Hollins Featured in Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges

Hollins University is one of the nation’s 375 most environmentally responsible colleges, according to the 2017 edition of The Princeton Review Guide to 375 Green Colleges.

Schools were chosen for the seventh annual edition of The Princeton Review’s “green guide” based on data from the company’s 2016-17 survey of hundreds of four-year colleges concerning the schools’ commitment to the environment and sustainability.

“We strongly recommend Hollins and the other colleges in this guide to the many environmentally minded students who seek to study and live at green colleges,” said Princeton Review Vice President/Publisher Robert Franek.

In an effort to model sustainable practices, Hollins created an Environmental Advisory Board in 2006 composed of students, faculty, staff, and trustees to provide the university president with advice and leadership regarding identification, assessment, creation, and implementation of environmental planning and policies for the university. The following year, Hollins became a charter signatory of the American College and University Presidents Climate Agreement, documented its greenhouse gas emissions, and developed a plan in 2009 for reducing campus carbon emissions. As part of this commitment, an initial benchmark was set to reduce the university’s carbon footprint by 15% by the end of the 2013-14 academic year.  Hollins subsequently reduced its carbon footprint by 19%, one year ahead of schedule.The dramatic reduction in emissions came primarily from the university’s 8.8% decrease in electricity consumption. The university’s commitment to renewable energy initiatives, including the purchase of landfill gas, is further offsetting its carbon footprint.

Hollins has coordinated projects to promote sustainable practices, including campus-wide conservation guidelines and a recycling program; installing geothermal wells with new construction; and establishing a Green Revolving Fund to implement additional cost-effective energy conservation projects. Hollins also maintains growing academic programs in environmental studies and environmental science. In 2016, the university received the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Campus USA recognition for the institution’s commitment to efficient urban forest management.


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Hollins Earns “A” Grade for Fiscal Fitness from Forbes

Forbes has once again awarded Hollins University an “A” rating for financial soundness.

For its 2017 Financial Grades report, the magazine examined private, not-for-profit colleges with at least 500 students. According to Forbes, “Our grades measure financial health as determined by by nine components broken into two main categories: balance sheet strength and operational soundness, plus certain other factors indicative of a college’s financial condition, including admission yield, percent of freshmen receiving institutional grants, and instruction expenses per student.”

Forbes also ranked Hollins among America’s Top Colleges for the year.



U.S. News Ranks Hollins Among the Nation’s 40 Best Value Schools

Hollins University has earned high marks from the college guide described by The Washington Post as “the granddaddy of college rankings.”

U.S. News and World Report‘s 2018 Best Colleges ranks Hollins as the #37 Best Value School in the National Liberal Arts Colleges category. According to U.S. News, “The calculation used here takes into account a school’s academic quality, as indicated by its 2018 U.S. News Best Colleges ranking, and the 2016-2017 net cost of attendance for a student who received the average level of need-based financial aid. The higher the quality of the program and the lower the cost, the better the deal. Only schools ranked in or near the top half of their categories are included, because U.S. News considers the most significant values to be among colleges that are above average academically.”

Hollins is one of only three Virginia colleges and universities and six women’s colleges nationally to be ranked among the 40 Best Value Schools.

U.S. News also places Hollins at #112 among National Liberal Arts Colleges. The publication notes that schools in this category “emphasize undergraduate education and award at least half of their degrees in the liberal arts fields of study.”

U.S. News‘ profile of Hollins features a detailed overview of academics, cost and aid, how to apply, and more.

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Hollins Author Is Finalist for Library of Va. Literary Award

Hollins University Professor of English Cathryn Hankla is among the nine authors who are finalists for the 20th Annual Library of Virginia Literary Awards.

The Library of Virginia’s annual literary awards recognize the best books published the previous year by Virginia authors or on a Virginia theme. The winners in each of the three categories (fiction, nonfiction, and poetry) receive a monetary prize of $2,500.  The finalists are chosen by an independent panel of judges from hundreds of books nominated for the awards.

Hankla is one of three finalists in the poetry category for Great Bear, published by Groundhog Poetry Press.

The winner in each category will be announced at a gala celebration on Saturday, October 14, at the Library of Virginia in Richmond.


Hollins Professor’s Novel Wins Kafka Prize

As Close to Us as Breathing, a novel by Associate Professor of English Elizabeth Poliner, has captured the 2017 Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize.

Established in 1976 and presented by the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies and the Department of English at the University of Rochester, the Kafka Prize is given annually to a woman who is a U.S. citizen and has written the best book-length work of prose fiction, be it a novel, short story, or experimental writing.  Previous winners include such distinguished authors as Toni Morrison, Ursula Le Guin, and Anne Tyler.

