Wilson Museum Presents “Seeds from the East: The Korean Adoptee Portrait Project”

The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University is featuring the exhibition “Seeds from the East: The Korean Adoptee Portrait Project,” September 29 – December 11.

“Seeds from the East” showcases the work of A.D. Herzel, an internationally recognized artist, educator, designer, and writer who lives in Blue Ridge, Virginia. She is also a Korean adoptee who explores her identity and creates community through her art.

“This exhibit presents graphite portraits of Korean adoptees accompanied by silhouettes executed in gold ink and drawings of flowers, seeds, spirals, and other imagery specific to each portrait,” explained Wilson Museum Director Jenine Culligan. “Herzel offers her art as a way to help process grief and trauma, as well as to join the larger conversation about place and belonging in immigrant communities across the globe.”

In 1970, Herzel was among three Korean children (two girls and a boy) who were adopted by the Holt family, who also sponsored about 50 other children for adoption. She noted, “It has taken me 50 years to give light to the shadow of my adoption story. This current flowering moment, rooted and wrapped in the tendrils of history, is seeded by the currents of global, religious, and political history. My story, though textured with facets, divets, and spikes, is just one story in the Korean diaspora and one of the many American immigration stories worth telling.”

In conjunction with the exhibition, Herzel will deliver an artist lecture at the Wilson Museum on Saturday, October 1, at 2:30 p.m. A reception will follow. In addition, she will present a youth workshop entitled “Identity Development through Writing and Art Making” on Saturday, November 12, from 2 – 5 p.m., also at the museum. The workshop is intended for young adults ages 12-22 and delves into concepts of self-discovery through art and writing. Herzel will guide participants through investigative processes to help understand and clarify questions of belonging and becoming, especially for youth in adoptive or foster families. Registration for the workshop is required; contact Kyra Schmidt at schmidtka@hollins.edu or 540-362-6496.

The Wilson Museum is open Tuesday-Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., and Thursday, noon to 8 p.m. Admission is always free.

“Compassion, Grace, Gratitude, Care”: Hollins Embarks on the 2022-23 Academic Year

Praising “an incredible community of people…united by time, traditions, and this place we call home,” Hollins President Mary Dana Hinton officially launched the 2022-23 academic year at the university’s Opening Convocation on August 30 in duPont Chapel.

The welcoming of new students into the campus community and the procession of seniors in their graduation robes for the first time are among the highlights of the annual ceremony. Hinton cited Hollins’ class of 2023 for having “proven themselves to be resilient, engaged, supportive, brilliant learners. As we begin to find our way through this academic year, I encourage all of us to have that same spirit as our seniors.”

In her address, Hinton reiterated to students, faculty, and staff, “Our hearts and minds are tethered. I ask that as we get to know our newest members and embrace familiar relationships with others, that we seek to see the individual complexities and beauty we each bring. That, in fact, we recognize Hollins would not be the same without each and every one of us. That we choose to extend compassion, grace, gratitude, and care to each person we encounter. That when we are faced with a variety of ways to reach out and engage one to the other, that we choose to do so with love.”

Student Government Association President Jaiya McMillan ’23 shared how the Hollins motto, Levavi Oculos (“I will lift up my eyes,” taken from Psalm 121), will always resonate with her. “I want to carry those words for the rest of my life, for with them I feel that I can lift my eyes and see the wisdom I have yet to gain. I can look up and see my professors, my friends, my family, and the people I admire around me. I ask all of you to lift your eyes and look into yourselves. What do you see? Can you look back into the person you once were, and are parts of that person still existing within you today? Can you see that you are an amalgamation of experiences you’ve had with people you’ve met and the changes you’ve undergone? I hope you cherish, treasure, and love what you find there.”

Congratulating her fellow seniors, McMillan concluded, “We sit here today together, ready to take on the world in leaps and bounds. Let today be the first of many steps to knowing ourselves, knowing each other, and knowing our world.”

Following the event, the class of 2023 took part in the traditional First Step ceremony on the university’s historic Front Quad. Each year, seniors line the sidewalks of Front Quad dressed in robes they creatively design themselves. Bearing bottles of cider specially decorated for the occasion, they take their symbolic first steps onto the grass.


Photo: Hollins seniors processing in their graduation robes for the first time is one of the highlights of Opening Convocation.

Hollins Professor’s Photographic Work Is Showcased in Bridgewater College Exhibition

Assistant Professor of Art Mary Zompetti will exhibit “The Lost Garden” at Bridgewater College’s Beverly Perdue Art Gallery from August 22 through September 27.

An opening reception will be held on Monday, August 29, from 5 to 7 p.m. with a talk at 5:30 p.m.

A photographic artist, Zompetti utilizes traditional and experimental analog photographic methods to investigate land, home, and environment. Her recent camera-less photographic work explores the delicate and resilient nature of film emulsion exposed to environmental conditions where she collaborates with light, weather, and time to create unique photographs that embrace chance, mistake, and deterioration. “The Lost Garden” series is created by exposing large-format film to environmental conditions over extended periods of time. Wind, rain, ice, and snow alter the film, leaving time- and place-specific impressions.

“My creative process is driven by curious experimentation with analog photographic materials – not in the quest for the perfect, captured moment, but rather for the possibilities that exist when control is relinquished and chance helps guide both the process and questions being asked by the work,” Zompetti said. “This curiosity excites and drives me to push the medium further, seeing what is possible outside the parameters of traditional photographic processes.”

