And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life

By Charles J. Shields, UMW Great Lives assistant director In the summer of 2006, Charles J. Shields contacted Kurt Vonnegut Jr. and offered to be the famous author’s biographer. Vonnegut’s first response was, in so many words, “no.” Shields persisted, and finally got an “OK” from the writer of such works as Cat’s Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five, and Breakfast of Champions. Shields interviewed Vonnegut, who died the following April at age 84. The result of those interviews and subsequent meticulous research is And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life, the definitive biography of Vonnegut based on his own words and those of his contemporaries, friends, and family members in addition to personal letters. Through the biography, Shields exposes the effects on Vonnegut of his mother’s suicide, his internment during WWII as a POW in Dresden, his many years as a literary failure, his adoption of three children who were orphaned by his sister and brother-in-law, his alcoholism, and his own … [Read more...]

America’s Allies and War: Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq

By Jason W. Davidson, UMW associate professor of political science and international affairs America’s Allies and War by Jason W. Davidson, a multiple-case-study analysis of transatlantic burden-sharing, provides a unique explanation of why Britain, France, and Italy provide or refuse military support for U.S.-led armed forces. Using 60 original interviews with top policymakers and analysts, Davidson explores allies’ decisions during conflicts in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. From the cases explored, Davidson finds that “neoclassical realist factors” such as alliance value, threat, prestige, and electoral politics better explain allies’ actions than “constructivist factors,” identified here as identity and norms. The book briefly covers Vietnam, Lebanon, the Persian Gulf War, and Somalia. Davidson, the author of Origins of Revisionist and Status-quo States and numerous scholarly articles that have appeared in journals such as Contemporary Security Policy, Nonproliferation Review, … [Read more...]

Fulbright Scholar Studies Children of Chernobyl

Studying on Fulbright Scholarships is gaining popularity at UMW. Of the eight Mary Washington students who have received the grants, six have earned them in the past four years. This is due in part to the efforts of UMW Fulbright Campus Adviser Nabil Al-Tikriti, associate professor of history and American studies, and the Fulbright Campus Evaluation Committee, which includes Al-Tikriti; Rosemary Jesionowski, assistant professor of art and art history; and Jessica Locke, assistant professor of modern foreign languages. The Fulbright Program, started in 1946, is an international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. When Michele Alexander ’11 was a teenager, a child from near the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant lived with her family for the summer. The next year another came, and the next another. The world’s worst nuclear power accident happened at Chernobyl in 1986 spewing radioactive contaminants over Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, and beyond. … [Read more...]

Weather Whammy Welcomes UMW Freshmen

As if the first week of college can’t be hair-raising enough for freshmen, Mother Nature slung some serious surprises at hundreds of new students who converged on the University of Mary Washington in August. A magnitude-5.8 earthquake; a dangerous, havoc-wreaking thunderstorm; and a category-3 hurricane came not so neatly wrapped inside a span of just five days. On Tuesday, Aug. 23, the quake, with an epicenter just southwest of Fredericksburg, caused campus buildings to be evacuated and the University to close early. On Thursday, Aug. 25, just one day after freshmen moved in, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell issued a state of emergency under threats of a severe thunderstorm that shut down power on the Fredericksburg campus, merited a University-wide student alert, and postponed the Honor Convocation scheduled for that evening. Two days later, Hurricane Irene swept in from the Atlantic, releasing a fury that delivered more than 4 inches of rain and 40-mph winds; the very first day of … [Read more...]

Easy as One T3

UMW police officers have a new ride. Though they weren’t sure what to expect when the T3 Series electric standup vehicle (ESV) arrived this summer, the groundbreaking gadget has made campus police more approachable. And that is just what President Richard V. Hurley hoped for when he requested that the force adopt the Segway-like vehicle. “When we have it out, it attracts a lot of attention,” said Police Department Business Manager James DeLoatch. “It’s a good conversation piece, and [the officers] really enjoy operating it.” With three wheels and a low center of gravity, the T3 is more stable than the Segway. It’s taken some tinkering to get it down to speed for campus use. The low-noise, zero-gas emission ESVs max out at 20 miles per hour, but UMW’s model is set at half that for safety reasons. “It’s really cool to ride, but we don’t want to see anybody flying down Campus Walk,” DeLoatch said. The battery-operated machines are not approved for on-street use. T3s are … [Read more...]

