June 29, 2022

‘It’s Gonna Be May’: Alum’s Meme Celebrates a Decade

University of Mary Washington alumna Kianna Davis ’13 was in her Westmoreland Hall second-floor room, a year away from graduation, when she created her first-ever meme. Within 24 hours, the image she shared of a young, fresh-faced Justin Timberlake – emblazoned with a now famous play on the song lyrics to It’s Gonna Be Me […]

Commencement is Right Around the Corner

With final exams wrapping up tomorrow and the academic year winding down, we’re counting the hours to the big day.

On Saturday, May 7 – after postponed dates, changing locations, social distancing and other turmoil caused by COVID for the past couple years – Commencement is back on Ball Circle!

More than 5,000 folding chairs will be set up on the site, the center of campus life, for UMW’s 111th Commencement, which celebrates finishing students from both undergraduate and graduate programs in a single ceremony.

Sheila Shadmand ’95, a partner at Jones Day, one of the world’s largest law firms, and a trailblazer for women in the Middle East, will be the speaker. Among her achievements, Shadmand received a juris doctorate from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1998, UMW’s Outstanding Young Alumni Award in 2010, and a spot in Global Investigations Review’s top 100 “Women in Investigations” last year.

The Commencement field opens Saturday morning at 7. Graduates begin arriving at 8. And at 9, it’s showtime! The moment the entire UMW community works and waits for all year. Time to celebrate the Class of 2022! Time for our Eagles to fly!

Learn more about the May 7 festivities by visiting the Commencement website.

At this time, masks are optional in all outdoor spaces on UMW’s campuses. During Commencement exercises, the choice to wear a mask is up to each individual based on their own assessment of the environment and comfort.

Research & Creativity Symposium Spotlights Student Achievement

Nearly 300 student presenters took part in the 16th annual University of Mary Washington Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium on Friday, the last day of classes. Posters, oral presentations, creative writing – even an art exhibit and play – represented a year’s worth of work in science and math, education and business, history and foreign […]

Beloved UMW Tradition ‘Devil-Goat Day’ is Back!

A uniquely UMW tradition brought an electric vibe to campus yesterday, with the revival of Devil-Goat Day. “It’s the first time back since the pandemic,” said senior Carleigh Rahn. “There’s a new energy.” Music was pumping on Jefferson Square, where a sea of students dressed in red (Devils, who graduate in odd years) and green […]

Marketing Assignment Puts Immersive Learning on the Menu

Something’s been cooking at the University of Mary Washington. The Podclass Kitchen experience has marketing students whipping up their own online culinary productions and walking away with an appetite for more. “It was basically like starting our own business, and we did it hands-on,” said UMW junior Florina Aliu, who launched Cook Boss on YouTube. […]

Professors Receive Top Faculty Awards

The University of Mary Washington bestowed honors on two professors at the general faculty meeting on Wednesday, April 20. Chemistry Professor and Honors Program Director Kelli Slunt received the second annual Board of Visitors (BOV) Faculty Leadership Award, and Professor of English Chris Foss received the 2022 Waple Faculty Professional Achievement Award. Established a decade […]

Eagle Awards Celebrate Campus Leaders, Dean Rucker

University of Mary Washington senior Brianna Reaves was presented with the Grace Mann Launch Award during the annual Eagle Awards last Thursday. Held in person for the first time since the pandemic, the event honored more than a dozen campus leaders in the University Center’s Chandler Ballroom. A newly established award was presented to Cedric […]

Supporting STEM: Innovation Challenge @ Dahlgren Targets Critical Area Need

“STEM” learning – science, technology, engineering and math – has been a priority for decades. But fewer young people in the U.S. are pursuing these subjects, and that puts the nation at risk. The Innovation Challenge @ Dahlgren represents a powerful partnership set to take aim at this critical need in the Fredericksburg region. The […]

Anna Billingsley: Just Write

Anna Billingsley was fresh out of graduate school when she got the call that would shape her career. The reporter who phoned from the Evening Herald was writing a story on her mother, a longtime educator who had just passed away.

Associate Vice President for University Relations Anna Billingsley

Associate Vice President for University Relations Anna Billingsley

“It was a strange sensation, the whole process of being interviewed,” Billingsley said. “I just remember thinking, ‘they are not asking the right questions.’ ”

After that, the writing was on the wall.

She’d spend the next several years working at newspapers in South Carolina, Norfolk, Richmond and Fredericksburg, finding the words to tell others’ stories the way she thought they ought to be told. But, sensing the future of daily print, she turned to the classroom, teaching journalism at the University of Richmond and Mary Washington.

A full-time administrator at UMW since 2004, Billingsley – who holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the College of William & Mary and a master’s in journalism from American University – now serves as associate vice president for University Relations. As head of marketing, publications, media and public relations, design services and web, her duties are dizzying. But one in particular – sending campus reminders and updates – has made her a star in the eyes of the students.

“You are more than your emails; you are an icon!” one student wrote on a banner for Billingsley, who will retire next week.

Said another: “My inbox won’t be the same without you.”

And another: “Thanks, Queen!”

Q: What do you love about working at UMW?
A: I tell people that I’m in the ideal location. There’s a post office, library, cafeteria and exercise facility all within walking distance That could be on any college campus, but there’s something special about UMW that I can’t really pinpoint.

Q: What’s a typical day like on the job?
A: What a crazy question! I might communicate with administration about messages that need to go out, talk to Chief Hall about potential controversies on campus, handle Freedom of Information Act requests. I never know what to expect. That’s why I love my job. It’s just always, always, always moving.

Q: What’s it like to be the main messenger for thousands of people across campus?
A: At first it was daunting, and I would really hesitate before I hit SEND. Now it’s just part of my routine. Of course, I’ve made mistakes, and that can be humiliating. I just take the good with the bad.

Dean of Student Life Cedric Rucker, who will retire in June, stands with Associate Vice President for University Relations Anna Billingsley, who will retire next week. Faculty and staff celebrated Billingsley's retirement this week.

Dean of Student Life Cedric Rucker, who will retire in June, stands with Associate Vice President for University Relations Anna Billingsley, who will retire next week. Faculty and staff celebrated Billingsley’s retirement this week.

Q: What do you make of students’ infatuation with you?
A: I don’t really know why that’s happened. It mystifies me. I’m just the messenger, but sometimes I try to interject personality into the text. I think the students think, ‘Gosh, there’s an administrator who has a sense of humor.’

Q: What’s most fulfilling about your job?
A: When I hear from parents or students, or faculty or staff members, who say ‘thank you.’ Realizing I’m in a position to help people.

Q: What’s most challenging?
A: Trying to craft messages that express or convey sensitive issues.

Q: What would people be most surprised to learn about you?
A: I have a passion for writing obituaries. I have a side business called The Last Word. I even have business cards.

Q: Any mottos you live by?
A: Just write!

UMW Dedicates Mural Honoring First African-American Alumna

Dr. Venus Romance Jones. It’s no wonder University of Mary Washington senior Timbila Kabre said she had “fallen in love” while researching the late physician bearing that name, who in 1968, became the first African-American woman to graduate from Mary Washington. “Dr. Jones’ hard work, passion and love for others … is absolutely inspiring,” she […]