August 3, 2021

Alum, Sports Exec, Scores Spot in Top ‘Forty Under 40’

Just like it was yesterday, Mike Shane ’04 remembers the Washington Nationals making the playoffs nearly a decade ago. “An hour after the game ended, stands were still packed. Everyone was cheering as the players took a lap around the field, high-fiving their fans,” said Shane, who spent 13 years moving up through the organization. […]

Justin Anderson: A Deep Dive

It’s hard to believe now, but as a child, University of Mary Washington swim coach Justin Anderson ’10 had to be coaxed into the pool by his siblings. But it was all in good fun. Today, his family is so close that most of them live on the same block.

UMW Swim Coach Justin Anderson '10 perched in front of Goolrick Pool. Photo by Karen Pearlman Photography.

UMW Swim Coach Justin Anderson ’10 perched in front of Goolrick Pool. Photo by Karen Pearlman Photography.

He found a similar sense of belonging at UMW. “As a student, knowing I would be joining an incredible family in the swim team made it such an easy decision to come here.”

In college, he made a splash as an English major and star swimmer, breaking records and being named the UMW and Capital Athletic Conference scholar-athlete his senior year. Working with then-coach Matt Sellman made a tremendous impact on the course of his life, Anderson said. “He encouraged me to apply to NCAA coaching conventions, which really ignited my career.”

A few years after graduation, Anderson was hired at Frostburg State University in Maryland, which had just finished last in conference standings. “I spent that first year recruiting and teaching swimmers with no experience, just to fill our lanes,” said Anderson, who in four years, tripled his roster and coached the team to a conference third place.

There, he met Zach Shattuck, a swimmer with hypochondroplasia, or short-limbed dwarfism. “It was one of those moments that changed my life profoundly,” said Anderson, who plunged into the world of Paralympic swimming.

In 2018, he returned to UMW with Shattuck as assistant coach, where they began training Joey Peppersack ’21, who was born with a rare condition called tibial hemimelia, causing his leg to be amputated at age 4. The trio has traveled together and individually to top Paralympic meets in Singapore, England, Denmark, Australia and Peru, earning many medals along the way.

In August, they’ll add Japan to that list. Shattuck and Peppersack made Team USA, with Anderson serving as an assistant coach. “I’m excited to go to my first Paralympic Games with two of my swimmers,” he said, “and proud to see their years of hard work pay off.”


Q: As a swim coach, how do use your English degree?
A: Communicating with recruits, alumni and parents; running social media accounts; and promoting our program within the campus community and to the outside world.  

Q: What’s most rewarding about your job?
A: Helping UMW swimmers chase their goals both in and out of the pool. 

Q: Most challenging?
A: Managing a team of 60 swimmers and staying attuned to all aspects of their student-athlete experience, especially during a pandemic.   

Q: What might people be surprised to learn about you?
A: After I graduated from UMW, I spent six months hiking the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia. 

Q: What’s your favorite thing in your office?
A: Notes of encouragement written by my coaching mentors when I was hired at UMW.

Q: How have you kept busy during the pandemic?
A: Working on my dissertation for the Doctorate of Education program at Frostburg State University. 

Q: What’s your motto?
A: My Grandma Flo always used to say, “Nothing lasts forever.” It helps me remember to cherish the good times and know that difficulty and hardships will eventually pass.

Science Symposium Showcases Research That’s Making a Difference

University of Mary Washington junior Karissa Highlander has spent the summer researching an infectious illness. But not the one scientists have been focused on for the past 18 months. Instead, Highlander, a biomedical sciences major, has been working on new treatments for tuberculosis. Though rare in the United States, antibiotic resistant strains of the deadly […]

Urban Forester Finds Love of Nature at UMW

The 11,000 to 12,000 trees shading the streets and parks of Lynchburg, Virginia, are a lot to keep up with. But Sarah Hagan, a 2011 University of Mary Washington graduate, has charge of them all, from roots to crowns. As Lynchburg’s urban forester, Hagan oversees trees individually but also as an interdependent whole – the urban […]

UMW Honors Students Earn Early Selection to Med School

When Shreya Murali was in high school, she got the chance to observe an open-heart surgery. She watched, mesmerized, as the surgeon cut through the sternum to reveal the patient’s beating heart. “At that moment, I knew I wanted to be in that room one day,” said prospective physician Murali, now a rising junior at […]

