September 24, 2022

2023 Fiske Guide to Colleges recognizes UMW

The University of Mary Washington has once again been recognized in the annual Fiske Guide to Colleges, one of the leading guides for nearly 40 years. The 2023 edition features more than 300 of the “best and most interesting” public and private four-year colleges and universities in the nation as well as Canada, Great Britain […]

Students, Faculty Collaborate on Research During Summer Science Institute

To the untrained eye it was just an ordinary leaf, a speck in a mass of summer green on an edge of the University of Mary Washington campus. But on a hot July morning, biology major Tessa Lanzafame spotted something interesting, a tiny green caterpillar that appeared to be gnawing. With a snip of her […]

Sharon Williams: Graduation Evaluation

Assistant Registrar for Degree Audit Sharon Williams.

Assistant Registrar for Degree Audit Sharon Williams.

Starting a new job might not be at the top of most birthday to-do lists. But in September 2016, Sharon Williams was happy to spend her special day at the University of Mary Washington.

As assistant registrar for degree audit, she holds in her hands the future of hundreds of hopeful grads every year.

“Yes, I see them in my sleep,” Williams said of the applications she reviews for students closing in on completing UMW’s bachelor of arts and bachelor of science programs.

She runs reams of reports to identify missing requirements, then works – along with faculty advisors – to help soon-to-be graduates find ways to finish in time to cross the Ball Circle stage.

Things really ramp up when Commencement creeps close, but Williams’ world begins picking up speed as early as March.

“My inbox is full each day after getting through the day before,” said Williams, who has spent the better part of her career in higher education and completed a term on the University Staff Council last month. “Then there are the many phone calls and in-person visits.”

Each student’s circumstance is unique and calls for its own brand of support and encouragement, but the end goal is always the same.

“Everyone wants to know and hear you say it …,” Williams said. “Upon the success of this semester, you are on track to completing your degree(s).”

Q: Have you held any other positions at UMW?
: Yes, I worked as the Student Records Specialist when I first arrived in 2016, but I’ve always been in the Registrar’s Office.

Q: What are the most important qualities to have in a job where you’re working with young people eager to graduate from college?
A: Patience and empathy. Remembering that I was once in their shoes and someone was patient with me. 

Q: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
A: Being able to help students find solutions, even the ones that don’t know they need help. It takes an entire village to get students to the finish line, and I’m so grateful for all the support.

Q: What’s most challenging?
A: Telling a student they won’t graduate. I hear the heartbreak and see the tears, not always from the student but also the parents.

Q: What’s the most meaningful thing in your office?
A: I have a sign that says “Believe.” To me that means that even on your worst day, you need to continue to believe.

Q: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: I grew up on a farm, but I don’t like to be outside for long periods of time.

Q: Any mottos you live by?
A: Start each day with a grateful heart.

Four Mary Washington Alums Named to Board of Visitors

The Virginia Governor’s Office announced yesterday the appointment of four Mary Washington alumni to UMW’s Board of Visitors. Andrew Lamar ’07 of Midlothian, William “Lee” Murray ’04 of Fredericksburg, Davis Rennolds ’06 of Richmond and Terrie Suit, MBA ’16, of Bumpass will return to their alma mater as members of its governing board. Read more.

Four Mary Washington Alums Named to Board of Visitors

The Virginia Governor’s Office announced today the appointment of four Mary Washington alumni to UMW’s Board of Visitors. Andrew Lamar ’07 of Midlothian, William “Lee” Murray ’04 of Fredericksburg, Davis Rennolds ’06 of Richmond and Terrie Suit MBA ’16 of Bumpass will return to their alma mater as members of its governing board. Lamar is […]

Profiles Prospects: Who’s Next?

You may have noticed – there’s no shortage of amazing UMW faculty and staff to showcase in EagleEye ProFiles Q&A features. But we want to hear from you.

Is there a UMW employee you’d like to know more about? Curious about the ins and outs of this person’s job? Wondering what makes them show up and do their best work day after day?

We’ve put together a special Q&A to walk you through the nomination process. It’s quick and easy! We hope you’ll use it to let us know which of your Mary Washington colleagues you’d like to see celebrated in EagleEye. Or, hey, if you’re feeling confident, go ahead and nominate yourself! We won’t tell.

Q: Who is eligible to be highlighted in EagleEye ProFiles Q&A features?
A: Anyone who works at UMW!

Q: What do I need to know about the person I’m nominating?
A: Not much, really. We don’t need a lot of information to get started – just the person’s name and job title if you know it. It’s a bonus if you let us know why you’re interested in learning more about this person and their job. Why are you curious about what they do? Have you noticed something special about this person that could help us customize their questions?

Q: I know this person is busy. If they agree to be featured, will it take much of their time?
A: No! Being highlighted in a ProFiles Q&A is pretty painless. We send each subject a list of 10 to 15 questions, and we grab a photo of them, which typically takes no more than 10 minutes.

Q: Will my colleagues know I nominated them?
A: No, not unless you decide to spill the beans.

Q: Where should I send my nomination info?
A: Please contact us – with the name of the person you’d like to see featured, plus their job title, if you know it, and any extra input you think would be helpful – at

Humanities Symposium Highlights Faculty-Student Research

Mentored undergraduate research has long been a staple of the summer for UMW students in science and mathematical fields. Now arts, humanities and social sciences students are reaping the benefits as well. The first Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Summer Institute (AHSSSI) concludes tomorrow with a symposium during which five teams will present the results […]

Long-Awaited Reunion Brought Mary Washington Alums ‘Home’

Amber Tussing planned to reconnect with old friends at the University of Mary Washington’s Reunion Weekend, but she was surprised to meet just as many new ones. “When you can make friends across multiple generations, you know you come from a shared experience,” said Tussing, a 2000 grad who bonded with members of the classes […]

University Center Naming Celebration Honors Rucker

Mary Washington’s University Center is four stories and 100,000 square feet, but a new name is about to make it even bigger. “Today we are celebrating two giants,” Vice President for Student Affairs Juliette Landphair said Sunday at UMW. “One of the giants is behind me, the University Center. The second giant, of course, is […]

New Vice President Brings Ideas for Advancement

When Katie Turcotte becomes UMW’s vice president of advancement later this month, she’ll fill a much-needed role – helping to bring the university forward from pandemic constraints and bolstering its liberal arts and sciences mission. Who better to lead the University of Mary Washington’s development team than a “nonprofit and philanthropy nerd”? That’s how Turcotte […]