Freshman Blogs for Seventeen

For Berkley Schmidt ’15, the transition to college life has been more public than that of most freshmen. Schmidt is broadcasting the details of her year to a national audience through her blog on As one of Seventeen Magazine’s “Freshman 15,” Schmidt chronicles her first-year experience with once-a-week posts about everything from “what to bring to college” to “how to survive a hurricane.” Schmidt described to the world her first week as part of the UMW Class of 2015: The second day here, as we were walking to convocation dressed in our formal attire, a storm fired away on the little town of Fredericksburg. Luckily we had just reached the covered walk when the skies opened up, but the real fun began as we reached the library. Sirens blasted as faculty and Orientation Leaders rushed us inside. We were in a tornado warning! We just had another aftershock from the earthquake that same morning and we were already in our next natural disaster. Disasters aside, the … [Read more...]

Braymer Wins Metzger Award

The woman responsible for growing the popular Leadership Colloquium for Professional Women received its highest honor in November. Meta Braymer, vice president for economic development and regional engagement, received the Patricia Lacey Metzger Distinguished Achievement Award during the sold-out 18th annual Leadership Colloquium. The award recognizes not only Braymer’s 30 years of exemplary work in higher education, but also her extensive involvement in business and community organizations. The late Patricia Metzger, a UMW professor and founder of the colloquium, was a friend and colleague of Braymer. Given annually, the award recognizes individuals who uphold high standards in their personal and professional lives while fulfilling career goals of significant stature. Braymer has held various positions at Mary Washington, including dean of the faculty and vice president for graduate and professional studies. She oversaw the planning, design, construction, and budget of the … [Read more...]

Fulbright Winner Means Business in Tunisia

More than 4,500 miles lie between Fredericksburg, Va., and El Mourouj, Tunisia, where a Fulbright Specialist Grant allowed Mukesh Srivastava to spend a month this fall. The first faculty member of the UMW College of Business to receive a prestigious Fulbright award, Srivastava hopes his work there will help bridge the distance between the U.S. and the country on Africa’s northernmost tip. This grant “will expand the global reach of UMW through the development of student and faculty exchanges and research collaborations with Tunis Business School [TBS],” said Srivastava, who worked with TBS faculty in October to develop and implement the school’s graduate program in management and information technology. Part of Tunis University, TBS is Tunisia’s first English-language business school. Srivastava, who is associate professor of management information systems and associate dean of the UMW College of Business, is one of more than 400 U.S. faculty and professionals who will … [Read more...]

Monroe Gets Makeover; Murals Remain

After two years of renovations, Monroe Hall reopened with the fall 2011 semester and was rededicated with celebration and ceremony Sept. 16. The rededication came almost 100 years after Monroe, Mary Washington’s first academic building, opened its doors to students, said William B. Crawley Jr., distinguished professor emeritus of history and American studies. “Commemorating the reopening of Monroe could hardly come at a more appropriate time historically,” said Crawley, who is also the University Historian. He has had an office in Monroe Hall for more than 40 years, and this is the second time he’s seen the building renovated. That sunny September afternoon, a crowd gathered in front of the building’s familiar columns and façade for an outdoor ceremony. The Board of Visitors was on hand for the official ribbon cutting. President Richard V. Hurley, Rector of the Board Dan Steen ’84, and Provost Jay Harper spoke, as did Crawley and Jeffrey W. McClurken ’94, associate professor … [Read more...]

Poet’s Words Reach Widening Audience

There might not be a lot of literary firsts left for UMW Professor of English and Arrington Distinguished Chair in Poetry Claudia Emerson. She was named Virginia poet laureate in 2008, received the Donald Justice Award for poetry in 2009, was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship earlier this year, and recently was inducted into the prestigious Fellowship of Southern Writers. And that’s on top of the Pulitzer Prize she claimed in 2006 for her poetry collection Late Wife. Early this fall, though, Emerson squeezed in a couple more premieres – her début appearance at the National Book Festival and publication in The New Yorker. In late October, the magazine included Emerson’s Catfish. On a September Saturday at the book festival, from a stage on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., Emerson discussed the journey that led to her life as a writer. She read from her works, which include Pharaoh, Pharaoh; Pinion: An Elegy; Late Wife; and her latest collection of poetry, Figure Studies. … [Read more...]