June 22, 2024

Death of a faculty member

Writing Center Director Gwen Hale. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

Writing Center Director Gwen Hale. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

It is with great sadness we report that Writing Center Director Gwen Hale died this morning in southwest Virginia. She had been there since summer in hospice care near her family. Diagnosed at age 20 with cancer, Dr. Hale fought valiantly and overcame many hurdles. She accepted a position at UMW in 2011, serving as Writing Intensive Program Director as well as Writing Center Director. Dr. Hale received undergraduate and master’s degrees from East Tennessee State University, and she earned a Ph.D. from Middle Tennessee State University, where she discovered a passion for helping people put words to page.

A lover of animals, Dr. Hale was actively involved with UMW’s First-in-Family initiatives and the James Farmer Multicultural Center. She was one of the driving forces behind the Eagle Resource Closet. And she loved to have fun! She started the Pajama Writing Jam the Saturday before finals in order to help students finish their papers. Keeping the Writing Center open from noon till midnight, she offered coffee, soda, pizza – and pep talks – to pajama-clad students.

With writing being so important to her, Dr. Hale penned these words before she died: Please know that UMW was the first job I ever had that felt like home. Thank you all for allowing me to contribute to the university. The Writing Center and the students were the best parts of my working life. Please take care and be good to one another.

More information will be shared later, but a celebration of life for Dr. Hale will likely take place next spring.