Hollins Is Among Virginia’s Top 10 Schools for Praxis Elementary Education Pass Rates

Hollins University is number eight on PraxisExam.org’s list of the Best Praxis Elementary Education Pass Rates in Virginia.

The rankings recognize the commonwealth’s public and private colleges and universities with the highest first-time pass rates for the Praxis Elementary Education Multiple Subjects Test, a computer-based exam that quantifies a teacher’s subjective knowledge before a teaching license is obtained.

Praxis exams are one of the most widely accepted licensing exams available to teachers, and most states, including Virginia, accept Praxis exams to meet their licensing requirements. Prospective teachers can have their exam results considered for job opportunities not only in Virginia but across the United States.

Nationally, the Praxis exam first-time pass rate is 45%, while in Virginia, the first-time pass rate is 57%. Hollins exceeds both the national and state averages with a 72% first-time pass rate.

“The education department at Hollins is proud that we have so many successful students who get jobs as meaningful teachers throughout Virginia,” said Director of Graduate Education Programs Lorraine Lange.

In addition to undergraduate programming that enables students to earn teacher licensure alongside a degree in their chosen major, Hollins provides students with a bachelor’s degree from any accredited institution the opportunity to earn teaching licensure and a Master of Arts in Teaching at the same time. Geared toward college graduates in an array of fields who believe teaching is their calling, the program features small, interactive classes as well as hybrid instructional options, along with career assistance with job connections in the Roanoke region.

Hollins also offers a Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning, an online graduate program for licensed teachers who want to learn more about the practice of teaching and acquire and develop new knowledge.

For more details on these programs, complete and submit the Request Information about Our Graduate Programs online form.


Hollins Soccer Student-Athletes Earn Academic All-District® Honors

Five Hollins Soccer student-athletes have been named to the 2022 NCAA Division III Academic All-District® Women’s Soccer Team by the College Sports Communicators (CSC).

Cat Bussani ’24, Sophia Ciatti ’24, Cady Gardiner-Parks ’24, Chloe Hammel ’25, and Zoe Simotas ’25 were recognized for their performances on the field and in the classroom and will advance to the CSC Academic All-America® voting ballot.

First-, second-, and third-team Academic All-America® honorees will be announced in early December.

Founded in the 1950s, the CSC’s Academic All-America® program is regarded as one of the premier awards programs in intercollegiate athletics for honoring combined academic and athletic excellence. CSC members nominate and vote for Academic All-America® teams in 16 sport contests in all NCAA and NAIA divisions including men’s soccer, women’s soccer, football, volleyball, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, men’s swimming & diving, women’s swimming & diving, men’s tennis, women’s tennis, baseball, softball, men’s at-large, women’s at-large, men’s track & field, and women’s track & field.


Hollins Named “Overall Distinguished Delegation” at Regional Model Arab League Conference

Hollins University earned multiple honors at the annual Appalachia Regional Model Arab League (MAL) conference, held at Hollins November 4-6.

Eight delegations comprised of student representatives from George Mason University, Georgia Southern University, Georgia State University, Hollins, Roanoke College, Virginia Military Institute, and Roanoke’s Community High School participated in the event, now in its eighth year.

MAL is the flagship Youth Leadership Development Program of the National Council on U.S. – Arab Relations (NCUSAR). According to NCUSAR, MAL’s goal is “allowing emerging leaders to learn firsthand what it is like to put themselves in the shoes of real-life Arab diplomats and other foreign affairs practitioners. In the process, students deepen their knowledge and understanding of the Arab world and its peoples. They also strengthen their ability to engage in the art of reasoned argument and spirited debate, and become better prepared to be knowledgeable, well-trained, and effective citizens as well as civic and public affairs leaders.”

John P. Wheeler Professor of Political Science Edward Lynch and Assistant Professor of Political Science Courtney Chenette jointly organized the 2022 conference. Lynch is teaching Hollins’ Model United Nations/Model Arab League course this academic year, and Chenette will lead the course beginning in Fall 2023.

“Hollins again held a successful and stimulating Model Arab League conference,” Lynch said. “This is an important element of Hollins’ emphasis on experiential learning, and I am happy that so many students took leading roles in the Councils.” He noted that Hollins President Mary Dana Hinton welcomed the delegates at the outset of the conference, which “sends an unmistakable signal to our visitors that Model Arab League is important here. Professor Chenette and I greatly appreciate the support we receive from the Hollins administration.”

