June 29, 2022

Rose Benedict: Full Course Load

Dreams of lighting up Broadway on hold, Rose Benedict dabbled in TV production and the congressional legislature before settling in as a stay-at-home mom. It was her faith, she said, that steered her career path and led her – after the girls were grown – to Mary Washington and the business of marketing meals. But not immediately.

“Interestingly, they didn’t pick me,” Benedict said of her first vie for a job with UMW Catering. Her phone did finally ring … when the new hire didn’t show up.

One of UMW Dining Market Manager Rose Benedict’s main goals is to make sure students know the full spectrum of culinary options available to them. Photo by Lauryn Taylor.

Just desserts.

With UMW food management provider Sodexo for nearly two decades – in Seacobeck’s faculty/staff dining and the Underground’s Naturally Woodstock – she kept coming back to planning promotions. “I realized it was kind of my baby,” said Benedict, now marketing manager for all of University Dining.

That means grabbing students’ attention – whiteboards, QR codes, whatever it takes – and teaming with campus constituents to tie special events together with tastebuds. February means African, Caribbean, Southern soul food and Mardi Gras meals for Black History Month, and a surf-and-turf Valentine’s Day dinner that sold out in a hurry.

Benedict doles out the delicious details, herself, at the Dining Concierge Desk in the UC. And why not? She has an answer – or flyer – for everything. What is UMW’s Hen House? The area’s first “ghost kitchen,” operating completely online. Swipe Out Hunger? A campaign targeting food insecurity by serving thousands of meals to Mary Washington students. Choose to Re-use? A sustainability plan offering reusable food-storage boxes and totes.

Ah, but what about ambiance?

“The biggest thing I want students to know is that our team is absolutely dedicated to bringing the best food and customer experience to everyone here,” Benedict said.

Try doing that amid a global pandemic.

Sodexo didn’t skip a beat, she said, transforming the Top of the UC into a socially distanced Yellow Brick Road, with strategically placed arrows mapping a route from the salad bar to Simple Servings to Campus Grill, and so on.

Now, with the arrows removed, UMW Dining is back in almost full swing, Benedict said: “I’m so excited for the things we’re doing.”

Q: What’s most rewarding about your job?
A: Absolutely when I can help a student.

Q: Most challenging?
A: Making sure students understand what’s available to them – when we have to close, when the water’s shut off, when we have a free food sampling. And hiring – across the food service industry, the pandemic has been devastating.

Q: What’s your fave UMW Dining food station?
A: Chef’s Fair. I’m a sucker for the mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, meat loaf and candied carrots.

Q: With your work centered on food, what do you do for dinner at home?
A: I really don’t cook. I keep the microwave business alive.

Q: What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?
A: I sang a solo at the First Lady’s Luncheon for Rosalyn Carter.

Q: Any mottos you live by?
A: “Before you speak, ask yourself three questions. Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?” I don’t always live up to it, but it’s a standard I aspire to.

Cedric Rucker: His Majesty the Dean

A groggy haze hung over Marye’s Heights when Dorm Mother Mrs. Fee, still in her bathrobe, opened the door to Madison Hall. She slid on her glasses to sum up the freshman who stood on the porch, the first in his class to arrive, well before Move-In began: “Eager.”

Beloved longtime UMW Dean of Students Cedric Rucker, known for fastidiously helping soon-to-be grads with their regular year after year at Commencement, will retire in June.

Beloved longtime UMW Dean of Students Cedric Rucker, known for fastidiously helping soon-to-be grads with their regalia year after year at Commencement, will retire in June.

More than four decades later, Associate Vice President and Dean of Student Life Cedric Rucker is still proving her right. As a student, he wove himself into Mary Washington’s fabric as its first residential African-American male. As a faculty member since the late 1980s, he’s brought direction to students, inclusiveness to the classroom and energy to campus.

“Mary Washington is a part of me,” said Rucker, who’s known for handing out Halloween candy as Winnie the Pooh and lovingly aligning Commencement regalia for soon-to-be grads. “Relationships have been integral to my ability to not only be successful but to enjoy the journey.”