Zompetti received an M.F.A. in visual arts from the Lesley University College of Art and Design in Cambridge, Mass., and a B.F.A. in visual arts from Northern Vermont University. She is a recipient of the 2020 Vermont Arts Council Creation Grant in support of new analog, camera-less photographic work, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including at the Photographic Resource Center in Boston, the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University, the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, Mass., the Mjólkurbúðin Gallery in Akureyri, Iceland, and the A.I.R. Gallery in Brooklyn, N.Y. Zompetti has attended artist residencies at the Vermont Studio Center and at the Gil Residency in Akureyri, Iceland, and her work is also held in several collections, including the artist book libraries at Yale University and the Banff Center for Arts and Creativity.

The exhibition, opening reception, and artist’s talk are free and open to the public. The gallery, located on the main floor of the John Kenny Forrer Learning Commons, is open from 7:30 a.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday; 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday; 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday; and noon to midnight on Sunday.

Zompetti appeared on “The Mike Schikman Show” on WSVA Radio in Harrisonburg to talk about the exhibition.


Save Money, Find the Right Fit: Visit Hollins During Virginia Private College Week, July 25-30

Hollins University is among the 23 colleges and universities across the commonwealth taking part in Virginia Private College Week (VPCW), July 25-30.

Hollins will offer campus tours and information sessions about academic programs, admissions, financial aid, and student life, and also address some of the common myths about the cost of a private college education.

“Visiting campuses in person is one of the most important steps in the college search process,” said Robert Lambeth, president of the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia (CICV), which is hosting Virginia Private College Week. “I encourage parents to explore which college will be the best fit for their son or daughter, and I want to reassure them that a quality education at a Virginia private college is affordable and within reach.”

Students who visit at least three institutions during the week will receive three application fee waivers. Students may use these waivers to apply to any three participating CICV colleges for free. In addition, those who visit at least three colleges will be entered in a drawing to win one of five $100 Amazon gift cards.

Sessions at Hollins and most other participating colleges will begin at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday through Friday, and at 9 a.m. on Saturday. To sign up for a session at Hollins, go to our VPCW registration page. For more information about CICV and VPCW, visit the Virginia Private Colleges website.

Legendary Actor Robert Duvall Discusses Moving “From Ink to Behavior” with Hollins Screenwriters

Robert Duvall has appeared in some of the greatest movies ever made and played an array of iconic film and television roles. So, what has been the key to his success during a distinguished career spanning more than 60 years in which he has won an Academy Award, four Golden Globe Awards, a BAFTA Award, two Primetime Emmy Awards, and a Screen Actors Guild Award?

“Leave me alone,” the 91-year-old actor said bluntly but endearingly of what he has always sought from his directors. “See what I bring rather than superimposing your perceptions and concept. [Francis Ford] Coppola (who directed Duvall in 1972’s The Godfather, 1974’s The Conversation, and 1979’s Apocalypse Now) was very good at that. He wanted to see what you would bring to the table, which is a sign of a more than competent and outstanding director. I loved working with Coppola.”

Duvall recently shared his insights on acting, directing, and screenwriting during a conversation with students from Hollins University’s graduate programs in screenwriting and film studies. The event was made possible by writer/producer Colleen Hahn, a screenwriting student who first met Duvall on the set of Tender Mercies, the 1983 film that earned him a Best Actor Oscar.

“Colleen came to me and said, ‘Do you think we have any room in our schedule to talk to Robert Duvall?’” said Brian Price, director of the screenwriting and film studies programs. “I think my reaction was something like, ‘We’ll reschedule everything we have to bring Tom Hagen (Duvall’s unforgettable role in The Godfather) to talk to us in person.’”

In paying tribute to Coppola, Duvall recalled arriving in the Philippines to work on Apocalypse Now. “The name of the character was Colonel Carnage, and it was ridiculous the way it was written. So, I said to Coppola, ‘Let me do some research.’ I got with a guy who’d been a helicopter pilot in Vietnam and he told me about the air cavalry. That helped me craft a part that made sense. Colonel Carnage was a joke, really.” Influenced as well by his own time in the service and his father’s military career, Colonel Carnage became Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore. The character would proclaim what Duvall said is one of his favorite lines of dialogue from his roles, and one of the most memorable from any film: “I love the smell of napalm in the morning. It smells like victory.”

Robert Duvall on Zoom
Robert Duvall, who has appeared in some of the greatest movies ever made and played some of the most memorable roles of all time, spoke with Hollins screenwriting students via Zoom on June 27.

Duvall used the anecdote in part to emphasize his firm belief that “research, research, research” is essential to crafting an impactful script. “Immerse yourself in the subject matter and then put forth something that you love. I haven’t written that many screenplays, but sometimes I just sit down and start writing and just see where it goes. I go from A to B to C to D and just follow the logic of the script.”

As an actor, Duvall noted that when he reads a script, “I look for whether I can take what’s in ink and turn it into organized behavior. ‘From ink to behavior’ is what I call it. You let your imagination take over and encompass you and propel your ideas into results.”

One of Duvall’s triumphs as an actor, director, producer, and screenwriter was 1997’s The Apostle, in which he played a Pentecostal preacher. “I was doing an off-Broadway play where I played a guy from Hughes, Arkansas. I was coming back from California and I got off the plane and thought maybe I’d like to go to Hughes to see what it’s really like there.”

While walking down the street he came upon a Pentecostal church and decided to go in. “A woman was preaching. It was the first time I had ever seen something like it. I never forgot it and that was my guide in writing The Apostle.”

