Key events in the history of Mary Baldwin University illustrate the milestones that have made Mary Baldwin a national leader in personalized and transforming liberal arts education.

1842 – Augusta Female Seminary founded by Rufus W. Bailey, who was also named principal.  Mary Julia Baldwin among the first pupils.

1844 – First charter of Augusta Female Seminary granted by Virginia General Assembly.

1863 – Mary Julia Baldwin elected principal of Augusta Female Seminary, assisted by Agnes R. McClung. Miss Baldwin remained principal until her death on July 2, 1897.

1895 – The Board of Trustees requested and received approval to change the name of the school to Mary Baldwin Seminary as an acknowledgement of their high appreciation of the valuable service and unparalleled success of the Principal.

1916 – Mary Baldwin Seminary approved by the Virginia Legislature as a junior college.

1923 – Approval by the Commonwealth of Virginia established Mary Baldwin College as a four-year liberal arts institution.

1933–34 – First foreign exchange students enrolled.

1940 – First Apple Day picnic held at a nearby college-owned orchard. Event officially named “Apple Day” October 1, 1946.

1971 – Phi Beta Kappa chapter (Lambda of Virginia) established at Mary Baldwin.

1976 – Board of Trustees approved purchase of Staunton Military Academy property.

1977 – The Adult Degree Program (now Baldwin Online and Adult Programs) enrolled its first students.

1980 – Exchange program with Doshisha Women’s College, Kyoto, Japan, started.

1985 –

  • Dr. Cynthia Haldenby Tyson appointed eighth president.
  • Program for the Exceptionally Gifted (PEG) inaugurated, funded by major grant from the Jesse Ball DuPont Foundation.

1992 – Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program launched.

1995 – Inauguration of Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership (VWIL)

1996 – Office of African-American and Multicultural Affairs founded (now the Office of Inclusive Excellence)

1998 – Rededication of the Administration Building.

2001 – Master of Letters and Master of Fine Arts in Shakespeare and Performance (MLitt/MFA) begun in partnership with the American Shakespeare Center and its Blackfriars Playhouse.

2002 – New center for the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted completed.

2003 – Dr. Pamela Fox appointed ninth president.

2007 – The Samuel R. Jr. and Ava Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement opens.


  • Membership in USA South Athletic Conference (NCAA Division III) formalized.
  • Exchange program and partnership with Lady Doak College in Madurai, India, established.

2012 – Heifetz International Music Institute relocates to the Mary Baldwin campus.

2014 – Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences opens with first doctoral students.

2016 – Official institutional name changed to Mary Baldwin University.