New Honors Program Fosters Teamwork, Initiative

honorsTalented and motivated first- and second-year students at Hollins University who want to work extensively on interdisciplinary and collaborative projects of their own design now have that opportunity through the school’s new honors program, which launches in Fall Term 2014.

“We are thrilled to offer this program to our current and prospective students,” said Hollins President Nancy Gray. “It gives them the chance to explore special topics of interest through original work and encourages them to apply critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills beyond other curricular opportunities at Hollins.”

The honors program consists of a four-semester sequence of two-credit interdisciplinary seminars in which students join a small group of fellow scholars. First-year students work closely with two faculty members to identify engaging group projects and then plan, execute, communicate, and present results from those initiatives.

During their second year, students focus on individual projects while continuing to actively partner with faculty.

“I’m really looking forward to participating in the start of this program,” said Professor of Art Robert Sulkin, who co-directs the program with Associate Professor of Classical Studies Tina Salowey. “The opportunity to work with talented students and a valued colleague is the primary attraction and I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to design seminars that extend beyond traditional academic boundaries.”

“The timing is perfect for the introduction of this innovative honors program at Hollins,” added Salowey. “Experiential learning, student-driven research, and academic collaboration have long been a part of Hollins’ Short Term and First-Year Seminar programs. It will be a pleasure working with my art colleague to offer these experiences to a group of motivated students early in their Hollins careers with a focus on developing big ideas that will make a difference.”


Tinker Mountain Writers’ Workshop/Online Introduces New Eight-Week Session

tinkermtnHollins University’s Tinker Mountain Writers’ Workshop/Online (TMWW/O) is returning this fall with three new eight-week workshops to help writers of all abilities grow their craft through online learning.

TMWW/O’s Fall 2014 session takes place September 29 – November 22. It features noncredit workshops in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction that are designed for writers eager to produce new work on a flexible schedule. The workshops are taught by published professionals who are all graduates of Hollins’ nationally recognized creative writing program.

Program Director Luke Johnson is excited about the changes TMWW/O is introducing with the fall session and their benefit to enrollees.

“We’ve reduced the duration of the workshops from ten weeks to eight based on feedback we received from our community of writers,” he explains. “We’ve also reduced the cost of the workshops from $750 to $500.”

Johnson adds that the workshops have been restructured to further enable participants to enjoy “lively conversation and immediate feedback.” He notes that enrollment for each workshop will continue to be limited to 15 students to ensure students can fully engage with faculty and fellow writers.

TMWW/O will offer the following workshops this fall:

  • Making Poems. Writing new poems is the goal of this workshop taught by Will Schutt, winner of the prestigious Yale Series of Younger Poets award. It will include formal writing exercises. Students will have ample opportunity to share and discuss their writing with their peers, and address questions of craft with the instructor. Participants will also read and consider works by contemporary American poets.
  • Writing Your Life: Creative Nonfiction. Students will read the writing of acclaimed creative nonfiction writers such as Annie Dillard and produce their own personal narratives. Participants will discover their own writing and each other’s while fostering a community centered on careful observation, critical encouragement, and crafting compelling stories. This workshop is taught by Luke Johnson, TMWW/O program director and author of the 2011 poetry collection, After the Ark.
  • Forays in Storytelling: Elements of Short Fiction. Part reading, part writing, and all investigation, this workshop will explore what makes a good story. Led by Michael Overa, who has taught writing throughout the Seattle area and whose work has appeared in the Portland Review, Quiet, Pindeldyboz and the Denver Syntax, among others, Forays in Storytelling will challenge students to write and discuss original short fiction beyond their self-imposed boundaries.

“By connecting writers across the country,” Johnson says, “we hope to allow the writing and sharing of creative work to continue well after each session has ended. With an emphasis on voice, form, and metaphor, our goal is to help you become a better writer.”

The deadline for registering for the TMWW/O Fall 2014 session is September 22.


Hollins Joins Federal TEACH Grant Program

classroomBeginning with the 2014-15 academic year, Hollins University students who aspire to a teaching career will be eligible for up to $4,000 in grant funding each year.

Hollins is participating in the Federal Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant program, established in 2007 by the College Cost Reduction and Access Act to provide financial assistance to those interested in working as educators in schools with students from low-income households.

