To You – Fall 2010

Published: Sep 24, 2010

How did you get through UMBC?

Many UMBC alumni do it the hard way. Working day jobs (or the night shift) as they earn their degrees. They didn’t just thirst for knowledge; they broke a sweat to make sure that they got it.

Count two alumnae featured in this issue – Robin West ’76, philosophy and Tootsie Duvall ’75, theatre – among that group. West is a professor at Georgetown University Law Center and one of the nation’s most prolific and provocative legal theorists. And Duvall’s acting career has spanned four decades and includes network sitcoms and the HBO series, The Wire.

Both women worked their way through school, and reminisced about it in interviews with UMBC Magazine.

“I worked through UMBC as a waitress,” West recalls. “You could still do that back then, and come out of it with virtually no debt.”

Duvall also worked her way through school. She recalls that UMBC theatre professor Bill Brown and other UMBC faculty “taught me how to live. Because I was pretty much on my own by the time I was 18. They really took me under their wing.” Brown even helped Duvall secure a scholarship that allowed her to finish her degree.

West and Duvall also agree about the quality of their UMBC education. “I still have very strong and positive memories of educational experiences at UMBC that were tremendously important to me,” West says. “I felt very nurtured at UMBC intellectually.”

Under the tutelage of Brown and other professors, Duvall obtained the skills and the visibility to leap from UMBC to the ABC sitcom Angie. “Brown started the summer theatre program,” she recalls. “That’s where I originally got seen and where I could meet [All in the Family star] Jean Stapleton, who was my mentor as a comedy and character actress.”

This is why assisting students with the costs of attending UMBC is a top priority in the university’s philanthropic efforts. Helping students who are willing to work hard and stretch themselves financially to get their degrees is an investment that pays off. The successes of West and Duvall are cases in point.

UMBC Magazine at UMBC Homecoming! This year’s UMBC Homecoming (October 13-16) promises to be the best ever! (Check our calendar at

UMBC Magazine is sponsoring an “Arts and Humanities Afternoon” on Saturday, October 16. Hear bestselling faculty author Christopher Corbett (featured in the Summer 2010 issue) spin yarns of the Wild West at 2 p.m. And playwriting’s the thing at 3 p.m., with staged readings of works by UMBC alumnae Kara Corthron ’99 and Kathleen Warnock ’80, followed by a discussion with the playwrights – and a preview of future UMBC Theatre productions. We hope to see you there!

— Richard Byrne ’86

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