The conference opening also featured a talk on Islamic art by Michelle Moseley, associate professor and chair of art history and visual culture at Virginia Tech.

Hollins students served in key leadership roles at the conference, including Bianca Vallebrignoni ’23, secretary general; Chanmolis Mout ’23, assistant secretary general; and Jenna Johnston ’25, chief justice of the Arab Court of Justice simulation.

Hollins was named the conference’s Overall Distinguished Delegation. Students also came away with several group and individual awards:

  • Distinguished Delegation in the Council on Palestinian Affairs: Ava Kegler ’25 and Sammy Stuhlmiller ‘25
  • Outstanding Delegation in the Summit of the Arab Heads of State: Kayla Richardson ’24 and Phil Anh
  • Outstanding Chair: Harper Dillon ‘25
  • Distinguished Chair: Sofia Olivares ’25 and Claire Ross ‘23

 


VFIC Honors Hollins Professor with “Rising Star” Award

For her dedication to higher education and student success, Assistant Professor of Biology and Environmental Sciences Mary Jane Carmichael has received the 2022 H. Hiter Harris III Rising Star Award from the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges (VFIC).

After teaching high school science for six years at the beginning of her career, Carmichael decided to pursue an advanced degree with a goal of becoming a faculty member at a small, liberal arts institution. She completed her M.S. in biology from Appalachian State University and then returned to her alma mater, Wake Forest University, where she earned her Ph.D. in biology.

Nora Kizer Bell Provost Laura McLary noted that Carmichael, who joined the Hollins faculty in 2017, sees higher education “as a true and clear calling. Students are attracted to her radiant confidence and natural care for their growth and development, as well as her humble kindness and generous spirit. As developing scientists in a field still largely dominated by men, her students draw strength from the example she sets: a scientist with deep disciplinary knowledge and an inquisitive mind, an emerging leading researcher, and a practiced, inclusive teacher.”

McLary praised Carmichael’s “incredible range, offering courses from ecology to microbiology to general education science breadth courses. She is the very best kind of teacher who is also a consummate learner, continuously seeking to expand her teaching skills and tools and even the content of her courses, so that she can best meet the needs of her students.”

Carmichael’s research has taken her from the mountains to the sea, from belly crawling in caves in eastern Tennessee to mucking through wetlands in coastal North Carolina. At Hollins, she has supported student research on a variety of topics, from the human microbiome to cave ecology to the physiological ecology of high-elevation spruce fir forests in the Appalachian Mountains.

“Two of her publications were coauthored with Hollins undergraduate students, and in the last five years, she has mentored and trained over a dozen student researchers,” McLary stated. “She has also received a prestigious National Science Foundation/Robert Noyce Capacity Building Grant. By developing a stronger pipeline of STEM educators from Hollins and into high-need, rural school districts, she is leading the way to change the face and nature of STEM education at Hollins and in the region of behalf of young women pursuing careers in STEM.”

This year, Carmichael was presented Hollins’ Herta Freitag Legacy Award, which recognizes a full-time teaching faculty member who has received external recognition for professional excellence in research and scholarship. “It is remarkable that Dr. Carmichael, as an early-career assistant professor, is the recipient of the Freitag Award,” McLary said. “It is even more remarkable that her contributions to teaching and service are equal to her outstanding record of research and discovery in her field.”

Carmichael was honored at the VFIC Annual Fall Luncheon and Harris Family Awards Presentation, held November 3 in Richmond.

 


Hollins, Roanoke College Present 2022 Kendig Awards 

The Perry F. Kendig Awards, which celebrate the people and organizations that support excellence in the arts in Virginia’s Blue Ridge, were presented during a ceremony at Hollins University on October 11. 

The awards are co-sponsored by Hollins University and Roanoke College, and they are awarded annually in three categories: Individual Artist, Arts and Cultural Organization, and Individual or Business Arts supporter. Recipients are selected from a group of nominees who live or work in the counties of Roanoke, Botetourt, and Franklin, the cities of Roanoke and Salem, or the town of Vinton. The awards are named for the late Perry F. Kendig, who served as president of Roanoke College and was an avid supporter and patron of the arts. 

“Roanoke College is happy to again join with Hollins University to present these Kendig Awards, and it is our privilege to carry on the tradition of this event in President Kendig’s name,” said Roanoke College President Frank Shushok Jr., who joined Hollins President Mary Dana Hinton to present the awards. 

