October 25, 2021

UMW Presents Top Faculty Awards

Professor of Religion Mary Beth Mathews earned the Grellet C. Simpson Award, the University of Mary Washington’s most prestigious honor for excellence in undergraduate teaching, established in 1972 and presented to a senior faculty member.

Professor of Religion Mary Beth Mathews

Professor of Religion Mary Beth Mathews

She was one of several professors honored at the fall semester’s opening faculty meeting. Most awards generally are presented at Commencement; this year, limited attendance at graduation ceremonies deferred some presentations.

As the most recent recipient of the award, Mathews was praised for her “spellbinding” lectures. She “challenges a broad community of students to think critically and reflect, both in and beyond the classroom,” said Associate Professor of Linguistics Janie Lee, chair of UMW’s Sabbaticals, Fellowships and Faculty Awards committee.

Mathews, who has taught at Mary Washington for 21 years, is a leading scholar of American – particularly African-American – and European religious history. She has led the charge to create UMW’s interdisciplinary African American studies minor and will serve as the program’s first director, beginning this year.

Described by Lee as a “pioneer in digital pedagogy and distance learning,” Mathews has team-taught a digital course, Divided Houses: Secession and Separatists Movements, and taught the Race & Revolution and Religion & Social Movements in the U.S. First -Year Seminars.

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

Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication and Digital Studies Anand Rao

Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication and Digital Studies Anand Rao

Rao’s “university and college service alone fills more than a page of his CV,” Lee said. In his 19 years at Mary Washington, he has held critical leadership roles on and off campus, serving twice as University Faculty Council chair and leading the Faculty Senate of Virginia. Rao also launched UMW’s Communication and Digital Studies major and department, which he currently chairs.

During the pandemic, Rao participated in the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 Education Response and Recovery work group and co-facilitated UMW’s popular COVID-19 in Context and Life After COVID courses.

Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Science Pamela Grothe ’06 received the UMW Alumni Association Outstanding Young Faculty Member Award, given annually to an exceptional faculty member who has served the University for at least two years but no more than five.

Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences Pamela Grothe

Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences Pamela Grothe

Grothe returned a decade after her graduation to serve as a professor at her alma mater, where she has excelled in the areas of teaching, research and service. She “truly goes above and beyond,” Lee said, citing Grothe’s willingness to mentor students, manage her department’s social media accounts, serve on various university committees, and engage with current and prospective students, as well as alumni.

In addition, Grothe has developed a new study abroad course for students and secured a Virtual Library of Virginia grant to teach courses with Open Access Resources, Lee said, all while managing a heavy teaching load.

Among faculty who received awards during Commencement week earlier this year were Professor of Mathematics Janusz Konieczny, who earned the Waple Faculty Professional Achievement Award; and Professor of Marketing Kashef Majid, recipient of the Mary W. Pinschmidt Award, annually presented by the graduating class. Professor of Biological Science Andrew Dolby received the inaugural Board of Visitors Faculty Leadership Award.

Planned Destruction (WHRV 89.5, WAMU-FM)

Grothe Appears on ‘With Good Reason’

Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences Pamela Grothe

Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences Pamela Grothe

Assistant Director of Earth and Environmental Science Pamela Grothe discussed research on the lack of green spaces in redlined communities in Virginia on “With Good Reason,” which aired Saturday, May 22 through Friday, May 28. With Good Reason airs Sundays at 2 p.m. on Fredericksburg’s Radio IQ 88.3 Digital and at various times throughout the week on stations across Virginia and the United States. Check the website for show times.

Planned Destruction: It’s difficult to imagine that the highway was someone’s home. But it was. LaToya S. Gray (Virginia Commonwealth University) says a once thriving Richmond neighborhood known as the Harlem of the South fell victim to intentionally destructive city planners. And: You don’t have to look far to connect racial inequities to environmental issues. Jeremy Hoffman (The Science Museum of Virginia) says that many formerly redlined neighborhoods experience up to 16 degree hotter days in the summer than green lined neighborhoods within walking distance. Aside from jumping in a pool, trees are our best bet to cool summer heat.. Pamela Grothe (University of Mary Washington) says we have to be intentional about putting trees in the right places.

UMW Faculty Learning Community Publishes Online

Eleven UMW faculty from a variety of disciplines worked together in 2020 as the Advocacy, Deliberation, and Civic Engagement Learning Community. The group was led by Leslie Martin and Anand Rao, representing the Center for Community Engagement and the Speaking Intensive Program. The goal of the group was for the participants to work together to develop course materials that incorporate advocacy and deliberation activities to support civic learning in their courses. Modeled after a similar initiative at VCU, the UMW faculty learning community met through the Spring 2020 semester to study the ways that advocacy, deliberation, and debate, could be used in class, and the faculty then developed materials, including activities, assignments, and rubrics, for use in college classes. The materials were collected and were recently published online through UMW Eagle Scholar. The publication is titled “Supporting Advocacy, Deliberation, and Civic Learning in the Classroom,” and includes contributions from the following faculty: Leslie Martin (Sociology), Anand Rao (Communication), Adrienne Brovero (Communication, UMW Debate), Gonzalo Campos-Dintrans (Spanish, FSEM), Steve Greenlaw (Economics, FSEM), Pamela Grothe (Environmental Sciences), Jason Hayob-Matzke (Philosophy), Jodie Hayob-Matzke (Environmental Sciences), Christine Henry (Historic Preservation), Joseph Romero (Classics), and Andrea Livi Smith (Historic Preservation).

Grothe Discusses GM’s Plan to Phase Out Gas-Powered Vehicles

Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences Pamela Grothe

Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences Pamela Grothe

Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Science Pamela Grothe discussed GM’s plan to phase out gas-powered vehicles with Courthouse News.

Pamela R. Grothe, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Mary Washington, believes this is a positive first step that will inspire other automakers to follow suit.

“Tackling climate change needs an all-hands-on-deck approach – we need companies, like GM, to commit to a carbon neutral future rather than waiting for government policies. I think GM’s move to a carbon neutral future will encourage other auto makers to do so, especially since they have already laid out the framework on how to do it,” she wrote in an email.

She added, “GM’s commitment to electrify their fleet and invest in renewable charging infrastructure will not only reduce carbon emissions related to transportation, but will lead to better air quality and human health.” Read more.

General Motors Plans to Phase Out Gas-Powered Vehicles by 2035 (Courthouse News Services)

’24 Hours of Reality’ digital conversation discusses COVID-19, climate change and voting (The Free Lance-Star)

Grothe Participates in Al Gore’s Virtual Climate Change Presentation

Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences Pamela Grothe

Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences Pamela Grothe

Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Science Pamela Grothe presented on Sunday as part of former Vice President Al Gore’s 24 Hours of Reality: Countdown to the Future, a digital and global conversation about the climate crisis and its solutions in communities around the world. The presentation focused on the local impacts and solutions of the climate crisis in Virginia, especially as they relate to COVID-19, voting and how people can become agents of change. The presentation was led by Julie Kay, a Climate Reality Project Leader and the co-founder of Fossil Free Fredericksburg. She was joined by Grothe; Bridget McGregor, an organizer with the Virginia League of Conservation Voters; and Allison Grant, member of the UMW President’s Council on Sustainability. The presentation ended with a question and answer panel. Read more.

Dr. Pamela Grothe on Climate Change During the Pandemic (NewsPoint360)

Grothe Discusses Climate Change During the Pandemic

Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Science Pamela Grothe was interviewed by NewsPoint360 about the ways the COVID-19 pandemic has or hasn’t affected climate change in 2020, and what efforts governments, companies and individuals can take to slow its effects.