And what a journey it’s been.

Arriving from his hometown of Richmond just as higher education began admitting more students of color, Rucker found few faces like his on campus. Rather than throw in the towel, he threw himself into college life, campaigning his heart out for class council publicity chair.

“I lost the race, but I met the entire first-year class,” said Rucker, who joined the anthropology club, worked in the library, deejayed at WWMC radio station, and joined water balloon fights, toga parties … and panty raids. “All these doors opened, and Mary Washington just felt like mine.”

He majored in sociology – a subject he’d go on to teach – and, as a junior, enrolled in a graduate program promoting diversity at the University of Virginia, where he later earned a master’s degree, started work on a Ph.D. and took a job in Admissions.

Rucker arrived as a student at Mary Washington in 1977. After a stint working in Admissions for UVA, where he received a master's degree, he returned to his first alma mater.

Rucker arrived as a student at Mary Washington in 1977. After a stint working in Admissions for UVA, where he received a master’s degree, he returned to his first alma mater.

Then, a life-changing event – the murder of his partner – shattered his world, shuffled his priorities, and led him to travel, volunteerism … and, in a way, back to Double Drive. “Life is too short,” he said. “You can think about accomplishments, but you also have to think about happiness.”

Through 33 years as Mary Washington’s dean of student activities and student life, he’s organized Orientation, ruled over Residence Life, kick-started the curriculum and collected a bevy of community honors – all in his signature bowties and over-the-shoulder sweaters. All while putting students first.

“I never wanted to be the dean that sat behind a desk and pushed out edicts,” said Rucker, who plans to retire in June and join the Peace Corps. “I always wanted to be immersed in the student experience.”

Q: What’s a typical day on the job?
A: There is no typical day. It’s the rhythm of a university campus. Most important is being flexible and agile enough to address university issues as they come forward. Students in crisis take precedence.

Q: What’s most rewarding about your work?
A: The people of this community. Our faculty and staff are committed to ensuring the best possible outcomes for those who call this campus their home. Our students are amazing, creative, innovative. They push back. They’re committed to making sure this institution represents them.

Q: Most challenging?
A: Time. There are so many things I’d like to do, programs I’d like to attend, sporting events, lectures, exhibitions. Students like it when you show up for them, when you’re there to celebrate them. But you can’t do it all. I invest whatever time I can and try to be present.

Known for his astute attention to every facet of student life, Rucker has traveled the world and amassed an extensive array of Mary Washington memorabilia. Upon retirement, he plans a stint in the Peace Corps.

Known for his astute attention to every facet of student life, Rucker has traveled the world and amassed an extensive array of Mary Washington memorabilia. Upon retirement, he plans a stint in the Peace Corps.

Q: How has your job changed through the decades?
A: The complexities of the institution have changed. Mental health issues have significantly impacted what we do. There are homeless students, students struggling to cover the cost of their education, students needing community resources. I spend a lot of time helping students begin conversations with faculty, navigate the institution, and finding those things that will allow them to actualize their dreams, desires and aspirations.

Q: What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?
A: I’m an introvert who knows how to behave as an extrovert.

Q: Any mottos you live by?
A: For me, it’s always been the golden rule. I learned that as a kid.

Q: After so long at UMW, how do you want to be remembered?
A: People will have different things they remember. I hope any reflection is an honest one, and I hope it’s something that for that person is positive.

In honor of Dean Rucker’s upcoming retirement, the UMW Alumni Association will offer a dollar-for-dollar match – up to $5,000 – for gifts made April 5 during Giving Day to the newly formed Cedric B. Rucker ’81 S.O.S. (support our students) Fund. The endowment will be used to support students with unexpected and life-altering emergencies.

Paino Calls for Commitment at ‘Critical Juncture’

UMW President Troy Paino welcomed faculty and staff to Spring 2022 – a fifth semester of teaching and learning amid a global pandemic – yesterday in a livestreamed all-University address.

