Hollins Students to Deliberate “Ethics and Higher Education” at Wells Fargo Ethics Bowl

Students from Hollins University will compete head-to-head against undergraduate teams from Virginia’s 15 leading independent colleges and universities at the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges‘ 21st annual Wells Fargo Ethics Bowl, which takes place February 9-10 at the University of Lynchburg.

Teams will consider a variety of case studies highlighting ethical dilemmas in higher education. Notable personalities from business, law, education, finance, journalism, and other fields will listen to students’ presentations and offer reactions.

Grishma Bhattarai ’20, Jules Jackson ’21, Kaiya Ortiz ’21, Georgia Rosenlund ’21, and Aqsa Fazal ’23 are representing Hollins at the Ethics Bowl this year. The team’s faculty coordinators are Associate Professor of Philosophy James Downey and Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy Charles Lowney.

The public is welcome to attend the Ethics Bowl and admission is free. The opening session will be held on Sunday, February 9, at 2:30 p.m. in the University of Lynchburg’s Sydnor Performance Hall in Schewel Hall. Then, the competition’s preliminary matches commence at 3:30 p.m. in various rooms throughout Schewel Hall. Rounds three and four start at 8:45 a.m. the next day (Monday, February 10), with the final round of competition beginning at 11:20 a.m. in Sydnor Performance Hall. This year’s winner will be announced at 12:30 p.m.

Since its inception in 2000, the Wells Fargo Ethics Bowl has presented more than 150 different cases based on ethical dilemmas in contemporary life. Hollins won the competition in 2014.


Workshops Focus on the Power of Merging Entrepreneurship with the Liberal Arts

Members of the Hollins community recently engaged with an internationally recognized thought leader in entrepreneurial mindset education to refute some of the conventional wisdom about launching a new enterprise.

Gary Schoeniger, founder and CEO of the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative training and consulting firm and co-author of the bestselling book, Who Owns the Ice House? Eight Life Lessons from an Unlikely Entrepreneur, spent two days on campus exploring with faculty and students the role of entrepreneurship in society and how entrepreneurs derive joy and meaning from their work.

“Our overall objective is to dispel the myth that entrepreneurship is solely the pursuit of building businesses,” said Karen Messer-Bourgoin, professor of practice at Hollins and director of the university’s Entrepreneurial Learning Institute. “Combining a traditional liberal arts education with an entrepreneurial mindset can help distinguish Hollins graduates by equipping them with the attitudes and skills the world now demands to help solve the most complex social, political, economic, and environmental challenges of our time.”

During his faculty workshop, Schoeniger identified specific interdisciplinary concepts that help cultivate entrepreneurial thinking and learning not only in the classroom but throughout the university and beyond. “I’ve never thought of entrepreneurship as a business discipline. I’ve always thought of it as a behavioral phenomenon,” Schoeniger explained. “We are all born with an innate drive to become all that we can become. We’re naturally curious, that’s how we figure out our environment. We also are born with an innate desire to solve problems.”

Messer-Bourgoin added, “The goal of the faculty workshop was to stimulate a deeper understanding of the entrepreneurial mindset and promote entrepreneurial teaching and learning in the classroom.”

In his discussion with students, Schoeniger described entrepreneurship as “an altruistic paradox. You want to benefit (personally) but you also want to make an impact (on others). Entrepreneurs aren’t just inventing new products and services. They’re solving problems on the micro and macro levels, from the smallest and most mundane issues to things that change the world.”

Schoeniger encouraged students to go out into their communities, talk to entrepreneurs, and find out “how ordinary people identify, evaluate, and bring an idea to life. I promise, you’re going to hear interesting stories. After you do that 20, 50, 100 times, you’ll hear common language, common logic, and common situational factors, patterns that transcend time, socioeconomics, and gender.”

