“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.

 


Hollins Theatre Presents Natasha Trethewey’s Acclaimed “Native Guard,” March 8

The Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Hollins University alumna and former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey is coming to Hollins Theatre.

Trethewey’s Native Guard, which received the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 2007, will be presented in a theatrical reading with stunning visuals and live music on Sunday, March 8, at 7:30 p.m. on the theatre’s Main Stage. Admission is free with seating on a first-come, first-served basis. A conversation with Trethewey, who earned her M.A. from Hollins in 1991, will immediately follow the performance.

Native Guard juxtaposes the deeply personal experiences of Trethewey, a child of a then-illegal marriage between her African American mother and Caucasian father living in 1960s Mississippi, with the experience of a soldier in the Native Guard, the first African American Union troop in the Civil War. Years after her mother’s tragic death, Trethewey reclaims her memory, just as she reclaims the voices of the black soldiers whose service has been all but forgotten.

The evening of poetry and theatricality stars January LaVoy, an Atlanta-based actress best known for her role as Noelle Ortiz-Stubbs on the ABC daytime drama One Life to Live.  She has appeared on Broadway and guest starred on several prime time network series, including Elementary, Blue Bloods, and N0S4A2. The cast also features Dominic Taylor, a writer, director, and scholar of African American theatre who is currently the resident professional teaching artist at Hollins Theatre, and Roanoke’s own Shawn Spencer, a renowned jazz and blues vocalist.

Native Guard is the second volume of poetry by Trethewey that Hollins Theatre has adapted for the stage. Bellocq’s Ophelia premiered in 2012 and the following year was one of five full productions from the southeastern United States chosen for performance at the Region IV Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.


Hollins Hosts An Evening With U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, Feb. 10

Joy Harjo, the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States and the first Native American to hold the title, will speak in the Hollins University Theatre on Monday, February 10, at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public.

Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Harjo is a member of the Mvskoke Nation and belongs to Oce Vpofv (Hickory Ground). She is the author of nine volumes of poetry, including her most recent book, 2019’s highly acclaimed An American Sunrise; Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings (2015), which was shortlisted for the Griffin Prize and named a Notable Book of the Year by the American Library Association;The Woman Who Fell from the Sky (1994), which received the Oklahoma Book Award; and In Mad Love and War (1990), which won an American Book Award and the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award. Her memoir, Crazy Brave, was the common reading for Hollins’ 2019-20 entering first-year class; it was presented the PEN USA Literary Award in Creative Non Fiction and the American Book Award.

Harjo has also published two award-winning children’s books, The Good Luck Cat and For a Girl Becoming; a collaboration with photographer/astronomer Stephen Strom; an anthology of North American Native women’s writing; several screenplays and collections of prose interviews; and three plays, including Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light, a Play, which she toured as a one-woman show and was recently published by Wesleyan Press. She is executive editor of the forthcoming anthology, When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through – A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry.

Harjo began her term as U.S. Poet Laureate last fall. Upon announcing her appointment in June 2019, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden stated, “Joy Harjo has championed the art of poetry – ‘soul talk’ as she calls it – for over four decades. To her, poems are ‘carriers of dreams, knowledge, and wisdom,’ and through them she tells an American story of tradition and loss, reckoning and myth-making. Her work powerfully connects us to the earth and the spiritual world with direct, inventive lyricism that helps us re-imagine who we are.”

Following her lecture, Harjo will host a book signing in the Green Drawing Room, Main Building.

 

Photo Credit: Karen Kuehn 


Hollins Theatre Presents Revival of “Goodnight Moon: The Magical Musical,” Oct. 19-26

The musical version of a beloved children’s story that has sold millions of copies around the world is coming back to Hollins University this fall.

Goodnight Moon: The Magical Musical returns to Hollins Theatre, October 19 – 26. Based on the 1945 book by Margaret Wise Brown, a member Hollins’ class of 1932, the tale of the bunny who won’t go to sleep was adapted for the stage by Chad Henry. It was first presented in 2011 as the inaugural production of the Hollins Legacy Series, which was created to reimagine the work of Hollins writers as plays, musicals, and original theatre pieces. Hollins Theatre featured a revival of Goodnight Moon in 2015.

“We are working to make this show a great tradition here in Roanoke and a wonderful gift from Hollins to the community,” says Ernie Zulia, director of the Hollins Theatre Institute. “Along with six public performances, we are scheduling four performances for schoolchildren and are expecting as many as 2,000 kids to arrive here on buses throughout the run of the show.”