“In light of what we’ve gone through over the past two years, we’re at a critical juncture,” he said. “I’m calling for the University community to come together.”

UMW President Troy D. Paino

UMW President Troy D. Paino

Paino asked all employees – even outside of Admissions – to consider student recruitment and retention an essential part of their job, as colleges across the country struggle to yield incoming classes. Part news bulletin, part pep talk, the presentation praised resilience across campus in the face of an incorrigible COVID-19 and a damaging winter storm that pounded the area last week. The 35-minute address also looked toward the future, touching on planned capital projects, new leadership and ambitious initiatives.

But the present – today’s return to in-person classes – was key. The ability to stick with that plan was made possible, Paino said, thanks to a vaccination rate of more than 95 percent among the UMW community, and just six percent positivity among students, compared with more than 40 percent in the region, as the Omicron variant surges.

“The bottom line is that working and living in this community, which is almost totally vaccinated, makes this campus one of the safest places to be here in the Fredericksburg area,” he said.

Paino encouraged University personnel to stay strong and aware, to practice self-care and to consider at-risk individuals. He also urged the campus community to be cognizant of the contributions of healthcare partners, including the CDC, Virginia Department of Health, Rappahannock Area Health District and colleagues throughout the commonwealth.

Much of the talk focused on the University-wide need to connect with prospective students. “It’s the small things,” Paino said. “It’s the way we answer the phone, the way we interact with people on campus.” Related initiatives, he said, include the newly created Recruitment and Retention Council, the launch of a new brand and a push to engage students earlier in their high school careers.

Turning to the topic of construction, Paino said, activity continues on campus despite supply chain and inflation issues. He cited the recent demolition of Alvey; renovation of Seacobeck, which re-opened today; and the ongoing underground utilities project on Ball Circle.

After an extensive renovation, longtime dining area Seacobeck Hall has officially taken on its new role as home to the College of Education. More capital projects are in the works, President Paino announced during the Spring 2022 All-University Address.

After an extensive renovation, longtime dining area Seacobeck Hall has officially taken on its new role as home to the College of Education. More capital projects are in the works, President Paino announced during the Spring 2022 All-University Address.

More such work is on the way, he said, with a new legislative session and state administration. Preliminary funding will support the museums operated by UMW, the Office of Disability Resources and a proposed salary increase. In addition, funding will be available to plan for the construction of a new theatre and the renovation of duPont, Melchers and Pollard halls, along with Simpson Library.

Paino welcomed Chief Diversity Officer Shavonne Shorter and Director of Emergency Management and Safety Brandy Ellard, and announced the launch of a national search for a vice president for advancement.

Leadership will guide the need to reassess Mary Washington’s strategic vision, Paino said. He asked the entire University community to join in the effort of examining the four current pillars – civic engagement, immersive learning, creation of a diverse and inclusive community, and adaptation of the liberal arts to a digital world – in light of lessons learned over the past two years.

“How do we respond to this moment?” he said. “And this is a moment, let’s make no mistake about it, that we have to respond to.”

On what would have been the 102nd birthday of former Mary Washington faculty member and civil rights icon James L. Farmer Jr., Paino stressed the need to work together to help shape the next generation of engaged citizens, inspire social mobility and demonstrate a commitment to truth.

“Is it challenging work? Is it huge work? Is it hard work? No doubt,” he said. “But I feel grateful that we have a sense of purpose here at this critically important time for our democracy. Thank you for all the work you do.”

Rosemary Arneson: Natural Resource

When UMW Librarian Rosemary Arneson tapped into her field, it was a study of card catalogs, microfiche and encyclopedias. The library at Emory University, where she earned a master’s degree in librarianship, did house a pair of clunky computers but special permission was needed to use them.

Arneson is proud to keep the original Mary Washington College spinning wheel in her office in Simpson Library. “It’s a beautiful great wheel,” she said, “and to me, it’s a reminder of where we came from as an institution.”

