Since the completion of the Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences building in June 2014, several other major construction projects in Fishersville have helped improve connectivity along the local medical corridor — and opportunities for Mary Baldwin health sciences students.
Lifecore Drive, a one-mile span connecting MDCHS and Augusta Health to the Myers Corner development and the Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center off of U.S. 250, opened last month, paving the way for easier student access to clinics. The multi-million-dollar road project showcased cooperation between local government; VDOT; and private firm Crescent Development, the developers of Myers Corner and the Goose Creek Apartments under construction on the hill directly above MDCHS.
The apartments will be move-in ready this summer, giving students another housing option with close proximity to classes.
Also slated for completion this summer are extensive improvements to the exit 91 interchange at Interstate 64. Work on the ramps and acceleration and deceleration lanes and the widening of the Route 285 bridge will accommodate increased vehicular traffic for the growing nearby medical complex and improve safety along Tinkling Spring Road.
The way Cortney Halsey tells it, the stars were aligned just right when groups were announced in her Occupational Patterns in Life and Culture course: in addition to three other classmates from the charter class of occupational therapy (OT) students, Halsey was paired with Taylor Delp for an assignment that asked students to use various forms of media to illustrate how a particular condition affects the way people engage in occupations.
Cortney Halsey (left) and Taylor Delp.
“It was divine intervention,” said Halsey. “As soon as I found out that Taylor was in my group, it hit me like a ton of bricks.” Both students have an interest in children’s therapy, both of their mothers were elementary schoolteachers, and Delp is an accomplished illustrator. It was an easy choice for the group to make — one of the forms of media they would choose was a children’s book. What they didn’t expect was that the book they created would be passed on to a publisher and open up a new opportunity to reach patients.
The six-page children’s book My Smile features a character with Moebius Syndrome who lives her life with confidence despite a disorder that prevents her from smiling. It is based on a woman Halsey knows who was born with Moebius and now has a fulfilling life as a teacher and mother.
Those who have Moebius Syndrome often appear as if they have had a stroke, have difficulty talking, and sometimes have problems blinking or moving their eyes in a particular pattern, Halsey explained. “There’s a lot of stigma with the disorder because people think they’re unintelligent … they can’t smile. That’s the biggest indicator of this syndrome.”
The group hoped to convey that a smile is really in one’s actions. “It’s a spark,” Halsey said. “It is igniting love or passion in someone’s life — [similar to] occupational therapy.”
Assistant Professor of OT Lisa Burns said she was surprised by the depth of all the students’ investment in this assignment. “Taylor Delp and Cortney Halsey, with group mates Taylor Ladyman, Aileen Wolf, and Madalyn Schimpf did an outstanding job,” Burns said. In addition to the book, the group created a PowerPoint presentation, personal narratives, and videos to complete the assignment.
“The group brought out cultural implications, they talked about issues for caregivers, and they provided a variety of evidence-based resources,” Burns said. “The group was very well prepared. Like the health care team members they are becoming, they drew on each group member’s unique strengths and worked together to make sure the final outcome was exemplary.”
Delp said the group wanted to bring attention to the syndrome and show children that it’s possible to succeed through every stage of life. The main character starts off as an infant, and then is portrayed as a kindergartner having fun on a playground, a confident high school student raising her hand in class despite the pall of whispering classmates, a proud college graduate, and finally a mother.
“They provided a wealth of information about the condition,” Burns said. “But perhaps, more importantly, they emphasized how persons with this diagnosis are often misunderstood, even stigmatized. There is clearly a need for public education here.”
Delp used a photo of the woman who inspired the story to create the main character’s look. “It was challenging because you don’t want to overdo the disorder but at the same time you’re so used to drawing symmetrically,” she said.
While working on the project, the students saw a parallel to their future careers as therapists — reaching others and enjoying the work along the way. They also realized there is potential to write and illustrate more children’s books about other disorders. Delp’s mother has a friend who has connected the students with a publisher. “The dream,” the students say, is to expand upon My Smile to create a series of children’s books that help empower youngsters with various conditions. None of it would be possible without the support of the Murphy Deming faculty, they say.
“Dr. Burns and the rest of the faculty have illuminated how to take a challenge to the next step,” Halsey said. “And I think that’s what sets us apart as a school. Where else can you say I’ve been so supported, now I’m going to publish a children’s book?”
