December 1, 2020

Bonds Mentioned in FLS Article on Rt. 1 Name Change

Associate Professor of Sociology Eric Bonds was mentioned in an article on the Fredericksburg City Council’s resolution to change the name of Jefferson Davis Highway, a measure that was approved 6-1. The General Assembly will discuss the name change at a special session in August. History and American Studies Associate Professor Will Mackintosh has also been a driving force behind the current effort, Bonds said.

Bonds and two students in his political sociology class had asked City Council to make the change because of Davis’ role in the Civil War and the fact that he’d owned more than 100 slaves during his lifetime.

The request evolved out of Bonds’ desire for the students to do a community involvement project that would help them develop democracy skills and not simply vote in an election and then tune out. The class overwhelmingly voted on the renaming project, and researched Davis and the history of the naming of the highway after him. Read more.

Bonds, Students Speak at City Council Meeting on Highway Renaming

Associate Professor of Sociology Eric Bonds

Associate Professor of Sociology Eric Bonds and his students recently spoke at a Fredericksburg City Council meeting to discuss renaming the stretch of Route 1 that runs by the University of Mary Washington, according to an article in The Free Lance-Star.

The name, due to its associations with the Confederacy and slavery, has come under fire in several other localities in recent years. In 2016, UMW Assistant Professor of Sociology Eric Bonds and two students in his political sociology class asked City Council during one of its meetings to rename the highway because of Davis’ role in the Civil War and the fact that he’d owned more than 100 slaves during his lifetime.

The request evolved out of his desire for the students to do a community involvement project that would help them develop democracy skills and not simply vote in an election and then tune out. The class overwhelming voted on this project, and researched Davis and the history of the naming of the highway after him. Read more.

Mary Talks: Eric Gable on ‘An Anthropology of Art’

Join us ONLINE for the next Mary Talk of the 2019-20 academic year.

Next in this year’s series is Eric Gable, professor of anthropology and recipient of the 2018 Waple Faculty Professional Achievement Award at UMW, presenting “An Anthropology of Art: Images and Objects from a Cross-Cultural Perspective.”

Professor Gable’s lecture distills his current book project, which delves into anthropology’s long-standing fascination with art and what it reveals about human equality and difference. The lecture is based on an ongoing study of Western art museums and how primitive art–particularly African–has been interpreted therein, and will include material on artistic practices among the people of West Africa and Indonesia, where Gable conducted field research.

Wednesday, April 22
7:30-8:30 p.m.

To watch the Talk online, register here. You then will receive a link to the streaming video, which can be watched live or at a later time. You also will have the opportunity to submit questions to be asked of the speaker at the end of the Talk.

Note: Online viewing is the only option for this Mary Talk, as we are not conducting any in-person events at this time.

We look forward to seeing you online!

Martin Discusses Eagle Resource Closet on WVTF

UMW first-years work with CCE Faculty Director Leslie Martin to stock the Eagle Resource Closet, a food pantry on the fifth floor of Lee Hall. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

Leslie Martin, faculty director of UMW’s Center for Community Engagement and associate professor of sociology, was recently interviewed by WVTF 88.3 Radio IQ about food insecurity among college students and how the Eagle Resource Closet at UMW is addressing this issue.

Many schools around Virginia try to attract students from low-income families with scholarships, grants and loans – but with the cost of living going up, some of those kids run out of cash. That’s prompted universities to open food pantries.

In the attic of an administration building at the University of Mary Washington there’s a large room known as the Eagle Resource Closet. Professor Leslie Martin says you might not know it was there.

“It does provide a lot of privacy,” she explains.

And that’s by design. When the university questioned students they said anonymity was important, and a food pantry was definitely needed.

“We did a survey of students to see how much need there was, and actually almost a quarter of our student population reported being food insecure at some point,” Martin says. Read more.

