President Hinton Among University Presidents, CEOs, and Civic Leaders Urging Passage of Bipartisan DREAM Act

Citing an uncertain future for hundreds of thousands of Dreamers, their employers, families, and communities after a Texas federal judge declared DACA unlawful and closed the DACA program to future applicants, more than 400 university presidents, CEOs, and civic leaders, including Hollins University President Mary Dana Hinton, sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) advocating passage of the bipartisan Durbin-Graham DREAM Act of 2021.

According to the American Immigration Council, “The DREAM Act would permanently protect certain immigrants who came to the United States as children but are vulnerable to deportation….[It] would provide current, former, and future undocumented high-school graduates and GED recipients a pathway to U.S. citizenship through college, work, or the armed services.”

“We urge the Senate to come together and immediately provide a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients and DACA-eligible individuals through the passage of the bipartisan DREAM Act, and if necessary, through budget reconciliation,” the letter states. “We understand no bill is perfect, but we believe this existing bipartisan bill is the best framework to protect Dreamers rather than starting over with new legislation.”

Read the letter here. See the full list of signatories here.

The letter was convened by the American Business Immigration Coalition, a bipartisan group of more than 1,200 business leaders from across the country, and the nonpartisan, nonprofit Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, which brings together over 500 college and university presidents and chancellors on immigration issues that impact higher education.

 

 


Hollins, Roanoke College Welcome Nominations for the 2021 Perry F. Kendig Awards

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2021 Perry F. Kendig Arts and Culture Awards, which recognize individuals, businesses, and organizations in the greater Roanoke region that provide exemplary leadership in or support for the arts.

The deadline for nominations is Thursday, July 1, at 4 p.m. EDT. The nomination form and other information can be found at https://kendigawards.com/.

 

Celebrating 36 years this year of honoring excellence in arts and culture, the Kendig Awards have been co-sponsored by Hollins University and Roanoke College since 2013. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an awards presentation gathering was not held last year. A celebration for the 2020 nominees/winners and 2021 nominees/winners will be held jointly this fall at Roanoke College on a date to be announced at a later time.

Kendig Awards are presented in each of the following categories:

  • Individual Artist (selected from all disciplines, including dance, literature, music, media arts, visual arts, and theatre)
  • Arts and/or Cultural Organization
  • Individual or Business Arts Supporter

Individuals, businesses, and organizations from the greater Roanoke region (which includes the counties of Botetourt, Franklin, and Roanoke, the cities of Roanoke and Salem, and the town of Vinton) are eligible, as are past Kendig Award recipients from 1985 – 2012. Programs and full-time employees of Hollins University and Roanoke College are eligible to be nominated as well.

“Hollins University and Roanoke College have actively sought ways for students to immerse themselves in the Roanoke Region’s vibrant arts and cultural community,” said Hollins President Mary Dana Hinton. “Our students are often fortunate to find themselves working alongside a local visual artist in their studio or in the community, performing in a local theatrical production, or learning about arts administration during an internship at a non-profit organization.”

“Roanoke College is proud to join with Hollins University to support arts and culture in the Roanoke Valley,” added Roanoke College President Mike Maxey. “Our region has a vibrant arts community that enriches all of us. The Kendig Awards honor and highlight those who make that happen. The Kendig Awards are highlights for all to remember and observe.”

Named for the late Perry F. Kendig, who served as president of Roanoke College and was an avid supporter and patron of the arts, the awards were presented by the Arts Council of the Blue Ridge for 27 years.


From HOP to the Firehouse: Maria Vest ’21 Uses Her Outdoor Skills and Training to Become a Fire Department Volunteer

The spirit of community outreach at Hollins manifests itself in so many ways.

Some of the examples include Students Helping Achieve Rewarding Experiences (SHARE), which recruits and places student volunteers with a variety of community agencies and organizations; Sandusky Service House, a campus residence hall where students are required to perform at least ten hours of volunteer work each month and promote service activities on campus and in the community; and the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, which seeks to serve the Hollins and surrounding community through volunteerism and leadership presence.

