Hollins Students to Debate “Ethics and Social Media”

vficFive Hollins University students will participate in the 14th annual statewide collegiate Wells Fargo Ethics Bowl at Randolph College in Lynchburg, Virginia, on February 10 and 11. The Hollins team, which features Carrie Boswell ’14, Megan Grosholz ’14, Safiya Kelly ’14,  Naomi Ruth Thompson ’14,  and Horizon student Amanda Stowell, will compete head-to-head against other highly qualified student teams from Virginia’s 15 leading independent colleges and universities, debating a variety of case studies highlighting ethical dilemmas.

The theme of this year’s event is “Ethics and Social Media.” Many notables from the business sector, law, education, finance, journalism, and other fields will listen to team presentations and offer reactions.

The Ethics Bowl program will commence with an opening session on Sunday, February 10 at 2:30 p.m. at Randolph College’s Wimberly Recital Hall, with the first matches scheduled for 3:30 p.m. in Smith and Main Halls. On Monday, February 11, rounds three and four will begin at 8:30 a.m. The final round of competition will take place at 11 a.m. in Wimberly Recital Hall. The winning team will be announced at 12:15 p.m. on Monday.

The public is invited to attend the match sessions free of charge.

The Wells Fargo Ethics Bowl is presented by the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges (VFIC), a nonprofit fundraising partnership supporting the programs and students of  Bridgewater College, Emory & Henry College, Hampden-Sydney College, Hollins University, Lynchburg College, Mary Baldwin College, Marymount University, Randolph College, Randolph-Macon College, Roanoke College, Shenandoah University, Sweet Briar College, University of Richmond, Virginia Wesleyan College, and Washington & Lee University. For additional information on the VFIC, visit www.vfic.org.


Karen McElmurray Selected as Hollins’ Writer-in-Residence for 2014

mcelmurrayAward-winning fiction and creative nonfiction author Karen Salyer McElmurray has been named the 2014 Louis D. Rubin, Jr., Writer-in-Residence at Hollins University.

McElmurray’s memoir, Surrendered Child: A Birth Mother’s Journey, won the Associated Writers and Writing Programs Award in Creative Nonfiction and was listed as a “Notable Book” by the National Book Critics Circle. Her other works include the novels Strange Birds in the Tree of Heaven, a recipient of the Lillie Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing, and The Motel of the Stars, which was nominated for the Weatherford Award for Fiction, earned Lit Life’s “Novel of the Year” citation, was Oxford American magazine’s “Critics Choice,” and was part of the Linda Bruckheimer Series in Fiction from Sarabande Books. She has also received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the North Carolina Arts Council, and the Kentucky Foundation for Women.

McElmurray is currently completing a novel entitled Wanting Inez, and is editing a collection of essays called Writing Into the Forbidden, to be published by Ohio University Press in 2014.

McElmurray holds a Master of Arts degree in creative writing from Hollins as well as a Master of Fine Arts degree in fiction writing from the University of Virginia and a doctorate from the University of Georgia, where she studied American literature and fiction writing. She is a member of the faculty in the Master of Fine Arts programs at Murray State University and West Virginia Wesleyan College, and previously taught at Georgia College and State University, Berry College, and Lynchburg College.

Hollins established its writer-in-residence program in 1961. The university paid tribute to Rubin, who founded the university’s creative writing program and enjoyed a distinguished career as a professor, publisher, and author, by naming the residency in his honor in 2000. Through the years, the program has welcomed Nobel Prize winners William Golding and Derek Walcott; two Pulitzer Prize recipients, current U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey and Henry Taylor, both Hollins alumni; former Virginia Poet Laureate Kelly Cherry; and acclaimed authors Flannery O’Connor, Robert Penn Warren, and Eudora Welty


Students Take the Initiative to Meet the Politician They’re Studying

politicianWhen her class began looking at possible presidential candidates for 2016, Elizabeth Trout ’17 had no idea she’d get the chance to arrange an actual meeting with the political figure she and a group of fellow students had decided to study. But that’s exactly what happened on October 16, when Trout, five other Hollins students, and Professor of Political Science Ed Lynch traveled to Charlottesville to introduce themselves to South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.