Duvall said he chose to avoid going “the Hollywood route” to get The Apostle made because he feared “they wouldn’t have taken this real sense of the subject matter.” As a result, “it was quite a few years before I could actually get it done. I also put up my own money.”

The Apostle earned critical acclaim (Roger Ebert said it was “a lesson in how movies can escape from convention and penetrate the hearts of rare characters”), but the reaction from two people particularly resonated with Duvall.

“I understand that Billy Graham liked it and I know for a fact that Marlon Brando liked it. So, I got it from the religious and the secular. We tried to present this aspect of a truly American art form, the American preacher, and tried to show him without any ‘Hollywood’ around him. We made it a personal film about that clapboard church I’d seen maybe 18 or 20 years before.”

Brando’s approval was especially gratifying to Duvall. As young actors starting out years ago, “Dustin Hoffman, Gene Hackman, and I used to meet at Cromwell’s Drugstore in New York City once a week. If we mentioned Brando’s name once, we mentioned it 25 times. He was our guy, a hero to us.” Later when he first worked with him, Duvall said Brando told him, “Screw the director. Do what you want to do.”

When asked about the roles he’s enjoyed the most, Duvall cited Walter, the retired Cuban barber he played opposite Richard Harris’s Irish seaman in 1993’s Wrestling Ernest Hemingway and the title role in the 1992 HBO film Stalin. But his all-time favorite role is that of Augustus “Gus” McCrae, the former Texas Ranger turned cattle driver in the 1989 TV miniseries Lonesome Dove.

“When I was doing The Godfather, I knew we were doing something important,” Duvall said. “The only time I got that feeling again in a strong way was when I did Augustus McCrae. One day when I was playing Gus I walked into the dressing room and said, ‘We’re making The Godfather of Westerns.’”

In recent years, Duvall said he has focused mainly on small parts instead of lead roles. In terms of retirement, “There always comes a day where you say, ‘That’s it, no more.’ I haven’t quite come to that, but almost.” He believes that “there will always be good actors. But it’s all the same, it’s always ‘action’ and ‘cut.’ To live between an imaginary set of circumstances, between ‘action’ and ‘cut,’ is what you do. You try to be in touch with yourself and make that live from yourself.”



Hollins, Roanoke College Welcome Nominations for the 2022 Perry F. Kendig Awards

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2022 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 Monday, August 15, at 4 p.m. EDT. The nomination form and other information can be found at https://kendigawards.com/.


Celebrating 37 years of honoring excellence in arts and culture, the Kendig Awards have been co-sponsored by Hollins University and Roanoke College since 2013. This year, the awards presentation and celebration will be held at Hollins in October; more details about the event will be announced at a later date.

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.”

“When the Perry F. Kendig Awards found itself without a home in 2013, Hollins and Roanoke came together to keep the tradition alive in appreciation to the Roanoke region’s cultural community resources,” added Roanoke College President Mike Maxey. “In addition, Hollins and Roanoke hope that in presenting this annual program it will build an even stronger arts and culture bridge between the campus environment and community at large.”

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.

“You Persevered, You Summoned Your Inner Strength”: Hollins Welcomes Home the Class of 2020 to Celebrate Commencement

The graduates waited an unprecedented two years for the ceremony, but the class of 2020 finally and deservedly received their moment in the morning sun as Hollins held its 178th Commencement Exercises on May 29.

The event on Hollins’ historic Front Quadrangle, which was postponed in May 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, honored members of the class who earned bachelor’s degrees that year (graduate students who earned advanced degrees in 2020 were recognized in May 2021).

Tiffany Marshall Graves '97
Guest speaker Tiffany Marshall Graves ’97: “You have honored me in more ways than you could ever imagine by inviting me to speak to you today.”

Tiffany Marshall Graves ’97 was the guest speaker, fulfilling the invitation she originally received two years ago to deliver the 178th Commencement address. 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 and promoted initiatives to improve and expand access to civil justice to the nearly 700,000 Mississippians living in poverty.

The Hollins honors graduate with degrees in political science and Spanish as well as membership in Phi Beta Kappa went on to earn her law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. She focused her remarks “on three Rs – no, not reading, writing, and arithmetic – but resilience, reflection, and rest.”

Graves emphasized that “being resilient does not mean that you don’t experience stress, emotional upheaval, and suffering. Rather, demonstrating resilience includes emotional pain and suffering.

“We all know resilient people,” she continued. “I am looking at a crowd full of them now. You persevered, you overcame, and you summoned your inner strength using the tools and people around you to keep pressing forward.”

Class of 2020 MortarboardGraves stated that she did not believe that “we can ever over-reflect. Self-reflection is the process of bringing your attention to what’s happening in your life in a mindful and open-minded way. Self-reflection helps us make sense of things. To continue to learn and grow, you have to take significant steps toward loving and accepting yourself – you – in all your beauty – and it starts with making self-reflection an everyday practice.”

Resilience and reflection require a lot of work, Graves said, and she cautioned the class of 2020 that “you are going to get tired – and I want to encourage you to rest. We greatly undervalue rest. Studies have shown that in addition to improving our health, rest can make us less stressed, it can deepen our relationships, it can present opportunities for reflection, it can make us more balanced, increase our productivity, and it can allow us to build up a reserve for when unexpected emergencies happen and rest is not an option.”