Bonds Co-authors Op-Ed on Climate Change for The Free Lance-Star

Associate Professor of Sociology Eric Bonds

Associate Professor of Sociology Eric Bonds and Rebecca Rubin, president and CEO of Marstel-Day, an environmental consulting firm, published an op-ed in The Free Lance-Star on what the Fredericksburg area can do to combat climate change:


Marstel-Day President and CEO Rebecca Rubin

Marstel-Day President and CEO Rebecca Rubin

YOU can regularly see it in the news reported in the Free Lance-Star and other newspapers: climate change is remaking our world. Fredericksburg urgently needs to develop a climate plan in response.

This effort should include a plan that would both reduce our city’s carbon emissions (which help propel global warming) and enable adaption to impacts that are inevitable—such as lethal heat, and air- and water-borne diseases—given that a certain amount of warming is already locked into our climate system.

Such a strategy would both respond to climate change risks and prevent them from worsening. Read more. 

Marsh Speaks About Suffrage Movement on 19th Amendment Anniversary

Kristin Marsh, associate professor and chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Kristin Marsh, associate professor and chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Kristin Marsh, associate professor and chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, spoke at the League of Women Voters of the Fredericksburg Area meeting at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library Monday in celebration of Women’s Equality Day. It honors the anniversary of the date when the 19th Amendment, which prohibits states and the federal government from denying the right to vote on the basis of sex, became official.

Marsh discussed how the women’s movement occurred in three waves, beginning with the suffrage movement in the 1920s, and continuing with the push for Equal Rights in the late 1960s and 1970s, who fought and won access to law school, medical school and academia, resulting in half of Ph.D.s being women. Their daughters and students began the third wave. Marsh noted that since 1980, more women have cast ballots than men, and she discussed the forecast for women voters in next year’s presidential election. “All predictions are that in 2020, the turnout is going to be even higher.”

Read more. 

Debra Schleef: Unlimited Data

Debra Schleef, associate provost of Institutional Analysis and Effectiveness

Debra Schleef, associate provost of Institutional Analysis and Effectiveness

“I’ll tell you where to look. I won’t tell you what to see.” Those are words that Debra Schleef lived by as a professor. These days, UMW’s associate provost of Institutional Analysis and Effectiveness spends much of her days analyzing data. But now she does tell her colleagues what to see in those numbers.

Schleef’s office is central to research on students, faculty and staff at Mary Washington, and she uses those statistics to advise senior administration so they can make data-informed decisions.

“If there’s a data element, it usually touches my office,” said Schleef, explaining that universities are required to share statistical information with federal and state governments.

Enter the new cloud-based framework Schleef and her team are beginning to work on this month. Aided by educational best practices firm EAB, the hub will unite a dizzying array of data environments from across the University and put UMW among the first to use an implementation of this type.

Schleef first came to Mary Washington two decades ago to teach sociology and says her background primed her for her current position, which is responsible for areas of internal and external reporting as well as assessment.

“Being a sociologist offers a unique insight into organizational dynamics, communication and change, which is so relevant in this job,” Schleef said. “And while I don’t teach as often, I understand inside and out what it’s like to be a UMW professor and department chair, so I love having the opportunity to help people in those roles.”


Q: What first piqued your interest in sociology?
A: I wanted to be a lawyer – sociology was recommended by my freshman advisor. I’d never heard of it, but I took my first class – a lecture with 500 students – and I was completely hooked.

Q: Why did you decide to make the leap to Institutional Analysis and Effectiveness?
A: I was looking for an administrative opportunity and love data collection, analysis and reporting. I’d been teaching it for 25 years, so it was a perfect fit.

Q: You constantly work with numbers. What about that appeals to you?
A: It can be exhausting because details have to be right, and you might have to run an analysis several times. But I love the challenge of puzzling out the best way to get at the data and the excitement of figuring out a conceptually tricky data analysis.

Q: What can you tell us about the EAB hub?
A: It will address systems integration, and data management and accessibility, with a single solution. We are also hiring a director of business intelligence who will be central to that process and will support the more enhanced data visualization and reporting that will follow.

Q: What’s the one thing in your office that means the most to you?
A: I have a shuttle from the Starship Enterprise, which is the pepper half of a salt and pepper shaker set. I got it when I first joined the enterprise scheduling committee in 2012. Plus, I like Star Trek.