Trout and two of the students who made the trip are enrolled in Lynch’s first-year seminar, “How to be a President,” which examines what goes on in a presidential campaign and in the first months of a presidential term. Students “adopt” a possible presidential candidate and take part in a number of hands-on, collaborative projects designed to capture the essence and the spirit of trying to become president. (In addition to Haley, students in this semester’s class could choose from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and Virginia Senator Mark Warner.)

When Trout, a political science major and a volunteer in the gubernatorial campaign of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, learned Haley would be appearing on behalf of Cuccinelli at a fundraising event in Charlottesville, she immediately recognized an opportunity to augment what her class group was studying in addition to meeting the candidate she supported.

“I talked with a few other girls and we really wanted to go,” she explained. “I emailed the woman who was in charge of that specific event and asked if a group of students could come, and she said yes.”

Lynch arranged transportation for a total of six students (including three Hollins students not enrolled in the class) and himself to attend, but emphasized that Trout took the lead on arranging the trip. “She learned of the event, arranged for Hollins students to get in for free, and gave me directions to the site.”

Trout admitted she and the other students were a little overwhelmed when they arrived at the event (“The six of us were just kind of wandering around, intimidated but excited at the same time”), so Lynch approached Haley and told her he had students in attendance who would like to meet her.

“Gov. Haley walked right over, shook all our hands, and we talked to her for a good while,” Trout recalled.

Trout said the students who attended the event are from across the political spectrum. “One tends to be more liberal but was interested in hearing what was said. Another was kind of on the fence as to who she is going to vote for” in the Virginia gubernatorial election on November 5.

Trout doesn’t know if Haley is seriously considering a run in 2016, but “I could definitely see her doing well as a national candidate. She’s very impressive.” She was also delighted that Cuccinelli noted in his remarks the presence of students from two schools – the University of Virginia and Hollins.


Playwright’s Lab Enjoys Banner Year in 2013

PlaywrightsLabHollins University is earning a stellar reputation nationally for the study of playwriting, thanks to a Master of Fine Arts program that is only in its sixth year.

Launched in 2007, the Playwright’s Lab at Hollins University has to date generated roughly 250 productions of student-penned plays and nearly 140 readings at festivals and theatres across the United States. Thirty student plays have been published and student playwrights have garnered more than 60 honors and awards.

“A low-residency, six-week program designed to be completed in three to five summers was a radical approach to teaching playwriting, but the Playwright’s Lab has attracted a growing number of students who are rapidly gaining success and recognition in the profession,” said Program Director Todd Ristau.

Mark Bly, head of playwriting at Hunter College, described the Playwright’s Lab as “a real gem, a one-of-a-kind program. This is a hot bed of American playwriting,” while Robert Patrick, who has been called “America’s Most Produced Playwright,” said in a television interview, “These are real professionals training people to be real professionals.”

The past year alone offers ample evidence to support Bly and Patrick’s respective acclaim. In January, Playwright’s Lab students Meredith Levy ’12, M.F.A. ’15, and M.F.A. playwright Kevin Ferguson were both honored by the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF). Levy received the KCACTF Region IV’s top playwriting award for her drama, Decision Height, and Ferguson had two of his original scripts, Follies a Deux and Losing Sight, selected for the regional festival as part of the Region IV National Playwriting Program. They were chosen for the Ten-Minute Play and One-Act Play categories, respectively.

Follies a Deux was subsequently selected for performance at the second annual New Voices Playfest, held in April at the Atlantic Stage Theatre in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The event also featured the one-act play, The Place Between, by M.F.A. playwright Wendy-Marie Martin. In addition, the Atlantic Stage Theatre presented the world premiere of Ferguson’s drama, Child’s Play, last spring.