The Hollins commitment to helping others added a new chapter last month when Maria Vest ’21 became a volunteer at the fire department in the nearby town of Troutville in Botetourt County.

“I spend my free time at the firehouse,” the biology major and chemistry minor from southern Maryland explained.

Wilderness Orientation Program 2018
Canoeing during the Wilderness Orientation Program, 2018. “One of the best and most fun trips I’ve lead with HOP,” said Vest.

Vest’s interest in becoming a first responder stemmed from her involvement with the Hollins Outdoor Program (HOP). It began her first year when she took part in HOP’s Wilderness Orientation Program, a five-day excursion that blends instruction in outdoor living skills with activities such as canoeing and a high ropes course. In subsequent years, Vest has led the Wilderness Orientation Program as well as other HOP trips, and ultimately she became interested in completing her Outdoor Leadership Certificate. Part of the qualification for the certificate is earning the Wilderness First Responder designation, which provides the tools to make critical medical and evacuation decisions in remote locations. This January, Vest and her roommates traveled to Brevard, North Carolina, to complete the nine-day, 80-hour course.

After the intense training, Vest was eager “to do rescue/EMT kinds of things. But here in Roanoke, the vast majority of those positions are paid. I wasn’t qualified to compete with people who get paid to do that kind of work.”

Troutville Vol. Fire Department
The Troutville Volunteer Fire Department is the busiest fire department in Botetourt County. (Photo credit: TVFD)

HOP Director Jon Guy Owens was driving home one day when he saw a billboard advertising that the Troutville Volunteer Fire Department was looking for volunteers. Vest had suddenly found “the next best thing. I applied on their website, and after an interview I joined the department. I had to go through a training process as well as a background check. Then, I learned all there is about the different trucks, equipment, and procedures.”

Vest coordinates her service as a fire department volunteer around her academic responsibilities at Hollins. “I have a couple of late days of classes, but on my lighter days I’m usually finished around 1 p.m. I’ll go to the fire station for anywhere from two to eight hours. If things are quiet, I’ll sit and do homework. But if the bell rings, I’ll throw on my gear and hop on the truck.”

Vest is not technically a firefighter yet, but she’s hoping to take classes to earn that certification this May. Nevertheless, in the meantime she will play a vital role should anything happen. “I will be working outside with everything from helping access fire hydrants to giving the firefighters the tools they need. I had to learn every single tool that is on every truck, where it’s located and how it works. My focus will be on how I can be helpful and doing whatever they tell me.”

The Troutville Volunteer Fire Department may be located in a very small town (the U.S. Census Bureau estimates the population at less than 430 people), but that doesn’t diminish its importance and skillset as first responders. Because of the department’s proximity to Interstate 81, “they get called into a lot of vehicle accidents to help ensure traffic safety or even to extract people from cars and trucks. They have giant saws to cut guardrails and hydraulic tools to remove metal from vehicles or open doors,” Vest said. “They also monitor a section of the Appalachian Trail and help rescue people who have hiked too far out or were underprepared. That’s more of what I am trained to do with the Wilderness First Responder certificate, how to react and provide the best care possible when you’re in a situation with limited resources. They even rescue large animals – if a cow or a horse gets stuck in a ditch, it’s the fire department that gets them out.”

Vest has tremendous respect for her fellow fire department volunteers. “The people who do this, they’re really good people and they care. There are many interesting things you don’t ever think about where they help the community.”

Kayla Deur '16 & Maria Vest '21
Leading the GEMS Camp at Mountain Shepherd in 2018, Kayla Deur ’16 (left) and Vest wore onesies to add some fun to a caving activity (Deur is Stitch and Vest is a cat).

She feels the same admiration for the colleagues she’s established through HOP, beginning with Owens. “Jon Guy has been a great advisor and mentor over the past four years. He is such a huge asset in what makes HOP, HOP. He’s so involved and really cares about his students, and his enthusiasm plays a big part in making HOP so much fun.” Working closely with Owens her sophomore year was part of her motivation for saving Outdoor Athletics, Hollins’ club for whitewater racing and rock climbing. The club began floundering when all its officers were studying abroad, so Vest jumped into the leadership void. Starting with just four members, she helped make Outdoor Athletics vibrant again, and continues as club president today. “We worked so hard to spread the awareness of it,” she recalled.

