Hollins Announces September 6 as New Date for Commencement

Hollins University’s 178th Commencement Exercises, postponed from their original date of May 24 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, have been rescheduled.

Interim President Nancy Oliver Gray stated that this year’s Commencement will take place on Sunday, September 6, during the Labor Day holiday weekend.

The university made what Gray described as “a heartbreaking decision” on April 1 to delay Commencement following Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s temporary stay-at-home order, which remains in effect through June 10. “This is a huge disappointment for our graduating students and their families and friends, as it is for our academic community,” she explained. “However, we are eager for our graduates to still have the special celebration they deserve.”

The university’s Baccalaureate Service, a multifaith worship service of blessing and a traditional part of the Commencement observance each year, will be held on Saturday, September 5, “along with other festivities to honor our graduates,” Gray said.

Gray noted that should the progression of the pandemic make it prohibitive to hold Commencement on Labor Day weekend, the ceremony will be conducted during the Memorial Day weekend next year on Sunday, May 30, 2021.

Visit Hollins’ coronavirus preparedness webpage for more information on how the university is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

 

 

 


“A Heartbreaking Decision”: Hollins Postpones 178th Commencement Exercises

Interim President Nancy Oliver Gray has announced that Hollins University’s 178th Commencement Exercises, scheduled for May 24, have been postponed.

What Gray called a “heartbreaking decision” was made as a result of the temporary stay-at-home order issued this week by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam to protect the health of Virginians and mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus. The order, which is in effect until June 10, prohibits public gatherings of more than 10 people.

“This is particularly difficult news for our seniors, who were already feeling a deep sense of loss after missing other senior activities and their final months as a class together; our graduating grad students; and those students’ families,” Gray said, adding, “I share their disappointment as I, too, was anticipating their special day. This is not the end of the academic year that any of us would have wanted.”

Gray assured the class of 2020 that “although we cannot hold our Commencement Exercises on the scheduled date, we can look forward to enjoying this important event at another time. We will work hard to find the best way for our graduates to come together and celebrate their many accomplishments.” She noted that alternate dates and plans would be shared in the near future.

Visit Hollins’ coronavirus preparedness webpage regularly for updates on the university’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 


Alumna and Civil Justice Advocate to Speak at 178th Commencement Exercises

Tiffany Marshall Graves ’97, who has been at the forefront of advancing civil justice in Mississippi, will be the guest speaker at Hollins University’s 178th Commencement Exercises.

This year’s ceremony takes place on Sunday, May 24, at 10 a.m. on Hollins’ historic Front Quadrangle.

Since 2018, Graves has worked as pro bono counsel for Bradley Arant Boult & Cummings LLP in Jackson, Mississippi. She oversees the development and administration of the firm’s pro bono programs, which help address the unmet legal needs of indigent individuals and charitable institutions across the firm’s footprint.

Prior to joining Bradley, Graves was the executive director of the Mississippi Access to Justice Commission, where she led a 21-member commission created by the Mississippi Supreme Court and promoted its initiatives to improve and expand access to civil legal services to the nearly 700,000 Mississippians living in poverty. She was responsible for developing strategic goals and building coalitions to enhance the civil legal aid and delivery system. She supported the evolving needs of underserved populations through critical outreach and programming. She also maintained working relationships with regional and national legal nonprofits, bar associations, and access to justice leaders.

Graves previously served as interim director and adjunct professor for the Pro Bono Initiative at the University of Mississippi School of Law, and as executive director and general counsel for the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project.

Originally from Winchester, Virginia, Graves graduated with honors from Hollins with degrees in political science and Spanish as well as membership in Phi Beta Kappa, Pi Sigma Alpha (the political science honor society), and Sigma Delta Pi (the Spanish honor society). She went on to earn her law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law, where she became only the fifth student to receive the Powell Fellowship in Legal Services. The fellowship enables a graduate of the law school to work in public interest law to enhance the delivery of legal services to the poor under the sponsorship of a public interest organization.

For her work on behalf of the citizens of Mississippi, Graves has received numerous awards, including Outstanding Woman Lawyer of the Year from the Mississippi Women Lawyers Association (2013); Distinguished Service Award, The Mississippi Bar (2016); and Leader of the Year, Young, Gifted and Empowered Awards (2019). Hollins recognized her with its Distinguished Young Alumna Award in 2017.

