Gardner Heads Texas Museum

Courtney Elliott Gardner ’89 is the new director of the Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts in Spring, Texas. She had been the executive director of the Peninsula Fine Arts Center in Newport News, Virginia, since 2011. It closed at the end of 2020, according to the Daily Press. Gardner has received numerous awards including “Top Forty Under Forty” from Inside Business Hampton Roads, the Paul Harris Fellow Award from the Rotary Club of Newport News, and the YWCA Women of Distinction Award. According to a press release from the Pearl Fincher Museum, Gardner is known for her leadership skills in increasing an organization’s visibility; fundraising and financial management; and overseeing exhibits, educational activities, and programs that offer broad appeal to the community. … [Read more...]

Give It Your Best Shot!

It was Move-In Day 2000, and these students looked ready to take on whatever fall semester might bring. Can you help us identify this stylish couple from 21 years ago? Photographer Lou Cordero captured the image. 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!

Tonya Turner ’92 (left) recognized herself in this photo with Sammy D. Eagle at the 1988 ballfield dedication. Turner was Ton, of course, and she identified Shel as Michele Parks ’92 and Bec as Rebecca Murphy Fox ’90. Julie Lail Porter ’92 also identified Rebecca, her former roommate. Barry Fitzgerald was the photographer. Thanks to all for solving this mystery! … [Read more...]

A Shared Purpose

When a Pandemic Closed Colleges Around the Country, UMW’s Commitment to Community Allowed It to Aspire to Something More

By Emily Freehling As last summer ended, President Troy Paino was losing sleep, dogged by pandemic-related ethical questions. Can the university bring students back to campus while prioritizing their well-being and that of faculty and staff? What about the university’s responsibility to the community? And what sacrifices must members of the Mary Washington community make for the common good? It was, he said in a Sept. 1 video, “among the most difficult decisions I have had to make.” The announcement that UMW would move forward with its plan to bring students back Sept. 10 – three weeks after classes had started in a 100% remote format – came as many other colleges were experiencing outbreaks and sending students home soon after their own move-in days. But Paino had faith in Mary Washington – in the months of planning by administrators, faculty, and staff, and in the students themselves. A successful fall semester on campus was possible, he believed, if everyone kept … [Read more...]

Lessons Learned

Experience Helps Dean of Education Make a Difference at Every Level

By Edie Gross Pete Kelly had his work cut out for him. In fall 2017, the College of Education (COE) was already facing the major challenge of impending accreditation. Then, responding to a critical teacher shortage, the governor and State Board of Education, followed by the General Assembly, directed colleges and universities to offer a four-year undergraduate degree in teaching – a change from Mary Washington’s four-year undergraduate program with a fifth-year master’s degree. “And then in the door walks Pete Kelly,” said Provost Nina Mikhalevsky. As the COE’s new dean, “he not only has to lead a complete revision of the curriculum, but lead a complete revision of the curriculum while doing accreditation.” She likened the effort to Ginger Rogers having to dance with Fred Astaire backwards and in high heels – and that was before the pandemic threw everyone a curve. Luckily, this wasn’t Kelly’s first dance. Kelly had served on five state and national accreditation teams … [Read more...]

Urban Forester Finds Love of Nature at UMW

The 11,000 to 12,000 trees shading the streets and parks of Lynchburg, Virginia, are a lot to keep up with. But Sarah Hagan ’11 has charge of them all, from roots to crowns. It’s an ever-changing responsibility, varying with each season, storm, dry spell, and pest. As Lynchburg’s urban forester, Hagan oversees trees individually but also as an interdependent whole – the urban canopy that keeps the city healthy, vibrant, and beautiful. Now in her second year with Lynchburg, Hagan has dealt with the inherited problem of the emerald ash-borer, an imported pest devastating the native ash species of the eastern to midwestern United States. Almost all the city’s ash trees have had to be removed. City trees face other stresses as well, from improper planting, poor soil, and road salt. Hagan constantly evaluates how long Lynchburg’s trees are lasting, how their lives can be extended, and how to bolster the overall health and sustainability of the resource. To handle it all she … [Read more...]

Judge Reflects the Real World

When he was a kid in the 1980s, Kerwin A. Miller Sr. ’95 watched L.A. Law on his family TV and waited for his favorite character – attorney Jonathan Rollins – to appear. Miller liked how the impeccably dressed law partner argued cases, how people listened to him, and how he won for his clients. And – unlike the characters Miller usually saw – the attorney was Black, just like him. “It made me want to do that – do something that actually made a difference and made an immediate impact on people,” Miller said of his decision to become a lawyer. “I thought about it so long that it was the only thing I could do.” Miller overshot his childhood dream in January 2019 when, by appointment of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, he was sworn in as the second African American judge in the history of Harford County. It was a long road to the bench, even though Miller made the journey much faster than most. When he chose Mary Washington College, his mother and his sister made the trek from his childhood … [Read more...]

Human Resources Executive Keeps Giving Back

When James Llewellyn ’87 was a senior, the psychology suite in Chandler Hall – where the University Center now stands – was voted one of the top 10 favorite campus hangout spots by Mary Washington students. “The professors were so engaging and fun; learning from them was truly a gift,” said Llewellyn, who credits psychology faculty, including retired professors Debra Steckler and Steve Hampton and the late Topher Bill, as strong positive influences on his college experience. The exceptional liberal arts education Llewellyn received from Mary Washington is why he continues to give back to his alma mater. Now a seasoned human-resources professional, he applies psychology in his work in the private sector, and he’s happy to share his experience and advice with psychology majors – in 2019 he was the Department of Psychological Sciences’ graduate-in-residence. Llewellyn and his wife, Deborah, have established a merit scholarship for psychology majors and contribute annually to the … [Read more...]

Brand, New

Diverse Voices Define UMW Identity

By Emily Freehling Deep research and inquiry are skills the University of Mary Washington imparts to its students. University leaders have turned these tools of discovery inward over the past two years, engaging thousands of individuals to define the University of Mary Washington experience. Current and prospective students, alumni, staff, faculty, donors, and members of the wider Fredericksburg community participated in a research process aimed at telling a more inclusive and authentic story about the university. “We couldn’t get it right if all of these individuals hadn’t been willing to participate,” said UMW President Troy Paino. Paino knew when he arrived on campus in 2016 that UMW would need to refresh its branding – the messaging it uses to present itself to the wider world – to stand out in Virginia’s competitive higher education market. Vice President for Advancement and University Relations Lisa Jamison Bowling ’89 said Paino’s involvement from the start set … [Read more...]

Marilla Haas Stayed With Music and Mary Washington

No one ever had to remind 6-year-old Marilla Mattox – now Marilla Mattox Haas ’60 – to practice piano. Haas’ earliest memories of Sunday mornings in Richmond’s First Baptist Church are of balcony seats carefully chosen by her mother so young Marilla could have a clear view of the organist’s hands. She and her mother frequented what was then Richmond’s Mosque theater, where they heard pianists Vladimir Horowitz and Arthur Rubinstein, contralto Marian Anderson, and the Broadway cast of Porgy and Bess. “I was always exposed to music,” said the accomplished pianist, bassist, teacher, and accompanist. “That’s just been my life.” That love of music brought Haas to Mary Washington, where she earned a degree in music. But unlike most graduates, she never really left. Haas played string bass with the orchestra for three decades, taught piano as an adjunct professor in the Department of Music, and accompanied Mary Washington and community musical groups. “There was never a time when … [Read more...]