October 1, 2020

A message from President Paino regarding ICE decision on international students

The University of Mary Washington is alarmed by the recent decision from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency barring international students from entering or remaining in the United States in the event that they are able to enroll only online this fall. UMW has and will continue to welcome international students as valuable members of our community. These changes to student visa policies are arbitrary and damaging to the University, our students, and our region.

While the University is and will continue to monitor the situation, ongoing developments, and current legal actions, UMW is also taking specific steps in response:

  • The University, with the assistance of the Attorney General’s Office, is exploring how best to support the Harvard/MIT lawsuit challenging the forthcoming rules that bar online study for international students.
  • The University’s Director of the Center for International Education, Dr. Jose A. Sainz, is closely following developments and has been in communication with and providing support to all UMW students likely to experience impact from these policy changes.
  • International students may continue to avail themselves of academic and social support services such as advising, virtual access to the library, the James Farmer Multicultural Center, and the Talley Center for mental health as long as they are enrolled at UMW.
  • As part of UMW’s plan to reopen this fall, and as documented in our submission to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), UMW has committed to materially supporting international students in meeting federal guidelines for self-quarantine following entry into the United States prior to the start of classes.

To start the 2020-2021 academic year, UMW intends to offer courses delivered in multiple modalities: online, hybrid, and face-to-face. The process of deciding which courses will be taught in which modality is ongoing and evolving as circumstances change. Such choices will always be made in the interest of public health, the well-being of our faculty, staff and students, and our commitment to high quality instruction.

A particularly pernicious aspect of the Department of Homeland Security’s decision is that it irresponsibly pressures institutions to make decisions about teaching modalities that have nothing to do with health or pedagogy. Institutions of higher education must remain flexible in order to best respond to trends in public health data and the wellbeing of students and employees. If circumstances warrant, courses that are currently scheduled to meet face-to-face on campus must have the ability to go online without derailing the educational attainment of international students.

Fall 2020 is clearly an exceptional one for the entire world. Higher education has repeatedly assured students and other stakeholders that this environment is an anomaly and adversity mitigated only when we share responsibility and work together as a community. Yet this ruling seems to indicate that international students are secondary contributors to American education. It is a misguided framework, and most educators will attest to their experience that international students stand equal with U.S. students in their intellectual, social, and financial impact. The richness and diversity of thought brought by a variety of cultures are crucial to a global perspective that benefits all students and this nation. Either we stand together during this pandemic or we are all fundamentally weakened and vulnerable.

Evacuated Peace Corps Volunteer Vows to Continue Service

For Peace Corps volunteer Sebrine Abdulkadir ’19, posted in the southern African country of Botswana, the upheaval happened fast. On a Monday morning in mid-March, she received an email saying she and other Peace Corps volunteers worldwide would be evacuated from their posts because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In three hours Abdulkadir packed what possessions […]

Campus Update on Coronavirus

To students, faculty, and staff:

As members of our community return from spring break, when many of us have been traveling, we would like to provide an update on the global outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19). Rest assured that UMW’s medical and emergency management officials have taken proactive steps and are continually monitoring the situation and are regularly in touch with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH).

There are no confirmed cases in our community or in Virginia. At this point, VDH recommends self-quarantine only for individuals who have traveled to or been in close contact with residents of China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea. In addition, the same protocol is recommended for anyone who has been in physical proximity with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19.

We realize many students, faculty, and staff have traveled widely during the past week. While the risk of contracting COVID-19 is lower if you have not traveled to any of the four countries named above or been in close contact with someone who has, we urge all members of the campus community to practice vigilance in regard to their health.

As a means of ensuring your safety as well as the safety of the campus community, we ask that you inform student health via this link of where you have traveled in the past several weeks.

The symptoms associated with COVID-19 are similar to the common flu – fever, cough, shortness of breath, and other respiratory complaints.  Students who are ill or think they may be ill should stay home from class and must contact their instructor via email or telephone to discuss appropriate adjustments. Faculty will be provided guidance on ways to accommodate students who may temporarily need to participate or complete assignments remotely. Faculty members who have questions about how to do this may find assistance through the Center for Teaching and Digital Learning Support.

As with any cold or flu, it is important for everyone to follow these self-care habits to reduce the chance of infection:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid eating or drinking after others or sharing e-cigarettes.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

There is currently no treatment available for COVID-19; for more than 80% of people who contract the virus, cases are mild and the virus runs its course. However, if you test positive with coronavirus, VDH recommends self-isolate for 14 days so as not to expose anyone else to the virus.

If you have medical questions or are in need of a thermometer, please call the Student Health Center at 540-654-1040.

For any other questions or concerns, please email healthupdates@umw.edu or call/leave a message at 540-654-1999.

Further information on COVID-19 can be found at Virginia Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control, and/or x211 (press 9).

We continue to work closely with local, state, and federal health officials, and we will regularly update the campus.

Your well-being is a top priority. In our commitment to minimizing the health risks to our students, staff and faculty, we will provide as clear and timely communications as possible.

Sincerely,

Juliette Landphair, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs
University of Mary Washington
540-654-1062
Jlandpha@umw.edu

 

UMW Goes Global as Peace Corps Top Producer

Teenage boys can be a handful, no matter which country or culture they come from. Amal Hajjami learned that fact within her first few weeks of Peace Corps training in Morocco, when the 2019 alumna encountered a young man who was a bit of a troublemaker. He refused to participate or follow the rules – […]

UMW Goes Global as Peace Corps Top Producer

Teenage boys can be a handful, no matter which country or culture they come from.

