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Speaker’s Bureau and Expert Directory

The economy, current issues, children's literature, politics, travel, women.... The Hollins University Speakers Bureau has a number of specialists who can present these and many other issues of interest to your club, church, civic and professional organization — free of charge (unless otherwise noted). In addition, these and other experts from our faculty and administration are available for interviews with print and broadcast media.

Requests for speakers and media requests for faculty experts should be directed to:
Jeff Hodges
Director of Public Relations
P. O. Box 9657
Roanoke, VA 24020-1657
Phone: (540) 362-6503
Fax: (540) 362-6500
E-mail: jhodges@hollins.edu

When making speaker requests, please include the following information:

  • name of organization
  • type of meeting
  • approximate size of audience
  • name of speaker and requested title of topic

Please select alternate topics and speakers in the event that your first choice is unavailable. Please limit your requests to two each year.

 

Biology

Ryan Huish

Assistant professor, biology; research interests incorporate an interdisciplinary approach to address basic and applied questions in ethnobotany, ecology, and plant conservation by employing techniques in the fields of plant ecology, genetics, anthropology, phytochemistry, biogeography, sustainable management, and GIS.

Topics:

  • Zoobotany: Animals’ herbal antidotes, from birds that line their nests with pest resistant plants and elephants that use labor-inducing herbs, to the ingenious way chimpanzees treat intestinal parasites
  • Plants in Poetry and Art: Exploring the poetic side of plants and their place in world iconography, mythology, and artistic expression
  • Ethnobotanical research in Tonga: An in-depth study of the traditional treatments for infection in an effort to find novel drugs to combat antibiotic resistance

Children’s Literature

Amanda Cockrell

Director, graduate program in children's literature; author of novels for adults, including Pomegranate Seed, a contemporary novel about the movies, and The Deer Dancers and The Horse Catchers, mythological stories of the Southwest. Recently awarded an NEA fellowship in fiction.

Topic:

  • Adventures in Mr. MacGregor's Garden: Why Adults Should Read Children's Books

Communication

Lori Joseph

Associate professor of communication studies, research interests include communication and the workplace, gender and communication, healthcare and communication

Topics:

  • Work-Life Balance
  • Professionalism in the Workplace
  • Conflict and Work
  • Workplace Culture
  • Challenges for Female Leaders
  • Gender and the Media
  • Healthcare Provider Communication with Various Audiences
  • Work Life and Self-Care
Christopher J. Richter

Associate professor of communication studies; research interests include media criticism, media regulation and social theory.

Topic:

  • Television Literacy: Truth, Lies or Videotape?

Presentation involves the audience in critical analysis of television productions, including commercials, news, entertainment programs and/or MTV. Emphasis is on developing skill in recognizing that TV does not simply reflect reality, but involves the use of audio and visual effects which can influence our emotions, assumptions and attitudes. VCR (VHS format) and television monitor required.

Creative Writing

Amanda Cockrell

Director, graduate program in Children's Literature; author of novels for adults, including Pomegranate Seed, a contemporary novel about the movies, and The Deer Dancers and The Horse Catchers, mythological stories of the Southwest. Recently awarded an NEA fellowship in fiction.

Topic:

  • In the Course of a Misspent Life: Some Notes on Writing
Jeanne Larsen

Susan Gager Jackson Professor of Creative Writing; Professor of English; poet and novelist, offering a workshop for high school students or other groups on bringing people to life in short stories or novels.

Topics:

  • Instant Poetry
  • What the Dog Ate: Turning Homework into Fiction
  • Who's Dale? Creating Characters in Fiction
  • The Zen of Making Things (on the creative process)
Eric Trethewey

Professor of English; 19th- and 20th-century Canadian, British, and American literature. Author of Dreaming of Rivers, Evening Knowledge, and The Long Road Home. Poetry, fiction and essays in The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, New Letters, The Yale Review, Poetry, The Sewanee Review, and Canadian Literature.