Those conversations, Schoeniger said, will often lead to the crux of how entrepreneurs achieve success and reach fulfillment: the articulation of a compelling goal, which he calls “something that’s gripped you, something you’re thinking about all the time. Because if you don’t have a compelling goal, you’re never going to get to be who you are. The entrepreneur chooses the life they want to live. They don’t just allow their circumstances to dictate their lives.”

Schoeniger’s message resonated with  Zahin Mahbuba, president of Hollins’ Entrepreneurship Club. “The entrepreneurial mindset is not just a business problem-solving mechanism. It is a lifestyle that transpires change-making in society,” she said.

And, Hollins undergraduates are embracing that mindset. One who attended the student workshop noted, “I want to take social entrepreneurship home to make a difference in my community,” while another remarked, “I always thought that being an entrepreneur meant dealing with profit and coming up with business plans. The key to becoming an entrepreneur is making yourself useful to others.”


Hollins Swimming Earns Fifth Straight Scholar All-America Team Honor

The Hollins University swim team has been selected as a Scholar All-America Team for the Fall 2019 semester by the College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA).

With a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.51, the Green and Gold earned the honor for the fifth straight fall term.

“We are very proud of our swimmers both in the classroom and the pool,” said Ned Skinner, head swim coach. “Each one contributed to this accolade and I am very impressed by the way they take pride in their school work. In addition, two of our student-athletes achieved a 4.0 GPA, which is outstanding.”

The CSCAA named a record 762 programs from 480 institutions to the Scholar All-America Team. The teams were selected on the basis of their fall grade point averages and represent more than 17,000 student-athletes. Over 60 percent of the selections are from women’s programs.

Founded in 1922, the CSCAA is the nation’s first organization of college coaches. Its mission is to advance the sport of swimming and diving with coaches at the epicenter of leadership, advocacy, and professional development.


Hollins Is Awarded Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence for 2020-21

Hollins University is welcoming a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence (S-I-R) next year to further infuse a global perspective into the school’s curriculum.

The Fulbright S-I-R Program, which supports international academic exchange between the United States and more than 160 countries around the world, has approved a joint proposal by Hollins and Virginia Tech to bring an S-I-R to their respective campuses for the 2020-21 academic session. The Scholar will spend 80 percent of their time at Hollins.

Assistant Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies Elizabeth Gleim co-authored the proposal with Gillian Eastwood, assistant professor of entomology at Virginia Tech. They hope the S-I-R will provide an international point of view, especially in the field of infectious disease, to the new undergraduate public health programs launched at both universities this academic year.

“The Fulbright program requires applicants to select two specific countries from a particular continent from which to draw potential candidates for the Scholar position,” Gleim explained. “Gillian and I narrowed our choices to Kenya and South Africa. Africa has so many fascinating disease systems, and in those two countries, scientists are conducting some very interesting research. Also, approaches to and access to healthcare in Africa are different than what students might be familiar with here in the U.S. Because diseases don’t recognize borders or boundaries, it’s important that our public health students have an understanding of these different health care settings around the globe and that they are familiar with disease systems outside of the U.S. regardless of whether one plans to work domestically or internationally.”

In their proposal, Gleim and Eastwood illustrated how the S-I-R would serve their institutions beyond the classroom. “In addition to teaching, we envision this individual sharing their expertise and their culture with our campus communities and our communities at large through guest lectures and other activities, including outreach to local schools,” Gleim said. “At Hollins, we look forward to having the S-I-R become actively involved with our Office of Cultural and Community Engagement (which cultivates diversity and inclusiveness on campus), for example, by becoming involved with our International Student Orientation Program (which prepares students from abroad for living and studying in the United States).” She also hopes that participation in the S-I-R program might create new opportunities for Hollins students to conduct research overseas within the Scholar’s home country.

Gleim noted that their proposal was significantly enhanced by the existence at Hollins of an endowed fund created specifically to bring international faculty members to campus. “Without a doubt, Hollins’ financial support of the Scholar via the Jack and Tifi W. Bierley International Professorship significantly enhanced our proposal.” She added that small liberal arts colleges are among the colleges and universities to whom the S-I-R program gives preference, particularly those who are seeking to grow service to minority populations.

