August 15, 2020

Faculty Members Receive Emeritus Status

The 2020-21 school year will start with five noticeable voids as long-serving faculty leave the University of Mary Washington with emeritus status. The College of Education will say goodbye to professors George R. Meadows and Leslie Jo Tyler, the Department of Theatre and Dance will do the same with Professor Helen M. Housley, and two Jacks – Kramer and Bales – are departing the College of Arts and Sciences.

Professor of Education Emeritus George Meadows

Professor Emeritus of Education George Meadows

George Meadows came to Mary Washington in 1997 not only with an Ed.D. from West Virginia University, but also with a wealth of teaching experience. After earning degrees in geology – a bachelor’s from Marshall University and a master’s from Emory University – the West Virginia native served more than two years with the Peace Corps as a lecturer in geology at the National University of Malaysia, where he taught in the local language.

Meadows was an early adapter to technology. Known today for his instructional technology skills, he was already teaching online in the 1990s when he was research instructor for a National Science Foundation-funded project to support K-12 science teachers across a large geographic area. At Mary Washington, he was as likely to help faculty as students on use of technology, said longtime colleague Professor of Education Marie Sheckels.

She said that Meadows’ students loved his classes and appreciated the opportunities he gave them to explore new technologies, instructional equipment and hands-on material. She said his career demonstrated “he is a generous person who enjoys sharing his knowledge, expertise and excitement for learning with others.”

Meadows has focused in recent years on community outreach in the development of technology and makerspaces in local schools and libraries. He volunteers to support environmental education and STEM studies for the Fredericksburg area’s diverse, low-income children, and he plans to continue both in retirement.

Professor Emeritus of Education Leslie Jo Tyler

Professor Emeritus of Education Leslie Jo Tyler

Leslie Jo Tyler was hired in 1999 for a new master of education post-baccalaureate program in what was then the Mary Washington College of Graduate and Professional Studies. She “single-handedly directed the development” of UMW’s program to prepare classroom teachers to support English language learners – just when the need was taking off in the Fredericksburg area, according to Professor of Education Jane L. Huffman in a tribute to her colleague.

A linguist with a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University, a master of education from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Florida, Tyler taught linguistics, sociolinguistics, cross-cultural communication, phonetics, phonology and other courses.

Huffman said that Tyler’s students recognized her demanding standards, just as they recognized her excellence. She became known for hosting annual gatherings so graduates and area professionals could get to know one another and share knowledge and best practices.

“Jo embodies the standards of quality, principles of innovation, and collaboration that are at the core of our programs,” Huffman said.

Professor Emeritus of Theatre Helen Housley

Professor Emeritus of Theatre Helen Housley

In her two decades at Mary Washington, Helen Housley directed 29 productions and was the department’s primary vocal instructor and coach. She taught an impressive variety of theater courses and stepped forward to develop a first-year seminar, which she taught every fall since its inception, according to Gregg Stull, department chair and professor of theater. An example of Housley’s devotion to her craft is that she volunteered over the years to watch thousands of high-schoolers audition for UMW Theatre.

An expert in the Lessac technique of voice, speech and movement training, Housley holds a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, a master of arts from Western Illinois University, and a bachelor of arts from St. Mary’s College.

In a tribute to Housley, Stull said the department in 2019 scheduled Much Ado About Nothing just so his colleague could direct her favorite Shakespeare comedy before retiring. Rehearsals were under way when the pandemic hit, and the production seemed doomed.

But Housley’s show went on. She innovated and directed the performance via Zoom. More than 1,500 people in 37 states and five countries watched a livestream of the performance, and thousands more saw it on YouTube.

“I never would have imagined when we left campus on March 12 that this semester, in all of its uncertainty, would reveal to me, yet again, Helen’s gifts as a teacher, director and colleague. But it has,” Stull said. “Helen ends her career at UMW in the same way she has lived it for the last 20 years – by giving tirelessly to our department and selflessly to our students, demanding as much from all of us as she does from herself. Such is her hallmark of excellence.”

Distinguished Professor of Political Science and International Affairs Jack Kramer

Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Political Science and International Affairs Jack Kramer

Distinguished Professor of Political Science and International Affairs Jack Kramer is retiring with numerous distinctions after half a century at Mary Washington. During his long tenure, Kramer served as visiting professor of strategy and policy at the United States Naval War College, research fellow for the Russian Research Center at Harvard University, senior fellow for the National Defense University, and Fulbright-Hayes Fellow in the former Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.