Topics:

  • Blood Sport: The Art of Literary Assassination (witty and nasty things writers have said about other writers)
  • Writing workshops for high school students, readings of original poetry and fiction, and lectures on various literary and cultural topics, such as literature and the environment or reading and citizenship.

Dance

The dance department offers a full schedule of performances by the Hollins Repertory Dance Company as well as visiting dance artists. Master classes, lecture demonstrations, and discussion groups can be arranged after performances by calling (540) 362-6503. Discussions ranging from "how to look at dance" to "the history of modern dance as an art form."

A discussion about dance and art as a way of thinking, not just a way of doing.

Drama

The theatre department offers several student performances throughout the year. Discussions of directing, acting, scenery, lighting, etc., can be arranged by calling (540) 362-6503.

Todd Ristau

Director, Playwright’s Lab at Hollins University, and a distinguished graduate of the Iowa Playwright’s Workshop. His work has been performed in theatres across the U.S. and England, including London’s West End. He founded No Shame Theatre in 1986 and oversaw its evolution into a national network of venues for new works in dozens of cities. He has an extensive theatre background, with expertise in acting, directing, and design. He worked with Mill Mountain Theatre for six years as coordinator of their second stage and as literary associate overseeing new works programming. Ristau served as the first artistic director of Studio Roanoke, a storefront theatre space dedicated to new works development in downtown Roanoke. He is an Active Member of the Dramatists Guild, and member of Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of America. Can speak on a range of topics relating to the theatre, new plays, playwriting, and No Shame Theatre.

Economics

Casimir Dadak

Professor of finance and economics; research interests include international finance, strategic management, financial markets and institutions, corporate finance, and macroeconomics.

Topic:

  • The Stock Market after the 2008-09 Financial Crisis

Education

Nancy Oliver Gray

Nancy Oliver Gray became Hollins University's eleventh president in January 2005. She brings to Hollins a strong commitment to the liberal arts and sciences and especially to women's colleges.

Prior to coming to Hollins, Gray was president of Converse College, an independent liberal arts college for women located in Spartanburg, South Carolina. She also focused on development and institutional advancement at a number of colleges and universities, including Rider University and Princeton Theological Seminary.

Topics:

  • Why Women's Education Matters
  • Hollins Today
  • The Changing Landscape of Higher Education
  • Is Higher Education Worth the Cost?

The Hollins admission staff can discuss with students and parents the college selection process, financial aid, and the advantages of attending a women's college.

Environmental Studies

Ryan Huish

Assistant professor, biology; research interests incorporate an interdisciplinary approach to address basic and applied questions in ethnobotany, ecology, and plant conservation by employing techniques in the fields of plant ecology, genetics, anthropology, phytochemistry, biogeography, sustainable management, and GIS.

Topics:

  • Losing Liquid Gold in Fiji and Tonga: In pursuit of the sustainable harvest and conservation of the sandalwood tree and its coveted oil
  • “Who Choked the Trees?” Capital offense of the invasive plants

Film

Matthew Marshall

Marshall is a visiting assistant professor of film at Hollins and has been a film lecturer at the University of Virginia since 2007, where he has taught courses on film history, theory, and genre studies. He has been composing and performing live music for classic silent films for over 11 years with the Virginia Film Festival. He has recorded soundtracks for the British edition of Charlie Chaplin's The Kid as well as George Melies' Conquest of the Pole. In November 2011, Marshall performed his new score for the Turner Classic Movies and Library of Congress presentation of Buster Keaton's The General at the Virginia Film Festival. His screenplay, The Portrait, won the grand prize for best horror script at the 2011 Rhode Island International Film Festival. In April 2012, his paper, "Through the Looking Glass Genre: A Look at Unreliable Narrators in Film," was presented at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. He is now working on a book by the same title, based on that presentation.

Topics:

  • Learn the language of film and gain the knowledge of how film artists create meaning in their work.
  • How to Write Your First Screenplay: Some Strategies for Getting Your Million-Dollar Idea Down on the Page
  • Silent Film: The Art of Collaboration. Drawing on his own experience as a silent film composer and musician, Marshall discusses how schools and other organizations can collaborate to create music to accompany film classics from the past. Silent film projects are great for schools that have both film and music departments.