College of Education, City Spin New Type of Story

Each time Melissa Wells has taught “Literature and the Arts in Elementary Classrooms,” her students have partnered with local teachers to create children’s books to use in their classes. That wasn’t an option after the pandemic hit, said Wells, an assistant professor in University of Mary Washington’s College of Education (COE). But her colleague, Leslie […]

UMW Earns Spot in Top-Selling ‘Fiske Guide to Colleges 2022’

For the 14th consecutive year, the Fiske Guide to Colleges has named the University of Mary Washington among the country’s best for delivering outstanding academics and reasonable prices. Among top-selling publications that compare colleges, the prestigious Fiske Guide is often considered the gold standard resource. The 2022 edition, the 38th annual issue, features more than 300 […]

Administrative Retirees Leave Mark on UMW

Two key members of President Paino’s Cabinet have retired, taking with them a total of 39 years of contributions to University of Mary Washington. Having earned emeritus status, Chief Diversity Officer Sabrina Johnson and Provost Nina Mikhalevsky both served Mary Washington in myriad capacities. Their departures leave not only an institutional void but also a rich legacy.

Sabrina Johnson, Vice President for Equity and Access and Chief Diversity Officer, Emerita

Sabrina Johnson, Vice President for Equity and Access and Chief Diversity Officer, Emerita

Sabrina Johnson, Vice President for Equity and Access and Chief Diversity Officer, Emerita

During her 24 years at UMW, Sabrina Johnson has served in two critical administrative roles: Associate Vice President for Human Resources as well as her current position as Vice President for Equity and Access and Chief Diversity Officer. The first person to hold the latter role, Dr. Johnson has distinguished herself by advocating tirelessly for equity and inclusion for all members of the Mary Washington community.

Instrumental in establishing the University’s ASPIRE statement of community values, she has sought to ensure that all have the opportunity to succeed. Dr. Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in administration of justice and public safety and a master’s in public administration from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her juris doctorate is from the College of William and Mary’s Marshall-Wythe School of Law.

Among her myriad accomplishments, Dr. Johnson is responsible for:

  • Instituting bias incident reporting for the University
  • Leading UMW through statewide compensation reform
  • Making equity a focus at the senior leadership level and in academic and administrative program areas University wide
  • Leadership in establishing the Staff Advisory Council (now University Staff Council) as well as the Leadership UMW program for employee professional development
  • Advocacy for persons with disabilities, including promoting accessibility of the physical environment and the celebration of disability culture.


Nina Mikhalevsky, Provost Emerita and Professor Emerita of Philosophy

Nina Mikhalevsky, Provost Emerita and Professor Emerita of Philosophy

Nina MikhalevskyProvost Emerita and Professor Emerita of Philosophy

Nina Mikhalevsky was appointed as UMW’s chief academic officer in 2017. Working with the deans and faculty, she provides leadership of major university initiatives in teaching, research and creative activities, and has responsibility for all university educational and academic policies.

Dr. Mikhalevsky came to Mary Washington in 2006 after serving with distinction as a faculty member and administrator at both Mount Vernon College and The George Washington University. Before being named provost, she held a number of critical positions at UMW – Vice President for Strategy and Policy, Acting Provost, Acting Chief Information Officer and Vice President for Information Technologies, as well as Interim Dean of the College of Education.

Dr. Mikhalevsky has positively impacted nearly every aspect of the institution. Noteworthy accomplishments include leadership roles in strategic planning, accreditation, COVID-19 coordination, implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives, and championing teaching and learning.

She earned doctoral and master’s degrees in philosophy from Georgetown University, as well as a bachelor’s in philosophy from Boston University.

Young Alumna Wins County-Wide New Elementary Teacher Award

When Amelia Carr taught her kindergartners to recognize words by sight, she got a little help from her siblings. In a YouTube video, the trio belts out Sister Sledge’s ’70s anthem We Are Family, with Carr demonstrating on a whiteboard how to write the word “we.” For her ingenuity, passion and knack for making learning […]

Governor Announces UMW Board of Visitors Appointments

(From left to right: Allida Black, Devon Cushman, Pat McGinnis and Robert Strassheim.)

The Virginia Governor’s Office announced on Friday the appointment of Robert J. Strassheim ’96 of Keswick, Virginia, to the University of Mary Washington Board of Visitors (BOV). In addition, BOV Vice Rector Devon Williams Cushman ’93 of Richmond, as well as members Allida M. Black of Arlington and Patricia “Pat” Gwaltney McGinnis ’69 of Washington, D.C., have been reappointed to subsequent four-year terms on the board.