After earning an undergraduate degree at LaSalle College and a master’s at the University of Virginia, Kramer received a doctorate in political science and Soviet area studies from U.Va., where he was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, a DuPont Fellow and a University Fellow. In 2002, the Virginia Social Science Association named him the “Outstanding Political Scientist of Virginia,” and UMW awarded its 2006 Grellet C. Simpson Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching to Kramer. He wrote The Energy Gap in Eastern Europe (D.C. Heath, 1990) and numerous articles and professional papers on political life in Communist and Post-Communist polities in Europe. In addition, he was the longtime co-leader of Mary Washington’s unique study-abroad program called European Capitals.

“I’m a happy camper,” Kramer declared on the eve of his retirement. “I’ve had a good run [having] been blessed with many fine colleagues and wonderful students and been paid to teach and write about a subject I still find fascinating and gripping.”

His colleague and current department chair, Professor Elizabeth Freund Larus, said Kramer, longtime chair, “has been the cornerstone of the department … building a collegial environment in which we all appreciate what each of us contributes to the department and the discipline.”

Kramer added: “I had never heard of Mary Washington – or Fredericksburg, for that matter – before I came here; I took the job because we were dead broke and desperately needed money.”

He used that experience as a life lesson for his students, many of whom have gone on to fill high-ranking government positions. “It’s good to plan,” Kramer said, “but don’t obsess about it.” He added, “Life works in funny ways and much of what happens in it is purely serendipitous so be open and receptive to unanticipated opportunities and seize the moment to exploit them.”

Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales

Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales

After four decades at Mary Washington, Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales has retired from the University of Mary Washington. But the meticulous researcher and expert on the history of baseball won’t quit studying and writing about his beloved Chicago Cubs.

“What am I going to do without Jack?” asked University Librarian Rosemary Arneson, his friend and colleague. Bales has led about 100 research sessions for students annually, she said, and his Citing Sources is UMW Libraries’ most popular guide, with over 6,000 hits. Faculty depend on him for support, too, including some of his former students who now teach at their alma mater.

“He is happiest when he is in the library early on a Saturday morning, poring over the microfilm of early Chicago newspapers, and he loves nothing else so much as a good footnote,” Arneson said in a tribute to Bales.

The Positivity Post, a UMW student-led weekly newsletter designed to spread good news during the gloomy COVID-19 days, recently described Bales as a UMW “institution.” The article went on to say that Writing Center director Gwen Hale once hailed Jack Bales as “the Mick Jagger of librarians.” A student countered, according to the article, ‘‘Mick Jagger is the Jack Bales of rock and roll!”

In 2019, Bales released Before They Were the Cubs: The Early Years of Chicago’s First Professional Baseball Team, published by McFarland & Co. A book about the life of Violet Popovich, the woman who shot Cub Billy Jurges, will be published later this year by The History Press. Bales’ books include literary studies on American authors Horatio Alger Jr., Kenneth Roberts (Northwest Passage), and Esther Forbes (Johnny Tremain).

In addition, he’s written extensively about the late Southern author Willie Morris, who is best known for his award-winning North Toward Home and the memoir My Dog Skip, which was made into a popular film. Morris and Bales became friends, leading to Morris’ memorable guest lectures at Mary Washington in 1998, during which he captivated students, faculty and community members.

“Jack is much more than a great teacher and researcher,” Arneson said. “He is a generous colleague, always willing to take an extra shift on the reference desk or to offer words of praise. We will all miss him greatly. And we hope he doesn’t have to wait another 100 years to see the Cubs win the World Series again.”

Alum Skyrockets in Career as NASA Videographer

Paul Morris, who received a bachelor’s degree in theatre from UMW in 2010, is now a video producer for NASA. A documentary he created for the 30th anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope has garnered more than 400,000 views on social media. Photo courtesy of Paul Morris.

Paul Morris, who received a bachelor’s degree in theatre from UMW in 2010, is now a video producer for NASA. A documentary he created for the 30th anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope has garnered more than 400,000 views on social media. Photo courtesy of Paul Morris.

Paul Morris ’10 grew up recording epic space battles on stop-action film. He’d pose and re-pose Star Wars figures, capturing them with a Sony Super 8 camera that kept conking out.

Now a video producer for NASA, Morris’s outer-space odysseys are a bit more high-tech. A documentary he created – from conception to final cut – for this spring’s 30th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope, went into orbit on social media. With a theatre degree he didn’t know existed when he got to college – and the teamwork and storytelling skills that came with it – Morris turned his innate fascination with all things galactic into a soaring career.

“It’s been an absolute dream,” he said. “I’ve always been obsessed with space and with NASA.”