This year’s nominees were Seth Davis, resident musical director at Mill Mountain Theatre; Michael Hemphill, founder and host of the inspirational Blue Ridge PBS and YouTube show “Buzz4Good”; Michael Mansfield, an actor and director who has worked with multiple local arts organizations; Douglas Jackson, arts and culture coordinator for the city of Roanoke; Sandra Meythaler, executive director of Roanoke Ballet Theatre; and the Roanoke Valley Children’s Choir. 

The 2022 Kendig Award winners are: 

Individual Artist Award 

The recipient of the Individual Artist Award for 2022 was Seth Davis, Mill Mountain Theatre’s resident music director. For nearly a decade, Davis has inspired more than 4,000 children and teenagers by helping them find joy and fulfillment through music. His students develop leadership and talents they can apply to their studies and future careers. “Teaching is Seth Davis’ passion; music is his language,” said one of the nominators. 

Through his work at Mill Mountain, Davis has challenged and encouraged children through conservatory classes and stage productions. “I really love what music can do to increase a child’s confidence,” Davis has said. “Students come to us not sure where they even fit in life. Teaching is an opportunity to provide that sense of belonging through music.”  

At the ceremony on Tuesday, Davis said he was pleasantly surprised by the recognition. 

“I’m grateful for the chance to work with kids and folks of all ages on something that brings them so much joy,” he said, “and it is mutual, because it also brings me joy.” 

Arts and Cultural Organization Award 

The Arts and Cultural Organization Award was presented to The Roanoke Valley Children’s Choir (RVCC). For 35 years, RVCC has met the needs of young people across the Roanoke Valley, providing an artistic and in-depth study of voice in a choral setting. The choir currently has 130 singers aged seven to 18. It is divided into a “Little Singers” group for children ages 4-6, three training choirs, and a concert choir. Children move up through the groups as their development and aptitude deepens.  

Weekly rehearsals culminate in community performances that help students develop vocal techniques, confidence, leadership and teamwork. Each choir participates in an annual regional, state, national or international honor performance, giving the students an opportunity to travel. The choir also collaborates on performances with professional organizations such as the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra and Opera Roanoke. Susan Smith, chairwoman of the RVCC Board of Directors, accepted the award on behalf of the choir. 

“We are proud to have served the Roanoke Valley as a world-class choral program for 36 years,” Smith said. “If you know, you know: There is no sound quite like the choral sound of children’s voices.” 

Individual or Business Arts Supporter Award 

The Individual or Business Arts Supporter Award was presented to Douglas Jackson, arts and culture coordinator for the city of Roanoke and capacity development specialist for the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Jackson is a long-serving and faithful ally of the arts in Virginia’s Blue Ridge who is invested in finding ways to make the arts compelling and accessible to all. He has done that through community initiatives such as BOOK CITY and Roanoke’s Year of the Artist.  

“Doug’s belief in the power of the arts to strengthen community in all its diversity, and to build trusting relationships, is contagious,” a nominator said.  

Roanoke’s Year of the Artist, Jackson’s recent effort to secure and distribute funding for the arts, has empowered and validated the existing creative community and has helped to bridge the gap between working artists, arts organizations, and city government. Beginning in 2013, Jackson helped create the Parks and the Arts program, which brought the best of Roanoke’s arts and culture experiences to neighborhood parks and community centers.  

“The arts are how I was able to get involved in Roanoke and feel a part of the community,” Jackson said. “The arts can give us agency.”  

Named for the late Perry F. Kendig, who served as president of Roanoke College and was an avid supporter and patron of the arts, the Kendig Awards program was established in 1985 and presented annually by the Arts Council of the Blue Ridge through 2012. Hollins and Roanoke College have now partnered for 10 years to bestow the honors. Kendig’s sons, Bill Kendig, a 1980 graduate of Roanoke College, and John Kendig, attended Tuesday’s event to represent their family. 

“We so appreciate the fact that Roanoke College and Hollins University honor Dad with that award,” John Kendig said. “He would love to be here. He would be in his element.”  

 

Photo caption (from left to right): Roanoke College President Frank Shushok Jr.; Michael Mansfield, actor/director; Sandra Meythaler, executive director of Roanoke Ballet Theatre; Seth Davis, resident music director at Mill Mountain Theatre; Susan Smith, executive director of the Roanoke Valley Children’s Choir Board of Directors; Douglas Jackson, arts and culture coordinator for the city of Roanoke and capacity development specialist for the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development; Michael Hemphill, founder and host of the Blue Ridge PBS and YouTube show “Buzz4Good”; and Hollins University President Mary Dana Hinton.

