Hollins Welcomes Pulitzer Prize Winner Anne Boyer As This Year’s Writer-in-Residence

Poet and essayist Anne Boyer, winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction, is Hollins University’s Louis D. Rubin Jr. Writer-in-Residence for 2023.

Each spring, Hollins hosts a distinguished writer-in-residence who works with graduate and selected undergraduate students. The residency is named for the founder of the university’s renowned creative writing program.

Boyer was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her memoir The Undying: Pain, Vulnerability, Mortality, Medicine, Art, Time, Dreams, Data, Exhaustion, Cancer, and Care. At age 41, she was diagnosed with highly aggressive triple-negative breast cancer. For a single mother living paycheck to paycheck who had always been the caregiver rather than the one needing care, the catastrophic illness was both a crisis and an initiation into new ideas about mortality and the gendered politics of illness.

Harper’s Magazine said The Undying “is honed to a precision that feels hard-won. The politics of illness – how the profit motive determines life and damage and death; how victim blaming is enshrined; how social norms can disable and kill – have rarely been limned with such clarity and grace,” while the Los Angeles Review of Books described Boyer’s writing as “precise and comprehensive, intimate and philosophical; its self-awareness is so rigorous it feels almost extravagant. It’s hard to imagine how she made this book, so near to the agony it documents.” Publisher’s Weekly noted that “Boyer’s gorgeous language elevates this artful, piercing narrative well above the average medical memoir.”

Boyer received Yale University’s Donald Windham-Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prize in 2020 and was the 2018-19 Judith Wilson Poetry Fellow at Cambridge University. She was the inaugural winner of the 2018 Cy Twombly Award for Poetry and that same year was presented the Whitting Award in nonfiction/poetry. Her other books include A Handbook of Disappointed Fate and Garments Against Women, which won the 2016 Community of Literary Magazine and Presses (CLMP) Firecracker Award.

In addition to serving as Hollins’ writer-in-residence this spring, Boyer is The New York Times Magazine‘s poetry editor for 2023.

Hollins’ writer-in-residence program began in 1961. To support the initiative, an endowed fund honoring Wyndham Robertson ’58 was established in 1994. The program was then named in tribute to Rubin in 2000. Previous writers-in-residence include William Golding (1962); Flannery O’Connor, Robert Penn Warren, and Eudora Welty (1964); Lee Smith ’67 (1976); Richard Adams (1977); Derek Walcott (1980); and Natasha Trethewey M.A. ’91 (2012).


Natasha Campbell ’19 Selected for Prestigious Golden Foundation Residency

Natasha Campbell ’19 has been chosen as an Artist Resident at The Sam and Adele Golden Foundation for the Arts, Inc. She is one of only 18 artists selected for the 2023 Residency Program, including Guggenheim Fellow Deborah Zlotsky and other distinguished artists, from over 600 applicants hailing from around the world.

“The Golden Foundation Residency Program is specifically designed to assist the professional artist in discovering and exploring the many materials and technologies available today,” states the foundation’s website. “Through the Golden Foundation, residents will have the unparalleled opportunity to work with dozens of unique materials and technologies.”

Campbell will spend four weeks next year in central New York State living and working in a 19th century barn that has been transformed into a 21st century artist residency.

“The residency gives a complete survey to Golden acrylic, watercolor, and oil paints and mediums,” Campbell explained. “The first week is full of workshops and demos for said materials to experiment with new ways of using paints and mediums with opportunities to consult with paint technicians. The rest of the program is dedicated to studio time.”

Campbell praised the backing she received from Hollins faculty for preparing her to pursue an art career. “I graduated as an English major with an art history minor, and while I went to Hollins wanting to be a studio art major, I didn’t have the courage to go for it. I felt as though I didn’t have anything worth painting about and I didn’t know how to transfer my interests into tangible work. Of course, you learn that through time paired with painting regularly, but I didn’t want to fail or find out my ability didn’t ‘match’ my passion.”

