UMW’s Trees Get Another Hug

For the third year in a row, the Arbor Day Foundation has named UMW a Tree Campus USA. The award recognizes colleges and universities that promote healthy trees and engage their communities in the spirit of conservation. UMW has a campus tree-care plan, and it dedicates annual expenditures for campus trees. Mary Washington is one of only six Virginia institutions to receive the honor. … [Read more...]

Give It Your Best Shot!

Virginia Gov. John Battle visited campus for the dedication of the Fine Arts Center – duPont, Pollard, and Melchers halls – the weekend of May 9, 1953. There was an arts festival and much fanfare, including a procession by 120 academic delegates from the Gothic Room of Ann Carter Lee Hall to the south colonnade of Melchers, according to Edward Alvey Jr.’s History of Mary Washington College. Pictured here on the terrace of Lee Hall, the governor is flanked by two flag bearers. We hope someone can tell us the flag bearers’ names and perhaps remember the events of the weekend. Go online to and click on “Get the Picture” to leave 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!

It took some sleuthing, but we now know the student pictured in a former chemistry lab in Combs Hall is Orita Whitehead Martin, who attended Mary Washington from 1967 through 1969 before earning a degree from a college in Colorado. Anita Whitehead Scott ’71 confirmed her sister’s identity for the magazine. We’re grateful for help from Susan Brown Strong ’68 and retired Mary Washington employee Jane H. Marra, both of whom thought the photo was from the 1960s rather than the attributed 1980s date. To be sure, we asked Professor Emerita of Chemistry Judith A. Crissman. She recognized the setting as the former analytical chemistry laboratory and noted that the student was wearing a dress, a formality rarely seen after the late 1960s. And she pointed out that by the 1980s, safety goggles would have been required for lab work. With the 1960s date in mind, Head of Special Collections and University Archives Carolyn Sydnor Parsons ’83 pointed us toward the Whitehead sisters, and we soon … [Read more...]

Bridge to Broadway

UMW Students Learn You Can Get There From Here

By Kristin Davis They had just watched Wayne Brady sing his heart out in a pair of blazing-red, thigh-high boots on Broadway. Now, somehow, they were unfurling themselves from the seats and the spell of the century-old Al Hirschfeld Theatre and sidling onto a sidewalk where patrons and frosty breaths lingered. But the night wasn’t over for 15 University of Mary Washington students who months ago had signed up for a one-of-a-kind class that culminated in a spring break trip to the theatre capital of the world. While fans pressed themselves against a barricade, hoping one of the red-booted cast members might peek out and speak to them, the backstage door opened and the students were swept in. Kinky Boots, five years running, had lived up its Tony Award-winning hype – especially with Brady in the role of Lola, the indomitable, show-stealing drag queen who helps save a family’s shoe business. The students had watched the stage from the faraway darkness. But now they stood on it, in … [Read more...]

Ctrl + Alt + Create

Grad’s Hit Show Captures Genesis of ’80s Personal Computing

By Edie Gross Chris Rogers ’05 and his writing partner, Christopher Cantwell, had already pitched their TV show to HBO and Showtime. In each case, an executive had politely offered them bottled water and listened to their spiel before ushering them out with a handshake and a halfhearted pledge to keep in touch. But the meeting at AMC felt decidedly different. For starters, they weren’t perched on a couch in someone’s office, but rather ushered into a conference room. There, a team of executives gathered, each with a copy of the script Rogers and Cantwell had spent months fine-tuning. As the meeting ended, AMC asked the writers to return with a “bible,” an industry term for a document that establishes the characters, setting, and story arc for a fictional universe. “We kind of exchanged a glance: ‘This is good, right?’ ” recalled Rogers of that meeting in 2013. Quite good, in fact. The pair’s creation, Halt and Catch Fire, wrapped up a four-season run on AMC in October 2017 after … [Read more...]