For more information about Hollins’ 178th Commencement Exercises, visit our commencement webpage.


“Keep On Defeating Those Mountains”: Class of 2019 Is Celebrated At 177th Commencement

EduSeed Executive Director Shireen K. Lewis encouraged Hollins University’s class of 2019 to take the power of sisterhood into the world and “create a truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive community for all women” at the school’s 177th Commencement Exercises on May 26.

Lewis was the guest speaker at the morning ceremony, which was held on Hollins’ historic Front Quadrangle. The university conferred 224 undergraduate and graduate degrees at this year’s event.

Lewis, who has devoted more than 20 years to mentoring and coaching women and girls, leads EduSeed’s efforts to promote education in historically disadvantaged and underserved communities. She also founded the organization’s SisterMentors program, which supports learning among women and girls of color.

A graduate of Douglass College, a women’s college at Rutgers University, Lewis cited the continuing importance and value of women’s colleges today and “their desire to create something new, something different, something that is more just.” Referencing Hollins’ beloved Tinker Day tradition and the scaling of nearby Tinker Mountain, she proclaimed, “Nobody can say that Hollins women don’t know how to defeat a mountain. So, keep on defeating those mountains, Hollins women! Let’s imagine and build together a world where we listen to all women when they speak the truth. Let’s imagine and build together a world where not just a few women are free, but all women are free – free from all kinds of harm.

“I believe the petri dish for this kind of world is women in communities, including women’s colleges, who are willing to take a critical look at themselves and challenge our assumptions about women’s lives.”

Lewis concluded by thanking the class of 2019 for putting in the “emotional labor” to enhance living and studying at Hollins. “Every one of you contributed in some way and worked to make this place much better than how you found it when you first arrived on campus.”

Other highlights of this year’s commencement included the presentation of the following honors:

  • Shalan Mitchell, an English major from Chesapeake, Virginia, received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Student Award. Given by the New York Southern Society in memory of the founder, this award recognizes a senior who has shown by daily living those qualities that evidence a spirit of love and helpfulness to other men and women. Rev. Jenny Call, who serves as university chaplain at Hollins, was presented the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Community Award, which is given to a person associated with Hollins who has shown in daily living and work those characteristics that exhibit the noblest of spiritual and human qualities.
  • The Annie Terrill Bushnell Award was given to Hanna Strauss, a double-major in Spanish and political science from Keswick, Virginia. The award honors the senior who has evidenced the finest spirit of leadership during her days at Hollins.
  • The Jane Cocke Funkhouser Award, recognizing the junior or senior who is preeminent in character in addition to being a good student, was given to Nina Keller, a double-major in history and sociology from South Jamesport, New York.
  • The First Faculty Award for Academic Excellence, recognizing the student or students with the highest academic standing in the class of 2019, was presented to Shannen Kelly, a double-major in environmental science and Spanish from Tolland, Connecticut, and Bibhu Sapkota, a double-major in mathematics and economics from Mandan, Nepal. Maria Junco Rivera, a double-major in English and French from Cocoa, Florida, received the Second Faculty Award for Academic Excellence for earning the second-highest academic standing.

Watch Hollins University’s 177th Commencement in its entirety here.

View a gallery of commencement photos here.

 

 


177th Commencement Honors the Class of 2019, May 26

Hollins University will celebrate its 177th Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 26, at 10 a.m. on the school’s historic Front Quadrangle.

Undergraduate and graduate degrees will be conferred, including the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Arts and Fine Arts, and Bachelor of Science, as well as the Master of Fine Arts, Master of Arts, Master of Arts in Teaching, and Master of Arts in Liberal Studies. The following awards will also be announced:

 

  • Faculty Awards for Academic Excellence, recognizing the students with the highest academic standings in the class of 2019.
  • The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, honoring a senior and a member of the Hollins community who have shown by daily living those qualities that evince a love and helpfulness to other men and women.
  • The Annie Terrill Bushnell Award, presented to a senior who has evidenced the finest spirit of leadership during their days at Hollins.
  • The Jane Cocke Funkhouser Award, highlighting the junior or senior who, in addition to being a good student, is preeminent in character and leadership.
Shireen Lewis
Shireen K. Lewis, executive director of EduSeed and founder of EduSeed’s SisterMentors program, is the guest speaker at Hollins’ 177th Commencement.