Arneson is proud to keep the original Mary Washington College spinning wheel in her office in Simpson Library. “It’s a beautiful great wheel,” she said, “and to me, it’s a reminder of where we came from as an institution.”

Now, wi-fi transports a dizzying array of data to screens on our desktops and laptops, tablets and iPads, Smartphones and iPhones, Androids and more.

“I have never been bored,” said Arneson, who insists the core of her calling remains. “Library work is, and always has been, about connecting our users with content. We’re still here helping people find the information they need.”

At least for a couple more weeks. She’s retiring this month.

Her last day’s a Thursday, which could prove routine – catching up with library staff, a meeting or two, and maybe, just maybe, her favorite, working the Reference Desk and connecting with students.

Friday, all bets are off. After 10 years at the helm of UMW’s Simpson Library, Arneson will fly off to Paris! Bon voyage!

Q: What brought you to Mary Washington?
A: I knew UMW from working at James Madison University in the early ’80s, and I’d met [University Librarian Emeritus] Roy Strohl at meetings over the years. I was ready to move on from my last job at the University of Montevallo in Alabama when I saw the UMW post.

Q: How do you feel about the changing library landscape?
A: Moving from card catalogs to online systems, paper indexes to full text databases, and collections that are more electronic than physical kept me learning new things all the time.

Q: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
A: The staff and students I get to work with – a wonderful, dedicated group of folks. I know they’ll keep working to improve the library and its services. Over the years, I’ve hired several librarians fresh out of school and worked with students who went on to careers in libraries and archives. They all make me proud.

A stint at the Talking Book Center – part of the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled – in a regional public library in Georgia got Arneson hooked on the field. A member of the American Library Association, she also has held positions at Virginia State University, Fairfield University in Connecticut and Queens College in North Carolina.

A stint at the Talking Book Center – part of the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled – in a regional public library in Georgia got Arneson hooked on the field. A member of the American Library Association, she also has held positions at Virginia State University, Fairfield University in Connecticut and Queens College in North Carolina.

Q: Most challenging?
A: Part of being the university librarian is that I manage the budget; there’s never enough money to do all the things we want to do.

Q: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: I didn’t set out to become a librarian. I had a brief career in commercial television as the first female camera operator in Columbus, Georgia. I’m the reason camera people no longer have to wear ties. 

Q: What’s your motto?
A: I can’t do everything, but I can do something, so what can I do to make things better?

Q: What are you reading?
A: The Rusalka Wheel in Brooks Mencher’s Yarn Woman series, centered on a textile forensic analyst. This book involves a spinning wheel from Eastern Europe that turns up in an antiques shop in San Francisco’s Chinatown. 

Q: What else do you do in your free time?
A: Anything with yarn. Mostly, I knit. I usually have two or three projects on the needles at a time. (Right now, the second of a pair of socks, the first of a pair of mittens, and a baby dress.)  I also love to travel. 

Celebrate Rosemary Arneson’s UMW career and say “au revoir” at a retirement gathering this afternoon at 4 in the HCC Convergence Gallery.

Welcome Home, Eagles! Celebrate Homecoming, Oct. 18 to 23!

It’s a bummer that there will be no tailgating this year, due to COVID-19. But there will be plenty of athletic action for Eagles of all ages to view! Alumni, students, parents and friends are welcome to watch competitions in swimming, soccer, softball, baseball and rugby. Come join the fun! Plus other activities throughout the week. Learn more.

Ken Machande: Counting on Change

Ken Machande had a case of jitters heading into Monroe Hall more than two decades ago. He had the credentials, but he was “beyond nervous,” he said of his first day as an adjunct professor at Mary Washington.

College of Business Interim Dean Ken Machande

College of Business Interim Dean Ken Machande

“I remember walking out of every class knowing more about accounting than when I walked in,” he said. “I was hooked.”

Early worries long gone, Machande’s still commanding the classroom, teaching Principles of Accounting three mornings a week. As UMW’s business offerings have expanded through the years, so has his job. As current interim dean – a position he held also in 2018-19 – he’s poised to help move the College of Business (COB) forward.