Other highlights from 2013:

  • Bo-Nita by Elizabeth Heffron M.F.A. ‘14, first read in public at the Hollins Playwright’s Festival, was produced by Portland Center Stage and Seattle Repertory Theatre for their respective 2013-14 seasons. In its review, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer stated, “Sometimes the stars align perfectly in the theater. The play is excellent, the directing crisp and the acting picture perfect.” Heffron’s comedy/drama, Mitzi’s Abortion, was Hollins Theatre’s fall production and played to sold-out audiences.
  • Jonathan Galvez M.F.A. ‘13 won the tenth annual New Jersey Playwrights Contest and was appointed guest artist by the University of Great Falls theatre department.
  • Neeley Gossett M.F.A. ‘12 was named a finalist in the 2013 Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition and her play, Roman Candle Summer, was staged at the Woodruff Arts Center’s Black Box Theatre in Atlanta. The play also had a reading at the Lark Play Development Center in Manhattan.
  • M.F.A. playwright Robert Plowman won the 2014 Charles M. Getchell New Play Award for his work, The Missing Link. His one-act “anti-play,” The Matador, was presented on Mill Mountain Theatre’s Waldron Stage in Roanoke.
  • Plays by Samantha Macher M.F.A. ‘12 (To the New Girl: Sound Advice for My Former Husband’s Wife or Mistress) and Royal Shirée M.F.A. ‘13 (Cat House) were published by Original Works.
  • In March, the SkyPilot Theatre Company in Los Angeles announced that of the 26 plays it had in development, ten were written by Playwright’s Lab alumni.

The Playwright’s Lab is closing the calendar year by creating two new certificate programs, one in new play writing and the other in new play performance.

“Exposure to actors and directors is vital for the development of playwrights and their work,” Ristau explained, “and it seemed an exciting challenge to come up with a community wherein playwrights, directors and actors could be brought together with specialized training in working on new plays without the expectations, expense and demand on resources that a full degree program would require.

“With the help of visiting faculty and other advisors, we’ve created something that will expand Hollins’ reputation and attract new students in a very exciting way.”


Hollins’ Class of 2013 Encouraged at 171st Commencement, “What is Wrong with the World Can be Fixed.”

2013_commencementEducator and humanitarian Johnnetta Cole told graduates, “You must not only believe that change can happen, you must be instruments for that change,” during Hollins University’s 171st Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 19.

Hollins conferred 156 bachelor’s degrees and 61 master’s degrees during the ceremony, which commenced under cloudy skies on the university’s historic Front Quadrangle and persevered despite a steady shower that began roughly an hour into the program.

Cole, this year’s guest speaker, has enjoyed a distinguished career as an anthropologist, author, teacher, and college leader, during which she has been committed to achieving the goals of racial and gender equality. She made history in 1987 when she became the first African American woman to serve as president of Spelman College, a post she held for ten years. She then returned to teaching, spending three years as Emory University’s Presidential Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Women’s Studies, and African American Studies. In 2002, she was appointed president of Bennett College for Women, where she founded the Johnnetta B. Cole Global Diversity and Inclusion Institute, whose mission is to create, communicate, and continuously support the case for diversity and inclusion in the workplace through education, training, research, and publications. Currently, she is director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, the only national museum in the United States dedicated to the collection, exhibition, conservation, and study of the arts of Africa.

Cole reminded the class of 2013, “Here at Hollins University you have received a quality education. That means you have come to better understand the world, and you understand your responsibility to whatever you can to help make our world a better place.” She emphasized “the power of community service to transform lives and strengthen communities” and urged graduates to “act on the basic principle that doing for others is just the rent you must pay for your room on Earth.”

Cole cited Martin Luther King, Jr., and his philosophy on service (“Everybody can be great because anybody can serve”), and concluded with Sojourner Truth’s message to a gathering of 19th century suffragettes (“…if one woman, one day in a garden, could get the world turned upside down, then it seems to me that all the women in here can get it right side up again”).