Shireen K. Lewis, who has devoted more than 20 years to mentoring and coaching women and girls, will be the guest speaker. Lewis is executive director of EduSeed, which promotes education in historically disadvantaged and underserved communities, and founder of EduSeed’s SisterMentors program, which supports learning among women and girls of color.

Born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago, Lewis is a graduate of Douglass College, a women’s college at Rutgers University. She earned her Ph.D. from Duke University and her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. Subsequently, she was a litigator with a New York City law firm and a Legal Aid volunteer in Durham, North Carolina, and was honored by the National Association of Women Lawyers for her work on behalf of women law students. She has also taught at several universities and is past co-president of the Washington, D.C., branch of the American Association of University Women.

Lewis has helped raise funds for a teenage pregnancy program at a high school in her hometown of Fyzabad, Trinidad, and for the first school in a village in Tibet that has the unprecedented requirement that 50 percent of its students must be girls. She has served on the boards of several community organizations in the U.S. that promote education and equity for women and girls.

Hollins’ 177th Commencement Exercises will be live-streamed here.


SisterMentors Founder to Speak at 177th Commencement

Shireen K. Lewis, who has devoted more than 20 years to mentoring and coaching women and girls, will be the guest speaker at Hollins University’s 177th Commencement Exercises.

The ceremony takes place on Sunday, May 26, at 10 a.m. on the school’s historic Front Quadrangle.

Lewis is executive director of EduSeed, which promotes education in historically disadvantaged and underserved communities, and founder of EduSeed’s SisterMentors program, which supports learning among women and girls of color.

Born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago, Lewis double-majored in French and Spanish at Douglass College, a women’s college at Rutgers University, where she was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and awarded the Moliére Prize from the French government for outstanding achievement in French. She went on to earn her Ph.D. in French literature from Duke University and her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. Upon her graduation from law school, Lewis received the Herbert L. Kramer Public Service Award from the faculty at UVa Law. Subsequently, she was a litigator with a New York City law firm and a Legal Aid volunteer in Durham, North Carolina. She was honored by the National Association of Women Lawyers for her work on behalf of women law students.

With a focus on Francophone West African and Caribbean literature, Lewis has taught at several universities and has presented her scholarship in both the United States and abroad. She is past co-president of the Washington, D.C., branch of the American Association of University Women.

Lewis has helped raise funds for a teenage pregnancy program at a high school in her hometown of Fyzabad, Trinidad, and for the first school in a village in Tibet that has the unprecedented requirement that 50 percent of its students must be girls. She has also served on the boards of several community organizations in the U.S. that promote education and equity for women and girls.

More information about this year’s commencement can be found here.


“Stand Tall, Forge Ahead”: Hollins Celebrates Its 176th Commencement

Alumna and Virginia House of Delegates member Jennifer Barton Boysko ’89 welcomed Hollins University’s class of 2018 to “the ranks of the strong, barrier-breaking women who have come before you” during the school’s 176th Commencement Exercises on May 20.

Boysko, who represents the commonwealth’s 86th District, was the guest speaker at this year’s event, which was held on Hollins’ historic Front Quadrangle. The university conferred 202 undergraduate and graduate degrees during the morning ceremony.

Reflecting on “what’s different between the time that I sat in your place 29 years ago and today,” Boysko noted that “most of my classmates were not as politically active or deeply civically engaged [as you are]. We realized society wasn’t perfect in 1989, but there wasn’t this sense of urgency like there is now. We all have to acknowledge that in today’s society, we cannot afford not to be engaged. During the time that you’ve been here at Hollins, we’ve seen a number of movements spark real political engagement, specifically around racial and social justice issues. You have taken a stand on many of them, making sure that we are working for a more inclusive society.”