Established in 1946, the Fulbright Program is funded by an annual appropriation from the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Its goal is to increase mutual understanding and support between the people of the United States and other countries while transforming lives, bridging geographic and cultural boundaries, and promoting a more peaceful and prosperous world.



Hollins Once Again Boasts Two Award-Winning Delegations at Model UN

Four Hollins students received honors at the 30th Annual American Model United Nations International Collegiate Conference, held November 23-26 in Chicago.

Hannah Jensen ’20 and Mollie Davis ’22 won Outstanding Delegation for the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, while Emma Jensen Babson ’23 and Bianca Vallebrignoni ’23 were named the Outstanding Delegation for General Assembly Second Committee.

This is the second year in a row Hollins has returned with two award-winning delegations from the conference, which draws over 900 participants each year.

In addition, Salima Driss ’23 and Jaiya McMillan ’23 argued a case before the International Court of Justice.

Katie Grandelli ’20 and Carly Collins ’21, co-presidents of the Model UN/Model Arab League Club at Hollins, spent hours outside of class time preparing students for the conference. Professor of Political Science Ed Lynch and Assistant Professor of Political Science Courtney Chenette serve as faculty sponsors.

Earlier in November, four Hollins students took part in the Capital Area Regional Model Arab League Conference in Washington, DC,  at the request of the sponsoring organization. Three of the students – Hannah Byrum ’20, Mary Elizabeth Cochran ’21, and Maria Jdid ’21 – served as chairs, and Jdid won the award for Outstanding Chair. Grandelli was honored as Best Secretary General for 2019.

Hollins students will attend the National University Model Arab League Conference at Georgetown University in March 2020.


Photo caption: A large delegation of Hollins students traveled to Chicago to take part in the American Model United Nations International Collegiate Conference.

Large Student Delegation Heads to Chicago for Model UN

Seventeen Hollins students, almost twice the average delegation, will travel to Chicago to take part in the 30th Annual American Model United Nations (AMUN) International Collegiate Conference, November 23 – 26.

Representing Mexico, the delegation will include two representatives to the United Nations Security Council and two who will argue a case before the International Court of Justice. Professor of Political Science Edward Lynch and Assistant Professor of Political Science and Gender and Women’s Studies Courtney Chenette will accompany the student delegation.

AMUN is a non-profit, educational organization founded in 1989 to provide students with the highest quality, most professionally run simulation of the United Nations available. AMUN strives to combine educational quality with highly realistic simulations of the United Nations to give students an unparalleled Model UN learning experience.

The conference is the culmination of work the students have been doing since the start of Fall Term. Learning to do rapid-fire research, to write succinctly and persuasively, and to debate according to the rules of parliamentary procedure, are among the important skills students learn through their participation.

Earlier this semester, Hollins hosted the Appalachia Regional Model Arab League conference, where three Hollins students were selected as award winners. Three Hollins students subsequently traveled to Washington to serve as Council Chairs at the Capital Area Regional Model Arab League. Katie Grandelli ’20 served as Secretary-General for both conferences.

Hollins Professor Completes Leadership Program at 2019 HERS Institute

LeeRay Costa, professor of anthropology and gender and women’s studies and director of faculty development at Hollins, has completed the 2019 HERS (Higher Education Resources Services) Institute at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. She joined 64 competitively selected women leaders from across the U.S. and Canada to take part in the intensive, residential leadership development program.

The Institute provides participants with the opportunity to develop their individual leadership strengths to boldly lead change on their campuses and in their roles. They also expand their knowledge of the national higher education landscape to become even stronger assets to their institutions.

