Hollins Featured in “The Best 380 Colleges”; Theatre Program Is Ranked Among the Nation’s 20 Best

The Princeton Review has named Hollins University one of the nation’s best institutions for undergraduate education.

Hollins is included in the new 2016 edition of the education services company’s flagship college guide, The Best 380 Colleges. In addition, the publication ranks the university 19th in the country in the category, “Best College Theater.”

According to The Princeton Review, only about 15% of America’s 2,500 four-year colleges and only four colleges outside the U.S. are profiled in the book. Published annually since 1992, it includes detailed profiles of the colleges with rating scores for all schools in eight categories, plus ranking lists of top 20 schools in the book in 62 categories based on The Princeton Review’s surveys of students attending the colleges.

“Hollins’ outstanding academics are the chief reason we chose it for this book and we strongly recommend it to applicants,” says Robert Franek, Princeton Review’s Senior VP-Publisher and author of The Best 380 Colleges.  “We make our selections primarily based on data we collect through our annual surveys of administrators at several hundred four-year colleges. Additionally, we give considerable weight to observations from our school visits, opinions of our staff and our 23-member National College Counselor Advisory Board, and an unparalleled amount of feedback we get from our surveys of students attending these schools. We also keep a wide representation of colleges in the book by region, size, selectivity and character.”

In its profile of Hollins, The Princeton Review notes, “Students at Hollins ‘adore the school.’ The women of Hollins describe themselves as ‘empowered, enthusiastic,’ ‘worldly, aware,’ ‘strong, and confident.’” Underscoring Hollins Theatre’s high national ranking in The Best 380 Colleges, the profile quotes students as stating that the program “is excellent, and the shows are always worth going to.”

The Princeton Review does not rank the colleges from 1 to 380 in any category.  Instead it uses students’ ratings of their schools to compile 62 ranking lists of top 20 colleges in the book in various categories. The lists in this edition are entirely based on The Princeton Review’s survey of 136,000 students (about 358 per campus on average) attending the colleges. The 80-question survey asks students to rate their schools on several topics and report on their campus experiences. Topics range from their assessments of their professors as teachers to opinions about their school’s library, career services, and student body’s political leanings. The Princeton Review explains the basis for each ranking list at http://www.princetonreview.com/college-rankings/ranking-methodology.

The Best 380 Colleges is the 24th edition of The Princeton Review’s annual Best Colleges book.

 


Hollins Welcomes $6.5 Million Pledge to Support Science, Theatre, and Playwriting Programs

Hollins University has received a financial commitment of $6.5 million from Mr. and Mrs. James McDonnell III to fund renovations to the university’s Dana Science Building and Hollins Theatre, and expand the number of faculty in the theatre and playwriting programs.

Pledge payments will begin in fiscal year 2015-16.

Of the total gift commitment, $4 million is earmarked to upgrade classroom furniture, research equipment, projector systems, teaching laboratories, and technology in Dana, which is home to Hollins’ biology, chemistry, mathematics/statistics, physics, and psychology departments.

“This investment gives our outstanding faculty the tools they need to continue facilitating the serious study of the sciences in a comfortable and inviting environment,” said Hollins President Nancy Gray. “We are proud of our record of preparing women for graduate school and careers in this field. These funds help make certain we can offer quality education in the sciences for many years to come.”

The remaining $2.5 million is allocated to endow a faculty chair in the theatre program ($1,000,000); endow visiting professional artist positions in the theatre program and the graduate Playwright’s Lab at Hollins University ($600,000 and $500,000, respectively); and to make capital improvements to the Hollins Theatre facility ($400,000). The latter includes ADA compliance for the theatre’s annex and the installation of a new wooden floor for rehearsal space.

“The Hollins Theatre is already a jewel in the crown of the university and is poised to become a highly competitive player in the world of academic theatres,” Gray explained. “This funding will ensure our position and continued success for our undergraduate and graduate programs.”

Gray added that the Playwright’s Lab’s first visiting artist will be Bob Moss, whom she described as “a giant in American theatre. He has over 50 years of directing experience and founded Playwrights Horizons, which produced over 150 new plays during his tenure. He has served as the artistic director of Edward Albee’s Playwrights’ Unit and has served on the faculty of Syracuse University and Ithaca College. A theatre in New York was recently named in his honor.”

Gray said that in addition to teaching and directing in the Playwright’s Lab, Moss would introduce Hollins students to top literary managers and facilitate student play readings in New York.

The McDonnells’ gift commitment continues their legacy of generosity to Hollins. In 2009, they pledged $3 million to transform and update the theatre space. Three years later, the Hollins Theatre was dedicated in their honor.