UMW, too, was ingrained in Morris, whose grandparents Marceline Weatherly Morris ’50 and Elmer “Juney” Morris Jr. ’50, married seven decades this month, began their courtship at Mary Washington. Paul Morris took a cue from the couple, meeting fellow theatre major Cassie Lewis ’11 on campus and marrying her beneath a magnolia tree in his Nana’s backyard. Read more.

Alum Skyrockets in Career as NASA Videographer

Paul Morris ’10 grew up recording epic space battles on stop-action film. He’d pose and re-pose Star Wars figures, capturing them with a Sony Super 8 camera that kept conking out. Now a video producer for NASA, Morris’s outer-space odysseys are a bit more high-tech. A documentary he created – from conception to final cut […]

Benson Discusses Pandemic and Arts Sector

Assistant Professor of Theatre Michael Benson

Assistant Professor of Theatre Michael Benson

Assistant Professor of Theatre Michael Benson was interviewed for an article in The Well News entitled, “Pandemic Related Challenges Loom Large in the Arts Sector.” 2020 graduate Erick Boscana was also quoted in the story.

 

Erick Boscana, a 2020 graduate of the University of Mary Washington, was still in the midst of scenic design classes when the university informed students facilities were being closed and they had to continue their classes remotely.

“For most of us, adapting to that new reality was impossible,” Boscana said.

“The shutdown placed the [UMW Theatre and Dance] Department in a very precarious position academically because for many of the seniors, their senior project hinged on either a completed performance in ‘Much Ado’ [the spring semester play] or an executed design.” 

Boscana continues, “Fortunately, they were able to organize a Zoom format for an abridged production of ‘Much Ado,’ allowing the actors to showcase the work they had spent the past three months on and the department created a video featuring the work we had already completed.” 

The students at the university weren’t the only ones adapting to uncharted territory.

Michael Benson, an assistant professor in the UMW Theatre and Dance Department, said his initial reaction to having to teach remotely was to ask himself what it was going to take to adjust to the new situation.

“Frankly, most of my energy was funneled to migrating my classes online,” said Benson.

To improve his ability to teach in the remote environment, Benson learned new software and technology, one byproduct being a set of online lectures for his technical production class. 

He goes on to joke that for his scene painting class, he “devised modality of instruction that resembled ‘The Joy of Painting’, sans the cool hair.” 

Benson says as a result of all these adaptations, he “gained a new and healthy respect for instructors who regularly teach online.”  Read more.

Stull, Reynolds’ UMW Theatre ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ Reimagining Featured in FLS

UMW Theatre’s reimagining of the song ‘Anybody Have a Map?’ from the Tony Award-winning musical ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ was recently featured in an article in The Free Lance-Star. Jon Reynolds, director of marketing and audience services, updated the lyrics with the permission of the show’s creators to reflect the students’ common experiences in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The students recorded themselves singing individually in their own homes and submitted their videos. Director and theater department chair Gregg Stull and production supervisor Brandon Prendergast—with help from James Gardiner, a deputy director at Washington, D.C.’s Signature Theater—edited the recordings together into a video that was posted to YouTube, where it has been shared several thousand times and was applauded by Broadway star Laura Benanti.

“When we left campus on March 12, we held an important goal of keeping our students active and engaged while they were distant from us,” Stull said.

UMW sponsored a trip to New York last year to see “Dear Evan Hansen,” and the musical was a Common Read across campus in the 2018–19 academic year, Stull said, so it is familiar to many students.

“We really wanted to create something with our students that gave them a chance to respond to their feelings and was hopeful in these uncertain times,” Stull said.

The changes to the song’s spoken-word lyrics, which were approved by creators Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, reflect a post-coronavirus world in which classes are held via Zoom meeting, friends socialize after class virtually through Google Hangouts, in-person commencement ceremonies are postponed and toilet paper is hard to find. Read more.

UMW Theatre reimagines Dear Evan Hansen’s “Anybody Have a Map?”

A message from UMW Theatre.

We’ve started our last week of classes. We have all stretched ourselves. We have stepped into uncharted waters as we gather new ways to teach and learn. We have pushed beyond the bounds of what we thought was possible.

The University of Mary Washington is a special place, distinguished by the strong connections our faculty build with our students as they grow and learn together. COVID-19 has not changed that. In many ways, it has strengthened our work with each other.

There have been real challenges. And there have also been moments of real joy. One thing is certain, today more than ever before, we relish the moments of success and connections we find even when apart from one another.

And to celebrate that joy, this is a gift from UMW Theatre to you—”Anybody Have a Map?” from the blockbuster musical Dear Evan Hansen by Benj Pasek, Justin Paul, and Steven Levenson reimagined by our students for today. Stay safe and well.

