Hollins University is among the 23 colleges and universities across the commonwealth taking part in Virginia Private College Week (VPCW), July 25-30.
Hollins will offer campus tours and information sessions about academic programs, admissions, financial aid, and student life, and also address some of the common myths about the cost of a private college education.
“Visiting campuses in person is one of the most important steps in the college search process,” said Robert Lambeth, president of the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia (CICV), which is hosting Virginia Private College Week. “I encourage parents to explore which college will be the best fit for their son or daughter, and I want to reassure them that a quality education at a Virginia private college is affordable and within reach.”
Students who visit at least three institutions during the week will receive three application fee waivers. Students may use these waivers to apply to any three participating CICV colleges for free. In addition, those who visit at least three colleges will be entered in a drawing to win one of five $100 Amazon gift cards.
Sessions at Hollins and most other participating colleges will begin at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday through Friday, and at 9 a.m. on Saturday. To sign up for a session at Hollins, go to our VPCW registration page. For more information about CICV and VPCW, visit the Virginia Private Colleges website.
Robert Duvall has appeared in some of the greatest movies ever made and played an array of iconic film and television roles. So, what has been the key to his success during a distinguished career spanning more than 60 years in which he has won an Academy Award, four Golden Globe Awards, a BAFTA Award, two Primetime Emmy Awards, and a Screen Actors Guild Award?
“Leave me alone,” the 91-year-old actor said bluntly but endearingly of what he has always sought from his directors. “See what I bring rather than superimposing your perceptions and concept. [Francis Ford] Coppola (who directed Duvall in 1972’s The Godfather, 1974’s The Conversation, and 1979’s Apocalypse Now) was very good at that. He wanted to see what you would bring to the table, which is a sign of a more than competent and outstanding director. I loved working with Coppola.”
Duvall recently shared his insights on acting, directing, and screenwriting during a conversation with students from Hollins University’s graduate programs in screenwriting and film studies. The event was made possible by writer/producer Colleen Hahn, a screenwriting student who first met Duvall on the set of Tender Mercies, the 1983 film that earned him a Best Actor Oscar.
“Colleen came to me and said, ‘Do you think we have any room in our schedule to talk to Robert Duvall?’” said Brian Price, director of the screenwriting and film studies programs. “I think my reaction was something like, ‘We’ll reschedule everything we have to bring Tom Hagen (Duvall’s unforgettable role in TheGodfather) to talk to us in person.’”
In paying tribute to Coppola, Duvall recalled arriving in the Philippines to work on Apocalypse Now. “The name of the character was Colonel Carnage, and it was ridiculous the way it was written. So, I said to Coppola, ‘Let me do some research.’ I got with a guy who’d been a helicopter pilot in Vietnam and he told me about the air cavalry. That helped me craft a part that made sense. Colonel Carnage was a joke, really.” Influenced as well by his own time in the service and his father’s military career, Colonel Carnage became Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore. The character would proclaim what Duvall said is one of his favorite lines of dialogue from his roles, and one of the most memorable from any film: “I love the smell of napalm in the morning. It smells like victory.”
Duvall used the anecdote in part to emphasize his firm belief that “research, research, research” is essential to crafting an impactful script. “Immerse yourself in the subject matter and then put forth something that you love. I haven’t written that many screenplays, but sometimes I just sit down and start writing and just see where it goes. I go from A to B to C to D and just follow the logic of the script.”
As an actor, Duvall noted that when he reads a script, “I look for whether I can take what’s in ink and turn it into organized behavior. ‘From ink to behavior’ is what I call it. You let your imagination take over and encompass you and propel your ideas into results.”
One of Duvall’s triumphs as an actor, director, producer, and screenwriter was 1997’s The Apostle, in which he played a Pentecostal preacher. “I was doing an off-Broadway play where I played a guy from Hughes, Arkansas. I was coming back from California and I got off the plane and thought maybe I’d like to go to Hughes to see what it’s really like there.”
While walking down the street he came upon a Pentecostal church and decided to go in. “A woman was preaching. It was the first time I had ever seen something like it. I never forgot it and that was my guide in writing The Apostle.”
Duvall said he chose to avoid going “the Hollywood route” to get The Apostle made because he feared “they wouldn’t have taken this real sense of the subject matter.” As a result, “it was quite a few years before I could actually get it done. I also put up my own money.”
The Apostle earned critical acclaim (Roger Ebert said it was “a lesson in how movies can escape from convention and penetrate the hearts of rare characters”), but the reaction from two people particularly resonated with Duvall.
“I understand that Billy Graham liked it and I know for a fact that Marlon Brando liked it. So, I got it from the religious and the secular. We tried to present this aspect of a truly American art form, the American preacher, and tried to show him without any ‘Hollywood’ around him. We made it a personal film about that clapboard church I’d seen maybe 18 or 20 years before.”
Brando’s approval was especially gratifying to Duvall. As young actors starting out years ago, “Dustin Hoffman, Gene Hackman, and I used to meet at Cromwell’s Drugstore in New York City once a week. If we mentioned Brando’s name once, we mentioned it 25 times. He was our guy, a hero to us.” Later when he first worked with him, Duvall said Brando told him, “Screw the director. Do what you want to do.”
When asked about the roles he’s enjoyed the most, Duvall cited Walter, the retired Cuban barber he played opposite Richard Harris’s Irish seaman in 1993’s Wrestling Ernest Hemingway and the title role in the 1992 HBO film Stalin. But his all-time favorite role is that of Augustus “Gus” McCrae, the former Texas Ranger turned cattle driver in the 1989 TV miniseries Lonesome Dove.
