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The Sacred Journey: Re-Making Our World Anew to Observe the One-Year Anniversary of the Dedication of the Commemorative to Enslaved Peoples of Southern Maryland - Nov. 13
The Sacred Journey: Re-Making Our World Anew to Observe the One-Year Anniversary of the Dedication of the Commemorative to Enslaved Peoples of Southern Maryland - Nov. 13 Michael Bruckler October 14, 2021 - 2:03 pm October 14, 2021 The Sacred Journey: Re-Making Our World Anew observes the first anniversary of the dedication of the Commemorative to Enslaved Peoples of Southern Maryland. The event takes place rain or shine on the St. Mary’s College of Maryland campus on Saturday, November 13. “St. Mary’s College, Trinity Episcopal Church and Historic St. Mary’s City are located on grounds hallowed by the lives and bodies of the enslaved of Southern Maryland who made an immeasurable contribution to the world we inhabit today,” said Tuajuanda C. Jordan, president of St. Mary’s College. “The Sacred Journey is our public genuflection to the principle that on this ground we are called upon to be special custodians of the history of pain and suffering, love and loss, exploitation and degradation, and of course slavery that haunts this historic landscape.” The two-part program begins at 1:30 p.m. in Auerbach Auditorium of St. Mary’s Hall with a Panel of Remembrance and Reverence that focuses on the experiences of the enslaved and their descendants. The panel will feature a keynote speaker to be announced; Julia King, professor of anthropology at St. Mary’s College; and guest speakers from Historic St. Mary’s City and Sotterley Plantation. The Panel of Remembrance and Reverence has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom. Following the panel, Father John Ball of Trinity Episcopal Church will offer a blessing at a presumed burial site of enslaved people. St. Mary’s College President Jordan will then lead the Procession of Dignity, traversing the campus to the Commemorative to Enslaved Peoples of Southern Maryland beginning at approximately 3:05 p.m. The procession will pause to reflect at the Commemorative site and hear the spoken word poetry that sides the Commemorative before processing to the water’s edge that was so crucial in the lives of the enslaved. Along the way, the procession will honor those who resisted at the first documented site of such resistance. At the River Center beach along the St. Mary’s River, the lives of those enslaved will be honored with a reading of the enslaved names, celebration, libation, remembrance and reflection. The Reception of Reflection follows the Waterfront Ceremony and will have refreshments for participants in the walk as well as reflections on the Sacred Journey. Walking the Procession of Dignity is an opportunity to walk the roads that the enslaved walked, to contemplate the lives that they lived, and to give value to the idea of the unbroken chain that links the present and the past. The procession also serves to proclaim the unity of our community, our commitment to treating one another with dignity, and our shared responsibility to preserving the history of the enslaved persons who had inhabited our ground. It is a public sacrament that restores and reaffirms the dignity and humanity of the enslaved. The Procession of Dignity is a two-mile walk on paved and bricked walkways, with varying elevations. For those who cannot walk the route, a limited number of people movers will be available. For those who wish to drive to the Commemorative and to the waterfront, limited parking will be available near both sites. The event has been overseen by the Sacred Journey Steering Committee consisting of (Chair) Garrey Dennie, associate professor of history; Kelsey Bush, chief diversity officer; Julia King, professor of anthropology; Ellen Kohl, assistant professor of environmental studies; and Erin Peters, director of Boyden Gallery and Collection and lecturer for museum studies. To participate in either the Panel of Remembrance and Reverence or the Procession of Dignity, reservations are required. To make reservations or for more information, visit www.smcm.edu/sacredjourney. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in The Panel of Remembrance and Reverence do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
St. Mary’s College of Maryland Presents Playwright, Actor and Professor Anna Deavere Smith - Nov. 10
St. Mary’s College of Maryland Presents Playwright, Actor and Professor Anna Deavere Smith - Nov. 10 Michael Bruckler September 28, 2021 - 2:30 pm September 28, 2021 The Office of the President presents playwright, actor and educator Anna Deavere Smith on Wednesday, November 10 at 7 p.m. in the Michael P. O’Brien Athletic and Recreation Center, 19050 Hill Commons Drive, on the St. Mary’s College of Maryland campus. Part of the Presidential Lecture Series, the event is free of charge and open to the public but reservations are required: www.smcm.edu/presidentlecture. Playwright, actor, and educator Anna Deavere Smith uses her singular brand of theater to explore issues of community, character and diversity in America. The MacArthur Foundation honored Smith with the “Genius” Fellowship for creating “a new form of theater — a blend of theatrical art, social commentary, journalism, and intimate reverie.” Best