Staunton’s Mary Baldwin College to change name to university

By Lynn R. Mitchell

There’s news to share with SWAC Daughter, Mary Baldwin College Class of 2012. Her college announced on Monday that they would be changing the name to Mary Baldwin University effective this August.

In a press release and on Facebook, the college shared the news:

Dear Mary Baldwin students, faculty, and staff:

I am delighted to share important news with you.

Today — May 11, 2015 — the Mary Baldwin College Board of Trustees has made a far-reaching decision. Effective August 31, 2016, the name of our institution will be Mary Baldwin University. The name of the campus-based program for women, now called the Residential College for Women, will be Mary Baldwin College for Women, affirming our commitment to both the legacy and the future of our undergraduate women’s college on our historic campus. The vote of the Board was unanimous on both counts.

Mary Baldwin University accurately describes both what we are and who we arewhat we are because the word “university” proclaims how far we have come since the days of the Augusta Female Seminary. Today we are, indisputably, a small university. This category includes institutions that are more complex than traditional four-year liberal arts colleges and offer a wider range of programs, but that remain small and personal with a focus on teaching. And Mary Baldwin University reflects who we are because the historic women’s college that is the foundation and the heart of our identity is named for Mary Julia Baldwin, a remarkable woman whose legacy of courage and leadership still infuses the character of our institution. We retain her name with pride.

This is a rare moment in Mary Baldwin’s history, but not unprecedented. Our institutional tradition is to change our name to reflect major stages in our evolution. We started as Augusta Female Seminary in 1842. After Mary Julia Baldwin had left her indelible mark on the scope, size, and character of the seminary through more than 30 years as principal, in 1895 the trustees renamed the school Mary Baldwin Seminary in her honor. When baccalaureate degrees were first granted in 1923, the name was changed to Mary Baldwin College. Now we have two beautiful campuses, we serve students through 12 regional centers, and we award doctoral as well as bachelor’s and master’s degrees. We have evolved in significant and exciting ways that meet student needs and create a thriving future for our very special institution. This is indeed the right moment to become Mary Baldwin University.

The name change will formally and legally take effect on August 31, 2016 — Charter Day — in the first week of the 2016–17 academic year. This will kick off a year of celebration in which we observe our quartoseptcentennial, the 175th anniversary of our founding in 1842.

Please join me in celebrating this important milestone in the history of our dynamic, courageous, and forward-looking institution.

Jane Harding Miller ‘76
Chair, Mary Baldwin College Board of Trustees

This will be the latest change in names for the Staunton institution.

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