May 28, 2020

Video Spotlights Theatre Students, Broadway Stars

When UMW Theatre performed Adam Gwon’s musical Ordinary Days in February, students couldn’t anticipate that just weeks later, they’d yearn for rehearsals with castmates and performances in front of live audiences. They also couldn’t have guessed they’d get to sing one of Gwon’s songs alongside Broadway stars. Seven UMW Theatre students were selected to appear […]

Wes Hillyard: Success Story

Wes Hillyard '05 serves as the director of Academic Services. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

Wes Hillyard ’05 serves as the director of Academic Services. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

One of Wes Hillyard’s most meaningful Mary Washington memories was his commencement ceremony in 2005. Dressed in cap and gown, processing down Campus Walk behind the Eagle Pipe Band, he was cheered on by faculty, staff and administrators, as well as friends and family, who had all helped him reach his goals.

He’d experience that same milestone a decade later – but this time, from the perspective of an administrator.

“I love how the entire University community turns out for Honor Convocation and Eagle Gathering at the start of our students’ time here, and comes together again when they graduate,” said Hillyard, who directs UMW’s Office of Academic Services.

His team of professional and faculty advisors guides undergraduates as they navigate their college careers. It’s a joy, he said, to watch students, especially those who struggled academically or had difficulty choosing a major, finally earn their diplomas.

“Through hard work, commitment and collaboration among many colleagues,” Hillyard said, “we’re able to help those students re-chart their course and ultimately attain degrees.”

His own positive experiences with UMW faculty advisors led him to pursue a master’s degree in student affairs administration at the University of Virginia. He held jobs at James Madison University and Northern Virginia Community College before returning to Mary Washington in 2015.

He enjoys meeting with students face-to-face, Hillyard said, but was impressed by his department’s transition to virtual advising appointments via Zoom and the EAB Navigate system this spring.

With commencement moving to fall, this semester didn’t bring the same sense of closure, said Hillyard, who’s on track to earn a doctorate from VCU next May.

“But I think it will be even more meaningful when we’ve had time to reflect and really appreciate the opportunity to come together and celebrate.”

 

The Academic Services team prefers advising students face-to-face, but Hillyard said that using Zoom and the EAB Navigate system has worked well this semester. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

The Academic Services team prefers advising students face-to-face, but Hillyard said that using Zoom and the EAB Navigate system has worked well this semester. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

Q: How many students took advantage of UMW’s alternative grading scale this spring?
A: They were able to make the switch themselves through Banner, and 15 percent of all spring course registrations were in the Credit/Pass/No Credit grade mode, according to the Office of the Registrar. 

Q: What were some of your favorite Mary Washington traditions as a student?
A: Rocktoberfest and Devil Goat Day. I had a blast competing in an obstacle course against my marketing professor!  

Q: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
A: Collaborating with colleagues across the University to identify the best ways to support our students. 

Q: The most challenging?
A: UMW is committed to helping all students succeed; however, it cannot be a one-sided process. When students are unwilling to work toward their success, it can be very difficult. 

Q: What do you miss most about being on campus?
A: My colleagues and students who make Mary Washington such a great community. My wife and I have taken our kids there to ride their bikes since we live nearby. It’s still beautiful, but eerily quiet. 

Q: What do you do when you aren’t working?
A: Spend lots of time with my family – our 5- and 2- year-old keep us busy. We also love amusement parks and look forward to going once the quarantine is over.   

Q: What’s your motto?
A: “If you can dream it, you can do it!” – Walt Disney

UMW to Graduate Class of 2020

Class of 2020 graduate Camryn Molnar tosses her cap in front of Monroe Hall and the Palmieri Fountain. She’s among the 1,309 UMW graduates who will participate in commencement in the fall. The combined undergraduate and graduate ceremony is currently scheduled for October 24. Photo credit: dpan.visuals on Instagram.

Class of 2020 graduate Camryn Molnar tosses her cap in front of Monroe Hall and the Palmieri Fountain. She’s among the 1,309 UMW graduates who will participate in commencement in the fall. The combined undergraduate and graduate ceremony is currently scheduled for October 24. Photo credit: dpan.visuals on Instagram.

The University of Mary Washington will confer degrees upon a total of 1,309 students during its 109th commencement ceremony in the fall, rescheduled due to COVID-19. For the first time, the University will hold a combined ceremony for both undergraduate and graduate students, currently scheduled to take place on the Fredericksburg Campus’ Ball Circle on Saturday, Oct. 24.

