December 2, 2021

Mary Wash Debate Team Zooms to National Victory

University of Mary Washington students have made it convincingly clear: They know how to debate. In keeping with a longstanding winning tradition, the UMW Debate Team last week wrapped up back-to-back weekends of competitions with a first-place finish at the American Debate Association’s Fall Championship Tournament, proving they’ve adapted successfully to an online format. Ainsley […]

UMW Course Preserves Native American Stories

John Blankenship’s passion for historic preservation is personal. A member of Virginia’s Patawomeck Indian Tribe, he’s always been interested in learning about his family tree and the roots his ancestors laid along the Potomac River. “Since I was young, I’ve wanted to ensure that the people and events of the past are remembered,” he said, […]

James Farmer Hall Officially Dedicated

On what was described as “a beautiful spring day in the middle of fall,” thunder could be heard yesterday during a ceremony dedicating University of Mary Washington’s James Farmer Hall. As Dr. James L. Farmer Jr. was remembered by numerous speakers – professors, current UMW students, members of the UMW Board of Visitors (BOV), and […]

International Pathways Provide Fast Track to Master’s Degrees

For Sarah Repko ’19, home is where you never feel alone, no matter who’s around. It’s where you have a sense of peace, comfort and community. That’s what Repko found at the University of Mary Washington, and that’s what she found nearly 4,000 miles away in Bilbao, Spain. There, she’s earning a master’s degree in […]

Faces From Faraway Places: UMW Goes International

When Lauren Harford and Daisy Jennings arrived at the University of Mary Washington last summer, a small gesture made a big difference. Center for International Education (CIE) Director Jose Sainz personally escorted the roommates to purchase a few English comforts – a kettle, tea and biscuits – after an unexpected doctor’s visit for Harford. “I’m […]

Jill Hyman: Global Guide

Jill Hyman hails from Philadelphia, but some of her most life-changing moments happened in a rural Chinese village.

Jill Hyman, study abroad coordinator for UMW's Center for International Education.

Jill Hyman, study abroad coordinator for UMW’s Center for International Education.

“Studying abroad made me who I am today,” said Hyman, who spent a college semester in Beijing nearly a decade ago. While in China, she held a panda cub, trekked rice terrace fields, stayed in tiny hostels and shared traditional meals with locals. “Meeting people from all walks of life, thousands of miles from home, was a really meaningful experience.”

Since 2019, Hyman has helped globetrotting students plan their own overseas adventures, as the study abroad coordinator for University of Mary Washington’s Center for International Education (CIE). The Center also aids international students – there are currently more than 50 on campus – as they acclimate to life in the United States and at UMW.

“The personal, academic and professional growth that living and learning abroad facilitates is the key to developing global awareness and understanding,” said Hyman, who earned a bachelor’s degree from American University and a master’s of international education from The George Washington University.

At Mary Washington, with more than 150 programs in 60 countries, Hyman guides students through every aspect of the study abroad process, including navigating COVID protocols for international travel. CIE has monitored the ever-evolving situation, she said, working closely with government agencies, healthcare providers and academic counterparts in foreign countries since the start of the pandemic.

As International Education Week kicks off next Monday, Hyman said she feels hopeful and heartened that UMW students are beginning to travel once again.

“Our doors are open,” she said. “We’re ready to help you go abroad!”

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Q: How many UMW students are studying abroad this year?
A: We have 10 this fall and two dozen next semester, including one at sea. There are also faculty-led trips going to the Galapagos, Guatemala, Jamaica, England and Poland during spring break.

Q: What’s most rewarding about your job?
A: Seeing UMW students come to my office, anxious and unsure, and then return brimming with confidence. They often serve as CIE peer advisors after studying abroad, so it’s a privilege to get to know them better.

Q: Most challenging?
A: It was stressful when we brought our students home at the start of the pandemic, but I feel like the worst is behind us.

Q: What is one of your favorite travel memories?
A: In 2015, my husband and I got engaged in Ireland. We drove all over backroads in a rented car, seeing as much of the country as we could. He proposed on the last day, at sunset under a rainbow on the Cliffs of Moher. We dined at Knappogue Castle that evening.

Q: Where do you want to go next?
A: I have to pick one? My top five are Poland, Peru, Scotland, Taiwan and South Africa.

Q: What would surprise people about you?
A: I’ve seen all 807 television episodes and 13 movies in the Star Trek franchise. Live long and prosper, fellow nerds!

