Mellon Grant to Support Innovative Faculty Development Program

Hollins University has received a $100,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to invest in a 30-month pilot project entitled “Faculty Development to Advance Liberal Arts Education in the 21st Century.”

The project will commence on January 1, 2016, and is scheduled to be completed by June 30, 2018.

“This grant will enable Hollins to design a new faculty development program to address many of the challenges that our faculty face with current students, particularly in teaching critical thinking and writing,” Hollins President Nancy Gray explained. “The program will help Hollins faculty 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 initial activities “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.”

Hammer is confident the project “will position Hollins to take a new approach to liberal arts education in the 21st century and demonstrate the enduring value of a liberal education.”

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

ABOUT THE ANDREW W. MELLON FOUNDATION

Founded in 1969, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation endeavors to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies by supporting exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work.


U.S. News Places Hollins Among the Best National Liberal Arts Colleges

Hollins University is one of the top liberal arts colleges and universities in the country, according to the publication, 2016 U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges.

U.S. News released this year’s rankings online on September 9.

Hollins is ranked number 108 in the category, Best National Liberal Arts Colleges. It is tied with Hampden-Sydney College as the fourth highest-ranked liberal arts college in Virginia, behind Washington and Lee University, the University of Richmond, and Virginia Military Institute.

Hollins is also among the nation’s ten highest-ranked women’s colleges.

U.S. News states that it calculates its rankings using “quantitative measures that education experts have proposed as reliable indicators of academic quality.

“The indicators we use to capture academic quality fall into a number of categories: assessment by administrators at peer institutions, retention of students, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, alumni giving, graduation rate performance and, for National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges only, high school counselor ratings of colleges.”

For more information, visit http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges.

 


Political Science Professor Sees Oman’s Significance to U.S. Foreign Policy During Middle East Fact-Finding Trip

Hollins University Professor of Political Science Ed Lynch recently traveled with seven other American academics to the Middle East nation of Oman as part of a trip sponsored by the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations (NCUSAR).

Lynch, who was selected as an Oman Alwaleed Fellow by NCUSAR in July, journeyed to the Omani cities of Muscat, Nizwa, and Salalah, August 13 – 23.

Lynch said the trip highlighted the importance of Oman to U.S. foreign policy, especially in the wake of the proposed nuclear deal with Iran. “The first contacts between the Obama Administration and the government of Iran occurred because the Omani government was able to talk to both sides and get them together,” Lynch said. “This is a part of the story that the U.S. media is not telling.”

Oman’s foreign policy is based on the principle of “friend to all, enemy to none.” Its leadership has been particularly friendly to the U.S. government. Lynch was told by one U.S. official, “There isn’t much that we ask of the Omanis that they don’t provide.” Lynch added that Oman’s actions were instrumental in all but destroying the threat of piracy from Somalia.

Lynch emphasized that Oman’s friendship is crucial to American consumers: 60 percent of the world’s oil flows through its territorial waters. “Any serious upheaval in Oman could result in the return of $4 or $5 gas in the U.S.,” he explained.

The trip also made it clear to Lynch that this U.S. ally will potentially be in great trouble in the near future. The long-time Sultan is elderly and in ill health. He has no children or brothers and has not named a successor.

At the same time, Oman finds itself in a difficult position in between mortal enemies Saudi Arabia and Iran. A civil war in Yemen threatens Oman’s southern province. While spared the violence and upheaval of the Arab Spring so far, Lynch said Oman’s future is far from clear.

Founded in 1983 and based in Washington, D.C., NCUSAR  is an American non-profit, non-governmental, educational organization dedicated to improving American knowledge and understanding of the Arab world. Hollins will continue its relationship with the organization this fall when the university hosts the Appalachian Region Model Arab League, November 6 – 8.

Photo caption: Professor of Political Science Ed Lynch meets with  H.E. Mohamed Al Hassan, Chief of Minister’s Office, Oman Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


Senior Receives Distinguished Student Researcher Award

In recognition of the exceptional environmental research she performed while studying abroad during the spring of 2015, The School for Field Studies (SFS) has presented its Distinguished Student Researcher Award to Kayla Deur ’16. She was recognized for the research project she conducted at the SFS Center for Mekong Studies in Cambodia.

Each year, the SFS honors a student from the Center who has demonstrated extraordinary skill in contributing to the Center’s research agenda, as evidenced by their Directed Research (DR) paper, oral presentations, and approach to the research project. The award not only cites excellence and diligence in research, but also teamwork and leadership shown during the semester. Outcomes of the projects provide information and recommendations to community members and other stakeholders on critical, local environmental issues.