“We are counting on you,” she told the graduates, “to be the kind of leaders that will help get the world right side up again.”

Following Cole’s address, Thomas Barron, chair of Hollins’ Board of Trustees, awarded her the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa in recognition of her personal and career accomplishments.

Four graduating seniors were honored during the ceremony for their academic achievements. Cara Jean Bailey, Jaclyn June Donnelly, Courtney Kathleen Flerlage, and Kailen Marie Kinsey each received the Faculty Award for Academic Excellence. Bailey, Donnelly, and Flerlage tied for the highest grade point average among this year’s graduates, which Kinsey had the second highest academic standing in the class of 2013.

The following awards were also presented at this year’s commencement:

  • The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, given by the New York Southern Society in memory of the founder, recognizes members of the campus community who have shown by daily living those qualities that evidence a spirit of love and helpfulness to other men and women. This year’s honorees are senior Melissa Amanda Jane Wilson and Celia McCormick, director of the Horizon program.
  • The Annie Terrill Bushnell Award, established by the late Mrs. William A. Anderson in memory of her mother, is presented to the senior who has evidenced the finest spirit of leadership during her days at Hollins. Bethany O’Neil is this year’s recipient.
  • The Jane Cocke Funkhouser Award, honoring a member of the class of 1911, recognizes a junior or senior who, in addition to being a good student, is pre-eminent in character. Senior Kelsey DeForest was presented this year’s award.
  • The Hollins University Teaching Award, supported by an endowment established by Mary Bernhardt Decker ’58 and her late husband, James DeWitt Becker, honors secondary school teachers who have devoted their lives to preparing students to achieve and excel in a higher education setting. Each year, Hollins seniors are invited to nominate the teachers who inspired them or contributed significantly to their intellectual and personal growth. This year’s winner, nominated by two graduating seniors, Elizabeth Hatcher and Molly Meador, is Tim Sauls, MALS ’09, English teacher and chair of the English department at Cave Spring High School in Roanoke County.

Hollins Debuts Online Writing Classes in Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction

tinkermtnHollins University is giving both novice and practiced writers the opportunity to grow their craft through the flexibility of online learning as the school nationally recognized for its creative writing program launches the Tinker Mountain Writers’ Workshop/Online (TMWW/O) this fall.

The program’s inaugural session begins September 8 and continues through November 10.

Open to all adults, TMWW/O will offer 10-week courses taught exclusively by published authors who earned a master’s degree in the Hollins creative writing program. Enrollment for each course is capped at 15 students in order to ensure each student receives quality and comprehensive feedback.

“Each class focuses on generating and revising new work, with an emphasis on the writer’s voice, form, and metaphor,” says Program Director Luke Johnson M.F.A. ‘09, who teaches at the University of Mary Washington and is the author of the 2011 poetry collection, After the Ark. His poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in New England Review, Poetry Northwest, The Southern Review, The Threepenny Review, and the Best New Poets anthology.

Johnson adds that classes are designed to foster participation from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection. “Whether you’re just starting your first poem or adding to an already extensive oeuvre, the online classroom offers an opportunity for in-depth engagement with accomplished writers and peers, and the flexibility to access weekly writing assignments, discussion boards, and craft lectures. Whether through a chat room, a threaded discussion, or a live interaction, the online format provides a multitude of ways to improve as a writer.”

