On Campus

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...]

Little Rock Remembered

Ernest Green, one of nine students who in 1957 integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, urged University of Mary Washington students to be agents of change, not just passive observers in the continuing fight for social justice. Green made the comments as keynote speaker during the Jan. 21 commemoration of the life of Martin Luther King Jr. As a member of the Little Rock Nine, Green became the first African-American student to graduate from the formerly all-white Central High. After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Michigan State University, Green worked to help minority women in the South secure jobs. He was an assistant labor secretary to President Jimmy Carter. In 1999, President Bill Clinton presented Green and the other members of the Little Rock Nine the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor awarded to civilians. At UMW, Green emphasized that people who will never be famous make important contributions toward change, according to The Blue … [Read more...]

Professor Sees Hope for Afghanistan Democracy

Young political party activists who received training through a pro-democracy initiative offer hope for effective elections in Afghanistan, according to a University of Mary Washington professor who recently spent 10 days in the country on a research and reporting trip. Ranjit Singh, associate professor of political science and international affairs, traveled to Kabul at the request of the U.S.-based National Democratic Institute (NDI). The nonprofit agency was winding up a 27-month program to support the role of political parties in Afghanistan. Singh interviewed nearly 40 members and leaders of various Afghan political parties to assess the effectiveness of the program, which ended in March. “Robust political parties are considered essential to modern democracies,” said Singh, an accredited international election observer who witnessed the Afghan presidential election of 2009 as part of a delegation of foreign policy experts. Singh sees benefits of the two-year NDI … [Read more...]

Coffman Honored for Innovation

Professor of Education Teresa Coffman was named 2014 Innovative Educator of the Year by the Virginia Society for Technology and Education. The award recognizes teachers who implement innovative educational practices and champion the integration of technology in the classroom. Coffman is researching how wearable technologies such as Google Glass can help teachers teach and students learn. Coffman encourages students “to think differently about who they are becoming as educators, and how their uses of technologies will shape transformational learning experiences for their own students,” said Mary Gendernalik-Cooper, dean of the College of Education. Coffman is the author of Using Inquiry in the Classroom: Developing Creative Thinkers and Information Literate Students and Engaging Students Through Inquiry-Oriented Learning and Technology. “Teaching needs to be more transformational,” Coffman said. “We need to extend beyond the creativity into innovative thought that can help … [Read more...]

Rambler Again Graces Belmont

Gari Melchers’ painting The Crimson Rambler, on loan from a private collection, will be on display at Gari Melchers Home and Studio through June 7. The Crimson Rambler features a rose arbor in full bloom with a lawn statue in the background. Melchers painted it about 1915, when he was living in Holland. It’s unusual for a Melchers painting because it is strictly a garden picture, incorporating no living person or animal. Because Melchers preferred figure painting, this is his only “pure garden portrait,” said Joanna Catron ’79, curator. “Melchers wholly gave in to the broken brushwork and chromatic possibilities of a lush garden in sunlight, rendering the sensation of a garden as opposed to a literal reproduction of one, a key objective of impressionism,” she said. Gari Melchers Home and Studio at Belmont is administered by the University of Mary Washington. … [Read more...]


The University of Mary Washington is included among the nation’s best-value colleges by both The Princeton Review and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. And UMW is recognized as one of the nation’s best public colleges overall by The Business Journals, placing in the top 75 four-year public institutions. The Princeton Review included UMW in its recently published Colleges That Pay You Back: The 200 Best Value Colleges and What It Takes to Get In – 2015. The ranking considers academics, affordability, and graduates’ career prospects. The Kiplinger’s Personal Finance ranking considers a university’s admission rate, percentage of students who return for sophomore year, student-faculty ratio, and four-year graduation rate. It also considers cost, availability of financial aid, and low average student debt at graduation. Kiplinger’s ranks UMW sixth among Virginia’s best values and 92nd out of 100 four-year public institutions nationwide. Mary Washington has consistently … [Read more...]

New for Freshmen

UMW is enhancing its first-year seminar program to give freshmen a richer introduction to academic life. For the first time, the program will offer residential clustering based on the seminar topics students choose. Freshmen will receive comprehensive advising, and they’ll all read, write about, and discuss Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. UMW will offer more than 60 first-year seminars on topics ranging from game theory to Jane Austen. In residential clustering, students live with classmates from their first-year seminars, creating a community that combines living and learning. Incoming students may choose a first-year seminar and housing assignments once they have made enrollment deposits. Every freshman must enroll in a seminar. Tim O’Donnell, associate provost for academic engagement and student success, said studies show that students who participate in a first-year seminar earn higher GPAs by the end of freshman year and are more likely to return … [Read more...]