August 15, 2020

Professors Earn Emeritus Status

With four of several upcoming retirements, UMW bids farewell and issues emeritus status to faculty members Rosemary Barra, Dana Hall, Warren Rochelle and Marie Wellington.

Rosemary Barra

Professor Emerita of Biological Sciences Rosemary Barra

Rosemary Barra has taught at Mary Washington for 38 years and most recently held the William M. Anderson Jr. Distinguished Chair in Biological Sciences.

She joined the biology faculty as an adjunct, quickly became full time and worked her way up to full professor in 1994. She chaired the department from 1993 to 2002. From 2004 to 2010, she served as interim vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty.

Barra has served on and chaired numerous committees at every level, including as treasurer and chair of the board of the Friends of the UMW Philharmonic. Her distinguished research career includes five grants from the National Institutes of Health. She has published 11 journal articles and 51 abstracts, most with undergraduate co-authors.

She has overseen 72 student independent research projects, many resulting in public presentations at the annual meetings of the Virginia Academy of Science, the American Society for Cell Biology and the American Association for Cancer Research.

Barra received the Grellet Simpson Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2003. With a reputation for teaching difficult classes and being a demanding but fair professor, Barra embraced her students’ affectionate nickname for her: Barracuda.

Dana Hall

Associate Professor Emerita of Athletics, Health and Physical Education Dana Hall

Dana Hall, who departs after 34 years at Mary Washington, is senior woman administrator in the department of athletics, health and physical education and senior associate athletic director.

She arrived on campus as an assistant coach and has served various faculty and coaching roles. She coached both field hockey and women’s lacrosse for more than 20 years, for teams that received bids to 18 NCAA Division III tournaments and advanced to three Final Four championships. Hall was named 2001 NCAA Division III National Women’s Lacrosse Coach and 1993 National Coach of the Year in field hockey.

As an administrator, Hall oversaw the introduction of the sports management minor and directed the men’s and women’s golf programs. She initiated a student-athlete leadership academy, holding monthly assistant coach professional development seminars and head coach roundtable discussions.

“During her long and renowned career as both a coach and administrator, Dana has had a positive and lasting impact … that will be felt for years to come,” said Director of Athletics Patrick Catullo. “She will be remembered for her contributions to the success of our athletic department and small college athletics.”

Warren Rochelle

Professor Emeritus of English Warren Rochelle

Throughout two decades at Mary Washington, Warren Rochelle, who coordinates the creative writing program, empowered students of all disciplines to become better writers through their courses in the Department of English, Linguistics and Communication.

“Warren devoted himself to his students with unflagging diligence, personalized attention and true concern, whether on campus or in the study-abroad programs he led in England and Wales,” wrote department chair and Professor of English Gary Richards. Students sought out Rochelle’s “sweet, wise counsel,” noted Professor Judith Parker.

Known for his willingness to lead search committees and organize speaking events, Rochelle  was a prolific writer, publishing dozens of short stories, articles and reviews. He published five books, including a study of the works of Ursula Le Guin, and four novels. One of those novels, The Called, was nominated for a 2010 Lambda Literary Award.

“In this fiction, Warren repeatedly imagined the possibilities of embodied queerness and retold age-old stories to reflect the actualities of our evolving sexualities,” Richards wrote.

Marie Wellington

Professor Emerita of French Marie Wellington

Marie Wellington has shared her love of French language and literature with Mary Washington students for 29 years, teaching beginning to advanced French, and offering courses on 18th-century French theater and prose, philosophical texts, Voltaire, and advanced French stylistics.

Wellington specialized in the literature of the Enlightenment and concentrated her research in theater and prose fiction of that period.

In addition to her book on the theater of Voltaire, she has published articles – in English and French – in such journals as Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, The Australian Journal of French Studies, Dalhousie French Studies and Romance Quarterly. She participated in numerous conferences on 18th-century studies and served on the editorial boards of four professional journals.

Students appreciated her dry sense of humor and her “propensity to cut through rhetoric and tell it like it is,” wrote Professor of Spanish Elizabeth Lewis.

Wellington served on departmental committees and the University Faculty Council, and her colleagues will miss her lively take on British actors, Project Runway, Steve Martin and travel.

Alumnus Earns Competitive Fellowship to Teach Constitution

2006 graduate Sam Ulmschneider (left), a global studies and history teacher based in Richmond, was recently named Virginia’s 2020 recipient of the James Madison Fellowship.

2006 graduate Sam Ulmschneider (left), a global studies and history teacher based in Richmond, was recently named Virginia’s 2020 recipient of the James Madison Fellowship.

Persistence paid off for UMW graduate Sam Ulmschneider.