Amal Hajjami (front row, far right), who graduated from UMW in 2019, is among the dozen Mary Washington alumni currently serving in the Peace Corps. The University was just named a Peace Corps Top Producer.

Amal Hajjami (front row, far right), who graduated from UMW in 2019, is among the dozen Mary Washington alumni currently serving in the Peace Corps. The University was just named a Peace Corps Top Producer.

Amal Hajjami learned that fact within her first few weeks of Peace Corps training in Morocco, when the 2019 alumna encountered a young man who refused to participate or follow the rules – when he even bothered to show up – but she wouldn’t give up on him.

“During training, we’re taught that we shouldn’t push these individuals away,” she said, “but instead, give them leadership responsibilities.” Soon the teen was stepping up and helping out. “He showed me that once you start encouraging people, the outcome will change.”

Hajjami is among a dozen Mary Washington graduates serving worldwide in the Peace Corps, to which the University of Mary Washington has once again been named a top contributor. UMW jumped to number seven – up from 15th last year – among small schools on the 2020 Top Volunteer-Producing Schools list, released this morning.

Securing this prestigious ranking is a longstanding tradition for the University, which has earned a spot on the list since 2005. For 12 consecutive years, UMW has been included among the top 25 colleges and universities with fewer than 5,000 students. A total of 270 alumni have joined the Peace Corps since its 1961 inception.

“Mary Washington’s culture of service keeps fueling students’ interest in continuing their commitment to populations served by the Peace Corps,” said José A. Sainz, director of UMW’s Center for International Education (CIE). “It pushes their boundaries and offers many opportunities for them to become better global citizens.” Read more.

UMW to Offer Japanese Language Courses

Japanese Minister of Public Affairs Takehiro Shimada (second from the left) and Takeshi Yoshida of the Japan Foundation (far right) visited UMW today to celebrate the announcement of the University’s new Japanese language program, funded by a grant from the Japan Foundation. From L-R: Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Betsy Lewis, Mr. Shimada, Provost Nina Mikhalevsky, Center of International Education Director Jose Sainz, Professor Steve Rabson, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Keith Mellinger and Mr. Yoshida. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

Japanese Minister of Public Affairs Takehiro Shimada (second from the left) and Takeshi Yoshida of the Japan Foundation (far right) visited UMW today to celebrate the announcement of the University’s new Japanese language program, funded by a grant from the Japan Foundation. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

Spending a semester in Japan, UMW senior Kaitlin Viloria was in a shop when a young woman asked her a question. The woman spoke no English and Viloria’s Japanese was limited, but they still managed to strike up a conversation.

Viloria wishes she was more proficient, she said, “but in that moment, I was proud of my ability to overcome the language barrier.”

Future Mary Washington students who travel to Japan will be able to communicate with confidence, thanks to the Japanese language courses UMW will offer starting this fall. Earlier today, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Keith Mellinger and Center for International Education Director Jose Sainz joined guests from the Japanese Embassy, faculty, administrators and city officials at the Jepson Alumni Executive Center to announce the new program. Japanese Minister of Public Affairs Takehiro Shimada gave a talk after the ceremony. Read more.

UMW to Offer Japanese Language Courses

Spending a semester in Japan, UMW senior Kaitlin Viloria was in a shop when a young woman asked her a question. The woman spoke no English and Viloria’s Japanese was limited, but they still managed to strike up a conversation. Viloria wishes she was more proficient, she said, “but in that moment, I was proud […]

Wild Encounters Prepared Alumna for Zoo Job

Cage diving with great white sharks. Swimming alongside humpback whales. Getting close to lions and leopards on an African safari. It sounds like a nature TV show, but it’s not. It’s how Nikki Maticic ’14 spent one summer break as a Mary Washington student. Now she cares for lions, tigers and Andean bears – oh, […]

French Study Abroad Sparks Joy in Alumnus

Stephen Lamm ’19 was a junior at Mary Washington when he studied abroad at the foot of the Alps. During those four months, he learned to speak fluent French and trekked across Europe. He also lost his grandfather – and found himself. As an openly gay student who led UMW’s College Republicans, Lamm spent his […]

French Study Abroad Sparks Joy in Alumnus

Stephen Lamm ’19, traveled abroad twice while at UMW – once on a faculty-led trip to Québec and also on a semester-long study abroad in Grenoble, France, which led him to visit 11 European countries. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

Stephen Lamm ’19, traveled abroad twice while at UMW – once on a faculty-led trip to Québec and also on a semester-long study abroad in Grenoble, France, which led him to visit 11 European countries. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

Stephen Lamm ’19 was a junior at Mary Washington when he studied abroad at the foot of the Alps. During those four months, he learned to speak fluent French and trekked across Europe. He also lost his grandfather – and found himself.

As an openly gay student who led UMW’s College Republicans, Lamm spent his college career crossing boundaries and building coalitions within his own party and across the aisle. Overseas, though, he had to rely on a new set of voices to see him through a difficult time.

“I was in a foreign country, speaking a different language, and yet I found myself surrounded by friends who felt like family,” said Lamm, who now manages health insurance cases as a legal analyst at a boutique D.C. law firm. Read more. 

In celebration of International Education Week 2019, Nov. 18 to 22, UMW shares stories of students who have studied abroad. One in three Mary Washington students volunteers, interns, conducts research, or joins a faculty-led trip or other UMW-approved experience outside the United States, according to Center for International Education (CIE) Director Jose SainzVisit CIE or call (540) 654-1434 for more information.