R. H. W. Dillard, Wilson Museum Honored by Arts Council of the Blue Ridge

dillardProfessor of English R.H.W. Dillard (pictured) and the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University are among this year’s winners of the Perry F. Kendig Award for Outstanding Support of the Arts, presented by the Arts Council of the Blue Ridge.

Dillard received the Kendig Award for Outstanding Literary Artist. He has taught at Hollins since 1964 and was named Virginia Professor of the Year in 1987. Other accolades include the O.B. Hardison, Jr., Poetry Prize from the Folger Shakespeare Library; the Association of Writers and Writing Programs’ George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature; and Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Fellowship of Southern Writers (which also presented him with the Hanes Prize for Poetry) and the Virginia Writers Club.  He is the author of 14 books — seven books of poems, two novels, one book of shorter fiction, two critical monographs, and two translations of classical dramas.

The Arts Council honored the Wilson Museum with the Kendig Award for Outstanding Arts & Cultural Organization. Located on the first floor of the Richard Wetherill Visual Arts Center, the museum is a premier arts destination in the Roanoke Valley featuring the work of internationally renowned artists, emerging figures, and regional names. It features three interconnected galleries totaling approximately 4,000 square feet of exhibition space. Through the generosity of a grant from Roanoke County, the museum houses a dedicated permanent Collection and Educational Resource Center, which is available to students, teachers, and other patrons who are interested in furthering their study of art in the museum’s permanent collection. It also functions as a small educational center for groups and classes, providing a forum for discussion, workshops, and projects based on exhibitions.

Named for the late Roanoke Valley arts patron and a former president of Roanoke College, the Perry F. Kendig Award was established in 1985 to recognize examples of support, involvement, accomplishment in the arts, and to inform the community about significant contributions to the arts in the region. The awards are chosen by a committee of community volunteers based on nominations from the general public. A reception and award ceremony will be held at the Taubman Museum of Art in May.


Hollins Students Recognized by the Virginia Press Association

VPATwo Hollins students have been honored by the Virginia Press Association (VPA) for work published in the Hollins Columns student newspaper.

Taylor Cannon ’13 and Lindley Taylor ’13 received awards from the VPA’s College Newspaper Contest. Cannon, one of the Columns’ co-editors-in-chief last fall, earned second place in the category of editorial writing. Taylor, who last year regularly submitted illustrations and editorial cartoons to the Columns, won third place in the illustration category.

According to its Web site, the VPA “champion[s] the common interests of Virginia newspapers and the ideals of a free press in a democratic society.” The association sponsors one of the country’s largest news contests, drawing more than 5,000 entries each year.


Hollins Riders Capture Titles at IHSA National Championships

ihsa2012Hollins University junior Sarah Brown and sophomore Catherine Hensly each won national titles today at the 2012 Intercollegiate Horse Show Association National Championships under way at the Hunt Horse Complex in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Brown, from Troy, Virginia, topped riders from the University of Colorado, Penn State, Cornell University, Boston University, and the University of Connecticut to win the Intermediate Equitation Over Fences (Individual) competition.  Her victory represents the first time a Hollins rider has won a national title in this class.

Hensly, who hails from Virginia Beach, won the Walk Trot Canter Equitation (Individual) competition, defeating riders from Penn State, Miami University, Colgate University, the University of Georgia, Virginia Tech, and Xavier University.

Junior Emma Lane Poole of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, also delivered a standout performance, taking third place in Open Equitation Over Fences.

Founded in 1967, the IHSA encompasses 29 Regions in nine Zones with more than 300 member colleges in 45 states and Canada. The organization represents more than 6,500 riders.


Hollins Celebrates the Class of 2012 at 170th Commencement

commencement2012Hollins alumna Elizabeth Brownlee Kolmstetter wished graduates “a life ahead full of continuous discovery” during the university’s 170th Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 20.

Hollins conferred 182 bachelor’s degrees and 71 master’s degrees during the ceremony, which was held on the university’s historic Front Quadrangle.

