January 23, 2020

Lacrosse Player Scores Big With Study Abroad

For Bobby Leytham ’18, a single semester in Spain was a game-changer. Now a software consultant for a powerhouse company in Bilbao and a player on Spain’s national men’s lacrosse team, Leytham is living his dream, said UMW Professor of Spanish Jose Sainz. A bachelor’s degree in business administration and four years’ experience as a […]

Andréa Smith: Tombstone Teacher

Fredericksburg is home to many historic landmarks, but graveyards may not immediately come to mind. The St. George’s, Masonic, Confederate and City cemeteries are all within walking distance of Mary Washington. Nearby is Shiloh, a historic burial ground for the City’s three sister African American congregations, as well as Fredericksburg National Cemetery, final resting place for more than 15,000 Union soldiers.

Professor of Historic Preservation Andrea Livi Smith

Associate Professor of Historic Preservation Andrea Livi Smith. Photo by Matthew Sanders.

All those ghost stories and headstones are enough to frighten some, but Associate Professor of Historic Preservation Andréa Livi Smith’s students sign up for a semester full of them.

When her Historic Fredericksburg Foundation cemetery tours drew crowds a couple years ago, Smith decided to offer her students the chance to explore these haunts for themselves. Now in her second semester teaching the 400-level historic preservation course “Graves and Burial Grounds,” Smith is still amazed by the waitlist that crops up for the class.

She believes burial sites say lots about the lives of the dead, and her students’ final projects – including the documentation of concrete graves in Fredericksburg, a brochure of a local family cemetery and headstones sculpted in 18th-century designs – reflect that notion.

Hired in 2008, Smith landed her “dream job,” she said, since UMW’s program is revered in historic preservation circles. Her days are spent like any other professor’s, with plenty of teaching, grading and advising. But Smith’s particular gig scares up some additional duties, like surveying historic houses and photographing gravestones.

Now that’s spooky.

Q: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
A: Helping students discover their passion. I’ve never had someone come to UMW saying they desperately want to become a preservation planner. But some realize they love it and subsequently go into that career. Knowing I played a part in that discovery is an incredible feeling.

Q: The most challenging?
A: Balancing all that needs to get done. Also, getting enough sleep.

Q: What’s something people might be surprised to learn about you?
A: I once challenged myself to quote The Princess Bride in every class until someone called me on it. No one ever did, so I kept it up all semester long.

Q: What in your office is meaningful to you?
A: I have a lot of LEGOs, including a mausoleum designed by a student who took the Graves course.

Q: What’s your favorite burial site?
A: I love the “Woodmen of the World” tombstones, which all look like logs or tree trunks. Woodmen was – and still is – an insurance company that used to provide gravestones for their members; apparently it was great advertising.

Q: People are often superstitious or scared of cemeteries and burial sites, especially at Halloween. What would you say to help quell their fears?
A: In the 19th century, there were no public parks, so people went to cemeteries to enjoy the outdoors. Just imagine families picnicking and children playing tag among the gravestones. Or is that even more spooky?

Alison Grimes: Access for All

Associate Director of Disability Resources Alison Grimes.

Associate Director of Disability Resources Alison Grimes.

Associate Director of Disability Resources Alison Grimes wears many hats. She’s a disability content specialist, educator, motivator, interpreter, sounding board, cheerleader, trainer and more. It’s what you’d expect, given that Mary Washington has the highest population – 11 percent – of students who self-disclose a disability, when compared to other Virginia state universities.

After earning a master’s of education degree from UMW in 2011, Grimes thought she’d become a teacher. But a position in counseling services changed her mind, and six years ago, she landed a job in the Office of Disability Resources (ODR) at her alma mater.

“I felt that I could make a bigger impact and support a community that helped me grow into the passionate professional I am now,” said Grimes, whose days are spent meeting with students, navigating committees, reviewing documentation and working with faculty and staff. To Grimes, the willingness to learn and take on additional roles and responsibilities is necessary toward enacting change in a student’s life.

Diagnosed with type one diabetes as a child, she uses her personal experiences to encourage students to communicate their needs, understand their strengths and access the campus community so they can make their own mark. Despite her chronic illness, Grimes says the onus is on her to push herself to participate in life and be there for her students.