History

Peter Coogan

Associate professor of history; one of the most accessible professors at Hollins, Coogan is an authority on the Second World War and American foreign policy.

Topics:

  • Presidential Character and Leadership: Sex, Drugs, and Lies in the White House
  • Myths of the Second World War
  • Anti-Semitism in America

Leadership

Jill Hufnagel

Hufnagel is the associate director of Hollins University's Batten Leadership Institute. Using an adaptive leadership framework, she delivers leadership programming built on capacity development, productive ambiguity, and sound strategy. By design, this model demands that participants grapple with the challenges that emerge in the room – challenges that mirror those throughout our organizations, communities, and lives. Whether working with undergrads, consulting clients, or in 1:1 coaching, her focus remains on keeping one eye squarely on the collective work in the moment and the other on encouraging acts of daring: leadership. Hufnagel trained at the University of Virginia's Darden Graduate School of Business and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and holds a Ph.D. in English and women’s studies from the University of South Carolina and an M.A. and Ed.S. in community counseling from James Madison University. She is available to talk about/facilitate workshops on leadership development, women and leadership, and leadership education.

Topics:

  • What Do We Mean When We Say Leadership? Using Sound Strategy and Culture-Building to Survive and Thrive
  • What Will It Take? A Leadership Framework for Narrowing the Gender Gap
  • Can Teaching Leadership be Taught? Using Case-in-Point to Teach Case-in-Point
Nancy Oliver Gray

Nancy Oliver Gray became Hollins University's eleventh president in January 2005. She brings to Hollins a strong commitment to the liberal arts and sciences and especially to women's colleges.

Prior to coming to Hollins, Gray was president of Converse College, an independent liberal arts college for women located in Spartanburg, South Carolina. She also focused on development and institutional advancement at a number of colleges and universities, including Rider University and Princeton Theological Seminary.

Topic:

  • Finding the Leader Within You

Literature

Amanda Cockrell

Director, graduate program in children's literature; author of novels for adults, including Pomegranate Seed, a contemporary novel about the movies, and The Deer Dancers and The Horse Catchers, mythological stories of the Southwest. Recently awarded an NEA fellowship in fiction.

Topic:

  • Wily Coyotes — the Trickster from Warner Brothers to Ursula K. LeGuin
Benjamin Stevens

Stevens is a visiting assistant professor of classical studies at Hollins and earned his B.A. from Reed College and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Stevens has taught and lectured at large universities, small residential colleges, and correctional facilities for audiences of 5 to 500+ people. Outside of academia, he is a renowned lecturer on contemporary a cappella music, as featured in the television shows Glee and The Sing Off and the film Pitch Perfect.

His research interests focus on:

  • Classical traditions – how ancient Greek and Roman literature and mythology have influenced more recent literature and film, including drama (e.g., Shakespeare, Tom Stoppard); epic and lyric poetry (e.g., Milton, Dickinson); the novel (e.g., Salman Rushdie, Jesmyn Ward); and science fiction and fantasy.
  • Ancient Latin and Greek poetry in connection with modern fields including linguistics and the history of the senses in culture.

Music

Shelbie Wahl-Fouts

Wahl-Fouts is an assistant professor of music and director of choral activities at Hollins. She holds a B.M.A. from DePauw University; an M.M. in choral conducting from Butler University; and a D.A.M. from Ball State University.

Topics:

  • Women’s Choirs, Women’s Voices
  • Choral works for women’s choirs
  • Music appreciation
  • Conducting and directing
  • Musical Activism: Song Choices in Support of Social Change
  • Broadway, musical theatre history, specific shows/decades, women on Broadway


The music department offers a full schedule of concerts throughout the year, including faculty recitals, guest artists, and other performances. For more information, call (540) 362-6511.