Hollins, Mill Mt. Theatre Partner to Present Winter Festival of New Works

The Hollins Theatre Institute and Mill Mountain Theatre (MMT) are joining forces to produce three never-before-seen plays as part of the Hollins – Mill Mountain Winter Festival of New Works during January and February.

The productions are all written by playwrights from the Playwright’s Lab at Hollins University and will be presented on MMT’s professional stages.

“The Winter Festival of New Works is becoming a very important part of the theatre season in town,” says Hollins Theatre Institute Director Ernie Zulia. “Exciting stuff is coming out of the Playwright’s Lab, and the festival is the major showcase for our plans, hopes, and dreams to make Roanoke and Hollins a major national force in the development of new work for the American stage.”

This year’s schedule includes:

  • Helvetica by Will Coleman
    January 16 – 17, 23 – 24 at 7:30 p.m., January 18 and 25 at 2 p.m.
    Waldron Stage, Mill Mountain Theatre
    Admission: $10 general (Purchase tickets online or call the Hollins Theatre box office at 540-362-6517.)
    With wit and charm, an unlikely guide leads bestselling children’s storybook Helvetica Burke through the adventures of life and death, family and fantasy, and past and present, encountering laughter and tears along the way. “Helvetica is a beautifully lyrical and whimsical play that is certain to grab your heart,” says Zulia. “It won this year’s top national award from the Southeastern Theatre Conference.”
  • The Adventures of Iris and Walter, based on the books of Elissa Haden Guest and adapted by Nicole B. Adkins (both Guest and Adkins earned their Master of Fine Arts degrees from Hollins in 2012)
    February 5 – 6, 10 a.m.
    Main Stage, Hollins Theatre
    February 7, 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
    Trinkle Stage, Mill Mountain Theatre
    Admission: $5 for children, $8 for adults (
    Purchase tickets online or call the Hollins Theatre box office at 540-362-6517.)
    Iris is lonely and unhappy when her family moves from the big city to the country, until she climbs a tree and meets her new best friend, Walter. A rambunctious baby sister, an ornery cousin, and several surprises present the duo with great adventures and important learning opportunities. “This is the first year we are expanding the festival into the realm of children’s theatre,” explains Zulia. The play, a Hollins Legacy Series production, is recommended for children of all ages, especially pre-K through fourth grade.
  • An Initial Condition by Taylor Gruenloh
    February 17 – 21 at 7:30 p.m., February 21 – 22 at 2 p.m.
    Waldron Stage, Mill Mountain Theatre
    Admission: $10 general (
    Purchase tickets online or call the box office at 540-362-6517.)
    Chance, a young mathematician, is brought on to help map out cancer in a young woman’s body. His determination to solve the problem of Sarah’s illness through mathematical oncology takes Chance to places that are unimaginable – professionally, emotionally, and spiritually. “An Initial Condition will also be staged in New York March 13 – 15 at Playwrights Horizons, a writer’s theater dedicated to the support and development of contemporary American playwrights, composers and lyricists, and to the production of their new work,” Zulia notes. The play is directed by Playwrights Horizons’ founding artistic director, Bob Moss.

Zulia calls the Winter Festival of New Works “the cornerstone in the growing partnership between Hollins and MMT. We are exploring new levels of collaboration that we think will advance the impact of live theatre on the Roanoke Valley.”


The Princeton Review Features Hollins in “The Best 378 Colleges”

Hollins University has been named one of the country’s best institutions for undergraduate education in the 2014 edition of The Princeton Review’s The Best 378 Colleges.

Only about 15% of the nation’s 2,500 four-year colleges are profiled in the book, which is the educational service company’s flagship college guide.

“Hollins offers outstanding academics, which is the primary criteria for our choice of schools for the book,” said Robert Franek, senior vice president at The Princeton Review and publisher and author of The Best 378 Colleges. “We base our selections primarily on data we obtain in our annual institutional data surveys. We also take into account input we get from our staff, our 35-member National College Counselor Advisory Board, our personal visits to schools, and the wide range of feedback we get from our surveys of students attending these schools. It is their opinions that college applicants often value the most, particularly on (or in absence of) campus visits. We also work to keep a wide representation of colleges in the book by region, size, selectivity and character.”

Hollins students note in the university’s profile that the school “feels like a community or family, not an institution,” and that “a Hollins education is inspiring and nothing short of life-changing.” According to The Best 378 Colleges, “The women of Hollins describe themselves as ‘empowered, enthusiastic,’ ‘worldly, aware,’ ‘strong, and confident.’”

The Princeton Review also features in the book 62 ranking lists of top 20 colleges and universities in various categories. Hollins is ranked 18th in the category, “Best College Theater.”


Hollins, Mill Mountain Theatre Host American College Theater Festival

PrintHollins University and Roanoke’s Mill Mountain Theatre will host 900 students and faculty from colleges and universities in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and southwest Virginia at the Region Four festival of the 46th annual Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF), February 4 – 8.