Kolmstetter, a member of Hollins’ class of 1985 and this year’s guest speaker, is deputy associate director of national intelligence for human capital within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Previously, she served as the director for human capital development at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) of the Department of Homeland Security. An industrial-organizational psychologist, she was one of the first federal employees chosen in 2002 to be part of the creation of the TSA in the aftermath of 9-11. She was directly responsible for establishing and managing the new standards and hiring system that resulted in the largest civilian workforce mobilization in U.S. history – the hiring of over 55,000 security screeners at 430 airports across the nation in less than one year.

Kolmstetter focused on the importance of maintaining “your own journey of discovery that must never end” in her address.  She shared four stories of what she personally has discovered in life:

  • “Be grateful and show it.” (“We are all here together today because of the dreams and commitments of those who have come before us and we must give thanks….”)
  • “Plan, prepare, work really hard, and be open to the unexpected in life.” (“…even those curve balls life will throw at you, that is when amazing things happen resulting in real discovery.”)
  • “Know and keep your real friends…forever.” (“[They] only have your best interest in mind, no hidden agendas, no personal gains – they will encourage you and sometimes give you the courage you need to take your own leaps of faith.”)
  • “Do what’s hardest…even something you don’t think you can do.” (“There is nothing like taking on the toughest task and surviving – indeed, thriving. It engages your mind and a sense of purpose fills your heart.”)

Following Kolmstetter’s address, Suzanne Smith Whitmore ’60, chair of Hollins’ Board of Trustees, awarded her with the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa in recognition of her personal and career achievements. “Since graduating from Hollins in 1985, you have ably served your nation and your alma mater with intelligence, perseverance, originality, and integrity,” Whitmore told Kolmstetter, who was joined on the commencement stage for the presentation by her mother, Paula Brownlee, who served as president of Hollins from 1981 to 1990.

Four graduating seniors were honored during the morning ceremony for their academic achievements. Chelsea Rose DeTorres, Laura Chelsea Woodrum, Melissa Susanna Hammond, and Eileen Michelle O’Connor each received the Faculty Award for Academic Excellence. DeTorres and Woodrum tied for the highest grade point average among this year’s graduates, while Hammond and O’Connor tied for the second-highest grade point average.

The following awards were also presented at this year’s Commencement:

  • The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, given by the New York Southern Society in memory of the founder, recognizes members of the campus community who have shown by daily living those qualities that evidence a spirit of love and helpfulness to other men and women. This year’s honorees are senior Kylie Louise McCormick and Professor of Psychology Randall Flory.
  • The Annie Terrill Bushnell Award, established by the late Mrs. William A. Anderson in memory of her mother, is presented to the senior who has evidenced the finest spirit of leadership during her days at Hollins. Elizabeth Price Dodd is the recipient this year.
  • The Jane Cocke Funkhouser Award, honoring a member of the class of 1911, recognizes a junior or senior who, in addition to being a good student, is pre-eminent in character. Senior Jessica Maria Hall was presented this year’s award.
  • The Hollins University Teaching Award, supported by an endowment established by Mary Bernhardt Decker ’58 and her late husband, James DeWitt Becker, honors secondary school teachers who have devoted their lives to preparing students to achieve and excel in a higher education setting. Each year, Hollins seniors are invited to nominate the teachers who inspired them or contributed significantly to their intellectual and personal growth. This year’s winner, nominated by senior Nancy VanNoppen, is Jack W. Bonner IV, associate head of the Asheville School in Asheville, North Carolina, where he is also the assistant head for academic affairs, chair of the curriculum committee, and on the English/Humanities faculty.

Hollins Graduate Natasha Trethewey Named U.S. Poet Laureate

tretheweyHollins University alumna and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Natasha Trethewey was named Poet Laureate for 2012-13 by the Library of Congress on Thursday.

Trethewey, the daughter of Hollins English professor Eric Trethewey, is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory University in Atlanta and served as the 2012 Louis D. Rubin Writer-in-Residence at Hollins. The Hollins Theatre staged an  adaptation of her book of poems, “Bellocq’s Ophelia,”earlier this year.

