Record Number of Hollins Students Earn Honors at Appalachia Regional Model Arab League

Eight members of Hollins’ Model Arab League delegation won awards at the Appalachia Regional Model Arab League (ARMAL), held November 13-15.

The number of Hollins students recognized this year is a record for the university.

Model Arab League (MAL) is a project of the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations (NCUSAR), a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., that seeks to foster greater understanding of the Arabic-speaking world by U.S. students. NCUSAR also sponsors internships, study trips to the region, international conferences, and networking opportunities, and the organization’s student programs coordinator is a Hollins alumna: Katie Grandelli ’20. Hollins has taken part in MAL conferences since 2015. (The university has also participated in Model United Nations [MUN] conferences since 2000.) John P. Wheeler Professor of Political Science Edward Lynch teaches the MUN/MAL class and advises the MUN/MAL Club.

ARMAL, normally held on the Hollins campus, was conducted virtually this year. For the first time, the conference included a simulation of the Arab Court of Justice (ACJ), and Hollins is the first host of a regional MAL conference to have an ACJ; students who participated were assisted by Assistant Professor of Political Science Courtney Chenette, a practicing attorney.

Hollins students earning honors at ARMAL this year include:

  • Lillian Albrecht ’24, who won two awards for her work on the ACJ: Outstanding Justice and Outstanding Advocate.
  • Salima Driss ’23, Jaiya McMillan ’23, and Susanna Helms ’24, who were recognized with Outstanding Advocate awards.
  • Acadia Czeizinger ’22, Mollie Davis ’22, Maggie McCroby ’22, and Bianca Vallebrignoni ’23, who received Distinguished Chair awards for leading various conference councils.

In addition, Carly Jo Collins ’21 and Delia O’Grady ’22 served as ARMAL’s Secretary-General and Assistant Secretary-General, respectively.





“Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir” by Natasha Trethewey M.A. ’91 Shortlisted for Carnegie Medals for Excellence

The American Library Association (ALA) has announced that Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir by Pulitzer Prize winner and two-time U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey M.A. ’91 is one of six finalists for the 2021 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction.

The awards recognize the previous year’s best fiction and nonfiction books written for adult readers and published in the United States, and are intended to serve as a guide to help adults select quality reading material. The two medal winners will be recognized at the Reference and User Services Association’s Book and Media Awards event, which will be held online on February 4, 2021. Winners will each receive $5,000. All finalists will be honored during a celebratory event in the summer of 2021 during the ALA Annual Conference.

The ALA calls Memorial Drive “a work of exquisitely distilled anguish and elegiac drama. Trethewey confronts the horror of her mother’s murder through finely honed, evermore harrowing memories, dreams, visions, and musings. She writes, ‘To survive trauma, one must be able to tell a story about it.’ And tell her tragic story she does in this lyrical, courageous, and resounding remembrance.”

Established in 2012, the Carnegie Medals for Excellence are the first single-book awards for adult books presented by the ALA and reflect the judgment and insight of library professionals and booksellers who work closely with adult readers. Made possible in part by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Medals are co-sponsored by Booklist, the ALA’s book review magazine.




US News Cites Hollins for Value, Social Mobility Among National Liberal Arts Colleges

Hollins University’s success in blending educational excellence with affordability, and its track record for graduating Pell Grant-awarded students, have earned recognition in the new U.S. News 2021 Best Colleges.

The college guide ranks Hollins as the #44 Best Value School and #21 in the list of Top Performers on Social Mobility among National Liberal Arts Colleges.

“To determine which colleges and universities offer the best value for students, U.S. News and World Report factors academic quality and cost after accounting for total expenses and financial aid,” the guide notes. “The social mobility ranking is computed from the two ranking factors assessing graduation rates of students who received federal Pell Grants (those typically coming from households whose family incomes are less than $50,000 annually, though most Pell Grant money goes to students with a total family income below $20,000).”

Hollins is ranked #102 overall in the National Liberal Arts Colleges category, and is also considered an A-plus School for B Students.

“Since the U.S. News rankings are a gauge of excellence,” the guide explains, “schools had to first be ranked in the top three-fourths of their 2021 Best Colleges ranking category to be eligible for the A-plus Schools for B Students ranking list. The average freshman retention rate – the percentage of first-year students who returned for their sophomore year – was also calculated for first-year classes entering between fall 2015 and fall 2018; schools that made the first cut had to bring an average of at least 75% of their freshmen back the next fall. This freshman retention rate value can be an important indicator of student satisfaction.

“In addition to passing the first two screens, to make the final cut of A-plus Schools for B Students, colleges had to admit a meaningful proportion of students who didn’t get straight A’s.”

The 2021 Best Colleges rankings were released to the public on September 14.