Hollins, Campbell said, “definitely gave me more confidence in my work and in my abilities, not just in art but to create anything at all: writing, analyzing, even believing in my own intelligence. I had A LOT of support from [Professor of Art Emerita] Kathleen Nolan, [Associate Professor of Art] Genevieve Hendricks, and [Associate Professor of Art] Elise Schweitzer, and I’m so incredibly grateful to them.” She noted that Schweitzer in particular “pushed me out of my comfort zone in and out of college. Many of the art opportunities I had or learned about were recommended to me by Elise.”

Until recently, Campbell served as fellowship coordinator at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) in Richmond. “I was in charge of a statewide scholarship that is given to Virginia artists, both students and professionals.” She coordinated three to six solo shows a year showcasing former VMFA Fellows, including an exhibition featuring the work of Professor of Art Emeritus Robert Sulkin. “I wanted the Fellowship to have a larger online presence and more benefits to the artists outside of their shows and scholarship such as studio visits, panels, lectures, and the like. The position and the Fellowship are growing and I’m very grateful to have been a part of it.”

Now engaged full-time in making art, Campbell is hoping to enroll in a graduate program beginning in the fall of 2023. In the meantime, she’s been busy participating in workshops, attending lectures, “and meeting great contemporary artists! I just came back from a fall workshop with Ken Kewley at Mount Gretna School of Art. It was wonderful to say the least!”

Outside of art, Campbell is planning to travel to South Korea for a language program. “I have been learning Korean since 2021, something I had been wanting to do since I was 13, so going to a three-month program there should be exciting.”

The Sam and Adele Golden Foundation for the Arts began its residency for artists working in paint in 2012. An art auction celebrating the Golden Foundation’s 20th anniversary in 2017 helped ensure that moving forward, artists could take part in the residency at no cost. Residents are selected through a competitive juried process by a committee consisting mainly of artists and art professionals. The committee’s criteria focus on the quality of submitted work.

 


Hollins Sophomore Awarded State Department’s Gilman Program Scholarship to Study in Japan

Abigail Phillips ’25 has been selected as a recipient of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, which supports the U.S. Department of State’s efforts to expand the number of Americans studying and interning abroad.

The Gilman Program offers awards for U.S. undergraduate students of limited financial means to pursue credit-bearing academic studies or career-oriented internships abroad. Such international exchange is intended to enable students to thrive in the global economy and interdependent world and to contribute to solutions for shared global challenges, while at the same time gaining skills that are critical to national security and prosperity.

“The applicant pool was highly competitive, making [Phillips’] selection an impressive accomplishment,” said Chief of USA Study Abroad Heidi Manley and Gilman Program Officer for USA Study Abroad Theresa Gagnon.

The award will support Phillips as she spends a year studying abroad in Japan. “I will be studying the Japanese language, their culture, East Asian history, and Japanese instructional methods for the classroom,” Phillips explained. “I will also take classes in other disciplines such as religion, folklore, and traditional Japanese music such as the koto.”

In addition, Phillips plans to serve as a volunteer assistant in teaching English and American history to students at Osaka’s Shijonawate High School. “I’m double majoring in history and secondary education for social studies at Hollins. I hope to teach abroad in Japan after graduation.”

Based on the quality of her application and the fact that she will be studying a critical need language while abroad, Phillips has also been presented with the Critical Need Language Award. Combining that honor with the Gilman Scholarship, she will receive a total of $8,000, the maximum amount possible.

“Hollins has had several Gilman recipients, but it is unusual to receive both the Gilman Scholarship as well as the Critical Need Language Award,” said Hollins’ Director of International Programs Ramona Kirsch. “Abigail is a very motivated student with a passion for learning and intercultural communication. She will thrive in Japan as she becomes more fluent in Japanese and moves toward her goal to one day teach there.”

