April 14, 2021

UMW, Marstel-Day to Present Climate Series

At the University of Mary Washington’s 2014 commencement ceremony, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Keith Mellinger heard something he knew he’d never forget. A patch of garbage, estimated to be twice the size of Texas, is floating in the Pacific, Mellinger said, and is the largest of five offshore zones accumulating in the world’s […]

UMW Presents a Palette of Pandemic-Era Arts

Soon after the University of Mary Washington Chamber Choir performed live in the James Farmer Hall atrium last March, UMW went totally online, and singing was deemed a “super-spreader” activity.

Last fall, UMW Choirs sang together again – virtually – performing In Te Domine Speravi. The new piece by composer Sarah McDonald focuses on isolation, sickness and loneliness, forming an acrostic spelling the word “quarantine.”

“Our students said it was a very real expression of how they were feeling,” said Associate Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities Christopher Ryder.

With the arts a more critical part of our lives now than ever, the Mary Washington departments of theatre, art and music have spent the last year discovering fresh ways to create, collaborate and learn while socially distanced. New technologies and classes, private lessons and virtual visits by professional artists take center stage as UMW moves forward with early-stage plans for a state-of-the-art theatre complex and an update to Pollard, Melchers and duPont halls. Read more. 

 

UMW Presents a Palette of Pandemic-Era Arts

Soon after the University of Mary Washington Chamber Choir performed live in the James Farmer Hall atrium last March, UMW went totally online, and singing was deemed a “super-spreader” activity. Last fall, UMW Choirs sang together again – virtually – performing In Te Domine Speravi. The new piece by composer Sarah McDonald focuses on isolation, […]

Mary Washington Trio Brews Guinness World Record Opportunity

 When Mary Washington alum Ray Parrish ’91, now co-owner of Fredericksburg’s Maltese Brewing Company, decided to set the Guinness World Record for the spiciest beer, he turned to his alma mater for help. Now UMW Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry Sarah Smith ’12 and junior biochemistry major Valerie Ebenki are trying to determine the heat content of Maltese’s Signal One 2.0 beer, a pineapple IPA infused with 500 Carolina Reaper chilies, the world’s hottest pepper. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.


When Mary Washington alum Ray Parrish ’91, now co-owner of Fredericksburg’s Maltese Brewing Company, decided to set the Guinness World Record for the spiciest beer, he turned to his alma mater for help. Now UMW Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry Sarah Smith ’12 and junior biochemistry major Valerie Ebenki are trying to determine the heat content of Maltese’s Signal One 2.0 beer, a pineapple IPA infused with 500 Carolina Reaper chilies, the world’s hottest pepper. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

As children, Ray Parrish ’91 and his brother were obsessed with the Guinness Book of World Records, devouring the new, hardbound volume they unwrapped each Christmas morning. It was a lifelong dream, Parrish said, to see their own names among the recordholders.

Fast-forward to last Christmas, when Parrish, now co-owner of the firefighter-founded Maltese Brewing Company in Fredericksburg, decided to look up the world record for spiciest beer. When he found none, he contacted Guinness – started in the early 1950s by Guinness Breweries ­– about establishing one.

That set off a chain reaction with Parrish, a former physics major at Mary Washington, reaching out to his alma mater, where he connected with another alum, Sarah Smith ’12. Now a visiting professor in the recently merged Department of Chemistry and Physics, Smith looped in junior biochemistry major Valerie Ebenki.

The trio’s quest? To determine the heat content of Maltese’s Signal One 2.0 beer, a pineapple IPA infused with 500 Carolina Reaper chilies, the world’s hottest pepper. The professor and student both said they came to Mary Washington for precisely these kinds of experiences – not necessarily attempts at world records, but high-impact learning opportunities where faculty and students work closely on endeavors.

“Being able to participate in real world research, proposed by an alum who is now working in the local community, is a fantastic opportunity,” said Ebenki, who’s applying skills from Smith’s analytical chemistry courses – literature searches, data collection, results interpretation – to this project. Read more.

Glenn Quader: For My Next Act …

UMW Interim Conductor Glenn Quader

UMW Philharmonic Interim Conductor Glenn Quader

Glenn Quader’s career kicked off with concerts in his elementary school cafeteria. Decades later, he’s a sought-after conductor and musician, and has appeared on some of the biggest and brightest stages on the planet.

He expected his next act to take place in Dodd Auditorium when he was hired in February 2020 to conduct the University of Mary Washington Philharmonic. Instead, a global pandemic abruptly halted in-person rehearsals and performances for the foreseeable future.

