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Sampling Black History with Hank Shocklee, Mad Skillz, Chris Cotropia & Erik Nielson

Continuing Connections

SPCS Dean’s Update, Spring 2018

Sampling Black History with Hank Shocklee, Mad Skillz, Chris Cotropia & Erik Nielson

Letter from the Dean

Photo: Dean WilsonDear Friends:

The spring semester always seems to go by fast, but this spring has been busier than normal. Our Partners in the Arts program launched the Arts Integrated Learning Certificate Project with Richmond Public Schools. We graduated the first class of UR Coding Boot Camp, and we just launched the Richmond region's first Political Campaign Management Professional Certificate program, which starts in August. We had the honor of hosting hip hop artist, rapper and producer Donnie Mad Skillz Lewis as the very first SPCS Artist-in-Residence. Skillz has been co-teaching “Voice of Hip Hop in America” with Dr. Erik Nielson. Skillz was also a part of Sampling Black History, a public lecture and panel discussion that examined hip hop as a social, political, and artistic movement.

As Commencement approaches, I invite you to honor this year's graduating class by making a contribution to the 2018 Class Gift Campaign. Your gift, at any level, honors the hard-working members of this year’s SPCS graduating class like Kendyl Crawley Crawford, the 2018 Student Commencement Speaker. Kendyl is graduating with her Master of Nonprofit Studies degree. She's Director of Virginia Interfaith Power & Light, an organization that works with faith communities and people of all faiths to ensure healthy communities and environmental justice through education and advocacy. Like many of you, Kendyl earned her degree while working full time and balancing a variety of other personal and professional commitments. Kendyl has maintained a 4.0 GPA, and we are honored that she has been selected to be this year's student speaker.

In honor of Kendyl or any of this year's graduates, please consider a monthly recurring gift or a one-time donation of $20.18. To make your gift today, visit us online.

I hope you enjoy reading this issue of Continuing Connections. It's a simple way for us to continue to connect and stay in touch. If you have news you'd like to share with us, take a few minutes to complete the simple Keep SPCS Updated form below.

Before I close, I would like to invite SPCS alumni to the SPCS Reception at Reunion Weekend. All SPCS graduating classes are invited to participate in Reunion Weekend each year. This year’s reception will be held on Friday, June 1, at 6 p.m. Visit us online for additional details and to register.

Take good care,

Signature: Jamelle
Jamelle S. Wilson, Ed.D.

Previous Edition

Fall 2017

Faculty & Staff Notes

  • Roberts discusses latest book on Virginia This Morning Dan Roberts, professor of liberal arts, chair of the liberal arts program, and executive producer and host of A Moment in Time, discussed his bookMaster American History in 1 Minute a Day, on Virginia This Morning on CBS 6.
  • Dixon releases digital album EP

    Mike Dixon, SPCS adjunct instructor of liberal arts, recently released worldwide a new digital album EP, Aquarium, blending orchestral soundtrack, new age and electronic elements. Dixon is teaching a full survey of popular American music in fall 2019.

  • Laing leads workshop session on nonprofit fundraising innovations

    Kathy Laing, GC’16, led a breakout session workshop titled “The New Frontier of Philanthropy – A Survey of Fundraising Innovation” at the 21st annual Virginia Fund Raising Institute, July 24-25, 2019. 

  • Lee named William & Mary's chief human resources officer

    Dr. Christopher D. Lee, Adjunct Associate Professor of HR Management, has been named William & Mary’s next chief human resources officer. He takes the role after serving as associate vice chancellor for human resource services for the Virginia Community College System (VCCS). 

  • Maurakis receives grant for research project

    Visiting research scientist & SPCS adjunct professor Eugene G. Maurakis has been awarded funding from the Virginia Academy of Science for his research project, “Testing the General Public’s Knowledge and Attitudes of Nest-building Fishes in Virginia.”

  • Edinger published in Journal of Psychology

    Adjunct professor of education Dr. Matthew Edinger recently published an article with Suzanne Edinger titled Improving Teacher Job Satisfaction: The Roles of Social Capital, Teacher Efficacy, and Support in the Journal of Psychology.

  • Hocutt successfully defends doctoral dissertation

    SPCS web manager and adjunct professor of liberal arts Daniel Hocutt successfully defended his doctoral dissertation toward earning a PhD in English at Old Dominion University. The dissertation traces rhetorical agency in algorithm-centered activities and demonstrates that agency is shared across human and nonhuman actors in online research.

  • Spires serves on Inequality & Human Trafficking panel

    Assistant professor of education Bob Spires served on a panel on Inequality & Human Trafficking at the Annual Atlanta Global Studies Symposium at Georgia Tech University on April 26. Panelists from North America, West Africa & Asia examined causes, consequences & solutions to address global human trafficking.

  • Spires presents on rural Cambodian border youth

    Assistant professor of education Bob Spires presented An Exploratory Case Study on Rural Cambodian Border Youth: Social & Educational Barriers with Implications for Development with a colleague from Colorado Mesa U at Education for Sustainability: CIES 2019, April 14-18.

