June 17, 2021

Alumna Pledges Gift Match to Beyond the Classroom Endowment

Catherine ‘Cathie’ O’Connor Woteki ’69 and husband Tom will match all contributions dollar for dollar to the College of Arts and Science’s Beyond the Classroom Endowment Fund through the end of July.

Catherine ‘Cathie’ O’Connor Woteki ’69 and husband Tom will match all contributions dollar for dollar to the College of Arts and Science’s Beyond the Classroom Endowment Fund through the end of July.

Long before she led the effort to modernize food safety for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Catherine O’Connor Woteki ’69 was a student lab assistant in Combs Hall.

“Doing behind-the-scenes prep work and just being able to hang around the lab was so helpful,” she said of her 1968 position in Mary Washington’s biology department. “I became much more comfortable working in a lab environment.”

Woteki, who goes by Cathie, earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry from Mary Washington, where she served as class treasurer and helped pay her way through school with summer jobs. She wants to provide today’s UMW students with opportunities to discover their strengths and passions, just as her early lab experiences helped to inspire her career as an internationally known leader in science policy with a flair for food and nutrition that’s influenced public wellbeing.

Through the end of July, Cathie and husband Tom will match, dollar for dollar, all gifts to UMW’s Beyond the Classroom Endowment for student research and learning. The University’s College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) aims to raise $1 million for this new fund to support internships, study abroad, independent research and other high-impact learning experiences. Read more.

Endowment Endeavors to Enhance Student Experiences

UMW theatre students on a pre-pandemic trip to New York City and Broadway. The Beyond the Classroom Endowment will ensure Mary Washington students continue to experience extraordinary learning opportunities like this one.

UMW theatre students on a pre-pandemic trip to New York City and Broadway. The Beyond the Classroom Endowment will ensure Mary Washington students continue to experience extraordinary learning opportunities like this one.

The UMW historic preservation students were on a mission. As part of a 2019 study abroad trip to Paris, they were determined to find the grave of James Monroe’s daughter, Eliza, and make sure it was in good shape.

Success. After clearing away some plant growth, the students were able to report that Eliza Monroe Hay’s grave marker was intact. This trip benefitted not only the students but also the University’s James Monroe Museum.

Similarly, geography students brought prestige to UMW when they won the World Geography Bowl last year at the Southeastern Division of the American Association of Geographers competition in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Study abroad, domestic trips for research, unpaid internships – all of these beyond-the-classroom opportunities, some of which are unique to Mary Washington – greatly enhance students’ education. But they often come with a price tag.

During the 2019-20 academic year, more than 250 UMW students applied for grants to support supplies and travel related to internships and undergraduate research projects. Sadly, their requests exceeded available funds by close to $100,000.

The coronavirus pandemic abruptly halted student travel, while also tightening all university budgets. Even so, said College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) Dean Keith Mellinger, “students needed money for lab equipment and studio projects, books and subscriptions, and some were also still looking for funding for day-travel to places like Washington, D.C., to visit museums or archives.” Read more.