Kennedy Center Honors Hollins Playwright, Director

The national committee of The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) has recognized the play Coupler by Meredith Dayna Levy ’12 with its “Distinguished Production of New or Devised Work” award.

Levy is currently pursuing her Master of Fine Arts degree in the Playwright’s Lab at Hollins. This is not the first time the KCACTF has acknowledged her achievements: In 2013, she won the National Partners of the American Theatre Playwriting Award, considered a gold medal, and the regional David Shelton Award for her original script, Decision Height. The following year, she received the Mimi and Harold Steinberg National Student Playwriting Award, which encourages college students to write for the stage by providing the opportunity for them to collaborate with actors, directors, and others through all stages of production, including rehearsals and performances.

Described as “whimsical comedy,” Coupler takes place in the London Underground, where the occupants of the last car on the Northern Line have lost parents, partners, and possibly themselves. They criss-cross through the heart of the Underground, holding on to what was and hoping for what might be.

The award also honors Playwright’s Lab Director Todd Ristau, who directed the production.

Coupler was staged during the 2016 Hollins-Mill Mountain Theatre Winter Festival of New Works, held in January.

Established in 1969, the KCACTF is a national theater program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide. It serves as a catalyst in improving the quality of college theatre in the United States. The KCACTF has grown into a network of more than 600 academic institutions throughout the country, where theatre departments and student artists showcase their work.


Senior to Intern with Prestigious Economic Training Program

Hilla Haidari ’16 has been awarded an internship at the 2016 American Economic Association Summer Training Program (AEASP), hosted by Michigan State University’s Department of Economics.

The intensive, eight-week residential program takes place June 4 – July 31, and is conducted in collaboration with Western Michigan University.

Since 1974, AEASP has increased diversity and helped prepare talented undergraduates who are seriously considering post-graduate studies in economics. The program offers students the opportunity to develop and solidify their math and other technical skills, which in turn will enable them to successfully meet the high demands of academically challenging doctoral programs. Students work alongside prominent professors and develop career-long mentorships.

Haidari is double-majoring at Hollins in economics and international studies.

 


Sophomore Receives Distinguished Student Researcher Award

The School for Field Studies (SFS) has recognized Lan Nguyen ’18 with its Distinguished Student Researcher Award, honoring the work she completed at the SFS Center for Mekong Studies in Cambodia during the fall of 2015.

Each semester, SFS faculty nominate one student from their Center who has demonstrated exceptional skill and care in contributing to the Center’s research agenda, as evidenced by their Directed Research paper, oral presentations, and approach to the research project.

“The award recognizes not only excellence and diligence in research, but also teamwork and leadership shown during the semester,” said SFS Dean of Academic Programs Mark Seifert. “Of those nominated students, only a few are selected to receive the Distinguished Student Researcher Award.”

Seifert noted that Nguyen’s Directed Research paper, “Morphology and niche partitioning of fish assemblage in the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve – a case study in Prek Toal core area,” “provides a sound foundation for future research at the SFS Center for Mekong Studies.”

In her nomination, SFS Research Advisor Chouly Ou stated that the Hollins sophomore was “passionate about [her] research topic and [was] proactive, diligent, and efficient…[and] exhibited strong leadership skills, particularly in the area of cultural and community engagement.”

With the award, the double-major in environmental science and economics is also eligible for a small stipend to help offset costs incurred if she presents her research at a conference this next academic year.

Nguyen is the second Hollins student to be honored with the Distinguished Student Researcher Award in the past six months. Kayla Deur ’16 was recognized last September for the research she conducted during the spring of 2015 at the Center for Mekong Studies.

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 Professor’s New Novel Garners Considerable Attention

The author of one of the country’s most-talked-about new novels also happens to be a member of the Hollins University faculty.

Associate Professor of English Elizabeth Poliner’s As Close to Us as Breathing (Lee Boudreaux Books) has been named an Amazon Best Book for March 2016 and is one of four new releases this month that W magazine calls “must reads.”  Reviews have also been published or are forthcoming in The New York Times as well on NPR.org and in People, Good Housekeeping, and Washingtonian magazines.

As Close to Us as Breathing is the story of a close-knit Jewish family that strives to cope following a tragedy that occurs while summering at the Connecticut shore in 1948. Publishers Weekly calls the book “an exquisitely written investigation of grief and atonement, and an elegy for a Jewish family bound together by tradition and tribe.” Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edward P. Jones says, “Vivid, complex, and beautifully written, [it] brims with characters who leave an indelible impression on the mind and heart. This moving story of the way one unforgettable family struggles with love and loss shows an uncommon depth of human understanding. Elizabeth Poliner is a wonderful talent and she should be read widely, and again and again.”

