Arbor Day Foundation Honors Hollins with 2020 Tree Campus Higher Education® Recognition

For its commitment to effective urban forest management, Hollins University has been honored with Tree Campus Higher Education® recognition for 2020 by the Arbor Day Foundation.

“Tree Campuses and their students set examples for not only their student bodies but the surrounding communities showcasing how trees create a healthier environment,” said Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Because of Hollins’ participation, air will be purer, water cleaner, and students and faculty will be surrounded by the shade and beauty trees provide.”

The Tree Campus Higher Education program honors colleges and universities for effective campus forest management and for engaging staff and students in conservation goals. Hollins achieved the title by meeting Tree Campus Higher Education’s five standards, which include maintaining a tree advisory committee, a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance, and a student service-learning project. Currently there are 403 campuses across the United States with this recognition.

“This is our fifth year receiving the Tree Campus Higher Education designation, which really speaks to Hollins’ commitment to responsibly managing and caring for trees while also engaging students in that work,” said Assistant Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies Elizabeth Gleim ’06. Over the past several years, students in Gleim’s Conservation Biology course have completed a full inventory of trees on campus and quantified the ecosystem services that provide, such as the amount of carbon these trees sequester.

“Through service projects, students have also planted over 100 trees on campus over the past several years in an effort to mitigate the impact of the invasive emerald ash borer, which is currently killing many of our ash trees on campus,” Gleim added.

This spring, Hollins will be celebrating both Arbor Day and Earth Day on Friday, April 23, as Gleim will conduct a Hollins Tree Tour for students, faculty, and staff. “I’ll share some cool facts about the services trees provide, some of their medicinal properties, and how to identify these trees.”

The Arbor Day Foundation is a million-member nonprofit conservation and education organization with the mission to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. It has helped campuses throughout the country plant thousands of trees, and Tree Campus Higher Education colleges and universities invested more than $51 million in campus forest management last year. This work directly supports the Arbor Day Foundation’s Time for Trees initiative — an unprecedented effort to plant 100 million trees in forests and communities and inspire five million tree planters by 2022. Last year, Tree Campus Higher Education schools collectively planted 39,178 trees and engaged 81,535 tree planters — helping the foundation work toward these critical goals.

 


International Film Festival Bestows Honors on Hollins Playwright’s Work

A feature film written by a Playwright’s Lab at Hollins University alumna has captured multiple awards at the Queen Palm International Film Festival in Palm Springs, California.

Samantha Macher M.F.A. ’12 won the Gold Award for Best Writer for To the New Girl, based on the critically acclaimed play of the same name that she wrote in 2010.

The film, which was made by an all-woman cast and creative team, also won a Gold Award for Best Feature – First Time Filmmaker for directors Aurora J. Culver, Ambika Leigh, and Adriana Gonzalez-Vega, a Silver Award for Best Actress (Skyler Vallo), and an Honorable Mention for Best Editing (Hillary Wills).

“It’s such an honor to be recognized by the Queen Palm Film Festival,” Macher told Digital Journal. “We’re so appreciative that they recognized so many creative and technical elements of the project and are looking forward to celebrating (virtually) with our cast and crew.”

An anthology film released by New Girl Pictures and available through Amazon Prime Video, To the New Girl follows ten women scorned as they directly address their exes’ new wives and lovers at an open mic night in Los Angeles. Created by a group of emerging filmmakers at a time when audiences are demanding films made both by and for women, the 80-minute movie taps into a social and political climate that’s left women poised to take back their voices and be heard.

“What I love about the project is that Samantha’s writing really connects with audiences on a universal level and our actresses bring the words to life with these phenomenal performances,” producer Laura Hunter Drago said last summer. “I’m so excited that we’re able to share that with audiences and spark some interesting conversations about how we all process heartbreak and relationships.”

Macher’s play was first produced at SkyPilot Theatre in Los Angeles and at Studio Roanoke with the Playwright’s Lab, and went on to earn enthusiastic reviews, including “A bracing blitz of pure estrogen” (Los Angeles Times), “Smart and sophisticated, witty and charming” (NoHo Arts District), and “A provocative study of the deep pain of ‘cheating’ by your ‘one and only'” (Tolucan Times).

Funded through a Kickstarter campaign by supporters of women in entertainment, To the New Girl was filmed in just three days on location in Los Angeles with a budget under $20,000.