TMWW/O will offer the following courses during the fall of 2013:

  • The Art of Writing Fiction. Students focus on acquiring the tools necessary to create their own writing and edit it for publication, from creating compelling characters to crafting complete stories with something at stake. Students share their own writing for peer review in a digital workshop environment led by CL Bledsoe M.F.A. ‘08, an eight-time Pushcart Prize nominee and the author of five novels and four poetry collections.
  • Poetry: Starting with the Line. This course, taught by Johnson, is designed to benefit both the beginning and the practiced poet, and to provide an opportunity for each to develop his or her craft while assembling a portfolio of new work. The course starts with an understanding of the poetic line and uses this to explore the fundamentals of poetry.
  • Creative Nonfiction: Tell It Slant. This class explores the art of the memoir and techniques for illuminating experience while also considering the narrator’s combined role of participant/observer. Constance Adler M.A. ‘99, whose book My Bayou: New Orleans Through the Eyes of a Lover was published in 2012, is the instructor.

 


Swimmers Earn Scholar All American Status

swimThe College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) has presented the Hollins University swim team with its Team Scholar All American Award for the 2013 spring semester.

The award is given to college and university swimming and diving teams who have achieved a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher.

Founded in 1922, the CSCAA is a professional organization of college swimming and diving coaches dedicated to serving and providing leadership for the advancement of the sport of swimming at the collegiate level.

The Hollins swim team kicks off its 2013-14 season at the Converse All Women’s Invitational on October 11-12 in Spartanburg, South Carolina.


Hollins M.F.A. in Dance to Partner with The Forsythe Company, Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts

mfadanceBeginning in the summer of 2014, Hollins University’s master of fine arts (M.F.A.) program in dance will collaborate with one of the world’s leading dance companies and an internationally acclaimed German university of performing arts.

The M.F.A. program is partnering with renowned choreographer William Forsythe’s The Forsythe Company and the Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts, both located in Frankfurt, Germany, to expand its students’ ability to engage with an international community.

“This new collaboration continues our history of innovative programming in research, education, and professional influence,” said Jeffery Bullock, program director. “We are committed to integrating our program with professional dance centers and metropolitan locations around the world.”

Hollins’ graduate program in dance offers a Year Residency Track, which is intended for recent graduates with an eye on the professional world of dance; a Low Residency – Two Summer Track, designed for mid-career artists, teachers, and dance professionals who must study in a limited time frame that accommodates their employment/performance schedule; and a Low Residency – Three Summer Track that serves emerging artists, teachers, and dance professionals. Previously, a course of European study was available only to students in the Year Residency Track, and the new alliances will enable Hollins to expand this experience to all students: They will spend five weeks on the Hollins campus and three weeks in Frankfurt.

Christopher Roman, former principal dancer with The Forsythe Company, will serve as the European study coordinator and will curate the three-week dance study and experience. He is a winner of the Faust Theatre Prize, Germany’s highest theatre honor, and has been a soloist and principal with ballet companies in Seattle, Miami, Montreal, and Philadelphia.

Ingo Diehl, professor and director of the contemporary dance program at the Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts, will also work closely with the M.F.A. program.

“Using the resources of multiple institutions, our students and faculty are able to establish a unique community of committed artists and scholars who range in ages and experiences and are working to sustain their careers and deepen their relationship to dance,” Bullock said. “We are providing students with a wide range of opportunities and mentorships as well as exposure to other practitioners in the international dance field.”


Hollins Professor Infuses Medicine with Art at Virginia Tech Carilion Mini Medical

carilionJennifer Anderson, an assistant professor of art at Hollins University, is lending her expertise to a community outreach initiative sponsored by the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine: the institution’s first mini medical school.

The four-part event, “Anatomy for Artists and Other Curious Sorts,” is part of a series designed to engage area residents with the medical school by providing educational offerings “with a slight twist,” said Dr. David Trinkle, the school’s associate dean of community and culture and a Carilion Clinic physician, in a news release. “We won’t be tackling standard health topics in a standard way. With this first one, for example, we’ll be adding an artistic component. Participants who want to translate what they’re learning into art will be able to do so.

“The only prerequisites are a curious mind and a willing spirit.”

Anderson is the sole art professor taking part in the inaugural mini medical school and the only presenter not affiliated with the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute. She will discuss “The Human Form Through the History of Art” at the event’s second program on Tuesday, March 25. Artists from Hollins are participating in all four interactive sessions to provide mentorship in drawing.