176th Commencement - 4Boysko lauded this year’s graduates for having “grown and reached into yourselves academically, socially, and emotionally. I’m here to tell you that you should stand tall and forge ahead. You have the resources to face whatever comes your way. There are many ways for you to create a meaningful life for yourself and to make a difference. You don’t have to run for office or be the CEO of a major company. But what it does require is that you become invested in whatever you do.

“My message to you is, trust yourself as you move forward. Remain open to opportunities. Once you’ve set a long-term goal and things get difficult, reassess and regroup, knowing that you’re worth the effort. Give yourself permission to be who you are and use your life experience to make your world meaningful for you.”176th Commencement - 2

Hollins’ 176th Commencement was the first for President Pareena Lawrence, who took office as the university’s 12th president last July. She congratulated this year’s graduates on “finding and expressing your own voice. This authenticity and sense of purpose ensures that you will live a life of consequence as you define it,” and thanked them for making her feel at home at Hollins, proclaiming, “You welcomed me, you educated me, and as a result, I have personally grown in so many ways. I will be eternally grateful for your warmth, your patience, and your perspectives.”

 

176th Commencement - 3Other highlights of this year’s commencement included the presentation of the following honors:

  • Raynitra Olds, a psychology major from Baltimore, Maryland, received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award. Given by the New York Southern Society in memory of the founder, this award recognizes a senior who has shown by daily living those qualities that evidence a spirit of love and helpfulness to other men and women.
  • The Annie Terrill Bushnell Award was given to Antonia Nagle, an English major from Reston, Virginia. The award honors the senior who has evidenced the finest spirit of leadership during her days at Hollins.
  • The Jane Cocke Funkhouser Award, recognizing the junior or senior who is preeminent in character in addition to being a good student, was given to Danielle “Dani” Raymond, an English and communication studies double-major from Fredericksburg, Virginia.
  • The Faculty Award for Academic Excellence, recognizing the students with the highest and second-highest academic standing in the class of 2018, was presented respectively to Erin Bragg, an English major from Richmond, Virginia, and Lan Nguyen, an economics and environmental science double-major from Hanoi, Vietnam.

 

 

Watch Hollins University’s 176th Commencement in its entirety here.

View a gallery of commencement photos here.

 

 

 

 

 


Hollins Celebrates the Class of 2018 on May 20

Hollins University will conduct its 176th Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 20, at 10 a.m. on the school’s historic Front Quadrangle.

Undergraduate and graduate degrees will be conferred, including the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Arts and Fine Arts, and Bachelor of Science, as well as the Master of Fine Arts, Master of Arts, Master of Arts in Teaching, and Master of Arts in Liberal Studies. The following awards will also be announced:

 

  • Faculty Awards for Academic Excellence, recognizing the students with the highest academic standings in the class of 2018.
  • The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, honoring a senior and a member of the Hollins community who have shown by daily living those qualities that evince a love and helpfulness to other men and women.
  • The Annie Terrill Bushnell Award, presented to a senior who has evidenced the finest spirit of leadership during her days at Hollins.
  • The Jane Cocke Funkhouser Award, highlighting the junior or senior who, in addition to being a good student, is preeminent in character and leadership.

The ceremony marks the first commencement exercises at Hollins for President Pareena Lawrence, who took office last July.

Jennifer Boysko
State Delegate Jennifer Boysko ’89 will be the guest speaker at Hollins’ 176th Commencement Exercises.

Jennifer Barton Boysko, who graduated from Hollins in 1989 and is now a member of the Virginia House of Delegates representing parts of western Fairfax County and eastern Loudoun County, will be the guest speaker. Boysko majored in psychology and French as an undergraduate, but found herself in politics immediately after graduation, working in the U.S. Senate office of Richard Shelby from her home state of Alabama. Later she took a job at a D.C. government-relations firm as a legislative assistant. Boysko paused her career to be a stay-at-home mom to her two daughters, but stayed busy volunteering for Democratic campaigns, including serving as the Virginia director for the 2004 presidential campaign of Howard Dean.

In 2015, Boysko was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates for the 86th District, and last year was successful in her re-election campaign. She credits EMILY’s List—founded by Ellen Malcolm ’69—with providing financial and logistical help in both of her elections.

