Penguin Random House to Publish Hollins Author’s Debut Novel

Rebekah Lowell was drawn to Hollins five years ago to pursue an advanced degree in children’s book writing and illustrating. At the same time, the university’s graduate programs in children’s literature offered her sanctuary and the chance to regain her identity after enduring a decade of domestic abuse. Today, Lowell holds a Master of Fine Arts degree and says she has made great strides in finding her true self again. The Maine resident has also sold her debut book, The Road to After, to the Nancy Paulsen Books imprint at Penguin Random House.

“When I first arrived at Hollins with my young daughters, we drove straight from a women’s shelter,” Lowell recalls. “The first week in classes, I almost had to return home because of the level of trauma we had all been through. But Ruth Sanderson (author, illustrator, and professor in Hollins’ graduate programs in children’s literature) and Amanda Cockrell (who retired last year as director of the children’s literature graduate programs) were creative, generous, and supportive. After being at Hollins for a few weeks, I knew I had found a safe place to not only heal, but to thrive.”

Susan Bloom Discovery Award
This year, Rebekah Lowell M.F.A. ’19 received the Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award, which honors emerging writers and writer/illustrators.

Publishers Weekly describes The Road to After as “an illustrated middle grade novel written in verse about how the beauty of the natural world helps a girl reclaim her life after years of captivity and domestic abuse at the hands of her father.” Lowell says she was “compelled to write about my past” after she had been enrolled for a few summers in the M.F.A. program.

“The words first showed up as a picture book manuscript, but the content needed more room to breathe,” she explains. At her home in February of 2016, she used verse to expand on the story “because it begged to be written that way,” and completed a rough draft. Candice Ransom, the author of 150 children’s books and a member of the children’s literature graduate programs’ faculty, agreed to help edit the book; by the following summer, Lowell was laying out the entire novel on classroom tables in the Richard Wetherill Visual Arts Center at Hollins.

After developing a few more drafts, Lowell felt she was ready to reach out to an agent for representation. In the spring of 2018, she signed with Wendi Gu at Janklow & Nesbit, who, Lowell says, “fell in love with the project. We workshopped it more, and about 16 drafts later, we started sending it out to editors.” In April 2019, Penguin/Paulsen bought The Road to After at auction, and the novel is slated for publication in the spring of 2022.

Lowell is quick to express her gratitude to Ransom and other professors and classmates for their help in bringing her novel to fruition. “Throughout revision, prior to the sale, there were many times when I wondered if the voice was unique enough, if the psychological abuse was coming through, if my presence as the mother in the book was too strong. Hillary Homzie, Lisa Fraustino, Julie Pfeiffer, and others offered to read the text and provide feedback, even outside of classes.”

Lowell graduated in May, and while she deeply misses being on campus this summer, she hopes to return one day in another capacity.

“The wonder of Hollins stays with me,” she says.

 


Salowey, Cockrell Recognized at Honors Convocation

Hollins paid tribute to two revered faculty members during the university’s 42nd Honors Convocation on May 7.

Professor of Classical Studies Tina Salowey received the Herta T. Freitag Faculty Legacy Award. Since 2000, Hollins has presented the award to a member of the faculty whose recent scholarly and creative accomplishments reflect the extraordinary academic standards set by Freitag, who served as professor of mathematics at Hollins from 1948 to 1971.

“This year’s honoree teaches numerous literature genres, two ancient languages, and the art, religion, history, philosophy, architecture, science, and geography of the long-lived civilizations that spoke and wrote those languages,” Vice President for Academic Affairs Patricia Hammer stated in her convocation remarks. “The breadth and scope of her interests have in turn had a profound impact on her work as a researcher and a scholar.”

