The photography of a distinguished member of the Hollins University faculty who taught for nearly four decades is the subject of a new exhibition at the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum.
Robert Sulkin: Photographs 1973-2019, which is on display January 16 – March 29, is a retrospective exhibition highlighting the work of the award-winning photographer who joined the Hollins faculty in 1980 and retired at the end of the 2018-19 academic year. The exhibition presents 120 images selected from 40-plus years of making photographs, ranging from his early social landscape works created in the mid-1970s to what the artist refers to as his landscape intervention work from 2019. Throughout his career, Sulkin has worked in series, and these will be displayed together somewhat chronologically.
Like many photographers working at the end of the 20th and early 21st centuries, Sulkin witnessed and experienced changes in technology that had profound effects on his work. Collectively his studio and/or photoshop-based fabrications comment on aspects of culture and track a progression of style and experimentation, some playful, some farcical, and some serious.
Of his work, Sulkin says, “Broadly, my photography deals with the futility of the individual attempting to cope in a technology-driven world spinning out of control.”
LeeRay Costa, professor of anthropology and gender and women’s studies and director of faculty development at Hollins, has completed the 2019 HERS (Higher Education Resources Services) Institute at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. She joined 64 competitively selected women leaders from across the U.S. and Canada to take part in the intensive, residential leadership development program.
The Institute provides participants with the opportunity to develop their individual leadership strengths to boldly lead change on their campuses and in their roles. They also expand their knowledge of the national higher education landscape to become even stronger assets to their institutions.
The HERS Institute was created in 1976 to proactively fill the higher education pipelines across the United States with dynamic women and combat an undeniable gender gap. Recent research has concluded that women hold less than 40 percent of tenured positions, only 36 percent of full professorships, and just 30 percent of the presidencies at the nation’s colleges and universities. Research has also noted that women only apply for a position if they meet 100% of the qualifications, while men will apply if they only meet 60% of the qualifications. HERS Institute alumnae, which today number more than 6,000, have noted that the program’s unique ability to create a non-competitive space re-energized them around what they could bring to their roles, and helped them develop the confidence needed to lead at their respective institutions.
“I learned critical skills for leadership within the contemporary context of higher education, including how to communicate effectively and engage in difficult conversations, manage and lead change, cultivate talent, create a culture of inclusion, equity, and belonging, navigate leadership transitions, and administer and manage budgets,” Costa said. “I look forward to applying what I learned to my faculty development work at Hollins, including providing workshops and training to support faculty teaching, research, and overall career development. I am also excited to help foster a campus workplace that is inclusive, equitable, diverse, and committed to faculty satisfaction and well-being.”
Each HERS Institute attendee is required to complete a self-designed leadership project for their institution, a personal case study that pursues organizational change on campus. Costa created Hollins’ first faculty development program.
“During its inaugural year, the program will focus primarily on two areas,” Costa explained. “First, inclusivity, equity, and diversity, and second, high impact learning practices. This project supports Hollins’ institutional values and mission. It also engages faculty in innovative and experiential approaches to teaching and learning that will empower Hollins’ students to be effective and inspiring leaders, problem solvers, creators, and change agents.”
Costa has been a member of the Hollins faculty since 2001 and was named director of faculty development in March 2019. Her research, teaching, and community activism focus on social justice and a desire to understand processes of social change. In 2018 she launched the Hollins Contemplative Collective, which seeks to cultivate the holistic well-being of faculty, staff, and students and to integrate into curricular and co-curricular life practices of mindfulness and healing that are embodied, inclusive, and both individually and collectively transformative. A previous recipient of Hollins’ Herta Freitag Faculty Legacy Award and Senior Class Faculty Award, Costa holds a Ph.D. from the University of Hawai’i, Manoa.
A previous two-year study by Gleim and her fellow researchers determined that tick populations were substantially lowered where long-term prescribed fires, “an especially common and necessary land management practice in fire-dependent ecosystems such as open pine forests, grasslands, and fire-maintained wetlands,” were employed.