Q: What’s your motto?
A: Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Literature Course a Matter of Life and Death – and Purpose

Shelley Nguyen hasn’t landed on a career choice yet, but she’s already contemplating what kind of legacy she wants to leave. “It’s important to think about how I want to live my life,” said Nguyen, a University of Mary Washington sophomore and international affairs major who spends a few minutes each morning jotting down notes […]

UMW’s Commitment to Going Green Wins Gold

Formal sustainability committee? Check. Environmentally focused degrees? Check. LEED-certified buildings? Check. A host of Earth-friendly initiatives has earned the University of Mary Washington a spot among the nation’s most environmentally responsible schools in the 2022 Guide to Green Colleges, published last week by The Princeton Review. “UMW offers excellent academics and demonstrates a commitment to […]

Ballot-topia: UMW Students Praised for Voter Participation

Wearing a white slicker and black rain boots, University of Mary Washington senior Caroline Mowdy approached a tent set up outside George Washington Hall. She needed a ride to the polls. Soon, she was in psychology major Christian Lyman’s blue Toyota Scion and on the way to her voting site, Dorothy Hart Community Center in […]

Gregg Stull: Return to the Stage

Department of Theatre and Dance Chair Gregg Stull sets the scene as he shares his first impressions of his alma mater.

Theatre and Dance Professor and Chair Gregg Stull

Theatre and Dance Professor and Chair Gregg Stull

“I discovered Mary Washington when we visited my aunts who lived on Kenmore Avenue,” said Stull, who earned a bachelor’s degree in dramatic arts in 1982. “I remember sitting in the backseat of my mother’s car as we passed by the gates.”

First in his family to attend college, Stull described campus life as “idyllic” and slow paced – with one exception. In the theatre department, amid the hustle and bustle of rehearsals and shows, he learned not only to perform onstage but how to run lights, paint scenery, build costumes and manage the box office, under the guidance of supportive faculty members. “They encouraged us to stretch ourselves in every direction.”

Stull, who holds a master’s degree from the University of Maryland, put his studies to work as managing director of D.C.’s Woolly Mammoth Theatre, before being hired first as an adjunct in 1990, then as a full-time instructor.

Now, as department chair, Stull ensures UMW’s aspiring thespians still receive a well-rounded education, even during the pandemic. With stages going dark everywhere, the department pulled together and persevered, delving into virtual productions, offering online and socially distanced courses, and employing professional actors to teach via Zoom.

But nothing compares to performing for a live audience, Stull said. In September, COVID precautions in place, UMW Theatre returned to the stage to perform Joan Holden’s Nickel and Dimed. After an 18-month hiatus, Mary Washington served as model to other schools as to how to safely resurrect live performances.

Next up is the Tony Award-winning The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, about a teen who investigates the mysterious death of a neighbor’s dog, opening Nov. 11, followed by The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Julius Caesar.

“Ours is work that demands we share space, proximity and even breath with each other,” Stull said. “We need to be in dialogue with an audience; nothing can replicate that moment of connection.”

Purchase tickets for UMW Theatre’s upcoming performances. Masks and proof of vaccination or a negative test are required.


Q: As a student, did a particular professor make an impact on you?
A: My advisor, Roger Kenvin, sparked a curiosity in me about the world that made me see myself beyond my rural high school and Mary Washington. We still exchange handwritten letters, 43 years later.

Q: How will Curious Incident resonate with audiences?
A: It’s an extraordinary story about challenging assumptions, exceeding expectations and navigating the chaos of life. It’s filled with hope and joy, which we could all use more of right now.

Q: Thoughts on UMW’s planned new theatre complex?
A: We’ve outgrown duPont and need facilities that support our work and project the theatre spaces students will encounter when they enter their professional lives.

Q: You were executive director of the NAMES Project, which displays the AIDS Memorial Quilt, and recently contributed to UMW’s LGBTQ+ Alumni Oral History Collection. What message do you hope to convey to the next generation doing this work?
A: Being part of a global project fighting for the rights of people who were dying without a voice affirmed for me that art is powerful and can change the world. I hope today’s young people will honor the struggle that brought us to this point in history and remember those whose lives were lost when the world – not so long ago – did not value difference.

Q: What’s most rewarding about your job?
A: When students discover themselves as a result of working on a production, I know I’m doing what I was called to do.

Q: Most challenging?
A: Meeting and responding to our ever-changing world on our stages and in our classrooms and studios.

Q: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: I went to culinary school in Italy and was a stage (French for “cooking apprentice”) at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Emilia-Romagna.

Q: What’s your motto?
A: Thinking and doing, doing and thinking,
That is the sum of all wisdom. – Goethe