Hammer noted that Salowey’s intensive study of ancient grave monuments was chosen for inclusion in the 2017 publication, Women in the Classical World: Critical Concepts in Classical Studies. In collaboration with Associate Professor of Communication Studies Chris Richter, Salowey developed a digital exhibition on the World War II memorials in the Epirus region of northwestern Greece, preserving their location, sculptural design, and often poetic inscriptions. Another digital exhibition, produced with students in Salowey’s Greek 350: Greek Inscriptions class, included photographs of ancient Greek texts that were inscribed on ancient works of art. Her future scholarly plans include a textbook on mythology and environmental history, and writing a biography about the River Acheloos, the largest river in Greece.

Salowey joined the Hollins faculty in 1996.

Amanda Cockrell, who retired last year as director of Hollins’ graduate programs in children’s literature, was presented the Roberta A. Stewart Service Award. The award is granted to a Hollins employee who demonstrates long-term service, loyalty to the university, and deep caring for students and colleagues.

Beginning with just six students, Cockrell and Professor of English Richard Dillard co-founded the children’s literature graduate programs in 1992. The program was one of the first of its kind in the country, devoted exclusively to the study and writing of children’s and young adult literature. “Over the years, the program has grown in so many wonderful ways, thanks to her remarkable leadership,” said Hammer. “And her dedication to helping students find not a ‘Hollins’ voice but their own voice has profoundly touched lives both personally and creatively. As one former student noted, ‘She has counseled us, taught us, guided us, answered a million questions, sent a thousand emails, and kept track of dozens of students at once. We salute her for creating a program that has become a safe haven to so many of us, a home away from home.'”

Over the years, approximately 230 students have passed through the graduate programs designed and built by Cockrell.

 

 


Hollins Honored For Best Undergraduate Theatre Program in Virginia

One of the world’s most-read theatre websites has named Hollins Theatre as the top undergraduate theatre program in Virginia.

OnStage Blog, which covers theatre on an international level, features Hollins in the 2019 edition of “The Best Undergraduate Theatre Programs in Each State.”

“Every year, OnStage Blog deep dives into college theatre programs to find what we feel are some of the best in the nation,” the website explains. “While the perfect program is the one that fits best with the student, schools can become that fit with fantastic facilities, strong faculty, [and] multiple performance opportunities, among other things. In truth, there are some schools that do that better than others and should be recognized for it.”

“There are some really terrific programs in our state, so this is quite an honor,” said Ernie Zulia, artistic director and chair of the Hollins theatre department. “I thank our incredible theatre faculty and staff for their brilliance and hard work. They are what makes us shine.”

In its review, OnStage Blog touts Hollins for the internship opportunities it offers “at some of the country’s most prestigious professional theatres, including: Cleveland Play House, Houston’s Alley Theatre, Washington D.C.’s Arena Stage, New York’s Amas Musical Theatre, and Roanoke’s Mill Mountain Theatre. Other internships are being arranged at theatres around the country on a regular basis.”


Hollins Announces Winner of the 2019 Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature

Hollins University has honored a first-time author as the winner of the fourth annual Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature.

John Sullivan will receive an engraved medal and a $1,000 cash prize for his debut children’s book, Kitten and the Night Watchman, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo and published by Simon & Schuster. The work is inspired by the true story of Sullivan, a City of Chicago buildings and equipment guard, and his encounter with a cat that would become his companion for 17 years.

In the book, a watchman bonds with a stray kitten that keeps him company as he makes his rounds at a construction site. After remaining together through the night, the watchman decides to take the kitten with him when he returns home to his family.

Kitten and the Night Watchman was selected as a Best Book of 2018 by The Boston Globe, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and Bookpage. In its starred review, the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books said, “This soft, gentle story is a perfect bedtime story for lovers of trucks and construction equipment, cats, and nighttime wanders.”

The judges for this year’s prize also named two Honor Books: Libba: The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten by Laura Veirs, published by Chronicle Books, and Carmela Full of Wishes by Matt de la Peña, published by Penguin Young Readers. The judges considered both to be “outstanding examples of picture book writing” in the tradition of Margaret Wise Brown.

Each year, Hollins invites nominations for the prize from children’s book publishers located across the country and around the world. A three-judge panel, consisting of established picture book authors, reviews the nominations and chooses a winner.