“I believe actions speak louder than words,” she said. “If I’m going to ask students to show up, I should as well.”

The motivation appears to be working. Grimes’ desk is decorated with thank you cards from students she’s helped, reminding her on difficult days just how much she loves her job.


Q: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
A: The students, by far. I love seeing them grow and learn to advocate on their own behalf. I appreciate how they bring a level of understanding of access to the different areas in which they participate across campus and the support they give one another.

Q: The most challenging?
A: Finding ways to support students, as it’s never a one-size-fits-all approach. It’s about learning what each person needs and helping based on that information.

Q: October is dedicated to celebrating disability inclusion. Why is that important?
A: Individuals with disabilities constitute the largest and most diverse minority group, so it’s critical that we educate our community. Promoting disability awareness helps those with different needs be heard and understood, and encourages empowerment and advocacy across campus.

Q: Is ODR introducing any new initiatives?
A: Our new mission is Access for All. We’re working to guide the UMW community into focusing on accessibility first. For example, ODR has partnered with Diversity and Inclusion on addressing the need for accessible furniture on campus. We’re also offering more training opportunities for our campus partners. In spring 2020, ODR will launch the Keep CALM campaign to assist faculty with choosing accessible learning materials. More information will be shared in the coming months.

Q: What’s your motto?
A: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill


Mike Muckinhaupt: Eye on the Storm

Mike Muckinhaupt has always been fascinated by tornadoes – from childhood games of twirling around on the playground to real-life chases where he’s faced whirling storms and furious funnels of air.

Mike Muckinhaupt

UMW Director of Emergency Management and Safety Mike Muckinhaupt

His interest in severe weather was further piqued when he worked as a radio technician at his local Amateur Radio Emergency Services group in Ohio. Shortly after, he decided to pursue emergency management as a vocation. According to Muckinhaupt, the ability to remain composed and keep others calm in crises can only be learned over time, and through experience.

Muckinhaupt joined UMW two years ago as a fire safety officer. Now UMW’s director of Emergency Management and Safety, he describes his job as “Jack of all trades, master of none.” On any given day, he monitors weather forecasts, looking for issues that may have popped up overnight, and attends safety-related meetings all across campus.

With expertise that runs the gamut, Muckinhaupt is prepared to report in any situation – fire, weather, life safety, you name it. Just don’t mention his fear of heights.

Q: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
A: Watching everyone come together during an emergency and working as a team. I have had a lot of proud moments here at UMW watching our team work as one.

Q: The most challenging?
A: Trying to get the word out about our department and the importance of emergency management and safety to all students, staff, faculty and visitors. This is why I urge everyone to visit our website. If you have questions, please ask before an emergency strikes!

Q: What constitutes an emergency?
A: Any situation that requires immediate action to eliminate a risk to life or property.

Q: What should everyone have in their go-to emergency bag?
A: Water, non-perishable food, flashlights, a first aid kit and cash are the five most important items. The Virginia Department of Emergency Management’s checklist can help assist with preparation for emergencies of any nature.

Q: Anyone who spends much time on campus is familiar with the booming voice that warns them to seek shelter. How does it work?
A: The Area Warning System is sounded for various emergencies. A computer is set up at our Communications Center showing all of the speaker arrays. With two clicks of the mouse, the system is activated and will sound for as long as necessary. If you hear the AWS, take immediate action!

Q: A memorable emergency you’ve had to respond to?
A: In June of 2006, when the area I was supporting received over 6 inches of rain in one hour, alongside a Tornado Warning, high winds and power outages. I was working at the Emergency Operations Center as a scribe and runner to the Law Enforcement desk. Going through training during that emergency was the best on-the-job training that I have received.

Q: What’s your motto?
A: Pay It Forward. This motto was adopted by our family in memory of my mom. Performing a random act of kindness may mean more to someone than you could ever realize.

Sign up to receive emergency alerts at https://www.umw.edu/alerts/.