known for crafting more than 15 one-woman shows drawn from hundreds of interviews, Smith turns these conversations into scripts and transforms herself onstage into a number of characters. In her speaking events, Smith discusses the many “complex identities of America,” and interweaves her discussions with portrayals of people she has interviewed to illustrate the diversity of emotions and points of view on controversial issues. Her most recent play, “Notes from the Field,” looks at the school-to-prison pipeline and injustice and inequality in low-income communities. Winner of an Obie Award and the 2017 Nortel Award for Outstanding Solo Show, “Notes from the Field” was named one of the Top 10 Plays of the year by Time magazine. There is a film adaptation available through HBO and a paperback adaption. In 2012, Smith was awarded the National Humanities Medal, presented by President Obama and in 2015, she was named the Jefferson Lecturer, the nation’s highest honor in the humanities. She also is the recipient of the prestigious Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and most recently, the 2017 Ridenhour Courage Prize and the George Polk Career Award for authentic journalism. Smith’s breakthrough plays, “Fires in the Mirror,” a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize, and the Tony-nominated “Twilight: Los Angeles,” tackle issues of race and social inequality that have become touchstones of her work. Her portrayals of patients and medical professionals in “Let Me Down Easy” delivered a vivid look at healthcare in the United States. The show aired on PBS’ “Great Performances.” Currently, Smith appears on the ABC’s series “Black-ish” and the ABC legal drama “For the People.” She is probably most recognizable as the hospital administrator on Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie” and the national security adviser on NBC’s “The West Wing.” Her films include “The American President,” “Rachel Getting Married,” and “Philadelphia.” Smith is the founding director of the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue, which was launched at Harvard University and is now housed at New York University, where she is a Professor at Tisch School of the Arts. Her books include “Letters to a Young Artist” and “Talk to Me: Listening Between the Lines.” She has been an Artist-in-Residence at MTV Networks, the Ford Foundation, and Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. Smith was appointed to Bloomberg Philanthropies’ 2017 U.S. Mayors Challenge Committee, a nationwide competition urging innovative solutions for the toughest issues confronting U.S. cities. She holds honorary degrees from Yale, the University of Pennsylvania and Julliard, among others. Campus visitors must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and be able to present proof of vaccination upon request by College officials. If campus visitors are not vaccinated or cannot show proof of vaccination, they must present proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival to campus. Face coverings must be worn indoors at all times.
Governor Hogan Appoints St. Mary’s College President Tuajuanda Jordan to the Historic St. Mary’s City Fort to 400 Commission
Governor Hogan Appoints St. Mary’s College President Tuajuanda Jordan to the Historic St. Mary’s City Fort to 400 Commission Michael Bruckler September 24, 2021 - 3:34 pm September 24, 2021 Governor Larry Hogan today announced that he has appointed St. Mary’s College of Maryland President Tuajuanda C. Jordan, along with five other members, to the Historic St. Mary’s City Fort to 400 Commission, which is responsible for planning and conducting observances in 2034 commemorating the 400th anniversary of Maryland’s founding. The commission was established earlier this year. “I am honored to be appointed to this commission with the charge to help tell a richer, more complex and diverse history of the founding of the nation and the birth of democracy from the perspective of not just the colonizers but the indigenous peoples and the enslaved peoples as well,” said Jordan. In March 2021, Historic St. Mary’s City announced the discovery of ruins of Maryland’s earliest colonial site, a 386-year-old fort, after searching for its location for nearly 90 years. A team used ground-penetrating radar to identify the outlines of the defensive outpost which served as the first permanent European settlement in Maryland and the fourth in British North America. HSMC’s announcement came after the November 2020 dedication of the Commemorative to Enslaved Peoples of Southern Maryland, located on the St. Mary’s College campus. While conducting an archaeological investigation prior to construction of the Jamie L. Roberts Stadium, the archaeological team uncovered artifacts determined to be from mid-18th and early 19th-century slave quarters. As a way to honor those enslaved who once lived on College grounds, and to educate students about the legacy of slavery, the Commemorative was constructed. Both St. Mary’s College and HSMC are chartered to preserve, interpret and educate the public about their unique history. The governor also appointed Michael R. Alderson Jr., Mary Anne Harms, Barbara A. Ives, Julian Blacklock Wills III, and designated Brian K. Norris as chair of the commission. The appointments take effect October 1, 2021.
