July 13, 2020

Connections Steer Geography Grad Toward New Tech Job

In the midst of a worldwide pandemic, 2020 grad James Fendley secured a job – a month before earning his degree – at a D.C.-based data analytics firm owned by Jonathan Steenberg ’14.

In the midst of a worldwide pandemic, 2020 grad James Fendley secured a job – a month before earning his degree – at a D.C.-based data analytics firm owned by Jonathan Steenberg ’14.

For his first virtual interview, James Fendley paired a freshly pressed shirt and tie with basketball shorts and asked his family for an hour of quiet. But the best preparation came from UMW’s Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD).

Throughout his final semester, the 2020 University of Mary Washington graduate scheduled regular phone calls with the Center’s career counselors, who are charged with guiding students and recent grads toward employment, even during COVID-19.

“With each appointment, my résumé improved,” Fendley said. “Seeing my progress kept me motivated and helped me stay on track.”

His perseverance paid off. A month before he earned his degree, Fendley secured a job at a D.C.-based data analytics firm owned by 2014 alum Jonathan Steenberg. They’re two in a long line of UMW geography majors hired right out of college, thanks to solid programs, strong connections between faculty and students, and an active alumni network. Often landing employment in D.C.’s tech corridor, graduates of the program are the highest paid in the nation for the field, according to College Factual, which also recently ranked Mary Washington’s geography department No. 1 in the Southeast. Read more.

Geography Professor Receives Topher Bill Service Award (Spot On Virginia)

Gallagher Receives Topher Bill Service Award

Jackie Gallagher, associate professor of geography, is this year's Topher Bill Service Award recipient.

Jackie Gallagher, associate professor of geography, is this year’s Topher Bill Service Award recipient.

Jackie Gallagher, associate professor of geography at the University of Mary Washington, has been recognized with the J. Christopher (Topher) Bill Outstanding Faculty Service Award for her contributions to UMW and her involvement and leadership in the greater community. The award was presented at the University’s opening faculty meeting on Monday, August 19.

Announcing the award, Parrish Waters, chair of the Sabbaticals, Fellowships and Faculty Awards Committee and assistant professor of biology, said Gallagher has shown a remarkable dedication to UMW students and faculty as well as the Fredericksburg community.

“[Dr. Gallagher] has worked for years to establish meaningful relationships with local K-12 schools that introduce students and educators to the tools and curriculum of her discipline and foster intellectual excitement for this material. Her engagement in community service extends beyond the classroom, as she applies her scientific knowledge of water, weather and climate to improve and enhance local natural resources.” Read more. 

Geography Department goes “All In” in Fountain for Giving Day

When the University of Mary Washington announced that the theme of 2019’s Giving Day was “All In,” the Department of Geography took that literally. On Wednesday, April 24, geography professors went “all in” the Palmieri Fountain in front of Monroe Hall to celebrate the more than $23,000 the department raised during the annual event, held this year on March 19.

Department of Geography professors went "all in" into the Palmieri Fountain in front of Monroe Hall on April 24 to thank their Giving Day donors.

Department of Geography professors went “all in” into the Palmieri Fountain in front of Monroe Hall on April 24 to thank their Giving Day donors.

The professors who took the plunge were Dawn Bowen, Stephen Hanna, Joe Nicholas, Marco Millones Mayer, Caitie Finlayson, Melina Patterson and Jacqueline Gallagher. Their former colleague, Professor Emeritus Donald Rallis, who now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, jumped into a fish pond there in solidarity.

Gallagher said that getting into the cool water on a warm spring day was a shock, but she was glad that she and her colleagues had the opportunity to put the “fun” in fundraiser.

“We are a fairly small department with about 90 majors, so to be able to raise this much in one day is huge,” said Gallagher, who is chair of the department, which was ranked by College Factual as No. 1 in Virginia and in the entire southeastern region, and No. 10 nationally by College Factual. “We work really hard to foster a sense of community and a strong connection with our students. And we work to keep that bond with our alumni and their families.

The funds raised will go toward the department’s Geography Alumni Scholarship, which is named in honor of Professor Marshall Bowen, and late Professors Samuel T. Emory, James Gouger and Richard Palmieri.

Founded in 1959 by Emory (the namesake of Sammy T’s restaurant in downtown Fredericksburg), the geography department celebrates its 60th anniversary this year and has a number of special events planned. On April 13, the professors gathered with 135 current and former students and their families at Brock’s Riverside Grill for the Geography Honor Society (Gamma Theta Upsilon) induction and annual awards presentation. The event usually draws a crowd of about 50 in a normal year.

The department will also host the Jeff Rountree Geography Challenge, an ongoing fundraiser that is separate from the Giving Day challenge. The 1991 graduate and CEO of the UMW Foundation – who majored in geography – will give $4,000 to the Rountree Endowment when 60 gifts are made to the Geography Alumni Scholarship. The Rountree Endowment is used to help students pay for equipment, data or travel to do research or present at conferences. It helps both graduate and undergraduate students in geography and geospatial analysis.

For more information about the Department of Geography, or to give to the Jeff Rountree Geography Challenge, please visit the Online Giving website or call (540) 654-1037.