 

Gregg Stull signature

Gregg Stull
Producing Director

Actors Split Role in UMW Musical ‘Fun Home’

In UMW Theatre’s production of Tony Award-winning musical ‘Fun Home,’ three actors – Madison Neilson, Olivia Whicheloe and Lydia Hundley – portray graphic novelist Alison Bechdel at various stages of her life. Photo by Geoff Greene.

In UMW Theatre’s production of Tony Award-winning musical ‘Fun Home,’ three actors – Madison Neilson, Olivia Whicheloe and Lydia Hundley – portray graphic novelist Alison Bechdel at various stages of her life. Photo by Geoff Greene.

A pivotal scene in UMW Theatre’s current musical features the protagonist recalling a drive she took with her late father. Struggling to find the words, they sing a heartbreaking duet about their failure to have an open and honest conversation.

“I’ve lived that exact moment, looking out the car window because I didn’t know what to say to my dad,” said senior Lydia Hundley, who plays the college-aged Alison Bechdel, who later became a successful graphic novelist, in Fun Home. Hundley credits Bechdel’s critically acclaimed memoir and the musical it inspired for teaching her how to communicate with her own parents.

She’s one of three actors who will portray Bechdel at various stages of her life. Junior Madison Neilson plays her at age 10, and senior Olivia Whicheloe portrays her as an adult. The show, which continues UMW’s 2019-20 theatre season, runs Nov. 14 to 16 and Nov. 21 to 23 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 17 and 24 at 2 p.m. in duPont Hall’s Klein Theatre. Tickets cost $25 for general admission, and $20 for students, senior citizens, alumni and military. Read more. 

Actors Split Role in UMW Musical ‘Fun Home’

In UMW Theatre’s production of Tony Award-winning musical ‘Fun Home,’ three actors – Madison Neilson, Olivia Whicheloe and Lydia Hundley – portray graphic novelist Alison Bechdel at various stages of her life. Photo by Geoff Greene.

In UMW Theatre’s production of Tony Award-winning musical ‘Fun Home,’ three actors – Madison Neilson, Olivia Whicheloe and Lydia Hundley – portray graphic novelist Alison Bechdel at various stages of her life. Photo by Geoff Greene.

A pivotal scene in UMW Theatre’s upcoming musical features the protagonist recalling a drive she took with her late father. Struggling to find the words, they sing a heartbreaking duet about their failure to have an open and honest conversation.

“I’ve lived that exact moment, looking out the car window because I didn’t know what to say to my dad,” said senior Lydia Hundley, who plays the college-aged Alison Bechdel, who later became a successful graphic novelist, in Fun Home. Hundley credits Bechdel’s critically acclaimed memoir and the musical it inspired for teaching her how to communicate with her own parents.

She’s one of three actors who will portray Bechdel at various stages of her life. Junior Madison Neilson plays her at age 10, and senior Olivia Whicheloe portrays her as an adult. The show, which continues UMW’s 2019-20 theatre season, kicks off tonight with a Pay-What-You-Can Preview Performance in Klein Theatre at 7:30 p.m. The box office opens at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Read more. 

UMW Theatre Presents ‘Fun Home,’ PWYC Preview Nov. 6

The journey to adulthood is a road of peaks and valleys. All of us share the experience of what it means to grow up in an uncertain world, to search and stumble along the path, and to forge our way to a meaningful future. In a refreshingly honest, gorgeously conceived, and exceptionally innovative musical based on Alison Bechdel’s heartbreaking graphic memoir, Fun Home reminds us of the life-affirming joy that comes from facing our fears to become the person we were meant to be.

“ . . . dazzling musical . . . a wonderfully funny, mischievous account of family life and a touching memoir about growing up.”
—Financial Times

For information or questions about tickets, please contact the Klein Theatre Box Office during operating hours at 540-654-1111.

Tickets on Sale for UMW Theatre’s The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged) [Revised]

UMW Theatre presents The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged) [Revised]
By Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield
September 19-29, Pay-What-You-Can Preview September 18 

A company of actors storms the stage and takes on the Bard of Avon—37 plays and 154 sonnets—in a 97-minute madcap romp through the entire canon (but not the one you studied in English class). Fasten your seatbelts and hang on for dear life as you take one of the wildest and goofiest rides in the theatre. The Bard may be rolling in his grave, but you’ll be rolling in the aisles for The Complete Works of Shakespeare, abridged, revised.

“If you like Shakespeare, you’ll like this show. If you hate Shakespeare, you’ll love this show!”
—The Today Show

“Wildly funny. Masterful!” —The Los Angeles Times

Tickets will be made available online, over the phone and in person at the Klein Theatre Box Office starting September 5, 2019. The Klein Theatre Box Office is open Monday – Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm.