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VWU GOES REMOTE: Professor Paul Ewell

This series explores innovative ways faculty are adapting instruction for remote delivery

University News |  April 28, 2020

Professor of Management, Business and Economics Paul Ewell typically teaches both undergraduate and graduate students at Virginia Wesleyan, both in classrooms on campus, and online. In addition, this semester he was also scheduled to present a minicourse for the members of Westminster-Canterbury on the Bay (WC) through the Westminster/Wesleyan Lifelong Learning Institute.

Through a unique partnership between Virginia Wesleyan and WC, the institute offers non-credit courses taught by VWU faculty to the senior members living at WC. The program is coordinated by Dr. Ben Fraser, Westminster-Canterbury Fellow for Religious Studies and Lifelong Learning.

Dr. Ewell’s course, “Mid-Atlantic Maritime Series,” had just begun in March when the mandated move to remote delivery of instruction prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted traditional plans.

Dr. Ewell, who is also dean of VWU Global Campus (formerly University College) and director of the MBA and online undergraduate business programs at Virginia Wesleyan, met face-to-face with Westminster-Canterbury members for the first session as planned. However, the move to remote delivery of instruction led him to alter his methods for the next two sessions. The second session was delivered from the studio of Anderson Multimedia, and the third, from Dr. Ewell’s office in Clarke Hall on VWU’s campus, through Anderson with a live feed into WC. Zoom and green screen technology enabled the course to go on, with the same content delivered remotely.

“They say that you can't really connect with students and others in a virtual environment,” said Dr. Ewell. “I say, absolutely you can.”

Born and raised in the culture and industries on and around the Chesapeake Bay, Professor Ewell says that the only thing his family ever did was commercial fishing and hauling maritime freight. He notes that, in his “other job,” he’s a licensed commercial fisherman. He’s also the executive director of the Eastern Shore Watermen's Museum and Research Center in Onancock.

“Boats and trucks are all I have ever really loved,” noted Dr. Ewell. “Well, and my wife, Sandra. That's why I teach supply chain management and logistics.” 

In Session I, “From the Dugout Canoe to the Carolina Skiff: The Evolution of Chesapeake Bay Workboats,” Professor Ewell chronicled workboats from the early days of the log canoe through the era of modern fiberglass boats used by working watermen. Featured vessels included the pungy, pilot schooner, bugeye, skipjack, scow, buyboat, and deadrise.

Session II was devoted to Eastern Shore oyster wars. In “Governor Cameron Wages War on the Eastern Shore of Virginia,” Dr. Ewell focused on the intra-state struggle in Virginia that involved daring Virginia oystermen from both shores, a governor engaged in political struggles, and even a couple of elusive pirate brides.

“When most people think about the Chesapeake Bay oyster wars, they often think about the battles that occurred between Virginia and Maryland—back and forth across the state line where property was destroyed and lives were lost,” said Dr. Ewell. “Another lesser known, but just as exciting, series of battles pitted the Western Shore of the Chesapeake against the Eastern Shore.”

In Session 3, “A Case for Character: Leadership Lessons Learned from a 19th Century Eastern Shore Schooner,” the dialogue was dedicated to Captain Leonard S. Tawes, who built a successful career as a coasting schooner captain. Dr. Ewell led a discussion with WC participants on successful leadership using Captain Len’s lifelong career, impeccable character and tremendous success, both as a master navigator and successful businessman.

“While 19th Century ship captains were not especially known for always employing the most ethical leadership tactics, Capt. Tawes was a not so insignificant exception,” noted Dr. Ewell. “A study of his life, much of it based on his own personal journal, reveals a leader who was highly successful in his industry and yet was known as being a kind, honest, and caring Eastern Shoreman.” 

Professor Ewell enjoys sharing his passion for these topics throughout the community. He also presents at his museum on the Eastern Shore, across the state of Virginia and the Delmarva Peninsula, as well as part of the speaker's bureau for the Mariner's Museum in Newport News.

He says the course was so well-received that the WC participants enthusiastically supported a future trip to Tangier Island with Dr. Ewell as their guide.

“Everyone loves boats and the sea, just everyone. The folks at Westminster-Canterbury had a hoot. This minicourse, delivered face-to-face and remotely via technology, was really cool; it was a blast for all of us.”

View the full spring 2020 schedule for the Westminster/Wesleyan Lifelong Learning Institute

Read More in the Series:

VWU GOES REMOTE: Professor John Rudel

VWU GOES REMOTE: Professor Katrina Henry