“When I was doing The Godfather, I knew we were doing something important,” Duvall said. “The only time I got that feeling again in a strong way was when I did Augustus McCrae. One day when I was playing Gus I walked into the dressing room and said, ‘We’re making The Godfather of Westerns.’”
In recent years, Duvall said he has focused mainly on small parts instead of lead roles. In terms of retirement, “There always comes a day where you say, ‘That’s it, no more.’ I haven’t quite come to that, but almost.” He believes that “there will always be good actors. But it’s all the same, it’s always ‘action’ and ‘cut.’ To live between an imaginary set of circumstances, between ‘action’ and ‘cut,’ is what you do. You try to be in touch with yourself and make that live from yourself.”
Nominations are now being accepted for the 2022 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 Monday, August 15, at 4 p.m. EDT. The nomination form and other information can be found at https://kendigawards.com/.
Celebrating 37 years of honoring excellence in arts and culture, the Kendig Awards have been co-sponsored by Hollins University and Roanoke College since 2013. This year, the awards presentation and celebration will be held at Hollins in October; more details about the event will be announced at a later date.
Kendig Awards are presented 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 eligible to be nominated as well.
“Hollins University and Roanoke College have actively sought ways for students to immerse themselves in the Roanoke Region’s vibrant arts and cultural community,” said Hollins President Mary Dana Hinton. “Our students are often fortunate to find themselves working alongside a local visual artist in their studio or in the community, performing in a local theatrical production, or learning about arts administration during an internship at a non-profit organization.”
“When the Perry F. Kendig Awards found itself without a home in 2013, Hollins and Roanoke came together to keep the tradition alive in appreciation to the Roanoke region’s cultural community resources,” added Roanoke College President Mike Maxey. “In addition, Hollins and Roanoke hope that in presenting this annual program it will build an even stronger arts and culture bridge between the campus environment and community at large.”
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.
The graduates waited an unprecedented two years for the ceremony, but the class of 2020 finally and deservedly received their moment in the morning sun as Hollins held its 178th Commencement Exercises on May 29.
The event on Hollins’ historic Front Quadrangle, which was postponed in May 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, honored members of the class who earned bachelor’s degrees that year (graduate students who earned advanced degrees in 2020 were recognized in May 2021).
Tiffany Marshall Graves ’97 was the guest speaker, fulfilling the invitation she originally received two years ago to deliver the 178th Commencement address. Since 2018, Graves has worked as pro bono counsel for Bradley Arant Boult & Cummings LLP in Jackson, Mississippi. She oversees the development and administration of the firm’s pro bono programs, which help address the unmet legal needs of indigent individuals and charitable institutions across the firm’s footprint. Prior to joining Bradley, Graves was the executive director of the Mississippi Access to Justice Commission, where she led and promoted initiatives to improve and expand access to civil justice to the nearly 700,000 Mississippians living in poverty.
The Hollins honors graduate with degrees in political science and Spanish as well as membership in Phi Beta Kappa went on to earn her law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. She focused her remarks “on three Rs – no, not reading, writing, and arithmetic – but resilience, reflection, and rest.”
Graves emphasized that “being resilient does not mean that you don’t experience stress, emotional upheaval, and suffering. Rather, demonstrating resilience includes emotional pain and suffering.
“We all know resilient people,” she continued. “I am looking at a crowd full of them now. You persevered, you overcame, and you summoned your inner strength using the tools and people around you to keep pressing forward.”
Graves stated that she did not believe that “we can ever over-reflect. Self-reflection is the process of bringing your attention to what’s happening in your life in a mindful and open-minded way. Self-reflection helps us make sense of things. To continue to learn and grow, you have to take significant steps toward loving and accepting yourself – you – in all your beauty – and it starts with making self-reflection an everyday practice.”
Resilience and reflection require a lot of work, Graves said, and she cautioned the class of 2020 that “you are going to get tired – and I want to encourage you to rest. We greatly undervalue rest. Studies have shown that in addition to improving our health, rest can make us less stressed, it can deepen our relationships, it can present opportunities for reflection, it can make us more balanced, increase our productivity, and it can allow us to build up a reserve for when unexpected emergencies happen and rest is not an option.”
Graves shared her aspirations for the class of 2020 by quoting the children’s book, I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenfield:
I wish you more ups than downs
I wish you more give than take
I wish you more tippy-toes than deep
I wish you more we than me
I wish you more hugs than ughs
I wish you more woohoo than woah
I wish you more can than knot
I wish you more snowflakes than tongue
I wish you more pause than fast-forward
I wish you more umbrella than rain
I wish you more bubbles than bath
I wish you more treasures than pockets
I wish you stories than stars
“I wish all of this for you, because you are everything I could wish for and more,” she concluded.
Following Graves’ remarks, Hollins University Trustee Sandra Kiely Kolb ’70 presented her the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa for her commitment to “the fight to secure justice for all.”
In her address, Class of 2020 Senior Class President Alex Lesniak noted, “We have the unique perspective of ‘graduating’ with two years of post-undergraduate life experience, which allows us to view our time at Hollins with a different lens.” She encouraged the class to “let this graduation ceremony highlight the things we’ve gained and accomplished,” adding, “We’ve all learned things in the wake of COVID-19, we’ve learned that life is precious, to forgive easily and show grace. We’ve learned to step outside ourselves and try to be as global and community-minded as possible, because you’ll never know when you will need something to be paid forward for you. We’ve learned how to show up for each other even when it’s hard and know that the siblinghood we have inherited by graduating from Hollins University will never dissipate.”