In conjunction with the novel’s publication, Poliner will be appearing at the following bookstores during March and April:

Tuesday, March 15: Newtonville Books, Newton, MA, 7 p.m.

Thursday, March 17: RJ Julia Bookstore, Madison, CT, 7 p.m.

Saturday, March 19: Politics & Prose, Washington, DC, 6 p.m.

Sunday, March 20: Book Court, Brooklyn, NY, 4 p.m.

Tuesday, March 22: Longfellow Books, Portland, ME, 7 p.m.

Saturday, April 9: Op. Cit Books, Taos, NM


Roanoke Mayor Proclaims March 7 “Andolyn Medina Day”

Roanoke City Mayor David Bowers has honored Andolyn Medina ’16 with a proclamation designating March 7, 2016, as “Andolyn Medina Day.”
Medina’s parents were on hand to take part in the presentation, along with President Nancy Gray. Associate Dean of Cultural and Community Engagement Jeri Suarez and Executive Director of Alumnae Relations Nikki Johnson Williams also attended the ceremony.
The proclamation reads as follows:
Whereas Andolyn Medina is a senior and the recipient of a full four-year scholarship at Hollins University, and after an ambitious first semester she was accepted into the university’s three-year accelerated program;
Whereas Andolyn is scheduled to graduate on May 22, 2016, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology as well as a minor in music;
Whereas she is an accomplished classical vocalist and pianist – Andolyn was selected to sing the National Anthem at a campaign rally for President Barack Obama in 2012 and the Miss America Pageant in 2013;
Whereas Andolyn has volunteered at numerous agencies in the Roanoke Valley and was awarded the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award, volunteering in excess of 4,000 community service hours;
Whereas Andolyn served as a mentor and as an assistant to the dean of academic affairs at the university and received the President’s Volunteer Service Award signed by President Obama;
Whereas Andolyn was crowned Miss Roanoke Valley 2016 and will complete for the title of Miss Virginia in June 2016;
Therefore, I, David A. Bowers, mayor of the city of Roanoke, Virginia, do hereby proclaim March 7 throughout this great, six-time All-American City as Andolyn Medina Day.

Education Department Receives National Accreditation

The Hollins University education department has been accredited for a seven-year term by the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC). The council supports the preparation of competent, caring, and qualified professional educators through an evidence-based accreditation process.

The education department received the highest ratings in all categories of evaluation:

  • Evidence of student learning
  • Institutional learning
  • Quality control

Providers accredited under TEAC Quality Principles, as well as those accredited under the National Council for Accreditation standards, are now served by the single specialized accreditation system for educator preparation in the United States, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). More than 900 education preparation providers participate in the CAEP accreditation system.

 


Hollins Named a 2016 “Best College Value” by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

Hollins University has been named to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance‘s list of the Top 300 Best College Values of 2016. Introduced in 1998, the rankings highlight public schools, private universities, and private liberal arts colleges that combine outstanding academics with affordable cost. In addition, Kiplinger has ranked the top 100 best values in each category.

Hollins earned the #96 spot on the magazine’s list of 100 best values in private liberal arts colleges.

Kiplinger assesses value by measurable standards of academic quality and affordability. Quality measures include the admission rate, the percentage of students who return for sophomore year, the student-faculty ratio, and four-year graduation rate. Cost criteria include sticker price, financial aid, and average debt at graduation.

“We start with a universe of 1,200 schools, so each school on our rankings is a best value,” said Janet Bodnar, editor of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. “Families can use the list as a starting point and then tailor it to each student’s preference for such things as size, location, campus culture, and major.”

The complete rankings are now available online at Kiplinger.com/links/college and will appear in the February 2016 issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, on newsstands January 5.


Gerald Named to Roanoke Valley Horse Show Hall of Fame

L.M. “Sandy” Gerald, head coach of the Hollins University riding team, has been inducted into the Roanoke Valley Horse Show (RVHS) Hall of Fame.

Gerald served as hunter/jumper manager for the RVHS from 2009 – 2014.

According to Lorrie McCloskey, a director of the Roanoke Valley Horseman’s Association (which sponsors the RVHS), Gerald “went way above and beyond in his dedication to making the show a success each year he served as manager. He shared his many talents and trademark positive attitude, and definitely went outside the parameters of the usual duties of a horse show manager.”

McCloskey noted that even though Gerald is no longer the horse show’s hunter/jumper manager, he continues to work with the RVHS as the organization seeks to hold an event in 2016.

“His commitment to the past and future success of the Roanoke Valley Horse Show is unparalleled. He is one of the most universally loved members of the horse show team, and a most deserving member of the Roanoke Valley Horse Show Hall of Fame.”

Gerald is a seven-time Old Dominion Athletic Conference Coach of the Year and was inducted into the Southwest Virginia Hunter/Jumper Association Hall of Fame in 2006.