President Hinton Joins in Dialogue With Michelle Alexander, Bestselling Author Of “The New Jim Crow”

Acclaimed author, civil rights lawyer and legal advocate Michelle Alexander understands that a lot of change can happen in just 10 years. A decade ago, Alexander had just published her first book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Some critics at the time considered the book’s subject dubious, especially since the nation had just elected its first Black president in Barack Obama. Still, The New Jim Crow would go on to spend almost 250 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list—transforming Alexander’s career as a legal scholar and author—and recently had a 10th-anniversary edition released with a new foreword by Alexander.

On Tuesday, September 22, Alexander “visited” Hollins (via Zoom) as part of the university’s Distinguished Speaker Series. The bestselling author had a virtual sit-down with Hollins President Mary Dana Hinton to discuss the 10th-anniversary edition of her book as well as a host of other issues including racial unrest in the U.S. and social activism both on and off-campus. “We’re grateful to have these timely and robust conversations,” said Hinton in welcoming Alexander to the videoconference, which was live-streamed exclusively to the Hollins community, with over 400 in attendance. “The text remains as relevant and resonant today, perhaps even more so, than when it was released.”

“It’s hard for me to believe it’s been 10 years,” replied Alexander. “When I was researching this book, Obama hadn’t been elected president yet. Trayvon Martin hadn’t been killed. I felt desperate to sound an alarm about the crisis of mass incarceration, seeing up close [through my work] the victims of racial profiling and police violence. And now 10 years later, with all of the viral videos of brutal police killings and the uprisings, it feels in many that the whole world hasn’t changed. The [criminal justice] system continues to function in pretty much the same way as it functioned 10 years ago—or 15 years ago—or 30 years ago.”

However, Alexander was quick to add that she did find hope in the creation of new protest movements and increased social activism, in particular movements led by formerly incarcerated and convicted people. “There’s been an explosion of movement-building and organizing and leadership,” said Alexander. “And that’s enormously encouraging to me. Until we hear from the people who’ve been most harmed, transformational change is impossible. And as long as those voices are excluded from decision-making spaces and tables, transformational change is impossible.”

A graduate of Stanford Law and Vanderbilt University, Alexander has received numerous legal awards and fellowships, including a Soros Justice Fellowship, and clerked for legal luminaries such as Justice Harry A. Blackmun on the U.S. Supreme Court and Chief Judge Abner Mikva on the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals. Though just her debut book, The New Jim Crow has become so influential that it’s even been cited in some judicial decisions as well as read in countless book clubs and college classrooms across the country.

To that point, in advance of the Q&A on Tuesday, Hollins students were given access to free e-editions of the book (there was also a limited number of free hardcopies available). Students and faculty were then invited to meet virtually with Hinton to discuss and propose questions for the interview.

Following up on the book’s popularity on campus, Hinton said that colleges, universities, and, in particular, the liberal arts were good places where students could “rehearse what it means to have courage and have a voice and step up” before engaging politically in the bigger world off-campus.

“I don’t think it’s an overstatement that our democracy will not survive without robust liberal arts education,” Alexander replied when asked about the role of the liberal arts in relation to social justice. “That’s one of the main pillars of a successful, thriving, multi-ethnic, multi-gender, multi-faith democracy. It can help us learn more about our past and present so we can respond to our present moment with wise action and with greater concern and care for our fellow citizens. Without it, we are stuck in patterns of reactivity. We can be misled by demagogues and be inspired to resort to fear-mongering.”

Near the end of the hour-long discussion, Hinton asked The New Jim Crow author about finding courage to speak the truth in the era of Fake News and constant misinformation. “How are we ‘midwives to this next generation?’” Hinton asked, borrowing Alexander’s language, “How are we midwives as we look at the [transformational] change that’s so important?”