Hollins Track and Field Team Earns Academic Honor

In just their first season of competition, Hollins University’s indoor track and field team has been named a 2020 Division III All-Academic Team by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

The team finished the 2019-20 academic year with a cumulative 3.24 GPA.

Hollins is one of eight schools from the Old Dominion Athletic Conference to receive All-Academic Team recognition this year.

To be eligible for the award, teams must have finished the 2019-20 season with a cumulative GPA of 3.1 or higher.

Top Ten Rankings Highlight Hollins’ Profile in The Princeton Review’s “Best 386 Colleges”

Hollins University is among the top ten schools in the country for politically involved students and college theatre, according to the 2021 edition of The Princeton Review’s annual college guide, The Best 386 Colleges.

Hollins is ranked #6 in the category Most Politically Active Students and #8 on the Best College Theatre list.

In the guide’s profile of the university, students say Hollins is “a great place for people who want life experience” and that the school provides “a lot of incredible opportunities for anyone willing to take them.” They also cite internship and study abroad opportunities as “exceptional,” and praise the faculty as “amazing, talented, dedicated, and compassionate.” The Princeton Review adds, “The alumni network is similarly solid, and many students land jobs and internships through previous graduates.”

“We salute Hollins for its outstanding academics and we are truly pleased to recommend it to prospective applicants searching for their personal ‘best-fit’ college,” said Robert Franek, The Princeton Review’s editor-in-chief and lead author of The Best 386 Colleges.

Only about 14% of America’s 2,800 four-year colleges are profiled in the guide. The Princeton Review chooses the colleges for the book based on data it annually collects from administrators at hundreds of colleges about their institutions’ academic offerings. The company also considers data it gathers from its surveys of college students who rate and report on various aspects of their campus and community experiences.

The Princeton Review does not rank the colleges in the book from 1 to 386. Instead, it reports 62 ranking lists of the top 20 schools in various categories important to prospective applicants and their parents. The rankings in this edition are based on the company’s surveys of 143,000 students at the 386 schools in the book.

The Best 386 Colleges is the 29th annual edition of The Princeton Review’s “Best Colleges” book. It has been featured on NBC’s The Today Show more than a dozen times, and referenced by reporters in publications ranging from Inside Higher Ed. to The Wall Street Journal.

Hollins Playwright’s Work Makes the Leap from Stage to Screen

A critically acclaimed play by a Playwright’s Lab at Hollins University alumna has been made into an independent film and released on Video On Demand.

To the New Girl, written in 2010 by Samantha Macher M.F.A.’12, is available now though Amazon Prime Video Direct and Vimeo on Demand. The play was first produced at SkyPilot Theatre in Los Angeles and at Studio Roanoke with the Playwright’s Lab, and went on to earn enthusiastic reviews, including “A bracing blitz of pure estrogen” (Los Angeles Times), “Smart and sophisticated, witty, charming” (NoHo Arts District), and “A provocative study of the deep pain of ‘cheating’ by your ‘one and only'” (Tolucan Times). The Roanoke Times noted, “If your thing is honest stories well told, New Girl is the play to see,” while LA Weekly simply remarked, “GO!”

“Live theatre is so important,” said Macher, who has had more than 40 productions of her written work staged around the world. “At its best, you’re in the moment with these characters. Though we can’t exactly replace the experience of being with our audience in person, the film is true to the medium. It’s intimate, simple, and heartfelt. We hope that those watching at home get a similar feeling as those who saw it on stage through the years.”

An anthology feature film released by New Girl Pictures and featuring an all-female creative team and cast, To the New Girl follows ten women scorned as they directly address their exes’ new wives and lovers at an open mic night in Los Angeles. Created by a group of emerging filmmakers at a time when audiences are demanding films made both by and for women, the project taps into a social and political climate that’s left women poised to take back their voices and be heard.

“What I love about the project is that Samantha’s writing really connects with audiences on a universal level and our actresses bring the words to life with these phenomenal performances,” said producer Laura Hunter Drago. “I’m so excited that we’re able to share that with audiences and spark some interesting conversations about how we all process heartbreak and relationships.”

To the New Girl‘s ensemble cast includes Charlotte Evelyn Williams (NCIS, Preacher, Baskets), Lavetta Cannon (Into the Dark, American Heiress), Mara Klein (Casual, Change of Heart), Kelly L. Goodman (Married with Children), Samantha Carro (The Guest House), Leslie Simms (Jane the Virgin), Skyler Vallo (True Blood, How I Met Your Mother, The A List), Alexandra Boylan (Bellflower, Catching Faith), Dawn Noel (NCIS, Glee, Undercover), and in her feature film debut, Lauren Emily Castle.