Graves shared her aspirations for the class of 2020 by quoting the children’s book, I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenfield:

             I wish you more ups than downs178th Commencement Processional

            I wish you more give than take

            I wish you more tippy-toes than deep

            I wish you more we than me

            I wish you more hugs than ughs

            I wish you more woohoo than woah

            I wish you more can than knot178th Commencement Smiles

            I wish you more snowflakes than tongue

            I wish you more pause than fast-forward

            I wish you more umbrella than rain

            I wish you more bubbles than bath

            I wish you more treasures than pockets

            I wish you stories than stars

“I wish all of this for you, because you are everything I could wish for and more,” she concluded.

Following Graves’ remarks, Hollins University Trustee Sandra Kiely Kolb ’70 presented her the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa for her commitment to “the fight to secure justice for all.”

Alex Lesniak '20
Class of 2020 Senior Class President Alex Lesniak: “We will certainly have a unique story to tell about our senior year.”

In her address, Class of 2020 Senior Class President Alex Lesniak noted, “We have the unique perspective of ‘graduating’ with two years of post-undergraduate life experience, which allows us to view our time at Hollins with a different lens.” She encouraged the class to “let this graduation ceremony highlight the things we’ve gained and accomplished,” adding, “We’ve all learned things in the wake of COVID-19, we’ve learned that life is precious, to forgive easily and show grace. We’ve learned to step outside ourselves and try to be as global and community-minded as possible, because you’ll never know when you will need something to be paid forward for you. We’ve learned how to show up for each other even when it’s hard and know that the siblinghood we have inherited by graduating from Hollins University will never dissipate.”

Lesniak reminded her classmates that “completing your undergraduate degree in the midst of a global pandemic is a milestone achievement. Not only will our senior year be memorable, but our time at Hollins as a whole. We were the largest class in many years, we experienced political upset and social and racial unrest, and finally, COVID-19. If anything, continuing to roll with the punches through these intense life events, one right after the other, should serve as a positive predictor about our class’s ability to withstand and thrive in swiftly changing environments.”

Other highlights of the 178th Commencement included the presentation of the following honors:178th Commencement Teddy Bear

The First Faculty Award for Academic Excellence, recognizing the student or students with the highest academic standing in the class of 2020, was presented to April Little (French/creative writing). Madeline Clevenstine (gender and women’s studies) received the Second Faculty Award for Academic Excellence for earning the second-highest academic standing.

Megan Caldwell (international studies/history) 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.

178th Commencement RecessionalThe Annie Terrill Bushnell Award was given to Reilly Swennes (political science). 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 senior who is preeminent in character and leadership in addition to being a good student, was presented to Leemu Jackson (biology).


Watch Hollins University’s 178th Commencement Exercises in their entirety.

Visit the 178th Commencement photo gallery.






“Ask the World, ‘What Do You Need from Me?’”: Hollins Celebrates the Class of 2022 at its 180th Commencement

Hollins University Board of Trustees Chair Alexandra Trower ’86 assured the class of 2022 that graduation is “not an ending, but a commencement, a new beginning, a monumental moment” at Hollins’ 180th Commencement Exercises, held May 22 on the school’s historic Front Quadrangle.

Hollins conferred 193 undergraduate and graduate degrees during the morning ceremony.


Trower, who retired last year as executive vice president, global communications, for The Estée Lauder Companies, was scheduled to be the guest speaker for this year’s event, but was unable to attend in person. Hollins President Mary Dana Hinton delivered Trower’s address on her behalf.Commencement 2022 - 2

In her remarks, Trower praised the graduating class for having done “something really, really hard. You began at Hollins, and then, right in the middle of it all, COVID-19 cracked the world open. And our old world kind of fell apart. But with the help of our incredible leader, President Mary Dana Hinton, together with the entire campus, you built a new Hollins community – this extraordinary ‘Culture of Care’ for which this wonderful class of 2022 will forever be known. You did all that during a time of racial reckoning, of political upheaval, of cancel culture, despite fear of illness and even death while still being students, artists, athletes, workers, and friends. You did not give up.”

Commencement 2022 - 3Trower’s address offered advice to the graduates that she noted, “I wish I had known when I was in your seat decades ago.” Her lessons for the class of 2022 included:

Pick one thing. “At the start of your post-Hollins journey, pick the thing that is most important to you and go for it. I have to add one crucial fact – your most important thing will change over time. You still need to figure out what that most important thing is for you right now, but be prepared for forks in the road as you move forward.”

Ask for help. “Asking for help doesn’t mean you are weak or that you don’t know what you are doing. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Asking for help is a sign of strength and courage. And one of the best parts of Hollins is that Hollins graduates are always there to help each other. Pick up the phone, reach out on LinkedIn, send an email or a text – but ask!”

Raise your hand for everything. For Trower, that included “tasks I knew nothing about. Working on those projects with other departments, stepping in when a teammate was out, and volunteering for things noCommencement 2022 - 4 one else wanted to do helped me learn more about the organization, build my skills, and experience new areas. And it built trust. You will find that accountability matters at all levels of an organization, personally and professionally. I could trust myself to follow through. My teammates could trust me to show up. And that’s co-creating a culture that thrives.”

Be a team player. “It wasn’t just that I was willing to do the work, but that I was…someone who most people enjoyed working with. And believe me, when it’s your fourth night in a row of working past midnight, being with people you like is really important. Organically, I began building a network that meant more complex and important projects, more meaning for me, and more and more responsibility.”