The TEACH Grant is non-need based and available to Hollins students who are enrolled full-time or part-time in the university’s Master of Arts in teaching (M.A.T.) program. In exchange for receiving a TEACH Grant, M.A.T. students must agree to teach full-time in a high-need field such as mathematics, science, bilingual education, special education, foreign languages, or reading. They must spend at least four years at an elementary school, secondary school, or educational service agency that serves underprivileged students, and must do so within eight years of completing their program of study. If the service obligation is not met, TEACH Grant funds convert to a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Student Loan that must be repaid.

“Hollins University already offers an institutional grant for those in our M.A.T. program during their student teaching semester worth the equivalent of 12 credit hours,” explained Mary Jean Sullivan, director of the office of scholarships and financial assistance at Hollins. “ By adding the Federal TEACH Grant program, Hollins can offer additional assistance to our future teachers.”

Students accepted into the M.A.T. program should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)  and notify the office of scholarships and financial assistance of their interest in the award. Grant recipients must maintain a 3.25 grade point average as well as complete online entrance counseling and an Agreement to Serve form each year before grant funds are allocated.

For more information about the Federal TEACH Grant at Hollins, visit this webpage.


Golfers Named All-American Scholars

golf_honorsHollins golf team members Elizabeth Cheng ’14 and Shannon Ciccarello ’17 have been named All-American Scholars for 2013-14 by the Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA).

A total of 664 women’s collegiate golfers from Divisions I, II, and III were recognized with this prestigious honor. The WGCA’s criteria for selection to the All-American Scholar Team are some of the most stringent in all of college athletics: The minimum cumulative GPA is 3.50.

The complete list of this year’s honorees can be found here.


Class of 2014 Told “Kindness Transcends All Things” at 172nd Commencement

commencement2014What’s the key to fulfillment in life? According to Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, Hollins class of 1984 and leader of a company that represents some of the most creative minds in the entertainment industry, it isn’t just ambition or hard work.

“Remember to be kind. Treat people the way you would want to be treated,” the owner and CEO of The Gotham Group encouraged graduates during Hollins’ 172nd Commencement Exercises on May 25. “It costs nothing, but it pays enormous dividends.”

Hollins conferred 123 bachelor’s degrees and 69 master’s degrees during the ceremony, which took place on the university’s historic Front Quadrangle.

Goldsmith-Vein, this year’s guest speaker, is widely considered to be one of the most powerful women in Hollywood. She was the first talent manager ever featured on the cover of the “Power 100” special issue of The Hollywood Reporter in 2006, and is the only woman to own her own entertainment management company completely. In addition to boasting a client list that includes 500 top directors, writers, producers, authors, illustrators, and publishers, The Gotham Group produces a host of live-action and animated movies and television.

“The great journey you’re about to embark upon will be about exploring questions and finding your own answers to them, and trust me, it’s way better than thinking you have all the answers already,” Goldsmith-Vein told the class of 2014. “Your journey will be different, everyone’s is, but if you have passion for what you do, you’ll enjoy every moment of it.”

While she was composing her commencement address, Goldsmith-Vein recalled, “The thought occurred to me that what I should write about was something that I learned here at Hollins that has been a central precept in my life, something that transcends all things: Kindness.

“The Dalai Lama once said, ‘Be kind whenever possible.’ And then he added, ‘It is always possible.’”

Goldsmith-Vein spoke of how applying that philosophy as a business woman has helped her not only to achieve personally, but also to inspire her employees.

“I have found that a kind word at the right time makes them not only happy in the moment, but more fulfilled, loyal, and in the long run more successful.

“And kindness is what keeps you human through the madness, and keeps the monster of greed out of the war of ambition.”

Following Goldsmith-Vein’s address, Thomas Barron, chair of Hollins’ Board of Trustees, awarded her the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa in recognition of her personal and career accomplishments.

Three graduating seniors were honored during the ceremony for the academic achievements. The First Faculty Award for Academic Excellence, which recognizes the student with the highest academic standing in the class of 2014, was presented to Cecelia Lee Parks. By virtue of having the second highest academic standing in the class, Catherine Marie Hensly and Rebecca Leigh Rowe each received the Faculty Award for Academic Excellence.

