UMW Inaugurates 10th President

The University of Mary Washington marked a milestone occasion Friday, April 21, with the inauguration of its 10th president, Troy D. Paino. A crowd of nearly 1,000 students, alumni, faculty, staff, and community members packed George Washington Hall’s Dodd Auditorium for the momentous event. Recounting the rich history of the university, which rose from Civil War ashes in 1908 to prepare female teachers, Paino spoke of its transformation from a normal school to the premier public coeducational liberal arts and sciences institution it is today. He reflected on Mary Washington’s trailblazers who, empowered with a liberal arts education, paved the way for pursuing challenging careers in science, government, industry, and education. “Mary Washington is at its best when it is reminded of its mission to serve,” Paino said. “Mary Washington thrives when it understands that its very existence is an investment in hope – a hope in the students we educate and a hope in our republic’s future. … [Read more...]

Superintendent ‘Living the Dream’

David White ’92 hopes he can impart a message of resilience to more than 2,200 students whose education he oversees: They will mess up at times. But mistakes can become opportunities. “Failure is an option. It’s what you do afterward that matters,” said White, who’s in his second year as superintendent of public schools in King William County, Virginia. “You can have that ‘Aha!’ moment at any time and get it together.” It’s a life lesson White was fortunate to learn early. He had way too much fun as a freshman at Virginia Tech, and his grades showed it. His parents pulled the plug. Back home in the Fredericksburg area, White applied to Mary Washington, where both his mother and grandmother had worked. He wasn’t the strongest applicant, but Sallie Washington Braxton ’77 in admissions took a chance on him, he said. “She told me that since she got me there, I’d better prove her right.” He did, applying himself to academics, fulfilling Army National Guard obligations, working a second … [Read more...]

Organ Aficionada

Arp Schnitger was one of the most prolific and influential organ builders of the late 17th and early 18th centuries, a craftsman whose work fueled continued interest in Baroque instruments centuries after his death. Yet Peggy Kelley Reinburg ’58 could find only one article on the German artisan as she toiled away on a paper for her sophomore year organ class. She managed to stretch what little information she could find into eight pages and earned an A on the assignment. But the dearth of knowledge gnawed at her long after she graduated from Mary Washington with a bachelor’s degree in music and  minors in languages and psychology. “I couldn’t get the information I wanted, and I was just so eager to know about these wonderful instruments,” Reinburg said. The Norfolk resident went on to write the definitive book on Schnitger while performing on his stunning creations – and those of other builders – in churches, cathedrals, and concert halls all over the world. “The organ is a very … [Read more...]

Finding Art

Nancy Porter Atakan ’68 stared at the images of the Hagia Sophia in the pages of her art history textbook. A Mary Washington classmate told of visiting the mosque-turned-museum in Istanbul, Turkey. For Atakan, then a teenager from the tiny mountain town of Galax, Virginia, such a place couldn’t be more remote. That she’d left home at all was more than her mother could understand. The only child of a nurse’s aide and a factory worker, Atakan could afford to apply to only one college. She chose Mary Washington for its distance from Galax and proximity to Washington, D.C. As the young art history and studio art major read about the Byzantine Hagia Sophia, she couldn’t imagine that within a few years she’d see it for herself, much less that Istanbul would become her adopted home. She wouldn’t have believed that she would run her own nonprofit art space there, or that her art would hang in galleries in New York, London, and Berlin. Her time at Mary Washington “was the first time in … [Read more...]

Woman’s Calling Is Improving Dementia Care

From her childhood home in South Jersey, Rachael Wonderlin ’11 marked university catalogs like a Christmas wish list. The colleges the high schooler liked best went in a must-see file. “I visited a whole bunch of schools,” Wonderlin said. But the moment she stepped foot on the University of Mary Washington campus, “I just had a gut feeling. I loved it immediately. It had everything I was looking for – small but not too small. It was very collegiate, very beautiful,” and it was just a few hours drive from home. Wonderlin came to Mary Washington with a love for older adults – she discovered this as a teen volunteer at a skilled nursing facility – so she majored in psychology with plans to become a geriatric doctor. But after getting a C in chemistry, she figured she wouldn’t have the grades for medical school. An elective course called “psychology of aging” erased any disappointment Wonderlin felt. The class met for an entire evening once a week. “Everybody in that class dreaded it. I … [Read more...]

Tailored for Protection

Class project leads to lifesaving haberdashery

Story by Edie Gross Photos by Adam Ewing Abbas Haider ’12 scrolled through his email in August 2015 and spied a note from a contact at the U.S. State Department. The department had purchased nearly 1,300 bulletproof T-shirts from Haider and his business partner, Robert Davis ’12, a year earlier for agents combating corruption and drug crimes abroad. At the time, it was one of the biggest contracts the Mary Washington grads had negotiated through their company, Aspetto, which specializes in armored menswear. The email said an officer wearing one of those shirts had recently been shot three times with a Mini Uzi 9mm pistol. Not only had he survived – he was unharmed. “Your vest saved a life,” read the note. Haider immediately called Davis, who was sitting across the lunch table from a client and rocketed out of his seat at the news. “I remember thinking, ‘This is exactly why we started this business. That guy’s going home to his family because of what we do,’ ” Davis recalled. … [Read more...]

Lifting Off

Langley internships changed women’s lives in the summer of ’65

By Laura Moyer Other eighth-grade girls in the late 1950s filled their scrapbooks with Elvis Presley pictures, but Bertha Jo Terry ’66 dedicated hers to Sputnik. So as a junior math major at Mary Washington College in 1965, she was thrilled to see on a bulletin board that NASA was seeking summer interns. To Terry’s delight, she was among six Mary Washington women chosen for summer jobs with NASA at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia. The jobs were prestigious and well-paid, and for good reason: NASA urgently needed brainpower for the calculations required to put American astronauts on the moon. As Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine noted in an editorial that year, the summer of 1965 was “the time when the U.S. effort … began breaking its own new ground, in contrast to the earlier era of stern-chasing the Soviets.” Prompted earlier this year by seeing the movie Hidden Figures – about the female African-American mathematicians at Langley during the space race – … [Read more...]

Training Astute Citizens

Farnsworth turns students into savvy political consumers

By Chelyen Davis Steve Farnsworth doesn’t want his students to swallow everything they hear from politicians. “What’s important,” the political science professor said, “is that you have a level of resistance to being bamboozled.” He spoke from his small, book-lined office overlooking the University of Mary Washington campus. Farnsworth is a national political pundit, author of five – soon to be six – books on American politics and the media, and head of the UMW Center for Leadership and Media Studies. He seeks to impart a deeper understanding of how American politics functions. In his teaching, his work with international journalists from former Soviet countries, and his punditry, he deciphers how the media communicate about politics, how public opinion develops, and how to find the truth in what we hear from our elected leaders. In campaigns, honesty often takes a back seat to expediency, he said, and that annoys him. His answer: To help others become “smart consumers of … [Read more...]