Anderson Center

Namesake

President William M. Anderson Jr.

William Anderson served as the president of Mary Washington College from 1983 to 2006, the longest-serving president, overseeing its increased status as a university and the official renaming of the school to the University of Mary Washington.1 A Virginia native, William M. Anderson was born in 1942 and raised in South Boston, Virginia. He pursued his undergraduate degree at the nearby Virginia Commonwealth University,2 and followed it with a Master’s degree from West Virginia College of Graduate Studies, and a doctorate from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.3 Dr. Anderson served on the Virginia State Council of Higher Education, the West Virginia Board of Regents, and finally joined Mary Washington.4 Prior to his own presidency, Anderson was the executive vice president,5 and then Acting President of Mary Washington College following the death of President Prince Woodard in 1983.6

When he took the presidential oath, Anderson was the youngest president ever for the university and also the youngest president of any state university.7 During his tenure, Anderson oversaw the construction of Simpson Library, the Jepson Science Center, the Woodward Campus Center, the Jepson Alumni Executive Center, the Ridderhof Martin Gallery, and improved Campus Walk, four new residence halls, and an apartment complex.8 To fund these projects Anderson worked constantly to encourage donations and obtained the largest endowment the university had ever received, which came from Alice and Robert Jepson Jr.9 President Anderson also created the Community Outreach and Resources program to promote student volunteerism,10 and oversaw new cultural projects like the Fredericksburg Forum, UMW’s Community Symphony Orchestra’s Celebrity Series, and the Great Lives Lecture Series.11

Health concerns eventually brought an end to President Anderson’s twenty-three year term as the university’s sixth president. In 1996, he suffered a brain aneurysm while lobbying in Richmond.12 However, Anderson made a nearly full recovery with only partial paralysis and returned to the university for a few more years before officially retiring in 2006.13 The irreplaceable icon of the university was honored with the naming of the new Anderson Center in 2011 and an official ribbon-cutting ceremony, an event in which Bill Anderson participated.14

Anderson Center, March 2012

Building History

The William M. Anderson Center is a convocation center adjacent to Goolrick Hall and the newest addition to the main Mary Washington campus. The Athletic Director, Edward Hegmann, oversaw the new center since the project was first proposed in 1989, as the school had grown up a lot since the smaller Goolrick gymnasium was built in 1969.15 Costing just over $14 million, the new center can accommodate roughly 2,500 people for special events and convocations.16

The ground-breaking ceremony was held on September 17, 2009, 17 while the center was officially dedicated on August 25, 2011.18 During the course of its construction, the center faced some challenges, mostly due to funding issues, but also involved cutting plans for a 50-meter pool and a practice gym.19 However, the building is still an incredibly impressive 52,000-square-foot facility, with the gleaming “fighting eagle” in the main arena’s hardwood floors, multiple 26-foot video screens, and state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment for live event streaming.20

President William M. Anderson at the Anderson Center ribbon-cutting ceremony, pictured second from the right

  1. William B. Crawley Jr., University of Mary Washington: A Centennial History, 1908-2008 (Fredericksburg, VA: University of Mary Washington Foundation, 2008), 771.
  2. Crawley, 318.
  3. “William M. Anderson, Jr. (1983-2006),” Presidential Inauguration of Richard V. Hurley website, http://inauguration.umw.edu/presidents/william-m-anderson-jr-1983-2006/.
  4. “William M. Anderson, Jr. (1983-2006),” Presidential Inauguration of Richard V. Hurley website, http://inauguration.umw.edu/presidents/william-m-anderson-jr-1983-2006/.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Crawley, 311.
  7. William M. Anderson, Jr. (1983-2006),” Presidential Inauguration of Richard V. Hurley website, http://inauguration.umw.edu/presidents/william-m-anderson-jr-1983-2006/.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Crawley, 384.
  10. William M. Anderson, Jr. (1983-2006),” Presidential Inauguration of Richard V. Hurley website, http://inauguration.umw.edu/presidents/william-m-anderson-jr-1983-2006/.
  11. Crawley, 516.
  12. Crawley, 521.
  13. Crawley, 779.
  14. “The Anderson Center: UMW Ups its Game with New Arena,” University of Mary Washington Magazine website,   http://magazine.umw.edu/fallwinter2011/features/umw-ups-its-game-with-new-arena/.
  15. ”Anderson Center Will Hold 2,500 Starting in August,” UMW Bullet website, March 9, 2011,
    http://umwbullet.com/2011/03/09/anderson-center-will-hold-2500-starting-in-august/.
  16. ”William M. Anderson Center Opens,” UMW Bullet website, September 8, 2011,
    http://umwbullet.com/2011/09/08/william-m-anderson-center-opens/.
  17. “UMW Marks Groundbreaking of Anderson Center,” University of Mary Washington website, September 17, 2009,http://www.umw.edu/news/2009/09/17/umw-marks-groundbreaking-of-anderson-center/.
  18. “UMW Dedicates William M. Anderson Center,” UMW News website, August 25, 2011, http://eagleeye.umw.edu/2011/08/25/umw-dedicates-william-m-anderson-center/.
  19. “William M. Anderson Center Opens,” UMW Bullet website, September 8, 2011, http://umwbullet.com/2011/09/08/william-m-anderson-center-opens/.
  20. “The Anderson Center: UMW Ups its Game with New Arena,” University of Mary Washington Magazine website,   http://magazine.umw.edu/fallwinter2011/features/umw-ups-its-game-with-new-arena/.