“Managing the UMW Philharmonic under these conditions has certainly been a challenge and not what any of us could have predicted,” said Quader, a Washington, D.C., native who studied at Johns Hopkins University’s prestigious Peabody Institute.

In addition to performing across the globe, Quader has led the Piedmont and Frederick symphony orchestras, the American Studio Orchestra and the American Youth Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra. Those engagements, combined with extensive experience in the recording studio, prepared him for the enormous task of leading the UMW Philharmonic in the age of COVID.

With the string section performing in person and other musicians appearing virtually, Quader has focused on small scale works for now and recently conducted the Philharmonic’s first hybrid performance. But he’s already been in dialogue with the UMW Choral and Jazz ensembles about future collaborations for audiences eager to experience live music again.

“Once we are able to assemble, our patrons should expect a healthy dose of classical repertoire, as well as other genres like popular music and jazz,” he said. “I want to shift to works that highlight the full force of the UMW Philharmonic.”

 

Q: When did you first get into music?
A: Growing up in a musical household, my first recollection was when I was 4 years old, when my grandfather sat me down at an organ. That began my lifelong fascination with sound.

Q: What was the first instrument you played?
A: I originally started on violin, following in the footsteps of my grandfather. I later switched to saxophone and eventually added bass and cello.

Q: What made you decide to pursue conducting?
A: At age 13 I realized I wanted to lead ensembles. Most of my musical activities outside of playing led me to pursue conducting as a profession. 

Q: What is your favorite piece of music to conduct or perform?
A: That is a tough one, but probably Respighi’s Pines of Rome.

Q: What do you like best about being at UMW?
A: Mary Washington students, whom I’ve found to be highly engaging and respectful.

Q: What’s most rewarding about your job?
A: Simply the music.

Q: Most challenging?
A: Everything else!

Q: What’s your favorite thing in your office?
A: The equipment rack that houses my main computer/synthesizer systems. I do everything from here, including recording, mastering, producing and administration duties.

Q: What might people be surprised to learn about you?
A: I am a bona fide rock musician and have toured much of the world as a professional electric bass player.

Q: What’s your motto?
A: As in life, don’t ever become complacent in music.

Mary Washington Trio Brews Guinness World Record Opportunity

As children, Ray Parrish ’91 and his brother were obsessed with the Guinness Book of World Records, devouring the new, hardbound volume they unwrapped each Christmas morning. It was a lifelong dream, Parrish said, to see their own names among the recordholders. Fast-forward to last Christmas, when Parrish, now co-owner of the firefighter-founded Maltese Brewing […]

Students Stand Together for MLK Day of Service

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” This quote by Martin Luther King Jr. often appears on social media around the anniversary of the civil rights leader’s birth.

“I wanted to share a message that everyone can relate to, and hopefully, it will speak out to people in need of a little encouragement,” said sophomore Grayson Collins, who spent UMW’s MLK Day of Service chalking Campus Walk with positive messages. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

“I wanted to share a message that everyone can relate to, and hopefully, it will speak out to people in need of a little encouragement,” said sophomore Grayson Collins, who spent UMW’s MLK Day of Service chalking Campus Walk with positive messages. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

Charlotte Russell, a first-year student at the University of Mary Washington, reflected upon those words, which were also emblazoned on the back of her T-shirt, as she participated in UMW’s MLK Day of Service on Saturday.

“Service is such an important part of Dr. King’s legacy because it honors his life and teachings,” said Russell, who shared her own messages of encouragement with her peers through chalk drawings on Campus Walk. “Volunteering brings together people from diverse backgrounds with the common goal of helping the community.”

Typically held the last weekend in January, the annual celebration was rescheduled because of inclement weather. But neither the threat of rain this weekend nor ongoing precautions due to COVID-19 could dampen the spirit of service shown by dozens of UMW students. They spent the day – organized by UMW’s Center for Community Engagement (CCE), the student-run Community Outreach and Resources (COAR) and the James Farmer Multicultural Center – engaging in socially distanced volunteering opportunities on campus and in the Fredericksburg community. Read more.

Students Stand Together for MLK Day of Service

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” This quote by Martin Luther King Jr. often appears on social media around the anniversary of the civil rights leader’s birth. Charlotte Russell, a first-year student at the University of Mary Washington, reflected upon those words, which were also emblazoned on the […]

Phillip Duggins: CASE Chemistry

Phillip Duggins, UMW's associate director for Regional Alumni Engagement, won a CASE Award last week for last summer's "Chemistry in the Kitchen" program for Mary Washington alumni and their families.