The Gilman Program is part of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs with funding provided by the U.S. government. It is supported in its implementation by the Institute of International Education.

 

 


Two Major Film Festivals Honor Web Series by Screenwriting M.F.A. Students

A digital video production by students in Hollins University’s Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) program in screenwriting and film studies has been cited by two renowned film festivals.

Bless Your Heart, written by Bri Kaisen, Michael Greenwald, and Ian Deleon, was named Best Web Series in the November 2022 monthly competition sponsored by Top Shorts, a leading online film festival that was selected by Motion Array as one of the best short film festivals for up-and-coming filmmakers. Top Shorts is one of the best-reviewed festivals on the website FilmFreeway, with over 200 five-star reviews.

The production also earned Honorable Mention in the Best Original Story category in the New York International Film Awards’ (NYIFA) monthly film and script competition for November. NYIFA’s goal is to acclaim films and filmmakers from around the world and to serve as the next stage in their careers.

Bless Your Heart is a four-episode comedic web series that Kaisen, Greenwald, and Deleon originally developed for a screenwriting class taught by Chuck Kim, who boasts credits in prime- time television, comic books, and animation, including multiple seasons working on the NBC series Heroes.

“The series’ main character is Annabelle, a snob mayor of a local country town trying to get reelected,” Kaisen explained. “She sees the local hotdog eating competition held by wacky ketchup enthusiast Bill Kleinz as the perfect press event where she can win over more residents and convince Mr. Kleinz to donate much-needed money to her campaign. Unfortunately, Brenda, the local town drunk, stands in her way. But, when Mayor Annabelle tries to convince Brenda to leave, she may or may not accidently kill her. Now, Annabelle has to figure out how to hide the body while winning over her town and the hotdog eating contest.”

Jax Martin, Matthew Humphrey, and Mary McKeon partnered with Kaisen in filming the series during writer and filmmaker Lincoln Reed’s Summer Term 2022 production class (Reed’s short film Drop Dead Gorgeous was named winner of Best Screenplay, Audience Choice, and Best Cinematography at the 2018 Envision Film Festival).

“We had a lot of hardships and troubles but we pushed through and were super-proud of what we created, so I decided to submit it to some film festivals,” Kaisen recalled. In addition to the recognition from Top Shorts and NYIFA, Kaisen and her collaborators just learned that Bless Your Heart has been selected for the Festigious Los Angeles – Monthly Film Competition. “We’ve submitted it to bigger annual festivals taking place next year and have our fingers crossed,” she added.

Kaisen hopes to someday write comedy for television. “I’m currently working on a 30-minute comedy TV pilot episode about a bright-eyed nurse trying to improve a nursing home that is in danger of being shut down. I’m also in the process of rewriting a feature-length dark comedy screenplay entitled Horoscope Hell about a horoscope writer for a dying local paper who dreams of becoming a real journalist. She angrily writes murderous horoscopes that are accidentally published and then become real murders.”

Kaisen believes that “none of this would be possible” without the guidance and support she has received as she pursues her M.F.A. in screenwriting at Hollins. “I’ve completely evolved throughout the program. I’ve gained confidence in my writing and learned so much from the amazing teachers we have. Hollins’ screenwriting program has given me a real chance to succeed in the industry.”


Hollins Authors Featured in Publishers Weekly’s 2022 Children’s Starred Reviews

Three alumnae of Hollins University’s graduate programs in children’s literature and children’s book illustration are among the authors highlighted in Publishers Weekly’s (PW) 10th Children’s Starred Reviews Annual.

Dhonielle Clayton, who holds a Master of Arts degree, and Cassie Gustafson and Ali Standish, who both completed Master of Fine Arts degrees, are all recognized in the issue for books they released this year.

“In these pages, you’ll find nearly 400 reviews of books for children and teens published in 2022 that received a star from PW, indicating that they are titles of exceptional merit,” stated the trade news magazine that has served publishers, librarians, booksellers, and literary agents internationally for 150 years.

