Remembering Nelson Mandela

by dnrallis ~ December 26th, 2013
Nelson Mandela, anti-apartheid icon and former South African president, died at his home in Johannesburg on December 5, 2013 at the age of 95. I was fortunate to be in South Africa at the time, and to be a part of the combination of mourning for Mandela’s death and celebration of his life that took place in the weeks following. On five occasions during this period, I joined the crowd of South Africans (and foreigners) gathered outside the Mandela home in Houghton to pay their respects to a man revered, it is fair to say, by almost all South Africans. […]

Donald Rallis Retires from Mary Washington

by Stephen Hanna ~ December 9th, 2013

A portrait of Nelson Mandela hung on the wall of Donald Rallis’s office for most of his 23 years at Mary Washington.  In and of itself, this fact does not distinguish Donald from academics across the world.  Mandela’s name and face were symbols the anti-apartheid movement that galvanized college campuses in the late 1970s and 1980s and many faculty and students have embraced his face and name as a symbols of freedom and justice.  Yet, Donald’s choice of office decoration represents aspects of his character and accomplishments that deserve notice as we mark his retirement after 23 years as a teacher, mentor, and colleague. Continue reading »

Thoughts on Donald Rallis’s Retirement

by Richard Russo ~ December 9th, 2013

As educators, we can live for months off a few words of thanks from an appreciative student.  In the long, dry spells in between, it’s all grit, caffeine, and red wine (depending on the circumstances).  When UMW asked me to write a few words in honor of Donald at his retirement, I realized that I may have been remiss in formally thanking him, until now, for his profound influence on me – first as a former student at Mary Washington and now as a friend and fellow geographer.  It is not an exaggeration to say I wouldn’t be who I am today without Donald’s qualities as a teacher, mentor, and friend. Continue reading »

Travel and Research Grants for Geography Majors

by Jackie ~ November 21st, 2013

The Geography Department is pleased to invite geography majors to apply for research and travel grants funded by the Rountree Endowment for Geography.*  This Endowment was created specifically to support geography majors engaged in independent research projects and/or study abroad programs.

During the 2013-2014 Academic Year, the department may fund as many as 3 grants totaling $1800.  The maximum grant award will be $1000.  Funds will not be available before February 2014 and will only be granted as reimbursements for project-related expenses.

Eligibility for 50th Anniversary Endowment grants is limited to geography majors who are enrolled in UMW courses during the 2013-2014 academic year or who are enrolled in a study abroad program approved through UMW’s Center for International Education.

To apply for a grant please work with your academic advisor or another member of the geography faculty to fill out the Rountree_Grant_application_form.  You will also need at least one letter of recommendation from a faculty member (Recommendation Form).  Applications will be evaluated by the Geography faculty and decisions will be based on the quality of the proposal and the applicant’s record of achievement. The department maintains the right not to award any funds and re-issue a call for proposals at a later date.

All applications are due by Wednesday, December 11th at 5:00pm.  Please submit applications by e-mail to Dr. Stephen Hanna (


* Jeff W. Rountree (UMW 1991), CEO of the UMW Foundation and president of Eagle Property Holdings LLC, and his wife, Lisa, gave the initial gift that established the endowment in 2009.  Since then dozens of other geography alumni have made generous contributions.

Nineteen years later: Rwanda 2013

by dnrallis ~ November 21st, 2013
In March 2013, I spent several days in the small central African country of Rwanda. It is a beautiful place of verdant hills, picturesque villages, and majestic volcanic mountains. Thanks to its high elevation it has a balmy climate despite its tropical location; much of the country lies more than 1,800 meters above sea level. Rwanda is also the cleanest African country (or, for that matter, any country) I have visited; there is virtually no litter on the streets of the capital city of Kigali, and rural fences are remarkably free of the remnants of the plastic shopping bags so […]

2013 Gubernatorial Election Maps

by Stephen Hanna ~ November 12th, 2013

As promised, here are the 2013 election maps (as featured on the Washington Post’s The Fix

Continue reading »

Election Maps on their way

by Stephen Hanna ~ November 12th, 2013

Maps and cartograms visualizing the 2013 Gubernatorial election in Virginia will be posted soon.

In the meantime, one of our 2012 election maps was republished in the New Republic yesterday.

Also, a longer piece co-written by Stephen Hanna and Stephen Farnsworth on mapping the 2012 election results can be found here.

‘The Old Lie: Dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori*’

by dnrallis ~ November 11th, 2013
November 11, 2013 This Veterans’ Day, as every Veterans’ Day, I choose to ponder the horror of war and the obscenity of its glorification. I choose to remember the millions of human beings from all nations whose lives have ended as a result of violence. I remember those whose bodies, minds, relationships, and families have(...)

Veterans’ Day Weekend, 2013

by dnrallis ~ November 11th, 2013
Guest post by Dr. Dawn S. Bowen, Professor of Geography, University of Mary Washington As the vast majority of Americans celebrate Veterans Day as a day off, or a day to hit the store sales, or just another work day, there are many thousands who do remember why this holiday was established. On Saturday, I joined many of those people at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Some, like me, were curious observers; others came to find the name of a loved one or to pay their respects to those with whom they served. Dozens of volunteers were on hand, many with […]

A landscape of gam(b)ling: Macau

by dnrallis ~ August 5th, 2013
In 2006, Macau passed Las Vegas to become the world’s largest casino gambling center. By 2012, its revenues were near nearly four times large than those of the state of Nevada. The video, made during a visit to Macau in…