The HERS Institute was created in 1976 to proactively fill the higher education pipelines across the United States with dynamic women and combat an undeniable gender gap. Recent research has concluded that women hold less than 40 percent of tenured positions, only 36 percent of full professorships, and just 30 percent of the presidencies at the nation’s colleges and universities. Research has also noted that women only apply for a position if they meet 100% of the qualifications, while men will apply if they only meet 60% of the qualifications. HERS Institute alumnae, which today number more than 6,000, have noted that the program’s unique ability to create a non-competitive space re-energized them around what they could bring to their roles, and helped them develop the confidence needed to lead at their respective institutions.

“I learned critical skills for leadership within the contemporary context of higher education, including how to communicate effectively and engage in difficult conversations, manage and lead change, cultivate talent, create a culture of inclusion, equity, and belonging, navigate leadership transitions, and administer and manage budgets,” Costa said. “I look forward to applying what I learned to my faculty development work at Hollins, including providing workshops and training to support faculty teaching, research, and overall career development. I am also excited to help foster a campus workplace that is inclusive, equitable, diverse, and committed to faculty satisfaction and well-being.”

Each HERS Institute attendee is required to complete a self-designed leadership project for their institution, a personal case study that pursues organizational change on campus. Costa created Hollins’ first faculty development program.

“During its inaugural year, the program will focus primarily on two areas,” Costa explained. “First, inclusivity, equity, and diversity, and second, high impact learning practices. This project supports Hollins’ institutional values and mission. It also engages faculty in innovative and experiential approaches to teaching and learning that will empower Hollins’ students to be effective and inspiring leaders, problem solvers, creators, and change agents.”

Costa has been a member of the Hollins faculty since 2001 and was named director of faculty development in March 2019. Her research, teaching, and community activism focus on social justice and a desire to understand processes of social change. In 2018 she launched the Hollins Contemplative Collective, which seeks to cultivate the holistic well-being of faculty, staff, and students and to integrate into curricular and co-curricular life practices of mindfulness and healing that are embodied, inclusive, and both individually and collectively transformative. A previous recipient of Hollins’ Herta Freitag Faculty Legacy Award and Senior Class Faculty Award, Costa holds a Ph.D. from the University of Hawai’i, Manoa.


New Academic Program in Public Health Focuses on Social Justice

Recognizing the growing interest in and demand for undergraduate education in the field, Hollins University has launched a major and minor in public health.

According to the American Public Health Association, public health “promotes and protects the health of people and the communities where they live, learn, work, and play.” As an interdisciplinary endeavor that teaches students to recognize, assess, and address various issues of health on individual, community, and global levels, the study of public health is “an ideal fit for a liberal arts education,” says Associate Professor of Communication Studies Lori Joseph, who is directing the program at Hollins. “Specifically, what differentiates the public health program at Hollins from similar programs at other colleges and universities will be our emphasis on the principles of social justice while maintaining a scientific basis.”

Joseph explains that in order to grasp the broad social, cultural, and economic elements related to public health, students in the program at Hollins will be required to complete courses from a variety of academic departments. “Students will be encouraged to take classes in each of our four academic divisions, creating a rich educational experience. The interdisciplinary nature of the program allows students to build an integrated approach to health issues by combining sociocultural disciplines with the natural sciences.”

Joseph adds that the program at Hollins will include internships and experiential learning opportunities that enable students to study diverse communities on a macro and micro scale and conduct significant undergraduate research.

Cynthia Morrow, M.D., M.P.H., has been named a visiting professor in the public health program. Currently a member of the teaching faculty at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine in Roanoke, Morrow previously served as Commissioner of Health for Onondaga County, New York, and as Lerner Chair for Public Health Promotion at the Maxwell School, Syracuse University. She is a member of Virginia Tech’s Public Health Advisory Board and the American Public Health Association.

“Dr. Morrow’s passion for public health was shaped by growing up in Africa, Europe, and the United States as well as her distinguished professional experience,” Joseph says. “She brings to Hollins considerable expertise in understanding how individuals, their communities, and their health care systems impact health.”

