September 24, 2023

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.”

UMW Hosting Pair of International Relations Talks (Fredericksburg.Com)

Crisis in Crimea Panel, April 2

Crimea Poster final

The UMW Model United Nations invites you to a panel discussion “Crisis in Crimea” on Wednesday, April 2 at 4:30 p.m. in Trinkle Hall, Room 106A. The panel features Nabil S. Al-Tikriti, associate professor of history and American studies, and John M. Kramer, chair and distinguished professor of political science and international affairs.

UMW Alumnus Shares His Experience as U.S. Ambassador

At 24 years old – just four years after donning a cap and gown at the University of Mary Washington – Clifford Hart ‘80 moved halfway around the world. He left his home state of Virginia, where he had attended Mary Washington, then the University of Virginia for graduate school, to take a post in China with the Foreign Service. “It was a treat from beginning to end,” Hart said of his first assignment. “It was a fascinating time to be there.” Hart, now Special Envoy for the Six-Party Talks for the denuclearization of North Korea, spoke with students about his decades-long career in the Foreign Service during a recent trip to his alma mater. “The Foreign Service is a deeply stimulating intellectual exercise,” he said. “You are constantly learning.” As an envoy, Ambassador Hart coordinates U.S. efforts on the Six-Party Talks and leads day-to-day engagement with Six-Party partners. “It has been an occasion for me to learn a lot about a really critical part of our foreign policy,” Hart said. In his 30-year career, Hart has held posts in numerous countries, including China, Taiwan, Iraq and the Soviet Union, and has served in senior positions at the State Department, the White House and the Pentagon. He credits Mary Washington with providing a quality liberal arts education that has served as a foundation for his career. “As a diplomat, you need to draw in the broadest intellectual framework you can,” he said. Hart faults himself for not taking advantage of the full range of liberal arts studies while at Mary Washington, where he heavily concentrated in international relations and political science to Russian and economics. He nonetheless recalls his education with gratitude and pleasure. “On a personal level, I was able to establish close relationships with faculty,” Hart said. “I still benefit daily from [John Kramer’s] instruction 33 years ago.” Kramer, distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Political Science and International Affairs, taught Hart in several international relations classes. “Ambassador Hart was one of the singular best students I have had the privilege of teaching in my 42 years at Mary Washington – and that is saying something because I have had so many wonderful students during my tenure here,” Kramer said. “Of course, it was obvious he had the superior intelligence to excel, but what really impressed me was how even as an undergraduate, he possessed those skills that UMW promotes as foundational qualities of liberal learning: outstanding written and oral communication capacities, well-honed analytical skills and facility in foreign languages, in his case, both Russian and Cantonese.” For Will Kyle ’13, the opportunity to talk to Hart was invaluable. “Meeting with Ambassador Hart was such an enlightening and enriching academic opportunity and personal experience,” he said. Kyle, an international affairs major, said his conversations with Hart yielded critical research for his senior honors thesis on current foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific region. “In my eyes, the experience just goes to show all of the opportunities available to students here at Mary Washington upon graduation from our rigorous, well-run academic programs,” Kyle said. “After meeting with Ambassador Hart, I am more inspired than ever to use my degree to best serve this great country that we live in.” Click here to view the embedded video.