 


Recognizing Her Leadership, Virginia Business Names President Hinton to the Virginia 500

Hollins University President Mary Dana Hinton is cited as one of the commonwealth’s top leaders in the third annual edition of the Virginia 500, published by Virginia Business magazine.

“We strive to inventory the most powerful and influential leaders and executives in Virginia across 20 major sectors, ranging from real estate and manufacturing to higher education and government,” said Virginia Business editor Richard Foster. Among the factors considered, he explained, are “the scope of their responsibilities, how newsworthy the executive is, and how prominent they are within their industry and/or community. We accept suggestions for the Virginia 500, but it is compiled based on research by our editorial staff, not through nominations.”

Virginia Business President and Publisher Bernard A. Niemeier added, “…you will find these are leaders who have done it right.”

In her Virginia 500 profile, Hinton noted what makes her passionate about her work: “Serving others to promote educational equity is my mission in life.  I am privileged to get to live that mission every day.”

 

 


Hollins Professor’s Latest Film Earns Prestigious Sponsorship from Women Make Movies

The new production from a Hollins University film professor is receiving major support from the world’s leading distributor of independent films by and about women.

Associate Professor of Film Amy Gerber-Stroh’s Hope of Escape has earned official sponsorship from Women Make Movies (WMM), a nonprofit media arts organization based in New York City. For 50 years, WMM has backed women directors and producers in an effort to promote a diverse and inclusive filmmaking landscape.

“Hundreds of films by women have been made with the help of WMM’s Production Assistance Program,” Gerber-Stroh explained. Along with fiscal sponsorship, the program “offers professional development, nonprofit tax-exempt status, consultations, and workshops. Films and filmmakers supported by the organization have won Academy Awards, Emmys, and prizes at major film festivals worldwide.”

Currently in post-production, Hope of Escape is based on the true story of the journey of an enslaved mother and daughter who must escape before they are sold and separated forever. Their only hope is to connect with their free relatives in the North and convince the most powerful abolitionists of their time to help them.

Hope of Escape champions the enslaved American heroes and abolitionist allies who, leading up to the Civil War, were willing to take on immense risk in order to combat the wretchedness of slavery,” Gerber-Hope of Escape PosterStroh said. “As a descendant of slaves, I wish to add a different perspective to the lesser-known story of our collective historical memory by shining light onto the ‘above-ground railroad’ where slave masters were paid ‘ransoms’ (much like how Frederick Douglass gained his freedom) by families, mostly in the North, in order to free their enslaved relatives.”

Gerber-Stroh noted that “it ‘took a village’ to fundraise and emancipate a slave. Hope of Escape shows how my own family depended on a complex network of abolitionists, both inside and outside the United States. We see how, even though separated for many years and by thousands of miles, families (both free and enslaved) managed to keep their connections, holding onto hope that their circumstances would change for the better.”

Researching and making Hope of Escape has been a profoundly moving experience for Gerber-Stroh. “It has taught me that the women in my family, as well as women in scores of other families, did indeed resist with fierce hope in their hearts during slavery times. They courageously persevered so that their descendants (like me) can keep fighting and hopefully someday escape the national nightmare of institutional slavery and its lasting consequences. In a small way, my film is part of that fight.”

Gerber-Stroh has written and directed independent films, which focus on the intersection of memory, culture, and history, for over 30 years. Her films have won honors at numerous national and international film festivals. She chairs the film department at Hollins, where she teaches production, animation, and film studies.

 

 


Suzy Mink ’74 Wins at World Triathlon Long Distance Championships

Suzy Mink ’74 was the only woman to medal for Team USA during the 2022 World Triathlon Long Distance Championships, part of the 2022 World Triathlon Multisport Championships held August 18-21 at the Olympic Training Center in Samorin, Slovakia.

Athletes from 50 countries competed, with the largest teams coming from the United States and United Kingdom.

 

Suzy Mink '74 Flora Duffy
Mink in Samorin with Bermudian triathlete Flora Duffy, who won a gold medal at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Mink, who serves as senior philanthropic advisor at Hollins. won the long distance triathlon in the 70-74 Female Age Group, which included a 2K swim in the Danube River (1.2 miles), a 79.8K biking trek through the Slovakian countryside (49.5 miles), and a 17.9K run (11.1 miles) through four loops on the Olympic Training Center grounds. She noted that the conditions she and other triathlon competitors encountered at the championships were formidable. “The Danube was exceedingly choppy, so much so that only small boats were allowed on the water instead of kayaks, and the current was really strong. Some folks were pulled out of the water early in the swim.” The bike course “was flat and beautiful, but the headwinds on the return trip were unrelenting for 25 miles, and even the best of the best felt it. The run was also tough with the wind.”

