May 28, 2020

UMW ‘Family Member’ Donates Needed Supplies

Robin Jones (left), contracts manager for UMW Facilities Services, with freshman Alexandra Perrault (center) and her father, Rick Perrault, CEO of Visiontech Solutions Group in Troy, Virginia. Visiontech donated $1,500 worth of PPE to Facilities Services.

Robin Jones (left), contracts manager for UMW Facilities Services, with freshman Alexandra Perrault (center) and her father, Rick Perrault, CEO of Visiontech Solutions Group in Troy, Virginia. Visiontech donated $1,500 worth of PPE to Facilities Services.

Give Robin Jones a task, and she is like a dog on a bone. Charged with finding more personal protective equipment (PPE) for Facilities Services, Jones – contracts manager for the department – reached out to all her usual vendors only to find that their prices had skyrocketed or that they were dealing with large quantities only.

Each day, working from the living room of her home near Lake Anna, Jones would plow through a list of potential vendors, only to find the door slammed shut. Discouraged, she kept at it and called the next company on her list: Visiontech Solutions Group in Troy, Virginia. Voila! Little did she know she was reaching out to kinfolk.

Company CEO Rick Perrault said he would be happy to help. After all, he said, “we are part of the UMW Eagle family.” Turns out Perrault had not only PPE but a daughter, Alexandra, a freshman at UMW. And the best news of all: He donated the supplies. He said that would be his honor and privilege.“

Jones estimates the fair market value of Visiontech’s donation would be upwards of $1,500. Most appreciated were several hundred of the elusive and expensive masks. Also included in the donation were disposable protective suits, face shields, goggles, and a few hand sanitizing items.

Jones said the donation will enable more Facilities workers to return to work on campus and be properly safeguarded.

Continue UMW traditions by helping us recruit the next generation of Eagles!

Hello Eagle family,

I hope you and yours are well during this unusual time in our lives. Our community, alumni included, are rallying to assist in bringing in our entering class during this unprecedented situation. Between #WhyMaryWash videos, legacy letters to parents, and alumni messages to students, we have been communicating all the reasons to choose Mary Washington.

I wanted to share that we have seen a slight uptick in late inquiries and applications for this fall. COVID-19 may affect high school seniors’ initial decision regarding where they will attend. Please know that you can refer a student and provide an application fee waiver. The Admissions team is working with students and families as they navigate the impact of this pandemic. And as President Paino recently shared with our community, our hope and plan is to welcome students on campus this August.

In addition to sharing an application fee waiver, feel free to share this video. I anticipate that some of these same reasons ring true for you as they do for the current students featured.

Be well,

Melissa Yakabouski ’94
Director of Undergraduate Admissions

 

Visualizing a Virus: Alum’s Art Captures Emotions of a Pandemic

Fine-arts potter Hadrian Mendoza is shown with some of his earlier works. The 1996 Mary Washington graduate is currently working on several commissioned coronavirus sculptures. Photo Credit: Hadrian Mendoza.

Fine-arts potter Hadrian Mendoza is shown with some of his earlier works. The 1996 Mary Washington graduate is currently working on several commissioned coronavirus sculptures. Photo Credit: Hadrian Mendoza.

Hadrian Mendoza isn’t glorifying the novel coronavirus at the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic. But in images of the tiny particle, he sees more than fear, suffering, loss and grief.

To Mendoza, a 1996 Mary Washington graduate and internationally known fine-arts potter, viruses have long represented a fascinating intersection of danger and beauty. Starting in 2016, he began creating sculptural interpretations of viruses – his creations then were hollow spheres with sharp, spiny protrusions that served both to balance and to convey threat.

Alumnus Cooks Up Initiative to Save Small Restaurants

Chef Erik Bruner-Yang, a 2007 UMW alumnus, helps package meals at D.C. Caribbean restaurant Cane for Washington Hospital Center workers. His Power of 10 initiative has raised over $200,000 to feed families, first responders and hospital workers across the country. Photo Credit: Foreign National.

Chef Erik Bruner-Yang, a 2007 UMW alumnus, helps package meals at D.C. Caribbean restaurant Cane for Washington Hospital Center workers. His Power of 10 initiative has raised over $200,000 to feed families, first responders and hospital workers across the country. Photo Credit: Foreign National.

Acclaimed chef and restaurant owner Erik Bruner-Yang and his wife welcomed their third child and bought their first home in January. Just eight weeks later, the same weekend they moved into their new house in Washington, D.C., the mayor ordered all city restaurants to close because of COVID-19.

The 2007 UMW graduate felt fortunate that he and his family could survive – he’s the executive chef at D.C.-based chain &Pizza. But he’d invested 15 years and lots of drive to build six successful restaurants in the H Street corridor he calls home. Within 48 hours, he said, he went from having 225 employees to just 40.

“Basically, it broke down in my hands overnight,” said Bruner-Yang, a two-time James Beard-award finalist whose name and restaurants appear regularly in The Washington Post, Bon Appetit, Eater and other national publications. “It was this really weird feeling where I felt blessed and crushed at the same time.”

He was driving along a deserted H Street when he had an idea that could make a difference – “Power of 10” – partnering restaurants with local nonprofits to distribute food to those in need. A weekly $10,000, Bruner-Yang thought, could employ 10 full-time cooks and cover food to generate 1,000 meals for hungry people, first responders and hospital workers. Now, with help from the community he’s always supported and friends made at Mary Washington, the effort to feed families, fund farmers and revitalize restaurants has taken root across the country. Read more.

UMW Professors Find Creative Ways to Teach Through COVID-19

Assistant Music Professor Christopher Ryder (top, center) teaches conducting over Zoom. “I’ve been impressed by the students’ ability to adapt to very difficult circumstances,” said Ryder, who is among the UMW faculty who are now finding new and creative ways to teach remotely.

