August 3, 2020

Main Course

Summer session feeds students’ passion for writing

State Superintendent Steven R. Staples Addresses Master’s Candidates

State Superintendent Steven R. Staples challenged graduates to step up as leaders during his address at the University of Mary Washington’s graduate commencement Friday, May 8.   State Superintendent Steven Staples “We need high quality leadership,” said Staples, who pondered the question of whether leaders are made or born.   He recounted the impact of three diverse trailblazers–Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mother Teresa—who shared common traits. “All three refused to simply accept circumstances ‘as they were’ and worked to make progress to improve life, despite obstacles and challenges,” Staples said. “And all three led from the heart.  Their leadership was an extension of their core beliefs and principles.” Staples addressed nearly 1,000 graduates, family members, friends and faculty, gathered in Dodd Auditorium. A total of 169 graduate degrees were awarded, including 87 Master of Education degrees, 47 Master of Business Administration degrees, 27 Master of Science in Elementary Education degrees and 8 Master of Science in Management Information Systems degrees. Five graduates received both the MBA and the MSMIS in a dual-degree program. Staples implored graduates to model qualities from such leaders of the past. “Refuse to accept ‘what is’ if ‘what could be’ is better,” he said. “Lead by your core principles.” As Virginia’s 24th superintendent, Staples is a leader in his own right. He serves as the executive officer of the Virginia Department of Education, the administrative agency for the commonwealth’s public schools. He also serves as secretary of the Board of Education. Pondering the ‘born’ or ‘made’ leadership dilemma, Staples said the answer may be a combination of the two. “Perhaps it doesn’t matter, as long as leaders are willing to accept the expectations, responsibilities, and challenges inherent in leadership . . . . as long as we are all ready to become one of those willing to dare greatly.” Pamela Bridgewater, a Foreign Service officer who served as U.S. Ambassador in three countries, will deliver the undergraduate commencement address on Saturday, May 9, beginning at 9 a.m. on Ball Circle.

UMW Initiates Test-Optional Admissions Provision

The University of Mary Washington will offer high-achieving prospective students the opportunity to opt out of providing standardized college admission tests with their application for enrollment. The University’s Board of Visitors approved the action during its April meeting. Donald Rallis' geography class, Thursday Oct. 27, 2011. (Photo by Norm Shafer).Beginning with the 2015-16 recruitment period, high school students who have maintained at least a 3.5 grade point average have the option of waiving submission of their SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) or ACT (American College Test) scores when applying for admission to the university. Previously, UMW required either SAT or ACT scores for students to be considered for admission. Students applying for merit-based scholarships would be ineligible for this program. “High school GPAs are by far one of the strongest predictors of college success,” said Kimberley Buster-Williams, associate provost for enrollment management and admissions. “We welcome the opportunity to consider admission for students who perhaps do not test well or for whom a standardized test doesn’t reflect their true potential.” Strong academic students traditionally pursue a rigorous high school curriculum that includes college-level courses, Buster-Williams said. She added that the most compelling reason for instituting a test-optional policy is to enhance the diversity of the student body. Data reveals that schools with test-optional policies often see increased applications from minorities, women, Pell-eligible students, first-generation college students and students with learning differences. In addition, a growing body of evidence suggests that high school GPA is a better indicator of student success in college than standardized test scores. Currently, more than 800 colleges and universities no longer require the submission of standardized test scores in admission decisions, according to Fair Test: The National Center for Fair and Open Testing. To be considered for admission to UMW, any student who applies to UMW must submit a high school transcript, essay and letters of recommendation.

Scanning Through History

Students relive the past using 3-D technology.