 

The victory at the championships is the latest achievement for Mink in her remarkable career competing as a triathlete around the world. Notably in 2018, she won her age group’s gold medal in the Long Distance Triathlon at the International Triathlon Union/Fynske Bank Multisport World Championships in Denmark. She was also part of the relay team that carried the Olympic Torch 900 miles to Lake Placid, New York, for the 1980 Olympic Games.

 

 


Hollins Receives State Department IDEAS Grant to Fund Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives in Study Abroad

Hollins University is one of 44 colleges and universities across the United States selected to receive funding from the U.S. Department of State’s Increase and Diversify Education Abroad for U.S. Students (IDEAS) Program.

The schools will use the IDEAS grants to create, expand, and/or diversify American student mobility overseas in support of U.S. foreign policy goals. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of State and supported in its implementation by World Learning.

“We are thrilled that Hollins is a 2022 IDEAS grantee, and this was a true team effort between faculty and staff,” said Ramona Kirsch, Hollins University’s director of international programs. “The grant will fund a new program, “Building Capacity in Kenya and Expanding Student Access to Global Experiences,” which will focus on democracy, human rights, and global health from an interdisciplinary and intercultural perspective with our new international partner, Kenyatta University in Nairobi. The grant will also enable us to move strategic diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives forward in our study abroad programming.”

Each IDEAS grant carries a maximum allotment of $35,000 and Hollins was awarded approximately $34,800.

“The U.S. Department of State is committed to supporting U.S. colleges and universities as they continue to rebuild study abroad capacity impacted by the global pandemic,” said Heidi Manley, USA study abroad chief for the department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). “That is why ECA is proud to be awarding double the number of IDEAS grants this year so that we can support more institutions as they work to provide important international educational opportunities to their students.”

Manley added that this year’s IDEAS grant recipients “reflect the full diversity of the U.S. higher education system – including community colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), rural institutions, and more – and we are committed to working with them to build study abroad programs that are accessible for Americans of all backgrounds and that provide more opportunities for American students to engage with people in more diverse destinations around the world.”

Since 2016, the IDEAS Program has awarded 145 grants to 139 institutions in 48 states and territories to create, expand, and diversify their U.S. study abroad programs in 71 countries across all world regions. In addition to the IDEAS grant competition, the program also offers opportunities for faculty, staff, and administrators at U.S. colleges and universities to participate in a series of free virtual and in-person study abroad capacity building activities.

For more information about other study abroad resources and exchange programs offered by ECA, visit https://studyabroad.state.gov/.

Photo (from left to right): Assistant Professor of Sociology Jennifer Turner, Assistant Professor of Public Health Abubakarr Jalloh, Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence Isabell Kingori, and Director of International Programs Ramona Kirsch comprised the faculty/staff team at Hollins that successfully brought the IDEAS grant application to fruition.


“Academics Are The Priority”: “Fiske Guide to Colleges” Praises Hollins In 2023 Edition

Hollins University is one of the more than 300 “best and most interesting” colleges in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, according to the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2023, published July 19.

The Fiske Guide selects colleges and universities for inclusion “with several broad principles in mind, beginning with academic quality. In addition, an effort was made to achieve geography diversity and a balance of public and private schools. Finally, we exercised the journalist’s prerogative of writing about schools that are simply interesting.”

Hollins is featured by the Fiske Guide among the nation’s small colleges and universities that are “Strong in Film/Television,” “Strong in Dance,” and “Strong in Performing Arts/Drama,” and considers the university “one of the South’s leading women’s colleges.” The guide notes that “academics are the priority at Hollins,” and students quoted in the university’s profile praise the professors (“We get lots of individual attention and extra help.”), residence halls (“Most of the dorms are beautiful historic buildings full of character and comfort.”), and the overall campus environment (“A student should only attend Hollins if they want to be part of a close-knit community that fosters creative minds and ambitious spirits.”).

The guide concludes, “Students leave [Hollins] with confidence, critical-thinking skills, and intellectual depth, thanks to a solid grounding in the liberal arts.”

Now in its 39th edition, the Fiske Guide is updated and expanded each year. It is co-written by former New York Times education editor Edward B. Fiske.