Phillip Duggins, UMW’s associate director for Regional Alumni Engagement, won a CASE Award last week for last summer’s “Chemistry in the Kitchen” program for Mary Washington alumni and their families.

University of Mary Washington professors teaching science experiments online for alumni and their children to perform at home.

The idea was born from a start-of-the-pandemic brainstorming session attended by Phillip Duggins, UMW’s associate director for Regional Alumni Engagement.

Duggins shared the idea with his friend and neighbor, Davis Oldham, an associate professor of chemistry at UMW, who in turn connected him with fellow faculty members Leanna Giancarlo, Kelli Slunt and Janet Asper. In June, the trio taught “Chemistry in the Kitchen,” drawing an audience of over 150 alumni families. The virtual lunchtime learning classes are now available on YouTube.

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) presented Duggins last week with a silver “Alumni Engagement on a Shoestring” award for his work on the popular program.

“I was so excited to share the news with our chemistry colleagues who partnered with us to make this event so successful,” Duggins said, “especially when they were in the midst of transitioning to online classes last spring.”

With more than two decades of experience in event planning and managing volunteers, Duggins was hired in 2019 to engage Mary Washington’s 41,000 alumni globally and help them feel connected to their alma mater. Organized by UMW’s 22 regional alumni networks and 10 affinity groups, events were mostly held in person before COVID hit.

Alumni engagement is more challenging now, Duggins said. But his team has found that Mary Washington graduates are still eager to take part in online events, such as last September’s virtual tour of the 9/11 Memorial in New York City, led by a UMW alum who works at the site. Within 45 minutes, participants registered for all 100 spots, so organizers added a second tour, which also filled up quickly, drawing alumni from as far away as San Diego.

“Not everyone lives in or near a regional network or can travel,” Duggins said. “Virtual events like this are giving us the opportunity to reach a much wider audience.”

 

“Not everyone lives in or near a regional network or can travel,” said Duggins, who has helped Mary Washington's 41,000 alumni feel connected to their alma mater since coming to UMW in 2019. “Virtual events like this are giving us the opportunity to reach a much wider audience.”

“Not everyone lives in or near a regional network or can travel,” said Duggins, who has helped Mary Washington’s 41,000 alumni feel connected to their alma mater since coming to UMW in 2019. “Virtual events like this are giving us the opportunity to reach a much wider audience.”

Q: What other virtual events has Alumni Relations offered?
A: We’ve had cider and beer tastings, a behind-the-scenes tour of the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden light show, and several academic departments have hosted alumni happy hours. We’re exploring offering a coffee tasting, more tours of museums and cultural sites, and “Paint and Sip” events.

Q: What might people be surprised to learn about you?
A: I grew up on a farm and was driving a tractor by the time I was 8.

Q: What’s your favorite thing in your office?
A: Pictures of my children: Madelyn, 15; Hannah, 14; and Zachary, 11.

Q: What have you been doing outside of work during the pandemic?
A: Keeping up with my kids’ activities and doing projects around the house.

Q: What is your favorite thing about the UMW campus?
A: The gates on Sunken Road. That area is so peaceful and relaxing.

Q: What’s your motto?
A: From my time as a Cub Scout: “Do your best.”

Alumni Trio Adapts to Teaching in Madrid, Pandemic Style

Mary Washington alumna Cara Wissinger ’19 is among several UMW graduates who moved to Madrid to teach after studying abroad in Spain while in college.

Mary Washington alumna Cara Wissinger ’19 is among several UMW graduates who moved to Madrid to teach after studying abroad in Spain while in college.

When quarantine began in March 2020, Chloe Morton ’19 decided to improvise, creating virtual scavenger hunts to engage her middle and high school-aged students.

It’s a typical assignment in the age of COVID-19. But she also had to add English subtitles. After all, she is teaching in Spain.

One third of each graduating class at the University of Mary Washington studies abroad, so it’s no wonder that some decide to move overseas after graduation. Three 2019 alums – Morton, Thomas Peterson and Cara Wissinger – are among several Mary Washington graduates who have moved to Madrid to teach after participating in UMW’s study abroad program with Universidad de Deusto in Bilbao during college.

Teaching abroad in a global pandemic is no easy task. Here – in a Q&A – these recent UMW graduates share how they’re navigating life in a foreign country, thanks to skills they honed and support they received at Mary Washington. Read more.