Service Project Takes UMW Students ‘Into the Streets’

Early Saturday morning, a wave of 200 blue shirts emblazoned with the words “Little ripples make big waves,”stretched out across the front of the University Center. Wearing the shirts were UMW students gathered for Into the Streets, one of six annual events hosted by UMW’s COAR (Community Outreach and Resources), whose mission is to provide […]

UMW Events Promote Sexual Assault Awareness

Tomorrow, a rainbow of T-shirts will hang from a clothesline on the University of Mary Washington’s Ball Circle, each individually designed and crafted to publicly express the personal experience of a survivor of gender violence. The Clothesline Project is just one of the events UMW is involved in and hosting this April to recognize Sexual […]

UMW Libraries to Celebrate Bales’ Cubs Book Release

Reference and Humanities Librarian Jack Bales

Reference and Humanities Librarian Jack Bales

UMW Libraries will hold a gathering to honor Reference and Humanities Librarian Jack Bales in celebration of the recent publication of his book Before They Were the Cubs: The Early Years of Chicago’s First Professional Baseball Team. The festivity, which promises baseball, books and even hotdogs, will be held Monday, April 15, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Jepson Alumni Executive Center located on Hanover Street.

Bales, who grew up near Chicago and became a diehard Cubs fan, covers the team’s  rarely addressed formative years. In true librarian style, he cites thousands of original sources—though the amazing read isn’t limited to baseball lovers.

“Comments have been positive and gratifying, especially from people who don’t particularly enjoy baseball,” says Bales, who’s assisted generations of students with research and taught hundreds of library classes in his nearly four decades at UMW. “They’re getting caught up in the stories and the vignettes of the players, as well as just the whole period that is covered—19th-century America.”

To view the invitation and RSVP, go to:

Students Rake in Good Will on Good Neighbor Day

When volunteers arrived at her house on Sylvania Avenue in downtown Fredericksburg, Betsy Valentine greeted them with rakes, trash bags and fresh scones. Valentine says the service day symbolizes the commencement of spring in her gardens, and she signs her home up for the University of Mary Washington’s Good Neighbor Day each year. “It has […]

Shelby Orlando: ‘All In’ One Day

When the leaderboard ticker started counting down days – then minutes and seconds – to next Tuesday’s Mary Wash Giving Day, Shelby Orlando’s blood pressure started going up.

Assistant Director of Annual Giving Shelby Orlando. Photo is by Norm Shafer.

Assistant Director of Annual Giving Shelby Orlando. Photo by Norm Shafer.

There’s a website to maintain, challenges to set up, matches to secure, groups to meet with, vidoes to make … and that’s just for starters.

Three years ago, after just weeks on the job as director of Annual Giving, Orlando joined a brainstorming session for UMW’s first-ever 24-hour online donation event. Since then, it’s grown like wildfire, from 1,218 gifts in 2017 to a goal of 3,500 this year.

But Mary Wash Giving Day – themed “All In” this year; use #MaryWashDay and #AllinforUMW – it’s not all about the numbers. “It’s all about our love for Mary Washington,” said Orlando, a 2014 UMW grad. “We want everyone, alumni, faculty, staff, students, parents to show their pride for the place we all love.”

Q: If you could only use five words to encourage people to give to UMW, what would you say?
A: Can I have six? Give back to pay it forward.

Q: Is there any program you’ve supported for giving day?
A: Giving to any area is a great way to support our current students, faculty and staff, and our future students, as well. I give to the Fund for Mary Washington because that is our area of greatest need. These gifts go to work immediately to support critical needs across the University, touching each student’s experience.

Q: With so many clubs submitting so much information and so many materials, how do you manage it all?
A: We have a lot of excel sheets and folders, and a Google workbook that has been extremely helpful.

Q: How does it feel to watch the numbers on the leaderboard representing more and more money being raised?
A: It’s very exciting! I remember last year at the Fredericksburg Alumni Network Giving Day Celebration at the Underground, we had reached our goal of 1908 donors during the event and the numbers kept climbing!

Q: What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?
A: This July, I’ll be traveling to Standing Rock Indian Reservation for my 11th summer in a row. I’ll be working with teens on completing scholarship and college applications, and discussing self-worth.