“We want everyone to know we’re more than an isolated, self-contained school teaching future doctors,” Trinkle said. “We’re also here to serve this community.”


Hollins Celebrates Founder’s Day, ‘All-Steinway School’ Designation

foundersHollins University’s official recognition as an “All-Steinway School,” along with performances by Hollins students and faculty and a concert by an internationally acclaimed pianist, highlighted this year’s commemoration of Founder’s Day on February 20.

Founder’s Day celebrates the birth of Charles Lewis Cocke, who served as president of Hollins from 1846 until his death in 1901. Even though Cocke came to Hollins after its establishment in 1842, he is considered the school’s founder because the institution would not have survived without his leadership during financial crises, disease epidemics, the Civil War, and other challenges.

Each year, Founder’s Day begins with members of the senior class processing to the Cocke Family Cemetery, located on the southeast end of campus, and placing a wreath on Mr. Cocke’s grave. The senior class traditionally chooses a member of the campus community to accompany them to the cemetery, and the class of 2014 selected Associate Professor of English Julie Pfeiffer for the honor this year.

That afternoon, the annual Founder’s Day convocation in duPont Chapel showcased the musical talents of a number of Hollins students, including soloists Liz Valvano ’15 (bassoon), Birdie Trotter ’15 (flute), Jessica Newberne ’14 (piano), and Naomi Fukuda ’15 (piano), and the Hollins University Concert Choir.

Professor of Music Judith Cline delivered the Founder’s Day address and talked about Hollins’ ten-year initiative to meet the criteria of Steinway & Sons, the world’s foremost piano maker, to become an ”All-Steinway School.” The status reflects Hollins’ commitment to excellence by providing students, faculty, and guest artists with the best equipment possible for the study and performance of music. Worldwide, just over 160 conservatories, colleges and universities, and other schools of distinction have earned this designation.  Cline, a soprano, paid tribute to the founder of Steinway & Sons, Henry Steinway, with a rendition of Richard Strauss’s “Morgen!”

Associate Professor of English T.J. Anderson III also recognized Hollins’ All-Steinway designation at the convocation, performing his jazz poem, ”Prelude to a Kiss,” in dedication.

During her remarks, Hollins President Nancy Gray announced more celebratory news. The university is launching a new honors program in Fall 2014 that is fully endowed thanks to a $1 million gift from an anonymous donor. She also congratulated the Hollins student team that this month won the 15th annual statewide collegiate Wells Fargo Ethics Bowl. Tom Barron, chair of the Hollins Board of Trustees,  joined Gray in saluting the university’s physical plant staff with a citation recognizing their exceptional work to ensure the campus remained safe and accessible during the recent winter storm that brought 19 inches of snow to the Roanoke Valley.

Two individual members of the campus community were also honored at the convocation. Cline received the Herta Freitag Faculty Legacy Award, presented to a member of the faculty whose recent scholarly and creative accomplishments reflect the extraordinary academic standards set by Freitag, who served as professor of mathematics at Hollins from 1948 to 1971. The Roberta A. Stewart Service Award, granted each Founder’s Day to a Hollins employee who demonstrates long-term service, loyalty to the university, and deep caring for students and colleagues, was presented to Elise Roschen, assistant to the director at the Hollins Riding Center.

Founder’s Day activities concluded that evening with a special concert by pianist Alexander Schimpf, winner of the 2011 Cleveland International Piano Competition. Prior to his performance, Steinway & Sons representatives from New York City and Washington, D.C., officially presented the “All-Steinway School” plaque to Gray, Barron, and Cline (pictured above from left to right). Hollins  joins George Mason University, James Madison University, Radford University, and Episcopal High School in Alexandria as Virginia’s only “All-Steinway Schools.”

Founder’s Day has been commemorated at Hollins since 1898.