“In the current study,” Gleim’s report states, “these ticks were tested for pathogens to more directly investigate the impacts of long-term prescribed burning on human disease risk….The incidence of these tick-borne diseases has increased in the past several decades and several new pathogens have emerged….Thus, the need to find cost-effective, practical approaches to reducing tick-borne disease risk is more important than ever.
“To follow up on our finding that long-term prescribed fire significantly reduced tick abundance,” the report continues, “the current study tested the ticks collected in that previous study for common tick-borne pathogens to investigate how prescribed fire may affect pathogen dynamics.”
Gleim and her team performed the first-ever major survey of tick-borne pathogens in southwestern Georgia and northwestern Florida. The results offer “exciting implications for public health as it appears that prescribed fire, when performed on a regular basis, significantly reduces encounter rates with ticks infected with pathogenic bacteria.” Reductions in tick populations were sustained rather than temporary “through regular, long-term prescribed fires [that] resulted in a drier microclimate at ground-level….”
While the results of the study are encouraging, Gleim concludes with a couple of caveats. “Because all of our burned sites had been burned on a regular basis for a minimum of ten years, further research needs to occur to determine how long regular burns would have to occur in order to achieve the results observed in this study. Additionally, the particular habitat and microclimatic conditions that are required for the results observed in this study seem to imply that the ability of fire to reduce tick populations and disease risk may vary depending on ecosystem-type and the management objectives of the prescribed fire.
“Thus, similar studies need to be conducted in different ecosystems and regions of the country to determine whether long-term prescribed burning could have effects similar to those observed in the current study on different pathogens and/or within different ecosystems.”
Scientific Reports received more than 300,000 citations in 2018 and garners widespread attention in policy documents and the media. It is part of Nature Research, a family of journals that includes Nature, the leading international weekly journal of science first published in 1869.
Elizabeth Poliner, associate professor of English and creative writing at Hollins and director of the Jackson Center for Creative Writing, has been selected as a finalist for the 2019 Nelson Algren Literary Award, presented by the Chicago Tribune.
Named in honor of the American author best known for his National Book Award-winning 1949 novel, The Man with the Golden Arm, the Nelson Algren Literary Award is a nationally recognized contest for original short fiction. Held annually since 1981, the contest received more than 3,000 entries this year. It was judged by Jennifer Acker, founder of The Common, an online literary magazine; Mona Simpson, who won the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize in 2001; and Jane Smiley, a two-time winner of the Heartland Prize.
Poliner is the author of the novel, As Close to Us as Breathing, winner of the 2017 Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize in Fiction, finalist for the Harold Ribalow Prize for Jewish fiction, and an Amazon Best Book of 2016. She is also the author of a story collection, Mutual Life & Casualty, and a volume of poetry, What You Know in Your Hands. Her stories have appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, The Kenyon Review, The Common, Colorado Review, and TriQuarterly, among other journals. A member of the Hollins faculty since 2008, she teaches in both the Master of Fine Arts and undergraduate creative writing programs.
According to the ceremony organizers, “The objective of POW/MIA Awareness Day is to ensure America remembers its responsibility to stand behind those who serve our nation and do everything possible to account for those who do not return.”
Moriarty’s talk, “Andreé: A Name on the Prisoners’ List,” draws from the ongoing research she’s conducting for a memoir, an early draft of which was short-listed for the 2018 Faulkner-Wisdom Narrative Nonfiction Book Award. Her study has focused on her mother’s experience with the French underground during World War II.
Moriatry says the impetus for her research came from an old photo. “A 1945 photograph addressed to my father, ‘With love, Liliane,’ put a false name to my mother Andreé’s face. Decades later, that name became the key to unraveling her wartime activities.” With the assistance of newly-found French cousins, she discovered that even though her mother did not wear a uniform, “she was arrested by the Gestapo, spent six months in solitary confinement, was tried by the Wehrmacht, and served two years of a four-year sentence before the war ended.”
The memoir project has produced some spin-off work. An essay, “Swerves,” won the 2014 Faulkner-Wisdom Gold Medal and was reprinted in the 2016 anthology, Borderlines and Crossings: Writing the Motherland. Another essay, “You Are Where You Eat,” appears in text and audio on The Dirty Spoon. The essay will also be published on the France-Amérique website in early October.