Alexander acknowledged the difficulty in answering that question. “It can feel overwhelming at times,” she said. “We’re at a moment where I think our democracy literally hangs in the balance. I think what’s important is for us to pause and think: How can we use our skills and our talents to their highest use for this moment? And how do we educate ourselves about history, our racial history, about the present, about how to do democracy? What’s important is not just being aware and awake, but being willing to act with some courage. Because if we see what’s happening but lack the courage to speak up or step out, we can be as awake as we want to be, but if we act without courage, it’s all for naught.”

 

Jeff Dingler is a graduate assistant in Hollins’ marketing and communications department. He is pursuing his M.F.A. in creative writing at the university.


“Prelude to C3: A Virtual Conference” Connects Students With the Green And Gold Network

Mindful of COVID-19 protocols, Hollins alumnae/i this fall are employing a different way of conveying the lifelong power of a liberal arts education to current students.

In conjunction with Hollins Alumnae Relations and the Center for Career Development and Life Design, Hollins grads are taking the annual Career Connection Conference (C3) online with Prelude to C3: A Virtual Conference, September 28 – October 3.


Above Photo: Networking at the 2019 C3 conference

 

“Students will be able to hear some of our most accomplished alumnae/i share their insights on navigating life after Hollins,” said Director of Alumnae Relations Lauren Walker. “Since most jobs don’t come from postings but through personal and professional connections, students can maximize their future opportunities by interacting throughout the week with the Green and Gold network at C3.”

This year’s C3 will include Zoom sessions covering a wide array of topics and interests:

Monday, September 28
Healing and Healthcare
The paths that led professionals in health-related fields to their current roles and the ways in which one can make a difference in improving the well-being of others.

Life After Hollins
Tried-and-true strategies on relocating to a new city, finding housing, managing finances, finding a mentor and new social network, and overcoming transitional challenges.

Tuesday, September 29
Aiming for Advanced Study
When is a graduate degree a ticket to upward mobility and when might it carry unacceptable costs or debt?

Wednesday, September 30
Curating Culture
Finding ways in different roles and work/life configurations to keep the arts and humanities alive for oneself and others.

Brand Yourself: Monitor Your Media Image
What are employers looking for in one’s online presence and social media profiles? How does one use media most effectively for networking and job hunting?

Thursday, October 1
Innovative Endeavors
The innovative mindset required to stay agile and find new business opportunities in a rapidly changing world.

Friday, October 2
What Can I Do with a Science and Math Degree?
Representing business, data analytics, scientific research, and environmental compliance, alumnae/i in this session will discuss pioneering into fields where women have been historically unrepresented.

Life After Hollins
(See description above)

The final day of Prelude to C3: A Virtual Conference on Saturday, October 3, will feature a morning keynote address by Aheri Stanford-Asiyo ’05, a software engineer at Microsoft working to create next-generation holographic computing solutions for the workplace. Prior to joining Microsoft’s Mixed Reality team, she served as a senior JavaScript engineer at the Accenture Liquid Studio, a rapid-prototyping facility in Silicon Valley.

The afternoon will be devoted to one-on-one Zoom sessions between students and alumnae/i for the purpose of career mentoring through general networking and informational interviews.

“Whether you are a first-year student or a senior, a double major or undecided, career-ambitious or career-confused, there is a place for you at C3,” said Walker.

 

 

 


Hollins, Roanoke College Welcome Nominations for the 2020 Perry F. Kendig Awards

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2020 Perry F. Kendig Arts and Culture Awards, which recognize individuals, businesses, and organizations in the greater Roanoke region that provide exemplary leadership in or support for the arts.

The deadline for nominations is Tuesday, September 1, at 4 p.m. The nomination form and other information can be found at https://kendigawards.com/.

Celebrating 35 years this year of honoring excellence in arts and culture, the Kendig Awards have been co-sponsored by Hollins University and Roanoke College since 2013. The 2020 Kendig Awards will be presented at Hollins with the date/location to be announced.