Goodnight Moon comes to the stage with whimsical costumes designed by California designer Amanda Quivey, lighting by Hollins resident designer Ann Courtney, and scenery by Disney artist Ryan Wineinger. Zulia describes the stage set as “a wondrous room filled with toys and pictures that comes to life before your eyes. The kittens, the mittens, the red balloon, and the cow jumping over the moon are all there, along with a few surprises. Goodnight Moon really is for children of all ages – we are proud that thousands of people have already seen the show over the years, and now it’s here for a new generation to enjoy.”

Hollins Theatre’s Main Stage will host the public performances of Goodnight Moon: The Magical Musical on Saturday, October 19, at 11 a.m.; Sunday, October 20, at 2 p.m.; Thursday and Friday, October 24 and 25, at 7:30 p.m.; and Saturday, October 26, at 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children under 12. For ticket sales and more information, visit www.hollins.edu/theatre or call the Hollins Theatre Box Office at (540) 362-6517.


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.


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.


62nd Annual Science Seminar Celebrates Student Research

Twenty-seven research projects representing the work of 30 Hollins science and mathematics students were showcased during the university’s 62nd Annual Science Seminar on April 25.

Students from the departments of biology, chemistry, environmental studies, physics, and psychology took part in this year’s poster session, which was held for the first time on the newly renovated second floor of the Dana Science Building.

This year’s seminar featured research conducted in a number of diverse geographic locations, from South America (the Peruvian Amazon’s white-sand forests), Central America (Panamanian coastal habitats), and the Caribbean (biodiversity and hurricane impact in the U.S. Virgin Islands), to southwest Virginia (tick activity/species abundance and emerald ash bore infestation), the southern Appalachians (forest and cave ecosystems), and the Hollins campus itself (avian window collisions and wetlands). Students also delved into topics such as Knot Theory, stock price prediction, and parent-child interactions.

Following their undergraduate careers at Hollins, seminar participants plan to pursue a wide range of interests, which include enrolling in medical school and veterinary school; completing graduate degrees in marine science, animal science/research, ecology, clinical psychology, and chemistry; and embarking on careers in quantitative analysis, wildlife rehabilitation, environmental education, and food justice.

Among the highlights of the 62nd Annual Science Seminar was the presentation of the inaugural Ella Faith Mode Award, recognizing outstanding student research. Catherine Flayhart ’20, a chemistry major with a biochemistry concentration and a physics minor, is the award’s first honoree.

 

Photo:  Savannah Goodbar ’20 (far left) and Autumn Woodbury ’20 (far right) share their research into vehicle driver responses to snake and stick models placed on the edge of two Virginia roads, one surrounded by rural farmland and the other in a mix of forest, residential, and light business.

 


HireHollins: Employer-Talent Showcase to Feature Mix of Mentoring, Networking, and Recruiting

Hollins University students will have the opportunity to interact with more than 25 area businesses and organizations during the first-ever HireHollins: Employer – Talent Showcase, which will be held Tuesday, March 5, from noon – 4:30 p.m. in Moody Student Center.

“Today’s Generation Z is drawn to relevant, hands-on, interactive learning,” says Karen Cardozo, Hollins’ executive director of career development. “Thus, this is not a traditional ‘job fair’ but an experiential interface with a dynamic mix of networking, mentoring, and recruiting.”

Cardozo notes that this event “gives priority to regional partners offering year-round internship opportunities or organizations with summer pipelines to postgraduate hiring,” and that the experience will be equally as beneficial to the participating companies.

“Hollins is a diverse talent pipeline, with the overall undergraduate population closing in on 30% women of color from around the world. Second, we offer an exemplary liberal arts education in which our students study issues from a variety of disciplines and methods. And third, Hollins boasts a culture of creativity: While our most popular majors are business, biology, psychology, and English/creative writing, students of all majors often engage in the arts.”

Employers that have recently sponsored internships for Hollins students, Cardozo adds, have given those students exceptional reviews. “Supervisors told us: ‘Hollins students show a great balance of writing, communication, and organizational skills.’ ‘They execute large tasks with little supervision and are well-prepared for the professional world.’ ‘They are open to new ideas and willing to participate in diverse activities.’ And, ‘They were self-motivated and looked for ways to learn outside the assigned projects.’”

