November 22, 1963: Hollins Remembers

kennedyThe start of any given weekend usually brings joy to a college campus, but the fourth Friday in November 1963 began with particular excitement at Hollins College. Cotillion, one of Fall Term’s most eagerly anticipated events, was scheduled to take place that weekend, and many students were busy getting ready to welcome their dates from other area colleges and universities, and even from outside Virginia, for the special occasion.

That exhilaration was shattered in the early afternoon hours of November 22 when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Now, as the nation observes the fiftieth anniversary of the president’s death, Hollins alumnae who were students at the time have shared their recollections of where they were when they heard the heartbreaking news and how they dealt with something so inconceivable.

Preparing for Cotillion, Marya Goldman Repko ’64 recalled, “I was in Roanoke buying nail polish when I noticed all the sales staff in the department store were in tears. They explained that President Kennedy had been shot.

“I took the bus back to Hollins and joined the rest of the dorm in front of the television.”

Carolyn Engel Amiot ’64 was living in Barbee House that year. “I remember it like it was yesterday. I was lying on my bed reading Time magazine. Suddenly, I heard someone yell, ‘Kennedy’s been shot.’ I raced downstairs to the living room and we turned on the black-and-white TV. It was just all so unbelievable. You can imagine the impact this had…the Kennedy assassination was probably the most shocking news event to shake our country in modern times – at least it was for my generation.”

Though she has never considered herself a religious person, Alison Ames ’66 remembered after the news broke that she suddenly felt “the unlikely urge to go to the chapel. By the time several of us had rounded the corner between Main and East, many others had joined in the stream, even before the chapel bells began to ring. Many were in tears, and everyone was talking at once.”

Cotillion was cancelled (it would later be rescheduled for February 1964). While many of the students’ dates had already embarked on their journey to Hollins for the weekend festivities, Anne Wetzell Williams ’64 recounted she was able to reach her boyfriend, who was flying down from Ohio State, to alert him about the cancellation before he left: “That ‘boyfriend’ has been my husband for 46 years and he remembers that day as well.”

For the dates who arrived from Washington and Lee, the University of Virginia, and other schools, students made plans to gather as the campus and the nation began to grieve.

“Several classmates called a nearby restaurant and arranged for a sizable number of dates and Hollins girls to have dinner,” explained Amiot. “It was very solemn.”

The following day, Amiot’s date, a UVa Law School student, suggested taking a drive into the rural areas outside of Roanoke.

“We drove through many communities, some without electricity,” she said. “We wondered whether the people living in those homes had even heard about Kennedy’s death.

“I will always remember that drive. It struck me then and it strikes me now as being a very appropriate thing to do. It was a chance to be quiet, think about the tragedy, and come to grips with its enormity.”

Even though they cannot forget the sorrow they experienced the day of the assassination, some Hollins alumnae have continued through the years to cherish happier memories of Kennedy’s life. Virginia Cone ’62 looked back fondly on his visit to Roanoke during the 1960 presidential election campaign.

“A sizable group of students went to greet JFK at the airport. Some of us managed to get to the front of the large crowd, and I remember at lot of pushing – not unruly or mean, just people wanting to see. In those days, crowds could get very close to the political candidates! I recall reaching up to steady myself on some sort of a railing. Before I realized how close I was to the people on the platform, someone grabbed my hand – I looked up into the face of JFK, and said, ‘I sure hope you win!’ And, of course, he did!”

Cone was pursuing a master’s degree and working as a graduate assistant at Mt. Holyoke College when Kennedy was assassinated. “I had a small radio in my lab and recall sitting at my desk listening to it, remembering the surprise ‘handshake’ in Roanoke and the dreams and accomplishments of JFK…and weeping.”

At its December 1963 meeting, the Student Government Association approved a resolution establishing the John F. Kennedy Memorial Fund. According to the December 12 issue of the Hollins Columns that year, the fund was “to be used by Hollins for special books on all phases of American culture” and welcomed pledges for donations through the following March.

The same issue of the Columns also featured a letter from a Hollins student who paid tribute to First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. She wrote, “Having just witnessed four grim days that now belong to history, I wish to express my extreme admiration for the new widow of the late President of the United States, John Kennedy. Her behavior was indeed magnificent. Now, even more, she is truly our First Lady.”

As the nation revisits its collective astonishment and anguish over the Kennedy assassination, still terrible and vivid fifty years later, Amiot reflected on the continuing struggle to make sense of it:

“History is magic. Sometimes it is triumphant. Unfortunately, other times it is very tragic.”

Photo: Student supporters of  John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon rally on campus during the presidential campaign of 1960.


Class Ring Is Returned to Hollins Alumna Seven Decades After Its Loss

lostringHollins alumnae are renowned for their strong sisterhood, and their passion in going the extra mile for one another was wonderfully on display again recently in a feature story published by a South Carolina newspaper.

The Rock Hill Herald chronicled the discovery of a Hollins class ring on eBay, the online auction website, by Kathleen McDonald Roglan ’97. She contacted the alumnae relations office at Hollins for help in finding the ring’s original owner and learned it belonged to Frances McDowell Leitner ’39 (pictured here from her senior yearbook), who lost the ring in a Petersburg, Virginia, train station around 1941. Working through Leitner’s daughter, Frances Leitner Rouse ’73, Roglan returned the ring to Leitner at her home in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

Read the entire amazing story of how Leitner was reunited with her class ring after 72 years at http://www.heraldonline.com/2013/10/09/5287409/after-72-years-rock-hill-woman.html  and watch her first-person account at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpdzFe5cfsU.