Funded through a Kickstarter campaign by supporters of women in entertainment, To the New Girl was filmed in just three days on location in Los Angeles with a budget under $20,000.





Hollins Student-Athletes Earn Unprecedented ODAC All-Academic Honors

In acknowledgement of their excellence off the field of competition, a record number of Hollins University student-athletes have been named to the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) All-Academic Team.

Hollins boasts 60 honorees this year among the more than 2,600 student-athletes cited by the ODAC for 2019-20, an all-time high for the conference.

Eligibility for the ODAC All-Academic Team is open to any student-athlete that competes in a conference-sponsored sport, regardless of academic class. Prospective honorees must achieve at least a 3.25 grade point average for the academic year to be considered for ODAC All-Academic Team recognition.

Hollins’ Strengths in Film, Dance, and Performing Arts/Drama Touted by Fiske Guide

The Fiske Guide to Colleges 2021 features Hollins University as one of the more than 300 “best and most interesting” colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and Ireland.

Created by former New York Times education editor Edward B. Fiske, the guide has been published for 37 years. USA Today calls it, “The best college guide you can buy.”

The Fiske Guide includes Hollins among the nation’s small colleges and universities that are “Strong in Film/Television,” “Strong in Dance,” and “Strong in Performing Arts/Drama.” Undergraduates quoted in the university’s profile cite their fellow students as “independent, ambitious, and passionate” while also praising Hollins’ academic balance (“I have been challenged by most of my classes here, but the workload has been manageable enough that I have been able to do a bunch of extracurriculars, too.”), its residence halls (“Most of the dorms are historic buildings full of character and comfort.”), and the overall educational environment (“Hollins is a great school that empowers women. It has made me independent.”). One senior concludes, “A student should only attend Hollins if they want to be a part of a close-knit community that fosters creative minds and ambitious spirits.”

Updated annually, the Fiske Guide to Colleges describes itself as “the most authoritative source of information for college-bound students and their parents.”


Hollins Alumna’s Graduate Thesis in History Explores “An Island of Integration in an Otherwise Sea of Segregation”

When Meika Downey ’17 entered Hollins University as a first-year student, she brought with her a keen fascination with 20th century military history. Her undergraduate career as a history and political science double major would subsequently inspire in her a zeal for social, gender, and minority history. Thus, it’s not surprising that when Downey later chose to pursue a Master of Arts in history at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), she enrolled with two certainties: she wanted the challenge of a thesis concentration, and with her thesis she intended to explore a topic that encompassed as many of her interests as possible.

“I realized that the historiography of U.S. military desegregation in the mid-20th century was an almost exclusively male-dominated narrative, and I wanted to disrupt this trend by crafting a fuller and more inclusive historical interpretation,” Downey recalled. “To that end, I wondered how American women – particularly women of color – experienced and contributed to the vital process of racial integration of the armed forces in the 1950s.”

This approach became the basis for Downey’s graduate thesis, “‘Island of Integration’: Desegregation of the Women’s Army Corps at Fort Lee, Virginia, 1948 – 1954,” which looked at how the national training center for the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) during the Korean War era desegregated all barracks, mess halls, bathrooms, and recreational facilities in April 1950, four years before the larger, more established male Army completed the process.

“I wanted to examine how and why the women at Fort Lee came to desegregate its ranks with relative ease and tolerance at mid-century,” Downey explained. She conducted oral histories with WAC veterans who trained at Fort Lee during that time period, including interviews with nine racially diverse women about their experiences. “The WAC wasn’t necessarily seeking to promote racial equality. There simply weren’t enough Black women enlisted to merit segregation any longer.” Still, she said, “the swift manner in which these women, now in their late 80s and early 90s, positively responded to the call to desegregate not only fostered an amicable environment in which to train and live, an ‘island of integration in an otherwise sea of segregation,’ but also set precedents for other branches and bases in the military.”

With her work, Downey charted new historiographical territory and overcame a lack of secondary literature on the topic. “The majority of these women had never before been interviewed about their WAC service, let alone race relations therein, and they were generous with their time and memories. My thesis used oral history to conceptualize the racial culture of the WAC at Fort Lee and recreate 1950s basic training for modern readers.”

Downey was awarded the 2020-21 VCU Graduate School Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award in the Humanities and Fine Arts category, and her oral history interviews will be donated to the U.S. Army Women’s Museum at Fort Lee. She is currently developing an article based on her thesis to submit for publication.

After earning her M.A. in history and a certificate in public history this spring, Downey reflected on how her Hollins education prepared her for success in graduate school and beyond.

“Academically, professionally, and personally, my time at Hollins was a transformative experience and informed who I am now. Studying under [Associate Professor of History] Peter Coogan and [Associate Professor of History] Rachel Nuñez in the history department inspired a curiosity to learn about and question the world around me and the world that existed before me.