Moriarty adds that invitation to speak at the POW/MIA Awareness Day ceremony came through a Hollins connection: April Cheek-Messier ’94, M.A.T. ’02, who is president of the National D-Day Memorial Foundation.
One of the country’s most prominent professors of studio art whose work has appeared nationally in New York, Philadelphia, and Atlanta, and internationally in Russia and Chad, will serve as Hollins University’s Frances Niederer Artist-in-Residence in 2019.
Diane Edison, who is professor of art at the University of Georgia’s Lamar Dodd School of Art, will spend Spring Term 2019 on the Hollins campus. The artist-in-residence program enables the university to bring a recognized artist to campus every year to work in a campus studio and teach an art seminar open to all students. During their time at Hollins, the artist-in-residence is a vital part of the university and greater Roanoke communities.
Edison, who creates her work using color pencil on black paper, focuses on portraiture with an emphasis on the autobiographical. Her images are thematically narrative in presentation and psychological in nature. New York City’s Forum Gallery, DC Moore Gallery, and Tatischef Gallery; the Leeway Foundation in Philadelphia; and Clark Atlanta University in Georgia are among the U.S. venues where her art has been exhibited or collected. Overseas, her paintings have been on display in the official residences of the American ambassadors in Moscow, Russia, and N’djamena, Chad.
Edison’s exhibitions have been reviewed by The New York Times, The New Yorker magazine, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Philadelphia Enquirer, Art News, and the St. Louis Dispatch. Reproductions of her artwork were featured twice in Artists Magazine. In 2010-11, she traveled to Bulgaria as a Fulbright Scholar, and she is a past recipient of the Anonymous Was a Woman Award and the Georgia Women in the Arts Recognition Award. Her textbook, Dynamic Color Painting for Beginners, came out in 2008 and subsequently was published in the United Kingdom, China, and Spain.
In the fight to stop the spread of Lyme disease in the United States, one crucial question has baffled scientists: Why is the disease so prevalent in the northeastern U.S., but in the southeast, relatively few cases have been reported? The trend persists even though the blacklegged ticks (also called deer ticks) that transmit Lyme through their bites can be found throughout the eastern part of the country.
Assistant Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies/Environmental Science Liz Gleim, who is also a tick biologist, says one hypothesis has recently gained traction: the possibility that “the northern and southern populations of the blacklegged tick are genetically distinct, and that difference manifests itself in terms of how ticks quest for a host. A questing tick is one that’s crawling up on the tips of vegetation and hoping a human or animal host is going to brush up against them and they can hop a ride.”
Northern ticks have been found to be far more aggressive when questing and thus more likely to get on people than southern ticks, who tend to live in leaf litter where humans are less prone to come in contact with them.
Even within Virginia, Gleim notes that ticks from the coastal, central, and southwestern parts of the state exhibit different questing behaviors from one another. This phenomenon is the basis for a project this summer in which Gleim is collaborating with scientists from Old Dominion University and the University of Richmond to discover what makes ticks tick.
“Ticks along the coast are generally not as aggressive as those here in the Roanoke area. So what we’re doing is collecting ticks locally, around Richmond, and along the Virginia seaboard, sort of an east-west gradient, in the hope that we get populations that may be showing different questing behaviors,” Gleim explains. “Is their behavior actually controlled by genes, or it prompted by three distinctive climates? The hope is that we’ll be able to find out.”
Gleim and her fellow researchers are taking the ticks they gather between Roanoke, Richmond, and the coast, and placing them in what she describes as “tick arenas,” containers that are located in mature hardwood forest areas, the preferred habitat of blacklegged ticks. At Hollins, the tick arenas have been situated in the woods adjacent to the northeastern part of campus.
“It’s a very cool way in which we can take advantage of our beautiful natural forests that are convenient to campus,” Gleim states. “We’re really lucky because the folks who are conducting research in Richmond and on the coast are having to use public lands, so they have to go through the process of working with state and public officials and securing permission.”
Students from Hollins and the University of Richmond will be working with Gleim on the project at the Hollins site. “They’ll be coming out multiple times a week to make observations on the ticks to see what sorts of questing behaviors they are exhibiting.”