Historically, careers in public health have required a Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) degree. However, Joseph notes that with the expansion of the public health sector, “students completing an undergraduate degree in public health can be employed in a variety of entry-level positions in both the public and private sectors, such as health educator, community health worker, environmental health specialist, public policy writer, emergency preparedness specialist, and coordinator of health initiatives.” Students may then choose to advance their careers by completing an M.P.H., and Hollins will seek to establish articulation agreements with colleges and universities in Virginia and along the Eastern Seaboard that offer the degree.

Joseph says Hollins has developed an initial curriculum for the public health program that can address behavioral and social science, environmental health, and health promotion and communication.  “Our program is specifically designed with a core that builds a foundation of knowledge in public health and a slate of electives that allows the student to build their own path of specialty study.”

Hollins, North Cross School Collaborate to Enhance Teachers’ Skills

Through a new partnership with Hollins University, teachers from Roanoke’s North Cross School are taking a significant step forward in growing their skills for the benefit of their students, their school, and their careers.

Beginning this fall, North Cross is providing for eight of their faculty members to earn a graduate degree at Hollins as part of their professional development. The teachers will all be working toward completing a Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning (MATL) at the university.

“This collaboration is not only a unique benefit to our faculty, but will strengthen our academic experience for students,” said North Cross Head of School Christian Proctor. “We have faculty from all areas of studies represented in this first group, so, ultimately, we will become more consistent in our academic approach across divisions and disciplines.”

The MATL at Hollins is designed for PreK-12 teachers who want to learn more about the practice of teaching; acquire and develop new knowledge; develop curricula in collaborative teams; and assume leadership roles within a school and/or school system.

“The teachers will be taking two classes each semester,” explained Lorraine Lange, director of the MATL as well as Hollins’ Master of Arts in Teaching and Master of Arts in Liberal Studies programs. “We anticipate their graduation in about two years.”

Students in the coed MATL program must complete six core courses online. Three program electives are also required, and as part of its partnership with North Cross, Hollins is customizing those electives and offering them to the eight teachers through face-to-face instruction. In lieu of a graduate thesis, the North Cross teachers will design an instructional classroom project intended to benefit their students.

“Students in the program have the opportunity to work with accomplished faculty in the areas essential in today’s continually changing landscape of PreK-12 education: writing, inquiry, instructional design, assessment, leadership, technology, and contemporary issues in education,” Lange stated. “Faculty members encourage collaborative efforts and provide opportunities for students, experienced teachers themselves, to learn from one another.”

To learn more about the MATL or the other coed graduate programs at Hollins, email hugrad@hollins.edu or call 540-362-6575.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Publication Helps Launch Career in Marine Biology

In a significant way, Hollins University’s profile in the field of marine biology is about to rise.

Natasha Bestrom ’18, a Horizon alumna who double-majored in biology and environmental studies, is the lead author of a Hollins study on coral populations in the U.S. Virgin Islands that is being finalized for publication in the peer-reviewed journal, Caribbean Naturalist. The journal focuses on biological and ecological research related to terrestrial, freshwater, and marine organisms and environments in the Caribbean region.

“It’s that validation of, ‘You did really good work, it’s relevant, and it’s important to the broader community. It’s something people need to know about,’” Bestrom says.

A native of Greensboro, North Carolina, Bestrom loved the water as a child. Even “without knowing exactly what it meant,” she wanted to be a marine biologist someday. “But going to college right out of high school was very intimidating,” she recalls. She spent the next 11 years after completing her secondary education working as a veterinary technician. “I loved it, but I wanted something more.”

Bestrom was long drawn to the women’s college environment, and when she moved to Roanoke in 2013, she enrolled at Hollins. “I met with the Horizon program, toured the biology department, and walked away immediately saying this is where I wanted to go. It was just that friendliness. I loved how Horizon wasn’t an adult program that was separate from the rest of the community. I could experience a traditional college education and learn from students who were younger than me.”