Commencement 2022 - 5Always ask, “What do you need from me?” Trower considers this to be “the most important lesson I’ve learned. Remember to ask the people that you work with: What do you need from me? What does it look like? What does success look like for you? How do you want to be communicated with, and how often? What keeps you up at night?” Trower added, “‘What do you need from me?’ is something we should also ask ourselves. Be brave enough to ask yourself, ‘What do I need in this moment?’ And graduates, this is how change happens. Every single time you expand your thinking to include even one more person, rather than just reacting and retreating – you can change the culture, and the future, for the better. You have increased the chances for more communication, more honesty, more success, and better outcomes for everyone

Trower concluded with a quote from the Talmud: “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”Commencement 2022 - 8

“When we say (that quote), we are really asking the world, ‘What do you need from me?’,” she explained. “When we make intentional choices true to our calling, when we raise our hand, and raise each other up, when we take a moment and ask ourselves and the world: ‘What do you need from me right now?’, we take a step closer to becoming the person we want to be, in the world we say we want to live in. But it takes all of us. And that is a relief, because that is what Hollins is. It’s all of us.”

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

The First Faculty Award for Academic Excellence, recognizing the student or students with the highest academic standing in the class of 2022, was presented to Aabhashree Lamichhane (economics) and Apoorva Verma (psychology). Nabila Nasrullah Meghjani (gender and women’s studies) and Chin Wai “Rosie” Wong (communication studies/theatre) received the Second Faculty Award for Academic Excellence for earning the second-highest academic standing.

Commencement 2022 - 7Mary Ming McDonald (theatre/communication studies) 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. Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Patty O’Toole 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 Leena Gurung (international studies). The award honors the senior who have evidenced the finest spirit of leadership during her days at Hollins.

The Jane Cocke Funkhouser Award, recognizing the senior who is preeminent in character and leadership in addition to being a good student, was presented to Aabhashree Lamichhane (economics).


Commencement 2022 - 6


Watch Hollins University’s 180th Commencement Exercises in their entirety.


Visit the 180th Commencement photo gallery.

Forty-Fifth Honors Convocation Celebrates Student, Faculty, Staff Accomplishments


Hollins University recognized students for high academic achievement during the university’s 45th Honors Convocation on May 3.

Held each spring, Honors Convocation also highlights those faculty and staff members whose exceptional work and dedication have earned them special academic or service designation.


Student and faculty/staff awards announced at this year’s Honors Convocation include:

Alice Bull Biology Award
Isabella Louise Jessee ‘22
Established in 1991 by students, alumnae, colleagues, and friends in honor of Professor Alice Bull, who taught biology at Hollins from 1964 until her retirement in 1990. The purpose of the award is to provide recognition to a deserving senior and/or junior student in biology.

Andrew James Purdy Merit Scholarship in Fiction Writing
Willow Marie Seymour ‘23
In memory of Andrew James Purdy, a member of the Hollins English faculty from 1968 to 1977, this scholarship is given to a senior English major pursuing an honors project in short fiction or a related literary

Andrew James Purdy Prize for Short Fiction
Winner – Griffin Harrison Plaag, M.F.A. ‘22
Runner-up – Erin Hall Comerford, M.F.A. ‘22
In memory of Andrew James Purdy, a member of the Hollins English faculty from 1968 to 1977, this award is given to a graduate student in the creative writing program who has written a body of fiction of outstanding quality.

ARETE Award in Classical Studies
Mairwen Isolde Meiying Minson ‘22
Established in 2006, this award is sponsored by the Classical Association of the Middle, West, and South (CAMWS) and is given to the junior and/or senior student(s) who have completed outstanding work in the field of classics in the past year. The awardee receives a certificate, a subscription to Classical Journal, and a free membership in CAMWS for the following academic year.

Daniel M. Murphy Prize for Spanish
Tyah Alethia Ray-Johnna Wright ‘22
This award, named for Dan Murphy, professor of Spanish at Hollins from 1993 until his death in 2012, is presented to a student of Spanish who, following Professor Murphy’s example, exhibits on a daily basis a profound love of the Spanish language and a dedication to learning about and teaching others about Hispanic cultures and literatures.

David L. Longfellow History Prize
Abigail Nicole Phillips ‘25
This prize, established in 1982 in honor of David L. Longfellow, former assistant professor of history at Hollins, is awarded to the outstanding first-year student in history.

Elise Deyerle Lewis Award
Van Hai Le ‘23
The late Elise Deyerle Lewis, class of 1927, donated a silver cup to honor the student in the junior class showing the greatest promise in mathematics. The award is in memory of Isabel Hancock, class of 1927, who was Mrs. Lewis’ roommate at Hollins, and later an outstanding teacher of mathematics at Abbot Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. The name of the student chosen is engraved on the cup, which remains on display at the university.

Elizabeth Alexander Thomas Award
Eleanor Linette Robb ‘24
This award, in memory of Elizabeth Alexander Thomas, class of 1968, recognizes and rewards one or more rising sophomore, junior, or senior art history majors whose academic work in art history shows exceptional depth and promise and to provide support for the art history department. Awarded funds may be used by the recipient(s) for any expenses related to academic work in art history, including museum admission fees and travel to collections and galleries.

Elizabeth Kennedy Chance Award
Aabhashree Lamichhane ‘22
Abhigya Tamang ‘23
Established by John K. Chance in memory of his mother, class of 1922, this award is given for excellence in economics.

Honors Convocation Procession
In their decorated robes, members of the class of 2022 process to duPont Chapel for the 45th Honors Convocation.