  • Raymond presents on programming for au pairs

    SPCS senior program manager Mary Catherine Raymond, C’17, presented a session titled “Professional Development & Personal Enrichment Programming for Au Pairs Living in the U.S.” at the 9th Annual Continuing Education Training Institute (CETI) on April 15-16, 2019.

Alumni Notes

  • Ashley Reynolds, GC'18, named assistant principal

    Ashley Reynolds, GC’18, has been named assistant principal at Central High School in King & Queen County Public Schools. Reynolds earned an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies at SPCS and previously served as sixth-grade team leader at Chickahominy Middle School in Hanover County.

  • Chris George, GC'18, publishes article in peer-reviewed journal

    Chris George, GC’18, published The Funding of Start-up Nonprofits: An Exploration of Funder Perceptions, Attitudes, and Advice in the peer-reviewed VA Engage JournalThe article emerged from research completed for George’s capstone project in the Master of Nonprofit Studies program.

  • Amy Pickral, GC'18, named Assistant Head of School at St. Gertrude High School

    Amy R. Pickral, GC’18, has been named Assistant Head of School at Saint Gertrude High School, effective July 1, 2019. Pickral earned a graduate certificate in educational leadership & policy studies through SPCS in December 2018.

  • Manyang Kher, C'17, featured in Style Weekly cover article

    The remarkable story of activist and entrpreneur Manyang Reath Kher, C’17, founder of 734 Coffee and a Sudanese Lost Boy refugee, unfolds in the June 5, 2019, Style Weekly cover article Beans of Hope.

  • Maya Vincelli, C'19, receives award for food operations

    Maya Vincelli, C’19, assistant director of retail operations at the University of Richmond, was awarded the 2019 Young Lion Award for Noncommercial Operations by Foodservice Equipment Reports at the magazine’s Industry Excellence Awards held during the National Restaurant Association Show 2019.

  • Tiffany Stuart, C'17, recognized as Spotsylvania County Schools 'Superstar'

    Tiffany Stuart, C’17, was recently recognized as a 2018-19 Spotsylvania County Public Schools “Superstar” for her dedication to students, school and community in achieving above and beyond her job description. Stuart earned a bachelor’s degree through the School’s now discontinued Fredericksburg Weekend College program at Germanna Community College.

  • Tracey Zaval, GC'17, named 2018 Social Studies Teacher of the Year

    Tracey Zaval, GC’17, has been named the 2018 Outstanding Middle School Level Social Studies Teacher of the Year by the National Council on the Social Studies (NCSS). The award was announced at the NCSS Annual Conference, where Zaval led a session titled “Tonight in the Classroom — Incorporating The Tonight Show’s Games Into Your Classroom.”

  • Bianca Spurlock, GC'12, named emerging leader by national library association

    Bianca Spurlock, GC’12, has been selected as one of two participants sponsored by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) in the American Library Association’s (ALA) 2019 Emerging Leaders program. Spurlock earned a Master of Liberal Arts and now works as the middle and upper school librarian at St. Catherine’s School.

  • Jimmy Comer, GC'17, featured for good work in the RVA community in Boomer magaine

    Jimmy Comer, GC’17, is recognized for “working behind the scenes for good in the RVA community” in an article titled Jimmy Comer: A One-Man Band in the October-November 2018 edition of Boomer magazine. Comer earned a Master of Liberal Arts degree in 2017.

  • Monica Jefferson, GC'18, featured decision maker in Richmond Times-Dispatch

    Monica L. Jefferson, GC’18, is featured as a Decision Maker in the October 21, 2018, edition of the Richmond Times-Dispatch Metro Business section. Jefferson earned a Master of Nonprofit Studies degree in 2018.

Student Notes

SPCS Alumni Directory Now Available!

UR Alumni Services has collaborated with the SPCS Alumni Association to provide an SPCS-specific alumni directory in UROnline. If you have an SPCS undergraduate or graduate degree, you can be included in this listing, making it easier to find SPCS classmates.

To be included, you must have an active account in UR Online. Visit to activate your alumni account. This will also help us stay in touch with you more effectively.

If you prefer not to be included in the SPCS Alumni Directory, please log into to make your listing private OR contact to make your request.

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SPCS Alumni Association-sponsored Spring 2018 social event for the SPCS community at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

Sampling Black History: Evolution of Hip-Hop

Sampling demo and discussion featured hip-hop pioneer Hank Shocklee, SPCS artist-in-residence Donnie “Mad Skillz” Lewis and Richmond Law professor Chris Cotropia.

Dean's Basketball Reception

The Dean’s Basketball Reception features an evening of networking and celebration with the dean and special invited guests, including members of the Dean’s Ambassadors Circle (DAC) and the Alumni Association.

Spring Faculty Meeting & Awards Ceremony

The annual spring faculty meeting includes the School’s annual awards ceremony, where service awards and the SPCS Innovations in Teach Award are given out.

Permaculture Class Presentations

Students in the spring 2018 Permaculture Design Certificate class presented their ideas for redesigning space on campus between the Wilton Interfaith Center and the power plant.

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