Tuesday afternoon, Mary Washington employees past and present cycled in and out of Dodd Foyer to give their sometimes-teary-eyed farewells to a short, red-headed woman who stood somewhat sheepishly in the corner.
Teresa Mannix, director of news and public information, is known best to students by her name on the emails she sends. To the staff, however, hers is well-known face.
Taking over the position in 2006 from now retired Margaret Mock, Mannix became the voice of the school.
“Teresa is one of those rare people who loves their job, works hard and never complains. I have never heard her complain,” Mock said.
A 2001 alumna, Mannix has worked in the office of university relations for eight years. That is, until yesterday when she began work at the McDonough School of Business through Georgetown University as their director of media relations.
“This is exactly what I predicted for her,” Mock said. “That she was so good that we’d loose her to a college like Georgetown.”
“I think I’m going to miss my connection to Mary Washington, because I can work lots of places but I’ll never have that knowledge that I went here, I lived here, I went to events,” said Mannix, who also said that she’ll miss the people most of all.
It wasn’t long after her graduation that the office of Ron Singleton, director of university relations at the time, contacted her about becoming Assistant Director of News and Public information.
Singleton remembered Mannix from her work as a student writer in his office, and was glad that she accepted the position.
Mock, who also worked under Singleton, called Mannix her “Eagle-ling” as a student during her farewell Tuesday. Another well-wisher responded, “Well, she has to leave the nest eventually.”
Vice President of Admissions Marty Wilder said that he plans to advise President Judy Hample to wait on hiring a replacement for Mannix until the overseeing position, vice president for advancement and relations, is filled.
“Ideally, it’d be nice to have the new VP named because the position Teresa is vacating will fall under him or her,” said Wilder.
Mannix applied for the Georgetown position after reading about it in the Washington Post.
“It seemed like a really good opportunity and just such a perfect fit for what I’m doing here already. It just kind of sounded too good to be true,” Mannix said.
She was attracted to an organization similar to that at Mary Washington where one director oversees many others, who communicate information with specific departments or purposes.
“It took everything I love about what I do here, and built off of it,” she added. “To be able to focus on media relations, which is really my background… to be able to write again—I’ll be writing a lot more in this new position—it’s just a really good fit.”
Outside of the campus-wide e-mails, Mannix supervises the web master for umw.edu. She writes and edits the “Get Recognized” advertised on the front page.
Occasionally, she writes for the alumni magazine as well. Mostly, she enjoys getting information and writing it up like a news release like she does for the campus-wide emergency communications.
Mannix wrote the initial e-mails about former President Bill Frawley and the assaults in both the battlegrounds and the parking garage, which were sent to inform the community.
“I like writing, but I don’t like bad news coming out. If I could say I never had to do it again, that’d be great,” she said.
Shortly after she graduated, Mannix worked at the Alexandria-based newspaper, the Sunday Journal, now the Examiner. Her editor, Gill Golden, was also a UMW alumna.
“I really thought I wanted to go out and be a journalist, and then I think it was the circumstance I was in at the newspaper I worked at briefly… it was mostly copy editing and layout and design,” she said.
Around that time, she married her high school sweetheart, Mark Mannix. They had dated long-distance between northern Virginia and Fredericksburg.
Mark, a horticulturist, works only a little farther from their home in Bristow, Va. than his wife.
He has brought his work into their home by way of a porch-grown herb garden.
“We have a townhouse with no yard, but we have the prettiest deck,” Mannix said. She hopes that one day they’ll have a house with a yard to plant a proper garden.
Though it isn’t what she’d originally planned, Mannix is pleased with her career path.
“This is the perfect mood for me, even though I spent all that time studying to be a journalist,” she said. “I think I do prefer this instead of working weird hours on a newspaper.”
Mannix received a self-designed master’s degree in communications and public relations from George Mason University while working for UMW in 2007.
During an undergraduate internship at the Washington Times, Mannix realized she was the only intern not attending a college with a journalism program.
“I think having the well-roundedness from all the other classes I took— I had my writing background from [Steve]Watkins and the classes I took in the English department, but knowing about history and even political science, I actually had more context than the other reporters,” Mannix said. “Having that broad knowledge also helped me as a journalist.”
Watkins was her advisor while studying at UMW,
“I just learned so much about Journalism from him,” Mannix said, recalling fondly Watkins’ pop-quiz Associated Press Style Bowls.
When asked what kind of student Mannix was, Watkins said “the best ever.”
“The only problem was that she ran cross country and track,” he said. “I kept having to talk her out of it.”
He never convinced her, though, because she ran all four of her undergraduate studies with Stan Soper, whom she still calls “Coach.”
Mannix came to Mary Washington knowing that she could create her own major in journalism and work on the Bullet to pursue her interest in news writing.
Beginning as the Business Manager of the Bullet, she began writing for the paper her sophomore year. Sometimes writing three stories a week, she quickly became News and then Associate Editor by her senior year.
“I’ll miss the Bullet. I mean, I slept on that same nasty couch… It’s shared experience,” Mannix said. “The Bullet was basically my life for three years.”