Deur explored the usage of traditional medicine on a household level, as well as how traditional knowledge is being transmitted cross-generationally and spatially across village domains. According to Lisa Granese, SFS vice president for enrollment and institutional relations, “Her work provides a sound foundation for future research at the Center, and Professor Lisa Arensen, Deur’s DR advisor, comments that her project ‘is an impressive example of undergraduate research.'” Through her work, Deur contributed to a growing list of plants that were indicated as medicinally important by locals.

SFS creates transformative study abroad experiences through field-based learning and research. Its educational programs explore the human and ecological dimensions of the complex environmental problems faced by its local partners, contributing to sustainable solutions in the places where people live and work. The SFS community is part of a growing network of individuals and institutions committed to environmental stewardship.


Hollins Lacrosse Among IWLCA Division III Academic Honor Squads

The Hollins University lacrosse team is one of 129 colleges and universities from across the nation, and one of six Old Dominion Athletic Conference member schools, that have been cited as Division III Academic Honor Squads for the 2015 season.

Schools with a team GPA of 3.0 or higher are eligible for Academic Squad recognition. Division I, II, III, and NAIA schools that earn this designation are announced annually by the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA).

Hollins Lacrosse’s 2016 schedule kicks off  February 27 with a match at the University of the District of Columbia.


Senior One of Only Ten Students Nationwide to Receive Saudi Arabia Exchange Fellowship

Hollins University senior Pavithra Suresh has been awarded a Saudi Arabia Exchange Fellowship/Malone Fellowship by the National Council on U.S. – Arab Relations (NCUSAR), a non-profit, non-governmental, educational organization dedicated to improving American understanding of the Arab world.

The fellowship provides an all-expenses-paid study trip to Saudi Arabia between December 26, 2015 and January 6, 2016. During the subsequent 2016 fellowship year, Suresh and other fellows will engage in a variety of activities in order to share their new-found knowledge of Saudi Arabia with the American public.

Hollins Professor of Political Science Ed Lynch, who recommended Suresh for the fellowship, noted that “only ten students nationwide are selected for this exceptional learning opportunity each year. Pavithra will be a great representative of Hollins University.”

Applicants must have previously participated in Model Arab League, NCUSAR’s flagship student leadership development program that is similar to Model United Nations. Suresh was a member of the Hollins delegation that took part in the Southeast Regional Model Arab League at Converse College in March. She and teammate Emily Garcia ’18 were named Best Delegation for their work on the Palestinian Affairs Council

Hollins is hosting the Appalachia Regional Model Arab League, November 6 – 8. The conference is open to high school as well as college and university students.


Political Science Professor Selected as Oman Alwaleed Fellow

Hollins University Professor of Political Science Ed Lynch has been named an Oman Alwaleed Fellow for 2015-16 by the National Council on U.S. – Arab Relations (NCUSAR).

The fellowship includes a study visit to the Middle Eastern nation of Oman in August.

The fellowship is highly competitive; only eight college professors are selected each year nationwide. After visiting Oman, fellows will spend the year implementing a variety of programs, events, and outreach efforts in their home communities. These programs will permit Alwaleed Fellows to share their knowledge of Oman and familiarize Americans with this strategically important country.

“The nation of Oman lies directly across the Strait of Hormuz from Iran, and most oil tankers that enter and exit that waterway do so through Omani territory,” Lynch said. “Given Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the volatility of the world oil market, knowing more about the role of the Gulf States, and Oman in particular, is vitally important.

“Most Omanis are fairly knowledgeable about the United States, but most Americans know almost nothing about Oman. I hope my efforts will address that imbalance.”

Lynch expressed his optimism that his fellowship is the start of an ongoing relationship with NCUSAR’s student programs, which include dozens of Model Arab League conferences around the country. Hollins will host the 2015 Appalachia Regional Model Arab League Conference in November.

“We are proud of Ed’s fellowship, and happy that Model Arab League will be coming to Hollins,” said Hollins President Nancy Gray, noting that Hollins students have been active participants in Model United Nations for years.

Lynch chairs the political science department at Hollins, and is a former Academic Fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. He has previously traveled to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Chile, Denmark, Israel, and the People’s Republic of China as part of official delegations.