During the showcase’s first hour, students can visit information tables to meet organization representatives. An hour of one-on-one networking will follow. The final two hours will be devoted to sessions focusing on a wide range of career fields and topics. These sessions include:

  • Roanoke Regional Opportunities: Your Star Can Rise in Roanoke!
  • Working for Nonprofits: Supporting Our Communities
  • Arts/Arts Management: Encouraging Creativity
  • Exploring Different Business Models in Established and New Industries
  • Government/Public Sector: Leading and Serving
  • Mental Health Professions: Caring and Healing

Organizations taking part in the HireHollins: Employer – Talent Showcase reflect the breadth and scope of the business, nonprofit, government, healthcare, and arts sectors in the region:

  • Allied Universal Security
  • Allstate
  • Blue Ridge YMCA
  • Botetourt YMCA
  • City of Roanoke
  • Roanoke City Council
  • Cortex Leadership Consulting
  • Council of Community Services
  • Family Service of the Roanoke Valley
  • Farmers Insurance and Financial Solutions
  • FAVE Solutions
  • Goodwill Industries of the Valleys
  • Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center
  • Intercept Youth Services
  • Mainstream Mental Health Services
  • Office of U.S. Senator Tim Kaine
  • Rappahannock Electric Cooperative
  • Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council
  • Roanoke County Economic Development
  • Roanoke Regional Partnership
  • Roanoke Valley – Alleghany Regional Commission
  • Taubman Museum of Art
  • Treehouse Collaborative
  • United Way of Roanoke Valley
  • Virginia Society of CPAs
  • Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine

“The Hollins curriculum emphasizes communication, critical thinking, leadership, and cross-cultural and information literacies,” Cardozo says. “At the same time, our Career Center is preparing students for a world of disruptive change in which employees and their organizations must be flexible and responsive in order to not only survive, but thrive. The companies participating in this showcase are all well-positioned to advise our students on how to succeed in their respective industries, and we welcome their expertise.”


Andolyn Medina ’16 to Sing National Anthem at Black History Month Gala

Andolyn Medina ’16, whose vocal talents have earned her National Anthem performances before President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, the Miss America Pageant, and a Washington Wizards NBA game, is about to add another special event to her impressive resume.

Medina has been selected to sing the National Anthem at the 19th Annual Virginia Black History Month Gala, which takes place Saturday, February 23, at the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner Hotel in McLean, Virginia.

“Andolyn has a long and distinguished career of community service, leadership, and educational success,” said Bill Jones, president of the Virginia Black History Month Association. “It is my distinct honor to welcome her to the gala and we look forward to her performance.”

After graduating cum laude from Hollins with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and a minor in music, Medina went on to complete her master’s degree in forensic psychology at The George Washington University, where she is currently a doctoral student in the clinical psychology program. She is also the reigning Miss Piedmont Region 2018.

Medina has displayed a passion for volunteer work since the age of four, logging more than 7,500 service hours. In 2013, she received Congressional recognition and the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding and invaluable community service. She has earned the Presidential Gold Award, the Miss America Community Service Award, and the Wells Fargo Community Service Award. She also received a Proclamation from the City of Roanoke, Virginia, declaring March 7, 2016, as “Andolyn Medina Day.”

 

 

 


Hollins Theatre’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Brings Immersive Experience to Shakespeare’s Crowd-Pleaser, Nov. 28 – Dec. 1

Hollins Theatre is presenting a lively and novel production of one of William Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream…in Motion!, a 60-minute express version of the play that has been charming audiences for more than 420 years, will be staged as an immersive theatre experience in multiple locations throughout the Hollins campus, November 28 – December 1.

“If you think you might enjoy running through the library stacks as if you were in the woods outside Athens chasing fairies, mechanicals, and young lovers, you may want to grab a ticket for this unique theatrical experience,” says Ernie Zulia, chair of the Hollins University theatre department, referencing the final two evenings of the show’s run at Hollins’ Wyndham Robertson Library. “Shakespeare holds a very sacred place on the Hollins campus.”

Jim Warren, distinguished visiting faculty and founding artistic director of the renowned American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Va., adapted and directs the production “Getting to work with these remarkable Hollins women has been a delight for me. Together we navigated the pleasure of Tinker Day, Ring Night, and a million other commitments that make college life at Hollins such enchanting chaos. Getting to work on this play, with this cast, in this place, and making it a movable feast of the imagination has been an honor and a privilege.”

“What a joy it has been to host this terrific Shakespearean artist here at Hollins,” Zulia adds.

Midsummer will be performed at campus locations on the following dates and times:

Wednesday, November 28, 7:30 p.m.: Upstairs Studio Theatre (must be able to climb stairs)

Thursday, November 29, 7:30 p.m.: Botetourt Reading Room

Friday, November 30, 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.: Wyndham Robertson Library (SOLD OUT)

Saturday, December 1, 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.: Wyndham Robertson Library (SOLD OUT)

Admission is $10 general public, and Hollins students, faculty, and staff can obtain one free ticket each. For more information, call the Hollins Theatre Box Office at 362-6517.