October 26, 2020

Visualizing a Virus: Alum’s Art Captures Emotions of a Pandemic

Fine-arts potter Hadrian Mendoza is shown with some of his earlier works. The 1996 Mary Washington graduate is currently working on several commissioned coronavirus sculptures. Photo Credit: Hadrian Mendoza.

Fine-arts potter Hadrian Mendoza is shown with some of his earlier works. The 1996 Mary Washington graduate is currently working on several commissioned coronavirus sculptures. Photo Credit: Hadrian Mendoza.

Hadrian Mendoza isn’t glorifying the novel coronavirus at the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic. But in images of the tiny particle, he sees more than fear, suffering, loss and grief.

To Mendoza, a 1996 Mary Washington graduate and internationally known fine-arts potter, viruses have long represented a fascinating intersection of danger and beauty. Starting in 2016, he began creating sculptural interpretations of viruses – his creations then were hollow spheres with sharp, spiny protrusions that served both to balance and to convey threat.

Alumnus Cooks Up Initiative to Save Small Restaurants

Chef Erik Bruner-Yang, a 2007 UMW alumnus, helps package meals at D.C. Caribbean restaurant Cane for Washington Hospital Center workers. His Power of 10 initiative has raised over $200,000 to feed families, first responders and hospital workers across the country. Photo Credit: Foreign National.

Chef Erik Bruner-Yang, a 2007 UMW alumnus, helps package meals at D.C. Caribbean restaurant Cane for Washington Hospital Center workers. His Power of 10 initiative has raised over $200,000 to feed families, first responders and hospital workers across the country. Photo Credit: Foreign National.

Acclaimed chef and restaurant owner Erik Bruner-Yang and his wife welcomed their third child and bought their first home in January. Just eight weeks later, the same weekend they moved into their new house in Washington, D.C., the mayor ordered all city restaurants to close because of COVID-19.

The 2007 UMW graduate felt fortunate that he and his family could survive – he’s the executive chef at D.C.-based chain &Pizza. But he’d invested 15 years and lots of drive to build six successful restaurants in the H Street corridor he calls home. Within 48 hours, he said, he went from having 225 employees to just 40.

“Basically, it broke down in my hands overnight,” said Bruner-Yang, a two-time James Beard-award finalist whose name and restaurants appear regularly in The Washington Post, Bon Appetit, Eater and other national publications. “It was this really weird feeling where I felt blessed and crushed at the same time.”

He was driving along a deserted H Street when he had an idea that could make a difference – “Power of 10” – partnering restaurants with local nonprofits to distribute food to those in need. A weekly $10,000, Bruner-Yang thought, could employ 10 full-time cooks and cover food to generate 1,000 meals for hungry people, first responders and hospital workers. Now, with help from the community he’s always supported and friends made at Mary Washington, the effort to feed families, fund farmers and revitalize restaurants has taken root across the country. Read more.

Alum, Infectious Disease Expert, Urges Patience in Fighting COVID-19

Jerri Perkins, MD, graduated from Mary Washington in 1961, studied at the National Institutes of Health, and recommended the first FDA therapy related to AIDS. With a background in infectious disease, she believes that social distancing – and patience – are our best weapons in the fight against COVID-19. Photo courtesy of Jerri Perkins.

Jerri Perkins, MD, graduated from Mary Washington in 1961, studied at the National Institutes of Health, and recommended the first FDA therapy related to AIDS. With a background in infectious disease, she believes that social distancing – and patience – are our best weapons in the fight against COVID-19. Photo courtesy of Jerri Perkins.

Jerri Barden Perkins was heading to the peak of a powdery slope in Sun Valley, Idaho, when her ski instructor suggested they spread out from the group. As they stepped into the gondola, the women pointed their elbows away from their sides to create personal space.

It was the first of March, and coronavirus was beginning to creep through the United States. By the time Perkins, an infectious disease expert who graduated from Mary Washington in 1961, returned to her Hilton Head home in South Carolina, she was concerned. She sat down in her office overlooking peaceful Calibogue Sound to pen a letter to the editor of her local newspaper.