The University will award five Master of Geospatial Analysis degrees, 35 Master of Business Administration degrees, 95 Master of Education degrees, 40 Master of Science in Elementary Education degrees, 455 Bachelor of Arts degrees, 550 Bachelor of Science degrees, 48 Bachelor of Liberal Studies degrees and 53 Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees.

Candidates for degrees are listed as of April 15, 2020. Degree candidates are subject to final review. All degrees will be officially conferred on May 15, 2020. We regret any errors that may inadvertently appear in this listing. Read more.

 

Though we were unable to celebrate on Ball Circle this spring, we are proud to honor our remarkable Class of 2020 via this YouTube video, which conveys from various perspectives the traditions we hold dear.

 

 

Words of Wisdom for the Class of 2020

Dr. James L. Farmer Jr. once said, “Courage, after all, is not being unafraid, but doing what needs to be done in spite of fear.”

This quote from the late civil rights icon and Mary Washington history professor has a special meaning for Marion Sanford, director of the James Farmer Multicultural Center. She shared Dr. Farmer’s words with the Class of 2020 – many of whom were born the year he retired from the institution where he taught during the final years of his life.

Due to COVID-19, Mary Washington’s commencement has been moved to this fall, but the University community will still come together over the weekend – virtually – to celebrate its graduating students. Sanford was among the UMW faculty, staff and administrators who contributed advice and congratulatory remarks in an online tribute to the Class of 2020, who would have had their degrees conferred this Saturday.

In a semester that began with the entire campus community coming together in person for the centennial celebration of Dr. Farmer’s birth, and carried on through a worldwide pandemic and distance learning, one theme prevailed throughout the sentiments – UMW graduates have shown they can persevere and be flexible and resilient with whatever life hands them, no matter the circumstances.

 

Here are words of wisdom shared by the UMW community:

“Class of 2020, the lessons you learned from the great challenges you faced during the spring semester will serve you well after Mary Washington. We’re very proud of you. Congratulations!” – Keith Mellinger, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

“Be confident in your abilities, and always be prepared to walk through unexpected or unplanned doors of opportunity.” – Cedric Rucker ’81, associate vice president and dean of Student Life

“Continue to be your true self. There is no one else like you in the entire world and that is what makes you – and all of us – so beautiful.” – Crystal Rawls, assistant director of Student Activities and Engagement

“Congratulations to the history-making Class of 2020! We look forward to hearing about all your future accomplishments!” – Special Collections and University Archives, Simpson Library

“You’ve learned about the accomplishments of the greats that came before you. Now it’s your turn. Your degree is the key to unlocking the world. Explore it and make your mark.” – Tevya Zukor, director of the Talley Center for Counseling Services

¡Bravo! You did it! My best wishes to each one of you in this important new stage of your lives. You are an Eagle, and have proved you are ready to fly.” – Maria Laura Bocaz-Leiva, associate professor of Spanish

“Listen to your heart – and your mom.” – Anna Billingsley, associate vice president of University Relations

“It seems like yesterday I was greeting you and your families at the front gate during Move-In. I’m proud of what you’ve accomplished at Mary Washington, especially during these unusual times. Even with the difficulties, I am confident you will continue as a trailblazer. You may well become the new definition for true grit.” – Mike Hall, UMW chief of police

“Congratulations, Class of 2020! We are so proud of you and all you’ve accomplished. Please stay in touch – we are always here for you.” Julia DeLancey, professor of art

“Many employees work hard and often experience criticism from your peers. Writing letters of appreciation will encourage mentors to continue their efforts that will have positive outcomes for the students that follow.” – Milton Kline, student painting program manager

“Don’t measure yourself by anyone else’s definition of success.” Melissa Jones, associate dean of Student Involvement

“Be well. Do good. Keep in touch! Congratulations and best wishes on your graduation.” – Rosalyn Cooperman, associate professor of political science and international affairs

“Take time to travel [when it’s safe to do so]! Seriously, use your vacation! Keep in touch with your UMW friends. And make sure you have health insurance.” – Sarah Moran, study abroad coordinator, Center for International Education

“The word ‘passion’ is overused nowadays, but everyone should have one – some overriding interest that gets a person up in the morning, eager to face the day. Everyone is more than just a job and a paycheck. Find something else to keep you emotionally grounded.” – Jack Bales, reference and humanities librarian