St. Mary’s College of Maryland Initiates Land Acknowledgment and Pledge
St. Mary’s College of Maryland Initiates Land Acknowledgment and Pledge Michael Bruckler August 19, 2021 - 11:47 am August 19, 2021 St. Mary’s College of Maryland recently launched an initiative to acknowledge the land on which the College sits and its historic links to Indigenous Peoples and their territories. According to Argelia González Hurtado, assistant professor of Spanish, there was a shared desire from several members of the St. Mary’s College community to honor historical links between Indigenous Peoples and the College. This materialized with the 2020 Margaret Brent Award and Lecture – an imprimatur of the College that is officially bestowed by the College president and organized by the Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies program – which featured Sarah Deer who is a professor at the University of Kansas and an activist for Indigenous women. Another factor was the unique educational mission of the College as The National Public Honors College which centers on, among other things, being accessible and diverse. Thus, the College community will endeavor to continue to unearth and understand historic realities so that they inform the work of everyone on campus. This, in turn, enhances the College’s ability to become more accessible, inclusive and equitable, especially for those populations most affected by societal inequities. As a result, members of the Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies program, in consultation with José Ballesteros, professor of Spanish and director of equity programing for The Division of Inclusive Diversity, Equity, Access and Accountability (IDEAA); Julia King, professor of anthropology; and members of the Piscataway Conoy Tribe, collaborated on the land acknowledgment pledge. The pledge, which will be featured in permanent plaque installations across campus, included in faculty syllabi, and read at the beginning of events on campus, states the following: We acknowledge that the land on which we are learning, working and gathering today is the ancestral home of the Yacocomico and Piscataway Peoples. We also acknowledge that St. Mary’s City was partly built and sustained by enslaved people of African descent. Through this acknowledgment, we recognize these communities and all those who have been displaced and enslaved through colonization. “We also adopted the Piscataways’ preferred spelling of Yacocomico,” said King. The goal of the land acknowledgment pledge is not only to respect and honor the contributions of Indigenous Peoples and enslaved people of African descent, but to support and learn from all diverse communities in order to build a more sustainable future.
St. Mary’s College of Maryland Welcomes Two New Trustees to Board
St. Mary’s College of Maryland Welcomes Two New Trustees to Board Michael Bruckler June 25, 2021 - 2:10 pm June 25, 2021 St. Mary’s College of Maryland welcomes two new trustees in June: Melanie L. Hilley ’92 and Jesse Price ’92. Both will serve six-year terms of service on the College’s Board of Trustees. “I am excited that St. Mary’s College is adding two new Trustees with such important and relevant experience. The fact that both are St. Mary’s College alumni who can share a critical perspective on aspects of the SMCM student experience and what students need to become productive and successful after they graduate is an added bonus. Our Board is student-focused and moderately progressive, taking great strides in solidifying our standing as the National Public Honors College and in its support of initiatives such as LEAD and the recent program prioritization. The new trustees enhance both the diversity of perspectives and student centrism,” said Tuajuanda C. Jordan, president of St. Mary’s College. “On behalf of the entire Board of Trustees, we welcome our newest members and look forward to continuing St. Mary’s College’s important role as a premier liberal arts and sciences institution,” said Susan L. Dyer, Board of Trustees chair. Alumna Melanie L. Hilley ’92 has spent the majority of her professional life as a litigation and compliance attorney, culminating as a principal/owner of PricewaterhouseCoopers US, a “Big Four” accounting firm and member of a global network of trust and consulting firms. She serves as a principal responsible for ethics, compliance and business integrity for the United States and Mexico, and oversight of related international compliance areas. Among her duties are to foster a speak-up culture of ethics and compliance, and to implement key compliance programs focused on financial, market, data and employment integrity. These programs leverage governance structures, comprehensive risk assessments and compliance monitoring, training and awareness assets, and technology automation and offshore resourcing. Previously, she held senior positions at Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., Accenture LLP, FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, f/k/a NASD), and BearingPoint Inc. (f/k/a KPMG Consulting Inc.), among others. She received her Juris Doctor (cum laude) from the University of Baltimore School of Law and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Baltimore Merrick School of Business, both in 1995. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from St. Mary’s College of Maryland in 1992, with a double major in economics and political science and a minor in Spanish. She was also a member of the sailing team, receiving the following honors: Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association All-American Crew, 1991; Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association All-American Crew, 1992; and St. Mary’s College Athletic Hall of Fame inductee, 2000. Her volunteer and charity work includes support of humane societies and pro bono legal counsel. Alumnus Jesse Price ’92 is a lifelong strategist, advocate and coalition builder with decades of experience connecting people and public policy. Currently serving in the U.S. Public Policy division of TikTok, Price is responsible for promoting and supporting related business priorities within government entities and grassroots partnerships as well as technology-focused advocacy organizations. Price’s duties include executing strategies for engaging with policymakers in support of TikTok’s diverse community of content creators and the platform’s continuing operational capability development. Before joining TikTok, Price served for more than a decade as senior director at Eli Lilly and Company. Price represented Lilly and its interests before Congress, the Executive Branch, and federal regulatory agencies and was responsible for developing and executing legislative and political engagement strategy on a broad range of bio-pharmaceutical, corporate tax and federal healthcare policy issues. Price’s duties also included overseeing the management of the LillyPAC political action committee and employee grassroots education and advocacy programs. Prior to joining Lilly, Price spent a career in public policy and political advocacy and organization – culminating in a near decade-long tenure on the Capitol Hill legislative staff of U.S. Representative Melvin L. Watt. Price serves on the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Corporate Advisory Council and on the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Board of Directors. He is also Chairman Emeritus of the Greater Washington Urban League Board of Directors. Price received a Bachelor of Arts from St. Mary’s College in 1992, with a double major in sociology and anthropology.
St. Mary’s College Alumna Carly Harvey ’07 to Serve as Mistress of Ceremonies for Mulberry Music Festival: The Blues
St. Mary’s College Alumna Carly Harvey ’07 to Serve as Mistress of Ceremonies for Mulberry Music Festival: The Blues Michael Bruckler June 02, 2021 - 1:49 pm June 02, 2021 St. Mary’s College is proud to announce that alumna Carly Harvey ’07 will serve as mistress of ceremonies for the Mulberry Music Festival: The Blues, on Friday, June 18 beginning at 6 p.m. Currently dubbed D.C.’s Queen of the Blues, Harvey is a 2021 Wammie Award-winner for Best Blues Artist. Read more about Harvey on her website: https://www.carlyharvey.com/
St. Mary’s College of Maryland Plays the Blues Live with Mulberry Music Festival Friday, June 18, 2021
St. Mary’s College of Maryland Plays the Blues Live with Mulberry Music Festival Friday, June 18, 2021 Michael Bruckler May 21, 2021 - 12:51 pm May 21, 2021 St. Mary’s College of Maryland presents the Mulberry Music Festival: The Blues, featuring the Josh Riley Band, the Kelly Bell Band, and headlined by The Nighthawks, on Friday, June 18, beginning at 6 p.m. on the College’s Townhouse Green. The event is free of charge and open to the public. It will also be simultaneously livestreamed on the College’s website at www.smcm.edu/mulberry. The Mulberry Music Festival is the vision of President Tuajuanda C. Jordan and is held every year on the eve of Juneteenth. Originally created in 2019, that festival featured a gospel theme and chart-topping recording artist Jason Nelson. This year’s festival is dedicated to Richard Brewer ’79, an SMCM employee and alumnus who recently passed away and was instrumental in planning this year’s festival. “It’s been a challenging year for all of us, that is why I am so excited to announce this year’s Mulberry Music Festival, offered in-person and virtually. I believe this year’s festival, with a focus on the blues - an expressive genre that comes from deep within and brings relief, comfort, and joy when released in song - is the perfect vehicle to help us transition from the darkness of 2020 to the light I hope we all feel in 2021,” said Tuajuanda C. Jordan, president of St. Mary’s College. Based out of Southern Maryland, The Josh Riley Band delivers a unique twist on the blues genre. Everyone in the band comes from a different musical background, from blues, to