President Hinton Honored As Winner of Courageous Leadership Award

Credo, a comprehensive higher education consulting firm specializing in working with independent colleges and universities, has named Hollins University President Mary Dana Hinton as the recipient of its eighth annual Courageous Leadership Award.

Presented each year during the Council for Independent Colleges (CIC) Presidents Institute, the Courageous Leadership Award is given by Credo to recognize an innovative leader in independent higher education. Recipients demonstrate one, or many, of the following achievements as part of their institutional leadership:

  • Minimum five years in a leadership position at current or most recent institution.
  • Institutional growth across one or more key indicators: enrollment, fundraising, retention.
  • Visible champion and advocate for students and their success.
  • Proven champion of inclusive leadership.
  • Articulation and successful execution of a compelling and clear vision for their institution.
  • Proven track record of fostering collaborative relationships both inside and outside of their institution.
  • Acknowledgement by peers and/or within the field of higher education as an advocate and champion of independent higher education.
  • Proven innovation in operations, academics, net revenue, strategic planning, student success, or other critical areas.
  • Strategic, game-changing planning for and investments in campus spaces and places.

“Mary’s dynamic and inclusive leadership improves the student experience and lifts up leaders around her wherever she is,” said Tom Gavic, president and cofounder of Credo. “We have such a deep respect for Mary and know that the field of higher education is stronger with her in it.”

The award announcement from Credo stated:

“An active and respected proponent of the liberal arts, her leadership reflects a deep and abiding commitment to educational equity and the education of women.

“In a few short months [after becoming Hollins’ 13th president on August 1], Hinton’s forward thinking, team-oriented approach began coming to fruition. She engaged in dialogue with more than 200 campus community members to create a comprehensive strategy to facilitate and support diversity, equity, and inclusion. This important work was augmented by Hollins’ first annual Leading Equity, Diversity, and Justice (EDJ) Day, where more than 550 students, faculty, staff, alumnae/i, and trustees joined together to explore themes of race and racial justice.

“Hinton also helped champion a spirit of mutual accountability and collective responsibility, a Culture of Care, that is enabling Hollins to successfully navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. In this achievement, she embraced the transformational role of education; as a leader, she entrusted, empowered, and supported the campus community in every shared experience.

“For six years prior, Hinton served as president of the College of Saint Benedict (Saint Ben’s) in Saint Joseph, Minnesota, and was named President Emerita upon her departure. Under her leadership, Saint Ben’s put into action a collaborative strategic plan and dynamic vision to guide the institution through 2020. During her tenure, the college completed a $100 million comprehensive fundraising campaign, exceeding its goal. Hinton also led the process to implement a $43 million campus facilities update, enabling Saint Ben’s to provide premier facilities for teaching learning, and women’s leadership development.

“Hinton speaks frequently in the U.S. and abroad, and founded the Liberal Arts Illuminated Conference. Hinton’s scholarship focuses on higher education leadership, strategic planning, the role of education in peace building, African American religious history, and inclusion and equity in higher education. She is the author of The Commercial Church: Black Churches and the New Religious Marketplace in America, and is a frequent op-ed contributor across higher education publications. Her TEDx talk, “Leading from the Margins,” reflects the thesis of her new book.”

To be considered for the Credo Courageous Leadership Award, a leader need not be a current or past Credo client.


Record Number of Hollins Students Earn Honors at Appalachia Regional Model Arab League

Eight members of Hollins’ Model Arab League delegation won awards at the Appalachia Regional Model Arab League (ARMAL), held November 13-15.

The number of Hollins students recognized this year is a record for the university.

Model Arab League (MAL) is a project of the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations (NCUSAR), a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., that seeks to foster greater understanding of the Arabic-speaking world by U.S. students. NCUSAR also sponsors internships, study trips to the region, international conferences, and networking opportunities, and the organization’s student programs coordinator is a Hollins alumna: Katie Grandelli ’20. Hollins has taken part in MAL conferences since 2015. (The university has also participated in Model United Nations [MUN] conferences since 2000.) John P. Wheeler Professor of Political Science Edward Lynch teaches the MUN/MAL class and advises the MUN/MAL Club.

ARMAL, normally held on the Hollins campus, was conducted virtually this year. For the first time, the conference included a simulation of the Arab Court of Justice (ACJ), and Hollins is the first host of a regional MAL conference to have an ACJ; students who participated were assisted by Assistant Professor of Political Science Courtney Chenette, a practicing attorney.

