WSLS-TV Names Hollins Professor Ed Lynch Political Analyst

Hollins Professor of Political Science Ed Lynch is often tasked with explaining what the politicians are up to in an election year more confusing than most. Now, WSLS-TV 10, the NBC affiliate for Roanoke and southwestern Virginia, has assigned Lynch the job of official political analyst for its news broadcasts.

Lynch is no stranger to media events. Since his time on Capitol Hill in the 1980s, he has done thousands of interviews on television and radio and for the print media. Since moving to Roanoke, Lynch has become an invaluable source to area journalists, combining his real-life experience in the world of politics with his academic background, coupled with an unusually strong ability to explain complex matters in short sound bites.

Earlier this year, conversations with WSLS News Director Rick Moll and anchor John Carlin led to an arrangement in which Lynch provides political analysis exclusively for the station. He has provided commentary on the primary season, the many debates among the candidates, and the political conventions this summer. Along the way, he has seen the unexpected rise of Donald Trump, the surprisingly persistent campaign of Bernie Sanders, and the embrace of political activism by millions of new voters.

Moll gives Lynch high marks for his clarity and even-handedness. Viewers of WSLS have also reacted positively.

“The political process can be confusing for many, especially during a Presidential cycle like we have right now,” Moll said. “It’s our job in the media to break down the issues. We need to make sense of what’s happening and more importantly, how these issues impact our viewers. That’s where Ed Lynch comes in. We want to utilize his experience and background to take a hard look at local politics as well as what’s happening on the national scene. He has the ability to simplify the key issues and get to the root of what’s being discussed. We’re extremely happy to have him on our team.”

The repeated exposure on Roanoke television has made Lynch one of the most recognizable figures in the Roanoke Valley, and one of the most prominent public “faces” of Hollins University. Lynch said that he is often stopped by complete strangers, who compliment his analysis and ask questions. “I appreciate being asked my opinion,” Lynch said, “I just wish I had nicer things to say about the current campaign!”

This fall, Lynch will bring his expertise to the First Year Seminar program, teaching a class called “How to Be a President.” He rejects the notion that the shrill tone and personal attacks of the 2016 campaign are in any way unique or extreme. “Negative campaigning, including vicious personal attacks, goes back to the rivalry between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson,” he said, “and those were the first contested elections in American history.”

He added, “I feel the pain of those students dismayed at having to cast their first vote for president during a year when both candidates have such high negatives. My first time, I had to choose between Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter!”

With the Virginia gubernatorial race set to kick off the moment the presidential race is decided, Lynch does not believe that his relationship with WSLS will end any time soon.


U.S. News: Hollins Boasts One of the Nation’s Lowest Student-Faculty Ratios

Hollins University is among the 21 liberal arts colleges in America with the lowest student-faculty ratios, according to U.S. News and World Report.

Hollins has eight students for each faculty member.

“Attending a college with a low student-to-faculty ratio can mean more personalized attention for students,” explained Jordan Friedman of U.S. News. “Prospective students looking to learn in a tight-knit classroom environment may want to consider U.S. liberal arts colleges instead of larger universities.”

U.S. News determined the top 21 schools based on data provided by the 222 National Liberal Arts Colleges ranked by the publication. “Student-faculty ratio is among the many factors U.S. News considers when ranking the Best Colleges,” Friedman said.

Joining Hollins in the top 21 are such prestigious institutions as Wellesley College, Williams College, Amherst College, Bryn Mawr College, Claremont McKenna College, Pomona College, Swathmore College, and Vassar College. The other Virginia schools on the list are the University of Richmond and Washington and Lee University.


Professor to Join Panel Discussion with Feminist Scholar, Cultural Critic bell hooks

LeeRay Costa, John P. Wheeler Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and Anthropology at Hollins University, is among the scholars and practitioners who will be in dialogue with noted author and social activist bell hooks this week at Wisconsin’s St. Norbert College.

As part of the Cassandra Voss Center bell hooks Residency, Costa will participate in the panel discussion, “Becoming Mindful: Practices for Education & Life,” on Thursday, April 21. The conversation will inform the First-Year Seminar course Costa is teaching this fall at Hollins entitled, “bell hooks: rage, love, and creating beloved community.”

Honored as a leading public intellectual by The Atlantic Monthly and one of Utne Reader’s “100 Visionaries Who Could Change Your Life,” hooks has written nearly 40 books, including Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism, which was named one of the “20 Most Influential Women’s Books of the Last 20 Years” by Publishers Weekly. Her scholarship has impacted multiple disciplines internationally, from sociology to religious studies to media communication. She is currently the Distinguished Professor in Residence in Appalachian Studies at Berea College.