According to the Kafka Prize webpage, the award honors its namesake, “a young editor who was killed in a car accident just as her career was beginning. Those who knew her believed she would do much to further the causes of literature and women. Her family, friends, and professional associates created the endowment from which the prize is bestowed, in memory of Janet Heidinger Kafka and the literary standards and personal ideals for which she stood.”

Poliner will participate in a reading, award ceremony, and book signing at the University of Rochester on November 2.

As Close to Us as Breathing is the story of a close-knit Jewish family that strives to cope following a tragedy. The novel is “vivid, complex, and beautifully written,” said Edward P. Jones, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Known World. “[It] brims with characters who leave an indelible impression on the mind and heart. Elizabeth Poliner is a wonderful talent and she should be read widely, and again and again.”

The Kafka Prize is the latest of several honors the novel has received. In May, the book was named a finalist for the 2017 Library of Virginia People’s Choice Award. Last November, As Close to Us as Breathing was selected as one of Amazon’s Top 100 Editors’ Picks for 2016 and an Amazon Best Book for March of that year.


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Princeton Review Ranks Hollins Among the Nation’s Top 20 Colleges in Four Categories

The Princeton Review places Hollins University among the nation’s top institutions for undergraduate education in the new edition of its college guide, The Best 382 Colleges.

Only about 15 percent of America’s 2,500 four-year colleges and two colleges outside the U.S. are profiled in the book, which has been published annually since 1992. The Best 382 Colleges features detailed profiles of each school with rating scores in eight categories.

“We chose Hollins for this book because it offers outstanding academics,” said Robert Franek, editor-in-chief at The Princeton Review and author of The Best 382 Colleges. “Our selections are primarily based on our surveys of administrators at several hundred four-year colleges. We also visit dozens of colleges each year and give considerable weight to opinions of our staff and our 24-member National College Counselor Advisory Board. Most importantly, we look at valuable feedback from each school’s customers – our surveys of students attending them.”

The Princeton Review’s surveys of students attending these colleges are the basis for the book’s ranking lists of top 20 schools in 62 categories. Hollins is on the following ranking lists:

#5   Most Active Student Government
#6   Most Politically Active Students
#10 Best College Theater
#11  Best Career Services

In its profile, The Princeton Review praises Hollins as “a place for unique individuals to thrive, empowering each other and forming a supportive community for women. The alumn[ae] network is similarly solid, and many students land jobs and internships through previous graduates.” The Best 382 Colleges also quotes extensively from Hollins students the educational services company surveyed for the book. Among their comments:

“…a great place for people who want life experience….”

“…a lot of incredible opportunities for anyone willing to take them.”

“[Hollins professors are] amazing, talented, dedicated, and compassionate.”

“Every day I am surrounded by mountains. It’s a vacation view in every direction.”


The 2018 edition of The Best 382 Colleges was published August 1.



Adam Rex Receives 2017 Margaret Wise Brown Prize

Hollins University honored author/illustrator Adam Rex with the second annual Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature during the 2017 Francelia Butler Conference on July 22.

The award showcases the most distinguished picture book manuscript as selected by a panel of judges. Rex received an engraved medal and a $1,000 cash prize for his book School’s First Day of School, illustrated by Christian Robinson and published by Roaring Book Press.

Hollins established the prize in tribute to one of its best-known alumnae and one of America’s most beloved children’s authors. Brown graduated from Hollins in 1932 and went on to write Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, and other children’s classics before she died in 1952.

In his remarks at the medal ceremony, Rex called School’s First Day of School “my favorite book of mine.” He recounted how the idea for it came to him during a gathering of children’s picture book authors and agents. “We were talking about picture book clichés, books that never needed to be written again. And somebody said, ‘A kid is nervous about his first of school.’ As we were talking about this, I guess the way my mind works I always flip things around, so I [jokingly suggested] ‘A school is nervous about his first day of children.’ The next day as I was having breakfast with my agent I told him my funny joke and he responded, ‘Oh, that’s your next book.'”

In its starred review, Booklist describes School’s First Day of School as a “charming reversal of first-day-of-school nerves [that] will delight little ones and help put their own anxieties at bay, while School Library Journal calls it “an essential purchase that is simultaneously funny, frank, and soothing. A perfect first day read-aloud.”

The study of children’s literature as a scholarly experience was initiated at Hollins in 1973. In 1992, the graduate program in children’s literature was founded. Today, Hollins offers summer M.A. and M.F.A. programs exclusively in the study and writing of children’s literature, an M.F.A. in children’s book writing and illustrating, and a graduate-level certificate in children’s book illustration.


Photo: Hollins President Pareena Lawrence with Adam Rex, winner of the 2017 Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature

Distinguished Alumnae Award Recipients Are Honored

Hollins has recognized Suzanne Hubbard O’Hatnick ’67, Callie Virginia “Ginny” Smith Granade ’72, Jill Wright Donaldson ’92, and Tiffany Marshall Graves ’97 with the university’s Distinguished Alumnae Award, and Alexis Davis King ’02 with its Distinguished Young Alumna Award.

Established in 2006, the Distinguished Alumnae Award pays tribute to individual alumnae who have brought distinction to themselves and to Hollins through broad and inspiring personal career achievements, volunteer service, or contributions to society. The Distinguished Young Alumna Award honors a member of Hollins’ fifth, tenth, of fifteenth reunion year class who has earned extraordinary accomplishments after graduation.

O’Hatnick founded Interfaith Action for Human Rights, an organization that advocates for improving prison practices in Maryland. Previously she served with peace and human rights groups around the world, including work with the Peace Corps in Peru, Christian Peacemaker Teams in Central Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the United States Agency for International Development in Sarajevo.

Granade achieved several firsts for women in law in Alabama. She was the first female prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Alabama; Alabama’s first female fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers; and the first female federal judge in southwest Alabama.

Donaldson’s work as a neurosurgeon focuses on the treatment of complex disorders and neoplasms of the brain and spine, trigeminal neuralgia, hydrocephalus, and peripheral nerve entrapment. She was named a Top Doctor in a listing of leading physicians in Indianapolis, and is a member of the American Board of Neurological Surgery and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons.

Graves is the executive director of the Mississippi Access to Justice Commission, advancing  access to civil justice for roughly 700,000 Mississippians living below the poverty line. She is also an adjunct professor and the interim director for the Pro Bono Initiative at the University of Mississippi School of Law, providing law students with an awareness of the legal needs of the area’s underserved.

King is Magistrate on the Denver County, Colorado, Court bench and former Deputy District Attorney of the First Judicial District Attorney’s Office in Jefferson County, Colorado. For more than ten years as deputy DA, she was a member of the Special Victims Unit, focusing on human trafficking, crimes against children, and family violence.

Photo (from left to right): Hollins Alumnae Association President Trisha Rawls ’74; Hollins University President Nancy Gray; Suzanne Hubbard O’Hatnick ’67; Callie Virginia “Ginny” Smith Granade ’72; Tiffany Marshall Graves ’97; Jill Wright Donaldson ’92; Alexis Davis King ’02; and Hollins Board of Trustees Chair Judy Lambeth ’73.

Photo credit: Michael Sink


Cecili Weber ’17 Is Crowned Miss Virginia

A Hollins University graduate is on her way to compete in the Miss America Pageant this September as the new Miss Virginia.

Cecili Weber ’17 captured the title June 24 at Roanoke’s Berglund Performing Arts Center. She graduated this spring from Hollins with a bachelor’s degree in communication studies and plans to pursue a career in public relations with a top fashion or beauty brand. The native of Ironton, Ohio, who competed as Miss Arlington, will receive a $20,000 scholarship.

Weber’s platform was “Born Leaders.” She won the swimsuit and evening wear category on June 22 and also performed a contemporary dance piece to Donna Summer’s “Last Dance” in the talent competition.

Roanoke’s WDBJ-TV (News 7) talked to Weber on the morning of her first full day at Miss Virginia 2017. Watch the interview here.


Hollins Wins CASE Circle of Excellence Award

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) has presented Hollins University a bronze award in its 2017 Circle of Excellence awards program.

A panel of experts recognized “Women Who Are Going Places Start at Hollins,” the university’s entry in the Short Video category. The video was produced by Capstrat, a strategic communications firm based in Raleigh, North Carolina.

This year, more than 715 higher education institutions, independent schools, and nonprofits worldwide submitted 3,364 entries for consideration in nearly 100 categories. Judges gave 366 awards: 118 bronze, 125 silver, 107 gold, and 16 grand gold.

Sue Cunningham, president and CEO of CASE, said 2017 was the most competitive year ever for the awards program that recognizes outstanding achievement in educational advancement.

“Honorees come from all institution types and sizes, reflecting the depth of talent and ingenuity throughout CASE member institutions,” Cunningham explained. “These awards acknowledge superior accomplishments that have lasting impact, demonstrate the highest level of professionalism, and deliver exceptional results. We salute the winners and thank everyone for their vital contributions to advancing education that transforms lives and society.”

CASE is one of the largest international associations of education institutions, serving more than 3,670 universities, colleges, schools, and related organizations in more than 80 countries. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the council is a leading resource for professional development, information, and standards in the fields of education fundraising, communications, marketing, and alumni relations.