Lesniak reminded her classmates that “completing your undergraduate degree in the midst of a global pandemic is a milestone achievement. Not only will our senior year be memorable, but our time at Hollins as a whole. We were the largest class in many years, we experienced political upset and social and racial unrest, and finally, COVID-19. If anything, continuing to roll with the punches through these intense life events, one right after the other, should serve as a positive predictor about our class’s ability to withstand and thrive in swiftly changing environments.”
Other highlights of the 178th Commencement included the presentation of the following honors:
The First Faculty Award for Academic Excellence, recognizing the student or students with the highest academic standing in the class of 2020, was presented to April Little (French/creative writing). Madeline Clevenstine (gender and women’s studies) received the Second Faculty Award for Academic Excellence for earning the second-highest academic standing.
Megan Caldwell (international studies/history) received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Student Award. Given by the New York Southern Society in memory of the founder, this award recognizes a senior who has shown by daily living those qualities that evidence a spirit of love and helpfulness to other men and women.
The Annie Terrill Bushnell Award was given to Reilly Swennes (political science). The award honors the senior who has evidenced the finest spirit of leadership during her days at Hollins.
The Jane Cocke Funkhouser Award, recognizing the senior who is preeminent in character and leadership in addition to being a good student, was presented to Leemu Jackson (biology).
Hollins University Board of Trustees Chair Alexandra Trower ’86 assured the class of 2022 that graduation is “not an ending, but a commencement, a new beginning, a monumental moment” at Hollins’ 180th Commencement Exercises, held May 22 on the school’s historic Front Quadrangle.
Hollins conferred 193 undergraduate and graduate degrees during the morning ceremony.
Trower, who retired last year as executive vice president, global communications, for The Estée Lauder Companies, was scheduled to be the guest speaker for this year’s event, but was unable to attend in person. Hollins President Mary Dana Hinton delivered Trower’s address on her behalf.
In her remarks, Trower praised the graduating class for having done “something really, really hard. You began at Hollins, and then, right in the middle of it all, COVID-19 cracked the world open. And our old world kind of fell apart. But with the help of our incredible leader, President Mary Dana Hinton, together with the entire campus, you built a new Hollins community – this extraordinary ‘Culture of Care’ for which this wonderful class of 2022 will forever be known. You did all that during a time of racial reckoning, of political upheaval, of cancel culture, despite fear of illness and even death while still being students, artists, athletes, workers, and friends. You did not give up.”
Trower’s address offered advice to the graduates that she noted, “I wish I had known when I was in your seat decades ago.” Her lessons for the class of 2022 included:
Pick one thing. “At the start of your post-Hollins journey, pick the thing that is most important to you and go for it. I have to add one crucial fact – your most important thing will change over time. You still need to figure out what that most important thing is for you right now, but be prepared for forks in the road as you move forward.”
Ask for help. “Asking for help doesn’t mean you are weak or that you don’t know what you are doing. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Asking for help is a sign of strength and courage. And one of the best parts of Hollins is that Hollins graduates are always there to help each other. Pick up the phone, reach out on LinkedIn, send an email or a text – but ask!”
Raise your hand for everything. For Trower, that included “tasks I knew nothing about. Working on those projects with other departments, stepping in when a teammate was out, and volunteering for things no one else wanted to do helped me learn more about the organization, build my skills, and experience new areas. And it built trust. You will find that accountability matters at all levels of an organization, personally and professionally. I could trust myself to follow through. My teammates could trust me to show up. And that’s co-creating a culture that thrives.”
Be a team player. “It wasn’t just that I was willing to do the work, but that I was…someone who most people enjoyed working with. And believe me, when it’s your fourth night in a row of working past midnight, being with people you like is really important. Organically, I began building a network that meant more complex and important projects, more meaning for me, and more and more responsibility.”
Always ask, “What do you need from me?” Trower considers this to be “the most important lesson I’ve learned. Remember to ask the people that you work with: What do you need from me? What does it look like? What does success look like for you? How do you want to be communicated with, and how often? What keeps you up at night?” Trower added, “‘What do you need from me?’ is something we should also ask ourselves. Be brave enough to ask yourself, ‘What do I need in this moment?’ And graduates, this is how change happens. Every single time you expand your thinking to include even one more person, rather than just reacting and retreating – you can change the culture, and the future, for the better. You have increased the chances for more communication, more honesty, more success, and better outcomes for everyone ”
Trower concluded with a quote from the Talmud: “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”
“When we say (that quote), we are really asking the world, ‘What do you need from me?’,” she explained. “When we make intentional choices true to our calling, when we raise our hand, and raise each other up, when we take a moment and ask ourselves and the world: ‘What do you need from me right now?’, we take a step closer to becoming the person we want to be, in the world we say we want to live in. But it takes all of us. And that is a relief, because that is what Hollins is. It’s all of us.”
Other highlights of this year’s commencement included the presentation of the following honors:
The First Faculty Award for Academic Excellence, recognizing the student or students with the highest academic standing in the class of 2022, was presented to Aabhashree Lamichhane (economics) and Apoorva Verma (psychology). Nabila Nasrullah Meghjani (gender and women’s studies) and Chin Wai “Rosie” Wong (communication studies/theatre) received the Second Faculty Award for Academic Excellence for earning the second-highest academic standing.
Mary Ming McDonald (theatre/communication studies) received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Student Award. Given by the New York Southern Society in memory of the founder, this award recognizes a senior who has shown by daily living those qualities that evidence a spirit of love and helpfulness to other men and women. Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Patty O’Toole was presented the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Community Award, which is given to a person associated with Hollins who has shown in daily living and work those characteristics that exhibit the noblest of spiritual and human qualities.
The Annie Terrill Bushnell Award was given to Leena Gurung (international studies). The award honors the senior who have evidenced the finest spirit of leadership during her days at Hollins.