Taubman’s Monster Art Rally Features Hollins Professor

Associate Professor of Art Jennifer Anderson is among the more than 30 local artists who will be making original works of art on-site during the Second Annual Monster Art Rally at Roanoke’s Taubman Museum of Art. The event takes place on Thursday, April 21, from 5 – 9 p.m.

The general public is invited to observe the artists’ creative processes and then participate in a “Luck-of-the-Draw” auction in which each piece goes to the bidder with the highest drawn card for the flat price of $50.

“Our aim is to persuade people in Southwest Virginia to think of themselves as art patrons,” said Stephanie Fallon ’08, M.F.A. ’12, adult education manager at the Taubman. “By holding an auction where the art goes not to the highest bidder but to the highest card drawn, we can keep an affordable price for each piece so that people who might ordinarily find an art auction too intimidating will feel encouraged to attend. Once bitten by the art-buying bug, we hope attendees will feel excited about connecting with and supporting local artists in our region.”

Anderson has been a member of the Hollins faculty since 2010 and was selected by the financial literacy website Nerd Scholar for its inaugural list of “40 Under 40: Professors Who Inspire.” Earlier this year, Hollins presented her with the Herta Freitag Faculty Legacy Award for her scholarly and creative accomplishments. Anderson’s art has been exhibited in venues across the United States as well as in Russia and South Korea, and was recently chosen for inclusion in the book Printmakers Today.

In addition to earning her M.F.A. from the University of Georgia, Anderson was an East Tennessee State University (ETSU) Honors College graduate. This month ETSU is welcoming her back to campus to serve as guest speaker at the university’s annual Academic Excellence Convocation.

 


Hollins Professor’s New Novel Garners Considerable Attention

The author of one of the country’s most-talked-about new novels also happens to be a member of the Hollins University faculty.

Associate Professor of English Elizabeth Poliner’s As Close to Us as Breathing (Lee Boudreaux Books) has been named an Amazon Best Book for March 2016 and is one of four new releases this month that W magazine calls “must reads.”  Reviews have also been published or are forthcoming in The New York Times as well on NPR.org and in People, Good Housekeeping, and Washingtonian magazines.

As Close to Us as Breathing is the story of a close-knit Jewish family that strives to cope following a tragedy that occurs while summering at the Connecticut shore in 1948. Publishers Weekly calls the book “an exquisitely written investigation of grief and atonement, and an elegy for a Jewish family bound together by tradition and tribe.” Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edward P. Jones says, “Vivid, complex, and beautifully written, [it] brims with characters who leave an indelible impression on the mind and heart. This moving story of the way one unforgettable family struggles with love and loss shows an uncommon depth of human understanding. Elizabeth Poliner is a wonderful talent and she should be read widely, and again and again.”

In conjunction with the novel’s publication, Poliner will be appearing at the following bookstores during March and April:

Tuesday, March 15: Newtonville Books, Newton, MA, 7 p.m.

Thursday, March 17: RJ Julia Bookstore, Madison, CT, 7 p.m.

Saturday, March 19: Politics & Prose, Washington, DC, 6 p.m.

Sunday, March 20: Book Court, Brooklyn, NY, 4 p.m.

Tuesday, March 22: Longfellow Books, Portland, ME, 7 p.m.

Saturday, April 9: Op. Cit Books, Taos, NM


Hollins Writers Make National Book Awards Shortlists

Two Hollins authors are among the twenty finalists for one of the nation’s most prestigious literary prizes, the National Book Awards.

Five finalists each in the Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature categories were announced on October 14.

Karen E. Bender, who joined the Hollins faculty this fall as the university’s Distinguished Visiting Professor of Creative Writing, is a first-time finalist in the Fiction category for her short-story collection, Refund. She is the author of the novels Like Normal People and A Town of Empty Rooms, and her fiction has appeared in The New Yorker and other magazines. She has previously won two Pushcart Prizes.

“The tales told in Karen Bender’s Refund, a collection of stories that centers on money and family, are exquisitely composed portraits of modern life, and chances are you will encounter characters that remind you a little or a lot of yourself,” said the Chicago Tribune. “That’s the brilliance of Bender’s storytelling….[her] ability to transform observations of life into uncomfortably realistic stories cannot be denied.” 