Assistant Music Professor Christopher Ryder (top, center) teaches conducting over Zoom. “I’ve been impressed by the students’ ability to adapt to very difficult circumstances,” said Ryder, who is among the UMW faculty who are now finding new and creative ways to teach remotely.

Teaching at Mary Washington looks a bit different lately. Andi Smith films YouTube videos with her children to demonstrate architectural principles. Zach Whalen uses cartoons to teach a digital studies lesson. Smita Jain Oxford holds Zoom office hours for business majors on her daily jog.

When the University moved to virtual classes last month due to the coronavirus pandemic, UMW faculty had to adapt quickly. Some already had experience with online instruction, while others became students themselves, seeking advice from tech-savvy colleagues – as well as the Digital Learning Center, Center for Teaching and UMW Libraries. Armed with a variety of technology tools, they’ve been finding creative and engaging ways to educate, support and stay connected to students through the end of the semester and beyond.

Students are facing multiple challenges as they complete their coursework, said Janine Davis, an associate professor in UMW’s College of Education. Dealing with limited internet access, caring for sick family members and serving in essential jobs are among their chief concerns, she said, and they’re also managing a wide range of emotions.

“We have to give students some space,” Davis said, “but also let them know we’re here and we want them to succeed and be healthy.” Read more.

Eagles Fly High During Virtual Awards Ceremony

Senior Nehemia Abel received the Grace Mann Launch Award during the virtual Eagle Awards ceremony on Friday.

Senior Nehemia Abel received the Grace Mann Launch Award during the virtual Eagle Awards ceremony on Friday.

University of Mary Washington senior Nehemia Abel received the Grace Mann Launch Award during the annual Eagle Awards ceremony, presented virtually Friday evening. This event honors student leaders and outstanding campus organizations. New this year was the James Farmer Defining A Legacy Award.

As one of the emcees for the video awards ceremony, Brianna “Breezy” Reaves put it: “Though we cannot be together, we will come together in spirit. During this very uncertain time, we want to take every opportunity to appreciate everyone who makes UMW the place we like to call home.”

Abel, a first-generation student from Fredericksburg, paid it forward by becoming a mentor with the RISE program (Resources Inspiring Student Excellence). A RISE mentor had helped him adjust to life as a college student, Abel said.

In presenting the Launch Award, Dean of Student Life Cedric Rucker described Abel as “an outstanding advocate for change” and an ambassador for “doing the good Grace would have done.” Read more.

Alum, Infectious Disease Expert, Urges Patience in Fighting COVID-19

Jerri Perkins, MD, graduated from Mary Washington in 1961, studied at the National Institutes of Health, and recommended the first FDA therapy related to AIDS. With a background in infectious disease, she believes that social distancing – and patience – are our best weapons in the fight against COVID-19. Photo courtesy of Jerri Perkins.

Jerri Perkins, MD, graduated from Mary Washington in 1961, studied at the National Institutes of Health, and recommended the first FDA therapy related to AIDS. With a background in infectious disease, she believes that social distancing – and patience – are our best weapons in the fight against COVID-19. Photo courtesy of Jerri Perkins.

Jerri Barden Perkins was heading to the peak of a powdery slope in Sun Valley, Idaho, when her ski instructor suggested they spread out from the group. As they stepped into the gondola, the women pointed their elbows away from their sides to create personal space.

It was the first of March, and coronavirus was beginning to creep through the United States. By the time Perkins, an infectious disease expert who graduated from Mary Washington in 1961, returned to her Hilton Head home in South Carolina, she was concerned. She sat down in her office overlooking peaceful Calibogue Sound to pen a letter to the editor of her local newspaper.

Like her ski instructor, Perkins believed social distancing was the way to slow the virus’s spread. But rather than scooching away from gondola-riders, Perkins was asking a town to close a bridge that provides access to an island.

“It doesn’t respect people or borders; it’s going to do its own thing,” she said of COVID-19. “If we want to survive, we have to pause and distance ourselves until we get more data and knowledge.” Read more.

Join UMW’s Community Step Challenge May 1-31

Mary Wash Moves

UMW Community Walking Challenge
Brought to you by Campus Recreation and UMW Human Resources

Let’s show off how much Mary Wash Moves! Grab your walking shoes and get ready to rack up the steps with your UMW family.

How It Works:

  • Dates: May 1-31, 2020 | July 1-31, 2020
  • Teams: There are eight teams and up to 50 people per team. You may sign up for your team by writing your name on the team color tab you choose on the official tracking document.
  • How to win: Log your total steps walked each day in the official tracking document. The team color with the highest step average between all team mates by the end of the challenge wins!
  • How to track your steps: Use a FitBit, Apple Watch, iPhone, or another step tracking device!
  • Prize: Bragging rights and the sweet feeling of victory!

If you have further questions, please email campusrec@umw.edu.

UMW Athletics Creates a “Virtual Care Package” for Faculty and Staff

UMW Athletics has created a “virtual care package” for faculty and staff with “how-to” videos featuring Mary Washington student-athletes. We hope you enjoy it, pick up a skill or two, especially those with small children. Stay safe and go Eagles!

Gari Melchers Home and Studio Featured in Regional Media

BelmontGari Melchers Home and Studio has frequently been featured in recent editions of The Free Lance-Star as well as a video by the Fredericksburg Visitors Center.

COMMENTARY: Garden Week is canceled, but club’s mission goes on (The Free Lance-Star, April 20, 2020)

Historic homes and museums seek ways to stay connected during coronavirus (The Free Lance-Star, April 26, 2020)

Young Life:  Enjoy online adventures in history and art (The Free Lance-Star, April 9, 2020)

Visit the Fredericksburg Region – Take the Scenic Route video