Evelyn Bradshaw Award for Excellence
Sarah Kathleen Vinson ‘22
This award, established in 1997 and given in honor of former Horizon Program Director Evelyn Bradshaw ’88, recognizes an outstanding Horizon student who inspires others through her perseverance, positive attitude, pursuit of knowledge, and love of Hollins. The chosen student will have her name engraved on a plaque that will remain at the university.

F.J. McGuigan Psychology Award for Excellence
Apoorva Verma ‘22
Established in 1974, this award, consisting of books and a certificate, is presented for excellence in undergraduate and graduate education and research.

Frances Niederer Scholars
Art History:
Sara Ann Ficke ‘22
Studio Art:
Kennah Nicole Hebert ‘23
Ashley Nichole King ‘23
An anonymous donor established a scholarship fund in 1983 to honor Frances J. Niederer, professor of art history at Hollins from 1942 until her retirement in 1980. The art department selects two outstanding art majors, at least one of whom is specializing in art history, as recipients in their senior year of the Frances Niederer Scholarships.

Freya Award
Gedin Cabrera ‘22
The purpose of this award is to recognize a student who throughout her time at Hollins has remained dedicated and committed to her activities on campus in a way that provides a quiet yet vital force in our community. It is for someone who has never reached out for the spotlight and has not been recognized for her efforts formally, but has still continued to work humbly and diligently in what she does to positively affect our campus.

Gertrude Claytor Poetry Prize
Winner – Griffin Harrison Plaag, M.F.A. ‘22
Honorable Mention – Anne-Sophie Louise Olsen, M.F.A. ‘22
This prize of the Academy of American Poets is given to a graduate or undergraduate student for the best poem or group of poems.

Goethe Award
Katherine “Katy” Babineau ‘24
This award, in recognition of special accomplishments in the study of German language and literature, is presented by the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Herta Freitag Award in Mathematics
Akshita “Akshi” Agarwal ‘22
Simran Parajulee ‘22
The purpose of this award is to recognize an outstanding senior student in mathematics at Hollins who plans either to teach mathematics or pursue a career field related to mathematics.

Hollins Fiction Prize
Willow Marie Seymour ‘23
Established by Sally Durham Mason, class of 1959, in honor of Louis D. Rubin Jr., a member of the Hollins English faculty from 1957 to 1967. This award is given to an undergraduate student who has done outstanding work in the writing of fiction.

International Studies Award for Academic Excellence
Chanmolis “Molly” Mout ‘23
This award is given to a student for outstanding work in international studies during the academic year.

James Lewis Howe Award in Chemistry
Hannah Claire Arthur ‘22
This award is sponsored by the Virginia Blue Ridge Section of the American Chemical Society and is given each year to the outstanding chemistry major from each of the 14 colleges or universities within the section’s boundaries.

J.F. Maddox Foundation Award for Excellence in French
Zoe Madeline Thornhill ‘22
Isabella Grace Taylor ‘22
Amy “Faith” Herrington ‘22
Awarded annually to a student who has demonstrated superior achievement in French.

Judith Gregory Smith Award
Winner – Tram Nguyen ‘24
Winner – Olivia Kathryn Sacci ‘24
Honorable Mention – Ellie Eunbee Song ‘24
This award is given by Judith Riddick Reynolds, class of 1915, in memory of her granddaughter, Judith Gregory Smith, who would have been a fourth-generation alumna in the class of 1990. It recognizes excellence in the natural sciences.

Lisa Lindsey Award for Excellence in Theatre Arts
Elizabeth Ann Marie Dion ‘22
Nabila Nasrullah Meghjani ‘23
Deirdre Kelly Price ‘22
Chloe Fiona Mahalek ’22
Established by Mary Varner Meryweather, class of 1941, as a memorial to her classmate and friend, Lisa Lindsey, this award, consisting of a cash prize and a certificate, is presented annually to a student who demonstrates outstanding achievement in theatre arts.

Mae Shelton Boger Award
Selden DuBose Frissell ‘23
Mae Shelton Boger, class of 1941, derived particular pleasure from her studies in French. This endowed award, given in her memory, is presented annually to an outstanding student of French who combines sound scholarship with pleasure in the pursuit of her studies.

Margaret Markley Smith Awards
Art History:
Amy “Faith” Herrington ‘22
Studio Art:
Sylvia Raven Lane ‘22
Abigail “Abbey” Hegwood ‘22
Winner – Tabitha Renee Gills ‘22
Winner – Deirdre Kelly Price ‘22
Winner – Natalia Wioletta Sarram ‘22
In memory of Margaret Markley Smith, class of 1938, these awards are given to a senior majoring in art and a senior majoring in English for outstanding work.

Marion Garrett Lunsford Award
Maya Florence Ponnuswami-Hart ‘22
Samantha “Sami” Hoyer ‘22
Established as a fund in memory of Marion Garrett Lunsford, class of 1926, this award is given annually to a member of the senior class for distinguished accomplishment in music.

Mary Houska Scholarship
Egypt Tierra Matthews ‘23
Ambrielle Elizabeth Viney ‘23
The purpose of this award is to recognize an outstanding upperclass economics or business major who has demonstrated superior academic performance.

Mary-Barbara Zeldin Award
Emily Michelle Bulifant ‘22
This award, established by students, colleagues, and friends in honor of Professor Mary-Barbara Zeldin, who taught philosophy at Hollins from 1953 until her death in 1981, is given to a rising junior, rising senior, or senior for excellence in philosophy.