Vest also praises Dina Bennett, owner of Mountain Shepherd Adventure School in Catawba, Virginia, where Vest took a J-Term course her sophomore year called Survival in the Modern World. Bennett subsequently offered her a summer job with Mountain Shepherd’s GEMS (Girls Empowered by Mountain Shepherd) program. “I taught middle school girls how to grow with courage, confidence, and compassion. We have all different levels, and each year they get to come back to have another experience. We did everything from basic survival training to hiking on the Appalachian Trail, caving, rock climbing, and canoeing on the New River.”

Maria Vest '21 Rock Climbing
Vest (right) and roommates Claire Hintz ’21 (left) and Grace Davis ’21 (center) practice their rock climbing skills on a weekend trip to West Virginia.

In addition to the connections she’s made with Owens and Bennett, Vest is grateful for the friendships she’s formed through HOP. “They became the people that were really most influential in my Hollins experience and cared about me the most.” When Vest had to take a year off from school due to illness, “all my friends that I made through HOP reached out to me. Dina and Jon Guy, they were huge in that part of my life.”

Vest had originally planned to pursue a pre-vet track at Hollins, but dealing with her health challenges and “getting involved in that world made me think about medical for people. So, I’m applying for graduate programs in biochemical and molecular medical biology.” This summer, she hopes to engage in lab work through a partnership between Hollins and Virginia Tech that enables Hollins students to take part in VT’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program. It’s a demanding educational and career path, but Vest is confident that the influence of her HOP experience will continue to provide balance in her life.

“Being involved with HOP has made me focus on the things that truly make me happy. I am good at science and I enjoy it, but it’s definitely a lot more fun to be out hiking than organizing molecular structures.”

 

Top photo: Maria Vest ’21 (left) and HOP Director Jon Guy Owens canoeing on the New River during a HOP Fall Break camping trip in 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Hollins, Roanoke College Name 2020 Kendig Award Nominees

Artists, arts advocates, and arts and cultural organizations are among the nominees for the 2020 Perry F. Kendig Arts and Culture Awards. Co-sponsored by Hollins University and Roanoke College, the Kendig Awards recognize exemplary individuals, businesses, and organizations in Virginia’s Blue Ridge that support excellence in the arts.

The Kendig Awards are named for the late Perry F. Kendig, Roanoke College’s seventh president and a supporter of the arts. The Kendig Awards were established in 1985 and presented annually by the Arts Council of the Blue Ridge through 2012. Hollins and Roanoke College first partnered the following year to bestow these important honors.

Due to COVID-19 and the restrictions in place, the awards event will not be held this year. The decision was made to protect the participants, community and the students because the event is usually held on campus. The 2020 nominees and winners will be recognized at an awards event in the fall of 2021 where the nominees and winners from 2020 and 2021 will be recognized. That event is not yet scheduled.

Nominees for the 2020 Kendig Awards: 

Artemis Journal: Artemis Journal has inspired creativity and fellowship for people of all backgrounds in the region for over 40 years. The Journal serves thousands of people in Virginia’s Blue Ridge and across the globe with its features of up-and-coming artists and writers as well as award-winning artists. Since its origination in 1977, Artemis Journal has been an advocate for social justice and highlights all deserving artists and writers. 

Bryan Hancock: Hancock is a musician, poet, actor, slam artist, DJ and band member known as “Harvest Blaque.” His most noteworthy achievement is what he has given the community through his bi-weekly “Soul Sessions,” which are open-mic events that provide an inclusive space for all individuals, particularly from marginalized groups, in the Valley to express themselves freely. 

Kerry Hurley: Hurley has influenced the community as a professional musician, producer, songwriter, recording artist, and radio show host and producer. His love of the blues is shared through his “Blues Show” radio program, a staple for 20 years. His own music career includes two popular bands — The Thrillbillyz and The Fat Daddy Band. Hurley opened the Blue 5 restaurant in downtown Roanoke, giving blues music a stage in the heart of the city. Hurley gives back to the community by mentoring young artists. 

