May 9, 2021

UMW Symposium Spotlights Student Research and Creativity

Ashley Utz knows that over-the-counter medications like Prilosec and Prevacid are typically used to treat ulcers, reflux and other common stomach disorders. But the senior biochemistry major has a theory that these drugs, known as proton-pump inhibitors (PPI), could also help destroy cancer cells. Tomorrow, along with more than 100 of her University of Mary […]

Top UMW Students Reach Revered Phi Beta Kappa Rank

Along with 40 University of Mary Washington students, President Troy Paino was inducted last night into an exclusive quarter-of-a-century-old worldwide club, which used to have a secret sign and handshake. Membership is lifelong, and it has been offered to 17 U.S. Presidents and 42 U.S. Supreme Court justices. The key to membership in this invitation-only […]

David Rettinger: On His Honor

As a student, David Rettinger witnessed his peers cheating. Sometimes he even felt tempted to do it himself.

Instead, he dedicated his career to understanding the psychology behind academic misconduct.

Professor of Psychological Science and Director of Academic Integrity Programs David Rettinger

Professor of Psychological Science and Director of Academic Integrity Programs David Rettinger

A professor of psychological science at University of Mary Washington since 2006, Rettinger also serves as director of Academic Integrity Programs and faculty advisor to UMW’s Honor Council.

“My mother was a market researcher, so I’ve always been interested in studying human behavior,” said Rettinger, who hails from New York City and earned a bachelor’s degree from University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and a master’s and Ph.D. from University of Colorado.

When he first began teaching, Rettinger had a colleague who was researching academic integrity. Fascinated, he decided to apply his own methods to the field. “That led to some collaborative projects on cheating, and my interest has never faded.”

Rettinger’s passion for studying plagiarism led to a two-year stint as president of the International Center for Academic Integrity. He currently chairs ICAI’s Research and Assessment Committee, where his work on an international student survey comes at a critical juncture, given the rise in contract cheating websites and complex challenges caused by remote learning. The combination of stress, lack of support and looser academic structures have made cheating more tempting for students, he said.

Rather than placing all the blame on technology, Rettinger said it’s important to address the disconnect that often happens between faculty and students regarding assessments and expectations. At UMW, for example, the Honor Council has added more faculty advisors in the last decade to guide students in making good decisions moving forward, he said, resulting in fewer repeat offenders.

“We often meet students on their worst day of their college careers. It’s rewarding to know we can help them learn from their mistakes and grow.”

Q: What might people be surprised to learn about you?
A: I used to lead canoe trips for pre-teens and still keep in touch with many of them decades later.

Q: You’ve tweeted a lot of famous chefs. Have you ever gotten a response?
A: Tom Colicchio (from Top Chef) shared some advice with my daughter, who is learning to cook. I see cooking as a window into the cultures and lives of people around the world. I’ve also reached out to Michael Twitty, a food scholar and chef with local ties, whom I look to on social media to help expand my world, rather than stay in my own echo chamber.

Q: What’s the best thing you’ve cooked during quarantine?
A: I experimented with a Thai curry that was very memorable. I think it was the full-fat coconut milk.

Q: What do you like best about the UMW campus?
A: On a warm Friday afternoon, the buzz on Campus Walk is just magical.

Q: What’s your favorite thing in your office?
A: I have a hand-woven carpet I bought in Kathmandu on a study abroad trip to Nepal. It reminds me of fun times of the past and those to come.

Q: What’s your motto?
A: The summer camp where I went as a kid and worked during college has one I’ve adopted: “Help the other fellow.”