In Clayton’s Middle Grade (ages eight – 12) novel debut, The Marvellers (published by Macmillan), 11-year-old Ella Durand faces significant obstacles after becoming the first Conjuror to enroll at the elite Arcanum Training Institute for Marvelous and Uncanny Endeavors. Marvellers are “born with marvels, light inside of them that allowed them to perform magical feats” and deem their powers above those of Conjurors. Nevertheless, Ella is determined to succeed and make her family proud. “Clayton imaginatively combines myriad global cultural traditions with an intersectionally inclusive, fantastical adventure that examines themes of acceptance, prejudice, and familial responsibility,” PW notes.

 

Gustafson’s The Secrets We Keep (Simon & Schuster), which is cited in the Young Adult (ages 14 and up) category, centers on themes of self-harm, sexual violence, and suicidal ideation in the story of Emma, a high school student who must deal with the consequences after her father is accused of sexually assaulting her best friend. PW states in its review, “Gustafson renders Emma’s present and past in striking detail, throughout featuring Emma’s journal entries….The narrative’s dark climax and Gustafson’s visceral prose don’t shy away from the inherent trauma surrounding sexual assault, making for a vital, heart-wrenching account of one teen’s harrowing experience.”

 

 

Yonder (HarperCollins) by Standish is a Middle Grade novel that takes place during World War II in a small Appalachian town. Thirteen-year-old Danny Timmons has a friend and protector in 15-year-old Jake, and when Jake suddenly disappears, Danny is determined to find him, no matter what. PW calls Yonder an “uplifting mystery [that] tackles big themes of abuse, bullying, heroism, mental health, and prejudice. Through an elegant voice…the mystery of Jack’s disappearance unfolds alongside the story of Danny’s friendship with him, the increasing clarity with which Danny sees life as far from perfect, and the small but meaningful steps he takes to discover what bravery means.”


Hollins Recognized for National Excellence in Educator Preparation

Hollins University is among 55 institutions from 28 states and the United Arab Emirates to receive educator preparation program accreditation in Fall 2022 for a period of seven years from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

Recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, CAEP has developed rigorous, nationally recognized standards to ensure excellence in preparing the teachers of tomorrow. It advances educator preparation through evidence-based accreditation that assures quality and supports continuous improvement to strengthen PK-12 learning.

“These institutions meet high standards so that their students receive an education that prepares them to succeed in a diverse range of classrooms after they graduate,” said CAEP President Christopher A. Koch. “Seeking CAEP Accreditation is a significant commitment on the part of an educator preparation provider.”

Accreditation is a nongovernmental activity based on peer review that serves the dual functions of assuring quality and promoting improvement. CAEP is a unified accreditation system intent on raising the performance of all institutions focused on educator preparation. Educator preparation providers seeking accreditation must pass peer review of the CAEP standards, which are based on two principles:

  • The institution’s graduates are competent and caring educators.
  • The institution’s educator staff have the capacity to create a culture of evidence and use it to maintain and enhance the quality of the professional programs they offer.

At Hollins, undergraduates can earn a bachelor’s degree in a chosen discipline and a teaching license in four years. Then, they have the option of staying an extra year and earning a Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) degree along with their teaching license. Students who hold bachelor’s degrees from any accredited institution can complete teaching licensure and their M.A.T. degree at Hollins at the same time or enroll in a licensure-only program. The university also offers a Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning degree, a flexible, online graduate program for licensed PK-12 teachers who want to enhance their skills.

“Our students and instructors should be very proud of their hard work and its validation through CAEP Accreditation,” said Assistant Professor and Chair of Education at Hollins Teri Wagner. “Our students and their families are investing in an education program that is designated as nationally accredited for teacher preparation.”