Hollins established the Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature as a way to pay tribute to one of its best-known alumnae and one of America’s most beloved children’s authors. The cash prizes are made possible by an endowed fund created by James Rockefeller, Brown’s fiancé at the time of her death.

“The Margaret Wise Brown Prize is one of the few children’s book awards that has a cash prize attached,” said Lisa Rowe Fraustino, director of the graduate programs in children’s literature at Hollins.

The engraved medal presented to the winners was conceived by award-winning sculptor, painter, and Hollins alumna Betty Branch of Roanoke. Winners and Honor Book recipients are presented an original linocut certificate designed and donated by Ashley Wolff, author and/or illustrator of over 50 children’s books. Winners are invited to accept the award and speak on campus during the summer session of Hollins’ graduate programs in children’s literature.

Margaret Wise Brown graduated from Hollins in 1932 and went on to write Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, and other children’s classics before she died in 1952. Hollins celebrated her life and work with a year-long Margaret Wise Brown Festival in 2011 and 2012, which featured stage and musical adaptations of her work along with readings, workshops, guest lectures, and other activities for all ages.

The study of children’s literature as a scholarly experience was initiated at Hollins in 1973; in 1992, the graduate program in children’s literature was founded. Today, Hollins offers summer M.A. and M.F.A. programs exclusively in the study and writing of children’s literature, an M.F.A. in children’s book writing and illustrating, and a graduate-level certificate in children’s book illustration.

This summer, Hollins’ children’s literature program will release information on how to submit books for consideration for the 2020 Margaret Wise Brown Prize.


62nd Annual Science Seminar Celebrates Student Research

Twenty-seven research projects representing the work of 30 Hollins science and mathematics students were showcased during the university’s 62nd Annual Science Seminar on April 25.

Students from the departments of biology, chemistry, environmental studies, physics, and psychology took part in this year’s poster session, which was held for the first time on the newly renovated second floor of the Dana Science Building.

This year’s seminar featured research conducted in a number of diverse geographic locations, from South America (the Peruvian Amazon’s white-sand forests), Central America (Panamanian coastal habitats), and the Caribbean (biodiversity and hurricane impact in the U.S. Virgin Islands), to southwest Virginia (tick activity/species abundance and emerald ash bore infestation), the southern Appalachians (forest and cave ecosystems), and the Hollins campus itself (avian window collisions and wetlands). Students also delved into topics such as Knot Theory, stock price prediction, and parent-child interactions.

Following their undergraduate careers at Hollins, seminar participants plan to pursue a wide range of interests, which include enrolling in medical school and veterinary school; completing graduate degrees in marine science, animal science/research, ecology, clinical psychology, and chemistry; and embarking on careers in quantitative analysis, wildlife rehabilitation, environmental education, and food justice.

Among the highlights of the 62nd Annual Science Seminar was the presentation of the inaugural Ella Faith Mode Award, recognizing outstanding student research. Catherine Flayhart ’20, a chemistry major with a biochemistry concentration and a physics minor, is the award’s first honoree.

 

Photo:  Savannah Goodbar ’20 (far left) and Autumn Woodbury ’20 (far right) share their research into vehicle driver responses to snake and stick models placed on the edge of two Virginia roads, one surrounded by rural farmland and the other in a mix of forest, residential, and light business.

 


International Honor Society in Education Establishes Hollins Chapter

Hollins University is the home of the newest chapter of Kappa Delta Pi (KDP), the international honor society in education.

The Alpha Iota Rho chapter was officially established on campus this month with 21 inductees. The mission of this organization is to advance quality education by inspiring teachers to prepare all learners for future challenges.

“Our goal is to have this newly installed society encourage all Hollins students and future educators to continue to achieve academic excellence at Hollins and beyond,” said Shalan Mitchell ’19 and Lindsey Grubb ’19, co-presidents of the chapter.