Robert J. Strassheim

Robert J. Strassheim

“I’m honored by this appointment, and in this capacity, I look forward to continuing to advocate for all of Mary Washington’s stakeholders,” said Strassheim, who will finish out the remaining three years of Edward B. Hontz’ term.

Robert Strassheim, a certified project management professional, serves as vice president of business operations for Dickinson + Associates Inc., a midsize software consulting company headquartered in Chicago. He has also held various leadership positions at Electronic Data Systems Inc., working for the Department of the Navy.

In addition, Strassheim has served as a part-time lecturer in UMW’s College of Business (COB) for more than two decades, teaching courses in marketing, management, corporate financial management, retail management and introduction to business, as well as a senior seminar in international business.

Strassheim earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Mary Washington, graduating with academic honors. He also holds an MBA and graduate certificate in international business from Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia, ranking third in his class.

At UMW, he is the current chair of COB’s Alumni Advisory Board and previously served as a Capital Campaign cabinet member. He is the recipient of the 2017 COB Distinguished Business Alumnus Achievement Award and the 2021 Frances Liebenow Armstrong ’36 Service Award.

Devon W. Cushman

Devon W. Cushman

Returning Vice Rector Devon Cushman has worn many hats during her career: litigation attorney, law professor, general counsel and – most recently – entrepreneur. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa with a bachelor’s degree in political science from Mary Washington and earning her J.D. from the University of Richmond School of Law, she worked as a litigator at Morris & Morris (now McCandlish Holton) and Hirschler Fleischer, where she was recognized by Virginia Business as “Legal Elite” and by Virginia Super Lawyers as a “Rising Star.”

Cushman also has served as an adjunct professor at Richmond Law and as assistant general counsel at Capital One, where she partnered with the policy affairs team to advance the company’s legislative agenda. Cushman recently founded a design company called Dutch Door. In addition, she supports the greater Richmond community as a pro bono attorney.

Allida Black is a distinguished scholar and human rights advocate who serves as managing director of Allenswood Group, LLC, an organization founded to empower individuals and strengthen democracy through civic engagement, grassroots activism and education.

She is historian and advisor to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and a distinguished visiting scholar at the Miller Center for Public Affairs. Prior to this, she served as a research professor of history and international affairs at The George Washington University (GWU). She is founding editor and editorial advisory board chair for the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project. Black also served as executive editor of fdr4freedoms Digital Resource, an online education and advocacy program dedicated to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms. She has been an advisor to documentaries on PBS, The History Channel, A&E and The Discovery Channel, and has authored seven books and multiple articles on women, politics and human rights policy.

Allida M. Black

Allida M. Black

Black is a current trustee for the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Foundation and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum. She is the recipient of GWU’s Millennium Medal, the 2001 Person of Vision Award from the Arlington County Commission on the Status of Women and the James A. Jordan Award from Penn State University. In 2013, she received the Interactive Media Council’s “Best in Class” award and an Independent Publisher Book Award silver medal. She is a member of the Leadership Council of the Marjorie Kovler Center for the Survivors of Torture.

Black earned a doctorate in history from GWU, a bachelor’s degree in political science from Emory University and a certificate in international humanitarian law from the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Patricia Gwaltney McGinnis

Patricia Gwaltney McGinnis

Pat McGinnis is a public policy consultant and part-time artist in Washington, D.C.  She has held positions in government, business, the nonprofit sector and academia. In government, she served as advisor to the White House Office of Cabinet Affairs in the Obama administration. She has also been on the Senate Budget Committee staff, the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Health and Human Services, and the Office of Management and Budget, where she led the effort to create the U.S. Department of Education during the Carter administration.

McGinnis was president and CEO of the nonpartisan, nonprofit Council for Excellence in Government, an organization of business leaders who previously served in government. Founder and principal of public strategy firm FMR Group, McGinnis was a senior associate at international management consulting firm Cresap, McCormick and Paget.

McGinnis has also served as part-time faculty at the University of Maryland, Georgetown University and most recently The George Washington University, where she was Distinguished Professor of Practice at the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration. Currently, McGinnis is an elected fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and a member of the board of the Congressional Management Foundation.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and government from Mary Washington and a master’s degree from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.