May 24, 2022

Fifth Annual Mary Wash Giving Day Breaks Records

Giving Day recap graphicThe numbers are officially in! Last month, the University of Mary Washington community came together on Tuesday, April 5, in celebration of the fifth annual Mary Wash Giving Day, a 24-hour fundraising extravaganza to support UMW students, faculty and programs.

Now that all online, mailed and phoned-in contributions have been counted, the day’s official results show that this year’s total broke previous Giving Day records: $670,811, from 2,882 gifts made by 2,093 supporters, including 479 first-time donors.

Generous donations were made by alumni, parents, faculty, staff, students and friends to 122 different areas across the University, including academic, arts, athletic, service, career and cultural programs. “It really highlights how broad interests are at Mary Washington,” Director of Annual Giving Shelby Orlando ’14 said. “Our supporters can give anywhere their passion lies.” Read more.

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.

‘It’s Gonna Be May’: Alum’s Meme Celebrates a Decade

A decade ago, UMW alumna Kianna Davis ’13 created the famous ‘It’s Gonna Be May’ meme, which has since become a cultural phenomenon. Here, she shows off her April 2012 calendar from her junior year, which includes Mary Washington events such as Mortar Board and the Leadership Awards. Photo courtesy of Kianna Davis.

A decade ago, UMW alumna Kianna Davis ’13 created the famous ‘It’s Gonna Be May’ meme, which has since become a cultural phenomenon. Here, she shows off her April 2012 calendar from her junior year, which includes Mary Washington events such as Mortar Board and the Leadership Awards. Photo courtesy of Kianna Davis.

University of Mary Washington alumna Kianna Davis ’13 was in her Westmoreland Hall second-floor room, a year away from graduation, when she created her first-ever meme.

Within 24 hours, the image she shared of a young, fresh-faced Justin Timberlake – emblazoned with a now famous play on the song lyrics to It’s Gonna Be Me – had earned tens of thousands of social media interactions. Even her friends, family and fellow Eagles were sharing it, unaware that Davis had made it.

“I had been planning my busy April calendar and posted it as a joke to my friends,” said Davis, who majored in business at UMW and helped plan concerts and other campus events through Giant Productions and the University Programming Board. Still a dedicated fan of Timberlake’s former boy band, *NSYNC, she “had no idea what the meme would become.” Read more.

Fifth Annual Mary Wash Giving Day Breaks Records

The numbers are officially in! Last month, the University of Mary Washington community came together on Tuesday, April 5, in celebration of the fifth annual Mary Wash Giving Day, a 24-hour fundraising extravaganza to support UMW students, faculty and programs. Now that all online, mailed and phoned-in contributions have been counted, the day’s official results […]

UMW Graduates Class of 2022

The University of Mary Washington conferred undergraduate and graduate degrees upon a total of 1,163 students during its 111th Commencement ceremony, held on Saturday, May 7, at 9 a.m. on Ball Circle. The University awarded three Master of Geospatial Analysis degrees, 34 Master of Business Administration degrees, 62 Master of Education degrees, 47 Master of […]

Class of 2022: Stellar Student Stories, Part 3 of 3

The Class of 2022 began freshman year like any other, swept up in longstanding University of Mary Washington traditions like Move-In Day, Eagle Gathering and Honor Convocation. That all changed when they were sophomores. Classes went online, study abroad trips were postponed and everything – activities, internships and volunteer experiences – became virtual. But these […]

Class of 2022: Stellar Student Stories, Part 2 of 3

The Class of 2022 began freshman year like any other, swept up in longstanding University of Mary Washington traditions like Move-In Day, Eagle Gathering and Honor Convocation. That all changed when they were sophomores. Classes went online, study abroad trips were postponed and everything – activities, internships and volunteer experiences – became virtual. But these […]

Class of 2022: Stellar Student Stories, Part 1 of 3

The Class of 2022 began freshman year like any other, swept up in longstanding University of Mary Washington traditions like Move-In Day, Eagle Gathering and Honor Convocation. That all changed when they were sophomores. Classes went online, study abroad trips were postponed and everything – activities, internships and volunteer experiences – became virtual. But these […]

‘It’s Gonna Be May’: Alum’s Meme Celebrates a Decade

University of Mary Washington alumna Kianna Davis ’13 was in her Westmoreland Hall second-floor room, a year away from graduation, when she created her first-ever meme. Within 24 hours, the image she shared of a young, fresh-faced Justin Timberlake – emblazoned with a now famous play on the song lyrics to It’s Gonna Be Me […]

Eagle Awards Celebrate Campus Leaders, Dean Rucker

Senior Brianna Reaves received the Grace Mann Launch Award at the recent Eagle Awards ceremony, while Dean Cedric Rucker received the new Eagle Beyond Compare Award. Photo by Kayla Zegada.

Senior Brianna Reaves received the Grace Mann Launch Award at the recent Eagle Awards ceremony, while Dean Cedric Rucker received the new Eagle Beyond Compare Award. Photo by Kayla Zegada.

University of Mary Washington senior Brianna Reaves was presented with the Grace Mann Launch Award during the annual Eagle Awards last Thursday. Held in person for the first time since the pandemic, the event honored more than a dozen campus leaders in the University Center’s Chandler Ballroom. A newly established award was presented to Cedric Rucker, associate vice president and dean of Student Life, who will retire this June.

“Every class is amazing, but looking out at the students gathered here tonight – you’ve led our community through one of the most difficult times in its history,” UMW President Troy Paino said. “You embody the Mary Washington spirit.”

Rucker, visibly emotional throughout the ceremony, presented Reaves with the $6,900 award. “With tireless initiative, integrity, institutional investment … her leadership is deeply respected across all sectors of the University community,” said Rucker, acknowledging Reaves’ achievement as the first Black female student to become UMW Student Government Association president.

Grace Mann was a UMW leader and social justice activist who died seven years ago during her junior year. Her parents established an endowment for an annual financial award to be presented to a graduating senior who exemplifies Mann’s commitment to social justice, equality and advocacy.

Reaves, a sociology major and social justice minor, began her Mary Washington experience by becoming elected class president during her freshman and sophomore years. After participating in a 2018 Social Justice Fall Break Trip through the James Farmer Multicultural Center (JFMC), she made it her mission to make UMW a more inclusive and welcoming community. Read more.