October 25, 2021

Administrative Retirees Leave Mark on UMW

Two key members of President Paino’s Cabinet have retired, taking with them a total of 39 years of contributions to University of Mary Washington. Having earned emeritus status, Chief Diversity Officer Sabrina Johnson and Provost Nina Mikhalevsky both served Mary Washington in myriad capacities. Their departures leave not only an institutional void but also a rich legacy.

Sabrina Johnson, Vice President for Equity and Access and Chief Diversity Officer, Emerita

Sabrina Johnson, Vice President for Equity and Access and Chief Diversity Officer, Emerita

Sabrina Johnson, Vice President for Equity and Access and Chief Diversity Officer, Emerita

During her 24 years at UMW, Sabrina Johnson has served in two critical administrative roles: Associate Vice President for Human Resources as well as her current position as Vice President for Equity and Access and Chief Diversity Officer. The first person to hold the latter role, Dr. Johnson has distinguished herself by advocating tirelessly for equity and inclusion for all members of the Mary Washington community.

Instrumental in establishing the University’s ASPIRE statement of community values, she has sought to ensure that all have the opportunity to succeed. Dr. Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in administration of justice and public safety and a master’s in public administration from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her juris doctorate is from the College of William and Mary’s Marshall-Wythe School of Law.

Among her myriad accomplishments, Dr. Johnson is responsible for:

  • Instituting bias incident reporting for the University
  • Leading UMW through statewide compensation reform
  • Making equity a focus at the senior leadership level and in academic and administrative program areas University wide
  • Leadership in establishing the Staff Advisory Council (now University Staff Council) as well as the Leadership UMW program for employee professional development
  • Advocacy for persons with disabilities, including promoting accessibility of the physical environment and the celebration of disability culture.

 

Nina Mikhalevsky, Provost Emerita and Professor Emerita of Philosophy

Nina Mikhalevsky, Provost Emerita and Professor Emerita of Philosophy

Nina MikhalevskyProvost Emerita and Professor Emerita of Philosophy

Nina Mikhalevsky was appointed as UMW’s chief academic officer in 2017. Working with the deans and faculty, she provides leadership of major university initiatives in teaching, research and creative activities, and has responsibility for all university educational and academic policies.

Dr. Mikhalevsky came to Mary Washington in 2006 after serving with distinction as a faculty member and administrator at both Mount Vernon College and The George Washington University. Before being named provost, she held a number of critical positions at UMW – Vice President for Strategy and Policy, Acting Provost, Acting Chief Information Officer and Vice President for Information Technologies, as well as Interim Dean of the College of Education.

Dr. Mikhalevsky has positively impacted nearly every aspect of the institution. Noteworthy accomplishments include leadership roles in strategic planning, accreditation, COVID-19 coordination, implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives, and championing teaching and learning.

She earned doctoral and master’s degrees in philosophy from Georgetown University, as well as a bachelor’s in philosophy from Boston University.

Professors Receive Top Faculty Honors

The University of Mary Washington bestowed awards on two professors at the general faculty meeting on Wednesday, April 28. Professor of Biological Science Andrew Dolby received the inaugural Board of Visitors (BOV) Faculty Leadership Award, presented by Board of Visitors Vice Rector Devon Cushman ’93. Professor of Mathematics Janusz Konieczny received the 2021 Waple Faculty […]

College of Education Awarded Accreditation

The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) recently announced that the University of Mary Washington was awarded accreditation for its College of Education (COE), one of the first institutions to undergo a virtual site visit through this accrediting body.

UMW's College of Education was recently awarded accreditation by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

In 2010, the same year UMW’s education program became the College of Education, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) designated CAEP as the official accreditation body for all teacher preparation programs at Virginia institutions. For the last decade, the council has given its seal of approval to schools across the country that provide aspiring teachers with the knowledge, skills and clinical training they need to serve their students and teach effectively in the classroom.

“It’s a great opportunity for our faculty and staff to take a critical look at how we prepare our students to become teachers,” said COE Dean Pete Kelly, citing UMW’s partnerships with local school divisions as one of the college’s greatest strengths. “Collectively, we emerged from the process with a richer and more holistic perspective on our work, and our students will benefit from that.”

