Faculty Focus: Inez Giles
Dr. Inez Giles Weaves Many Interests into Her Life
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!”