Lisa Shoaf, professor of physical therapy (PT) and director of the PT program at the Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences, traveled to Richmond in January for the Annual Virginia Physical Therapy Association Lobby Day at the Virginia General Assembly accompanied by six of her students in the charter class. They were lobbying on behalf of a bill that would improve patient access to PT services.
As the Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences gears up for its second year and the addition of new programs and students, new faculty continue to enrich the academic experience.
Among the new hires is Lisa Burns, assistant professor in the occupational therapy (OT) program. Burns earned her PhD in human development from Marywood University in Scranton, PA, where she was awarded the William G. McGowan Medal for Excellence in Doctoral Studies. She has been a practicing occupational therapist for more than 20 years, 12 of those as the OT academic fieldwork coordinator at the University of Scranton. Burns is active in numerous professional organizations and presented both nationally and regionally on teaching and learning theory and practice in occupational therapy.
Also new to MDCHS this year is Dr. Benjamin G. Farley, who joins the Master of Science in Physician Assistant (PA) program. Farley received his MD from the Medical University of South Carolina and completed his postgraduate training at the Wyoming Valley Family Practice Residency in Kingston, PA, where he was awarded two scholarships and a resident teacher award by the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine. After moving to the Shenandoah Valley, Farley practiced medicine at Augusta Health Family Practice and then Augusta Health. During his tenure at Augusta Health, he was vice chair and chair of the medical department. Farley currently practices at Staunton Medical Associates and will be working with Murphy Deming PA students when classes begin in January teaching the clinical reasoning course and serving as preceptor.
MDCHS this year also welcomed Don Solimini, assistant professor and director of academic education for the PA program. A Connecticut native who graduated from St. Louis University’s PA Program in Missouri, Solimini was initially employed within the Veterans Administration Health Care System. He transitioned into pediatrics and neonatology and spent 25 years as a senior pediatric physician assistant at the Hospital of Central Connecticut. His master in health administration is from Quinnipiac University, where he was a lecturer in pediatrics for 10 years. Solimini speaks locally and nationally for various PA organizations and has also been extensively involved with the Connecticut Academy of Physician Assistants and is a Distinguished Fellow with the American Academy of Physician Assistants.
Solimini was recently asked to serve as the sole PA on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Council on Immunization Practice Workgroup. He is passionate about global health missions to underserved countries and has made trips to Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
A group of MDCHS physical therapy students led a group of youngsters in exercise April 7 during the Waynesboro YMCA Go Girls! program, sponsored by Augusta Health and the UVa Children’s Hospital. The weekly gathering includes group discussion about health and wellness topics.
On the eve of the dedication ceremony for the Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences (MDCHS) last week, the Mary Baldwin College Board of Trustees surprised President Pamela Fox by proclaiming that the teaching and instructional wing at the new Fishersville facility will bear her name.
President Pamela Fox receives a standing ovation during a dinner to celebrate MDCHS.
Jane Miller ’76, chairwoman of the Board, made the announcement at a dinner April 16 in the MDCHS atrium.
“There is a person whose contributions to Mary Baldwin are so great that we cannot let this occasion pass without mentioning and honoring them,” Miller said. “From the realization that Mary Baldwin could and should do more to cement its future, to understanding how all the pieces of the institution should come together to create synergy and strength, to creating an overarching strategy and simultaneously managing the minutest details, to sustaining what for anyone else would be a not only punishing but nigh impossible work schedule of continual intensity — our president, Pamela Fox, deserves our praise and our thanks.”
A plaque near the entrance of the wing includes Fox’s photograph and a quotation from her that reads: “We, the community of Mary Baldwin College, throughout our continuous evolution, will never lose sight of our legacy, our core values, and our strengths of perseverance, courageous patience, and innovative tradition that have and will sustain us.”
The rest of the plaque reads: “In recognition of her extraordinary vision, exceptional leadership, and deeply personal dedication to Mary Baldwin College — qualities matched by her gracious manner and caring heart — the Board of Trustees names the Teaching and Instructional Wing for Dr. Pamela Fox, ninth president of MBC, who was essential to the establishment of the Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences and in positioning the entire institution for a thriving future.”
Droves of Mary Baldwin College alumni and friends logged on to show their support during the college’s second annual 24-hour giving blitz, A Day to Lead the Way, April 22. An online event that promoted engagement and participation across MBC’s social media channels with the goal of encouraging new and increased gifts, the day was an indisputable success, topping last year’s total by more than $52,000.