Philanthropy

Nancy Oliver Gray

Nancy Oliver Gray became Hollins University's eleventh president in January 2005. She brings to Hollins a strong commitment to the liberal arts and sciences and especially to women's colleges.

Prior to coming to Hollins, Gray was president of Converse College, an independent liberal arts college for women located in Spartanburg, South Carolina. She also focused on development and institutional advancement at a number of colleges and universities, including Rider University and Princeton Theological Seminary.

Topics:

  • The Campaign Against All Odds
  • Trends in Philanthropy

Philosophy and Religion

Rev. Jennifer Call

Call is Hollins’ university chaplain and has over 14 years of ministry experience with gifts in teaching, counseling, and guiding people of all ages in their spiritual journeys. She is an ordained Baptist minister and a graduate of the College of William and Mary and Baptist Theological Seminary. She has been at Hollins since the fall of 2011, after serving for eight years as director of Christian education/chaplain with HopeTree Family Services in Salem, Virginia.

Topics:

  • Spirituality and Religion in the University Setting
  • How Local Congregations Can Support College and University Students
  • Spirituality practices
Jeanne Larsen

Susan Gager Jackson Professor of Creative Writing; Professor of English; poet and novelist.

Topic:

  • Buddhism in China Today: A Traveler's Views
Darla Schumm

Associate professor, religious studies; teaches the course series Introduction to World Religions I and II, as well as the traditions courses in Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. She has also designed courses in Women in Religion, Women in Buddhism, Sexual Ethics, and Jesus and Mary Magdalene in Literature and Film.

Topics:

  • Religion in General
  • Introductions to Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, and the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures

Political Science

Edward Lynch
Professor, political science; veteran of Capitol Hill and the Reagan White House, as well as a frequent observer of politics in Richmond and in Roanoke. Lynch combines academic expertise with extensive hands-on political experience. Orient Lines Cruises previously hired Lynch for a series of lectures aboard the Marco Polo, cruising in South America.

Topics:

  • Beyond the Headlines: Understanding the World Around Us
  • The Real West Wing: My Days in the Reagan White House
  • The Global War on Terror: An Update
  • Stories from the Statehouse: Governors in U.S. History and Politics
  • Governors at War: the American Revolution and the Civil War
Jong Ra

Professor, political science; areas of expertise include media and politics, both national and state elections; women and politics; Korean politics; research focuses on the influence of televised presidential debates on voters' decisions.

Topics:

  • Creativity and Politics: How Creative Education Fosters Democratic Citizenry
  • How Media Influences Politics
  • People's Trust in Government
  • Controversies in the Electoral Process: Are We Selecting the Right Presidents?
  • Gender and Politics
  • How Democratic is the U.S. Government?
  • Bush's Iraq and Kennedy's Cuban Missile Crisis
  • What Do We Make of the Korean Situation?
  • Race and Politics
  • The Large Government Fear: Is It Real?

Psychology

George Ledger

Professor of psychology, has ongoing research in the areas of memory, cognition, and artificial intelligence.

Topics:

  • Psychology, Chaos, and Artificial Intelligence
  • Human Memory: A User's Guide

Research

Maryke Barber

Outreach librarian/liaison librarian at the Wyndham Robertson Library. Responsible for library outreach programs.

Topic:

  • Research Rx: You Can Search (and find!) Like a Librarian

Presentation can be tailored to a specific group or subject, for example, senior citizens, small business owners, educators; or anyone interested in learning more about the research techniques used by experts.

Women᾿s Colleges / Women᾿s Education

Nancy Oliver Gray

Nancy Oliver Gray became Hollins University's eleventh president in January 2005. She brings to Hollins a strong commitment to the liberal arts and sciences and especially to women's colleges.

Prior to coming to Hollins, Gray was president of Converse College, an independent liberal arts college for women located in Spartanburg, South Carolina. She also focused on development and institutional advancement at a number of colleges and universities, including Rider University and Princeton Theological Seminary.

Topics:

  • Hollins Today
  • Why Women's Education Matters
  • Women Can't Do Science?