The Jane Cocke Funkhouser Award, recognizing the senior who is preeminent in character and leadership in addition to being a good student, was presented to Aabhashree Lamichhane (economics).
Hollins University recognized students for high academic achievement during the university’s 45th Honors Convocation on May 3.
Held each spring, Honors Convocation also highlights those faculty and staff members whose exceptional work and dedication have earned them special academic or service designation.
Student and faculty/staff awards announced at this year’s Honors Convocation include:
DEPARTMENTAL AND DIVISION AWARDS Alice Bull Biology Award
Isabella Louise Jessee ‘22
Established in 1991 by students, alumnae, colleagues, and friends in honor of Professor Alice Bull, who taught biology at Hollins from 1964 until her retirement in 1990. The purpose of the award is to provide recognition to a deserving senior and/or junior student in biology.
Andrew James Purdy Merit Scholarship in Fiction Writing Willow Marie Seymour ‘23
In memory of Andrew James Purdy, a member of the Hollins English faculty from 1968 to 1977, this scholarship is given to a senior English major pursuing an honors project in short fiction or a related literary
Andrew James Purdy Prize for Short Fiction
Winner – Griffin Harrison Plaag, M.F.A. ‘22
Runner-up – Erin Hall Comerford, M.F.A. ‘22
In memory of Andrew James Purdy, a member of the Hollins English faculty from 1968 to 1977, this award is given to a graduate student in the creative writing program who has written a body of fiction of outstanding quality.
ARETE Award in Classical Studies
Mairwen Isolde Meiying Minson ‘22
Established in 2006, this award is sponsored by the Classical Association of the Middle, West, and South (CAMWS) and is given to the junior and/or senior student(s) who have completed outstanding work in the field of classics in the past year. The awardee receives a certificate, a subscription to Classical Journal, and a free membership in CAMWS for the following academic year.
Daniel M. Murphy Prize for Spanish
Tyah Alethia Ray-Johnna Wright ‘22
This award, named for Dan Murphy, professor of Spanish at Hollins from 1993 until his death in 2012, is presented to a student of Spanish who, following Professor Murphy’s example, exhibits on a daily basis a profound love of the Spanish language and a dedication to learning about and teaching others about Hispanic cultures and literatures.
David L. Longfellow History Prize
Abigail Nicole Phillips ‘25
This prize, established in 1982 in honor of David L. Longfellow, former assistant professor of history at Hollins, is awarded to the outstanding first-year student in history.
Elise Deyerle Lewis Award
Van Hai Le ‘23
The late Elise Deyerle Lewis, class of 1927, donated a silver cup to honor the student in the junior class showing the greatest promise in mathematics. The award is in memory of Isabel Hancock, class of 1927, who was Mrs. Lewis’ roommate at Hollins, and later an outstanding teacher of mathematics at Abbot Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. The name of the student chosen is engraved on the cup, which remains on display at the university.
Elizabeth Alexander Thomas Award
Eleanor Linette Robb ‘24
This award, in memory of Elizabeth Alexander Thomas, class of 1968, recognizes and rewards one or more rising sophomore, junior, or senior art history majors whose academic work in art history shows exceptional depth and promise and to provide support for the art history department. Awarded funds may be used by the recipient(s) for any expenses related to academic work in art history, including museum admission fees and travel to collections and galleries.
Elizabeth Kennedy Chance Award
Aabhashree Lamichhane ‘22
Abhigya Tamang ‘23
Established by John K. Chance in memory of his mother, class of 1922, this award is given for excellence in economics.
Evelyn Bradshaw Award for Excellence
Sarah Kathleen Vinson ‘22
This award, established in 1997 and given in honor of former Horizon Program Director Evelyn Bradshaw ’88, recognizes an outstanding Horizon student who inspires others through her perseverance, positive attitude, pursuit of knowledge, and love of Hollins. The chosen student will have her name engraved on a plaque that will remain at the university.
F.J. McGuigan Psychology Award for Excellence
Apoorva Verma ‘22
Established in 1974, this award, consisting of books and a certificate, is presented for excellence in undergraduate and graduate education and research.
Frances Niederer Scholars
Sara Ann Ficke ‘22
Kennah Nicole Hebert ‘23
Ashley Nichole King ‘23
An anonymous donor established a scholarship fund in 1983 to honor Frances J. Niederer, professor of art history at Hollins from 1942 until her retirement in 1980. The art department selects two outstanding art majors, at least one of whom is specializing in art history, as recipients in their senior year of the Frances Niederer Scholarships.
Gedin Cabrera ‘22
The purpose of this award is to recognize a student who throughout her time at Hollins has remained dedicated and committed to her activities on campus in a way that provides a quiet yet vital force in our community. It is for someone who has never reached out for the spotlight and has not been recognized for her efforts formally, but has still continued to work humbly and diligently in what she does to positively affect our campus.
Gertrude Claytor Poetry Prize
Winner – Griffin Harrison Plaag, M.F.A. ‘22
Honorable Mention – Anne-Sophie Louise Olsen, M.F.A. ‘22
This prize of the Academy of American Poets is given to a graduate or undergraduate student for the best poem or group of poems.
Katherine “Katy” Babineau ‘24
This award, in recognition of special accomplishments in the study of German language and literature, is presented by the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Herta Freitag Award in Mathematics
Akshita “Akshi” Agarwal ‘22
Simran Parajulee ‘22
The purpose of this award is to recognize an outstanding senior student in mathematics at Hollins who plans either to teach mathematics or pursue a career field related to mathematics.