UMW Gets Down to Earth With Sustainability Coordinator Position

By summer, the University of Mary Washington plans to have its own Sustainability Coordinator. The announcement of the new full-time position by UMW President Troy Paino in last week’s Board of Visitors meeting comes just in time for Earth Day and on the heels of Gov. Ralph Northam’s executive order to reduce Virginia’s reliance on […]

College of Education Graduates to New State-of-the-Art Home

Barbara Bishop Mann ’66 remembers making peanut butter and jelly crackers on linen-clad tables. Gayle Petro ’79 pumped pink frozen yogurt from a newfangled machine. Susan Doig ’91, M.Ed. ’06, and friends got creative, making potato skins by topping tubers with salad bar staples and cranking them through a grill-type toaster. “A lot of bonding […]

Malcolm Holmes: Heart of the Matter

One national search, two busy years, 10 auditioning firms, 6,000 consulted constituents.

UMW Director of Marketing Malcolm Holmes has been leading the arduous effort to launch a new Mary Washington brand. Following nearly two years of research and consultations, rollout is just around the corner.

UMW Director of Marketing Malcolm Holmes has been leading the effort to launch a new Mary Washington brand. After nearly two years of research, in collaboration with the Atlanta-based firm Mindpower, rollout is just around the corner.

Malcolm Holmes’ world is awash in data. As UMW’s director of marketing, he’s wrapped up in recruitment, advertising, web and social media content, photo and video shoots. And for many months, something else – new branding.

Honing in on the essence of UMW has been quite the process. Of the 10 firms that vied for the job, Holmes said, Atlanta-based Mindpower best aligned with Mary Washington’s mission and culture. A flurry of forums and focus groups, surveys and meetings, churned out a new brand – “Matter” – which President Paino shared with the Board of Visitors in February. More than a tagline, Holmes said, it’s an “accountability measure,” a “claim of distinction,” a “promise.”

“A guiding light for the stories and images we use to promote the university, and most importantly, in how we treat and speak to each other, our students and those we encounter each day. As members of the UMW community, we’re all representatives of the brand.”

When he came to Mary Washington in 2013, Holmes brought a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from VCU, a master’s in public relations from Norfolk State University and a wealth of experience. Director of marketing communications and public affairs, and special assistant to the president, at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, he’d earned a spot on the Reynolds Executive Cabinet.

You Matter. stickerSuccess, Holmes said, hinges on teamwork: “We cannot meet our marketing goals without collaboration across departments.” Nor if a pandemic puts the brakes on your project.

When the branding campaign resumed this winter, “the world looked a lot different,” he said, providing an “opportunity” to re-test and re-visit, make sure the effort was on the right track.

“A lot is happening behind the scenes right now,” said Holmes, who plans a brand rollout with new visuals, Web pages and admissions materials, plus a targeted advertising campaign. “We are extremely excited to begin this process!”


Q: What does “Matter” mean to you?
A: This project took me on a spiritual journey. So much has happened over the last year. It’s comforting to know that I’m part of an organization that’s making a difference. Just as the University as a whole matters, our individual contributions matter. We all matter! 

Q: Anythingfun” involved in the rollout?
A: A big celebration on Ball Circle the first week of fall classes with T-shirts and other surprises (if COVID protocols allow).

Sample advertisement guided by UMW's new brand, "Matter."

Sample advertisement guided by UMW’s new brand, “Matter.”

Q: What’s most rewarding about your job?
A: The collaboration. You cannot work in a silo and be successful in this business. I’m blessed to be surrounded by a mission-focused team that understands it takes all of us to make marketing magic.

Q: Most challenging?
A: Keeping up with innovations in digital marketing that seem to appear overnight.

Q: What’s the best thing on your desk?
A: A picture of my three kids – all young adults. They’re my motivation, my inspiration and my “on-call” focus group for anything related to social media!

Q: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
A: Visiting Virginia wineries. There are more than 300 across the state.

Q: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: I started attending Mary Washington when I was in high school. I came every summer as part of the Upward Bound program. Dr. Venitta McCall was the program director at the time. I credit her with setting me on the trajectory to be where I am in my career today.

Q: What’s your motto?
A: To whom much is given, much is required.