Hollins’ 176th Commencement Exercises will be live-streamed here.

 

 


Alumna and State Legislator Named Guest Speaker for 176th Commencement

Jennifer Barton Boysko ’89, a member of the Virginia House of Delegates representing parts of western Fairfax County and eastern Loudoun County, will be the guest speaker for Hollins University’s 176th Commencement Exercises.

The ceremony takes place on Sunday, May 20, at 10 a.m. on the school’s historic Front Quadrangle.

Boysko, who double-majored in psychology and French at Hollins, embarked on a career in politics immediately after graduation. Her first job was in the U.S. Senate office of Richard Shelby from her home state of Alabama, and from there she went on to work for a Washington, D.C., government relations firm as a legislative assistant. In the early 2000s, she began volunteering with numerous Democratic campaigns in the Herndon, Virginia, area, where she has been a longtime resident, and elsewhere in the commonwealth. In 2004, she served as State Director for Governor Howard Dean’s presidential campaign.

In November 2015, Boysko was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates for the 86th District, which encompasses the localities of Herndon, Oak Hill, and Chantilly. She credits EMILY’s List, founded by Ellen Malcolm ’69, for providing financial and logistical help in her race. She is currently a member of the Cities, Counties, and Towns Committee; the Privileges and Election Committee; and the Broadband Advisory Committee. Education funding, access to health care, and reforming the political process are among her legislative priorities.

More details about this year’s commencement can be found here.

 


175th Grads: “Take What You Have Experienced, Enrich Our Society”

Retiring President Nancy Oliver Gray was cited for setting “the highest standard of servant leadership with selflessness and compassion” during Hollins University’s 175th Commencement Exercises on May 21.

Hollins Board of Trustees Chair Judy Lambeth ’73’s recognition of both Gray and Thomas A. Barron with honorary degrees was one of the highlights of this year’s event, where 211 undergraduate and graduate degrees were conferred.

Commencement 2017Gray is stepping down on June 30 after 12 years as president of Hollins, “an exemplary champion of the liberal arts and sciences and of women’s colleges,” said Lambeth. She also noted that Barron worked diligently to ensure that the university thrived after he was elected to the Board of Trustees in 2008 and then served as chair from 2012 to 2015.

Mary Elizabeth “Mary Beth” Hatten, a member of Hollins’ class of 1971 and the Frederick P. Rose Professor of Developmental Neurobiology at The Rockefeller University in New York City, was this year’s featured speaker. She addressed the question, “What is a woman’s voice?”, and cautioned that even though “a women’s voice is beginning to be heard, it is still questioned, still qualified as different, still somewhat slightly less important than the dominant male voice in society.”

Hatten explored how today’s graduates can “take what you have experienced here at Hollins and enrich our society with…a women’s voice. Perhaps the most important advice from the past decade is that of [Facebook COO and author] Sheryl Sandberg, who wrote about women, ‘We hold ourselves back, in ways both big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in.’ Try taking the confidence that you feel in your circles at Hollins into the world of business, academia, wherever you may land. Follow your passion and do what you love.”

(Mary Beth Hatten ’71 commencement address)

(Commencement photo gallery page)

The 175th Commencement Exercises included the presentation of the following honors:

  • The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, given by the New York Southern Society in memory of the founder, recognizes a senior and a member of the Hollins community who have shown by daily living those qualities that evince a love and helpfulness to other men and women. This year’s recipients are Nora Williams, a double major in Spanish and religious studies from Littleton, Colorado, and the late Caren Diefenderfer, professor of mathematics.
  • The Annie Terrill Bushnell Award was given to Lia Joseph, a sociology major from Hampton, Virginia. The award honors the senior who has evidenced the finest spirit of leadership during her days at Hollins.
  • The Jane Cocke Funkhouser Award, recognizing the junior or senior who, in addition to being a good student, is preeminent in character and leadership, was presented to Tegan Harcourt, a business major from Wilmington, Delaware.
  • The Faculty Award for Academic Excellence, recognizing the students with the highest and second-highest academic standing in the class of 2017, was received respectively by Taylor Walker, a biology major from Camillus, New York, and Samantha Stone, an English major from Patrick Springs, Virginia.