“Be open to any opportunity that comes your way. It may not be your dream job or one you would have considered previously … but sometimes those jobs shape your life in ways you couldn’t have imagined.” Dave Fleming, assistant dean for Residence Life and Housing

“Congratulations to the Class of 2020 and your families. I’ll miss applauding each of you as you would have processed down Campus Walk this weekend, but at the same time, I’m so encouraged by who you’ve shown yourselves to be … full of heart and courage with a willingness to overcome obstacles and challenges. YOU ARE READY to make a difference. Keep in touch and we’ll see you again soon.” – Sabrina Johnson, vice president for Equity and Access and chief diversity officer

 

Though the UMW community cannot gather in person this Saturday to honor the Class of 2020, we are doing our best to virtually convey some of our powerful and time-tested traditions. Go to umw.edu Friday through Sunday for comprehensive commencement coverage. You can submit messages to graduates in a live feed and read interesting stories about this extraordinary class. By Saturday morning, you will be able to view the names of graduates as well as a video that brings home the richness and poignancy of a Mary Washington graduation. 

We are asking alumni, parents, faculty and staff, and friends – anyone with a Mary Washington connection – to submit congratulatory notes this weekend. Give kudos to a specific graduate, cheer for the class as a whole, or share memories of your graduation day or advice for the future. Messages will be ​prominently featured on the UMW website. You have three options:

·      Complete this form, which can be submitted anytime from now through May 9

·      Use Instagram – make a public post that includes #UMW2020 on May 8 or 9

·      Use Twitter – send a public tweet that includes #UMW2020 on May 8 or 9

While new posts cannot be accepted after midnight on Saturday, messages already received will still be on display May 10. You may submit multiple messages. 

 

UMW to Graduate Class of 2020

The University of Mary Washington will confer degrees upon a total of 1,309 students during its 109th commencement ceremony in the fall, rescheduled due to COVID-19. For the first time, the University will hold a combined ceremony for both undergraduate and graduate students, currently scheduled to take place on the Fredericksburg Campus’ Ball Circle on […]

UMW Professors Find Creative Ways to Teach Through COVID-19

Assistant Music Professor Christopher Ryder (top, center) teaches conducting over Zoom. “I’ve been impressed by the students’ ability to adapt to very difficult circumstances,” said Ryder, who is among the UMW faculty who are now finding new and creative ways to teach remotely.

Assistant Music Professor Christopher Ryder (top, center) teaches conducting over Zoom. “I’ve been impressed by the students’ ability to adapt to very difficult circumstances,” said Ryder, who is among the UMW faculty who are now finding new and creative ways to teach remotely.

Teaching at Mary Washington looks a bit different lately. Andi Smith films YouTube videos with her children to demonstrate architectural principles. Zach Whalen uses cartoons to teach a digital studies lesson. Smita Jain Oxford holds Zoom office hours for business majors on her daily jog.

When the University moved to virtual classes last month due to the coronavirus pandemic, UMW faculty had to adapt quickly. Some already had experience with online instruction, while others became students themselves, seeking advice from tech-savvy colleagues – as well as the Digital Learning Center, Center for Teaching and UMW Libraries. Armed with a variety of technology tools, they’ve been finding creative and engaging ways to educate, support and stay connected to students through the end of the semester and beyond.

Students are facing multiple challenges as they complete their coursework, said Janine Davis, an associate professor in UMW’s College of Education. Dealing with limited internet access, caring for sick family members and serving in essential jobs are among their chief concerns, she said, and they’re also managing a wide range of emotions.

“We have to give students some space,” Davis said, “but also let them know we’re here and we want them to succeed and be healthy.” Read more.

UMW Professors Find Creative Ways to Teach Through COVID-19

Teaching at Mary Washington looks a bit different lately. Andi Smith films YouTube videos with her children to demonstrate architectural principles. Zach Whalen uses cartoons to teach a digital studies lesson. Smita Jain Oxford holds Zoom office hours for business majors on her daily jog. When the University moved to virtual classes last month due […]

Paul Binkley: On the Job

Paul Binkley became the inaugural executive director of the Center for Career and Professional Development last summer. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

Paul Binkley became the inaugural executive director of the Center for Career and Professional Development last summer. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

Job searches can be stressful, but even more so for those entering the workforce in the middle of a pandemic.

It’s important to remind students they have “the strengths necessary to survive and thrive,” said Paul Binkley, who became the UMW Center for Career and Professional Development’s inaugural executive director last summer.

