W&M Digest: Dec. 6, 2017

Local churches participate in adopt-a-student program

A program that connects local churches and their attendees with College of William and Mary students continues to grow.

“Our first year, we had 25 sign-ups,” said Tyler Montgomery, associate rector at Bruton Parish Episcopal Church and chaplain to W&M. “Now we’re up to 55. In three years, we’ve doubled the number of students adopted. The feedback has been really positive. With few exceptions, it’s worked out really well.”

Montgomery restarted the program at Bruton Parish in 2015 when he arrived at his current position.

Bruton is one of several local churches with adopt-a-student programs, which pair church members with W&M students to lend them support and friendship during their time at the university. Others include St. Stephen Lutheran, Walnut Hills Baptist, Williamsburg Community Chapel, Grace Covenant Church, St. Bede Catholic Church and Williamsburg Presbyterian Church.

Participating church members provide support and friendship to students during their time at the university.

At St. Stephen Lutheran Church, a dozen students have been adopted this year, said Soni York, who has managed the program since 2010.

“This is the first time I’ve been in a church that was that closely associated with a university, and it was one of the things that drew me to the area and the church,” said York. She and her husband are currently connected to their eighth student, sophomore Leslie Weber.

“I love going to their house, talking to them, hearing stories about their children and their college experiences,” Weber said. “I would say that it’s a growing-type experience. It is kind of nice to know that if I needed to be mentored they could provide it for me, and to build a better relationship with them through the church.”

Professor promotes collaborative efforts

An associate professor in William & Mary’s Department of Computer Science is working on a way to bridge the gap between how humans and computers communicate with each other.

Denys Poshyvanyk and Ph.D. student Kevin Moran presented their most recent research in September at the International Conference on Software Maintenance and Evolution in Shanghai.

“What we’re doing is taking some of the techniques which have been very successful in the area of natural language processing, information retrieval and machine learning and adopting them in the field of software development,” Poshyvanyk said.

The paper was one of 12 co-authored by the duo in the past two years, a level of productivity that has been a hallmark of Poshyvanyk’s career.

“I believe that having a truly synergistic and collaborative environment is very prolific,” Poshyvanyk said. “When students feel they are part of a successful team, that encourages a lot of creativity.”

Students say Poshyvanyk’s focus on teamwork has taught them accountability and fostered a collaborative lab environment, where they can have pride in what they produce.

“You have this sense of ownership over the work,” said Marty White, a 2017 Ph.D. graduate of the department and senior lead scientist at Booz Allen Hamilton. White has co-authored five papers with Poshyvanyk. “Yes, it’s a frenetic pace, but you don’t even really think about it. It’s like one of those things, if you want something done, give it to a busy person.”

W&M’s fall green projects announced

The William & Mary Committee on Sustainability has announced the fall 2017 Green Fee awards. A total of $48,366 will be dedicated to sustainability projects around campus this semester.

The projects include:

  • Reducing Electricity Usage and Improving Worker Safety at VIMS: $10,239 to Jaclyn Friedman Ph.D. ’21, and advisor Mark Brabham, director of facilities management at VIMS. This project, aimed to reduce electricity usage and improve working conditions, will replace 52 dated energy demanding high-intensity discharge bulbs with new light-emitting diode lamps in three main buildings on the VIMS campus.
  • Branch Out Waste Reduction/Donation to FISH Inc.: $600 to Seema Sethi ‘18 and advisor Ellen Yates, OCE Fellow for Alternative Breaks. The funding will also be, in part, be used for a donation of reusable grocery bags to FISH Inc., a local nonprofit and community partner that currently uses disposable plastic and paper bags to distribute materials to its clients. This donation is expected to help eliminate waste and encourage use of reusable grocery bags.
  • Recycling Bin Decals: $1,174 to Hope Wright ‘18 and advisor Eden Harris, associate director of marketing for Auxiliary Services. New decals will show in picture form what can be recycled. New decals will clearly depict what can be recycled in blue bins. (Photo courtesy of W&M Office of Sustainability) The decals will cover the tops of the bins, making it easy for students, faculty, staff and visitors to identify if their materials are recyclable.
  • Law School Parking Lot Lighting LED Replacement: $26,353 to Farley Hunter, associate director of Operations and Maintenance. The Law School has metal halide lamps that will be replaced with LED fixtures to the extent the Green Fee award allows.
  • Keck Lab Solar Panels for Education: $10,000 to Randy Chambers, director of the Keck Lab and Adrianna Gorsky, Keck Lab research assistant. COS will provide matching funds for a solar array on the Keck Environmental Field Lab.

College of William and Mary news services contributed to this report.

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