May 8, 2021

Commencement Crowns Challenging Year for Class of 2021

Sandra Vasquez’s cap said it all: “Sometimes I cried. Sometimes I doubted. But I never gave up.” Written in Spanish, the subject Vasquez studied at the University of Mary Washington, the glittery message on her mortarboard summed up the year. But the moment, she said, felt “surreal.” “It’s crazy. You go through school for so […]

Pandemic Delayed, Couldn’t Stop, UMW 2020 Commencement

Hannah Manning ’20, M.Ed. ’21, woke up with a nervous excitement. “Like I was getting ready to give a speech,” she said, posing for photos yesterday morning with fellow University of Mary Washington College of Education (COE) students Savannah Rowland and Alexandra Cooper. “It feels good to finally be doing this.” In less than two […]

Professors Receive Top Faculty Honors

The University of Mary Washington bestowed awards on two professors at the general faculty meeting on Wednesday, April 28. Professor of Biological Science Andrew Dolby received the inaugural Board of Visitors (BOV) Faculty Leadership Award, presented by Board of Visitors Vice Rector Devon Cushman ’93. Professor of Mathematics Janusz Konieczny received the 2021 Waple Faculty […]

Class of 2021: Portraits of Perseverance, Part 2

After completing their senior year in the midst of a pandemic, these University of Mary Washington soon-to-be graduates are ready to take on the world. Last March, when UMW suddenly switched to remote classes, these students found themselves in uncharted waters. Nevertheless, they demonstrated resilience, continuing to excel academically and participate in extracurriculars on- and […]

Stuart Sullivan: Man with a Plan

When his boss John Wiltenmuth retired in January 2020 after a quarter century on the job, Stuart Sullivan thought he had a handle on pretty much anything the Mary Washington facilities department would encounter. After all, Sullivan had been with the department for four decades.

Facilities Executive Director Stuart Sullivan on his horse, Chime.

Facilities Executive Director Stuart Sullivan on his horse, Chime.

But PPE and plexiglass? Procuring protection in a pandemic? Less than six weeks after taking over as facilities executive director, Sullivan and his team had a singular focus: COVID-19.

“Finding personal protective equipment (PPE) for the whole campus when everyone in the country was buying it, ensuring we were following CDC guidelines, writing return-to-work procedures, preparing training materials for those who worked from home temporarily, setting up over 100 classrooms for social distancing, installing and maintaining 500 auto hand sanitizer stations, mounting plexiglass in all face-to-face service areas, providing procedures and supplies for community bathrooms in dorms, renegotiating contracts to help with additional COVID cleaning, performing all of the normal day-to-day work and doing it all while practicing MMDC.”

Oh – and attending weekly COVID Implementation Team and Commencement planning meetings. He and his staff also set up the bistro lights on campus and made the propane fire pits possible. Sullivan has even been known to spend weekends cutting the grass on campus.

“Well, they say timing is everything,” he added, “and in this case, John timed it perfectly! I knew there would be some adjustments for me in this position, but COVID made it even more challenging.”

 

Sullivan's own yearbook photo. He and his team have spent the last few months preparing UMW's buildings and grounds for nine in-person Commencement ceremonies, beginning today.

Sullivan’s own yearbook photo. He and his team have spent the last few months preparing UMW’s buildings and grounds for nine in-person Commencement ceremonies, beginning today.

Q: With so many demands on you, how have you persevered?
A: The fact I had been working at UMW for a long time and was familiar with processes helped me, and knowing the talent of our wonderful staff was a great benefit.

Q: What has been your greatest challenge these past 14 months?
A: Planning. I like clear directions so I can make sure the project or task is done correctly, on time, and on budget. With COVID, we may have needed to change direction on procedures at any given time.

Q: How has in-person Commencement impacted you and your staff?
A: Facilities is always busy preparing for graduation each year. Landscape and Grounds works extra hours to get the campus looking great. This year, the electrical department had to run power to the Campus Recreation Field, and the paint shop had to paint the bathroom doors. We had to power wash the parking garage, restripe the parking lot, and on and on. Our staff has been coordinating graduation with our Events colleagues for years, and we do an excellent job working together.

Q: Have you seen any silver linings in the COVID cloud?
A: People. I have asked so much of so many this past year, and the vast majority have stepped up. Their commitment to UMW and each other is truly inspiring. Our campus community is the main reason we made it through this school year. No matter how good a coach you may have, it’s about the team, and I’m blessed to have a great one.

Q: What are you looking forward to most post-pandemic?
A: A family get-together where we can hug each other. We all miss the personal connection.

Q: What do you like best about the UMW campus?
A: What’s not to like? I fell in love with Mary Washington the day I walked onto the grounds. It’s one of the most beautiful campuses I’ve ever seen, but the UMW community is what has kept me here all these years. So many people here have mentored and help me through the years, and I hope I have been able to give back some of that.

Q: How do you always maintain such an even keel and positive demeanor?
A: I have my bad days, but I never found complaining or sharing negativity helps anything. My favorite supervisors were positive and encouraging. I try to treat everyone the way I’d like to be treated.

Q: What’s your motto?
A: Attitude is everything. A bad one gets you nowhere, and it’s something you can change.

Pandemic-Era Commencement Holds A Number of Highlights

What a year … and 52 days! But who’s counting? With University of Mary Washington Commencement ceremonies for the Classes of 2020 and 2021 taking place today through Sunday, we are. When UMW paused in-person learning last spring, amid a growing pandemic, campus life as we knew it was thrown off kilter. Amid the disruption, […]

Class of 2021: Portraits of Perseverance, Part 1

Last spring, when the University of Mary Washington suddenly switched to remote learning, students found themselves in new territory, especially rising seniors. Nevertheless, they didn’t let the global pandemic stop them. They continued to excel academically, partake in extracurricular activities and serve as campus leaders, helping the rest of the UMW community navigate through the […]

Class of 2021: Portraits of Perseverance, Part 1

Last spring, when the University of Mary Washington suddenly switched to remote learning, students found themselves in new territory, especially rising seniors. Nevertheless, they didn’t let the global pandemic stop them. They continued to excel academically, partake in extracurricular activities and serve as campus leaders, helping the rest of the UMW community navigate through the […]

Marker Furthers UMW Mission on Freedom Rides’ 60th Anniversary

Sixty years ago today, 13 men and women – seven Black and six white – departed Washington, D.C., on Greyhound and Trailways buses. Led by civil rights icon James L. Farmer Jr., these Freedom Riders embarked on a quest to desegregate interstate travel. Their first stop? Fredericksburg, Virginia. The riders visited the bus station terminal […]

Eagles Soar During Virtual Awards Ceremony

University of Mary Washington senior Jessica Lynch received the Grace Mann Launch Award during the Eagle Awards ceremony, held virtually last night. Student leaders and outstanding campus organizations were honored at this annual event, presented by the James Farmer Multicultural Center (JFMC), Student Activities and Engagement, and Center for Community Engagement. Juniors Amber Brown and […]