December 18, 2014

Gray to Serve with National Association Interest Group

Edward Gray, Systems Integration and Support Specialist in UMW’s IT Support Services, has been elected to the leadership of the Higher Education Special Interest Group for the IT Service Management Forum’s USA Chapter. He will serve one year as President-Elect, one year as President, and one year as Past President.

Gray has been at UMW for over 14 years, serving in various IT roles.  He earned an MS in Management Information Systems from UMW in 2010.  He is a participant in Leadership UMW.  He has also earned several technical and service management certifications.

itSMF USA Higher Education SIGitSMF USA is a non-profit association dedicated to building a community of professionals for the purpose of networking, knowledge sharing, and education to advance the service management profession and strengthen its members. The Higher Education Special Interest Group is devoted to discussion, development, and adoption of IT Service Management principles in support of institutions of higher education. For more information on itSMF USA or its Higher Education Special Interest Group, contact Edward Gray or visit their website at


Farnsworth Gives Lecture

Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science and director of the University’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies, recently gave a public lecture “Gerrymandering, Partisan Combat and the Vanishing Moderates in Virginia Politics,” before a joint meeting of the Loudoun County League of Women Voters and the One Virginia 2021 in Potomac Falls, Virginia.

Leigh Penn Selected for Statewide Panel

Leigh Penn, Accounts Payable Manager, was selected by the Department of Accounts to serve on a non-voting panel for the Statewide Charge Card Program Services request for proposals. She was chosen as a subject matter expert to represent higher education needs/wants and her former service as a Pcard analyst.

Leo Lee Active on Sabbatical in Korea

During his semester sabbatical leave, Associate Professor of Mathematics Leo Lee has served as visiting professor at Sogang University in Seoul, Korea, teaching courses in computational and applied mathematics for both undergraduate and graduate students.  Dr. Lee has also given several research talks on stochastic partial differential equations at Yonsei University and Sogang University and recently published the paper “An Optimization Based Domain Decomposition Method for PDEs with Random Inputs” in the journal Computers & Mathematics with Applications.  In addition, Dr. Lee has served as the symposium chair for mathematics and statistics for the US-Korea Conference 2015.

UMW History Professor Featured on With Good Reason

University of Mary Washington Professor of History Jeffrey McClurken will be featured on the “With Good Reason” public radio program, December 13-19. The show, “Give War and Peace a Chance,” will consider how history is captured in anticipation of the 150th anniversary of the first publication of Tolstoy’s “War and Peace.” McClurken will discuss how, despite the way that historical movies are often inaccurate, history can be learned from the way the stories are told. The program also will feature commentary from a faculty member at the University of Virginia. “With Good Reason” is a program of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. The show airs weekly in Fredericksburg on Sundays from 1-2 p.m. on Radio IQ 88.3 Digital. To listen from outside of the Fredericksburg area, a complete list of air times and links to corresponding radio stations can be found at  Audio files of the full program and its companion news feature are available online at McClurken, who joined the UMW faculty in 2001, has been instrumental to the university’s digital history efforts and has been on the forefront of incorporating technology in the classroom. Currently the special assistant to the provost for teaching, technology and innovation, McClurken previously served as chairperson of the history and American studies department. McClurken is recipient of a prestigious 2014 Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education of Virginia, the commonwealth’s highest honor for faculty at Virginia’s public and private colleges and universities. He has presented numerous lectures and presentations across the country on teaching with social media, digital history and 19th-century American social and cultural history. His 2009 book “Take Care of the Living: Reconstructing Confederate Veteran Families in Virginia” examines the long-term consequences of the Civil War for veterans and their families in Southside Virginia. Named to the Princeton Review’s inaugural list of “300 Best Professors,” McClurken received the Mary Washington Young Alumnus Award in 2003 and the J. Christopher Bill Outstanding Faculty Service Award in 2012. A 1994 graduate of Mary Washington, McClurken received a master’s degree and doctorate from Johns Hopkins University.  

UMW Professor Receives Outstanding Faculty Award

Liss-Video-8University of Mary Washington Professor of Psychology Miriam Liss is the recipient of a prestigious 2015 Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education of Virginia (SCHEV). The awards are the commonwealth’s highest honor for faculty at Virginia’s public and private colleges and universities, recognizing superior accomplishments in teaching, research and public service. This year, 13 faculty members were selected from a highly competitive pool of candidates. In February, the recipients will attend a ceremony and luncheon in Richmond and also will be introduced on the floor of the General Assembly. Liss, who joined the UMW faculty in 2001, is a clinical psychologist and has conducted research on parenting, division of labor and work-family balance. The co-author of “Balancing the Big Stuff: Finding Happiness in Work, Family and Life,” Liss also has published articles about autism and developmental disorders, as well as sensory processing sensitivity, self-injurious behaviors, feminist identity and body image. She has developed a collaborative program between UMW and the New England Center for Children (NECC) where students can spend a semester at NECC outside of Boston, performing applied behavioral analysis in a school setting and taking classes for UMW elective credit. Her articles have been published in numerous journals including the Sex Roles, Psychology of Women Quarterly, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Journal of Personality and Individual Differences, and Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines. She also regularly presents at national conferences. Liss has been interviewed for her work on intensive and attachment parenting for the Washington Post, and Live Science. Liss’s honors include election into Phi Beta Kappa and Psi Chi, where she was selected as the regional faculty advisor winner and supervised the chapter winning the National Chapter Award in 2006. She received the UMW Outstanding Young Faculty Member Award in 2005 and was a finalist in the SCHEV state award in 2006 and 2009. She also was named one of Princeton Review’s Best 300 Professors. Liss received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wesleyan University, in addition to a doctorate and master’s degree in clinical psychology from the University of Connecticut. The General Assembly and Governor created the Outstanding Faculty Award program in 1986. Since the first awards in 1987, more than 300 Virginia faculty members have received this high honor. Professor of History Jeffrey McClurken was the 2014 recipient of the award.