UMW Students Win Art Awards

The University of Mary Washington Department of Art and Art History announced its student awards at the opening reception of the Annual Student Art Exhibition at the duPont Gallery on Wednesday, April 8.   IMG_9849Senior Taylor White of Stafford received the Melchers Gray Purchase Award for his video “A Lawful Order.” The work will become part of the university’s permanent collection. Senior Marie Firth of Vienna received the Emil Schnellock Award in Painting for her painting “Peggy Childers.” The Department of Art and Art History presents this award each year to recognize excellence in painting. Senior Khirstie Smith of Spotsylvania was presented the Anne Elizabeth Collins Award for her piece, “June Beach.” The following students also received awards at the exhibition’s opening ceremony:
  • Maddox Palmer of Arlington received an award of excellence
  • Christine Valvo of Stafford received an award of excellence
  • Ashley Most of Front Royal received an award of excellence
  • Katie Frazier of Lexington received the Art History Award for Outstanding Research
  • Alyssa Hughes of Chesapeake received The Melchers Award for Excellence in Art History
Tosha Grantham, curator of Second Street Gallery in Charlottesville, selected works for the exhibition from more than 100 submissions and chose the recipients of awards of excellence, along with the Melchers Gray Purchase Award, Emil Schnellock Award in Painting and the Ann Elizabeth Collins Award. The Student Art Exhibition will run through Sunday, April 26 in the duPont Gallery, located on College Avenue at Thornton Street. The exhibition is open to the publ without charge and selected works are for sale. The duPont Gallery is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. Free parking is designated for gallery visitors in a lot across College Avenue at Thornton Street. For more information about the UMW Galleries, visit

UMW Environmental Science Professor Receives Fulbright Scholarship

Melanie Szulczewski, associate professor of Earth and environmental Sciences at the University of Mary Washington, has been selected to receive a prestigious 2015-2016 Fulbright U.S. Scholar grant. Szulczewski will use the grant to conduct research at the University of Agriculture in Krakow, Poland.   Melanie Szulczewski, associate professor of Earth and environmental Sciences Szulczewski is one of two professors at UMW to receive the Fulbright Scholarship this year. Julius Esunge, assistant professor of mathematics, will be traveling to Buea, Cameroon to construct and compare predictive models for healthcare costs and to teach classes at the University of Buea. The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international exchange program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau. The scholarship program gives professors the opportunity to conduct research and network with other professors from around the world. While in Poland, Szulczewski will study ecosystem restoration on former mining sites with Marcin Pietrzykowski, professor and researcher of forest ecology at the University of Agriculture in Krakow. Pietrzykowski previously received a Fulbright Scholarship to work at Virginia Tech in the 2013-2014 academic year. “This opportunity to work with him will enhance my field and analytical skills,” said Szulczewski. “It will benefit both of our research groups and add to the knowledge base for rehabilitating thousands of contaminated mining sites worldwide.” Szulczewski, an environmental scientist who specializes in soil chemistry, came to UMW in 2008. Prior to teaching at UMW, Szulczewski received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and French literature from Cornell University. Szulczewski also received both a master’s degree in soil science and a doctorate in soil science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Konieczny Publishes in the Israel Journal of Mathematics

Janusz Konieczny, professor of mathematics, co-authored a research article, The commuting graph of the symmetric inverse semigroup, published in the Israel Journal of Mathematics.

Open-Door Policy

Ana Chichester is passionate about teaching.

UMW Mathematics Professor Receives Fulbright Grant

Julius Esunge, assistant professor of mathematics at the University of Mary Washington, has been selected to receive a prestigious 2015-2016 Fulbright U.S. Scholar grant. Esunge will teach and conduct research at the University of Buea in the Republic of Cameroon beginning in the spring of 2016.   Assistant Professor Julius Esunge The Fulbright Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is the U.S. government’s flagship international exchange program. The scholarship program gives professors a unique opportunity as ambassadors of American higher education, pursuing research and teaching opportunities around the world. An expert in stochastic analysis, Esunge blends mathematics and statistics to understand and solve real-world problems. As part of his Fulbright grant, Esunge will return to the place of his undergraduate studies – the University of Buea – to teach two semesters of probability and actuarial mathematics and lead a weekly graduate seminar in stochastic analysis. He also will construct and compare predictive models for healthcare costs. “The opportunity to return to the University of Buea and actively mentor a new generation of students is priceless,” said Esunge, who joined the UMW mathematics department in 2009. “I have the opportunity to map a path for the current students and motivate them through passionate teaching.” Esunge received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Buea, a master’s degree from Lehigh University and a master’s degree and doctorate’s degree from Louisiana State University. “Dr. Esunge is a very popular and effective teacher, and I know he will have a tremendous impact at the University of Buea,” said Jonathan Levin, provost at UMW. “It is a special pleasure to see him bring his talent and expertise to his own alma mater in Cameroon.”

Face of Feminism

Senior Paige McKinsey is passionate about empowering women.