UMW Alum Pays it Forward … and Backward

Securing a free ride to grad school, in large part, through a highly competitive Payne Fellowship was the easy step for Nehemia Abel ’20. The hard step is deciding among the six prestigious schools to which he has been accepted for his pursuit of a master’s degree in international development: Columbia, Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, George […]

Giving Day Brings UMW ‘All Together,’ April 13

More than $130,000 in challenges and matches are waiting to be unlocked on Mary Wash Giving Day, Tuesday, April 13. With a goal of 3,000 gifts in 24 hours to benefit students and programs across the University of Mary Washington, the emphasis on participation is reflected in this year’s theme of #AllTogetherUMW. Several of the […]

UMW, Marstel-Day to Present Climate Series

At the University of Mary Washington’s 2014 commencement ceremony, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Keith Mellinger heard something he knew he’d never forget. A patch of garbage, estimated to be twice the size of Texas, is floating in the Pacific, Mellinger said, and is the largest of five offshore zones accumulating in the world’s […]

Sushma Subramanian: In Touch

Assistant Professor of Communication Sushma Subramanian

Assistant Professor of Communication Sushma Subramanian

How are you feeling? That question often elicits a one- or two-word response.

For Sushma Subramanian, it took 272 pages. In the midst of a global pandemic, quarantines and social distancing, she just published How to Feel: The Science and Meaning of Touch.

Touch may be our most important sense, said Subramanian, a science journalist and University of Mary Washington assistant professor of communication. Her current work explores the scientific, physical, emotional and cultural aspects of feeling.

She had finished the manuscript last March when news of COVID-19 broke, prompting several additions and revisions. “My editor and I quickly realized that society’s relationship with touch was going to change in some pretty extreme and long-lasting ways.”

After more than a year without physical contact, people are suffering from touch-deprivation, but it’s not all bad, she said. Her post-pandemic prediction? “I don’t think we’ll go back to shaking hands,” said Subramanian, admitting she isn’t a fan of the practice. “But hugs, as more people are getting vaccinated, could be coming back pretty fast. People really miss it!”

Book Cover: "How to Feel: The Science and Meaning of Touch"

Photo credit: Columbia University Press.

Her family pod expanded by one near the beginning of quarantine. Subramanian gave birth to a daughter. “Thanks to her, I have faced no touch-deprivation at all!”

Subramanian, who earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California and a master’s at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, currently teaches news reporting and writing, and serves as faculty advisor to The Blue & Gray Press. Her own writing focuses on how science can explain daily phenomena, from iPad technology to why our skin tingles when we listen to beautiful music.

“Journalism is a field that is quickly changing,” Subramanian said, “so it’s always helpful to have one foot inside it to teach students what they can expect when they graduate.”


Q: What attracted you to Mary Washington?
A: I had been part-time teaching for many years and wanted to make it a bigger part of my career. Writing can be lonely, so I like having regular interaction, and teaching students about something I love so much helps keep me excited about it.

Q: What’s your favorite course to teach?
A: Magazine journalism, which allows journalists to delve deeply into their subjects and write creatively about the material they collect.

Q: What’s most rewarding about your job?
A: If something sparks my interest, I can just call up the world’s expert in that topic. And then I get to share what I learn. I think of my writing as a form of teaching, too.

Sushma Subramanian giving her 6-month-old daughter a massage.

Sushma Subramanian giving her 6-month-old daughter a massage.

Q: Most challenging?
A: Coming up with new ideas that no one else has tackled … I get anxious when my bucket is dry.

Q: What’s the most tactile item in your office?
A: A couple years ago, I entered a Peeps diorama contest. I made a scene of Neanderthals gathering around a fire with those Easter marshmallow treats – and I was a prize winner. I sprayed it with shellac, but I worry how long those Peeps will last.

Q: What might people be surprised to learn about you?
A: I make dog houses out of used Amazon boxes. I’ve done a castle and mid-century modern.

Q: What’s your motto?
A: I used to be a serious procrastinator; now I’m the opposite. I always say, “If you don’t put in the work now, you’ll pay for it later.”