Faculty Focus: Inez Giles

Dr. Inez Giles Weaves Many Interests into Her Life

By Cheryl Ballasone |   October 2010

Inez Giles , Faculty

Dr. Inez Giles’  career at UMUC spans more than two decades. During that time, she has instructed  classes in everything from basic computing, to education, to human resource  management, and currently holds course chair and exam chair positions, as well.  The recipient of numerous accolades, including the 2004 Stanley J. Drazek  Teaching Excellence Award, UMUC’s premier teaching honor, Inez possesses a  passion for lifelong learning that extends far beyond the classroom. With a  bachelor’s degree in music education, an MBA, a master’s degree in folk arts,  and a doctorate in adult education, she is clearly a woman of many interests.  Perhaps her greatest interest—in addition to her career with UMUC—involves the  fascinating field of textile research.

As part of  her first master’s degree in Folk Arts from Duquesne  University, Inez traveled to what  was then Czechoslovakia  to attend a summer institute of language and culture. Her thesis focused on the  folk lore, songs and textiles of Czechoslovakia…and her passion was  ignited. Although she later earned her MBA and pursued a career in business, Inez has retained her fascination with textiles and needlework of every  kind. “I've always had a needle in my hand.  Needlework is my therapy, “says Inez. “Currently I have seven projects in progress,  including a needlepoint rug.”

From her  early research, Inez says she discovered how connected to textiles our lives  are. She cites examples of christening gowns stitched with love, soft motifs  that each child in the family wore when they were baptized, costumes worn to  show the rites of passage in each life, and even one's place within a society. Motifs,  and the colors used to stitch the motifs, identify the wearer as  "belonging" to a particular village or town, she says.

An avid proponent  of lifelong learning, Dr. Inez has conducted textile research at the renowned Victoria and Albert  Museum in London  and has attended conferences in Historic Deerfield, Williamsburg,  Sturbridge Village and Winterthur.  She recently embarked on a visit to Bayeux, France to study the Bayeux Tapestries and to the  Cluny Museum  in Paris to see  the famed Unicorn Tapestry. She plans to take crewel and goldwork classes at London’s famed Royal  School of Needlework, as well. Inez recently received her Needleart  Appraiser's Certificate from the American Needlepoint Guild. “Now I can  research pieces for people who want to know what their great-grandmother's  needlepoint picture is really worth!” she says.

Inez  says that her textile interests have increased her understanding of human  connectedness, helping to maximize her effectiveness as a teacher. “When I  conduct research, I'm there to unlock the secrets about the particular piece. When teaching, I'm there to help unlock a  student's understanding of the class material.”

Embracing  every aspect of her rich life, Inez is appreciative of her good fortune. “I  am working and living my passion—teaching while living on Cape  Cod – which, for me, is the best place on earth. There isn’t a day  that goes by I don't say ‘thank you’ for the charmed life I live.”

Inez  credits her UMUC experience for much of her happiness. “My students are the  best…hard working and determined to finish their education,” she says. “And  then there are my colleagues! Over the years at UMUC, I have made deep and  abiding friendships. I met my husband at UMUC while teaching in the Nuclear  Power Program years ago. So there really isn't just one thing about my  experience – it's an embarrassment of riches!”