Robert Nordt Sr.: Nordt is an integral part of the art and culture scene in the region. He personally ensures the prosperity of organizations such as Opera Roanoke, Second Presbyterian Church, Roanoke Valley Choral Society, Roanoke College Choir, and Roanoke Symphony Orchestra. His contributions enable local arts and culture organizations to achieve their goals and remain successful. 

Todd Ristau: Ristau is primarily responsible for developing the region’s artistic impact from local entertainment to the national spotlight through his creation of the Playwright’s Lab at Hollins University. As program director, Ristau provides actors and directors with a high-intensity-low-residency M.F.A. program that helps them sharpen their skills as they learn about innovative ways to expand their artistic capabilities. 

Roanoke College Olin Hall Galleries: Olin Hall Galleries provides the greater Roanoke community with a wide breadth of experiences ranging from high-quality gallery shows to hands-on community engagements. Over the past 10 years, the Gallery has grown tremendously due to the passionate and community-oriented work of the Gallery Director Talia Logan. Recent successes include the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef/Roanoke Valley Reef and the Paper Blooms Project. 

Roanoke Valley Children’s Choir: The Roanoke Valley Children’s Choir (RVCC) is a well-known, prestigious choir directed under the exemplary leadership of its founder, Kim Davidson. RVCC delivers high-quality concerts both locally and abroad including collaborations with the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra and Opera Roanoke, as well as concerts in distinguished venues such as Orchestra Hall in Chicago, the Mormon Tabernacle, Carnegie Hall, and Canterbury Cathedral. 

Smith Mountain Arts Council: The Smith Mountain Arts Council (SMAC) has led the charge for coordinating performing, visual and literary arts in the Smith Mountain Lake area. The SMAC provides opportunities for individuals and groups to participate in and enjoy the arts by sponsoring local artists, hosting events and granting local high schools scholarship aid to graduates who excel in the arts. 

Third Street Coffee House: This non-profit listening room has been known as a hidden gem offering intimate performances through open mic nights, opening and featured acts, and guitar pulls. Third Street Coffee House does not charge cover fees making it exceptionally accessible. Instead they offer a “pass-the-hat” donation option for listeners to directly support the artists featured onstage. 

Pat Wilhelms: Wilhelms served as the Director of Education and Outreach at Mill Mountain Theatre for many years before starting the Roanoke Children’s Theatre (RCT) in 2008. One of Wilhelm’s top priorities as founder of RCT was to ensure theatre was accessible to every child in the Roanoke area by touring RCT productions to local libraries, community centers and schools. 

Dwayne Yancey: Yancey is an award-winning journalist who now serves as the editorial page editor for The Roanoke Times. He is a unique and creative writer and is a passionate advocate for the arts throughout the region. Yancey is a successful playwright and actor as well. He has written a large number of plays and short pieces that have been produced in theaters and institutions across the United States and abroad. In addition to his own playwriting, he is a founder of Roanoke’s branch of No Shame Theatre in association with Mill Mountain Theatre.

 

 


Hollins, Roanoke College Welcome Nominations for the 2020 Perry F. Kendig Awards

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2020 Perry F. Kendig Arts and Culture Awards, which recognize individuals, businesses, and organizations in the greater Roanoke region that provide exemplary leadership in or support for the arts.

The deadline for nominations is Tuesday, September 1, at 4 p.m. The nomination form and other information can be found at https://kendigawards.com/.

Celebrating 35 years this year of honoring excellence in arts and culture, the Kendig Awards have been co-sponsored by Hollins University and Roanoke College since 2013. The 2020 Kendig Awards will be presented at Hollins with the date/location to be announced.

Three Kendig Awards will be presented this year, one in each of the following categories:

  • Individual Artist (selected from all disciplines, including dance, literature, music, media arts, visual arts, and theatre)
  • Arts and/or Cultural Organization
  • Individual or Business Arts Supporter

Individuals, businesses, and organizations from the greater Roanoke region (which includes the counties of Botetourt, Franklin, and Roanoke, the cities of Roanoke and Salem, and the town of Vinton) are eligible, as are past Kendig Award recipients from 1985 – 2012. Programs and full-time employees of Hollins University and Roanoke College are now eligible to be nominated as well.

