June 25, 2022

Business Class: Alums Name Classroom for Beloved Professor

Professor Emeritus of Business Galen deGraff stands with Rob Strassheim ’96 in the doorway of the newly named Galen deGraff Classroom in Woodward Hall. Photo courtesy of Rob and Sarah Strassheim.

Professor Emeritus of Business Galen deGraff stands with Rob Strassheim ’96 in the doorway of the newly named Galen deGraff Classroom in Woodward Hall. Photo courtesy of Rob and Sarah Strassheim.

For Rob Strassheim ’96 and his wife, Sarah Gildersleeve Strassheim ’01, the idea to honor one of their favorite faculty members began with a passed note. Not in class, Rob says, but during a meeting nearly a decade ago about naming classrooms in Woodard Hall, now home of University of Mary Washington’s College of Business, or COB.

“I remember it vividly,” says Rob, who serves on UMW’s Board of Visitors. He recalls slipping a piece of paper to his wife with the name of someone who made a tremendous impact on both of their lives and professional careers: Professor Emeritus of Business Galen deGraff.

But the contents of that note didn’t stay secret for long. The couple soon embarked on a fundraising effort to name a classroom after their former professor, who taught business courses, primarily finance, for over two decades at the University until he retired in 2015. COB recently dedicated the Galen deGraff Classroom, thanks to generous gifts made by Mary Washington alumni, friends and former colleagues. The Strassheims also led a fundraising campaign to create an endowed scholarship in Dr. deGraff’s name to help recruit out-of-state students who plan to major in business.

“Dr. deGraff and the University of Mary Washington changed my trajectory,” says Sarah, now global chief financial officer for Merkle, a worldwide customer experience management company. “As a professor, he saw something in me that I didn’t have the confidence to recognize in myself.” Read more.