That experience included opportunities for field research and study abroad. She was intrigued her first year when a fellow Horizon student told her about a research trip Professor of Biology Renee Godard was organizing for the 2014 January Short Term to St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. “I had no idea what it was all about, but I applied and got accepted. It honestly and completely changed everything I thought I wanted to do at Hollins. Initially, I wanted to do some behavioral genetic work, but after that first J-term I said, ‘No. I want to be in the field, I want to be in the water, I want to be exploring marine ecosystems.’ It was so fascinating to me, all the interactions between species and how little we still know about it.”

Bestrom Coral Research
The elkhorn coral population in the U.S. Virgin Islands was the focal point of the Hollins research initiative.

Bestrom participated in the St. John research course each J-term during her Hollins career as well as conducting research for consecutive summers beginning in 2017 with her senior thesis research. “Renee and I were looking at whether the population of elkhorn coral, an endangered species of coral, was increasing,” she explains. “We felt we had seen more colonies over the years but didn’t have any data to back that up.”

In July 2017, Bestrom and Godard collected data at 11 different sites around the island and the initial results were encouraging: The coral density was in fact growing at a number of the sites. “We had what looked like a recovering population of an endangered species.  This was important to the ecosystem since elkhorn coral are major reef-builders and they provide a lot of habitat and protection to coastal regions.”

Then, two Category 5 hurricanes, Irma and Maria, struck St. John that fall. It became imperative to go back to the island in the summer of 2018 to determine how much devastation had occurred. “Certain areas seemed to get hit harder than others and the decreases in population ranged from 25 to 30% in some areas to 75% in others,” Bestrom says. “Overall, the total colony number in the areas we studied fell 44%.”

Yet, Bestrom found some positive news for the elkhorn coral colonies: They took less of a hit than elkhorn populations in other areas of the Caribbean, possibly due to the fact that they are located in a protected national marine park and are more resilient.

Bestrom Research
Natasha Bestrom ’18 conducted research in the U.S. Virgin Islands throughout her Hollins undergraduate career.

Bestrom and Godard then combined the data from these two years of study and pursued publication in Caribbean Naturalist.  Peer review means exposing your work to intense scrutiny, “especially since Hollins isn’t well-known within the marine biology community,” Bestrom says. “You have to find a story within the data, put it into words, and talk about it in a way that people can understand. Where did your data lead? What does it mean within the general context of the other science that’s out there already? How is it relevant to what we’re dealing with now in society and the issue of climate change?”

Bestrom credits the spirit of collaboration she’s enjoyed in the biology and environmental studies departments at Hollins for bolstering her skills in research and analysis. “Learning from one another is a constant. Renee and I have obviously been working together for a long time and have a great rapport, but we have also benefited from the other faculty in the program.  It’s great to be in a place where people aren’t afraid to say, ‘I don’t know, but let’s ask someone who may know and try figuring out this problem by moving through different avenues.’ Being able to say, ‘I don’t know’ and ‘I wonder’ – that’s science. That’s what it’s really all about, and that’s what a publication is all about. It’s not about just getting my name out there. It’s about getting the information out there so maybe we can be more effective in conserving this species. That’s the most exciting part.”

With the coral research on St. John and its pending publication, along with a semester of studying tropical island biodiversity in Panama through the School for Field Studies in the spring of 2018, Bestrom has built an impressive experiential record. Currently, she is exploring graduate school programs, particularly those focused in marine biology at either a Master’s or  Ph.D. level.  “I’m trying to figure out what direction I want to take with a career in marine biology. I would love to be in the field doing research, but I’m also looking at teaching at the college level. That would allow me to share my passion for the ecosystem while continuing to conduct studies.”

If a teaching career becomes her vocation, there’s no doubt Bestrom’s Hollins experience will inform it. “To come to a place where the focus is so much on the student and making sure they get everything out of their education here…it made a world of difference for me. I don’t think I would have been able to find that elsewhere, and I can’t imagine going to any other university.”