“Throughout my career, I’ve learned that students often already have the answers they’re looking for,” said Binkley, who has spent over 20 years in higher education in the U.S. and abroad, most recently leading the career development team at Johns Hopkins University. “But they need someone to help them ask the right questions.”

While the Mary Washington campus is closed and employees are teleworking due to the coronavirus threat, the career center is very much open for business, Binkley said – at least virtually. In fact, his team has ramped up efforts, holding online one-on-one coaching sessions and sending out opportunities via weekly newsletter and social media. Binkley himself will be presenting a UMW Alumni Relations Mary Talks event on May 6 to discuss job prospects during and after the pandemic.

His team is also rolling out a new service in which students can record answers to thousands of interview questions and get feedback from faculty or career coaches. “The key to interviews, online or in person,” he said, “is practice, practice, practice.”

Many graduating seniors at UMW already secured positions prior to COVID-19, Binkley said. For those who are still searching, plenty of employers are eager to connect and want to know how students are staying active and engaged during the quarantine. But for some, he recognizes that may be a challenge.

“If it’s difficult to feel motivated,” he said, “a great place to start is by doing small things every day to remind ourselves that we are still in control and moving forward.”

 

Though the UMW campus is closed and remote learning is taking place, Binkley said the career center is very much open for business. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

Though the UMW campus is closed and remote learning is taking place, Binkley said the career center is very much open for business. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

Q: What’s a typical day look like for you these days?
A: I get up later but dressing for work gets me in a professional mindset. I have lots of virtual meetings, and intersperse microbreaks to play with my cats, watch a quick video or throw in a load of laundry.

Q: What was your first job out of college?
A: I was a high school student teacher, but I quit after three months. Following that, I worked as an office manager for a psychologist, which was a great entry into the professional world because I had a boss who wanted me to succeed in whatever field I desired.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
A: Watching my staff and students develop into professionals.

Q: The most challenging?
A: Recognizing that students need to experience the world for themselves at their own pace, without pressuring them to do what I think is right.

Q: What are you doing to keep busy?
A: I bought a house near campus and remodeling it has taken a lot of time. With the spring weather, I’m looking forward to working on the outside.

Q: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: I HATE Brussels sprouts. I’ve had them cooked every way and still can’t stand them.

Q: What’s your motto?
A: Life is a process, not an outcome.

Alumnus Shelters in Honduras to Save UMW-Born Nonprofit

Phoning it in isn’t an option for Shin Fujiyama ’07. At UMW, he threw himself into every assignment, task and responsibility – from serving hungry students in Seacobeck to organizing a thousand-person walkathon. Now, living in Honduras in the midst of a global pandemic, Fujiyama is focused on rescuing the nonprofit he started at Mary […]

Alumnus Shelters in Honduras to Save UMW-Born Nonprofit

2007 alumnus Shin Fujiyama inaugurates a school built by his nonprofit, Students Helping Honduras, which he started at UMW. SHH has built 55 schools in the impoverished country, which is currently on lockdown. While much of his staff have been evacuated, Fujiyama stayed behind in Honduras to care for 24 orphaned children. Photo courtesy of SHH.

2007 alumnus Shin Fujiyama inaugurates a school built by his nonprofit, Students Helping Honduras, which he started at UMW. SHH has built 55 schools in the impoverished country, which is currently on lockdown. While much of his staff have been evacuated, Fujiyama stayed behind in Honduras to care for 24 orphaned children. Photo courtesy of SHH.

Phoning it in isn’t an option for Shin Fujiyama ’07. At UMW, he threw himself into every assignment, task and responsibility – from serving hungry students in Seacobeck to organizing a thousand-person walkathon.

Now, living in Honduras in the midst of a global pandemic, Fujiyama is focused on rescuing the nonprofit he started at Mary Washington, Students Helping Honduras (SHH). While his American and European staff were evacuated due to the coronavirus threat, Fujiyama stayed behind to care for 24 orphaned kids at a children’s home he founded. To keep his dream alive of building schools across the impoverished country, he is relying on support from former professors and fellow alumni.

“My conviction to see this through has always been strong,” said Fujiyama, who started SHH 14 years ago with sister Cosmo, then a student at William & Mary. Since graduation from UMW, he’s lived in Honduras and oversees the nonprofit, which has over 50 chapters nationwide and has seen thousands of volunteers over the years.

Then came COVID-19.

“There’s a chance Honduras will face food shortages, civil unrest and massive outbreaks of the virus,” he said. “We need to confront those challenges together.” Read more.