May 18, 2024

NESSIE is Coming!

The National Survey of Student Engagement will seeking feedback from First Years and Seniors starting Feb. 22nd. NSSE annually collects information at hundreds of four-year colleges and universities about students’ participation in programs and activities that institutions provide for their learning and personal development. Students should check their emails for one of several emails through March 30th to see if they are eligible. Students who complete by March 30th will be entered to win one of multiple $50 gift cards.

UMW Administration, Faculty & Staff Featured in FLS Article on Remote Work

Members of the UMW community, including Associate Provost for Institutional Analysis and Effectiveness Debra Schleef, Executive Director of Human Resources Beth Williams, Associate Payroll Manager Leslie Petrey and Provost Nina Mikhalevsky were interviewed for a recent article in The Free Lance-Star: “Outbreak sends many Fredericksburg area residents home to work.”

Debra Schleef, associate provost of Institutional Analysis and Effectiveness

Debra Schleef, associate provost of Institutional Analysis and Effectiveness

Debra Schleef, a sociology professor at the University of Mary Washington, learned early on that the coronavirus would soon enough require staff and faculty to remotely work and teach from home.

It prompted Schleef, who also works in the provost’s office, to pull together a collection of paper and electronic files she’d need to work from home with the other three folks in the office.

She was a bit ahead of the game, already having a laptop that uses an internet connection so that makes it “not too different from sitting in front of my computer at work.” 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.

Public Survey Seeks Feedback on Stafford County Homelessness (

Schleef Wins Topher Bill Award for Faculty Service

Debra Jo Schleef, professor of sociology, has been recognized with the J. Christopher Bill Outstanding Faculty Service Award for her contributions to the University as well as her involvement and leadership in the community. The award was presented at the University’s opening faculty meeting on Thursday, Aug. 25.

A member of the UMW faculty since 1999, Schleef embodies the spirit of selflessness at the heart of this award. An astounding number of people nominated her: 13 in total, including senior and junior colleagues within and beyond her department, and indeed beyond her own college, according to Laura Mentore, outgoing chair of the University Sabbaticals, Fellowships, and Faculty Awards Committee.

Mentore quoted from one nominating letter signed by every member of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology: “In keeping with her (Schleef’s) character, her moral sensibilities, and the ethical imperatives of her discipline, she has always been eager to roll up her sleeves and help us to collectively make Mary Washington a better place for students, faculty, and staff, and an institution that more effectively fulfills its mission and promise. Her active engagement does not stop at the college gates. She has also been an eager and consistent participant in service activities in the Fredericksburg community and in her discipline’s community of scholars.”

Schleef earned a Ph.D. (1997) and an M.A. (1991) in sociology from Northwestern University, and a B.A. (1988) in sociology from Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, where she graduated summa cum laude. Her recent research focuses on the composition of the Hispanic community in the greater “New South,” including demographic trends, the impact of immigration on the area, and Latino efforts to adapt to their new home. Schleef is co-author, with H.B. Cavalcanti, of Latinos in Dixie: Class and Assimilation in Richmond, Virginia.

She is a member of the American Sociological Association, the Southern Sociological Association, and the Law and Society Association. She is the recipient of two Mary Washington Faculty Development Grants and a Jepson Fellowship. Schleef is an authoritative source on the sociology of law, occupations and professions, professional education and socialization, elites, race/class/gender and Latino migration and assimilation in the American South.

The selection criteria for the award stipulates that the recipient must have served a minimum of seven years as a member of the Mary Washington teaching faculty and must have been heavily and consistently involved in a variety of service capacities, including departmental, university-wide and community service. Nominations may be submitted by any member of the teaching faculty, staff or student body of the university.




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.

Munching the Numbers

M&M's give sociology students a taste for statistics.

Faculty Governance Forum, Oct. 11

I am writing to invite and encourage you to attend an open forum on UMW Faculty Governance, hosted by Jim Lollar (Pres., Faculty Senate of Virginia) and the UFC on Friday, Oct. 11, 3-5 p.m. in Lee Hall, Room 411. Jim Lollar will be presenting the findings from the faculty survey on faculty governance that was circulated by the UFC this summer and leading discussion on where to go from here. The survey indicated that a majority of faculty are dissatisfied with our current governance system and would be open to fine-tuning or changing elements of it. Jim Lollar has extensive experience with assisting the faculty governance systems at other institutions to evolve. We hope you will join us for the discussion.


Schleef Publishes Book Chapter

Debra Schleef published ““Jumping Ship or Merely Crossing the Aisle? An Analysis of the Circulation of Elite Lawyers,” in Sociology of Work: Networks, Employment, and Inequality, edited by Steve McDonald for  JAI Press.