Q: What one thing in your office is the most special to you?
A: I’d have to say a few of the pictures that I have of me and some kids/teens I’ve built relationships with during my time at Standing Rock. Every time I look at them, they make me smile.

Q: Do you have any mottos you live by?
A: My father always said, “Tomorrow is a promise to no one.” That’s one that has always stuck with me.

Jack Bales: Covering the Bases

On a hot June day, UMW Reference and Humanities Librarian Jack Bales left Illinois in a U-Haul truck with no AC. After grad school and jobs at two college libraries, he’d accepted a new one at Mary Washington. But, as he rounded the I-95 beltway near D.C., he thought he’d made a mistake. So far from home, he didn’t know anyone. He didn’t plan to stay long.

UMW Reference and Humanities Librarian Jack Bales has written a new book, "Before They Were the Cubs: The Early Years of Chicago’s First Professional Baseball Team." It's due out this spring. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

UMW Reference and Humanities Librarian Jack Bales has written a new book, “Before They Were the Cubs: The Early Years of Chicago’s First Professional Baseball Team.” It’s due out this spring. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

Nearly four decades later, surrounded by “marvelous, wonderful colleagues,” Bales claims his job at Simpson Library is the best one on campus. Like a good read, he devours Mary Washington, answering questions for students, faculty and staff, teaching library classes, and tending to Simpson’s collection of books. He works out in Fitness Center and eats lunch in the UC.

But Bales lives and breathes something else, too: The Chicago Cubs.

His writings about the major league team have been published far and wide, and his new book, Before They Were the Cubs: The Early Years of Chicago’s First Professional Baseball Team, is due out any day. Published by McFarland & Company, it covers the Cubs’ rarely addressed formative years. And in true librarian style, it cites thousands of original sources.

Next up? Another Cubs book, this one about a woman who shot her ex-boyfriend, a Chicago Cubs player, in 1932. “We’re talking attempted murder, stolen love letters, blackmail, a burlesque show, sex and, of course, baseball,” he said. “What else is there?”

Bales' new book covers the Cubs' formative years.

Bales’ new book covers the Cubs’ formative years.

Q: What inspired Before They Were the Cubs?
A: I grew up outside of Chicago and had followed the Cubs here and there. I thought I’d dig around and see if there was a Cubs era that hadn’t been covered in great detail. I’ve written quite a few articles, essays and books, and after my last big project I was thinking about branching off into an entirely new area, one more popular in nature than my previous works of literary research and biography.

Q: How long did you work on it?
A: I got the idea in 2004 and wrote the first sentence in July 2012. It took years of research and writing (remember, I have a full-time job), and since some of the newspapers I needed to consult aren’t available online, I spent years going through microfilm page-by-page. I’d spend every Christmas vacation camped out by the library’s microfilm reader-printers. One of my colleagues still remembers coming in to find my CD player, sweater, water bottle, snacks – even my bedroom slippers – all neatly arranged beside reels of microfilm. My colleagues’ interest and support have helped keep me going.

Q: Anything stand out to you during your research?
A: My favorite example is a previously unknown drawing of the team’s 19th-century ballpark that I happened to find by going through microfilm of the old Chicago Evening Post newspaper. I have it in the book.

Jack Bales (left) with twin brother, Dick, at their sister's wedding in 2013.

Jack Bales (left) with twin brother, Dick, at their sister’s 2013 wedding.

Q: How has Simpson kept up with rapidly evolving technology?
A: It’s not a question of libraries keeping up—libraries have been leading the way! In UMW’s Digital Archiving Lab, staff and students digitize unique materials, work on data projects and preserve digital content. Special Collections and University Archives maintain a variety of print and digital collections, including honors papers, yearbooks and the student newspaper. They also archive UMW websites, social media pages and campus blogs. And students explore 3D design and printing in the library’s ThinkLab.

Q: How many requests for help do you get?
A: In just 2018, library staff members answered more than 2,600 reference questions and conducted 572 consultations on research and other projects with 851 students.

Q: What one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?
A: I have an identical twin brother. We used to go out with the same girls.