CAEP, the only recognized national accreditor for educator preparation, awards accreditation to schools that have demonstrated excellence in the areas of content and pedagogy, clinical experiences, selectivity, program impact and capacity for continuous improvement.

“Achieving this accreditation is a major accomplishment and a testament to the outstanding and extraordinary hard work of COE faculty and staff, and the steady leadership of Dean Pete Kelly and Associate Dean Courtney Clayton,” said UMW Provost Nina Mikhalevsky. Read more.

College of Education Awarded Accreditation

The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) recently announced that the University of Mary Washington was awarded accreditation for its College of Education (COE), one of the first institutions to undergo a virtual site visit through this accrediting body. In 2010, the same year UMW’s education program became the College of Education, the […]

Forum Reveals Reality of Racial Issues at UMW

Do you have to be a person of color to be offended by a racial epithet? No, according to Alexandra Polymeropoulos, a junior at the University of Mary Washington. During a lively discussion Wednesday evening in a session of Mary Washington’s U.S. Race & Reality Forum, Polymeropoulos said she is riled every time she hears […]

UMW Presents Top Faculty Awards

The University of Mary Washington bestowed honors on several professors at the general faculty meeting on Monday.

Professor of Psychological Science Miriam Liss received the 2020 Waple Faculty Professional Achievement Award.

Professor of Psychological Science Miriam Liss received the 2020 Waple Faculty Professional Achievement Award.

Professor of Psychological Science Miriam Liss received the 2020 Waple Faculty Professional Achievement Award, presented by College of Arts and Sciences Dean Keith Mellinger.

Established in honor of 1952 alumna Shirley Van Epps Waple, the nomination-based award recognizes instructors who have made significant contributions to their scholarly or creative area of expertise. The recipient must be a full-time faculty member for at least seven years.

“Exemplifying the UMW teacher-scholar model,” Liss has coauthored published research with more than 40 students in her two decades at Mary Washington, presented at numerous professional conferences and written several books, Mellinger said. “In the words of her department chair, Liss’s ‘ongoing record of stellar and consistent professional activity places her in the very top tier of our talented faculty.’”

Professor of History and American Studies Allyson Poska received the J. Christopher “Topher” Bill Award.

Professor of History and American Studies Allyson Poska received the J. Christopher “Topher” Bill Award.

Professor of History and American Studies Allyson Poska received the J. Christopher “Topher” Bill Award for her contributions to the University and her involvement and leadership in the greater community. Since 2003, this award has been presented annually to a member of the full-time teaching faculty who has served at UMW for at least seven years and has a significant record of service accomplishments.

In her 28 years at Mary Washington, Poska has served on or chaired over 20 university committees, said Assistant Professor of Biology Parrish Waters, who presented the award.

She also helped establish UMW’s Women’s and Gender Studies major, serving as chair for six years. Poska “elevated the program’s stature through impactful speakers, a student research forum and making it an integral and essential part of the UMW experience,” Waters said.

In the community, Poska “brings a strong voice to advocate for those who may otherwise go unheard,” said Waters, citing her service to local organizations like Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault, Empowerhouse and the Fredericksburg Food Bank.

Associate Professor of Computer Science Stephen Davies earned the Grellet C. Simpson Award.

Associate Professor of Computer Science Stephen Davies earned the Grellet C. Simpson Award.

Several awards traditionally given at Commencement were also presented, with the exception of the Mary W. Pinschmidt Award, which will later be selected by the Class of 2020.

Associate Professor of Computer Science Stephen Davies earned the Grellet C. Simpson Award, the institution’s most prestigious honor for excellence in undergraduate teaching, given to a senior faculty member.

Known for “extremely challenging but exceptionally creative courses,” Davies creates materials and assignments tailored specifically for his students, said Provost Nina Mikhalevsky, who presented the annual award. He’s also authored three textbooks that have been adopted by other UMW instructors for their classes, she said.

“He treated my knowledge with respect and curiosity,” said one of Davies’ students, “driving home for me the important lesson that the most learned people always seek to expand their knowledge and are humble about whom they learn from.”

Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences April Wynn received the UMW Alumni Association Outstanding Young Faculty Member Award.

Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences April Wynn received the UMW Alumni Association Outstanding Young Faculty Member Award.

Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences April Wynn received the UMW Alumni Association Outstanding Young Faculty Member Award, presented annually to an exceptional member of the faculty who has served the institution for at least two years but no more than five.

Praising Wynn’s empathy and enthusiasm as both a faculty member and director of UMW’s First-Year Experience, Andrew Dolby, University Faculty Council chair, presented the award to his colleague. “[Wynn] is thoughtful, diligent and meticulous in carrying out every service or obligation she agrees to take on,” Dolby said.

“She is a fantastic professor and a truly wonderful person,” said one of Wynn’s students. “Her classes are streamlined, organized and hyper-efficient – but boy, are they fun!”

John Burrow, a lecturer in the College of Business (COB), was recognized with the Graduate Faculty Award, showcasing an exceptional full-time faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in graduate teaching and professional leadership in a graduate program. The person selected must have served in a full-time position at UMW for at least two years.

John Burrow, a lecturer in the College of Business, was recognized with the Graduate Faculty Award.

College of Business Lecturer John Burrow was recognized with the Graduate Faculty Award.

Presenting the award, COB Dean Lynne Richardson quoted a recent student, who said that “everyone respects and thinks highly of Burrow.”

At UMW, Burrow has established relationships with local organizations to provide real world challenges for his students, Richardson said. He also helped create a project management certificate and MBA opportunities for cohort classes at the Dahlgren Campus, she said, “extending the reach” and “enhancing the brand” of both UMW and COB.

UMW Celebrates 30th Anniversary of Americans With Disabilities Act

When UMW junior Lueden Sheikhnureldin arrived at Simpson Library that early fall morning, something felt off. The old-style wooden chairs in the study area where she’d crammed for so many exams had been replaced by sleek gray-and-green seats.

UMW’s Office of Disability Resources offers access to students in need, with 12 percent of students registered to receive its services. This month, the University is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990.

UMW’s Office of Disability Resources offers access to students in need, with 12 percent of students registered to receive its services. This month, the University is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990.

“I couldn’t concentrate,” said Sheikhnureldin, whose ADHD can cause sensitivity to details like a chair’s texture and feel. “I thought, ‘This is confusing. Everything is changing. I can’t do this.’” She retreated to her Madison Hall room, instead, to study for a biology test.

An English major pursuing a degree in education, Sheikhnureldin is one of hundreds of UMW students with disabilities ranging from ADHD and autism to issues with vision, hearing and movement. “There really isn’t a category that isn’t represented here,” said Jessica Machado, director of the Office of Disability Resources (ODR), which provides services, accommodations and access.

It’s one of the most utilized offices of its type in Virginia, Machado said, with 12 percent of Mary Washington’s more than 4,000 students registered. That’s particularly poignant this month, while the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) celebrates its 30th anniversary. UMW officials like Machado are using the milestone to recognize three decades of strides toward equality for the disabled and also the work left to do.

“We must directly challenge the assumptions and effects of ableism and work to ensure that every member of the UMW community can realize their goals and aspirations here, and that all of us together thrive and flourish,” Provost Nina Mikhalevsky wrote in an email to campus. Read more.

Center for Teaching Announcement

A message from the Provost.

To all faculty and staff:

As we end the academic year and head into summer activity, I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the significant work of the Center for Teaching and announce some changes. As you are aware, the Center for Teaching (along with Digital Learning Support) played a critical role in supporting our efforts to transition to remote instruction this past spring. The Center for Teaching is now fully engaged in summer faculty development and preparations for fall.

It is important to recognize that the foundation for this effort owes much to the leadership of Dr. Caitie Finlayson who served on special assignment as the Faculty Program Director during the past two years. Caitie’s task was to work with faculty to plan and develop a Center for Teaching responsive to the needs and interests of our diverse faculty. Thanks to her efforts, the Center has a clear direction, offers a variety of programs and resources, and works collaboratively with other areas to provide faculty development and support.

As part of this effort, Caitie also led the national search for a full-time administrator for the Center, which brought us one of our own: Dr. Victoria Russell. I am pleased to share that Victoria will now continue on in an expanded role as the Director of the Teaching Center.

This summer, Caitie has elected to conclude her special assignment having successfully completed the task of designing and launching the Center for Teaching. I know you join me in thanking Caitie for her outstanding service and leadership to the University over the past two years, and in welcoming Victoria to her additional responsibilities.