KDP was founded in 1911 to promote excellence in education and encourage fellowship among those dedicated to teaching. Featuring an initiated membership of more than 1.2 million, KDP champions four ideals, as articulated during the Alpha Iota Rho initiation ceremony on March 7:

  • Fidelity to Humanity: “Implies faith in the potential of human beings and in the improvement of the human condition through education; compassion in the contacts one has, as an educator, with humanity; and dedication to the concept that through continuous education based upon equal opportunity, persons of all ages, races, and creeds will find increased opportunity for experiencing more meaningful lives.”
  • Fidelity to Science: “Implies that, as an educator, one will be faithful to the cause of free inquiry and strive to eliminate prejudice and superstition by withholding judgement until accurate and adequate evidence is obtained.”
  • Fidelity to Service: “The very essence of education, which seeks advancement, not merely for self, but for society as well.”
  • Fidelity to Toil: “The will to do the task that must be done whether the task pleases one or not, faith in the social necessity and intrinsic reward of the education profession.”

To learn more about the Hollins chapter of Kappa Delta Pi, email kappadeltapi@hollins.edu.

 

Photo caption: Lindsey Grubb ’19 (left) and Shalan Mitchell ’19, co-presidents of the newly established Kappa Delta Pi chapter at Hollins.

 


Hollins Playwright Wins National Kennedy Center Award

Sean Michael McCord, a student in the Playwright’s Lab at Hollins University, has received the Kennedy Center’s National Partners of the American Theatre Playwriting (NPATP) Award for his full-length play, Moving.

The NPATP Award comes with a cash prize; membership in the Dramatists Guild and the Playwrights’ Center of Minneapolis; an invitation to attend the National Festival at the Kennedy Center, April 16 – 19; and a professional development summer residency. McCord’s play was nominated from among eight Kennedy Center college regions for the national award.

Moving tells the story of several couples over 30 years as they move in and out of a single apartment in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles. The story was inspired by some of McCord’s own adventures as a struggling Hollywood screenwriter after graduating from the UCLA Film School. The play was first developed as a staged reading for the Playwright’s Lab, where McCord is pursuing his Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) degree.

“We’re very proud of the recognition this play is receiving, and how that success reflects on the graduate playwriting program at Hollins,” notes Playwright’s Lab Program Director Todd Ristau, who will be directing a full production of Moving as part of the Hollins – Mill Mountain Theatre Winter Festival of New Works in January 2020. “You learn the most about a play when you are in production and I’m really looking forward to helping Sean continue to develop the piece in rehearsal.”

McCord, a resident of Charlottesville, plans to start his M.F.A. thesis play at Hollins this summer. “It’s been an amazing journey,” he says. “Moving was the first full-length play I wrote after my initial year at Hollins, utilizing all the tools I was given in my early classes, and it has continued to follow me in my development as a playwright.”

Moving premiered in Charlottesville in 2017 as the inaugural production of the Charlottesville Playwrights Collective, a theatre company started by McCord and other local playwrights dedicated to the production of new works by area writers. In addition to the NPATP Award, Moving has won the Southeastern Theatre Conference 2018 Charles M. Getchell New Play Award and the 2019 David L. Shelton Award at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region IV.

 

 


College Consensus: Hollins Features One of the Nation’s Best Pre-College Summer Programs

Hollins University’s Hollinsummer program is among the Top 30 Pre-College Summer Programs for 2019, according to the college ratings website College Consensus.

“With these pre-college programs, colleges and universities provide young people with a taste of college life, including residency and courses,” state the editors at College Consensus. “And students can make a much more informed decision about [choosing a college] while enjoying a formative experience. The College Consensus ranking of the Top 30 Pre-College Summer Programs points students and their parents to the best summer programs from the best-ranked colleges and universities, with a focus on what gives students the best all-around benefits.”

Designed as a combination of learning and fun, Hollinsummer is a week-long camp experience for rising ninth through 12th grade girls. Featuring four distinct experiences, the goal of the program is inspiring young women to explore their talents with opportunities in creative writing, theatre, equestrian activities, and science. Hollinsummer 2019 takes place July 21 – 27.