jazz, go-go, and pop-rock. The band met by playing in various groups together, mostly in churches, and have teamed up to create a one of a kind sound. Led by Josh Riley (vocals, rhythm guitar), the band also includes Alex “Bizz” Bizzarro (lead guitar), Elwood “Wood” Jones (bass), and CJ Dickerson (drums). Originally formed as the back-up band for rock and roll pioneer, Bo Diddley, the Kelly Bell Band has been touring the world ever since, entertaining fans in Japan, Spain, Italy, Greece, Cuba, Germany and more. The band has won two prestigious Maryland Music Awards, including voted “Best Blues Band” in the Mid-Atlantic Region (12 years in a row), and was recently named “Best Band” by Baltimore Style magazine. Their debut album, “Phat Blues Music” remains one of the best-selling releases in Mid-Atlantic region history. The band is fronted by Kelly Bell, known as “The Bluesman,” who is joined by vocalist Rahsaan “Wordslave” Eldridge, Ryan Fowler and Eric Robinson (guitar), Frankie Hernandez (bass), John Robert Buell (drums) and Dane Paul Russell (harmonica). Headlining the festival are The Nighthawks. When Mark Stutso (drums, vocals) joined The Nighthawks at the beginning of 2010, the 21st-century version of the American roots band was complete, with Paul Bell (guitar) and Johnny Castle (vocals, bass) in the band for nearly a decade, and founding father Mark Wenner (vocals, harmonica) the remaining original. The Nighthawks was an idea of Wenner’s, mixing blues, R&B, honky-tonk country, doo-wop, gospel and rockabilly. New Year’s Eve, 2021 into 2022 will mark the 50th anniversary for the band as it has remained true to its initial mission of recreating rock-and-roll from the ever-exciting roots of American music. With some 30 recordings and local and international awards to their credit, The Nighthawks are still churning out new material while drawing on more than four decades’ worth of signature tunes for their legendary live shows. Those in attendance are invited to bring lawn chairs, blankets and food to help enjoy the event. Food vendors will be onsite. The Townhouse Green opens at 4 p.m. the day of the event. A Johnson & Johnson vaccination clinic will also be on site for the general public from 6-9 p.m. Walk-ups will be accepted but registration in advance is advised, available one week before the event at www.smcm.edu/mulberry. After being vaccinated, the public will need to wait at least 15 minutes with the clinic before returning to the festival.
2021 Virtual Commencement Ceremony and Grad Walks at St. Mary’s College of Maryland
2021 Virtual Commencement Ceremony and Grad Walks at St. Mary’s College of Maryland Michael Bruckler May 10, 2021 - 10:48 am May 10, 2021 St. Mary’s College of Maryland, the National Public Honors Colleges, graduated 346 students with Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, and Master of Arts in Teaching degrees on Saturday, May 8, with a virtual Commencement ceremony. Simultaneously, three Grad Walks, at 9 a.m., 12 p.m. and 3 p.m., took place at the Jamie L. Roberts Stadium for the class of 2021 and participants of the class of 2020. The commencement address–available for viewing on the College’s 2021 Commencement webpage (timestamp 7:38 in the virtual ceremony)–was delivered virtually by Mayor of Baltimore and St. Mary’s College alumnus Brandon M. Scott ’06. Scott is the 52nd mayor of Baltimore, Maryland. He was unanimously elected president of the Baltimore City Council by his colleagues in May 2019. As Council President, Scott developed and released the first-ever City Council President legislative agenda, focused on building safer, stronger communities, cleaning up city government, investing in Baltimore’s young people, and centering equity. Previously, Scott served on the City Council representing Baltimore’s 2nd District. He was first elected in 2011 at the age of 27 and is one of the youngest people ever elected to the Baltimore City Council. He was also awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa. Scott addressed the graduating class: “Graduating from college–any college–is no small feat. But graduating from an institution with the rigor and prestige that St. Mary’s has is an entirely different story. Many of you have overcome fateful obstacles to get to this day. But no matter the circumstance that you grew up in, that you went through, hardship you surmounted or adversity that tried to keep you from greatness, you prevailed. Today is possible because you remained steadfast and true, and you deserve a hand.” In addition to Brandon Scott, an honorary degree–Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa–was presented to Mervin Savoy during the 9 a.m. Grad Walk. Savoy is a member of the Piscataway people and former Tribal Chair of the Piscataway Conoy Tribe of Maryland. She has dedicated her life to lifting the dignity and spirit of the Piscataway, Maryland’s first indigenous tribe. Savoy provided leadership for her tribe, conducting research, meeting with elected