Like her ski instructor, Perkins believed social distancing was the way to slow the virus’s spread. But rather than scooching away from gondola-riders, Perkins was asking a town to close a bridge that provides access to an island.

“It doesn’t respect people or borders; it’s going to do its own thing,” she said of COVID-19. “If we want to survive, we have to pause and distance ourselves until we get more data and knowledge.” Read more.

Join Mary Washington’s ‘Mother of All Book Clubs’

Looking for a way to stay connected to other alumni during this challenging time? Join our new online literary group–the Mother of All Book Clubs!

Alumni will read and collaborate via a Facebook group. The Facebook group is private, so only approved members will be able to see posts or participate in the discussion. This is designed to be an informal and low-pressure group–read along with us and chime in on the discussion as much or as little as you like.

Our first selection is “Educated: A Memoir,” by Tara Westover. This was UMW’s Common Read for 2019, so we’ll be reading the same book that all incoming freshmen read last fall.

Pick up a copy of the book and start reading–we will begin posting discussion questions about Part 1 on Monday, April 20.

You might have a local small-business bookseller you like to support, and that’s great! But if you are in a shutdown area and need the book shipped, here are some links to larger providers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Target.

We look forward to reading with you!

 

All the best,

The Alumni Relations Team

Mary Talks: Eric Gable on ‘An Anthropology of Art’

Join us ONLINE for the next Mary Talk of the 2019-20 academic year.

Next in this year’s series is Eric Gable, professor of anthropology and recipient of the 2018 Waple Faculty Professional Achievement Award at UMW, presenting “An Anthropology of Art: Images and Objects from a Cross-Cultural Perspective.”

Professor Gable’s lecture distills his current book project, which delves into anthropology’s long-standing fascination with art and what it reveals about human equality and difference. The lecture is based on an ongoing study of Western art museums and how primitive art–particularly African–has been interpreted therein, and will include material on artistic practices among the people of West Africa and Indonesia, where Gable conducted field research.

Wednesday, April 22
7:30-8:30 p.m.
Online

To watch the Talk online, register here. You then will receive a link to the streaming video, which can be watched live or at a later time. You also will have the opportunity to submit questions to be asked of the speaker at the end of the Talk.

Note: Online viewing is the only option for this Mary Talk, as we are not conducting any in-person events at this time.

We look forward to seeing you online!

Postponed: Mary Washington Reunion Weekend

The annual highlight of our work in Alumni Relations is Reunion Weekend. Each year, approximately 1,000 alumni and family members return to renew old friendships, create new ones, and retell—and sometimes even recreate—their favorite Mary Washington memories. It is a time-honored tradition.

Unfortunately, like so many long-awaited celebrations, it is now being affected by COVID-19. On Monday, Virginia’s governor announced a stay-at-home order through June 10. This means it is not only advisable, but mandatory, that we postpone Reunion Weekend. While this decision saddens all of us, festivities should always be secondary to safety, and the health and well-being of our Mary Washington family is our highest priority.

Work has already begun to reschedule Reunion. Despite the number of University events that must be deferred to the fall, we were able to secure Labor Day weekend (Saturday, September 5-Monday, September 7) for the event.

This event is so important, it was given a choice time in the hopes that it will be most convenient and manageable for alumni. Most of the Reunion events will occur as originally proposed. However, some planned offerings cannot occur in the fall—for example, on-campus housing will not be possible, as students will occupy the residence halls. While Reunion 2020 will look different than in previous years, this postponement will be an opportunity to start new traditions. We will find creative solutions and demonstrate that COVID-19 cannot break our Mary Washington bond.

Once we are able to determine the scope of the new Reunion, we will communicate with you and will re-open online registration. In the meantime, we will begin issuing refunds for registrations and campus housing reservations already completed.

We know the disappointment many of you will feel about this postponement–because we are feeling it ourselves! But we are so hopeful that you all will be able to join us in September. We are eager to celebrate Reunion Weekend 2020 with our Mary Washington family.

