The University of Mary Washington is rich in traditions.  Founded in 1908 and named after Mary Ball Washington, mother of George Washington, its distinguished history includes many years as the women’s college of the University of Virginia.  Soon after becoming coed in the early 1970s, it became independent of UVA and, in 2004 was renamed University of Mary Washington.


Honor Convocation

During Honor Convocation, students pledge to uphold the UMW Honor Code. Students are pledging to be honorable in every interaction in the UMW Community, not just within an academic setting. They promise not to lie, cheat or steal, in any context. Faculty, dressed in academic regalia, attend the ceremony.

Eagle Gathering(August)

The Eagle Gathering is a fresh start to a new year.  Students convene on Ball Circle, light a candle, and begin the journey as UMW Eagles.

Family Weekend (September/October)

Families join their students on campus to spend time with one another and enjoy good food and good entertainment.

Spirit Week and Homecoming (October)

Leading up to Homecoming Weekend, Spirit Week offers many varied activities to ramp up Eagle pride on campus. Games, lip sync, food, prizes, and varsity athletic contests pack the week.

Senior Countdown (February)

It’s 100 days until Graduation!  This Casino-themed event is a time for seniors to come together and celebrate.

Junior Ring Week (March)

 One of the most cherished traditions at UMW, Junior Ring Week celebrates the achievements of juniors as they become eligible to purchase and wear their class ring.  Special acknowledgements by their peers and special events including Junior Ring Dance and the Junior Ring Ceremony for presentation of the rings.

Spring Formal (April)

Soon after students arrive back on campus from Winter Break, the anticipation starts building for one of the grandest events of the year – spring formal.  Planned in secret by Class Council, the location is shrouded in secrecy until the formal announcement and then the mad scramble to obtain tickets before they all sell out.  Formals generally include an elegant dinner and dancing.

Multicultural Fair (April)

 The Multicultural Fair generally attracts 4,000 to 5,000 people each year, and exemplifies the University of Mary Washington’s commitment to enhancing multicultural awareness. Typically held in early April, the Fair provides an entire day devoted to multicultural entertainment, children’s activities, international and American food, and ethnic craft vendors. Each year the Multicultural Student Affairs and James Farmer Multicultural Center work closely with UMW student organizations, faculty and staff in planning festivities. The University also partners with the greater Fredericksburg community, which plays an integral role in successfully implementing the fair.

Devil vs. Goat (April)

One of the oldest traditions at UMW is the celebration of “Devil-Goat Day.”  Are you a Devil?  Or a Goat?  Students whose year of graduation is even are designated “Goats”.  Students with odd graduation years are the “Devils.”  Traditionally, on the Thursday before the last day of classes in the spring, students gather in Ball Circle for a carnival celebration and class competitions to win prizes and gain bragging rights.

Eagle Awards Ceremony (April)

A special ceremony to highlight those students, student organizations, staff, and faculty who have provided leadership and contributed outstanding service through involvement in activities and organizations. The Eagle Awards are an opportunity for the University community to recognize those students who have made extraordinary contributions to the campus and greater community.  The program now includes the senior convocation program recognizing our graduating seniors and Who’s Who recognitions.

Grad Ball (May)

Traditionally held on the Thursday night before the formal commencement ceremony on Saturday, Grad Ball is the elegant capstone to special student events at UMW.  Generally held in the Great Hall which is transformed, students dressed in their best formal wear enjoy the food, music and reminiscing with their cherished friends in the last days before becoming distinguished UMW graduates and beginning the next phase of their lives.