More than 655 gifts came in throughout the day, with the majority being made online, totaling $126,000. Social activity on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram was high, and the enthusiasm was contagious as Mary Baldwin supporters shared their reasons for giving and encouraged others to do the same. Timed to coincide with the beginning of May Term, many faculty and staff members also participated, sharing how donations enhance educational opportunities at MBC. Members of the Board of Trustees, Alumnae/i Association Board of Directors, and Advisory Board of Visitors demonstrated leadership as well, shaping the event’s success.
Like last year, A Day to Lead the Way featured engaging challenges and donor prizes nearly every hour, including Mary Baldwin memorabilia, books by late professor emerita Pat Menk, jewelry by alumna Susan Nolan Palmer ’67, commemorative MBC wine glasses by Tracy “Lolita” Burks ’87, tickets to the Blackfriars Playhouse, a Heifetz 2015 season pass, and a complimentary stay at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel, to name a few.
“I am so thankful for the support the MBC community demonstrated during this year’s Day to Lead the Way. It is truly inspiring to see our alumni and friends join together to make such a generous overall contribution to this institution,” said Vice President of Institutional Advancement Sherri Mylott.
Mary Baldwin College will laud student research May 7 with its 10th annual Capstone Festival, which will give outstanding seniors an opportunity to present their scholarly and artistic works to the wider campus and the public.
Capstone standouts 2014.
Nominated by members of the faculty, students participating in the Capstone Festival represent many disciplines and share their research or creative work through poster presentations, presentations with multimedia support, delivered papers, and multimedia presentations. Students may be nominated for their senior projects, honors projects, or special sponsored projects.
Even though the student works are wide ranging, event organizers on occasion can spot trends among scholarly entries.
“I always find it impressive — and fun — to see how the thematic patterns emerge from across the disciplines,” said Lydia Petersson, director of Sponsored Programs and Undergraduate Research. “For instance, this year we have one panel that will deal with sex trafficking, compulsory sterilization, 19th-century workhouses, and 21st-century nursing homes. All of the presentations somehow have to do with how institutions, social expectations, and financial incentives shape the lives of marginalized people, but they are coming at this theme from a range of historical, political, and administrative perspectives.
“I always feel that at the Capstone Festival we get to see what is really going on at MBC — it’s the reflection of the creativity and intellectual commitments of our students and faculty alike.”
The event highlights MBC’s emphasis on undergraduate research, as every student must present a senior thesis before graduating. The new tradition of the modern-day Capstone Festival pays homage to the earliest days of the Augusta Female Seminary, when, “all final examinations were held in public and members of the board of trustees and the townspeople attended to view students parse sentences, do intricate math problems, and recite soliloquies,” according to To Live in Time; The Sesquicentennial History of Mary Baldwin College 1842-1992.
Hundreds of Mary Baldwin alumni returned for delicious dinners, speed networking, to honor classmates, participate in an invigorating run at Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences, an afternoon of wine and design, and more memory making during Reunion 2015.
The annual alumni awards presentation during Reunion Weekend followed Mary Baldwin College President Pamela Fox’s remarks about the momentum and future plans of the college on Saturday morning. Alumni gathered to congratulate four award recipients.
Emily Smith Medallion
Named in honor of distinguished MBC alumna Emily McKelden Smith, this award was created by the MBC Board of Trustees to recognize alumnae/i who have made outstanding contributions to the college, their churches, communities, and beyond.
Sara Armstrong “Sally” Bingley ’60 was a dedicated and engaged student while at Mary Baldwin College, earning the Laurel Society Service Award her senior year. She graduated with a degree in history, and immediately began serving as a class leader, working to keep her classmates connected to the college and to each other. She became a well-known leader for the Richmond Alumnae Chapter, planning many festivities such as the Tulips & Juleps celebration in 1992. She worked for Aetna Life and Casualty Company for 30 years, serving as group medical claims supervisor, senior underwriter, and then account executive until her retirement. Outside of work, Bingley maintained a steadfast commitment to MBC, as well as many other civic affiliations. She served on the Mary Baldwin College Alumnae/i Association Board of Directors from 1988 until 1996, filling various roles, from president to secretary. She also served on the college’s Board of Trustees from 1994 to 1996, and again from 1998 until 2012. In addition to her service, she has been a loyal and generous donor to the college, supporting the Baldwin Fund and many other fundraising initiatives through the years. She and her husband Charles established the C. Perry Nair, Jr. Endowed Fund for Study Abroad in honor of her grandfather in 2008. A passionate gardener, Bingley has volunteered for the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden for more than 20 years. She currently volunteers in the gift shop and has served as the assistant shop manager. She received the Lewis Ginter Volunteer Leadership Award in 1999 and the Lewis Ginter Service Award in 2000. She has also served her church, and has held board memberships in civic associations, woman’s clubs, and the United States Postal Service Customer Advisory Council. MBC also recognized Sally with the Emily Wirsing Kelly Leadership Award at Reunion in 1998 for her distinguished service and leadership on behalf of the college.
