June 21, 2018

Mark Thaden: It’s Show Time

For most of UMW, Reunion Weekend is a three-day affair. For Executive Director of Alumni Relations Mark Thaden ’02, it’s life. He and his staff spend more than a year planning each of the annual events, which bring nearly a thousand alums back to campus.

Executive Director of Alumni Relations Mark Thaden

Executive Director of Alumni Relations Mark Thaden

When the throngs of nostalgic Mary Washington alums – from Baby Boomers in their 90s to Gen Z’s in their 20s – start converging on campus tomorrow, it’ll be Thaden’s job to keep them all happy, all weekend long.

Now, that’s a tall order.

Q: How did you come to work at UMW?

A: After I graduated from Mary Washington in 2002, I was hired as the assistant director of Annual Giving. The position was only part-time, so after a year I moved on to work in development at other institutions, including the University of Virginia. I promised myself I’d return to Mary Washington if I got the chance. In 2011, my goal of leading UMW’s alumni engagement efforts was realized.

Q: What’s the best part of your job?

A: Working with a dynamic team that cares about our alumni, about the institution, and gets excited about creating programs that support and engage our alumni.

Q: What is most challenging?

A: Keeping alumni happy! Most people have one boss. I feel like I have 40,000, all with different opinions, experiences and suggestions.

Q: What do you most look forward to during reunion weekend?

A: This might sound cheesy, but seeing the pure joy of alumni reconnecting with each other and campus is energizing for me. Mary Washington alumni truly love this place, and seeing them relive their college days with classmates and friends inspires me and my team to continue creating those opportunities for them.

Q: Do you have any favorite stories from past reunion weekends?

A: I had one extremely challenging alumna from the Class of 1949, who wasn’t particularly happy that a (“young”) man was in the alumni director position with an alumni base of primarily women. It seemed there was nothing I could do to make her happy. We pulled out all the stops and did everything we could to make her reunion experience the best she’d ever had. At the end of the weekend, I sent over one of the floral arrangements for her to take home because she had mentioned how beautiful they were. She then yelled “COME HERE!” and grabbed my face and planted a big kiss right on the lips. We have a special bond to this day.

Q: Any recurring themes that you hear from alums?

A: They love how the school has updated and built buildings while keeping with the architecture and preserving green space. They’re amazed with the beauty of campus and updated facilities.

Q: What’s the earliest graduate you’ve met?

A: I had the pleasure of speaking with a member of the class of 1943 during one reunion. One member of the Class of 1947 has attended each of the past six reunions.

Q: What kinds of stories do you hear from older alums?

A: Hearing about the notorious Dean of Women Nina Bushnell is fascinating. She ran a tight ship! No walking on the grass in Ball Circle, strict curfews, interviews for dates and no skirts above the ankles! I also hear about the guys from U.Va. and Quantico who would pack into trucks and head to Mary Washington looking for dates. Classes of the ’80s enjoyed a brief period when the drinking age was 18, and it sounds like there were some pretty epic parties in the Underground, Lee Hall Ballroom (fourth floor) and around campus.

Q: UMW grads often talk about how special this place is. What do you think makes it so?

A: It’s a small school, and the friendships developed here are deep and lasting. I frequently hear stories about the faculty members who helped guide them through their time and impacted their careers. So many say this place was a home for them.

Math Students Named to Honor Society

Congratulations to the following UMW students recently named to the Pi Mu Epsilon national mathematics honorary society:

  • Riley Anderson
  • Kaytlyn Biddle
  • Gail Crunkhorn
  • Kelsie Dalton
  • Stephen Dojcak
  • Hannah Frederick
  • Sarah Hedgecock
  • Kirstyn Howard
  • Kelllie Hurley
  • Joshua Lee
  • Deidre Norman
  • Kelly O’Grady
  • Hollis Pultz
  • Zhu Qian
  • Andrew Rasure
  • Brandon Rozek
  • Amber Senecal
  • Stephen Tivenan
  • Sarah Wessel
  • Meagan Wilkinson

Schultz, Marvashti Present at State Conference

Maria Schultz and Lisa Marvashti

Maria Schultz and Lisa Marvashti

The Office of University Relations’ Assistant Director of Design Services Maria Schultz and Assistant Director of Media and Public Relations Lisa Chinn Marvashti presented at the College Communicators Association’s annual conference in Richmond on Friday, Feb. 2. Their presentation – Take Stock … and Ditch It, How to Achieve Authenticity in Campus Photos – covered the process of creating a complete branded marketing campaign that featured real UMW students in polished, yet genuine, photography accompanied by text that told each individual’s Mary Washington story.

Andrea Cordray: Taking Care of Business

Andrea Cordray has a file full of contacts any executive would envy. Accountants, bankers, consultants and marketers – they’re all on her list. As student support and outreach coordinator, she makes the connections that keep the College of Business (COB) ahead of the curve. [Read more…]

Jessica Machado: Student Advocate

For Jessica Machado, it’s all about the students she reaches.

The new director of the Office of Disability Resources came to UMW three months ago from George Mason University, where she helped create a program for students with autism.

At Mary Washington, Machado hopes to continue building programs and finding resources for students with disabilities to help them reach their full potential. [Read more…]

Richard Blair: Oh, no. Snow!