Nabil Al-Tikriti Presents Paper on Ottoman Cultural History

On Nov. 23, 2014, Associate Professor of Middle Eastern History Nabil Al-Tikriti presented a paper at the 2014 Middle East Studies Association Conference in Washington, D.C. The paper, entitled  “Greatness Denied: Firdevsi-yi Rumi on the Cusp of Ottoman Sunnism,” was part of an Ottoman History panel, entitled “The Sunnification of the Ottoman Ideology and Polity, 16th to 17th Centuries.”

The paper abstract is as follows: “Ilyas Çelebi “Firdevsi-yi Rumi” (fl. 1512) served primarily at the courts of Sultan Bayezid II (d. 1512) and Prince Korkud (d. 1513), authoring works of narrative history, elegiac poetry, gestes, and hagiography. In this paper, I will summarize what is known of his biography and analyze his presentation of Ottoman, Turkish, and Muslim identity.

Firdevsi, a litterateur with a considerable sense of self, completed more than twenty works while serving at the apex of Ottoman cultural production. While very successful at attracting patronage and support for lengthy and ornate literary works, his oeuvre was mostly lampooned by those who followed in the decades after his death.

Why would a writer who was so successful in his own lifetime be so reviled within a few decades of his death? Analyzing the political content and identity positions staked out by Firdevsi provides a tentative answer – societal views changed abruptly in the first tumultuous decades of the early 16th century. Firdevsi’s use of the term “Sunni” in his Qutb-name, explanation of Turkish conversion to Islam in his Süleyman-name, and portrayal of Anatolian Sufism in his Vilayet-name each provide clues as to why subsequent literary critics found his scholarship unreliable, his poetry unspeakable, and his views objectionable.”

The panel abstract is as follows: “Sunni identity of the Ottoman Empire is often taken for granted. However, recent research has begun to question the nature of Ottoman Sunnism and the process by which the Ottoman state began to distance itself from ‘confessional ambiguity’ that prevailed in Central Asia, Iran and Anatolia from the mid 13th to the late 15th century, and became increasingly concerned with formulating and enforcing a Sunni orthodoxy. While it is well known that the religious ideology of the Safavid Empire, based on Shia principles and folk Islam, began to be formulated in the early 16th century, it is not commonly acknowledged that Sunni theology was simultaneously experiencing a transformation, both in reaction to the developments in the Safavid realm and as a consequence of various socio-political processes within Ottoman territories. Titled ‘Sunnification of Ottoman Ideology and Society, 16th-17th Centuries’ our roundtable will examine this historical process from the perspective of the state, other agents of Sunnification, and those who were targeted by the new measures for correcting belief and practice.”


WRIR’s Time is Tight to Feature Mark Snyder Retrospective


Mark Snyder

Mark Snyder

Mark Snyder, Assistant Professor of Music, will have a retrospective of some of his music featured on Paul Ivey’s radio show, Time is Tight, this Friday Dec. 5 from 7 to 9 p.m. on WRIR 97.3 in Richmond, Virginia. Mark’s band Nature Boy Explorer that includes students Austin O’Rourke and Becky Brown plus Alums John White and Katherine Presseren will be performing live in the studio. The show will also feature tracks of Mark’s music and/or performances from Easy Chair, Dirt Ball, Grief BirdsIntrepid Trio, One Ring Zero, Malhombre and his electroacoustic music too!


Farnsworth Gives Washington Lecture

Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science and director of the University’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies, recently gave a Washington lecture “Foreign Policy Formulation: Journalism, Public Opinion and Divided Government in the U.S.” as part of the U.S. State Department’s Institute for International Education Visitor Leadership Program for International Journalism. The talk included findings from his recently published co-authored book, “The Global President: International Media and the U.S. Government.”

Singh Presents at National Conference

On Nov. 22, Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs Ranjit Singh presented a paper titled “Teaching Social Media and Middle East Studies” to the annual Middle East Studies Association (MESA) Conference in Washington, D.C. His paper addressed three common pedagogical challenges Arab studies instructors face as they incorporate social media into their courses. Singh then outlined a classroom exercise, inspired by the work of Hamada bin Amar, a well-known Tunisian hip hop artist, that takes advantage of the language barrier that normally exists between students and Arabic social media content.

Singh’s presentation was part of a six-person, interdisciplinary academic panel on “Social Media and Pedagogy of Middle East Studies” that he organized for this year’s national conference. The panel was sponsored by MESA’s Committee for Undergraduate Middle East Studies, which Singh helped found several years ago. The Committee is dedicated to addressing the particular needs of Middle East studies faculty and programs oriented towards serving undergraduates. Its programs focus on sharing information and ideas about pedagogy, student research and other areas of specific concern.

Nabil al-Tikriti, Associate Professor in the UMW Department of History and American Studies, served as panel chair.