Mary Vincent Long Award in English
Grace Anita Gaynor ‘22
In memory of Mary Vincent Long, a member of the Hollins English faculty from 1938 to 1959, this award is given to a senior English major who exemplifies in the study of literature “a mind capable of going beyond concern with immediate facts to understanding and creation.”

Melanie Hook Rice Award in Creative Writing
Winner – Griffin Harrison Plaag, M.F.A. ‘22
Runner-up – Emily Elizabeth Davis-Fletcher, M.F.A. ‘23
Runner-up – Meghana Mysore, M.F.A. ‘22
In memory of Melanie Hook Rice, class of 1975, this award is given to a graduate or undergraduate student in the creative writing program who has demonstrated considerable writing skills and has either completed or made substantial progress toward writing a book-length work of nonfiction.

Melanie Hook Rice Award in the Novel
Winner – Jamie Elizabeth Hudalla, M.F.A. ‘22
Runner-up – Meghana Mysore, M.F.A. ‘22
Runner-up – Cameron Kenley Vanderwerf, M.F.A. 22
In memory of Melanie Hook Rice, class of 1975, this award is given to a graduate or undergraduate student in the creative writing program who has demonstrated considerable writing skills and has either completed or made substantial progress toward writing a novel.

Mildred Persinger ’39 – Shocky Pilafian Award in Gender and Women’s Studies
Emily Michelle Lauletta ‘22
Nabila Nasrullah Meghjani ‘22
This award acknowledges excellence in academic achievement as well as significant contributions to social activism both within the Hollins community and beyond. The award seeks to recognize gender and women’s studies graduates who are working to effect social change and bring about social justice in a variety of arenas. This award is given to a graduating gender and women’s studies major.

Nancy Ellen Couper Ault Award in Ethics, Morals, and Values
Mohini Sudhakar ‘24
Available to any student of the college and is accordingly an interdisciplinary honor, encourages students to think critically about important ethical questions affecting a broad range of endeavors.

Nancy Penn Holsenbeck Prize
Winner – Vanity Leya Hernandez ‘24
Winner – Lindsey Smith Hull ‘23
In memory of Nancy Penn Holsenbeck, class of 1938, this award is given to a rising sophomore, junior, or senior English major who has demonstrated both a love and a command of the English language.

Nancy Thorp Poetry Prize
Sophia Khan ‘22
Juliet “Jules” Pleskach ‘25
In memory of Nancy Thorp, who attended Hollins from 1956 to 1958, this award is given to an undergraduate student who has written the best poem to appear in the student-produced literary magazine Cargoes.

Nicole Kohn Film Award
Naomi Rajoo ‘23
This award is given in memory of Nicole Kohn, class of 2002, to a filmmaking student of exceptional promise.

Patricia Dowd Overall Award
Grace Marie Hilton ‘22
Patricia Dowd Overall is a member of the class of 1954. In her honor a prize is given annually to the student who, in the judgment of the department of education, has demonstrated in the schoolroom the greatest mastery and promise in the art of teaching.

Pi Sigma Alpha Award
Christine Marie Emeric-Martinez ‘22
This award is given to the senior with the highest grade point average in courses taken in political science.

Sarah M. Cook International Studies Award
Zahin Mahbuba ‘22
The purpose of this award is to recognize an outstanding undergraduate student majoring in international studies.

Stephanie Mahan Hispanophile Award
Fanny “Isabel” Estrada Lago ‘22
This award is given to a senior Spanish major or minor whose enthusiasm and outstanding interest in things Hispanic most closely mirror the example set by Stephanie Lynn Mahan, class of 1995. Specifically, this student must have sought out first-hand experience in the Spanish-speaking world and must have generously shared her knowledge of that world with her peers.

Wyndham Robertson Library Undergraduate Research Awards
Elizabeth Lindsey Klein ‘23
Deirdre Kelly Price ‘22
Established in 2011 by the library for the recognition of exemplary undergraduate student research projects completed in Hollins courses. Two prizes are awarded, one to a first-year or sophomore and one to a junior or senior.


The Herta Freitag Faculty Legacy Award
Mary Jane Carmichael, assistant professor of biology and environmental studies
Awarded to a full-time teaching faculty member who has received external recognition of professional excellence from the last three years in the form of publications and papers, exhibits and performances, prizes, and other related expressions of their work.

Senior Class Faculty Award
Courtney Chenette, assistant professor of political science
Given by the senior class to a faculty member who has made a significant impact on their lives.

Hollins Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award
Initiated in 2021, recognizes two members of the faculty – one full-time tenure-track/tenured faculty member, and one non- tenure track faculty member – who motivate and inspire students through the demonstration of exemplary teaching practices, and who have made a positive impact on the teaching culture of the University through innovative and high-impact teaching methodologies, inclusive pedagogies, community engagement in teaching/learning, creative and/or interdisciplinary course development, instructional support, and/or campus leadership around pedagogy. Given that the inauguration of the award last year was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year the award was presented to two tenured or tenure-track faculty and two non-tenure-track faculty members.
Tenured/tenure track category:
LeeRay Costa – professor of anthropology and gender and women’s studies and director of faculty development
Non tenure track category:
Heather Derrick – lecturer of communication studies and director of oral communications

Roberta A. Stewart Service Award
Jeri Suarez, associate vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion
Granted to a Hollins employee who demonstrates long-term service, loyalty to the university, and deep caring for students and colleagues.


“Let Us Imagine a Community of Learning”: Dr. Mary Dana Hinton Is Inaugurated as Hollins’ 13th President

President Mary Dana Hinton invited the Hollins community to “believe that the essence of the liberal arts – the freeing of minds – demands the freeing and nurturing of imagination” during her installation as Hollins University’s 13th president on April 22.