Hollins students earning honors at ARMAL this year include:

  • Lillian Albrecht ’24, who won two awards for her work on the ACJ: Outstanding Justice and Outstanding Advocate.
  • Salima Driss ’23, Jaiya McMillan ’23, and Susanna Helms ’24, who were recognized with Outstanding Advocate awards.
  • Acadia Czeizinger ’22, Mollie Davis ’22, Maggie McCroby ’22, and Bianca Vallebrignoni ’23, who received Distinguished Chair awards for leading various conference councils.

In addition, Carly Jo Collins ’21 and Delia O’Grady ’22 served as ARMAL’s Secretary-General and Assistant Secretary-General, respectively.

 

 

 

 


“Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir” by Natasha Trethewey M.A. ’91 Shortlisted for Carnegie Medals for Excellence

The American Library Association (ALA) has announced that Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir by Pulitzer Prize winner and two-time U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey M.A. ’91 is one of six finalists for the 2021 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction.

The awards recognize the previous year’s best fiction and nonfiction books written for adult readers and published in the United States, and are intended to serve as a guide to help adults select quality reading material. The two medal winners will be recognized at the Reference and User Services Association’s Book and Media Awards event, which will be held online on February 4, 2021. Winners will each receive $5,000. All finalists will be honored during a celebratory event in the summer of 2021 during the ALA Annual Conference.

The ALA calls Memorial Drive “a work of exquisitely distilled anguish and elegiac drama. Trethewey confronts the horror of her mother’s murder through finely honed, evermore harrowing memories, dreams, visions, and musings. She writes, ‘To survive trauma, one must be able to tell a story about it.’ And tell her tragic story she does in this lyrical, courageous, and resounding remembrance.”

Established in 2012, the Carnegie Medals for Excellence are the first single-book awards for adult books presented by the ALA and reflect the judgment and insight of library professionals and booksellers who work closely with adult readers. Made possible in part by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Medals are co-sponsored by Booklist, the ALA’s book review magazine.

 

 

 


US News Cites Hollins for Value, Social Mobility Among National Liberal Arts Colleges

Hollins University’s success in blending educational excellence with affordability, and its track record for graduating Pell Grant-awarded students, have earned recognition in the new U.S. News 2021 Best Colleges.

The college guide ranks Hollins as the #44 Best Value School and #21 in the list of Top Performers on Social Mobility among National Liberal Arts Colleges.

“To determine which colleges and universities offer the best value for students, U.S. News and World Report factors academic quality and cost after accounting for total expenses and financial aid,” the guide notes. “The social mobility ranking is computed from the two ranking factors assessing graduation rates of students who received federal Pell Grants (those typically coming from households whose family incomes are less than $50,000 annually, though most Pell Grant money goes to students with a total family income below $20,000).”

Hollins is ranked #102 overall in the National Liberal Arts Colleges category, and is also considered an A-plus School for B Students.

“Since the U.S. News rankings are a gauge of excellence,” the guide explains, “schools had to first be ranked in the top three-fourths of their 2021 Best Colleges ranking category to be eligible for the A-plus Schools for B Students ranking list. The average freshman retention rate – the percentage of first-year students who returned for their sophomore year – was also calculated for first-year classes entering between fall 2015 and fall 2018; schools that made the first cut had to bring an average of at least 75% of their freshmen back the next fall. This freshman retention rate value can be an important indicator of student satisfaction.

“In addition to passing the first two screens, to make the final cut of A-plus Schools for B Students, colleges had to admit a meaningful proportion of students who didn’t get straight A’s.”

The 2021 Best Colleges rankings were released to the public on September 14.

 

 


Hollins Track and Field Team Earns Academic Honor

In just their first season of competition, Hollins University’s indoor track and field team has been named a 2020 Division III All-Academic Team by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

The team finished the 2019-20 academic year with a cumulative 3.24 GPA.

Hollins is one of eight schools from the Old Dominion Athletic Conference to receive All-Academic Team recognition this year.

To be eligible for the award, teams must have finished the 2019-20 season with a cumulative GPA of 3.1 or higher.


Top Ten Rankings Highlight Hollins’ Profile in The Princeton Review’s “Best 386 Colleges”

Hollins University is among the top ten schools in the country for politically involved students and college theatre, according to the 2021 edition of The Princeton Review’s annual college guide, The Best 386 Colleges.

Hollins is ranked #6 in the category Most Politically Active Students and #8 on the Best College Theatre list.