Q: What do you like to do to relax?
A: Standup paddle boarding, running and hiking, board games and just walking around Fredericksburg enjoying small town life.

Bonds Publishes Research Article on Civilian Impacts of Iraq War

Associate Professor of Sociology Eric Bonds

Eric Bonds, Associate Professor of Sociology, recently published an article in the journal Social Currents on the civilian impacts of U.S. military violence during the Iraq War. The article, entitled “Callous Cruelty and Counterinsurgency: Civilian Victimization and Compensation in U.S.-Occupied Iraq,” is based on an analysis of Iraqi requests for monetary payments after suffering losses of property and loved ones during the war. The files depict the routine nature of civilian harm in Iraq, and the most common ways by which U.S. military action killed civilians. Finally, the documents show that the U.S. military compensation program was administered in a way that frequently re-inscribed, rather than diminished, the callous cruelty of counterinsurgency war.

LaWanda Simpkins: Courageous Conversations

LaWanda Simpkins signs her emails with a quote by the late Civil Rights icon and former UMW professor James L. Farmer: “Courage, after all, is not being unafraid, but doing what needs to be done in spite of fear.”

LaWanda Simpkins, James L. Farmer Jr. Post-Doctoral Fellow in Civil Rights and Social Justice

It’s particularly meaningful, given that it was Farmer whose legacy brought Simpkins to Mary Washington three years ago on a post-doctoral fellowship that bears his name.

It’s also fitting because Simpkins is the first in a new series called “Courageous Conversations” that features UMW faculty exploring topics of diversity and inclusion. In her video, Simpkins says that approaching others with openness and honesty and being intentional with communications can help break down social barriers.

Simpkins, who holds a Ph.D. in cultural studies and a graduate certificate in women and gender studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, is no stranger to these provocative and powerful discussions. She has them every day with her students in courses about women of color feminists, social justice and intersectionality.

“We have robust conversations about how this field came about,” said Simpkins, whose students often come to class with little background in the subject area. “It is exciting to see their confidence build and their perspectives become shaped. People bring their own different identities – race, gender, sexual orientation, disability status, etc. – and experiences to class, and it helps them connect more closely to the material.”



Q: What led you to this field of study?
A: One of the glaring things I noticed during my graduate and doctoral studies was that there were not many students who looked like me. The curriculum didn’t align with who I was as a Black woman. That is what caused me to study feminism in the way that I did and understand that there are gaps in the field. I’m intentional about saying I identify as a Black feminist. In fact, in my Women of Color Feminism class, the whole course is geared toward students figuring out who they are as a feminist.

Q: Are there any lessons or projects that you particularly enjoy teaching?
A: My students create vision boards by choosing and researching five women of color feminists who speak to who they are. They’ve made everything from homemade comic strips to puzzles to paintings – things that would blow your mind at the level of creativity. I cannot wait to get those projects. I’m like a kid in a candy store because it’s limitless.

Q: Who are the feminists that speak to you?
A: Patricia Hill Collins, Michele Wallace, bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, Angela Davis and Michelle Obama.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you?
A: Busy! I wake up before my kids to get myself together so that I can give them my full attention before I leave for work. This includes making bottles, washing dishes and making lunches. After office hours and teaching classes, I go home and straight into mommy mode.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of your profession?
A: Seeing students having their “aha” moments and knowing that I could potentially have an impact on their thought trajectory for the rest of their lives.

Q: What is the most challenging?
A: The politics of academia.

Q: Who or what inspires you?
A: My students who are living in their absolute truths.

Q: What would people be most surprised to learn about you?
A: I watch reality television and probably know most music on the radio. I actually love hip-hop  ̶  the good kind of course!

Q: Are there any mottos that you live by?
A: “I am what I am not yet.” ~Maxine Greene

Schleef Conducts Fieldwork in Germany

Debra Schleef, professor of sociology, conducted field research on several intentional communities in Germany in July, and gave a lecture in German on issues that are of concern to communes and ecovillages in the U.S. to an audience at Kommune Niederkaufungen.