Three Kendig Awards will be presented this year, one in each of the following categories:

  • Individual Artist (selected from all disciplines, including dance, literature, music, media arts, visual arts, and theatre)
  • Arts and/or Cultural Organization
  • Individual or Business Arts Supporter

Individuals, businesses, and organizations from the greater Roanoke region (which includes the counties of Botetourt, Franklin, and Roanoke, the cities of Roanoke and Salem, and the town of Vinton) are eligible, as are past Kendig Award recipients from 1985 – 2012. Programs and full-time employees of Hollins University and Roanoke College are now eligible to be nominated as well.

“The Kendig Awards program provides a focal point for celebrating the greater Roanoke region’s cultural identity,” said Hollins Interim President Nancy Oliver Gray. “This initiative enables all of us to realize and appreciate the vital role arts and culture play in economic development as well as education in our schools.”

“Presenting this annual program builds an even stronger arts and culture bridge between our campuses and the community,” added Roanoke College President Mike Maxey. “We are proud to join with Hollins to champion this celebration of the arts.”

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 awards were presented by the Arts Council of the Blue Ridge for 27 years.


“A Heartbreaking Decision”: Hollins Postpones 178th Commencement Exercises

Interim President Nancy Oliver Gray has announced that Hollins University’s 178th Commencement Exercises, scheduled for May 24, have been postponed.

What Gray called a “heartbreaking decision” was made as a result of the temporary stay-at-home order issued this week by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam to protect the health of Virginians and mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus. The order, which is in effect until June 10, prohibits public gatherings of more than 10 people.

“This is particularly difficult news for our seniors, who were already feeling a deep sense of loss after missing other senior activities and their final months as a class together; our graduating grad students; and those students’ families,” Gray said, adding, “I share their disappointment as I, too, was anticipating their special day. This is not the end of the academic year that any of us would have wanted.”

Gray assured the class of 2020 that “although we cannot hold our Commencement Exercises on the scheduled date, we can look forward to enjoying this important event at another time. We will work hard to find the best way for our graduates to come together and celebrate their many accomplishments.” She noted that alternate dates and plans would be shared in the near future.

Visit Hollins’ coronavirus preparedness webpage regularly for updates on the university’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 


Hollins Theatre Presents Natasha Trethewey’s Acclaimed “Native Guard,” March 8

The Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Hollins University alumna and former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey is coming to Hollins Theatre.

Trethewey’s Native Guard, which received the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 2007, will be presented in a theatrical reading with stunning visuals and live music on Sunday, March 8, at 7:30 p.m. on the theatre’s Main Stage. Admission is free with seating on a first-come, first-served basis. A conversation with Trethewey, who earned her M.A. from Hollins in 1991, will immediately follow the performance.

Native Guard juxtaposes the deeply personal experiences of Trethewey, a child of a then-illegal marriage between her African American mother and Caucasian father living in 1960s Mississippi, with the experience of a soldier in the Native Guard, the first African American Union troop in the Civil War. Years after her mother’s tragic death, Trethewey reclaims her memory, just as she reclaims the voices of the black soldiers whose service has been all but forgotten.

The evening of poetry and theatricality stars January LaVoy, an Atlanta-based actress best known for her role as Noelle Ortiz-Stubbs on the ABC daytime drama One Life to Live.  She has appeared on Broadway and guest starred on several prime time network series, including Elementary, Blue Bloods, and N0S4A2. The cast also features Dominic Taylor, a writer, director, and scholar of African American theatre who is currently the resident professional teaching artist at Hollins Theatre, and Roanoke’s own Shawn Spencer, a renowned jazz and blues vocalist.

Native Guard is the second volume of poetry by Trethewey that Hollins Theatre has adapted for the stage. Bellocq’s Ophelia premiered in 2012 and the following year was one of five full productions from the southeastern United States chosen for performance at the Region IV Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.


Hollins Hosts An Evening With U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, Feb. 10

Joy Harjo, the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States and the first Native American to hold the title, will speak in the Hollins University Theatre on Monday, February 10, at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public.

Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Harjo is a member of the Mvskoke Nation and belongs to Oce Vpofv (Hickory Ground). She is the author of nine volumes of poetry, including her most recent book, 2019’s highly acclaimed An American Sunrise; Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings (2015), which was shortlisted for the Griffin Prize and named a Notable Book of the Year by the American Library Association;The Woman Who Fell from the Sky (1994), which received the Oklahoma Book Award; and In Mad Love and War (1990), which won an American Book Award and the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award. Her memoir, Crazy Brave, was the common reading for Hollins’ 2019-20 entering first-year class; it was presented the PEN USA Literary Award in Creative Non Fiction and the American Book Award.

Harjo has also published two award-winning children’s books, The Good Luck Cat and For a Girl Becoming; a collaboration with photographer/astronomer Stephen Strom; an anthology of North American Native women’s writing; several screenplays and collections of prose interviews; and three plays, including Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light, a Play, which she toured as a one-woman show and was recently published by Wesleyan Press. She is executive editor of the forthcoming anthology, When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through – A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry.

Harjo began her term as U.S. Poet Laureate last fall. Upon announcing her appointment in June 2019, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden stated, “Joy Harjo has championed the art of poetry – ‘soul talk’ as she calls it – for over four decades. To her, poems are ‘carriers of dreams, knowledge, and wisdom,’ and through them she tells an American story of tradition and loss, reckoning and myth-making. Her work powerfully connects us to the earth and the spiritual world with direct, inventive lyricism that helps us re-imagine who we are.”

Following her lecture, Harjo will host a book signing in the Green Drawing Room, Main Building.

 

Photo Credit: Karen Kuehn 


Hollins Theatre Presents Revival of “Goodnight Moon: The Magical Musical,” Oct. 19-26

The musical version of a beloved children’s story that has sold millions of copies around the world is coming back to Hollins University this fall.

Goodnight Moon: The Magical Musical returns to Hollins Theatre, October 19 – 26. Based on the 1945 book by Margaret Wise Brown, a member Hollins’ class of 1932, the tale of the bunny who won’t go to sleep was adapted for the stage by Chad Henry. It was first presented in 2011 as the inaugural production of the Hollins Legacy Series, which was created to reimagine the work of Hollins writers as plays, musicals, and original theatre pieces. Hollins Theatre featured a revival of Goodnight Moon in 2015.

“We are working to make this show a great tradition here in Roanoke and a wonderful gift from Hollins to the community,” says Ernie Zulia, director of the Hollins Theatre Institute. “Along with six public performances, we are scheduling four performances for schoolchildren and are expecting as many as 2,000 kids to arrive here on buses throughout the run of the show.”

Goodnight Moon comes to the stage with whimsical costumes designed by California designer Amanda Quivey, lighting by Hollins resident designer Ann Courtney, and scenery by Disney artist Ryan Wineinger. Zulia describes the stage set as “a wondrous room filled with toys and pictures that comes to life before your eyes. The kittens, the mittens, the red balloon, and the cow jumping over the moon are all there, along with a few surprises. Goodnight Moon really is for children of all ages – we are proud that thousands of people have already seen the show over the years, and now it’s here for a new generation to enjoy.”

Hollins Theatre’s Main Stage will host the public performances of Goodnight Moon: The Magical Musical on Saturday, October 19, at 11 a.m.; Sunday, October 20, at 2 p.m.; Thursday and Friday, October 24 and 25, at 7:30 p.m.; and Saturday, October 26, at 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children under 12. For ticket sales and more information, visit www.hollins.edu/theatre or call the Hollins Theatre Box Office at (540) 362-6517.


Hollins, Roanoke College Announce Perry F. Kendig Award Winners for 2019

Susan Jennings, Jimmy Ray Ward, and The Studio School have been honored with this year’s Perry F. Kendig Arts and Culture Awards.