officials, developing educational programs, and combating negative stereotypes. After 20 years, the State of Maryland officially recognized the Piscataway Conoy Tribe along with the Piscataway Indian Nation, largely due to Savoy’s unwavering commitment to her community and her state. This year, Danielle Szynborski (double major: art and English) earned the honor of serving as valedictorian. Originally from Lusby, Maryland, Szynborski began her career at St. Mary’s College in the fall of 2017 and has earned Dean’s List status since her first semester. In addition to her strong course work and creative achievement, Szynborski has created art lessons for children, and also served as a Writing and Speaking Center tutor, a teaching assistant, a gallery attendant, and an editorial assistant for the College archives. Szynborski intends to continue her education after graduation by pursuing a master’s degree in speech pathology from SUNY Buffalo. Szynborski gave her valedictorian address via video, now posted on the Commencement webpage. Speaking of the virtual Commencement, Szynborski said, “It’s incredible that we can all be part of this no matter where we are.” And addressing her fellow students, Szynborski said, “You’re the soul of today’s St. Mary’s community and tomorrow, I hope that the soul of St. Mary’s will continue to be as alive as it is today.” At the conclusion of the virtual Commencement ceremony and each Grad Walk, President Tuajuanda C. Jordan charged the Class of 2021 with the following: “You have done well here at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, where you have studied and learned in the finest liberal arts tradition. As you ‘sail through this to that’ in moving beyond the banks of this river into the world, my expectation is that you will take your passions, your skills, and the knowledge you have gained at this place to create a more just and humane society for all.” The 2021 virtual Commencement can be found here, along with faculty well wishes and the livestream of each of the three Grad Walks.
St. Mary’s College of Maryland Board of Trustees Approves Graduates, Celebrates Majors, Honors Outgoing Board Chair
St. Mary’s College of Maryland Board of Trustees Approves Graduates, Celebrates Majors, Honors Outgoing Board Chair Michael Bruckler May 10, 2021 - 9:09 am May 10, 2021 On Friday, May 7, the St. Mary’s College of Maryland Board of Trustees approved the graduates of the St. Mary’s College Class of 2021, which includes 325 Bachelor of Arts / Bachelor of Science degrees, and 21 Master of Arts in Teaching degrees. Of the 325 graduates, 57 students earned double majors. The Board also celebrated the state approval of two new majors and honored outgoing board chair Arthur “Lex” Birney after 14 years of service to the College. The Maryland Higher Education Commission approved St. Mary’s College of Maryland’s marine science and neuroscience majors. St. Mary’s College will begin offering both majors in fall 2021. “The approval of the marine science and neuroscience majors marks a major milestone in the College’s transformation to an applied liberal arts college. Both programs take full advantage of our existing faculty expertise and will provide students with highly marketable skills and opportunities,” said Provost Michael Wick. “The marine science major takes advantage of our geographical location on the beautiful shores of the St. Mary’s River and will give us a competitive advantage for years to come,” he said. Marine science will consist of a rigorous curriculum of foundational physics, chemistry, and biology courses along with advanced courses that utilize the campus’ resources. The St. Mary’s College neuroscience curriculum creates a cross-disciplinary approach to the study of neuroscience, with each student gaining experience and perspectives from the disciplines of biology, chemistry and psychology. New Officers The Board of Trustees elected a new slate of officers at Friday’s meeting: Susan Dyer as chair, Paula Collins as vice-chair, Nicolas Abrams ’99 as treasurer, and John Wobensmith ’93 as secretary. This was the final meeting for current chair Birney in an official voting capacity as he reaches the end of his second term of service at the end of May. He was elected Board chair in 2019. Due to his exceptional commitment to the College, the Board voted Birney Trustee Emeritus status. Birney was first appointed to the Board in June 2008. He has served as chair and co-chair of the Student Affairs committee, co-chair of the Buildings and Ground committee, as well as a member of those committees. In addition, he has served on the following committees: Executive; Finance, Investment and Audit; Trustee Governance; Academic Affairs; and Admissions and Financial Aid. This was also the final board meeting as a voting member for Harry Weitzel. Weitzel was appointed in 2020 to serve one year to fill a vacant seat. Weitzel has been championing the College serving both on the Board and the Foundation Board since 1988.