The following awards were also presented at this year’s commencement:

  • The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, given by the New York Southern Society in memory of the founder, recognizes members of the campus community who have shown by daily living those qualities that evidence a spirit of love and helpfulness to other men and women. This year’s honorees are senior Natalie Johnson and Jon Guy Owens, director of the Hollins Outdoor Program.
  • The Annie Terrill Bushnell Award, established by the late Mrs. William A. Anderson in memory of her mother, is presented to the senior who has evidenced the finest spirit of leadership during her days at Hollins. Gabrielle Awuma is this year’s recipient.
  • The Jane Cocke Funkhouser Award, honoring a member of the class of 1911, recognizes a junior or senior who, in addition to being a good student, is pre-eminent in character. Senior Catherine Hensly was presented this year’s award.
  • The Hollins University Teaching Award, supported by an endowment established in 2007 by Mary Bernhardt Wolfe Decker ’58 and her late husband, James DeWitt Becker, honors secondary school teachers who have devoted their lives to preparing students to achieve and excel in a higher education setting. Each year, Hollins seniors are invited to nominate the teachers who inspired them or contributed significantly to their intellectual and personal growth. This year’s winner, nominated by graduating senior Megan Grosholz, is Jessica Cuello, French teacher at Marcellus High School in Marcellus, New York.

Professor Jeanne Larsen to Participate in Unique Ancient Greece Seminar on the “Odyssey”

larsenHollins Professor of English Jeanne Larsen is one of a select group of faculty members nationwide invited to participate in an Ancient Greece in the Modern Classroom seminar on the Odyssey.

The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and the Center for Hellenic Studies chose Larsen and 19 other faculty members from a pool of 66 nominees for “The Odyssey,” which takes place July 22 – 26 at the Center for Hellenic Studies’ Washington, D.C., campus. Gregory Nagy, Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature and professor of comparative literature at Harvard University, and Kenneth Scott Morrell, associate professor of Greek and Roman studies at Rhodes College, will lead the seminar, which is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

“Strengthening the teaching of the classics at colleges and universities is of critical importance,” said CIC President Richard Ekman. “The number of institutions that nominated faculty members to participate in the seminar is most impressive, and we believe that Jeanne Larsen will play a strong role in the seminar.”

“I gave Jeanne my highest recommendation for this because of her capacity for learning and for transmitting her enthusiasm for literature,” added Patricia Hammer, Hollins’ vice president for academic affairs. “Her commitment to the life of the mind is evident.”

Designed for non-specialists, the seminar will address the challenge of keeping alive in undergraduate education classical texts such as the Iliad, Odyssey, Homeric Hymns, poetry of Hesiod, and Histories of Herodotus that a generation ago were read and understood by every college graduate.

This seminar will offer an opportunity to examine the many dimensions of the Odyssey in its various historical contexts and explore how the poem (to be read in translation) can be studied in courses that address a variety of literatures and disciplines. Participants will study diverse topics that range from the exchange of luxury goods to the adjudication of disputes arising from athletic contests. Along with providing information and background for understanding Homeric poetry in its ancient contexts, the seminar will devote a substantial portion of each day to reading and analyzing the poem itself.


Virginia Social Science Association Honors Catherine Hensly ’14 with Best Undergraduate Paper Award

henslyCatherine Hensly ’14 has been named the winner of the 2014 Best Undergraduate Paper Award by the Virginia Social Science Association (VSSA).

The Hollins senior, who is double-majoring in economics and business, was honored for her paper, “Higher Education, Higher Cost: An Income-Contingent Approach.”

Hensly and her advisor, Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics Deborah Spencer, were recognized at the VSSA’s 87th Annual Meeting, held April 18-19 at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. The paper was presented at the conference’s panel session, “Health Care, Poverty, and Education in Economic Perspective.”

The VSSA’s goal is to bring together all groups related to the social science disciplines of anthropology, business, criminal justice, economics, geography, history, international relations, political science, psychology, and sociology. The association envisions three main interrelated missions regarding teaching, research, and outreach:

  • promoting multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary work in the social sciences;
  • offering students, including undergraduates, opportunities for professional development in presenting their scholarship; and
  •  bringing together teachers at all levels of education in Virginia.

Photo: Beverly Colwell Adams (left), assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and associate professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, presents the Best Undergraduate Paper Award to Hensly at the VSSA’s 87th Annual Meeting.


Swimmers Achieve Scholar All American Status

swimThe Hollins University swim team has earned Team Scholar All American Honors for the 2014 spring semester from the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA).

The CSCAA presents the Team Scholar All American award to college and university swimming and diving teams who have achieved a grade point average of 3.0 or higher.

