June 1, 2023

Facilitators for the Common Read Needed

The UMW Common Read is one of the first opportunities to engage the incoming first-year students with classmates, upper-class students, faculty and staff in a shared intellectual experience, which can promote critical exchange of ideas and create a sense of community. The Common Read for 2017 is Hidden Figures. The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly. We are hoping that you will join the discussion on the morning of Aug. 25 at 9 a.m. First-year students from the same FSEM course will discuss the book with one to two faculty, staff or upper class students. We will provide questions and supporting information in advance to help guide the discussions. We hope that you will join in welcoming the first-year students and participating in the fruitful discussions that will kick off their academic experiences at UMW. If you would like to volunteer to co-facilitate a discussion group, please indicate your interest (or check to make sure that you are already participating) on the following google sheet https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1DrRUIaR5MaZ0Qdv-zAaPv4Spnv0uJdmODe2aZ-63BRE/edit#gid=0. If you are teaching an FSEM course, you will be assigned to your group of students unless you indicate otherwise. Please let us know if you have any questions or need a copy of the book.

Thank you,

Kelli Slunt

Tim O’Donnell

“Common Read” Books are Available!

Copies of the 2016-2017 Common Read, Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County by alum Kristen Green, have arrived and are now available. If you would like to participate in the discussion groups on Friday, Aug. 26, please email Tim O’Donnell or Kelli Slunt.  Copies of the book are also available at the Academic Services window in Lee Hall.



Life Raft Debate Comes to UMW!

In celebration of Founders Day, we will convene the first ever “Raft Debate” on Monday, March 14, at 4 p.m. in Dodd Auditorium.  All members of the University community are invited to attend and participate. This entertaining program will feature three members of the UMW faculty arguing that their disciplinary perspective should be given the last seat on the life raft. The event will be moderated by Provost Jonathan Levin and will include:

  • Randall Reif, Assistant Professor of Chemistry (representing the natural sciences)
  • Leslie Martin, Associate Professor of Sociology (representing the social sciences)
  • Gary Richards, Associate Professor of English (representing the humanities)

Popular on many liberal arts campuses, “raft debates” are an engaging way to approach discussions about disciplinary pathways. UMW’s event is timed to coincide with spring semester advising and major declaration.


Georgetown Report Reveals Median Wages for Liberal Arts Majors (GoodCall.Com)

Why Companies Like Grads With a Liberal Arts Degree (Investopedia.com)

Academic Services Welcomes New Director

We are pleased to welcome R. Wesley Hillyard III as the new Director of Academic Services. Wes is a 2005 graduate of UMW and majored in Business.

As the Director of Academic Services, Wes will lead our team of academic advisors and administer a portfolio of student success efforts including our focused efforts with transfer students, students in academic jeopardy and academic success programs.

Since he left UMW a decade ago, Wes has been busy working in management positions in private industry as well as in higher education. He completed his Masters in Higher Education at the University of Virginia in 2009. For the past four years, he has been at Northern Virginia Community College where he has served in multiple roles, most recently directing their Student Success division. Prior to that, he served as Residence Hall Director at James Madison University.

Wes has remained true to his alma mater, serving in several different capacities, including being a member of the Alumni Board and the Vice President of Regional Networks.

He and his wife Michele live in Woodbridge and have a 5-month-old daughter, Ali. In his spare time he enjoys traveling, amusement parks, and learning the ropes of fatherhood.

We welcome Wes on his return to the UMW family.


Join Freshmen in Summer Reading

sklootcoverThis summer all incoming first year students are reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot as part of the University’s first year experience program.

On Aug. 21 from 9-11 a.m., as part of new student arrival activities, first year students, upperclass peers and members of the faculty, staff, and alumni will join together in small group discussions to explore some of the book’s many lessons and insights. If you are interested in participation in these discussions, email Tim O’Donnell.

Copies of the book are available from the Academic and Career Services window in Lee Hall for members of the UMW community wishing to read the book along with our incoming first year class over the next few weeks.

UMW Launches Robust First-Year Program

The University of Mary Washington will launch a comprehensive new program for the freshman class beginning in fall 2015.   class 08 (1)The program will feature residential clustering for first-year seminars, comprehensive advising and the university’s second-ever common book. Incoming students will be able to choose a required first-year seminar and housing assignments once deposits are paid. Residential clustering will allow students to live with their peers in their first-year seminars, creating a community that combines living and learning to enhance their academic experience. UMW will offer more than 60 first-year seminars on topics ranging from game theory to Jane Austen. “First-year seminars are proven to engage students” said Tim O’Donnell, associate provost for academic engagement and student success. “Our studies show that students who participate in a first-year seminar have higher GPA’s at the end of their first year and are more likely to return for a second year at Mary Washington.” More than the proven results, the new program enhances the overall student experience during the first year. “It brings together the best of both worlds at Mary Washington,” said Douglas Searcy, vice president for student affairs. “Combining the out-of-class experience and the in-class experience is proven to increase student learning and will simply help first-year students have a better, seamless learning experience.” The comprehensive advising program will provides a support network that consists of the student’s first year seminar faculty, a professional advisor and a peer mentor. In addition, each student will receive a copy of Rebecca Skloot’s New York Times Bestseller The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks with a reading and writing assignment to prepare for August orientation programming and discussions. The following semester, Skloot will visit the university as a guest speaker for the 2016 Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series. For the full list of first-year seminars, visit http://academics.umw.edu/fsem/.