Political Science Student Awarded Summer Scholarship

University of Mary Washington junior Shirley Martey is the recipient of the 2013 Ambassador Summer Scholarship from the Taiwan-U.S. Sister Relations Alliance (TUSA). Martey, chosen to represent the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the first UMW student to be awarded the scholarship. A political science major, Martey is a member of UMW’s Finance Committee and is the treasurer of the Student Government Association. She also serves on the College of Arts and Sciences Curriculum Committee and has been active in Student Senate. Martey is a member of the Mortar Board national honor society and Pi Sigma Alpha, the political science honor society. She has been named to the Dean’s List. “Shirley personifies the spirit and values of UMW,” said Elizabeth Larus, professor of political science and international affairs. “A high achiever, Shirley has an infectious enthusiasm for learning and will bring a high level of energy and gusto to the TUSA program. Shirley will make an excellent ambassador because she is open to other cultures and her exuberant friendliness quickly puts others at ease.” The Ambassador Scholarship provides funds for an eight-week study of Chinese language at the National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan. Recipients of the scholarship learn Mandarin Chinese and experience Taiwanese culture while representing the U.S. TUSA promotes peace in the world by creating closer friendships and understanding between the people of the U.S. and the people of Taiwan. “Shirley’s achievement speaks for itself: it is an outstanding accomplishment, consistent with her record of academic excellence that she has compiled at UMW,” said Jack Kramer, distinguished professor and chair of political science and international affairs. “It is also very welcome news because the United States desperately needs far more individuals fluent in Chinese as it seeks to understand and respond to a rapidly growing China that is emerging as a global challenger to the U.S. economically and militarily.” For more information about the TUSA, visit

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News release prepared by:       Julia Davis

Faculty-Led Study Abroad Trips Reach Milestones

A group of students during the 2011 “Spain for All” trip.

Carol Quinn has been back in the United States for less than a week and she is already thinking of her next trip to Europe.

The University of Mary Washington senior was one of nine students who visited London, Amsterdam, Wurzburg, Munich and Vienna with the Psychology in Europe study abroad trip. The students, led by Associate Professor of Psychology Dave Kolar, spent two weeks at historical and cultural sites relevant to the study of psychology.

“The trip inspired me to return and do some of my own traveling in Europe,” Quinn, a psychology and sociology major, said. “I’m eager to go back. I wasn’t ready to leave at all!”

This summer, more than 100 students are studying abroad, either as part of UMW faculty-led trips, or through programs at other universities or organizations. Members of the UMW field hockey team recently traveled to Italy with Coach Lindsay Elliot to train and compete on an international scale.

Some trips have become UMW staples, like “European Capitals – London, Paris, Berlin, Prague and Vienna,” now in its 20th year, “Spain for All,” celebrating its 10th anniversary and “Psychology in Europe,” in its fifth year.

Students in the 2012 Psychology in Europe program visit the Camden Lock Market

Denis Nissim-Sabat, professor of psychology, developed the Psychology in Europe trip to expose students to the history of psychology they learn about during the year.

“History comes alive for them,” he said, noting the students’ opportunities to visit sites from a Holocaust concentration camp to Sigmund Freud’s house.

For Jose Sainz, director of the Center for International Education and associate professor of Spanish, the Spain for All program’s success is due to its emphasis on academic, cultural and personal experiences and its ability to adapt to students’ needs. Although the program started 10 years ago solely with Spanish courses, now it offers courses across disciplines, as well as service learning opportunities and internships.

“After a decade leading students, we still get messages on Facebook and emails from students who are now long gone from campus indicating that attending the program was one of the highlights of their time at UMW,” Sainz, leader of the trip, said.

Sainz and Associate Professor of Spanish Marisa Martinez-Mira will take 34 students to Spain this summer, from June 24 through July 27.

For two decades, the European Capitals program has been going strong. This year’s group of 16 students, led by Jack Kramer, distinguished professor of political science, and Porter Blakemore, associate professor of history, will return on Friday, June 8 after four weeks of travel.

The European Capitals trip makes a stop at British Parliament in London

According to the political science department’s newsletter, the trip includes a briefing with a member of the British Parliament, a private tour of the Palace of Westminster, a tour of Versailles, a concert of classical music provided by the Imperial Orchestra in Vienna and a briefing at the German Foreign Ministry in Berlin.

According to Kate Jordan, study abroad program assistant in the Center for International Education, summer study abroad programs like Spain for All and European Capitals are appealing for students because they require less time commitment than a semester-long or full-year program, while offering unique coursework.

“Not only do short term faculty-led study abroad programs give students flexibility in their course choices, but they have the opportunity to have an amazing intercultural experience at the same time,” she said. “Summer study abroad is also less expensive than many semester abroad programs, making it more attractive for some students.  In today’s increasingly competitive job market, students with international experience definitely have an edge.”