Hollins Fiction Prize
Willow Marie Seymour ‘23
Established by Sally Durham Mason, class of 1959, in honor of Louis D. Rubin Jr., a member of the Hollins English faculty from 1957 to 1967. This award is given to an undergraduate student who has done outstanding work in the writing of fiction.
International Studies Award for Academic Excellence
Chanmolis “Molly” Mout ‘23
This award is given to a student for outstanding work in international studies during the academic year.
James Lewis Howe Award in Chemistry
Hannah Claire Arthur ‘22
This award is sponsored by the Virginia Blue Ridge Section of the American Chemical Society and is given each year to the outstanding chemistry major from each of the 14 colleges or universities within the section’s boundaries.
J.F. Maddox Foundation Award for Excellence in French
Zoe Madeline Thornhill ‘22
Isabella Grace Taylor ‘22
Amy “Faith” Herrington ‘22
Awarded annually to a student who has demonstrated superior achievement in French.
Judith Gregory Smith Award
Winner – Tram Nguyen ‘24
Winner – Olivia Kathryn Sacci ‘24
Honorable Mention – Ellie Eunbee Song ‘24
This award is given by Judith Riddick Reynolds, class of 1915, in memory of her granddaughter, Judith Gregory Smith, who would have been a fourth-generation alumna in the class of 1990. It recognizes excellence in the natural sciences.
Lisa Lindsey Award for Excellence in Theatre Arts
Elizabeth Ann Marie Dion ‘22
Nabila Nasrullah Meghjani ‘23
Deirdre Kelly Price ‘22
Chloe Fiona Mahalek ’22
Established by Mary Varner Meryweather, class of 1941, as a memorial to her classmate and friend, Lisa Lindsey, this award, consisting of a cash prize and a certificate, is presented annually to a student who demonstrates outstanding achievement in theatre arts.
Mae Shelton Boger Award
Selden DuBose Frissell ‘23
Mae Shelton Boger, class of 1941, derived particular pleasure from her studies in French. This endowed award, given in her memory, is presented annually to an outstanding student of French who combines sound scholarship with pleasure in the pursuit of her studies.
Margaret Markley Smith Awards
Amy “Faith” Herrington ‘22
Sylvia Raven Lane ‘22
Abigail “Abbey” Hegwood ‘22
Winner – Tabitha Renee Gills ‘22
Winner – Deirdre Kelly Price ‘22
Winner – Natalia Wioletta Sarram ‘22
In memory of Margaret Markley Smith, class of 1938, these awards are given to a senior majoring in art and a senior majoring in English for outstanding work.
Marion Garrett Lunsford Award
Maya Florence Ponnuswami-Hart ‘22
Samantha “Sami” Hoyer ‘22
Established as a fund in memory of Marion Garrett Lunsford, class of 1926, this award is given annually to a member of the senior class for distinguished accomplishment in music.
Mary Houska Scholarship
Egypt Tierra Matthews ‘23
Ambrielle Elizabeth Viney ‘23
The purpose of this award is to recognize an outstanding upperclass economics or business major who has demonstrated superior academic performance.
Mary-Barbara Zeldin Award
Emily Michelle Bulifant ‘22
This award, established by students, colleagues, and friends in honor of Professor Mary-Barbara Zeldin, who taught philosophy at Hollins from 1953 until her death in 1981, is given to a rising junior, rising senior, or senior for excellence in philosophy.
Mary Vincent Long Award in English
Grace Anita Gaynor ‘22
In memory of Mary Vincent Long, a member of the Hollins English faculty from 1938 to 1959, this award is given to a senior English major who exemplifies in the study of literature “a mind capable of going beyond concern with immediate facts to understanding and creation.”
Melanie Hook Rice Award in Creative Writing
Winner – Griffin Harrison Plaag, M.F.A. ‘22
Runner-up – Emily Elizabeth Davis-Fletcher, M.F.A. ‘23
Runner-up – Meghana Mysore, M.F.A. ‘22
In memory of Melanie Hook Rice, class of 1975, this award is given to a graduate or undergraduate student in the creative writing program who has demonstrated considerable writing skills and has either completed or made substantial progress toward writing a book-length work of nonfiction.
Melanie Hook Rice Award in the Novel
Winner – Jamie Elizabeth Hudalla, M.F.A. ‘22
Runner-up – Meghana Mysore, M.F.A. ‘22
Runner-up – Cameron Kenley Vanderwerf, M.F.A. 22
In memory of Melanie Hook Rice, class of 1975, this award is given to a graduate or undergraduate student in the creative writing program who has demonstrated considerable writing skills and has either completed or made substantial progress toward writing a novel.
Mildred Persinger ’39 – Shocky Pilafian Award in Gender and Women’s Studies
Emily Michelle Lauletta ‘22
Nabila Nasrullah Meghjani ‘22
This award acknowledges excellence in academic achievement as well as significant contributions to social activism both within the Hollins community and beyond. The award seeks to recognize gender and women’s studies graduates who are working to effect social change and bring about social justice in a variety of arenas. This award is given to a graduating gender and women’s studies major.
Nancy Ellen Couper Ault Award in Ethics, Morals, and Values
Mohini Sudhakar ‘24
Available to any student of the college and is accordingly an interdisciplinary honor, encourages students to think critically about important ethical questions affecting a broad range of endeavors.
Nancy Penn Holsenbeck Prize
Winner – Vanity Leya Hernandez ‘24
Winner – Lindsey Smith Hull ‘23
In memory of Nancy Penn Holsenbeck, class of 1938, this award is given to a rising sophomore, junior, or senior English major who has demonstrated both a love and a command of the English language.