Faculty members from the biology and environmental studies/environmental science programs at Hollins assisted Gleim in constructing the tick arenas and addressing a key concern: how to ensure the ticks they’re studying stay in place while keeping out the ticks that already live in the surrounding forest. “We’re putting sterilized leaf litter into the containers so that we’re certain we’re not inadvertently picking up ticks that aren’t part of our research,” Gleim says. “Installing metal flashing and chicken wire will not only help us keep ticks out but also prevent small mammals or wildlife from entering the arenas. The last zone of defense is this sticky material that’s almost like a paste that we use to coat the inside of each area. So, any ticks that try to leave or enter the arenas will get stuck.”
Gleim and her fellow researchers will be placing ticks in the arenas during the last couple of weeks in May. The study will continue through early and mid-July to coincide with when the blacklegged tick is naturally active.
Conducting tick research at Hollins is fitting. As Gleim notes, “Roanoke itself is a major focal point for Lyme disease. If you look at a map of Lyme cases in the U.S., there’s literally this bright red spot on Roanoke. Areas north of here have a seen a lot of it, too, but southward, there isn’t much. One theory is that northern ticks are making their way down through the mountains to the southern region.”
Featured photo: Associate Professor of Biology Morgan Wilson (left) and Professor of Biology Renee Godard work on several of the tick arenas that will facilitate this summer’s study of blacklegged tick behavior and the impact of genetics versus the environment.
In his commentary published August 7 in The Chronicle of Higher Education, “How Teacher-Scholars Prepare Students for an Evolving World,” Associate Professor of Philosophy and Dean of Academic Services Michael Gettings argues, “As faculty, our research informs our teaching and benefits our students. One is not a teacher and a scholar, one is a teacher-scholar. Through scholarship, teachers model good learning and offer special opportunities for students. The benefits of this model for both teacher and student are maximized in the liberal-arts setting where students can build strong relationships with faculty.”
Gettings goes on to state that teacher-scholars help students develop the skills identified by developmental psychologists Roberta Michnick Golinkoff and Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek as essential for the workplace of the future (“the six C’s”): collaboration, communication, content, critical thinking, creativity, and confidence.
Books written by a Hollins University faculty member and two Hollins alumnae have been named finalists for the 2017 Library of Virginia People’s Choice Award.
As Close to Us as Breathing by Associate Professor of English Elizabeth Poliner was nominated for the People’s Choice Fiction Award, while Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother’s Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South by Beth Macy M.A. ’93, and Dimestore: A Writer’s Life by Lee Smith ’67, are finalists in the People’s Choice Nonfiction category.
“These awards, which are part of the Library’s annual Literary Awards celebration, recognize the finest among Virginia authors and works about our great Commonwealth,” said Amy Bridge, executive director of the Library of Virginia Foundation.
Anyone can participate in the voting for the People’s Choice Award by visiting this link. Voting is open until July 15. There is also a ballot on the site that can be printed and mailed to the Library (it must be received by July 15 to be counted).
The People’s Choice Award winners will be announced at the 20th Annual Library of Virginia Literary Awards Celebration in Richmond on October 14. Winners of the People’s Choice Fiction and Nonfiction prizes will each win a cash prize of $2,500.
Political scientists from Hollins University, Roanoke College, and Virginia Tech will explore what the next few years may hold for the Democratic and Republican parties during the panel presentation “After 2016 – The State of the American Political Party System” on Thursday, February 9, at 7:30 p.m. in Niederer Auditorium, Wetherill Visual Arts Center. Admission is free and open to the public.
The panel will look at what has been happening both within and between America’s two major political parties, their future paths, and whether this is the beginning of the end of the two-party system.
Participants will include: Karen Hult, chair of Virginia Tech’s department of political science; Jason Kelly, assistant professor of political science at Virginia Tech; Ed Lynch, professor of political science at Hollins; and Harold Wilson, director of Roanoke College’s Institute for Policy and Opinion Research.
The event will be moderated by Jong Ra, professor of political science and chair of the department of global politics and societies at Hollins.