September 3, 2014

9/11 Remembrance

9/11 2013 Remembrance Ceremony

9/11 2013 Remembrance Ceremony

Come join the UMW Association of Student Veterans and the entire UMW community as we pause to remember 9/11 and celebrate America’s strength and resilience in the face of terror.  There is a flag raising and bugler at 8 a.m. at the flagpole in front of GW Hall.  All members of the UMW community are also encouraged to observe a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. to remember and reflect.

Family Weekend

Family Weekend will take place Friday, September 19 to Sunday, September 21, 2014 on the Fredericksburg campus. Please welcome families and guests as they attend events and spend the day at UMW. A full schedule of events is available on the Family Weekend website at

Looking to get involved? Volunteers are needed to host registration tables, drive golf carts, and direct guests. All volunteers will receive a complimentary ticket to the Cookout and Club Showcase on Saturday, September 20. Please contact Linda Catullo at 540/654-1276 or if you are interested in this opportunity.

Maker Mondays



Beginning Monday, September 8, the ThinkLab in Simpson Library will be open from 5 to 9 p.m. for an Open Hack night.  Faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to stop by to explore 3-D design and printing, tinker with e-textiles, or use any of the tools available in the lab.  Bring your projects and your curiosity.  Share what you know and learn from each other.

Staff Advisory Council Updates

School Supply Drive 001S.A.C. Activities:

Children’s Summer Food Program – The UMW community spent the summer donating and collecting food to give to needy children who depend on school meals and don’t necessarily have enough food during summer months. So far, seven boxes and five bags of food have been delivered.

School Supply Drive – A school supply drive is currently in full swing. There are donation locations across campus. Robert E. Lee and Hugh Mercer elementary schools will receive the supplies as the S.A.C. collects them.

Stay tuned for information on our holiday campaigns.

The Eagle Has Landed:

ugly-eagleBaldwin spent a lazy summer in the College of Business with Lynne Richardson, but he promises to take flight this semester and haunt as many desks as possible. Watch out, you could be next!

Dancing with the Fredericksburg Stars, Oct. 11

Dancing with the Fredericksburg Stars returns on Saturday, October 11, the competition is modeled after the popular ABC television series Dancing with the Stars, now in its 17th season. In the Fredericksburg version, 10 regional “stars” are paired with professional dancers from Strictly Ballroom Dance Studio in Fredericksburg to compete for the top award, the Mirror Ball Trophy. The audience will vote for the People’s Choice Award.

A portion of the proceeds from the performance will be used to endow the UMW Performing Arts in the Community Scholarship for regional students who excel in music, theatre or dance. Last year’s inaugural event grossed approximately $65,000.

Visit for tickets.


Trail Brings Students and Community Together

More than 40 University of Mary Washington students worked with Tree Fredericksburg, the Parks Department and the Department of Public Works to improve the landscaping downtown Thursday, August 21. The freshmen mulched the Heritage Trail as part of one of many Living Learning Community Service projects they plan to complete throughout the year. Community members and students alike are welcome to walk this trail while admiring the outstanding work the students and staff completed.



Congratulations, Brain Rizzo on his submission of MyTime which was selected as the name of UMW’s new time and attendance system (formerly referred to as Kronos). MyTime frequently asked questions are being developed and can be found on the Finance website

Allyson P. Moerman
Associate Vice President for Finance and Controller

Seaco turns 84. Let’s party!

When the new campus center opens next summer, Seacobeck Hall will close as a campus dining facility. But we can’t let dear ‘ole Seaco go without a festive send-off. Throughout the upcoming academic year, Campus Dining will host a series of monthly special dining events to commemorate Seacobeck and the role it has played in campus life for eight decades.

Please join us at 5:30 p.m. on September 24 as we kick-off “Celebrate Seacobeck” in the Smart Market Dining Room. After a brief launch ceremony, guests will enjoy a dinner party highlighting the food, music, and events of the 1930s. The cost of this special dinner is only $5 for all UMW faculty and staff, or one meal swipe for students.

Questions? Contact Rose Benedict at rbenedic@umw or 654-2169.

Positive Changes Made to UMW’s On Hold Messaging

If anyone on campus picks up a phone after a caller has been on hold, do not be surprised if the person on the other end is energized and ready to get more involved with this gem of a place we call the University of Mary Washington. As of this week, the sleep-inducing music is gone!