Nancy Thorp Poetry Prize
Sophia Khan ‘22
Juliet “Jules” Pleskach ‘25
In memory of Nancy Thorp, who attended Hollins from 1956 to 1958, this award is given to an undergraduate student who has written the best poem to appear in the student-produced literary magazine Cargoes.
Nicole Kohn Film Award
Naomi Rajoo ‘23
This award is given in memory of Nicole Kohn, class of 2002, to a filmmaking student of exceptional promise.
Patricia Dowd Overall Award
Grace Marie Hilton ‘22
Patricia Dowd Overall is a member of the class of 1954. In her honor a prize is given annually to the student who, in the judgment of the department of education, has demonstrated in the schoolroom the greatest mastery and promise in the art of teaching.
Pi Sigma Alpha Award
Christine Marie Emeric-Martinez ‘22
This award is given to the senior with the highest grade point average in courses taken in political science.
Sarah M. Cook International Studies Award
Zahin Mahbuba ‘22
The purpose of this award is to recognize an outstanding undergraduate student majoring in international studies.
Stephanie Mahan Hispanophile Award
Fanny “Isabel” Estrada Lago ‘22
This award is given to a senior Spanish major or minor whose enthusiasm and outstanding interest in things Hispanic most closely mirror the example set by Stephanie Lynn Mahan, class of 1995. Specifically, this student must have sought out first-hand experience in the Spanish-speaking world and must have generously shared her knowledge of that world with her peers.
Wyndham Robertson Library Undergraduate Research Awards
Elizabeth Lindsey Klein ‘23
Deirdre Kelly Price ‘22
Established in 2011 by the library for the recognition of exemplary undergraduate student research projects completed in Hollins courses. Two prizes are awarded, one to a first-year or sophomore and one to a junior or senior.
The Herta Freitag Faculty Legacy Award
Mary Jane Carmichael, assistant professor of biology and environmental studies
Awarded to a full-time teaching faculty member who has received external recognition of professional excellence from the last three years in the form of publications and papers, exhibits and performances, prizes, and other related expressions of their work.
Senior Class Faculty Award
Courtney Chenette, assistant professor of political science
Given by the senior class to a faculty member who has made a significant impact on their lives.
Hollins Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award
Initiated in 2021, recognizes two members of the faculty – one full-time tenure-track/tenured faculty member, and one non- tenure track faculty member – who motivate and inspire students through the demonstration of exemplary teaching practices, and who have made a positive impact on the teaching culture of the University through innovative and high-impact teaching methodologies, inclusive pedagogies, community engagement in teaching/learning, creative and/or interdisciplinary course development, instructional support, and/or campus leadership around pedagogy. Given that the inauguration of the award last year was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year the award was presented to two tenured or tenure-track faculty and two non-tenure-track faculty members.
Tenured/tenure track category:
LeeRay Costa – professor of anthropology and gender and women’s studies and director of faculty development
Non tenure track category:
Heather Derrick – lecturer of communication studies and director of oral communications
Roberta A. Stewart Service Award
Jeri Suarez, associate vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion
Granted to a Hollins employee who demonstrates long-term service, loyalty to the university, and deep caring for students and colleagues.
President Mary Dana Hinton invited the Hollins community to “believe that the essence of the liberal arts – the freeing of minds – demands the freeing and nurturing of imagination” during her installation as Hollins University’s 13th president on April 22.
With a theme of “Imagining a Community of Learning, Belonging, Love, and Justice,” Hinton, who took office in August 2020, was inaugurated before students, faculty, staff, alumnae/i, trustees, and special guests in Jessie Ball duPont Chapel.
In her address, Hinton described “the intense calling toward imagination that I have been feeling. A calling I have been aware of my whole life. A calling that is a rekindled flame in my soul.” She noted that “robust imagination is not just the territory of children; it is not the stuff of make-believe. Imagination is kindled in unsuspecting moments, quiet places, and deep rituals. Imagination is the innermost, profound work of thinking about life through an unexplored lens. Of looking at one’s circumstances and being able to conceive something different. Often something more.”
Speaking of how fortunate she feels to have had “an education that unleashed my imagination,” Hinton explained, “My will for that education was a result of imagining something different. I imagined freedom; I imagined opportunity; I imagined unconditional love. And it was a liberal arts education that unlocked those imaginings for me. To me, the examination and manifestation of imaginings is what education is all about. So let us imagine a community of learning.”
Hinton called liberal arts education “the work – the action if you will – of the moral imagination, the creative energy and effort to understand or visualize the struggle of another and to then harness the effort to bring to fruition the needs or imaginings of another. It is seeing, valuing, and supporting the human potential of another.”
She acknowledged that her concept of the liberal arts conflicts with the conventional wisdom “that the liberal arts are for those who breathe the most rarefied of air. That to examine the big questions of life should be left to those for whom it is their legacy.” Countering that approach, she argued that “limiting and circumscribing how we think about education and who has access to it is a failure of imagination. That to shroud oneself in exclusion in the name of the liberal arts is to fundamentally misunderstand and misappropriate that very thing we claim to love.
“The liberal arts are for those whose minds imagine freedom, who imagine something different, who imagine something more. A liberal arts education is a call to imagine for the sake of creating and transforming. Creating and transforming self, creating and transforming community, and creating and transforming the world around us.
“This notion of imagination is, in many ways, baked into the very fabric of Hollins. When I ask this community – the Hollins community – to imagine with me, I ask that we live into our institutional calling.”
Emphasizing the crucial role of justice and equity, Hinton talked about what was required for Hollins to continue thriving. “We must ensure every student has the opportunity to be successful. We must rebuke the perpetuation of inequity. This is the exhausting work of imagination; the justice work of imagination; the joyful work of imagination. If you choose to take up the mantle of imagination with me – the work of learning and crafting justice and joy – we need to find the peace, the courage, and the compassion to sustain ourselves through this work.”
