Focus on Philanthropy

on January 30 | in Giving, Homepage | by

The Secular Society Scholarship

Meet the first students to receive the award

The Secular Society Scholarship

From left: Ashlyn Parsons, Chelsea Alley, Bibhu Sapkota, and Elizabeth Davis. Not shown: Mara Smith.

For the first recipients of The Secular Society Scholarship, Hollins already felt familiar by the time Tinker Day arrived last October. “It feels like we’ve been here for years already,” said Chelsea Alley, from Winter Harbor, Maine, “and we’ve been here for only two months.” Alley, like the other students selected to receive the full-tuition scholarships, has already immersed herself in campus life. “I’m not majoring in theatre,” she said, “but I was interested in being a part of the program. I’m working with Rachel Nelson [’07] to devise new work, and the fact that it’s possible to do that here without majoring in it is awesome.” Nelson is producing director for the Artistic Home, part of the Hollins Theatre Institute.

Ashlyn Parsons, from Fayetteville, North Carolina, said she was invigorated by the academic experience at Hollins. Her chemistry class with Professor Dan Derringer “made a subject that wasn’t my favorite in high school important to me again.” She aspires to double major in chemistry and theatre and to participate in the Hollins Abroad-London Theatre Semester.

“I chose Hollins because of the great biology program and the pre-vet track,” said Mara Smith, who’s from Hampton, Virginia. A keen rider, Smith hopes to take equine nutrition classes during her semester abroad in Ireland.

The students were quick to credit The Secular Society Scholarship for being a primary reason for coming to Hollins. For Bibhu Sapkota, from Mandan, Nepal, the scholarship enabled her to attend college in the United States. She plans to double major in business and economics and become an investment banker, returning to Nepal to put her education to work there.

When Elizabeth Davis, from Richmond, Virginia, visited campus as a prospective student, she “fell in love with the people here,” but she couldn’t have come without the scholarship. Interested in writing and photography, Davis hopes to become a photojournalist—but first she’d like to put her knowledge of French to use on the Hollins Abroad-Paris program.

Created to advance the interest of women and arts, The Secular Society Scholarships provide full tuition for five students this academic year and for the next three.

Photo: Sharon Meador


Mellon grant to support innovative faculty development program

Pilot program to serve as model for other colleges

Hollins received a $100,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to invest in a 30-month pilot project called “Faculty Development to Advance Liberal Arts Education in the 21st Century.” The program started the first of January and will run through June 30, 2018.

Designed to help faculty meet the challenges of teaching critical thinking and writing, the program will help identify factors that interfere with student learning and critical thinking; develop new strategies to implement a “whole learner” approach to education and strengthen students’ proficiency in critical writing; and use this knowledge to revise existing academic courses to better meet the needs of today’s students.

Vice President for Academic Affairs Patricia Hammer will serve as the project’s principal investigator. She said that first steps “will include identifying experts who will provide training for Hollins faculty during the 2016-17 academic year and selecting 18 Mellon Fellows to participate in the new faculty development program during its inaugural year. With 18 fellows to be selected each of two academic years, a total of at least 36 existing courses will be revised.”

According to President Gray, “The proposed project will also provide a model for faculty development that can be replicated at other institutions.”


New scholarship in memory of playwriting graduate

Brandon DuMonde was well known in regional theatre

Brandon DuMondeSuzanne and Louis Blair, the mother and stepfather of the late Brandon DuMonde M.F.A. ’12 (playwriting), have established the Brandon DuMonde Memorial Scholarship. The fund will provide $10,000 annually to a graduate student or students enrolled in Hollins’ graduate program in playwriting. DuMonde, a playwright, director, and theatre technician was known for her work at Hollins and also across the regional theatre community. In 2014, she returned to Hollins’ Playwright’s Lab to join the first class of the certificate program in new play directing. The scholarship was created after her untimely death last August in a car accident.

Photo: Todd Ristau


Long-term support for Short Term internships

Pearson gift endows Signature internship fund

Betty Evans Pearson ’62 contributed $400,000 to endow the Betty E. Pearson ’62 Endowed Internship Fund. This permanently endowed fund will provide assistance to sophomores, juniors, or seniors, with preference given to students majoring in business or economics, who are participating in Hollins’ January Term Signature internship program. Signature internships require an application for high-profile internships in New York, Washington, D.C., and other select cities. The fund strengthens Hollins’ ability to provide support for students seeking to enhance their liberal arts education with workplace experience.




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