Hollins Joins CIC Consortium to Enhance Teaching and Research

Hollins University is one of 42 member colleges and universities selected by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) to comprise the Consortium on Digital Resources for Teaching and Research.

Hollins and other consortium members “will be able to increase their capacities to store, preserve, and catalog collections of digital images, documents, audio and visual files, and other types of materials while streamlining administrative capabilities,” explained CIC President Richard Ekman. “Consortium members will be able to improve teaching and learning and enhance faculty and student/faculty research – on their own campuses and/or more globally – by making lesser known or hidden collections searchable and accessible.”

Ekman added that the consortium will employ Shared Shelf, a cloud-based uniform digital platform that is already used by institutions such as Harvard University and Cornell University. Over the next four years, a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will subsidize use of Shared Shelf by consortium members as well as team participation in three workshops. This summer, consortium teams will meet with Shared Shelf implementation managers to familiarize themselves with the platform, digitize and catalog their collections and other materials, and come together to share their experiences and insights with other teams in small group webinars.

Hollins’ first project will be to digitize and curate thematic collections of images from a classics professor’s photographic archives. These include some rarely photographed objects such as the Hellenistic painted grave stelai and engraved details from the site of Demetrias-Pagasai.

Hollins, Hampden-Sydney College, Roanoke College, and Washington and Lee University are the consortium’s four participating institutions from Virginia.

 


Summer at Hollins Features Graduate Studies, Improvement Projects, Special Programs

The 2014-15 academic year at Hollins has ended, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be lots of activity at the university during the summer months.

On June 1, work commences on a range of campus improvement projects:

  • Renovations to Moody Student Center will create space for the Student Government Association and others and enable the Hollins Bookstore to move into the area presently occupied by the Private Dining Room.
  • Randolph Hall will be refurbished and reopened this fall as a residence.
  • The Center for Learning Excellence will move from its current location in East Building to the first floor of Wyndham Robertson Library.
  • The upper porch between West Building and Botetourt Hall will be repaired.
  • Concrete sealing of sidewalks will be done on Front Quad and behind East Building.
  • Landscaping will be completed in the Hill House area.

The 2015 edition of the Tinker Mountain Writers’ Workshop comes to campus June 7-12, and Hollins welcomes back the Women Working With Clay Symposium, June 8-11.

Summer Term at Hollins begins June 22 and continues through July 31, featuring graduate courses in children’s book writing and illustrating, children’s literature, dance, liberal studies, playwriting, and screenwriting and film studies.

Hollinsummer, this year featuring three camps for rising ninth through 12th grade girls, takes place July 19-25 and July 26-August 1.


Hollins Student Conference Showcases Undergraduate Work

A variety of podium presentations, poster presentations, and performances from across all disciplines highlighted the 2015 Hollins Student Conference on April 11 in Moody Student Center.

The conference provides an opportunity for the university to come together to celebrate the scholarly and creative work of undergraduate students.

Awards were presented to presentations or performances in the following categories:

Exploring Ideas: Hollins Honors Program Projects

First Place
“Into the Blue: The Universal Essence of Color Between Lapis Lazuli and Mayan Blue”
Madi Hurley ’17, art/business
Rory Keeley ’17, mathematics

Third Place
“Historical Hysteria”
Emili McPhail ’18, communication studies/international studies
Amanda McVey ’18, English
Elizabeth Trout ’17, political science/communication studies
Amelia Verkerk ’18, classical studies

Third Place
“#FirstTimeFeminists: An Engagement of Young Females in the Feminist Activist Movement”
Cierra Earl ’18, undeclared
Taylor Humin ’17, English with creative writing
Danielle Raymond ’18, English with creative writing

Exploring Contemporary Issues in Science and Society

First Place
“Brenda’s Baby’s Got a Gun: Open Carry Activism as a Tool for White Privilege”
Lachelle Roddy ’15, political science

Second Place
“The Effects of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch on Human and Environmental Health”
Alexis Banaszak ’18, biology

Second Place
“Racism in France: The Intersection Between Immigration, Economy, and the Far Right”
Marissa Richerson ’17, environmental science

Exploring Culture through Art and Religion

First Place
“Oil Painting: Associations Between Color and Mood”
Georgina Bellhouse ’16, studio art

Second Place
“Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art: The People’s Museum”
Allison Schmitt ’15, art history/history

Exploring Questions in Math and Science – Poster Presentation

Third Place
“Applications of Abstract Algebra: Symmetry in Spanish Arab Tile Patterns”
Caitlin Orzechowski ’15, mathemactics