Historic Melodies

Philharmonic Reveals Beauty in Found Manuscripts

As Arturo Sandoval blew new life into the Concerto for Kent Bugle with the UMW Philharmonic one March night, the Dodd Auditorium crowd knew they were experiencing something remarkable – an auditory treat almost no one had heard before. The piece was one of four worthy but forgotten masterpieces publicly performed for just the first, second, or third time during the philharmonic’s March 17 Unearthing America’s Musical Treasures concert. They were rediscovered in the Library of Congress collection thanks to a project of UMW Philharmonic Conductor Kevin Bartram in collaboration with collegiate orchestra directors from around the country. As president of the College Orchestra Directors Association (CODA) and with the group’s 2017 national conference set to be held in Washington, D.C., Bartram conceived the Library of Congress project as a way to promote intercollegiate scholarship and take advantage of the unique offerings of the nation’s capital. Teams of scholars pored through the … [Read more...]

Classroom Experience Inspires a Career of Advocacy

By Emily BattleBetsy Pfromm ’71 says serendipity took her from sociology student to CEO of the Los Angeles Child Guidance Clinic, an organization that promotes the mental health of children and families in high-poverty areas of Central and South Los Angeles. But the twists and turns of her career can be tied to the first time she stepped into a classroom of crying 6-year-olds. Pfromm wasn’t sure what career she wanted when she graduated from what was then Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia. But she felt the liberal arts background gained at MWC had given her a strong foundation. “More than anything, my critical-thinking skills were well-honed,” she said. With jobs scarce for sociology majors, she took a position as a first-grade teacher in a rural Virginia school. Many of her students came from impoverished households. Most had never been away from home in this era before universal kindergarten and Head Start. Pfromm saw enormous emotional needs, and she wanted … [Read more...]

Scholar Examines South African Activism

By Edie Gross Raised in the tiny town of Kilmarnock on Virginia’s Northern Neck, Dawne Y. Curry ’90 was a shy teenager in search of a small-college experience when she arrived at Mary Washington as a freshman. It’s fair to say she’s come out of her shell. These days, Curry feels most at home in Johannesburg, South Africa, a bustling urban center of more than 9 million people – a fair number of whom she’s interviewed over the last 20 years while gathering stories of female empowerment and anti-apartheid activism. “I love talking to people and getting intimate stories of history and seeing how people shape or preserve their memories,” said Curry, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln history and ethnic studies professor spending the 2017-18 school year in South Africa as a Fulbright recipient. “It’s very important to me that the voices of Africans are heard in my work. How am I going to teach African history if I haven’t been here?” At Mary Washington, Curry majored in international … [Read more...]

Class Agent Is a Class Act – and Game Show Champ

By Kristin Davis Shana Muhammad ’06 wasn’t a crier or a gambler, but she found herself doing both. In front of her sat a contract, and in front of that, a TV camera recording each agonizing moment for an NBC game show called The Wall. It was a game of ability and chance, and Muhammad had plenty of the former. Before the episode ended Jan. 15, host Chris Hardwick called her the smartest contestant the show had ever had. If she signed the contract, she and her teammate would go home with at least $90,000. If she tore it up, she might lose it all – or win a whole lot more. It seemed improbable that Muhammad had ended up on a game show at all. She is, by her own account, conservative, the manager of a local grocery store in Washington, D.C. She works hard, pays her bills, and takes care of her family. Muhammad grew up in Northern Virginia, the daughter of a single mother who insisted she get a college degree. During her senior year of high school, Muhammad applied to six state … [Read more...]

Senior Thesis Leads to Civil War Book

By Emily Battle It was a book that got Ryan Quint ’15 hooked on Civil War history as a child growing up in Maine. “When I was 8 or 9 years old, I read a book about a Civil War drummer boy,” Quint said. Quint was fascinated by the fact that kids his own age had played a role in the Civil War. Now Quint has a book of his own that he hopes will get others interested in learning about the war. Determined to Stand and Fight: The Battle of Monocacy, July 9, 1864 was published in 2017 by Savas Beatie as part of the Emerging Civil War Series. These books are meant to be engaging and accessible reads for newcomers to Civil War history. Quint started writing appendices to other books in the series while he was still a student at UMW. This is the first book on which he has been the lead author. Its focus is the 1864 Battle of Monocacy, in which Confederates under Lt. Gen. Jubal Early defeated Union forces under Maj. Gen. Lew Wallace near Frederick, Maryland. Quint was able to write the book … [Read more...]