 


Elizabeth Brownlee Kolmstetter ’85 Named a 2022 Presidential Rank Award Winner

A Hollins alumna and member of the university’s Board of Trustees has been presented one of the most prestigious awards in the federal career civil service.

Elizabeth Brownlee Kolmstetter ’85 is among 233 winners from 33 federal agencies selected by President Biden to receive the Presidential Rank Award, honoring “hardworking civil servants who exemplify strength, integrity, industry, and a relentless commitment to public service through their exceptional leadership, contributions, and accomplishments,” said Kiran Ahuja, director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Kolmstetter was cited in the Meritorious Executive category for her work with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). An industrial and organizational psychologist, she has been a member of the Senior Executive Service for over 15 years and has more than 25 years of public service. Kolmstetter has pioneered innovative talent management programs at NASA and other agencies including the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and National Skill Standards Board/Department of Labor. In addition, she was selected to serve on special assignment in 2015 to the Executive Office of the President as a senior policy advisor in the Office of Performance and Personnel Management.

After more than six years at NASA in roles including director of the workforce engagement division, Kolmstetter was recently named the first-ever chief people officer at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), which leads the national effort to understand, manage, and reduce risk to the nation’s digital and physical infrastructure.

“Her extensive experience in [support of] employee engagement, development, and collaboration make her an ideal executive to lead our important work to build an enduring ‘People First’ culture at CISA,” said CISA Director Jen Easterly.

“I am beyond thrilled to join CISA and that’s true for three exciting reasons,” Kolmstetter noted. “First, the purpose of CISA is remarkable; there is no mission more critical for our national security. I have cared deeply about infrastructure security since my time at TSA and cybersecurity from my early work on the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative at ODNI. Second, in a word, people. Jen is a leader with vision and drive and has built a strong leadership team and really cares about the people of CISA and across the cybersecurity partnership. And third, passion. I am passionate about my work and am energized by the focus of this role on people and culture strategy. I am truly looking forward to working with the great team at CISA.”

After completing her B.A. in psychology and computer science at Hollins, Kolmstetter went on to earn her M.S. and Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology at Virginia Tech. In addition to the Presidential Rank Award, she has received the 2020 NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, the 2010 National Intelligence Superior Service Medal, the 2010 Hollins University Distinguished Alumnae Award, and the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) 2006 Scott Myers Award for Best Applied Research. She is also a SIOP Fellow.

Kolmstetter is married to Michael Kolmstetter M.A.L.S. ’90 and is the daughter of Paula Brownlee, who served as president of Hollins from 1981 to 1990.

 


Hollins Is Among Virginia’s Top 10 Schools for Praxis Elementary Education Pass Rates

Hollins University is number eight on PraxisExam.org’s list of the Best Praxis Elementary Education Pass Rates in Virginia.

The rankings recognize the commonwealth’s public and private colleges and universities with the highest first-time pass rates for the Praxis Elementary Education Multiple Subjects Test, a computer-based exam that quantifies a teacher’s subjective knowledge before a teaching license is obtained.

Praxis exams are one of the most widely accepted licensing exams available to teachers, and most states, including Virginia, accept Praxis exams to meet their licensing requirements. Prospective teachers can have their exam results considered for job opportunities not only in Virginia but across the United States.

Nationally, the Praxis exam first-time pass rate is 45%, while in Virginia, the first-time pass rate is 57%. Hollins exceeds both the national and state averages with a 72% first-time pass rate.

“The education department at Hollins is proud that we have so many successful students who get jobs as meaningful teachers throughout Virginia,” said Director of Graduate Education Programs Lorraine Lange.

In addition to undergraduate programming that enables students to earn teacher licensure alongside a degree in their chosen major, Hollins provides students with a bachelor’s degree from any accredited institution the opportunity to earn teaching licensure and a Master of Arts in Teaching at the same time. Geared toward college graduates in an array of fields who believe teaching is their calling, the program features small, interactive classes as well as hybrid instructional options, along with career assistance with job connections in the Roanoke region.