Individual participants and full-scale productions are eligible for awards in a number of disciplines recognizing excellence in the art and craft of theater. Individual awardees and representatives from selected productions will be brought to Washington, D.C., for an expense-paid trip to the national festival, April 14 – 19, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Productions invited to be showcased at the Region Four festival are presented by Appalachian State University, Asbury University, Auburn University – Montgomery, Clayton State University, Georgia Southwestern State University, Hollins, Morehead State University, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Mississippi, Savannah College of Art and Design, and Troy University. Ten invited productions were selected from 42 eligible productions from the region. Two additional productions earned slots after receiving recognition during the Short Play Awards at last year’s Region Four festival, including Hollins Theatre’s production of Decision Height by Meredith Dayna Levy ’12, M.F.A. ’15. The drama is the story of six women whose lives are changed when they become Women Air Force Service Pilots during World War II.

Three public performances of Decision Height will be staged on Mill Mountain Theatre’s Trinkle Stage: Friday and Saturday, January 24 – 25, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, January 26, at 2 p.m. Admission is $10. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit www.hollins.edu/theatre or call the Hollins Theatre box office at (540) 362-6313.

Launched in 1969, the KCACTF encourages and recognizes the finest and most diverse theatrical productions from colleges and universities nationwide. Through its regional and national festivals, the KCACTF celebrates the achievements of theater programs, individual students, and faculty of colleges and universities throughout the United States.

Eight regional festivals provide opportunities for colleges and universities to showcase their finest work to diverse audiences of theater students and faculty from their regions.

Since its establishment, KCACTF has reached millions of theatergoers and made important contributions to the professional development of countless college and university theater students nationwide.


Hollins University Theatre Wins Four National Awards at this Year’s Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival

PrintHollins Theatre has been recognized with national honors in production, direction, performance, and playwriting by the 46th Annual Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF), sponsored by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

Hollins’ production of Decision Height by Meredith Dayna Levy, a 2012 graduate of the university who is now pursuing her Master of Fine Arts degree in the Playwright’s Lab at Hollins, earned four awards, including Outstanding Production of a New Work; Distinguished Director of a New Work (presented to Ernie Zulia, who chairs the Hollins University theatre department); Distinguished Achievement, Performance and Production Ensembles; and the Harold and Mimi Steinberg National Student Playwriting Award for Levy.

The awards recognize individuals from across the United States for their achievements during the eight KCACTF regional festivals that were held January 7 through March 1 of this year. Hollins and Roanoke’s Mill Mountain Theatre co-hosted the Region IV KCACTF in February.

The awards were officially presented during the closing ceremony of the KCACTF national festival on Saturday, April 19, at the Kennedy Center.

“We are thrilled to be recognized by the Kennedy Center as a university that is not only creating outstanding theatre productions, but providing the training that allows students to do outstanding work,” said Zulia.

Hollins Theatre has received 14 Kennedy Center awards in the past 14 months, including two playwriting awards presented to Laura King, a candidate for the Master of Fine Arts degree in playwriting at Hollins, at the Region IV KCACTF last month, and five national Kennedy Center awards given last year to Hollins’ production of Natasha Trethewey’s Bellocq’s Ophelia.

The KCACTF encourages and celebrates the finest and most diverse theatrical productions from colleges and universities nationwide. The eight regional festivals and national festival provide an opportunity for college and university theatre departments to present their work, especially new or student-written work, and to receive outside assessment. Since its establishment in 1969, KCACTF has reached millions of theatregoers and made important contributions to the professional development of countless college and university theatre students nationwide.

 


Hollins Theatre Honored for Producing Women Playwrights

ICWPHollins Theatre is one of 67 theatre companies from nine countries cited by the International Centre for Women Playwrights (ICWP) for producing the work of women playwrights.

The ICWP has presented Hollins its 50/50 Applause Award, which spotlights theatres that produce 50% or more women playwrights in their season of shows. Theatres in Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, Italy, and the United States are among the honorees for 2014.

The award continues Hollins Theatre’s impressive run of national and international recognition. Over the past 20 months, the program has received 14 awards from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, including honors in production, direction, performance, and playwriting for Decision Height. The drama was written by Meredith Dayna Levy, a 2012 graduate of the university who is now pursuing her Master of Fine Arts degree in the Playwright’s Lab at Hollins. Two playwriting awards were also presented this spring to Laura King, a candidate for the Master of Fine Arts degree in playwriting at Hollins, and five national Kennedy Center awards were given last year to Hollins’ production of Natasha Trethewey’s Bellocq’s Ophelia.

Founded in 1988, ICWP’s mission is to support women playwrights worldwide and bring attention to their work.