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The Blue & Gray Press | August 21, 2019

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Grace Mann honored through BOV launch award

Grace Mann honored through BOV launch award


What many remembered about Grace Mann was her passionate and energetic involvement in social issues, particularly for equal rights in the LGBT and women’s communities. The University of Mary Washington’s Board of Visitors passed a launch award, potentially continuing her work, on Friday.

According to a resolution of the award, which was posted on the Board of Visitors’ meeting minutes, Mann’s parents established the award in her memory to continue the goals that Mann had worked toward.

“Grace had plans to make the world a better place, a place of peace and equality,” the document reads. “Her parents wish to establish this award in honor of Grace and to support a graduating student who will be doing the work she would have done.”

The award will go toward a graduating senior who is active on campus in organizations that promote social justice, equality and social change and advocates for victims of sexual assault and prejudice, according to a news release describing the award. The recipient would also need to plan to enter a career that reflects these beliefs and actions.

The initial gift supporting the endowment was $153,075, and it will be a permanent endowment in the UMW Foundation.

Mann, a junior American Studies major, was killed on April 17 by housemate and UMW student Steven Vander Briel on the same day as the annual Day of Silence held at UMW. Day of Silence is an event headed by PRISM that shows support for LGBT community members who face discrimination and bullying.

A celebration of her life took place on April 24 on “the beach” between Randolph and Mason Halls. Butterflies were released on the lawn and photos, flowers and posters lined the steps on George Washington Hall. The Luminaria Ceremony during Relay for Life, held the day following her death, featured a moment of silence in her honor.

According to the news release describing the award, Mann’s family requested that her award in the UMW endowment would have little exposure to fossil fuel investment.

A Facebook page created for the Grace Mann Launch Award was made in last October, an announcement of the launch award was made on the page soon afterward. Between October and February, fundraising events have been held in Fairfax and Washington D.C., with more than $150,000 raised by Feb. 8.

“It is amazing,” read one post on Feb. 8. “Thank you for your incredible support, love and friendship.” The group has 322 members, many who are UMW students.

The award will be presented after the dean of Student Life consults with the staff of the Office of Student Activities, the James Farmer Multicultural Center and members of the American Studies faculty.

An email was sent to the student body today announcing that nominations are now being accepted for the award’s first recipient. Nominations can be made on myUMW under the link

The first award, given to a graduating senior, will be given during the UMW Eagle Awards ceremony on April 20.