We are also pleased to announce that Dr. Elizabeth Johnson-Young has accepted a position as a Faculty Fellow in the Center for Teaching. Elizabeth will be joining our current Faculty Fellow, Dr. Melissa Wells, in providing teaching support through consultations and program initiatives. Elizabeth brings experience in digital and online practices, as well as an interdisciplinary understanding of effective teaching, that will strengthen the Center’s continued growth and collaboration with our Digital Learning Support colleagues.

 

Nina Mikhalevsky
Provost

Q&A Addressed Employee Concerns

Faculty and staff tuned in yesterday afternoon for a Q&A session livestreamed on Zoom. During the hourlong video chat, Chief of Staff Jeff McClurken, Provost Nina Mikhalevsky, Vice President of Student Affairs Juliette Landphair and Executive Director of Human Resources Beth Williams answered an array of questions about their respective areas.

“I just wanted to say thank you for all you’ve done,” McClurken said at the start of the session. He pointed to moving pieces – state budget calls, fall enrollment figures, government health orders and SCHEV suggestions – that will inform future decisions.

Grades are in, and face-to-face education is still the plan for the fall, McClurken said, reminding participants of President Paino’s task force designed to wade through the uncertainty and decipher how the details of in-person learning might play out.

“We know our students want to be here,” said Landphair, who stressed that UMW’s academic mission and its responsibility to maintain safety on campus are inextricable. Departments like dining, athletics and housing, she said, are already drafting plans for multiple scenarios in the fall.

The past few weeks have revealed the strengths of our community, said Landphair, who shared examples of parents’ positive feedback on University-issued communications.

Mikhalevsky praised faculty. “You all have done an absolutely incredible job and we have the data to prove that,” she said, referencing an upcoming open forum for faculty members.

Williams echoed that positivity, adding that she has found it “inspiring” to be part of the UMW workforce, with employees who have been “adaptable and flexible,” during this time of turmoil due to COVID-19. She issued reminders about the May 15 open enrollment deadline for health benefits; Employee Appreciation Day on Monday, May 11; and ongoing open Staff Advisory Council chats on Thursdays at 11.

Q&A participants raised questions about the ability to revamp course descriptions as circumstances become more clear, the status of funding for travel and its impact on tenure-track faculty, and how furlough and salary-reduction situations could play out if they become necessary. Other inquiries delved into current enrollment numbers, where branding efforts stand and the availability of personal protection equipment (PPE) .

The panelists addressed questions to the best of their ability. McClurken’s response to the question about PPE could have been applied to many inquiries. “I promise you, we are exploring the options,” he said. “I absolutely understand your concern, and we will bring that info to you as soon as we have it.”

Learn more by viewing the May 6, 2020, Q&A session on YouTube.

New Student Orientation

A message from the Office of Student Affairs and Office of the Provost.

Dear Colleagues,

For the University of Mary Washington, New Student Orientation is a special and significant time. Over the summer, orientation typically welcomes new students to campus with a program that is educational, practical, and energetic, allowing them to learn about UMW’s academic expectations and institutional values while planning for fall classes and meeting peers in an overnight visit.

This summer, we plan to deliver New Student Orientation virtually. While students and their families will not be on campus physically, they will experience UMW in an engaging and innovative way that highlights our distinctive strengths and enfolds students into our community. For 2020, the Orientation planning team has created a schedule distributed throughout the summer that utilizes both synchronous interactions and self-paced asynchronous components. It will be personal, emphasizing one-on-one advising meetings with faculty and small group interactive sessions with peers as well as offering numerous opportunities for enrichment, engagement, and fun. And finally, it will emphasize the proposition that we need to orient students for a future now understood to be indeterminate, rapidly changing, and requiring an adaptability that is illustrative of the liberal arts experience.

You will soon hear more about how to participate in the 2020 New Student Orientation. We are particularly grateful to the Orientation planning team members for their hard work, innovative spirit, and commitment to the student experience as we welcome new students to UMW. Feel free to contact orientation@umw.edu or either of us with questions or concerns.

 

Sincerely,

Juliette Landphair, Ph.D.

Nina Mikhalevsky, Ph.D.