“The Kendig Awards program provides a focal point for celebrating the greater Roanoke region’s cultural identity,” said Hollins Interim President Nancy Oliver Gray. “This initiative enables all of us to realize and appreciate the vital role arts and culture play in economic development as well as education in our schools.”

“Presenting this annual program builds an even stronger arts and culture bridge between our campuses and the community,” added Roanoke College President Mike Maxey. “We are proud to join with Hollins to champion this celebration of the arts.”

Named for the late Perry F. Kendig, who served as president of Roanoke College and was an avid supporter and patron of the arts, the awards were presented by the Arts Council of the Blue Ridge for 27 years.


New Marquee Highlights Close Ties Between First Baptist Hollins and Hollins University

Hollins University has partnered with First Baptist Church Hollins to erect a new marquee for the church, which has had an enduring connection to the campus community.

The new display was installed at First Baptist Hollins in May. The project was made possible by financial support from Hollins’ Student Government Association as well as institutional and general funding from the university. The sign was produced by Time Technologies, Inc., of Roanoke.

First Baptist Hollins had its beginnings in the 19th century through another local spiritual center. Enon Baptist Church featured Hollins University founder Charles Lewis Cocke as a prominent member. He was instrumental in providing a place at Enon for African American community members to worship.

Around 1867, Enon’s African American parishioners established Greenridge Baptist Church on Plantation Road in Roanoke. While the church no longer exists, a cemetery with over 120 graves is still there, including the burial sites of Clem Bolden (1846-1929), a long-time Hollins employee, and his wife, Rebekah.

Sometime between 1881 and 1883, Greenridge decided to separate into two, different churches so that members could worship closer to home: Ebenezer Baptist in the Kingstown community, and Lovely Zion in the Hollins (formerly Oldfields) community. Destroyed by fire in 1905, Lovely Zion was rebuilt the following year, and in 1951 was renamed First Baptist Hollins.

Several prominent former Hollins employees are buried in the First Baptist Hollins cemetery, including Mary Emma Bruce (1910-2010), Caesar Morton (1848/50-1929), and Lewis Hunt (1885-1954). The Bolden, Bruce, Morton, and Hunt families have provided many years of service to Hollins; remarkably, several descendants are currently employed at the university.

A special dedication ceremony will be held at a later date, and a plaque will be added to the main church marquee that acknowledges the relationship between First Baptist Hollins and Hollins University.


Bartlett Tree Experts, Garden Club of Va. Provide Restoration Work in Hollins’ Beale Garden

Hollins University’s Beale Memorial Garden is one of nine historic locations in the commonwealth chosen by the Garden Club of Virginia (GCV) to receive restoration work donated to the conservation and preservation federation by Bartlett Tree Experts.

Beale Garden was established in 1930 in honor of Lucy Preston Beale, an 1864 Hollins graduate, by her daughter, Lucy Beale Huffman, who was also a Hollins alumna. GCV has funded Beale Garden since the area was dedicated, one of the nearly 50 projects to hold that distinction, and collaborated closely with the university to revitalize the garden in 2004. The partnership between Hollins and GCV continues to this day.

Bartlett is providing tree work along with a financial gift to GCV in recognition of the organization’s centennial celebration this year. The company became interested in GCV’s mission and its restoration and preservation efforts in particular after a representative participated in a recent GCV Restoration Committee Maintenance Workshop, an every-other-year program that seeks to educate and inform those on the ground at each restoration site.

Since its first restoration in 1929, GCV has used proceeds from its signature event, Historic Garden Week, to fund the ongoing renewal and protection of Virginia’s historic public gardens and landscapes, along with a research fellowship program for graduate students in landscape architecture. The GCV’s Restoration Committee, consisting of 15 members from the 47 clubs that make up the federation, oversees management of the proceeds from Historic Garden Week and serves as a liaison to the restoration properties throughout Virginia.