But before Mary Washington, there was the military.

Machande was a young Marine stationed in Japan in the ’80s when he started studying business. A 21-year stint in the service brought a wealth of experience, a CPA and a 1994 bachelor of liberal studies degree from Mary Washington. Five years later, favorite former professor Leigh Frackleton, then-chair of the business department, offered him that formidable job in Monroe.

“I had extensive accounting experience, but I also had an extreme case of self-doubt. Somewhere in the second or third semester I calmed down and realized I could actually teach accounting,” said Machande, who was named COB’s associate dean in 2012.

Since then, the College has received AACSB accreditation, earning a spot among the world’s best. It’s added undergraduate majors in marketing, international business and Machande’s favorite, accounting. Faculty work with business majors who minor in subjects across disciplines, graduate students and those at the Naval Surface Warfare Center at Dahlgren.

The focus, Machande said, remains on teaching … “which is a lot of fun.”

Q: What do you love about teaching?
A: All our faculty members at UMW love to teach. I’m no different. Connecting with students early in their academic careers is important for many reasons – for the students and for me.

Q: What’s your take on being named interim dean, not once but twice?
A: Both appointments occurred under special circumstances. The first time, someone was needed immediately to serve, and we’re in the middle of a pandemic this second time, so there were no broad-based searches for candidates in either case. Many of my colleagues possess the skills and abilities to do the job, but I had the advantage of knowing what needs to be done because I’d been the associate dean for several years.

Q: What’s most rewarding about your job?
A: Our faculty members are collaborative and brilliant. Our staff members always take the extra step to help. Our administration is compassionate. Our students are curious. We all contribute in our own way to make UMW a special place where learning always happens. I’m reminded every day how lucky I am to work at UMW.

Q: What’s most challenging?
A: Working through the uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
A: Spend time with my family (wife Samantha and two daughters) and play – or better said, try to play – guitar.

Q: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: I’m the best kickball player in the College of Business.

Malcolm Holmes: Heart of the Matter

One national search, two busy years, 10 auditioning firms, 6,000 consulted constituents.

UMW Director of Marketing Malcolm Holmes has been leading the arduous effort to launch a new Mary Washington brand. Following nearly two years of research and consultations, rollout is just around the corner.

UMW Director of Marketing Malcolm Holmes has been leading the effort to launch a new Mary Washington brand. After nearly two years of research, in collaboration with the Atlanta-based firm Mindpower, rollout is just around the corner.

Malcolm Holmes’ world is awash in data. As UMW’s director of marketing, he’s wrapped up in recruitment, advertising, web and social media content, photo and video shoots. And for many months, something else – new branding.

Honing in on the essence of UMW has been quite the process. Of the 10 firms that vied for the job, Holmes said, Atlanta-based Mindpower best aligned with Mary Washington’s mission and culture. A flurry of forums and focus groups, surveys and meetings, churned out a new brand – “Matter” – which President Paino shared with the Board of Visitors in February. More than a tagline, Holmes said, it’s an “accountability measure,” a “claim of distinction,” a “promise.”

“A guiding light for the stories and images we use to promote the university, and most importantly, in how we treat and speak to each other, our students and those we encounter each day. As members of the UMW community, we’re all representatives of the brand.”

When he came to Mary Washington in 2013, Holmes brought a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from VCU, a master’s in public relations from Norfolk State University and a wealth of experience. Director of marketing communications and public affairs, and special assistant to the president, at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, he’d earned a spot on the Reynolds Executive Cabinet.

You Matter. stickerSuccess, Holmes said, hinges on teamwork: “We cannot meet our marketing goals without collaboration across departments.” Nor if a pandemic puts the brakes on your project.

When the branding campaign resumed this winter, “the world looked a lot different,” he said, providing an “opportunity” to re-test and re-visit, make sure the effort was on the right track.