Hollins also offers a Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning, an online graduate program for licensed teachers who want to learn more about the practice of teaching and acquire and develop new knowledge.

For more details on these programs, complete and submit the Request Information about Our Graduate Programs online form.


Hollins Soccer Student-Athletes Earn Academic All-District® Honors

Five Hollins Soccer student-athletes have been named to the 2022 NCAA Division III Academic All-District® Women’s Soccer Team by the College Sports Communicators (CSC).

Cat Bussani ’24, Sophia Ciatti ’24, Cady Gardiner-Parks ’24, Chloe Hammel ’25, and Zoe Simotas ’25 were recognized for their performances on the field and in the classroom and will advance to the CSC Academic All-America® voting ballot.

First-, second-, and third-team Academic All-America® honorees will be announced in early December.

Founded in the 1950s, the CSC’s Academic All-America® program is regarded as one of the premier awards programs in intercollegiate athletics for honoring combined academic and athletic excellence. CSC members nominate and vote for Academic All-America® teams in 16 sport contests in all NCAA and NAIA divisions including men’s soccer, women’s soccer, football, volleyball, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, men’s swimming & diving, women’s swimming & diving, men’s tennis, women’s tennis, baseball, softball, men’s at-large, women’s at-large, men’s track & field, and women’s track & field.


Hollins Named “Overall Distinguished Delegation” at Regional Model Arab League Conference

Hollins University earned multiple honors at the annual Appalachia Regional Model Arab League (MAL) conference, held at Hollins November 4-6.

Eight delegations comprised of student representatives from George Mason University, Georgia Southern University, Georgia State University, Hollins, Roanoke College, Virginia Military Institute, and Roanoke’s Community High School participated in the event, now in its eighth year.

MAL is the flagship Youth Leadership Development Program of the National Council on U.S. – Arab Relations (NCUSAR). According to NCUSAR, MAL’s goal is “allowing emerging leaders to learn firsthand what it is like to put themselves in the shoes of real-life Arab diplomats and other foreign affairs practitioners. In the process, students deepen their knowledge and understanding of the Arab world and its peoples. They also strengthen their ability to engage in the art of reasoned argument and spirited debate, and become better prepared to be knowledgeable, well-trained, and effective citizens as well as civic and public affairs leaders.”

John P. Wheeler Professor of Political Science Edward Lynch and Assistant Professor of Political Science Courtney Chenette jointly organized the 2022 conference. Lynch is teaching Hollins’ Model United Nations/Model Arab League course this academic year, and Chenette will lead the course beginning in Fall 2023.

“Hollins again held a successful and stimulating Model Arab League conference,” Lynch said. “This is an important element of Hollins’ emphasis on experiential learning, and I am happy that so many students took leading roles in the Councils.” He noted that Hollins President Mary Dana Hinton welcomed the delegates at the outset of the conference, which “sends an unmistakable signal to our visitors that Model Arab League is important here. Professor Chenette and I greatly appreciate the support we receive from the Hollins administration.”

The conference opening also featured a talk on Islamic art by Michelle Moseley, associate professor and chair of art history and visual culture at Virginia Tech.

Hollins students served in key leadership roles at the conference, including Bianca Vallebrignoni ’23, secretary general; Chanmolis Mout ’23, assistant secretary general; and Jenna Johnston ’25, chief justice of the Arab Court of Justice simulation.

Hollins was named the conference’s Overall Distinguished Delegation. Students also came away with several group and individual awards:

  • Distinguished Delegation in the Council on Palestinian Affairs: Ava Kegler ’25 and Sammy Stuhlmiller ‘25
  • Outstanding Delegation in the Summit of the Arab Heads of State: Kayla Richardson ’24 and Phil Anh
  • Outstanding Chair: Harper Dillon ‘25
  • Distinguished Chair: Sofia Olivares ’25 and Claire Ross ‘23