The Department of Geography at the University of Mary Washington culminates its 50th anniversary celebration with national recognition for a geography professor and regional honors for five students in the department.
Dawn Bowen, associate professor of geography, has been awarded the prestigious Henry H. Douglas Distinguished Service Award by the Pioneer American Society: Association for the Preservation of Artifacts and Landscapes. The award is given to an individual who has made significant contributions in furthering the society’s goals through service, teaching, publications and the promotion of historic preservation. The Pioneer America Society is a national, non-profit organization that encourages the study and preservation of buildings, sites, structures and objects representing North American history, cultural landscapes and material culture. Bowen is the first woman to receive the award.
A member of the Mary Washington faculty since 1997, Bowen received a doctorate in geography from Queen’s University, a master’s degree in Canadian history from the University of Maine and a bachelor’s degree from UMW. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Richard Palmieri Outstanding Professor Award and the Excellence in Teaching Award from Mary Washington. Bowen has written numerous articles for peer-reviewed publications and spent more than a decade researching the impact of modernization upon the Canadian Mennonite community.
The winning UMW students, who are members of Team Virginia, earned first place honors at the Southeast Division of the Association of American Geographers Conference World Geography Bowl competition.
The UMW team members are junior Matthew Holden, freshman Joseph Winter and seniors Brandon Eads, Anya Bogdanow and Allyson Thompson. Holden, who was the leading undergraduate scorer of the competition, finished fourth in individual scoring, and Winter ranked eighth overall. Holden has been the leading undergraduate scorer for the last three years, and will again be invited to compete at the national meeting in Washington, D.C. in the spring. The six-member team also included a graduate student from Virginia Tech.
The competition featured graduate and undergraduate students from eight states across the southeastern United States. Students competed in a round-robin tournament that tested their knowledge of geographic concepts, processes and patterns. UMW also won the competition in 1991.
“The honors were a fitting finale in commemoration of the Department of Geography’s 50th anniversary,” said Stephen Hanna, department chair. “These accomplishments show the strength of geography at UMW.”
To commemorate the anniversary, Bowen also organized two sessions at the conference comprised of presentations by 4 UMW faculty members and 7 alumni who majored in geography and have since earned graduate degrees in geography. The talks focused on topics involving human and physical geography.
“The strides that the geography department has made in the past 50 years are enormous,” said Marshall Bowen, professor emeritus of geography, who became the department’s third faculty member in 1965. “UMW has produced a large number of students who have gone on to earn graduate degrees in a wide variety of geography programs that span the spectrum of the geography, and these sessions put the spotlight on some of them and the institution where they first discovered that geography was a fun, challenging and useful field of study.”
The department also has marked the anniversary with a banquet, an alumni lecture series and establishment of the 50th Anniversary Geography Endowment. Gifts and pledges from alumni and faculty total more than $50,000.
Derek H. Alderman, president of the Southeastern Division of the Association of American Geographers said that UMW has established a tradition of significant contributions in the field of geography.
“Mary Washington’s geography program has produced a particularly impressive array of professional geographers over the years, including major leaders in the fields of environment and political geography.”
The department was founded in 1959 as the Department of Geography and Geology by Samuel Emory, professor emeritus of geography. Since the 1970s, the department has been recognized as one of the top undergraduate departments in the country.
Today, the department consists of eight full-time professors. Four of its adjunct professors are department alumni.