The editors at College Consensus note that pre-college summer programs are “a great way for high school students to get a ‘toe in the water.’ You’re actually getting first-hand experience taking college classes, living dorm life, and eating in the dining hall.” However, the editors also emphasize that programs such as Hollinsummer provide much more: “The best pre-college summer programs are real learning experiences.”

For more information about Hollinsummer, visit the program webpage or contact Meghan Richardson in the Hollins University Office of Admission at 800-456-9595.


Hollins Announces Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest Winners

“Ode to My Mother’s Ex-Boyfriend, Ending in a Bushel of Strawberries” by Mae Tromsness of Greenville, South Carolina, has won first place in the 55th Annual Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest for Young Women.

The competition awards scholarships, prizes, and recognition for the best poems submitted by young women in high school.

A student at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, Tromsness will receive a $350 cash prize; publication in Cargoes, Hollins’ award-winning student literary magazine; ten copies of Cargoes; a renewable scholarship of up to $5,000 provided through the Creative Talent Award in Creative Writing for a total value of $20,000 in scholarship funds over four years (applicable if she enrolls at Hollins); and free tuition and housing for the university’s Hollinsummer creative writing program for rising ninth through 12th grade students.

Six other works earned second place honors in this year’s contest. Each of the authors will receive publication in Cargoes; two copies of Cargoes; a renewable scholarship of up to $1,000 provided through the Creative Talent Award in creative writing for a total value of $4,000 in scholarship funds over four years (applicable if the authors enroll at Hollins); and a $500 scholarship to apply toward the Hollinsummer creative writing program.

The second place winners include:

“Ode to Soul(Food)s in the Deep American South
Emory Brinson
South Mecklenburg High School
Charlotte, North Carolina

“half-lives”
Emma Garrett
Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts
West Palm Beach, Florida

“Intercession Prayer”
Kaylee Jeong
Jesuit High School
Portland, Oregon

“Nainai”
Isabella Jiang
Cresskill High School
Cresskill, New Jersey

“Ears (A Ghazal)”
Claire Shang
Hunter College High School
New York, New York

“Getting to Know You”
Ayana Sofia
New Orleans Center for Creative Arts
New Orleans, Louisiana

 

 


Princeton Review Touts Hollins as a “Best Value College”

Hollins University is one of the nation’s best colleges for students seeking a superb education with great career preparation at an affordable price, according to The Princeton Review.

The education services company profiles Hollins in the 2019 edition of its annual guide, The Best Value Colleges: 200 Schools with Exceptional ROI for Your Tuition Investment, published by Penguin Random House/Princeton Review Books.

Information on the book, including its school profiles, is accessible for free on The Princeton Review’s website.

“We salute Hollins and all of our Best Value Colleges. They stand out for their outstanding academics and their affordability via generous financial aid to students with need and/or comparatively low sticker prices,” said Robert Franek, The Princeton Review’s editor-in-chief and lead author of the book. “Students at these colleges also have access to extraordinary career services from their freshman year on, plus a lifetime of valuable alumnae/i support.” The Princeton Review ranks Hollins #17 in the category, “Top 25 Best Alumni Networks.”

The book’s editors at The Princeton Review state, “A Hollins education is an affordable education. And students are thrilled to report that the Financial Aid Office is nothing short of ‘fantastic.’ Importantly, through a combination of need-based aid, scholarships, and cost-effective loans and grants, the university is able to distribute over $24 million annually in financial aid.”

The editors add, “The career outlook for Hollins students is pretty rosy. That’s partially thanks to the fact that undergrads are able to tap into a ‘highly active alumni base.’ They also have a wonderful Career Center at their disposal. Indeed, from the beginning of the first year, undergrads can swing by the office and start plotting their path to career success.”

The Princeton Review crunched more than 40 data points to tally ROI (return on investment) ratings of the colleges that determined its selection of the 200 schools for the book. Topics ranged from academics, cost, and financial aid to graduation rates, student debt, alumnae/i salaries, and job satisfaction.

Hollins University encourages prospective students to visit its campus to experience a “Best Value College” for themselves