Co-sponsored by Hollins University and Roanoke College, the Kendig Awards program recognizes exemplary individuals, businesses, and organizations in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Region (counties of Roanoke, Botetourt, and Franklin, the cities of Roanoke and Salem, and the town of Vinton) that support excellence in the arts.

This year’s awards were presented during a ceremony at Roanoke College’s Olin Hall on September 24, hosted by Roanoke College President Michael C. Maxey and Hollins University Interim President Nancy Oliver Gray.

Jennings recently retired as the Arts and Culture Coordinator for the City of Roanoke and formerly was executive director of The Arts Council of the Blue Ridge. She continues to be an influential member on many advisory boards for the arts and a driving force behind the creation of initiatives such as Art for Everyone, Parks and Arts, and the Elmwood Park Restoration Project and Sculpture Garden. She played an instrumental part in the rebirth of downtown Roanoke through Center in the Square and the Taubman Museum of Art.

Ward has designed sets and exhibits for roughly 160 productions in 15 locations, and also teaches Radford University students to discover their unique talents. He is respected in the artistic community for his devotion to his craft; he is considered an exemplary collaborator and problem-solver, and has been brought back time and again by many organizations. From historical to whimsical, he has the impressive ability to convince an audience and is considered an “unsung MVP” for theatrical productions.

For 28 years, The Studio School has been a pioneer in arts education for the community.  It offers art classes in all media to students from beginners to professionals. Teachers are recognized artists both locally and nationally, and their skills draw students far and wide to attend individual and/or group classes. The Studio School also provides affordable opportunities to study abroad and to experience intensive sessions with visiting artists.

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 first partnered the following year to bestow the honors. The institutions congratulate the 2019 winners.


177th Commencement Honors the Class of 2019, May 26

Hollins University will celebrate its 177th Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 26, at 10 a.m. on the school’s historic Front Quadrangle.

Undergraduate and graduate degrees will be conferred, including the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Arts and Fine Arts, and Bachelor of Science, as well as the Master of Fine Arts, Master of Arts, Master of Arts in Teaching, and Master of Arts in Liberal Studies. The following awards will also be announced:

 

  • Faculty Awards for Academic Excellence, recognizing the students with the highest academic standings in the class of 2019.
  • The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, honoring a senior and a member of the Hollins community who have shown by daily living those qualities that evince a love and helpfulness to other men and women.
  • The Annie Terrill Bushnell Award, presented to a senior who has evidenced the finest spirit of leadership during their days at Hollins.
  • The Jane Cocke Funkhouser Award, highlighting the junior or senior who, in addition to being a good student, is preeminent in character and leadership.
Shireen Lewis
Shireen K. Lewis, executive director of EduSeed and founder of EduSeed’s SisterMentors program, is the guest speaker at Hollins’ 177th Commencement.

Shireen K. Lewis, who has devoted more than 20 years to mentoring and coaching women and girls, will be the guest speaker. Lewis is executive director of EduSeed, which promotes education in historically disadvantaged and underserved communities, and founder of EduSeed’s SisterMentors program, which supports learning among women and girls of color.

Born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago, Lewis is a graduate of Douglass College, a women’s college at Rutgers University. She earned her Ph.D. from Duke University and her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. Subsequently, she was a litigator with a New York City law firm and a Legal Aid volunteer in Durham, North Carolina, and was honored by the National Association of Women Lawyers for her work on behalf of women law students. She has also taught at several universities and is past co-president of the Washington, D.C., branch of the American Association of University Women.

Lewis has helped raise funds for a teenage pregnancy program at a high school in her hometown of Fyzabad, Trinidad, and for the first school in a village in Tibet that has the unprecedented requirement that 50 percent of its students must be girls. She has served on the boards of several community organizations in the U.S. that promote education and equity for women and girls.

Hollins’ 177th Commencement Exercises will be live-streamed here.


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.