With a theme of “Imagining a Community of Learning, Belonging, Love, and Justice,” Hinton, who took office in August 2020, was inaugurated before students, faculty, staff, alumnae/i, trustees, and special guests in Jessie Ball duPont Chapel.

In her address, Hinton described “the intense calling toward imagination that I have been feeling. A calling I have been aware of my whole life. A calling that is a rekindled flame in my soul.” She noted that “robust imagination is not just the territory of children; it is not the stuff of make-believe. Imagination is kindled in unsuspecting moments, quiet places, and deep rituals. Imagination is the innermost, profound work of thinking about life through an unexplored lens. Of looking at one’s circumstances and being able to conceive something different. Often something more.”

Speaking of how fortunate she feels to have had “an education that unleashed my imagination,” Hinton explained, “My will for that education was a result of imagining something different. I imagined freedom; I imagined opportunity; I imagined unconditional love. And it was a liberal arts education that unlocked those imaginings for me. To me, the examination and manifestation of imaginings is what education is all about. So let us imagine a community of learning.”

Hinton called liberal arts education “the work – the action if you will – of the moral imagination, the creative energy and effort to understand or visualize the struggle of another and to then harness the effort to bring to fruition the needs or imaginings of another. It is seeing, valuing, and supporting the human potential of another.”

She acknowledged that her concept of the liberal arts conflicts with the conventional wisdom “that the liberal arts are for those who breathe the most rarefied of air. That to examine the big questions of life should be left to those for whom it is their legacy.” Countering that approach, she argued that “limiting and circumscribing how we think about education and who has access to it is a failure of imagination. That to shroud oneself in exclusion in the name of the liberal arts is to fundamentally misunderstand and misappropriate that very thing we claim to love.

Hinton Inauguration 2
President Hinton: “At Hollins, we must ensure every student has the opportunity to be successful. We must rebuke the perpetuation of inequity.”

“The liberal arts are for those whose minds imagine freedom, who imagine something different, who imagine something more. A liberal arts education is a call to imagine for the sake of creating and transforming. Creating and transforming self, creating and transforming community, and creating and transforming the world around us.

“This notion of imagination is, in many ways, baked into the very fabric of Hollins. When I ask this community – the Hollins community – to imagine with me, I ask that we live into our institutional calling.”

Emphasizing the crucial role of justice and equity, Hinton talked about what was required for Hollins to continue thriving. “We must ensure every student has the opportunity to be successful. We must rebuke the perpetuation of inequity. This is the exhausting work of imagination; the justice work of imagination; the joyful work of imagination. If you choose to take up the mantle of imagination with me – the work of learning and crafting justice and joy – we need to find the peace, the courage, and the compassion to sustain ourselves through this work.”

Hinton concluded by asking the audience to envision “the dawn of a new day” and uphold three guiding principles for the future:

“Imagine: You belong.

“Imagine: You are enough.

“Imagine. You are loved.”

She added, “Imagine all these things because you are fearfully and wonderfully made. And may you come forth this day to embrace everything you imagine with hope, purpose, and joy.”

Dr. Marjorie Hass, president of the Council of Independent Colleges, delivered the inauguration’s keynote speech. Introduced by President Emerita Nancy Oliver Gray, Hass praised the event as “a momentous day for this campus and for all of higher education. Hollins has a storied history of devotion to the intellectual progress of women and a commitment to creativity, self-expression, and problem solving. Beyond degrees and career preparation, a Hollins education aims at the spirit. Here students are helped to see that their insights, their words, and their actions matter. Hollins cultivates habits of mind such as humility, consistency, compassion, and respect.”

Hass stated that leaders with courage and grace such as Hinton will be essential in addressing the challenges and pressures that liberal arts colleges face both today and in the future. “The graceful leader shines her light on the things that matter. She makes a space for others to shine, to make good, and to make a gift of themselves. Everyone has a place at her table. She finds the best in us and she inspires us to give each other the benefit of the doubt and to give others more than they are strictly due.

“How fortunate we are to have Mary as our model and our friend.”

Other highlights of the inauguration ceremony included:

  • A land acknowledgement by Cecelia Long ’70, the first African-American graduate of Hollins and a former member of the school’s Board of Trustees. Long recognized the Tutelo/Monacan people, as well as other Indigenous peoples, whose land on which Hollins now resides.
  • A reading by former U.S. Poet Laureate and current member of the Hollins Board of Trustees Natasha Trethewey M.A. ’91.
  • Community greetings from Student Government Association President Leena Gurung ’22 (on behalf of students); Professor of Music and Chair of the Faculty Judith Cline (on behalf of faculty); Joe Vinson, custodian (on behalf of staff); Antoinette Hillian ’00, president of the Alumnae/i Association Board of Directors and member of the Hollins Board of Trustees (on behalf of alumnae/i); Hollins Magisterial District Representative Phil C. North (on behalf of Roanoke County); Sherman P. Lea Sr., mayor of Roanoke, and Patricia White-Boyd, vice mayor of Roanoke (on behalf of the City of Roanoke); and Betsy B. Carr ’68, member of the Virginia House of Delegates (on behalf of the commonwealth of Virginia).
  • Music by Helena Brown ’12, soprano, of New York’s Metropolitan Opera; and the Hollins University Choirs.

Watch the installation of Dr. Mary Dana Hinton as Hollins University’s 13th president in its entirety.