The swim team’s student-athletes were similarly recognized for their academic achievements during the 2013 spring semester.

The team kicks off its 2014-15 season at the Converse All Women’s Invitational, October 10-11.

Founded in 1922, the CSCAA is a professional organization of college swimming and diving coaches dedicated to serving and providing leadership for the advancement of the sport of swimming at the collegiate level.


Art Professor Jennifer Anderson Is Among the “40 Under 40: Professors Who Inspire”

andersonNerdScholar, a financial literacy website for students that empowers them to make smart financial choices, has selected Assistant Professor of Art Jennifer Anderson for its inaugural list of “40 Under 40: Professors Who Inspire.”

According to the website, “These 40 inspirational professors were nominated based on their ability to captivate and engage students in the classroom, desire to interact with students outside of class, and collaborate on research projects. Nominations were collected through student and faculty recommendations, articles such as The Princeton Review’s Best Professors list, and other pieces highlighting universities with outstanding professors, supplemented by crowd-sourced review sites such as RateMyProfessors and CourseRank.”

Anderson, who will receive tenure and promotion to associate professor on July 1, is one of three professors from colleges and universities in Virginia to make the list (the College of William and Mary and Virginia Tech are also represented).

Anderson’s profile and the complete list of honorees can be found here.


Lindsey Narmour ’15 Earns Full Scholarship to Study at Oxford this Summer

narmourSince childhood, Lindsey Narmour ’15 has wanted to study at the oldest university in the English-speaking world. This June, the Hollins University English major and Ferrum, Virginia, resident is realizing that dream.

Named a British Universities Summer Scholar (BUSS) for 2014, Narmour has been awarded an all-expense-paid scholarship by the English-Speaking Union (ESU) to spend three weeks enrolled in two major seminars, Critical Reading and Shakespeare on Stage and Screen, at England’s University of Oxford, one of the world’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning.

“I was familiar with the ESU and their goal of promoting the English language between cultures and in different countries,” Narmour explains. In December 2013, she learned of the BUSS scholarship program sponsored by the ESU’s Virginia chapter, which is open to college and university juniors in the commonwealth. She applied the following month “just to see what would happen.”

Based on her grade point average, a statement of purpose explaining why she wanted to study at Oxford and what she hoped to gain from her experience, and letters of reference attesting to her character and qualifications, Narmour was invited for an interview with the ESU chapter in Richmond. Shortly thereafter, she was offered the scholarship.

“To have this opportunity now while I’m an undergraduate is remarkable and I’m very thankful for it,” she says. “Getting immersion in a place where English literature had its genesis and to be with professors whose perspective might be different than what I’ve encountered in the U.S. would enable me to have a broader range of experience with the English language and a keener understanding of it.”

Narmour transferred to Hollins last fall from Virginia Western Community College in Roanoke. “I had been looking at Hollins since high school – the English program was a huge pull for me. I had talked to and corresponded with some of the professors beforehand about the sorts of things I would be able to do if I were to go to Hollins. I found that everything they said is quite true as far as the strength of the English department. The caliber of professors here is quite wonderful.”

One of those faculty members, Professor of English Marilyn Moriarty, is Narmour’s advisor and also helped her with the scholarship application.

“The English-Speaking Union has as its mission the celebration of English as a shared language to foster global understanding and goodwill by providing educational and cultural opportunities for students, educators, and members,” Moriarty says. “I’m delighted that Lindsey was selected by the committee in a competitive process that will enable her to attend summer school at Oxford. Engaged, self-motivated, and knowledgeable, she is the kind of student who makes the most of every educational opportunity.”

After completing her undergraduate degree, Narmour plans to pursue both a Master’s degree and a Ph.D. in English. Eventually, she would like to study full-time at Oxford or at least perform an independent study there.

“My aim right now is to become a professor and specialize in medieval literature. I’m looking into teaching in a different country at the university level – I’d love to live in England and possibly teach at Oxford. At the same time, I’d certainly be interested in teaching here in Virginia. If I could, I’d love to teach at Hollins or Virginia Western.”

In the meantime, Narmour is excited to make the most out of her time in Oxford this summer and is currently exploring opportunities to do research outside of the classroom and possibly travel in the area. “I’d really like to visit the Bodleian Library, which is England’s equivalent to the Library of Congress. I hope to pursue a senior thesis next year and I’d like to collect materials that will aid me later on. So, this scholarship has come at a very opportune time.”