Annual Fund helps graduate students complete their dissertations.

By John Kelly
This is a photo of Mary Simonson

Photo by Stephanie Gross.

Mary Simonson has always been moved by music. The former gymnast talks of relating to music through a physical relationship, even from an early age. “So one of the things I am really drawn to is when you have people on stage doing things to music, whether it’s opera, or, especially, dance. I just love seeing how people react to music in that way.”

Simonson loves music so much, in fact, that she has devoted much of the last six years to it. This summer she will make history as one of the first students to be awarded a Ph.D. degree in music at U.Va.

Thanks to a Dissertation Year Fellowship, she spent all of last year delving deep into her dissertation topic, which focuses on the various ways female performers adopted, interpreted and recreated European art music at the turn of the century.

“They would turn operas into silent films. They would take concert music, Beethoven symphonies, and set modern dance pieces to them. I am thinking, is this composition? Is this creation? Is this authorship? We tend not to think about it in that way because they were performers, but in reality, they were doing so many different things with it.”

Simonson looks back fondly on the year of intensive study that allowed her to finish her dissertation, but she is glad to be back in the classroom as a visiting faculty member. “If you like teaching, which I really do, being away from it for a year really revs you up to get started again.”

Her Dissertation Year Fellowship and the President’s Fellowships she received for earlier stages of graduate study both are supported by the Arts & Sciences Annual Fund.

Fundraising Progress

Alumni, students, parents and friends help make things happen through their gifts to the Arts & Sciences Annual Fund — fellowships for bright graduate students such as Mary Simonson, plus career services, workshops, travel, labs and more.

As of April 23, 2007, the fund had reached $3.1 million of its $4.2 million goal for the 2006–2007 fiscal year. As of March 31, 2007, the College also had raised $129.7 million of the $500 million goal for the Campaign for the College. Overall, campaign gifts to the University stood at $1.2 billion of the $3 billion goal.

View fundraising progress for the Arts & Sciences Annual Fund and toward the $500 million Campaign for the College.