Trethewey is a native of Gulfport, MS and earned her Master of Arts degree in English and creative writing from Hollins in 1991. She won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 2007 for her collection, “Native Guard,” which pays tribute to African American soldiers who were stationed near the city during the Civil War. She has garnered numerous other prestigious writing awards and was named Mississippi’s Poet Laureate in January, a four-year appointment she will continue to hold.

Trethewey, the 19th U.S. Poet Laureate, will take up her duties in the fall, opening the Library’s annual literary season with a reading of her work on Thursday, September 13.

In announcing the appointment, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, said, “Natasha Trethewey is an outstanding poet/historian in the mold of Robert Penn Warren, our first Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. Her poems dig beneath the surface of history—personal or communal, from childhood or from a century ago—to explore the human struggles that we all face.”

Trethewey succeeds Philip Levine as Poet Laureate and joins a long line of distinguished poets who have served in the position including W. S. Merwin, Kay Ryan, Charles Simic, Donald Hall, Ted Kooser, Louise Glück, Billy Collins, Stanley Kunitz, Robert Pinsky, Robert Hass, and Rita Dove.

She is the author of three poetry collections, including “Native Guard,” (2006), winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry; “Bellocq’s Ophelia” (2002); and “Domestic Work” (2000). Her newest collection of poems, “Thrall,” is forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2012. Trethewey is the author of a nonfiction book, “Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast” (2010).

The Poet Laureate is selected for a one-year term by the Librarian of Congress. The choice is based on poetic merit alone and has included a wide variety of poetic styles.

Photo by Jon Rou


“Goodnight Moon” Among Library of Congress’ “Books that Shaped America”

goodnightmoonA classic children’s book by a Hollins-educated author has been named one of the 88 “Books that Shaped America” by the Library of Congress.

Goodnight Moon by 1932 Hollins graduate Margaret Wise Brown is among the books ”reflecting America’s unique and extraordinary literary heritage,” according to the Library. An exhibition showcasing the list is kicking off the Library’s multiyear “Celebration of the Book.”

Published in 1947, Goodnight Moon has become the quintessential bedtime story, selling more than 11 million copies worldwide (the book has been translated into French, Spanish, Hebrew, Swedish, and Hmong). The New York Public Library named Goodnight Moon one of its “Books of the Century” in 1996.

Hollins celebrated Brown’s life and work with a yearlong festival that began in June 2011. It included the Hollins Theatre’s production of the musical stage adaptation of Goodnight Moon and a performance of the classical lullaby based on the book by the Hollins University Concert Choir and the Valley Chamber Orchestra. Hollins’ Eleanor D. Wilson Museum is featuring original illustrations from Goodnight Moon in its exhibition, “Goodnight, Hush: Classic Children’s Book Illustrations,” which continues through September 15.

The Library of Congress’ ”Books That Shaped America” exhibition will be on view through September 29 in the Southwest Gallery, located on the second floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C., from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. This exhibition is made possible through the support of the National Book Festival Fund.


Playwright’s Lab Grad is Kendeda Award Finalist

gossettNeeley Gossett, a graduate of the Playwright’s Lab at Hollins University, has been named a finalist in the Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition.

The competition solicits plays from the leading MFA/graduate programs in the country and this year received approximately 90 submissions. Following a rigorous selection process, Gossett was among the four finalists chosen. Her play, Roman Candle Summer, will receive readings at New York’s Lark Play Development Center  in October and Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre in February 2013. An article on her Kendeda experience will be featured in the November/December issue of The Dramatist.

Gossett received her MFA in playwriting from Hollins this spring. Her works have been produced or read at the Manhattan Repertory Theatre, the Coastal Empire New Play Festival, the Great Plains Theatre Conference, Mill Mountain Theater, Studio Roanoke, and Atlanta’s One Minute Play Festival. She currently is a teaching artist at the Alliance Theatre, an English instructor at Georgia Perimeter College, and a contributing editor for The Chattahoochee Review.