 

Sincerely,

The Alumni Relations Team

Credit & Loans with College of Business Dean Lynne Richardson, May 19

Join us online for virtual programming featuring faculty from UMW’s College of Business and sponsored by the College of Business Alumni Affinity Group.

Our first lunchtime session will feature Lynne Richardson, dean of the College of Business, discussing “Loans, Credit Cards, and Credit Scores.”

During this unprecedented time, it’s more important than ever to increase your financial literacy. Dean Richardson will help you better understand how loans and credit cards work, how credit scores are composed, and why those scores are important.

Tuesday, May 19
12:00-1:00 p.m.
Online

Register here for this free event. The day before the program, you will receive a link to the live-streaming video.

We look forward to seeing you online!

Feeling Alone? Phone a Mary Washington Friend

A Mary Washington student using a hall telephone in 1965.

A Mary Washington student using a hall telephone in 1965

The Alumni Relations Team has reached out to alumni who may be feeling isolated due to social distancing with the following letter.

Mary Washington Alumni,

It seems that each day we are waking up to a world of uncertainty as the impact of the novel coronavirus (or COVID-19) spreads across the globe. Millions of people are being encouraged to distance themselves from others, creating a prolonged period of isolation.

Humans are social beings, and isolation can be extremely difficult with potential health implications. As UMW President Troy D. Paino recently said, “Mary Washington stands for so much—education, empowerment, integrity, caring, and compassion. But most of all, people. At Mary Washington, it’s always about people.”

In an effort to support our alumni, students, and community, the Alumni Relations team is excited to launch the “Phone a Mary Washington Friend” program. During program hours, anyone feeling isolated from the world and craving some human interaction may call to speak with a caring and friendly member of the UMW team.

Phone A Mary Washington Friend
10am-8pm (Eastern)
Monday through Saturday
(540) 654-1173

Tell us about your favorite professors or places on campus, the friends you met, and the career path you took. Or, share your ideas of what we can do in the future. While right now it might feel like it, no one in our community is alone. Someone who is happy to connect is just a phone call away.

Together, we will get through this challenging time and emerge stronger and more resilient than ever. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions or would like further information. We appreciate your support as we navigate this unprecedented situation.

 

Sincerely,

The Alumni Relations Team

Alumni Relations Hosts Volunteer Leadership Summit, Jan. 31-Feb. 2

The UMW Office of Alumni Relations is pleased to host their second biannual Volunteer Leadership Summit January 31 – February 2.  Nearly 90 alumni leaders from across the country are expected on campus to network, share ideas, and learn leadership strategies and best practices. Summit highlights include a presentation by Shin Fujiyama ’07, Founder and Executive Director, Students Helping Honduras, and a keynote address by Capt. Nizhonlii Robinson, of the United States Naval Academy, entitled “Leadership is a Relationship.” The summit will conclude with a “Spirited Social” at A. Smith Bowman Distillery. Representatives from the Alumni Association Board of Directors, Young Alumni Council, UMW Foundation Board of Directors, College of Business Executive Advisory Board, College of Arts & Sciences Advisory Board, College of Education Advisory Board, Regional Network Leaders, Affinity Group Leaders, Honors Program Advisory Board, Student Alumni Ambassadors, and others will be in attendance. A few spaces remain for faculty and staff to attend. Email Mark Thaden – mthad2zw@umw.edu if you would like to attend.

Homecoming 2019

It’s that time again…time for tailgating, cheering on your Eagles, and reconnecting with your alumni family. It’s Homecoming!

This year, we have more events than ever: three different happy hours, a pregame event, the big tailgate, sports team reunions with alumni games, and even a ghost tour. You’ll have your fill of food, drinks, and that #GetDirtyGoWash spirit.

Click the link below to see Homecoming-specific events, or click the link underneath to see all upcoming events (including those on Homecoming Weekend).

 

Join your Mary Washington classmates and friends #BackInTheBurg for Homecoming 2019. It’s going to be a fantastic weekend—and we can’t wait to see you!

See Details and Register Now

All Alumni Events