By KELLY EMMRICH
Ali Gauch Hieber officially returned to the University of Mary Washington on Jan. 25 as the coordinator of community events. Since returning, Hieber has joined the events and conferencing team, the Great Lives series and the team for organizing graduation. Before her departure, Hieber was the associate dean of admissions.
“This has been a wonderful homecoming,” Hieber said. “My last work as associate dean of admissions was to enroll the class of 2016. I love the serendipity that I will have the honor of supporting a meaningful graduation ceremony for this same group of students.”
The Office of Events has coordinated the details of the celebration for the last 19 years at UMW. The provost’s office takes the lead and the community office provides the logistical support. This year students and guests will be able to tweet messages on a jumbotron before and after the ceremony. UMW started displaying tweets on a jumbotron for the first time in 2014, but this year will be the first year that the tweets will be displayed both before and after the commencement.
As for the Great Lives lectures, Hieber works with the director Dr. Bill Crawley to plan the best lectures for the school, the community and the students. The Great Lives lectures are a series that started in 2004. It invites speakers to lecture about historic figures, celebrities and different movements in history. Some of the upcoming topics will be Charles Darwin, Secretariat, and Dwight D. Eisenhower among several others.
“Biography is the most intimate approach to history and the most entertaining.” reads the UMW Great Lives web page, “UMW’s Chappell Great Lives lecture reveals how extraordinary people, some born to privilege and power, others from modest backgrounds, shaped art, literature, science, government and the human experience.”
Crawley has been a member of the UMW faculty for over 40 years and has been director of the Great Lives program since its inception in 2004. He also teaches a course called ‘Great Lives: Biographical Approaches to History and Culture.’
“I will add my own touches and support the vision of Crawley,” Hieber said. “Changes in the series will be implemented in the planning for the coming year. Small changes happen every week, but might not be noticeable to the audience as a whole.”
Senior geography major Sequoi Phipps had attended a few of the Great Lives lectures last year and said the events bridge the University with the Fredericksburg community. “I think the Great Lives lectures are run very well,” Phipps said. “I think it’s very sweet that UMW involves the community.”
Phipps has also attended the undergraduate commencement in past years and will be involved with commencement as a graduating student. Phipps said she likes the traditions the event has kept, such as having graduation outdoors in Ball Circle. However, she would like senior students to start a tradition of their own.
Freshmen students created an outline of 2019 on the grass in Ball Circle, and students filled the outline to create the year 2019.
“That would be cool to have seniors do,” Phipps said.
Sophomore Lo McGee has seen events advertised on campus and Facebook. For her, she said that Facebook is the better option to garner student and community interest in events. “I see a lot of their advertisements on Facebook, and I feel like that’s a better way to reach people,” McGee said.
Moving forward, the UMW community looks forward to what plans Hieber has for Great Lives, future graduations and anything else with which she will gets involved.