Director of Wellness Center Laurie Scherer Earns St. Mary’s College President’s Trailblazer Award
Director of Wellness Center Laurie Scherer Earns St. Mary’s College President’s Trailblazer Award Gretchen Phillips April 19, 2021 - 1:56 pm April 19, 2021 St. Mary’s College of Maryland President Tuajuanda C. Jordan presented the 2021 President’s Trailblazer Award to the woman who took the lead on the College’s health and wellness response during the Covid-19 pandemic. On top of her regular duties overseeing the personal and mental health needs of students, Wellness Center Director Laurie Scherer found herself on the frontlines as the College quickly pivoted to continue educating students while adhering to local and state health and safety guidelines and mandates. "Trailblazers are not just the first to do something. They do that something exceptionally well and in a manner that ensures that those who come behind them have an easier path. Laurie Scherer is that person and more,” said Jordan. “Not only did she help us ensure that the College was compliant with COVID-related public health guidelines this year, she took care of everything from identifying test providers to ensuring that those in quarantine and isolation had everything they needed to be comfortable, to developing and implementing new programs to support our students' mental and physical health. She has set a new standard of excellence for wellness center directors," she added. Asked about her duties and the role of the department pre-pandemic, Scherer said, “The Wellness Center would go about the business of supporting student health and mental wellness quietly and behind the scenes to allow students to focus on academics.”She said the wellness center was “thrust into the spotlight” when the pandemic hit. New responsibilities of the wellness center under Scherer’s leadership were collecting negative COVID test results for residential students returning to campus; COVID training for residence life student staff members offering PCR testing for anyone who was symptomatic or exposed to COVID-19; administering campus-wide surveillance testing; identified contacts of COVID positive students; supervising student quarantine and isolation; and administering weekly COVID testing for frontline College staff. The Wellness Center also tracked the responses to the SMCM Daily Symptom Tracker, updated the College’s COVID dashboard daily, and frequently communicated with the St. Mary's County Health Department regarding cases and test results. “The list of ‘firsts’ that Laurie has taken on this year is incredible,” said Shana Mayer, interim vice president of student affairs. “Her organization and communication helped to ease anxieties, comfort parents, and certainly were a factor in keeping the campus positivity rate low this fall. She is welcoming, cheerful, and optimistic, even with the challenges we've faced.” Scherer said along with all the new duties, the Wellness Center found creative approaches to continue offering mental health counseling to students. “We were able to be responsive to student needs because we had support from President Jordan and our executive leadership team to prioritize student wellness,” Scherer said. Scherer said the College community has come as far as it has through the pandemic due in part to the College putting people first. “As we navigated the many options for delivering services and education, we always kept the welfare of the students in mind. Second, we are a relatively small campus which makes it easier to shift focus quickly, but, more importantly, we are people who are willing to jump in and try new things and change quickly when necessary. I’ve been honored to watch our community consistently choose to do what is best for the students even when it was not the easy thing to do.” Scherer has been the director of the Wellness Center since 2017. Prior to that, she was with the SMCM Counseling and Healthcare Services department before it combined with the Wellness Center; assistant director for counseling and psychological services; and completed a year-long post-master’s internship at the Counseling Center in 2011-2012. “While I have been front and center, I couldn’t have done anything without the dedication of everyone at the College. I’m grateful for strong, caring leadership and an unbelievably dedicated administrative staff in the Wellness Center.” Scherer also acknowledged collaboration with other schools in the University System of Maryland who were focused on the same concerns for higher education. She also cited St. Mary’s County Health Officer Meenakshi Brewster and the staff of the St. Mary’s County Health Department whom she says served as a constant source of information and wisdom as all involved explored the best ways to respond to the constantly changing COVID-19 information. The President’s Trailblazer Award was created by President Jordan in 2015 to honor those individuals or enterprises whose actions are notable “firsts” in the history of the College. Previous Trailblazer Award-winners includeTrustee Donald “Donny” Bryan ’73, president emeritus Edward T. “Ted” Lewis, Julie Croteau ’93, The Patuxent Partnership, and Professor of Anthropology Julia King.
Resources for Media
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