Hollins University has received the largest single gift assurance in the school’s 175-year history: Elizabeth Hall McDonnell and her husband, James S. McDonnell III, have arranged a commitment through the JSM Charitable Trust of $20 million.
The pledge is intended for the university’s unrestricted endowment.
“We applaud Libby and James McDonnell for their vision and generosity, and the positive and lasting influence they are making on the history of Hollins,” said Judy Lambeth, chair of the Hollins University Board of Trustees. “We rejoice in this truly significant milestone as we celebrate this year our 175th anniversary of educating women who are leading, exploring, transforming, and inspiring our communities and the world.”
Elizabeth McDonnell is a member of Hollins’ class of 1962 and has served on the university’s Board of Trustees since 2008. She and her husband reside in St. Louis, and this gift commitment continues their legacy of giving to the university: In 2015, they committed $6.5 million through the St. Louis Community Foundation to fund renovations to the university’s Dana Science Building and Hollins Theatre and to support visiting faculty in the theatre and playwriting programs. They also gave $3 million through the James S. McDonnell Family Foundation in 2009 to transform and update the theatre space.
“I thank the McDonnells for their remarkable generosity and informed understanding of the importance of an unrestricted endowment,” said Hollins President Nancy Gray. “This designation will allow us to address priority needs or fund exceptional opportunities, wherever the impact for Hollins will be the most significant.”
SECAC promotes the study and practice of the visual arts in higher education and includes individual and institutional members from across the United States. It is the second largest national organization of its kind.
Hollins’ Richard Wetherill Visual Arts Center is currently exhibiting two floors of art work in conjunction with SECAC’s annual Juried Exhibition and reception on Thursday evening, October 20. The second floor features an exhibition of relief prints from across the United States, while the third floor is displaying drawings by recent Hollins alumnae, including Katelyn Osborne, Catherine Gural, Nancy Van Noppen, JD Donnelly, Kyri Lorenz, Mary Kate Claytor, Hillary Kursh, MaKayla Songer, Meredith Stafford, Lindsay Overstreet Cronise, and Mercededs Eliassen Fleagle.
Both shows will be available for viewing through Thursday, October 27.
“We are indebted to President Nancy Oliver Gray for her generous support,” said Conference Director Kevin Concannon, director of the School of Visual Arts and professor of art history at Virginia Tech. Concannon also cited Associate Professor of Art Jennifer Anderson and Jenine Culligan, director of the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum, for their work in organizing this year’s event.
Mezzo soprano Helena Brown graduated from Hollins in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in music. Now, she’s returning to the area to perform in Opera Roanoke‘s production of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, South Pacific. The Roanoke Times’ Mike Allen talks with Brown about her musical career and how studying at Hollins “was one of the best decisions I made in the course of my life….”
Natasha Trethewey M.A. ’91 has been awarded the 2016 Fellowship for Distinguished Poetic Achievement from the Academy of American Poets.
The Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory University and former U.S. poet laureate will receive a $25,000 prize.
The fellowship has been presented annually since 1946 to a single poet, and was the first award of its kind in the United States. Previous winners include Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Frost, and Ezra Pound.
“Natasha Trethewey’s poems plumb personal and national history to meditate on the conundrum of American racial identities,” said Marilyn Nelson, chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. “Whether writing of her complex family torn by tragic loss, or in diverse imagined voices from the more distant past, Trethewey encourages us to reflect, learn, and experience delight. The wide scope of her interests and her adept handling of form have created an opus of classics both elegant and necessary.”
Trethewey’s works include Native Guard (2006), winner of the Pulitzer Prize in poetry, and three other poetry collections: Thrall (2012), Bellocq’s Ophelia (2002), and Domestic Work (2000). Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, a book of creative nonfiction, was published in 2010.
Trethewey was inducted in 2013 into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and in 2012 was named the state poet laureate of Mississippi. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Study Center, and the Bunting Fellowship Program of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard.
Truevine, the upcoming book by acclaimed author Beth Macy M.A. ’93, is one of six books that have been selected in the Nonfiction category for the Kirkus Prize shortlist.
With a prize of $50,000, the Kirkus Prize is one of the richest literary awards in the world. It is given each year to authors of fiction, nonfiction, and young readers’ literature.
Truevine, which will be published by Little, Brown on October 18, is the story of two African American brothers named George and Willie Muse from a tobacco community in Franklin County, Virginia. At the turn of the 20th century, the Muse brothers were kidnapped and exhibited as circus freaks, while their mother sought valiantly for years to bring them home.
Macy’s previous book, Factory Man, was a national bestseller.
Joining Truevine on the Kirkus Prize nonfiction shortlist are works by Sarah Bakewell, Matthew Desmond, Michael Eric Dyson, Susan Faludi, and J.D. Vance.
Winners of the 2016 Kirkus Prize will be selected on November 3 by a panel of judges made up of writers, booksellers, librarians, and Kirkus critics.
Tampa Bay Downs President and Treasurer Stella Thayer ’62 has been named one of the most influential women in Tampa Bay sports by the Tampa Bay Times.
Thayer, who began riding horses when she was five years old, has been involved with Tampa Bay Downs for more than 50 years. In 1986 she outbid New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner to purchase the horse racing facility. “Soon after,” the Times reports, “Thayer named controller Lorraine M. King as Tampa Bay Downs’ general manager. It marked the first time in turf history a thoroughbred track had separate female ownership and management.”
The Times adds, “Thayer has been a pioneer for bay area women in the business world, too. She was the first woman to preside over the Tampa Chamber of Commerce and has served on a number of boards.”
Traci DeShazor, who completed her M.A.L.S. degree in justice and legal studies at Hollins in 2010, has been named deputy secretary of the commonwealth by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
A native of Danville, DeShazor previously served as the deputy director of the Virginia Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. In this role, she worked as a federal liaison between the commonwealth, the Virginia congressional delegation, the White House, and other states and territories. Prior to joining the McAuliffe Administration, she served on the Governor-Elect’s transition team and as the African American outreach coordinator for the McAuliffe for Governor campaign.
DeShazor also holds a Bachelor of Arts in international studies from Virginia Tech and is a graduate of the Women’s Campaign School at Yale University, Virginia Commonwealth University’s Minority Political Leadership Institute, and the Sorensen Institute’s Political Leaders Program.
In the May 2016 issue of Vanity Fair magazine, author Lisa Birnbach profiles nine women’s colleges, including Hollins University. She strongly makes the case that women’s colleges remain relevant: “The richness and intimacy of these students’ experiences are enviable and inspiring. As a college-guidebook writer and a mother of college students, I have not heard so many students talk about appreciating their educations.”
Birnbach notes that Hollins’ “secret sauce is the intensely involved alumnae, who return to campus whenever they’re invited as mentors, and who provide internship opportunities to the students. It’s an irresistible combination….Students have interned at major law firms in Washington and New York, Estée Lauder, the Republican National Committee, the Stonewall Community Foundation, the Library of Congress, PBS, and the National Dance Institute.”