In the guide’s profile of the university, students say Hollins is “a great place for people who want life experience” and that the school provides “a lot of incredible opportunities for anyone willing to take them.” They also cite internship and study abroad opportunities as “exceptional,” and praise the faculty as “amazing, talented, dedicated, and compassionate.” The Princeton Review adds, “The alumni network is similarly solid, and many students land jobs and internships through previous graduates.”

“We salute Hollins for its outstanding academics and we are truly pleased to recommend it to prospective applicants searching for their personal ‘best-fit’ college,” said Robert Franek, The Princeton Review’s editor-in-chief and lead author of The Best 386 Colleges.

Only about 14% of America’s 2,800 four-year colleges are profiled in the guide. The Princeton Review chooses the colleges for the book based on data it annually collects from administrators at hundreds of colleges about their institutions’ academic offerings. The company also considers data it gathers from its surveys of college students who rate and report on various aspects of their campus and community experiences.

The Princeton Review does not rank the colleges in the book from 1 to 386. Instead, it reports 62 ranking lists of the top 20 schools in various categories important to prospective applicants and their parents. The rankings in this edition are based on the company’s surveys of 143,000 students at the 386 schools in the book.

The Best 386 Colleges is the 29th annual edition of The Princeton Review’s “Best Colleges” book. It has been featured on NBC’s The Today Show more than a dozen times, and referenced by reporters in publications ranging from Inside Higher Ed. to The Wall Street Journal.


Hollins Playwright’s Work Makes the Leap from Stage to Screen

A critically acclaimed play by a Playwright’s Lab at Hollins University alumna has been made into an independent film and released on Video On Demand.

To the New Girl, written in 2010 by Samantha Macher M.F.A.’12, is available now though Amazon Prime Video Direct and Vimeo on Demand. The play was first produced at SkyPilot Theatre in Los Angeles and at Studio Roanoke with the Playwright’s Lab, and went on to earn enthusiastic reviews, including “A bracing blitz of pure estrogen” (Los Angeles Times), “Smart and sophisticated, witty, charming” (NoHo Arts District), and “A provocative study of the deep pain of ‘cheating’ by your ‘one and only'” (Tolucan Times). The Roanoke Times noted, “If your thing is honest stories well told, New Girl is the play to see,” while LA Weekly simply remarked, “GO!”

“Live theatre is so important,” said Macher, who has had more than 40 productions of her written work staged around the world. “At its best, you’re in the moment with these characters. Though we can’t exactly replace the experience of being with our audience in person, the film is true to the medium. It’s intimate, simple, and heartfelt. We hope that those watching at home get a similar feeling as those who saw it on stage through the years.”

An anthology feature film released by New Girl Pictures and featuring an all-female creative team and cast, To the New Girl follows ten women scorned as they directly address their exes’ new wives and lovers at an open mic night in Los Angeles. Created by a group of emerging filmmakers at a time when audiences are demanding films made both by and for women, the project taps into a social and political climate that’s left women poised to take back their voices and be heard.

“What I love about the project is that Samantha’s writing really connects with audiences on a universal level and our actresses bring the words to life with these phenomenal performances,” said producer Laura Hunter Drago. “I’m so excited that we’re able to share that with audiences and spark some interesting conversations about how we all process heartbreak and relationships.”

To the New Girl‘s ensemble cast includes Charlotte Evelyn Williams (NCIS, Preacher, Baskets), Lavetta Cannon (Into the Dark, American Heiress), Mara Klein (Casual, Change of Heart), Kelly L. Goodman (Married with Children), Samantha Carro (The Guest House), Leslie Simms (Jane the Virgin), Skyler Vallo (True Blood, How I Met Your Mother, The A List), Alexandra Boylan (Bellflower, Catching Faith), Dawn Noel (NCIS, Glee, Undercover), and in her feature film debut, Lauren Emily Castle.

Funded through a Kickstarter campaign by supporters of women in entertainment, To the New Girl was filmed in just three days on location in Los Angeles with a budget under $20,000.

 

 

 

 


Hollins Student-Athletes Earn Unprecedented ODAC All-Academic Honors

In acknowledgement of their excellence off the field of competition, a record number of Hollins University student-athletes have been named to the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) All-Academic Team.

Hollins boasts 60 honorees this year among the more than 2,600 student-athletes cited by the ODAC for 2019-20, an all-time high for the conference.

Eligibility for the ODAC All-Academic Team is open to any student-athlete that competes in a conference-sponsored sport, regardless of academic class. Prospective honorees must achieve at least a 3.25 grade point average for the academic year to be considered for ODAC All-Academic Team recognition.