Emily Wirsing Kelly Leadership Award
Artist and former Alumnae/i Association Board of Directors President Emily Wirsing Kelly ’63 passed away in 1985. Her husband, Timothy Kelly, established a leadership award and a student scholarship in her memory through the Kelly Foundation. The Emily Wirsing Kelly Leadership Award recognizes alumnae/i who have demonstrated outstanding service and excellence in leadership on behalf of Mary Baldwin College.
Known for her vivacious personality, Elizabeth Jennings “Liz” Shupe ’70 has a zest for life that many covet but few attain. Her wit, sense of humor, and warmth have endeared her to many, and her strong leadership and dedication have been a constant asset to Mary Baldwin College. Shupe graduated with a degree in psychology before heading to Pennsylvania and then to Vietnam through the American Red Cross to provide rehabilitation and drug detoxification counseling in military hospitals. Two years later, she returned to Mary Baldwin as the assistant dean of students. She earned her master of education in counseling and human services from the University of Virginia in 1975. She spent 36 years in higher education, serving as a career counselor; guidance counselor; director and manager of alumnae/i, parent, faculty and staff relations; and program coordinator at institutions in Virginia, West Virginia, and Kansas. Shupe’s 11 years of service on the Alumnae/i Association Board of Directors, regular Reunion participation, and continued contact with many of her former professors kept her connected with the college even though she was not always nearby. She also served as the director of alumnae/i and parent relations at Mary Baldwin College for two years. Shupe made time for civic activities, such as directing children’s ministries at her church and serving on the Board of Directors for the American Red Cross. She is most thankful for the relationships she’s built with friends, family, and former colleagues and students.
Service to Community of Faith Award
Charlotte Tyson Mewborn ’65 has gone above and beyond to serve not only her church, but to promote Christian values in her community through her own civic engagement. Mewborn participated in many activities and clubs while at Mary Baldwin College, including the choir, the Westminster Fellowship, and serving as headline editor for the college newspaper Campus Comments. She earned her degree in English and then went on to become the assistant personnel director at Richmond Memorial Hospital. She also worked as a social worker, and then a teacher’s assistant before retiring in 2000. Mewborn is a member of the Farmville Community Arts Council, Friends of the May Museum, and Friends of the Farmville Public Library. She also volunteered as a Girl Scout Leader and a Cub Scout Leader. Charlotte has been a member of Farmville Presbyterian Church since 1968. Always eager to lend a helping hand and to offer guidance and support, Charlotte has served her spiritual community through a variety of roles, including deacon, elder, and clerk of session. She is a Sunday school teacher; a member of the chancel choir; and a member of the Presbyterian Women group for which she has served as moderator, chair of the Spiritual Nurture and Creative Ministries Committees, and bible moderator for Circle 4. She also edited the church newsletter for 30 years. When she’s not involved in church activities, Mewborn volunteers for the Farmville Community Soup Kitchen and Meals on Wheels.
Career Achievement Award
Julie Mays Cannell ’70 definitely isn’t one to shy away from a challenge. Her work ethic and dedication are admirable and have earned her a reputation that allowed her to build her own successful consulting company, J.M. Cannell, Inc. At Mary Baldwin, Cannell earned her degree in English, and shortly afterward went on to earn a master of librarianship from Emory University, and then a master of business administration from Columbia University. She was a reference librarian and instructor at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs for five years before switching gears and becoming a security analyst and portfolio manager at Lord Abbett & Company, a role she filled for 20 years. Her vigorous time on Wall Street prepared her well for her next big career move of starting her own consulting practice. Today, Cannell serves the electric utility industry, advising on investor-related issues and is often called on for her expertise during regulatory proceedings. She is a member of the New York Society of Security Analysts; CFA Institute, where she maintains a Certified Financial Analyst designation; the Wall Street Utility Group; and she’s a partner in CFSD Group, LLC, advising electric utilities on financing with regional and local banks. She built her company from the ground up while striking the right work-life balance for her and raising three sons who couldn’t make her prouder.