Tree Campus

Our Roots, Our Story

Cherry blossoms and spring midterms hit campus about the same time, giving students something peaceful to look at between study sessions at the Hurley Convergence Center. (Photo by Norm Shafer)

By Laura Moyer The story of trees on the University of Mary Washington campus starts with the Brompton Oak – the Civil War “witness tree” famously photographed in 1864 as Union soldiers recovered beneath its branches. The venerable white oak has been thoroughly fussed over. It’s protected from lightning, its limbs are cabled for stability, and the lawn above its roots is roped off during public events. Decades ago, some well-intentioned souls even filled its hollow spaces with concrete. Every Mary Washington president who’s lived at Brompton, from Morgan Combs to Troy Paino, has gazed on the tree with admiration and maybe a bit of anxiety. For the past 30 years, Director of Landscape and Grounds Joni Wilson ’00 has shared those feelings as the person chiefly responsible for the Brompton Oak. She’s joking – or maybe not – when she says that if the oak died “I’d be gluing leaves onto it.”  But she’s been equally protective of other Mary Washington trees, from the magnificent willow … [Read more...]

Home Equity

Heather Mullins Crislip ’95 Toils for Equal Access to Housing

Heather Mullins Crislip is president and CEO of HOME – Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia Inc. – one of the oldest and largest private organizations of its kind in the nation. The people she met and the passions she gained at Mary Washington led her to work for civil rights and equal access.
(Photo by Clement Britt)

By Robin Farmer Heather Mullins Crislip ’95 spoke for different kinds of people when she was a student government leader at the University of Mary Washington. Her service as president and vice president of the Student Association deepened her commitment to advocate for fairness and access. It also set her on her life path. Today, she’s president and CEO of HOME, Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia Inc. The Richmond-based nonprofit promotes equal access to housing through fair housing enforcement, research, advocacy, and statewide policy. Crislip already had a passion for justice when she arrived on campus. But, she said, “My interest in civil rights and issues of systemic poverty definitely blossomed and became more defined at UMW.” Under Crislip’s leadership since 2012, HOME has focused on fair housing as a civil rights mission. “Litigation is just one of the tools we use when we need to,” she said. (Story continues below.) In January, HOME settled a discrimination … [Read more...]

1817 Style

Celebrating President Monroe's Inaugural Bicentennial

James Monroe (James G. Harrison III) gets help with his very 21st-century microphone before the ceremony. (Photo by Norm Shafer)

A crowd gathered near UMW’s Monroe Hall in early March to celebrate the statesman the building is named for. James Monroe, fifth president of the United States, was inaugurated March 4, 1817, in Washington, D.C. Two hundred years later to the day, the James Monroe Museum invited the community to witness the pageantry of a re-enactment of the inauguration on the steps of Mary Washington’s oldest building. Soldiers in plumed caps and coarsely stitched breeches held muskets and bayonets. Ladies in colorful hats and dresses – hands in muffs and shawls pulled tight against the early March cold – waited with a crowd of modern guests. (Story continues below.) Jaunty music rang out from the trumpets of the United States Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps. Soldiers from the Society of the War of 1812 in Virginia presented the color guard, and a smart, white carriage delivered the dignitaries of an earlier era: outgoing President James Madison, first lady Dolley Madison, and John Marshall, … [Read more...]