“A lot is happening behind the scenes right now,” said Holmes, who plans a brand rollout with new visuals, Web pages and admissions materials, plus a targeted advertising campaign. “We are extremely excited to begin this process!”

 

Q: What does “Matter” mean to you?
A: This project took me on a spiritual journey. So much has happened over the last year. It’s comforting to know that I’m part of an organization that’s making a difference. Just as the University as a whole matters, our individual contributions matter. We all matter! 

Q: Anythingfun” involved in the rollout?
A: A big celebration on Ball Circle the first week of fall classes with T-shirts and other surprises (if COVID protocols allow).

Sample advertisement guided by UMW's new brand, "Matter."

Sample advertisement guided by UMW’s new brand, “Matter.”

Q: What’s most rewarding about your job?
A: The collaboration. You cannot work in a silo and be successful in this business. I’m blessed to be surrounded by a mission-focused team that understands it takes all of us to make marketing magic.

Q: Most challenging?
A: Keeping up with innovations in digital marketing that seem to appear overnight.

Q: What’s the best thing on your desk?
A: A picture of my three kids – all young adults. They’re my motivation, my inspiration and my “on-call” focus group for anything related to social media!

Q: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
A: Visiting Virginia wineries. There are more than 300 across the state.

Q: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: I started attending Mary Washington when I was in high school. I came every summer as part of the Upward Bound program. Dr. Venitta McCall was the program director at the time. I credit her with setting me on the trajectory to be where I am in my career today.

Q: What’s your motto?
A: To whom much is given, much is required.

Miriam Liss: Research Persistent

After her first interview for an academic position – at Mary Washington – Miriam Liss knew right away she wanted the job.

Professor of Psychological Science Miriam Liss

Professor of Psychological Science Miriam Liss

“It was so much fun. I loved everything about it,” said Liss, who earned a doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Connecticut. “The people were wonderful. The students were wonderful. The town was charming.”

That was 20 years ago. Since then, she has risen in rank from assistant to full professor in the Department of Psychological Science. This fall, she’ll take on the role of chair.

Along the way, her life has woven itself into her work, which always focuses on students. With them, and with many fellow faculty members, she’s explored and published on myriad topics, from feminist identity and body image to sensory processing and self-injury. When Liss became a mother herself – to Emily, 12, and Daniel, 14 – her research turned toward the subject of parenting.

More recently, she’s embraced the concept of mindfulness. The results of a three-year study – with UMW professors Mindy Erchull, Dan Hirshberg, Angela Pitts and David Ambuel – appear in the current issue of The Journal of Contemplative Inquiry. Their research, a collaboration between the departments of Classics, Philosophy and Religious Studies, along with Psychological Science, found decreased levels of depression and anxiety in students who take UMW’s Contemplative Practice course.

Miriam Liss has pursued a wide range of research at UMW, involving students every step of the way. Results of a recent study conducted with felllow faculty members were published in the current edition of 'The Journal of Contemplative Inquiry.'

Miriam Liss has pursued a wide range of research at UMW, involving students every step of the way. Results of a recent study conducted with felllow faculty members were published in the current edition of ‘The Journal of Contemplative Inquiry.’

Liss hopes to instill the idea of mindfulness, and its effects on mental wellness, at an even earlier age, by collaborating with Mary Washington students and a social worker at Spotsylvania’s Riverview Elementary School to implement a first-grade curriculum. She’s guiding her research team to get the program off the ground and evaluate its effects, and to explore how mindfulness might protect against a variety of mental health outcomes in college students.

From the first course she taught, after that “fun” and fortuitous interview, to the classes she’s teaching, virtually, this semester – Psychology of Women, using the textbook she wrote with Erchull, and Abnormal Psychology – students have remained front and center.

“That’s one of the things I like so much about Mary Washington,” Liss said. “We’re allowed to develop our research agenda in any way we want as long as we’re involving students.”

Q: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
A: Working with students, especially my research students, and allowing their interests, along with my own, to shape what I do. Over the years I’ve worked with so many amazing students.