The global studies and history teacher was recently named Virginia’s 2020 recipient of the James Madison Fellowship – on his fourth attempt to earn the award.

The $24,000 prize is given to just one recipient per state each year to promote outstanding teaching of the U.S. Constitution in secondary schools. It will allow Ulmschneider to pursue a second master’s degree while he continues to teach gifted high schoolers at his other alma mater, Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School in Richmond.

Two of Ulmschneider’s previous fellowship applications resulted in his being named a runner-up. Undiscouraged, he kept applying, a process that included a lot of essay-writing. “I felt like my students do when they’re filling out their college applications,” he said.

His own education at Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School – and the Advanced Placement credits he earned there – allowed him to focus on his academic interests almost immediately at UMW.

“The advising system was wonderful, and it’s one of the things I took away from Mary Washington,” said Ulmschneider, who double majored in history and philosophy with a minor in religion, and joined the University’s club fencing team. Read more.

Alumnus Earns Competitive Fellowship to Teach Constitution

Persistence paid off for UMW graduate Sam Ulmschneider. The global studies and history teacher was recently named Virginia’s 2020 recipient of the James Madison Fellowship – on his fourth attempt to earn the award. The $24,000 prize is given to just one recipient per state each year to promote outstanding teaching of the U.S. Constitution […]

Visualizing a Virus: Alum’s Art Captures Emotions of a Pandemic

Hadrian Mendoza isn’t glorifying the novel coronavirus at the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic. But in images of the tiny particle, he sees more than fear, suffering, loss and grief. To Mendoza, a 1996 Mary Washington graduate and internationally known fine-arts potter, viruses have long represented a fascinating intersection of danger and beauty. Starting in […]

Visualizing a Virus: Alum’s Art Captures Emotions of a Pandemic

Fine-arts potter Hadrian Mendoza is shown with some of his earlier works. The 1996 Mary Washington graduate is currently working on several commissioned coronavirus sculptures. Photo Credit: Hadrian Mendoza.

Fine-arts potter Hadrian Mendoza is shown with some of his earlier works. The 1996 Mary Washington graduate is currently working on several commissioned coronavirus sculptures. Photo Credit: Hadrian Mendoza.

Hadrian Mendoza isn’t glorifying the novel coronavirus at the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic. But in images of the tiny particle, he sees more than fear, suffering, loss and grief.

To Mendoza, a 1996 Mary Washington graduate and internationally known fine-arts potter, viruses have long represented a fascinating intersection of danger and beauty. Starting in 2016, he began creating sculptural interpretations of viruses – his creations then were hollow spheres with sharp, spiny protrusions that served both to balance and to convey threat.

Evacuated Peace Corps Volunteer Vows to Continue Global Service

At their swearing-in ceremony last summer, Sebrine Abdulkadir, left, and fellow Peace Corps volunteers wear clothing handmade from traditional Botswanan fabrics. Abdulkadir’s service was cut short when the Peace Corps evacuated volunteers due to coronavirus.

At their swearing-in ceremony last summer, Sebrine Abdulkadir, left, and fellow Peace Corps volunteers wear clothing handmade from traditional Botswanan fabrics. Abdulkadir’s service was cut short when the Peace Corps evacuated volunteers due to coronavirus.

For Peace Corps volunteer Sebrine Abdulkadir ’19, posted in the southern African country of Botswana, the upheaval happened fast.

On a Monday morning in mid-March, she received an email saying she and other Peace Corps volunteers worldwide would be evacuated from their posts because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In three hours Abdulkadir packed what possessions she could from her house in the village of Good Hope, near the South African border. She left other belongings in the care of colleagues who had worked with her on projects to educate young people about HIV/AIDS.

By Monday evening, she was on her way to Botswana’s capital, Gaborone. And Wednesday morning she began her journey home, flying through South Africa and the United Arab Emirates before arriving in Washington, D.C.

“I didn’t really believe it till I was walking onto the plane,” Abdulkadir said. “It was stressful. I didn’t really have the chance to say goodbye.”

After a two-week quarantine upon returning to the United States, Abdulkadir has joined her mother and 7-year-old brother at home in Alexandria, Virginia. From her independent adult life and her own house in Botswana, the 22-year-old finds herself once again under a parent’s roof and contemplating her next steps. Read more.

Evacuated Peace Corps Volunteer Vows to Continue Service

For Peace Corps volunteer Sebrine Abdulkadir ’19, posted in the southern African country of Botswana, the upheaval happened fast. On a Monday morning in mid-March, she received an email saying she and other Peace Corps volunteers worldwide would be evacuated from their posts because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In three hours Abdulkadir packed what possessions […]

Potter’s Fire

Students get hands-on experience with an ancient method of firing pottery.