“While callers are waiting for assistance, we have a great opportunity to create and reinforce the UMW brand,” said University Marketing Director Malcolm Holmes. “Why not use this unique opportunity to educate them about the University and share information about the exciting things happening here?”  Callers will hear targeted on-hold messages about UMW’s history, attributes, and academic offerings. Many thanks to Malcolm and Networks and Communications Director Deborah Hovey-Boutchyard for making this happen.


From Web Services to Digital Communications – Year 1

In April of 2013, I first contemplated picking up my entire life and moving across the country for an opportunity to genuinely make a difference in the direction and outcomes of web strategies at a small, public, liberal arts school on the East Coast.  Now, a year after stepping into my office at UMW for the first time, I’m in a position to assess the past 12 months, during which I helped transition the UMW website from a service model to a strategic resource. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but here are some of my first-year observations:

We have resources

Incredibly engaged faculty & staff - It’s an absolute pleasure to work with site managers and content contributors who genuinely care about the success of not only their programs or departments, but also the institution as a whole. You guys want to do it better and smarter, and for that I’m truly thankful. I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish together.

Better data collection - UMW has consistently collected data on how users interact with the website, but now we’re collecting very specific, actionable data about exactly what they’re doing on various parts of the website. A very simple example of this is being able to tell which link on the homepage they clicked to visit a specific page. There are always at least 3 links to Admissions on the homepage. We’ve always been able to show how many users went to Admissions from the homepage. Now we can tell you which one of those links actually sends traffic to the Admissions site, and what percentage from each link continues into the Common App. It’s very helpful to us as we revisit our information architecture going forward.

WordPress - Since migration in 2011, the WordPress platform has continued to be a resounding success. There are now nearly 250 people managing some portion of the UMW website. I’m regularly told it’s “so much better” than our previous content management tool, Contribute.

Improved mobile interface - In April 2014 we launched a huge, but quiet, mobile initiative. The site used to default to an icon-based pseudo-app interface that most people spent energy trying to get out of. Now the entire site is available in a responsive format, which means it adapts to the device on which it is being viewed. The important part here is that it’s the whole website, not just some portion of the site we thought might be useful to people using mobile devices.

We have…opportunities

Accessibility - Accessibility is a big deal. A really big deal. It’s the law that our website can be accessed by disabled users. Compliance is a challenge that’s difficult to achieve given our distributed publishing model. We’ve purchased and implemented a software tool called Siteimprove to help identify and classify accessibility issues. Efforts are being made to simplify and streamline certain areas, and to produce training and offer support for creating accessible content.

Broken links & spelling errors - This is another area where Siteimprove is proving invaluable. It’s able to give us detailed reports and issue-tracking for broken links and spelling errors on over 13,000 pages throughout the website. We’ve identified 72 site managers University-wide to receive reports customized to their portion of the website. As of this writing there are 1273 broken links and 971 misspellings, down from 2804 broken links and over 6,000 potential misspellings. We are moving the quality needle in the right direction by drawing on the talents and efforts of the entire University community.

Content - The good news is that we have 250 content managers. The bad news is that we have 250 different writing styles, tones of voice, levels of experience, and ways of organizing information. Establishing a level of consistency is crucial to transitioning the site into a truly successful strategic resource. We have engaged a consultant to help us kick off this process.

We have a plan!

The first year has been spent identifying the big picture issues and starting improvements with low-hanging fruit. We have been talking to stakeholders, implementing tools like Siteimprove, and undertaking a critical review of our processes and policies. We’ve made moves to improve the mobile experience, improve our data, and understand our opportunities. We’re working diligently to help content managers and stakeholders utilize the website and user data to the maximum benefit of their departments, programs, initiatives, and the University as a whole.

Our next year will be spent working and/or continuing to

  1. Build a strong Web Advisory Council to represent the University community in discussions relating to the website (implemented, in process)
  2. Establish quality baselines using Siteimprove (implemented, in process)
  3. Improve the mobile user experience (phase 1 implemented, monitoring user data)
  4. Provide guidelines and support to help content managers build positive, goal driven user experiences (consultant engaged, in process)
  5. Rebrand the website to match approved University styles (phase 1 discovery in process)
  6. Create an efficient and effective training process for WordPress, accessibility basics, and web content development best practices (phase 1 – Fall 2014)

It’s been an exciting and productive year. I’m looking forward to seeing what we accomplish together in 2014/2015.