August 12, 2020

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.

Through Pandemic, Research Remains Top Priority at UMW

Held annually on campus, UMW’s Research and Creativity Day went virtual this year, due to COVID-19. The event allows students to share projects they’ve worked on all year.

Held annually on campus, UMW’s Research and Creativity Day went virtual this year, due to COVID-19. The event allows students to share projects they’ve worked on all year.

They put in the hours – late-night study sessions, one-on-one meetings with faculty members, conferences, presentations and projects. All year long, students have been working hard on one of the University of Mary Washington’s top priorities: undergraduate research.

A pandemic wasn’t about to stop the 14th annual showcase that highlights all of their efforts. Filled with posters in the form of PDF images and oral synopses on video, the UMW Research and Creativity Day Virtual Symposium covers everything from math and science to the performing and visual arts. The online event will be open tomorrow through Friday for questions and comments, and for all-around marveling over UMW students’ ingenuity and drive.

“It’s a time for all of us to pause to celebrate our students’ hard work, their creativity, and the knowledge they’ve produced,” said Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Betsy Lewis. “When it was clear we wouldn’t be able to do this face-to-face on campus this year, I really wanted to find a way to replicate that sense of community and celebration.” Read more.

Betsy Lewis Appointed Assistant Dean of Arts and Sciences

Modern Languages and Literatures Professor and Chair Betsy Lewis was appointed Assistant Dean of Arts and Sciences.

Modern Languages and Literatures Professor and Chair Betsy Lewis was appointed Assistant Dean of Arts and Sciences.

A Message from the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. 

Dear colleagues,

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Betsy Lewis as the Assistant Dean of Arts and Sciences.

In her new role, Dr. Lewis will take over much of the work associated with support of our undergraduate research programs, including management of URES 197, the undergraduate research grant budget, and the annual Research & Creativity Day event. In addition, Dr. Lewis will support the college on more enhanced assessment of our activities in these areas, and will focus on better communication and promotion of student accomplishments by building a healthy relationship with University Relations and the Advancement offices.

Author of two books and more than 20 articles, Dr. Lewis earned her Ph.D. in Spanish literature from the University of Virginia and has spoken at dozens of conferences and universities around the world on topics ranging from gender in 18th-century literature to digital pedagogy. At UMW, she has been active in a variety of leadership and service roles, establishing important relationships with offices around campus. She is currently serving her sixth year as chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures.

I would like to thank the search committee of Brooks Kuykendall, Lynn Lewis, and Margaret Ray, chaired by Associate Dean Grant Woodwell, for their valuable recommendations and insights during this process.

I personally look forward with eager anticipation to having Betsy as a colleague and partner in the work of the Dean’s office. Please join me in welcoming Dr. Betsy Lewis into her new position as Assistant Dean of CAS. She will formally assume this role in January 2020.

Sincerely,

Dr. Keith E. Mellinger, Dean
College of Arts and Sciences