Hinton concluded by asking the audience to envision “the dawn of a new day” and uphold three guiding principles for the future:
“Imagine: You belong.
“Imagine: You are enough.
“Imagine. You are loved.”
She added, “Imagine all these things because you are fearfully and wonderfully made. And may you come forth this day to embrace everything you imagine with hope, purpose, and joy.”
Dr. Marjorie Hass, president of the Council of Independent Colleges, delivered the inauguration’s keynote speech. Introduced by President Emerita Nancy Oliver Gray, Hass praised the event as “a momentous day for this campus and for all of higher education. Hollins has a storied history of devotion to the intellectual progress of women and a commitment to creativity, self-expression, and problem solving. Beyond degrees and career preparation, a Hollins education aims at the spirit. Here students are helped to see that their insights, their words, and their actions matter. Hollins cultivates habits of mind such as humility, consistency, compassion, and respect.”
Hass stated that leaders with courage and grace such as Hinton will be essential in addressing the challenges and pressures that liberal arts colleges face both today and in the future. “The graceful leader shines her light on the things that matter. She makes a space for others to shine, to make good, and to make a gift of themselves. Everyone has a place at her table. She finds the best in us and she inspires us to give each other the benefit of the doubt and to give others more than they are strictly due.
“How fortunate we are to have Mary as our model and our friend.”
Other highlights of the inauguration ceremony included:
A land acknowledgement by Cecelia Long ’70, the first African-American graduate of Hollins and a former member of the school’s Board of Trustees. Long recognized the Tutelo/Monacan people, as well as other Indigenous peoples, whose land on which Hollins now resides.
A reading by former U.S. Poet Laureate and current member of the Hollins Board of Trustees Natasha Trethewey M.A. ’91.
Community greetings from Student Government Association President Leena Gurung ’22 (on behalf of students); Professor of Music and Chair of the Faculty Judith Cline (on behalf of faculty); Joe Vinson, custodian (on behalf of staff); Antoinette Hillian ’00, president of the Alumnae/i Association Board of Directors and member of the Hollins Board of Trustees (on behalf of alumnae/i); Hollins Magisterial District Representative Phil C. North (on behalf of Roanoke County); Sherman P. Lea Sr., mayor of Roanoke, and Patricia White-Boyd, vice mayor of Roanoke (on behalf of the City of Roanoke); and Betsy B. Carr ’68, member of the Virginia House of Delegates (on behalf of the commonwealth of Virginia).
Music by Helena Brown ’12, soprano, of New York’s Metropolitan Opera; and the Hollins University Choirs.
In an unprecedented time that has witnessed the COVID-19 pandemic, the January 6 insurrection, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and other crises, Valarie Kaur understands why words such as “discontinuity” and even “apocalypse” have been used by thought leaders to describe this period of history. The civil rights activist, lawyer, award-winning filmmaker, educator, and innovator is convinced that in order for the world to persevere, “revolutionary love is the call for our times.”
Kaur explored how the idea might be put into practice during an address before Hollins students, faculty, and staff and members of the community at large in Talmadge Recital Hall on Wednesday, April 20. Her lecture was presented by the university’s Distinguished Speakers Series and helped kick off Hollins’ celebration of Dr. Mary Dana Hinton’s inauguration as the university’s 13th president.
According to Kaur, revolutionary love is “a revolution of the heart. Now, what is love in the face of what we are up against? The problem is not with love, it’s with the way we talk about it. We tend to think of love as this rush of emotions, but it’s more than that. I define revolutionary love as a choice to love beyond what evolution requires. What happens when we love others we do not know? What happens when we show up with that kind of love, even for our opponents? When we love ourselves, whom we too often neglect? When we lead with love, we learn joy, and joy returns us to everything that is good, beautiful, and worth fighting for. Joy is the energy that keeps us laboring, and revolutionary love is the choice to enter into that labor for others, for our times, and for ourselves.”
While revolutionary love has never been more vital, Kaur emphasized that it’s actually an ancient concept. “For 2,000 years, we’ve had spiritual leaders, social reformers, and Indigenous healers call us with that song of love. In every culture around the world, we’ve had prophetic voices ask us to expand our hearts beyond what we thought was possible, because we are connected. And, scientists are confirming evidence of that. We know now that we share a common ancestry with every living being. We know we are breathing in air that contains atoms that circulated in the lungs of our ancestors. We know that we are made of compounds that first formed in long-distance stars. We can look upon the face of anyone and say, ‘You are a part of me.'”
A key tenet of revolutionary love is an orientation Kaur called “Seeing No Stranger,” which is also the title of her best-selling book. “The choice to labor for others begins with wonder and the need to feel for another and compassion to feel as another. Those are tools that come and go, ebb and flow, but that first primal act is to wonder about others and to see others as a part of yourself. When we train our eyes to see that way, we are opening ourselves up to the possibility of being changed by their story, their interaction, and possibility their pain, which brings us to a second practice of grieving with others. You don’t have to know people in order to grieve with them. And in grieving with others in harm’s way, you get information for how to fight for them. Each of us has the ability to do the one thing for our communities for those who most need us.”
Wondering, grieving with one another, and fighting for one another are all components of what Kaur describes as “deep solidarity. What if we could take that kind of love and make it the way we are with each other? What if we could build communities so that every classroom, every campus, every workplace, every neighborhood is where that kind of recognition can transform the world around us?”