New Book by MFA Grads Supports Local Early Literacy Initiative

Two Hollins authors are helping to promote the benefits of reading with children from birth with the publication of their new book.

Copies of Slow Time, Hush Time by Jennifer Wood M.F.A. ’19 and Lucinda Rowe M.F.A. ’19, both alumnae of the university’s graduate programs in children’s literature and children’s book illustration, will be given for free to new mothers at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. The nonprofit organization Turn the Page, whose mission is to provide every child born in the Roanoke Valley with his or her own home library of books during the first three years of life, is coordinating the distribution. The book is part of Turn the Page’s Early Literacy project, which is co-directed by Hollins faculty members Anna Baynum, associate professor of education, and Tiffany Pempek, associate professor of psychology.

On every page of Slow Time, Hush Time are ways for parents to interact with their young child. The suggestions are intended to foster bonding, language, and social development, along with creating a foundation for a lifetime enjoyment of reading.


Biology, Chemistry Departments Donate Gloves to Aid in COVID-19 Response

The biology and chemistry departments at Hollins University are pitching in to help a local medical center during its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The departments are donating 7700 examination gloves (77 boxes) to Carilion Clinic in answer to the health care organization’s request for donations of personal protective equipment and other surplus medical supplies from community organizations, corporations, and individuals to help protect staff and patients.

Professor of Biology Renee Godard is delivering the gloves to Carilion’s Roanoke drop-off center at Tanglewood Mall on Friday, March 27. Carilion has also established drop-off locations in Franklin County, Giles County, Lexington, the New River Valley, and Tazewell County. Questions about donations may be directed to PPE_Donations@carilionclinic.org.

Based in Roanoke, Carilion Clinic features a comprehensive network of hospitals, primary and specialty physician practices, and other complementary services to provide care to nearly one million Virginians.

 

Photo: Professor of Biology Renee Godard carries one of the 77 boxes of examination gloves the Hollins biology department is donating to Carilion Clinic.


Hollins, Roanoke College Announce Perry F. Kendig Award Winners for 2019

Susan Jennings, Jimmy Ray Ward, and The Studio School have been honored with this year’s Perry F. Kendig Arts and Culture Awards.

Co-sponsored by Hollins University and Roanoke College, the Kendig Awards program recognizes exemplary individuals, businesses, and organizations in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Region (counties of Roanoke, Botetourt, and Franklin, the cities of Roanoke and Salem, and the town of Vinton) that support excellence in the arts.

This year’s awards were presented during a ceremony at Roanoke College’s Olin Hall on September 24, hosted by Roanoke College President Michael C. Maxey and Hollins University Interim President Nancy Oliver Gray.

Jennings recently retired as the Arts and Culture Coordinator for the City of Roanoke and formerly was executive director of The Arts Council of the Blue Ridge. She continues to be an influential member on many advisory boards for the arts and a driving force behind the creation of initiatives such as Art for Everyone, Parks and Arts, and the Elmwood Park Restoration Project and Sculpture Garden. She played an instrumental part in the rebirth of downtown Roanoke through Center in the Square and the Taubman Museum of Art.

Ward has designed sets and exhibits for roughly 160 productions in 15 locations, and also teaches Radford University students to discover their unique talents. He is respected in the artistic community for his devotion to his craft; he is considered an exemplary collaborator and problem-solver, and has been brought back time and again by many organizations. From historical to whimsical, he has the impressive ability to convince an audience and is considered an “unsung MVP” for theatrical productions.

For 28 years, The Studio School has been a pioneer in arts education for the community.  It offers art classes in all media to students from beginners to professionals. Teachers are recognized artists both locally and nationally, and their skills draw students far and wide to attend individual and/or group classes. The Studio School also provides affordable opportunities to study abroad and to experience intensive sessions with visiting artists.

Named for the late Perry F. Kendig, who served as president of Roanoke College and was an avid supporter and patron of the arts, the Kendig Awards program was established in 1985 and presented annually by the Arts Council of the Blue Ridge through 2012. Hollins and Roanoke College first partnered the following year to bestow the honors. The institutions congratulate the 2019 winners.