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UMW turns Great Lives focus on itself this Thursday
The University of Mary Washington will extend its popular lecture series, Great Lives

 Thursday night's lecture will also mention the impact of UMW alumnus Shin Fujiyama, who founded Students Helping Honduras and was named a 'CNN Hero' in 2009.
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Date published: 4/30/2012


This year, the University of Mary Washington will extend its popular lecture series with a biographical sketch of the university itself. William Crawley, professor of history emeritus and director of the Chappell Great Lives lecture series, will offer the lecture Thursday night.

At first, Crawley, who has written a book about the university's history, was unsure about including an institution in a biographical series.

But then he realized that the institution has been directly affected by the lives of the people who ran and attended UMW from its inception as a teacher's college in 1908.

"It is a place where an individual can make a big difference," Crawley said. "A president can put his stamp on this place, influence it in a way that I suspect is not possible at larger institutions."

So the lecture, "Great Lives (and Times) at UMW," will focus primarily on the school's leaders, from its first president, Edward Russell, to its current leader, Richard Hurley.

Crawley will talk about the days when the women's college was best known for its women's mounted cavalry--and its all-girl marching band decked out in short shorts.

Crawley came to the school a few decades later, in the mid-70s. At the time, the college was going through drastic changes, most notably allowing male students for the first time.

The most emotional part of the lecture will center on former President William Anderson, who started leading the school when he was only 41. At the time, he was the youngest president of a Virginia college. He stayed for 23 years.

Anderson was so devoted to the school that in 1996, when he had an aneurysm in his 50s, he was determined to recover and once again lead Mary Washington. Crawley recalled visiting Anderson at the hospital and the president telling him: "I'll be fine once I get back to school."

Anderson was determined to preside over commencement in May 1997, and many thought that he would be too infirm. But with a slow gait and slurred speech, he led graduation. It took him seven minutes to walk across the stage, but the students, parents and faculty stood and cheered for the entire walk, Crawley said.

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At 7:30 p.m. Thursday, William Crawley, director of Great Lives and distinguished professor emeritus of history at the University of Mary Washington, will present "Great Lives (and Times) at UMW."

Crawley started the Great Lives lectures in 2004 to offer more history education for students. The series quickly grew popular in the community. In the past eight years, the lecture series has had to move four times--each time to a location with more seating space. It now takes place in Dodd Auditorium.

The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, call 540/654-1065.