Q: What’s most challenging?
A: Balancing everything. Sometimes I feel like I have so many balls in the air I’m afraid I’m going to drop one.

Q: Any big plans as department chair?
A: My colleagues and I have been working to develop a course through the Department of Psychological Science to prepare students for careers after college.

Q: What’s the one thing people would be most surprised to learn about you?
A: They might be surprised to know how involved I’ve been with theater. I made my Fredericksburg début in 2015 as the mother in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. I love singing. I can do a mean show tune. My true fantasy is to retire and get on the stage.

Q: Any mottos you live by?
A: Don’t get so tangled up in your thoughts. Just because you think it, doesn’t mean it’s true. Also, I have a general motto of self-acceptance. We’re all going to mess up. It’s OK. We can still love all the parts of ourselves, not just the great parts.

Rev. Aaron Dobynes to Deliver UMW’s Martin Luther King Jr. Keynote Speech

Rev. Aaron Dobynes

Rev. Aaron Dobynes

The 10th pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church (Old Site), Dobynes will deliver the Martin Luther King Jr. keynote speech via Zoom on Wednesday, Jan. 27, at 6 p.m. A fourth-generation preacher who holds two doctoral degrees, Dobynes attended high school in Selma, Alabama, and will draw on his personal experiences and advanced studies to deliver an emotional presentation dedicated to Martin Luther King, Jr. Presented by the James Farmer Multicultural Center. Registration is required.

Employee Honors Awarded at Presidential Luncheon

UMW President Troy Paino, during a virtual luncheon Tuesday, expressed his gratitude to faculty and staff for their commitment to seeing the University through a “remarkable” fall semester. Staff Advisory Council President Michelle Pickham, Executive Director of Human Resources Beth Williams and Chief of Staff Jeff McClurken also spoke during the event.

Clockwise from top left, Executive Director of Human Resources Beth Williams, President Troy Paino, Chief of Staff Jeff McClurken and Staff Advisory Council President Michelle Pickham spoke at Tuesday's Presidential Luncheon and award presentation.

Clockwise from top left, Executive Director of Human Resources Beth Williams, President Troy Paino, Chief of Staff Jeff McClurken and Staff Advisory Council President Michelle Pickham spoke at Tuesday’s Presidential Luncheon and award presentation.

“I just couldn’t be more proud of the Mary Washington community,” Paino said, thanking students, area partners and all UMW employees, with a special shout-out to those with children at home who are juggling multiple roles. “We’ve really gone through this together.”

Paino told participants that UMW’s performance throughout the pandemic, and the reimagining of operations it caused, had exceeded his expectations. He talked about the road ahead for the University, emphasizing the importance of practicing mental health and continuing to follow MMDC (monitor, mask, distance and clean) guidelines.

The panel answered questions on topics such as the University’s rebranding efforts and slated construction on campus. And the winners of the Hurley, Coleman and Atkins employee awards were announced. A twist this year is that two employees were doubly honored.

  • Digital Knowledge Center Associate Director Shannon Hauser received the Richard V. and Rosemary A. Hurley Presidential Commendation. This award goes to a UMW employee, with preference for an administrative/professional faculty member who has performed exceptionally meritorious service to the University, demonstrated strength of character and maintained steadfast dedication to the University’s mission.
  • Assistant Building Attendant Manager Sharon Neville received the Charles Coleman Service Award. This honor goes to classified and hourly employees who have demonstrated loyalty and dedication to the University, displayed care and concern for others, and maintained a positive “can do” attitude regarding assigned duties and responsibilities.
  • Hauser (AP faculty), Neville (classified) and Center for Career and Professional Development Career Coach Mary Becelia (wage) received the Staff Advisory Council’s Larry Atkins Award. This honor goes to employees who lend a helping hand to their teammates, go above and beyond in each and every task, and set a positive example for their colleagues.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” Paino told employees who joined Tuesday’s luncheon. “We’re going to come back for a better 2021.”