A healthy practice of revolutionary love in the face of conflict, Kaur said, necessitates a reassessment of one’s adversaries. “I don’t use the word ‘enemy.’ An enemy is a fixed and permanent identity.” Instead, she prefers “opponent” because it’s more fluid. “An opponent is anyone whose words, ideas, or actions are not what I stand for, but I listen to their stories and I see their wounds. I’ve come to understand that there are no such things as monsters in the world. There are only human beings who are wounded from fear, insecurity, greed, or blindness. When we see their wounds, they lose their power over us. What are the contexts, the cultures, the institutions that I can change that would stop them from being this way again and again?” Showing love even to opponents is termed “Tend the Wound” by Kaur, but the practice “depends on tending to our own world first. The solution is not to suppress your rage or to let it explode, but to process it in ‘safe containers’ such as singing, dancing, or wailing. I call that harnessed rage ‘divine rage.'”
Kaur uses the experience of childbirth “and all the ferocity of mothering inside me” as the basis for describing this current era as “The Great Transition.”
“Transition is the final and most painful stage of labor,” she explained. “You’re trying to catch your breath from contraction after contraction. It feels like dying. And yet, this is the stage that precedes the birth of new life. It is convulsive and yet pregnant with possibility.” Kaur added that in The Great Transition, “we realize that separateness is an illusion. The only way we can stand is with one another. The only way we will find longevity and resilience is if we do so in community.”
Kaur cautioned the audience that “this era of transition will last our lifetime. We may not live to see the world that is longing to be born. So our labor can’t just be a means to an end, it has to be an end unto itself. This is where we find the meaning of life. And what [our descendants] will inherit from this time will not be our trauma, but our bravery and even our joy.”
Hollins’ Distinguished Speakers Series was launched in 2001 when the university received an anonymous gift to support bringing to campus leading national and international experts from a variety of fields. The goal of the series is to enlighten students, faculty, and the community at large, whether their interests lie in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, or fine arts.
Hinton became president of Hollins on August 1, 2020. Her achievements during her time in office include:
Welcoming a $75 million gift from an anonymous alumna donor, the largest in Hollins’ history and the largest donation ever received by a women’s college.
Securing almost $10 million in gifts to fund the Imagination Campaign, encompassing new programs that could be revenue-generating and sustainable. Among these initiatives is the Hollins Opportunity for Promise Through Education (HOPE) scholar program, which lifts the burden of private college tuition for area students with financial need.
Leading the creation of a new student affairs ecosystem by transitioning the area into the Office of Student Success, Well-being, and Belonging, which will provide the care, support, and experiences necessary for students to persist and thrive at Hollins.
Guiding the development and adaptation of a Culture of Care, which has enabled the campus to successfully navigate the COVID-19 pandemic while moving carefully forward in community.
Hinton is chair of the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and chairs the AAC&U’s Presidents’ Trust. She is a member of the board of directors for Interfaith Youth Core, Saint Mary’s School, and The Teagle Foundation. She is currently serving a three-year term as an at-large board member with the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and is a member of the Lumina Foundation’s Quality Credentials Task Force.
Hinton speaks frequently in the U.S. and abroad on topics related to the liberal arts and inclusion. She teaches in the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education doctoral program in higher education management and the CIC President’s Institute New President Program.
Prior to coming to Hollins, Hinton served as president of the College of Saint Benedict in Minnesota.
“Imagining a Community of Learning, Belonging, Love, and Justice” is the theme of the inauguration celebration, which will feature a keynote address by Dr. Marjorie Hass, president of the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC). Hass has devoted her career to strengthening independent higher education in various leadership roles. Before becoming president of the CIC in July 2021, she served as president of Rhodes College for four years and president of Austin College for eight years.
Other highlights of this week’s inauguration include a lecture by civil rights advocate and best-selling author Valarie Kaur on Wednesday, April 20; a Performing Arts Showcase and Student Open Mic on Thursday, April 21; an Undergraduate Research Showcase on Saturday, April 23; and a celebration on Sunday, April 24, of 180 years of preparing students for lives of active learning, fulfilling work, personal growth, achievement, and service to society.
Hollins University is welcoming to campus a leader whom The Center for American Progress calls “a standout figure in the world of interfaith organizing and activism.”
Civil rights activist, lawyer, award-winning filmmaker, educator, innovator, and best-selling author of See No StrangerValarie Kaur will present a lecture on Wednesday, April 20, at 7 p.m. in Talmadge Recital Hall. A reception and book signing will follow in the Lewis Reading Room, Wyndham Robertson Library.
The event is part of Hollins’ celebration of Dr. Mary Dana Hinton’s inauguration as the university’s 13th president. Kaur’s lecture is free and open to the public, but registration for in-person attendance is required along with COVID-19 vaccination status verification, including boosters (the online registration form includes an option where vaccine cards may be uploaded). Masks will also be required for all in-person audience members.
Alternatively, the general public may watch Kaur’s lecture via livestream. Registration is not required for livestream viewing.
Kaur leads the Revolutionary Love Project to reclaim love as a force for justice. She has won policy change on multiple fronts – hate crimes, racial profiling, immigration detention, solitary confinement, Internet freedom, and more. She founded Groundswell Movement, Faithful Internet, and the Yale Visual Law Project to inspire and equip advocates at the intersection of spirituality, storytelling, and justice. Kaur has been a regular commentator on MSNBC and contributor to CNN, NPR, PBS, The Hill, Huffington Post, and The Washington Post. She earned degrees at Stanford University, Harvard Divinity School, and Yale Law School.
The lecture is a part of Hollins’ Distinguished Speakers Series. In 2001, the university received an anonymous gift to support bringing to campus leading national and international experts from a variety of fields. The goal of the Distinguished Speakers Series is to enlighten students, faculty, and the community at large, whether their interests lie in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, or fine arts.