December 6, 2023

Class of 2022: Stellar Student Stories, Part 3 of 3

The Class of 2022 began freshman year like any other, swept up in longstanding University of Mary Washington traditions like Move-In Day, Eagle Gathering and Honor Convocation. That all changed when they were sophomores. Classes went online, study abroad trips were postponed and everything – activities, internships and volunteer experiences – became virtual. But these […]

Bales Speaks to, Chicago’s Daily Herald

Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales

Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales

Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales was interviewed on and Chicago’s Daily Herald on his book, The Chicago Cub Shot for Love, about the 1932 shooting death of baseball player Billy Jurges by his former lover, showgirl Violet Popovich.

The Crime of Passion That Led to Babe Ruth’s Epic World Series Home Run (

Chicago Baseball’s Link to the Great Chicago Fire (Suburban Chicago Daily Herald)

Angie Kemp: History Handler

Digital Resources Librarian Angie Kemp

Digital Resources Librarian Angie Kemp

Angie Kemp ’11 can trace the history of the University of Mary Washington through her own family tree. Her great-grandmother graduated in 1925, when the school was known as the Fredericksburg State Teachers College. Nearly six decades later, her grandmother decided to pursue a bachelor of liberal studies degree after raising her children.

“There has actually been at least one Mary Washington student in my family in every generation,” said Kemp, who joined UMW Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives team as a digital resources librarian in 2017.

Kemp, who majored in history, built a strong foundation in research, writing and information literacy, and developed a passion for preservation through an internship with the Papers of James Monroe. After earning her diploma, she completed a master’s degree in library and information science online through the University of Alabama while working at the University of Richmond. “I loved the idea of providing free access to historic materials and resources.”

During American Archives Month in October – and throughout the year – Kemp’s current job gives her the chance to straddle Mary Washington’s past, present and future, all at once. She has digitally preserved old artifacts – such as the 1668 Bible on which George Washington swore an oath to the Freemasons – as well as modern ones like social media posts, videos, web pages and PDFs. As manager of the Digital Archiving Lab, she teaches students and faculty how to maintain their own electronic records.

“These collections could be used tomorrow or 200 years from now,” Kemp said. “My goal is to make sure they are accessible for researchers for generations to come.”

Q: What can you tell us about the Call to Contribute: Documenting COVID-19 project?
A: It’s an effort to record the impact of the pandemic on the UMW community. We have virtual performances and lectures, individual stories, and official campus messages and guidelines. Our project information page and submission form are available for anyone who wants to contribute.

Q: What’s an interesting Mary Washington artifact that you have handled?
A: We digitized a 1940s scrapbook that had photos of the Mary Washington Cavalry, a group of riders who could provide aid and assist with communications when there was an emergency in the Fredericksburg area. It sent me on a research mission to learn more about campus life during World War II.

Q: Your team recently archived the LGBTQ+ Alumni Oral History Collection. Are there others?
A: We have collections for Friends of the Rappahannock and Mary Washington Health Care. Our next addition, which will include stories by World War II veterans, will be available soon.

Q: What’s most rewarding about your job?
A: Helping people with their projects, which range from assisting with research to guiding them as they build their own collections. It’s amazing to see the finished products.

Q: Most challenging?
A: Keeping up with the growth of digital content.

Q: What’s your favorite thing in your office?
A: We keep the temperature cool for the materials, so my sister crocheted a cozy shawl that keeps me warm. 

Q: What’s your motto?
A: Be kind. It’s simple but makes a big difference.

Banned Books Read-Out

Banned Books Week Read-OutIn recognition of the annual American Library Association’s Banned Books Week (September 26-October 2), a Read-out was held on Wednesday, Sept. 29, on Campus Walk, in front of Lee Hall, and on the University Center steps facing Ball Circle, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. President Paino and other administrators, faculty, and students read from selected banned and challenged books in a free, public event sponsored by the Department of English and Linguistics and Simpson LibraryA special exhibit of banned books will be on display in the lobby area of Simpson Library throughout the week and on the UMW Libraries Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram pages.

Thaden, Devlin Interviewed in The Free Lance-Star on LGBTQ Oral History Project

Executive Director of Alumni Relations Mark Thaden

Executive Director of Alumni Relations Mark Thaden

Executive Director of Alumni Relations Mark Thaden ’02 and Associate Professor of History and American Studies Erin Devlin were interviewed in The Free Lance-Star about Mary Washington’s LGBTQ Alumni Oral History Project. UMW Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives just launched the oral history collection, made up of recorded interviews and transcripts by students in Devlin’s oral history seminar in 2019.

When Mark Thaden first arrived at the University of Mary Washington in the late 1990s, the campus LGBTQ group met quietly, behind closed doors, in an upstairs room of the campus center.

“It was a social group, but it was very much about support,” said Thaden, a 2002 graduate of UMW who is now the university’s executive director of alumni relations.

Thaden said he was not out when he came to UMW from rural Maryland and a small, Catholic high school. At the club carnival early his freshman year, he was excited to see that there was an LGBTQ campus group, but he was too nervous at first to approach members.

Associate Professor of History and American Studies Erin Devlin

Associate Professor of History and American Studies Erin Devlin

Luckily, a friend signed him up to receive the group’s emails and the meetings became formative in his journey toward self-acceptance.

“That’s where I started feeling more comfortable, being with people who were comfortable with themselves,” Thaden said. “That’s where I started feeling like it was OK.”

Thaden’s memories and those of two dozen other LGBTQ alumni were recorded and transcribed in 2019 by students in Associate Professor Erin Devlin’s Oral History seminar. Read more.

LGBTQ Oral History Project Highlights Alumni Pride

Recruited to play field hockey at the University of Mary Washington, Chrissy Bowdren ’11, then a freshman, left practice to get her picture taken for her EagleOne card. Sweating in her uniform, she saw a familiar face in line. She teased her new teammate, Nicole, for being freshly showered and made up, but it was […]

Parsons Interviewed for Free Lance-Star Article on Archiving the Pandemic

Carolyn Parsons, head of Special Collections and University Archives for UMW Libraries, was interviewed for an article in The Free Lance-Star entitled, “Sites work to preserve these pivotal times.”

“It is such a history-in-the-making moment,” said Carolyn Parsons, head of special collections and university archives for the Simpson Library at the University of Mary Washington. “Back in March, shortly after the university was asked to close, we really just started thinking about how this moment is currently here in time and we wanted to preserve it so future researchers could have it before that content was lost.” Read more here and here.

National Day on Write and Why I Write

October 20th is National Day On Writing. Around UMW and all over the globe people will share their love for writing through the #WhyIWrite campaign sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English. Join others on Simpson’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages and tell us why you write. You can also go to add your thoughts and comments to Simpson’s Call to Contribute page and document your experiences during COVID-19.
#WhyIWrite #NDoW109

Sponsored by UMW Libraries, UMW English and Linguistics, UMW Honors Council and the UMW Creative Writing Club.

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.”

Professors Pool Expertise to Create ‘Compelling Courses’

To teach mitosis, April Wynn has students in her class act out the process, portraying chromosomes that divide into nuclei. The assistant professor of biological sciences hopes to replicate lively exercises like this – but virtually – in the fall. “My goal is to promote the same level of engagement, energy and enthusiasm in an […]