Create What’s Next: 180th year begins

As the rhythms of the 2021–22 academic year take hold, the Mary Baldwin family is looking toward what’s new and what’s next. 

The annual State of the University address, held on August 24, featured President Pamela Fox and university leaders sharing their vision for the year ahead, the 180th in MBU’s distinguished history.

“The components of this small university that we have built together over this past decade of far-reaching evolution have united and coalesced into a community,” Fox said in her address. “This year I ask us to purposefully enhance this coalescence, this community.”  

New MBU students kick off their college journey during move-in day on August 25. Fall courses begin on August 30.

Goals set for 180th year

Giving structure to the president’s charge are the 2021–22 university goals, encompassing six main areas:

  • Align MBU’s mission to serve the rapidly evolving needs of students and alumni. Continue to increase enrollment toward the goal of 2,500 students by 2025.
  • Create a university culture in which diversity, equity, and inclusion are central to MBU’s shared mission. 
  • Achieve the MBU Empowers campaign target of $25 million and commit to a more ambitious goal of raising $50 million in the next two years. 
  • Significantly enhance MBU’s capacity and organizational effectiveness as a data-driven, technology-enabled hybrid university. 
  • Demonstrate MBU’s commitment to community.
  • Establish a network of new partners and allies to advance MBU’s mission and goals, while revitalizing ongoing partnerships.      

Members of the executive staff joined Fox in painting a broad picture of collaborative achievements and aspirations to guide the work ahead.

The statements shared a common theme — one that resonated with both the audience gathered in James D. Francis Auditorium and faculty, staff, and alumni attending virtually: From course design, to student support, to business procedures, to volunteer work, the effort of every individual across the university contributes to empowering students to become future inclusive leaders.

‘Create is a verb’

The MBU community unites under the theme of Create for 2021–22, collectively committing to explore new ways to initiate and maintain positive social change. 

SGA President Parmie Dean ’22 approaches this year’s theme with the insight of a rising senior and studio art major.

Beyond allowing the mind to flow with ideas and thoughts, to create is to make your dream a reality,” said Dean. “Whether that be commissioning in the armed forces, going on to be the next CEO, president, or scientist, or just being a nice neighbor, you have to dream it first to do it.”


Beyond allowing the mind to flow with ideas and thoughts, to Create is to make your dream a reality.”

Parmie Dean ’22, 2021–22 SGA president

Each year, MBU’s Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement uses the university-wide theme to inform activities like thought exercises, workshops, and volunteer projects.

Spencer Center director, Christina Harrison,  said Create will build on themes from the past two years, Community and Courage. 

First students identified communities that give their life meaning,  said Harrison. Next they considered the courage needed to address challenges facing those communities. This year, it’s all about taking action to create positive change. 

As Fox remarked concluding the State of the University ceremony: “Most importantly, Create is a verb.” 

The MBU community unites under the university-wide theme of Create for 2021–22.

Pandemic prepared

Though the MBU community returns to a radically different environment compared to last fall, health and safety remain top priorities amid the ongoing global pandemic. 

Last spring, MBU was one of the first Virginia colleges and universities to institute a COVID vaccine requirement for students, faculty, and staff. Entering the fall with a 90.42% overall vaccination rate means in-person gatherings will be more frequent and require less physical distancing. 

Masks are still required indoors for all individuals at MBU at this time, regardless of vaccination status. 

CDC guidance continues to inform the university’s response, with MBU’s seasoned Pandemic Team meeting weekly to track the latest developments and adjust campus protocols as necessary. 

For more COVID policies, procedures, resources, and frequently asked questions, please visit MBU community members should also watch their email and social media channels for the latest information.   

MBU was one of the first colleges and universities in Virginia to announce a COVID vaccine requirement last spring. As a result, the university has achieved a 90.42% overall vaccination rate for fall. (Masks are required indoors, regardless of vaccination status, at this time.)

Watch a video of the full State of the University ceremony at