Conference Brings Students, Alumnae Together to Explore Translating a Liberal Arts Education Into a Satisfying Career

Acareerpproximately 100 Hollins University alumnae returned to their alma mater to share tips, tools, and tricks of the trade with hundreds of current students on landing that first job during Hollins’ second annual Career Connection Conference (C3) on October 10.

Keynote speaker Carla Harris of Morgan Stanley, recently appointed by President Obama to serve as chair of the National Women’s Business Council, gave this year’s C3 a spirited kick-off, energizing a capacity audience in the Hollins Theatre with the “pearls of wisdom” she has learned through more than two decades of working on Wall Street.

“What are some of those things that really inform your success equation and make the difference between just surviving and thriving? That’s what the pearls are all about,” she explained.

Along with extolling the importance of mentors, sponsors and advisors throughout one’s career, Harris emphasized the following key messages to students:

  • “Perception is the co-pilot to reality – how people perceive you will directly affect how they deal with you.  What lens are they looking through when they’re looking at you?”
  • “If you are going to be a leader in the 21st century you must be comfortable taking risks. Fear has no place in your success equation.”
  • “If you want to maximize your success, you must bring your best authentic self to the table.”

Following the keynote address, students and alumnae engaged in workshops and presentations on a wide range of topics, including internships, building an effective résumé, interviewing dos and don’ts, using technology and networking, and workplace etiquette. Students also attended panels on how to translate their liberal arts education into careers in financial services, law, science, nonprofit and religious service, visual arts, media and public relations, performing arts, education, healthcare, government and public service, and entrepreneurship.

Another highlight of C3 was three “Speed Connection” sessions that encouraged students to network with alumnae in a fast-paced, fun and informal setting.

Evening events included a networking and dinner reception and two post-conference conversations: “A Different Kind of Canvas,” which looks at careers in technology, engineering, and design, and “Being an African-American Woman in the Workplace.”


From Hollins to Hollywood: Alumna Who Heads Top Entertainment Company to Speak at 172nd Commencement

goldsmithveinEllen Goldsmith-Vein ’84, whose talents as an entertainment manager and producer have established her as one of Hollywood’s most powerful women, will be the guest speaker at Hollins University’s 172nd Commencement Exercises, which will be held Sunday, May 25 at 10 a.m. on the school’s historic Front Quadrangle.

Goldsmith-Vein is the owner and CEO of The Gotham Group, which represents 500 of the most creative minds in show business. Among the top writers, directors, and producers on their client list are David Gordon Green (The Sitter, Pineapple Express, Snow Angels); Danny Strong (Lee Daniels’ The Butler, The Hunger Games); Steve Buscemi; Henry Selick (Coraline, The Nightmare Before Christmas); Butch Hartman (The Fairly OddParents); Brian Percival (Downton Abbey, The Book Thief); and Emily Kapnek (Suburgatory, Parks & Recreation).

Goldsmith-Vein and The Gotham Group have also produced a prestigious slate of film and television projects, a list that most recently includes Camp X-Ray with Kristen Stewart, which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival; Life of Crime, an adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel Switch starring Jennifer Aniston and Tim Robbins; The Maze Runner, based on the highly successful Young Adult novels by James Dashner; and Go With Me, featuring Anthony Hopkins and Sam Worthington.

As the only woman to own her own entertainment management agency completely, Goldsmith-Vein was the first talent manager ever featured on the cover of the “Power 100” special issue of The Hollywood Reporter in 2006. She has been nominated for a primetime Emmy Award and won an Annie Award in 2008. Girls, Inc., a national nonprofit youth organization dedicated to inspiring all girls to be strong, smart and bold, honored Goldsmith-Vein for her work and contribution to the arts. In 2013, Hollins President Nancy Gray presented her with the university’s Distinguished Alumnae Award.

The Hollywood Reporter published a profile of Goldsmith-Vein as part of their “Women in Entertainment: Power 100” in 2011.

 


Alexandra Trower ’86 Honored by International Women’s Media Foundation

trowerCalling her a “trailblazer who excels in defining the progressing role of women in business, while demonstrating outstanding commitments to responsible and innovative leadership,” the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) has recognized Alexandra Trower ’86 with its second annual Corporate Leadership Award.

Trower is executive vice president of global communications at The Estée Lauder Companies, Inc. She got  involved with the IWMF 15 years ago when she learned of the organization’s mission to protect female journalists who report important stories about human rights, the environment, and other major issues worldwide. She took up the cause of bringing to light the global dangers female journalists face, and was instrumental in getting Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase, respectively the nation’s leading financial institution and one of the world’s leading financial services firms, to support the IWMF as National Presenting Sponsors . In 2012, she became one of the first non-journalists to be invited to join the IWMF’s Board of Directors, and this year began her tenure as the board’s vice chairman.

In announcing the award, the IWMF noted, “Alexandra Trower isn’t just a strong female leader who appreciates and understands the importance of female leadership in our business world, but someone who believes the citizens and beneficiaries of a democratic society play a crucial role in preserving the essential tenets of free speech around the world.”

The IWMF will officially honor Trower on October 22.