Hollins alumna and world-renowned photographer Sally Mann is on the shortlist in the Nonfiction category for her memoir, Hold Still. She has previously received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Guggenheim Foundation, and her photographs are held by major institutions internationally.

The New York Times called Hold Still “uncommonly beautiful” while The Atlantic described the bestseller as “gorgeously written and convincing.”

Mann’s many books include Second Sight (1983), At Twelve (1988), Immediate Family (1992), Still Time (1994), What Remains (2003), Deep South (2005), Proud Flesh (2009), and The Flesh and the Spirit (2010).

The National Book Awards will honor this year’s winners at a ceremony in New York City on November 18. Each recipient will be given a bronze sculpture and a $10,000 cash prize.

 


Mellon Grant to Support Innovative Faculty Development Program

Hollins University has received a $100,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to invest in a 30-month pilot project entitled “Faculty Development to Advance Liberal Arts Education in the 21st Century.”

The project will commence on January 1, 2016, and is scheduled to be completed by June 30, 2018.

“This grant will enable Hollins to design a new faculty development program to address many of the challenges that our faculty face with current students, particularly in teaching critical thinking and writing,” Hollins President Nancy Gray explained. “The program will help Hollins faculty identify factors that interfere with student learning and critical thinking; develop new strategies to implement a ‘whole learner’ approach to education and strengthen students’ proficiency in critical writing; and use this knowledge to revise existing academic courses to better meet the needs of today’s students.”

Vice President for Academic Affairs Patricia Hammer will serve as the project’s principal investigator. She said that initial activities “will include identifying experts who will provide training for Hollins faculty during the 2016-17 academic year, and selecting 18 Mellon Fellows to participate in the new faculty development program during its inaugural year. With 18 Fellows to be selected each of two academic years, a total of at least 36 existing courses will be revised.”

Hammer is confident the project “will position Hollins to take a new approach to liberal arts education in the 21st century and demonstrate the enduring value of a liberal education.”

Gray added, “The proposed project will also provide a model for faculty development that can be replicated at other institutions.”

ABOUT THE ANDREW W. MELLON FOUNDATION

Founded in 1969, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation endeavors to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies by supporting exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work.


Director of Hollins Outdoor Program Joins Coastal Canoeists Board of Directors

Jon Guy Owens, director of the Hollins Outdoor Program, has been elected to the Board of Directors for Coastal Canoeists, Virginia’s largest canoeing and kayaking club.

“I am excited to work with Coastal Canoeists to help grow their presence in southwest Virginia and increase involvement with college and university groups,” Owens said. “Most of all, I hope to take advantage of the club’s great emphasis on camaraderie and sense of unity to open up paddling options to Hollins students.”

Based in Richmond and family oriented, Coastal Canoeists has members of all skill and age levels from across Virginia and the United States who share a passion for water sports and a love for the outdoors. The club encourages environmental responsibility to keep Virginia’s and America’s rivers clean.

 


Political Science Professor Selected as Oman Alwaleed Fellow

Hollins University Professor of Political Science Ed Lynch has been named an Oman Alwaleed Fellow for 2015-16 by the National Council on U.S. – Arab Relations (NCUSAR).

The fellowship includes a study visit to the Middle Eastern nation of Oman in August.

The fellowship is highly competitive; only eight college professors are selected each year nationwide. After visiting Oman, fellows will spend the year implementing a variety of programs, events, and outreach efforts in their home communities. These programs will permit Alwaleed Fellows to share their knowledge of Oman and familiarize Americans with this strategically important country.

“The nation of Oman lies directly across the Strait of Hormuz from Iran, and most oil tankers that enter and exit that waterway do so through Omani territory,” Lynch said. “Given Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the volatility of the world oil market, knowing more about the role of the Gulf States, and Oman in particular, is vitally important.

“Most Omanis are fairly knowledgeable about the United States, but most Americans know almost nothing about Oman. I hope my efforts will address that imbalance.”

Lynch expressed his optimism that his fellowship is the start of an ongoing relationship with NCUSAR’s student programs, which include dozens of Model Arab League conferences around the country. Hollins will host the 2015 Appalachia Regional Model Arab League Conference in November.

“We are proud of Ed’s fellowship, and happy that Model Arab League will be coming to Hollins,” said Hollins President Nancy Gray, noting that Hollins students have been active participants in Model United Nations for years.

Lynch chairs the political science department at Hollins, and is a former Academic Fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. He has previously traveled to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Chile, Denmark, Israel, and the People’s Republic of China as part of official delegations.