anniversary celebration and Tyson Hall dedication.

PEG’s 35th anniversary celebration and Tyson Hall dedication

Following the VWIL parade, a special ceremony celebrated PEG, which for 35 years has provided a supportive environment for young women to embrace the challenge of earning their college degree.  

“PEG’s promise is now realized potential,” Fox said. “More than 600 extraordinary young women have reached their potential academically and personally. Their lives and careers are simply inspiring and remarkable. We honor them today. We honor our current PEG students. We honor the leaders, directors, faculty, staff, and brave parents and families who have entrusted their daughters to us and helped bring this vision to life.”

The ceremony also dedicated the PEG center as Cynthia Haldenby Tyson Hall in honor of Mary Baldwin’s eighth president and recognized the generous gift of $1 million from the Robert Haywood Morrison Foundation to endow the building in perpetuity. 

“First and foremost, most importantly for me, I want to thank the directors of the Robert Haywood Morrison Foundation for this gift,” said President Emerita Cynthia H. Tyson, who joined the ceremony virtually. “They honor me in a deeply personal and professional way. The fact that they chose to initiate and give this gift to Mary Baldwin University is recognition of the faculty, staff, and administrators of this special place of teaching and learning.”    

The dedication events were held on the newly refurbished outside patio space at Tyson Hall, made possible by three families: Peter and Ginny Gwaltney, parents of Lindsey Haley PEG ’09; Michael and Denise Levens, parents of Colette and Elyse Levens PEG ’21; and another generous family who wishes to remain anonymous.

Current PEG students help dedicate the PEG center as Cynthia Haldenby Tyson Hall in honor of Mary Baldwin’s eighth president.

A champion for VWIL and PEG 

Tyson’s leadership was instrumental to the establishment and success of both the VWIL and PEG programs. 

President from 1985 to 2003, Tyson came to Mary Baldwin the same year that PEG welcomed its first class, and she ensured the program’s ongoing development. Toward the end of her tenure, she led the way for the construction of a state-of-the-art residence hall for PEG students, which now bears her name. 

She also made the decision at the request of the Commonwealth of Virginia to establish the VWIL program in 1993, which welcomed its first class of students in August 1995. 

Tyson now serves as president of the Robert Haywood Morrison Foundation, a non-profit, charitable organization based in Charlotte, N.C., that supports higher education, the arts and culture, and the natural environment.

The two events were held with limited attendance and campus safety protocols in place.

VWIL cadets present the colors at the 25th anniversary parade on April 8, 2021.