Remembering Claudia Emerson, Poet

The Free Lance-Star published this memorial to longtime Mary Washington professor and poet Claudia Emerson on Dec. 8, 2014. Emerson died Dec. 4. Claudia Emerson, who passed away last week at the far-too-young age of 57, plied that most demanding and (to those who measure greatness by royalty statements) most unrewarding of writing professions. She was a poet – a great one. Of all the forms of creative writing, poetry is the hardest and seems to draw the smallest audience. It is, and was to Ms. Emerson, a labor of love. Through her labors, she rewarded her readers with some of the finest poetry this country has produced in recent years. Among other praise, she won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 2006, while teaching at the University of Mary Washington, for her collection Late Wife. She was the state’s poet laureate from 2008–2010. She made her university and her city proud. She left UMW after 15 years to take a position at Virginia Commonwealth University last year … [Read more...]

Math Professor Receives Fulbright  

Julius Esunge, assistant professor of mathematics, recently received a Fulbright grant. He will teach and do research at the University of Buea in Cameroon beginning in spring 2016. An expert in stochastic analysis, Esunge blends math and statistics to assess and solve problems. As part of his Fulbright grant, Esunge will return to his undergraduate alma mater to teach probability and actuarial mathematics and lead a graduate seminar in stochastic analysis. He also will construct and compare predictive models for health care costs. Esunge joined the UMW faculty in 2009. He received a master’s degree from Lehigh University and master’s and doctoral degrees from Louisiana State University. “The opportunity to return to the University of Buea and actively mentor a new generation of students is priceless,” Esunge said. … [Read more...]

Religion Professor Meets Coptic Pope

In February, Professor of Classics, Philosophy, and Religion Jim Goehring met Pope Tawadros II, leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church, near Alexandria, Egypt. Goehring had just presented his paper “The Pachomian Federation in Lower Egypt: The Ties That Bind,” at a symposium sponsored by the St. Mark Foundation for Coptic History Studies. Just days after Goehring and wife Linda LaFave left Egypt, the Islamic State militant group released a video purporting to show the beheadings of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians who had been kidnapped in neighboring Libya. The group accused the Egyptian Christians of being “crusaders,” but Goehring said the men were in Libya not for religious reasons but simply to work. Many Egyptians, Christian and Muslim, have sought employment in oil-rich Libya as the Egyptian economy suffers from a decline in foreign tourism amid political unrest. … [Read more...]

Building a Better Spring Break  

Forty-five University of Mary Washington students and staff advisers donated their time over spring break to rebuild and rehabilitate houses in needy communities. UMW’s student-run Community Outreach and Resources (COAR) team organized alternative spring break trips in Mobile, Alabama; Maryville, Tennessee; and Palm Bay, Florida. At each location, the students collaborated with Habitat for Humanity to help eliminate substandard housing. Kelly Bryant, a senior psychology major, co-led the trip to Alabama this year for her third alternative spring break. “It is such a cool experience to learn how to hammer, square a house, and put up roof trusses, all in the pursuit of giving someone a better life,” Bryant said. “It makes me so happy and proud to know that with my one short week I have made a lasting difference in someone’s life.” For some students, one trip is all it takes to change their perception of spring break. “After working with Habitat for Humanity last year, I … [Read more...]

Amphitheater Update

A $1.25 million pledge from an alumna has moved the University of Mary Washington closer to a $3 million fundraising goal to restore its historic amphitheater. The pledge, made by Josephine McPherson Heslep ’56 and her husband, Donald, of Richmond, Virginia, brings to $2.5 million the total raised for the amphitheater. Additional funding includes a $1 million pledge from Robert and of Savannah, Georgia, and more than $250,000 in gifts and pledges from other alumni and friends. “We still need to raise another half a million for the project,” said President Richard V. Hurley, “but with the tremendous amount of nostalgia and pride our alumni feel for the amphitheater, we’re confident we will reach the final goal soon.” For more than a century, the open-air amphitheater behind Lee and Trinkle halls has been an integral part of the Mary Washington experience. It was the setting for commencements, May Day celebrations, plays, and concerts. With age and weather damage, … [Read more...]

Alumni Seen

If your class year ends in 0 or 5, make plans to attend Reunion Weekend 2015, May 29 – 31, 2015!   … [Read more...]

Give It Your Best Shot

The dapper gent in the middle of this 1950s photo is Burney L. Parkinson, a professor of education and psychology at Mary Washington from 1952 through 1956. He had earlier been president of the Mississippi State College for Women. He died in 1972, at age 85. But who, we wonder, are the stylish young women seated next to Dr. Parkinson? If you think you know, please tell us in a comment! Or send an email with “Get the Picture” in the subject line to You may also write to: UMW Magazine – Get the Picture 1301 College Ave. Fredericksburg, Va. 22401-5300. … [Read more...]

You Got It

Becky Earle Middleton ’97 recognized tray-sledder Amy Halter Watkins ’96 right away when she saw her in the fall/winter UMW Magazine. She and Amy were resident assistants in Jefferson Hall the year of the big snow. RAs returned to campus early after winter break, Becky wrote. “So we were the only ones there when the snow hit.” The Blizzard of ’96 closed campus to returning students. “We had the entire place to ourselves for nearly a week. I remember many good games of hide and seek, sledding, snowball fights, and how incredibly quiet it was.” Bob Shelton ’97 was a Jefferson RA, too. He identified Amy and thanked UMW Magazine for reviving a great memory. Dana Hall, senior associate director of athletics, wrote that she was Amy’s coach on the MWC women’s lacrosse team. Coach Hall stays in touch with Amy and her husband, Eric Watkins ’96, and their family, who live in Fredericksburg. Thanks to all who contacted the magazine, including Larissa Lipani Peluso-Fleming ’98, who said … [Read more...]

Books by Alumni

French Revolutions for Beginners By Michael J. LaMonica ’04 What’s funny about the (many) French revolutions? Quite a bit, it turns out. LaMonica’s humorously illustrated nonfiction book covers the major figures, events, and political issues of a century during which France underwent 15 transitions of government. – Red Wheel/Weiser, November 2014   Brandywine By Michael C. Harris ’01 Subtitled A Military History of the Battle That Lost Philadelphia but Saved America, September 11, 1777, Harris’ book is the first complete study to merge the strategic, political, and tactical history of this Revolutionary War battle. – Savas Beatie, June 2014   Heart Murmurs: What Patients Teach Their Doctors By Sharon Dobie ’69 Dr. Dobie, a family physician at the University of Washington Medical Center, worked with 35 other physician-authors on this collection of essays exploring the interactions between doctors and their patients. – University of … [Read more...]

Books by UMW Faculty

Sufism and American Literary Masters Edited by Mehdi Aminrazavi, professor of philosophy and religion Essays examine the influence of Sufism on 19th- and early 20th-century American literature, particularly in the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman. – SUNY Press, November 2014   Turtles All the Way Down Translated by David Ambuel, professor of philosophy This is a translation and commentary on Plato’s Theaetetus, exploring themes of knowledge and judgment. – Academia Verlag, January 2015 … [Read more...]