Hollins Honors Riding Program Benefactor Mary K. Shaughnessy ’72

shaughnessyHollins University has presented its Distinguished Alumnae Award to Mary K. Shaughnessy, a 1972 graduate and accomplished equestrian who has made important and lasting contributions to Hollins’ nationally recognized riding program.

The award was established in 2006 to honor individual alumnae who have brought distinction to themselves and to Hollins through broad and inspiring personal or career achievements; local, national or international volunteer service; or playing a significant role in society.

Shaughnessy graduated first in her class and a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She earned a law degree from Yale University Law School in 1975, clerked for two years for a U.S. District Court judge in Maryland, and then practiced law for five years in Baltimore. She stopped practicing law in 1982 and taught part time at the University of Maryland Law School.

Shaughnessy’s daughter, Mary Helen, was born in 1984 and went on to become one of the top amateur equestrians in the country. Her daughter’s success inspired Shaughnessy to begin riding again. In just a few short years, Mary K. Shaughnessy was a championship rider, winning many ribbons, trophies, and prizes, including the 2012 Reserve Championship of the Winter Equestrian Festival circuit in Adult Hunter over 51. In addition, she is a member of the board of directors of the Hampton Classic Foundation, supporting one of the largest outdoor horse shows in the United States, and is a volunteer with the FTI Great Charity Challenge.

Shaughnessy has also generously given monetary gifts and seven outstanding horses to the Hollins riding program. One of the favorites is Oyster Pond, the first horse she gave to Hollins in 2003. According to Nancy Peterson, director of the riding program, Oyster Pond was a legendary show horse. As age crept up on him, he was put into the novice classes and now is assigned to the beginners. He is “absolutely the best all-around horse we’ve had in years,” said Peterson.

In conjunction with the Distinguished Alumnae Award presentation, Hollins announced it is renaming the campus pond “Oyster Pond” to further honor Shaughnessy and this beloved horse.

“What Mary K. has done for this school through her equine gifts is amazing,” Peterson said.


Playwright’s Lab Graduate’s Drama to be Produced in Los Angeles

macherThe SkyPilot Theatre Company is introducing  Los Angeles theatre-goers to a compelling new drama by a recent graduate of the Playwright’s Lab at Hollins University.

The world premiere of Samantha Macher’s  (M.F.A. ’12) play War Bride will be staged at T.U. Studios in North Hollywood, August 11 through September 16.

War Bride takes place in the fall of 1945. With the end of World War II, Private Alvin Rhodes is returning home to California with an injury he doesn’t want to discuss and a new wife, a Japanese nurse. Yumi is greeted with suspicion, fear, and even hatred. She is shy and withdrawn, but with the help of an old friend of Alvin’s mother, a Japanese/English dictionary, and 1,000 paper cranes, her story is slowly revealed.

SkyPilot says War Bride “combines sharp, witty dialogue with Japanese Butoh-influenced contemporary dance to create a completely new play that will tear at your heart while challenging your ideas of right and wrong.”

A non-profit organization, SkyPilot Theatre Company is a member of the LA Stage Alliance and is dedicated to fostering relationships with playwrights to develop the most compelling, challenging and humorous new plays. War Bride is the fourth production of the 2012 season, the company’s second full year of exclusively producing world premiere plays.


Hollins Touted by Fiske Guide to Colleges

fiskeHollins University is among “the best and most interesting colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain” according to the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2013.

Compiled by former New York Times education editor Edward B. Fiske, the guide is described as “a selective, subjective, and systematic look at 300-plus colleges and universities.”

The Fiske Guide‘s profile of Hollins features a number of student testimonials in addition to overviews of student life and the university’s academic program. One senior describes Hollins as “a close-knit community that fosters creative minds and ambitious spirits,” another says the university “has continually pushed me to be better, to achieve more, and to experience more,” and a third states, “Hollins is a great school that empowers women.”

In addition, the guide includes Hollins in the following categories: “Small Colleges and Universities Strong in Art or Design,” “Small Colleges Strong in Film/Television,” and “Small Colleges and Universities Strong in Dance.”