On blustery days when flurries are in the forecast, students – and, yes, even faculty and staff – find themselves getting excited about a possible snow day. That’s when UMW’s new director of landscape and grounds, Richard Blair, gets to work.

[Read more…]

Paino Delivers State-of-the-University Address

UMW President Troy D. Paino covered the past, present and future during a state-of-the university address this week. The start-of-semester assembly focused on building a “sense of community and common purpose” across Mary Washington’s three campuses. [Read more…]

Don’t Miss UMW’s MLK Day Celebration

Here’s what’s on tap for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration at UMW:

MLK Jr. Kids Day, which takes place Sunday, Jan. 14, from 3 to 5 p.m., at Fredericksburg’s James Monroe High School, features games, activities and crafts, and is sponsored by the Fredericksburg Area Partnership for Academic Excellence.

Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise Discussion & Documentary takes place Monday, Jan. 22, at 6:30 p.m., in the University Center’s Colonnade Room.

Keynote Speaker April Ryan: White House Correspondent and CNN political analyst April Ryan will deliver the keynote address during UMW’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration. Ryan will present her talk on Wednesday, Jan. 24, at 7 p.m. in the University Center’s Chandler Ballroom.

MLK Jr. Day of Service, set for Saturday, Jan. 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., in the University Center’s Chandler Ballroom, offers opportunities for students to give back to the community in honor of Dr. King, through service projects donated to Fredericksburg-area agencies. A discussion about servant leadership and social change, along with continental breakfast and lunch, are included.

All MLK Day events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted. Registration is required for some events and is available online at MyUMW. For more information, contact the JFMC at 540-654-1044 or umwjfmc@gmail.com.

Ali Hieber: By the Book

When spring semester rolls around, a certain series pops up on people’s calendars. The William B. Crawley Great Lives Lecture Series is one of Mary Washington’s most anticipated and well-attended events, attracting renowned authors, who talk about the subjects of their best-selling books, and – sometimes – more than a thousand audience members.

[Read more…]

Journalist April Ryan to Deliver MLK Keynote

White House Correspondent and CNN political analyst April Ryan will deliver the keynote address during UMW’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration. Ryan will present her talk on Wednesday, Jan. 24, at 7 p.m. in the University Center’s Chandler Ballroom.

Journalist April Ryan will deliver the keynote address during UMW's Martin Luther King Jr. celebration on Wednesday, Jan. 24.

Journalist April Ryan will deliver the keynote address during UMW’s Martin Luther King Jr. celebration on Wednesday, Jan. 24.

An acclaimed journalist who heads up the Washington, D.C., bureau of American Urban Radio Networks (AURN), Ryan is a longtime correspondent on Capitol Hill, having served as a reporter there since 1997.

“I just realized Saturday will mark 21 years at the White House!” she tweeted yesterday.

During that time, Ryan has covered the presidential administrations of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. She’s gained recent attention for her rocky rapport with President Trump and former press secretary Sean Spicer, both of whom have balked at her tough questions in defense of minorities.

Dubbed “one of America’s most successful black journalists” by Newsweek, Ryan is among a handful of African-American press correspondents in the White House, where she’s the only black female reporter covering urban issues. She’s one of just three African-Americans to serve on the board of the 100-plus-year-old White House Correspondents’ Association.

“We are delighted and honored to welcome Ms. Ryan to UMW,” said Director of Multicultural Affairs Marion Sanford. “We look forward to her sharing her experiences, both in journalism and as a person, and her perspectives on civil rights, social justice and race relations.”

Ryan is the author of two books, The Presidency in Black and White: My Up-Close View of Three Presidents and Race in America, which was nominated for a 2016 NAACP Image Award, and At Mama’s Knee: Mothers and Race in Black and White, which examines race relations through the lessons mothers pass on to their children. She reaches millions through AURN and through her blog, Fabric of America, devoted to the issues and stories of minorities in the United States.

“April Ryan is a true trailblazer and truth seeker,” said Sarah Glover, president of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), which named Ryan 2017 Journalist of the Year, crediting her with “unusual insight into the racial sensitivities, issues and political struggles of our nation’s last three presidents.”

Her keynote address, sponsored by the Office of the President, is among several events set to take place during UMW’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, which is hosted by the James Farmer Multicultural Center (JFMC).

  • MLK Jr. Kids Day, which takes place Sunday, Jan. 14, from 3 to 5 p.m., at Fredericksburg’s James Monroe High School, features games, activities and crafts, and is sponsored by the Fredericksburg Area Partnership for Academic Excellence.
  • Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise Discussion & Documentary takes place Monday, Jan. 22, at 6:30 p.m., in the University Center’s Colonnade Room.
  • MLK Jr. Day of Service, set for Saturday, Jan. 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., in the University Center’s Chandler Ballroom, offers opportunities for students to give back to the community in honor of Dr. King, through service projects donated to Fredericksburg-area agencies. A discussion about servant leadership and social change, along with continental breakfast and lunch, are included.

“Especially on the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination,” Sanford said, “it’s important to reflect not only on the issues of his time but also on how we’ve progressed and the challenges our nation still faces today.”

All MLK Day events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted. Registration is required for some events and is available online at MyUMW. For more information, contact the JFMC at 540-654-1044 or umwjfmc@gmail.com.