“Perhaps the most important and transferable skills with which I emerged from Hollins were the abilities to think critically and communicate orally and in writing.  The academic rigor with which Professor Coogan and Nuñez taught their classes also invariably prepared me for graduate school.”

Additionally, Downey credits the four internships she completed as an undergraduate for enhancing her professional development. “I was fortunate to have identified early on that I wanted to pursue a career in public history at a museum or historic site,” she said. “My internships with the Virginia Historical Society (with Lizzie Oglesby ’03 and special thanks to Carey Wodehouse ’03), Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum (special thanks to Priscilla Geraghty ’74), and the National D-Day Memorial (with April Cheek-Messier ’94) introduced me to the field of public history and helped me develop a passion for museum education.”

Downey is now preparing to embark on what she describes as “a dream position” as education manager with Preservation Virginia’s John Marshall House. Located in Richmond, the brick structure dates back to 1790 and was home to the longest serving and arguably most influential Chief Justice of the United States, his family, and about 10 to 12 enslaved people. “I am very excited about this job because it allows me to implement the training, experience, and enthusiasm I’ve garnered from part-time museum jobs and internships from the past four years.”

Hoping to build the John Marshall House’s presence in the community, Downey is looking forward to “creating educational content pertaining to Marshall, his career, and the nuances of Early America, as well as programming about the Supreme Court, its justices, and rulings across the decades. I also plan to continue to broaden the John Marshall House’s historical interpretation by expanding our knowledge and understanding of the enslaved people Marshall owned during his lifetime. I want to develop a diversity of public and school programs and welcome lots of school groups to the House.”

Reaching these goals, Downey noted, will mean using the “skills and competencies that Hollins taught me every day. Inside and outside the classroom, I learned to embrace challenges. I felt empowered to chase my dreams, confident in seizing opportunities, and bold in asking questions. I know how to think for myself, conduct research, and draw and defend my own conclusions. And, I’ve never stopped building upon those skills since I graduated.”


Classical Association of Virginia Honors Hollins Professor as Teacher of the Year

Hollins University Professor of Classical Studies Christina A. Salowey has been named the Lurlene W. Todd Teacher of the Year for 2019-20 by the Classical Association of Virginia (CAV).

First presented in 2005, the award recognizes outstanding Latin teachers and professors in Virginia. Nominees are evaluated on at least four of the following factors:



  • Evidence of the success, size, and growth of the teacher’s program.
  • Examples of innovative and creative classroom activity.
  • Evidence of improved student learning.
  • Significant numbers of students who continue their study of the classics at the next available level.
  • Examples of outreach and promotion of the classics inside and outside of the teacher’s institution.
  • Evidence of the teacher’s professional service and profession development.
  • Student success in contests and competitions, especially those offered by the CAV.
  • Examples of student travel and field trips which enhance learning and promote the program.

“We applaud Professor Salowey’s exemplary dedication to her students and to pedagogy across her career at Hollins,” said Trudy Harrington Becker, a senior instructor of history at Virginia Tech and chair of the Lurlene W. Todd Award Committee.

A member of the Hollins faculty since 1996, Salowey teaches numerous literature genres, two ancient languages, and the art, religion, history, philosophy, architecture, science, and geography of the long-lived civilizations that spoke and wrote those languages.

“There are many joys in teaching at a small, liberal arts university,” she has said, “ but a significant one for me is that I am not restricted to one sub-discipline in a broad field of study.”

Throughout her time at Hollins, Salowey and her husband, Associate Professor of Communication Studies Chris Richter, have led undergraduates to Greece during January Short Term to engage in intensive study and research. Each trip is unique and has focused on different regions, such as Crete, northern Greece, and Greece and Turkey.

In collaboration with students in her Greek 350: Greek Inscriptions class, Salowey produced a digital exhibition highlighting photographs of ancient Greek texts that were inscribed on ancient works of art. The exhibition features a commentary for those texts for elementary readers of Greek.

Professor of Classical Studies George Fredric Franko adds that Salowey “routinely teaches overloads and supervises independent studies, in which she meets with students weekly to keep them on track. As an indicator of her success in inspiring students with zeal for the study of ancient Greek, Latin, and ancient art, this year six seniors are graduating with a major in classical studies.”

Salowey also devised, implemented, and led a new summer program at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. These seminars address the needs of graduate and undergraduate students, as well as secondary and college teachers, by offering 18-day sessions on specific topics in Greece and visiting major monuments under the guidance of exceptional scholars.

In 2019, Hollins honored Salowey with the Herta T. Freitag Faculty Legacy Award, which is 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.