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“Inquisitive minds, spirit, spunk, and love”

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Hollins Hollins Magazine Vol. 69, No. 1 July - September 2018 GUEST EDITOR Jean Holzinger M.A.L.S. ’11 ADVISORY BOARD President Pareena Lawrence; Vice President for External Relations Suzy Mink ’74; Director of Alumnae Relations Lauren Sells Walker ’04; Director of Public Relations Jeff Hodges M.A.L.S. ’11 CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Ann Atkins Hackworth ’82, M.A.L.S. ’95; Mary Ann Harvey Johnson ’67, M.A. ’71; Lucy Lee M.A.L.S. ’85, C.A.S. ’03; Linda Martin; Brenda McDaniel HON ’12; Sharon Meador; Kathy Rucker

Content s 2

President Pareena Lawrence, reflecting on her first 12 months in office, believes Hollins has never been more prepared to face the uncertainties of higher education and the world at large.


Reunion 2018: “Inquisitive minds, spirit, spunk, and love”


French Connections This story, told during a reunion event by Jenine Culligan, Marilyn Moriarty, and Beth Harris, is the stuff of adventure movies. Among the cast of characters are two war heroes: One was blinded at a young age and still fought in the French Resistance and survived the horrors of Buchenwald; the other was a significant 20th-century artist. And they are both connected in interesting ways to Hollins.


PRINTER Progress Printing, Lynchburg, VA Hollins (USPS 247/440) is published quarterly by Hollins University, Roanoke, VA 24020. Entered as Periodicals Postage Paid at Roanoke, VA. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Hollins, Hollins University, Box 9688, Roanoke, VA 24020 or call (800) TINKER1. The articles and class letters in Hollins do not necessarily represent the official policies of Hollins University, nor are they always the opinions of the editor. Hollins University does not discriminate in admission because of race, color, religion, age, disability, genetic information, national or ethnic origin, veteran status, or sexual orientation and maintains a nondiscriminatory policy throughout its operation. For more information, contact the director of human resources/Title IX coordinator, (540) 362-6660 or Questions, comments, corrections, or story ideas may be sent to: Magazine Editor Hollins University Box 9657 Roanoke, VA 24020


Visit the online version of Hollins magazine at

Photo on cover: Michael Sink

The Quest for Historical Justice Hosting the Universities Studying Slavery conference last spring symbolizes Hollins’ efforts to come to terms with its own connection with enslavement. By Jeff Hodges M.A.L.S. ’11

CLASS LETTERS EDITORS Olivia Body ’08 and Samantha Hoover DESIGNERS Sarah Sprigings, David Hodge Anstey Hodge Advertising Group, Roanoke, VA

Forward. Together.


What Makes Ticks Tick? Hollins researchers partnered this summer with Old Dominion University and the University of Richmond to better understand these parasites and how they spread Lyme disease. By Jeff Hodges M.A.L.S. ’11


The Way Life Is Lived In her new memoir, Mary Carter Bishop M.A. ’89 brings to light a family secret and explores the pressures—cultural, religious, and economic—that kept it hidden so long. By Martha Park M.F.A. ’15


From Leading the Classroom to Leading the School Emily Sullivan DoBell ’06 and Martha López Coleman ’01 took different paths, but each is now a school principal. By Beth JoJack ’98


Early Birders Participants in this year’s reunion bird walk were rewarded with the sights and sounds of several of the species that make their home on campus. By Jean Holzinger M.A.L.S. ’11

D E P A R T M E N T S 3

In the Loop, with tributes to two retirees: Professor of Chemistry Sandra Boatman and Director of Riding Nancy Peterson


Alumnae Connections


Focus on Philanthropy


Class Letters, with a profile of Kacee Eddinger ’14



Forward. Together.


ast year, at the end of my first six weeks as Hollins University’s 12th president, I shared an update with our Board of Trustees on the experiences I had already enjoyed during my brief time in office. Among other things, I assured them that I had settled in nicely at Lorimer House, my new home. I proudly proclaimed, “I have figured out 80 percent of the light switches!” But I also admitted, “I am not sure what the other 20 percent actually do.” As I celebrate my one-year anniversary as your president, I look back on the past 12 months and realize that my continuing adventure with those switches may be an apt metaphor for leading an institution of higher learning: You can anticipate and effectively lead, plan, and manage what’s going to happen day to day and in the future about 80 percent of the time, but be prepared for the inevitable 20 percent of your tenure when you must deal with those unexpected events for which you never planned. Fortunately, I’ve learned this year that Hollins offers a strong foundation to handle life’s surprises: • Our faculty and staff deeply believe in our mission, possess a desire for relationship building, and are dedicated to the well-being and success of our undergraduate and graduate students. • My introductions over the past year to alumnae and supporters throughout the country confirm a strong commitment to Hollins, the importance of its place in women’s education, and the 2 Hollins

President Lawrence, reflecting on her first 12 months in office, believes Hollins has never been better prepared to face the uncertainties of higher education and the world at large. role Hollins plays in developing students poised to change the world, locally and globally. • Through interaction with the local community leaders who compose my President’s Advisory Council, I know there is keen interest in bolstering our ties with the Roanoke region. I look forward to the council’s engagement in our strategic planning process. Further, I cherish the tremendous inspiration I receive from our students. Their passion for learning and love for this institution never cease to impress. To me, the power of a liberal arts education to prepare our students to live lives of consequence is apparent in what we see already from members of the class of 2018: • Roshaye Graham, a biology major, is a student at the American University of Antigua College of Medicine. She plans to become an OB-GYN and open a maternal health education center in her home country of Jamaica. • Emili McPhail, a communication studies major who raised her voice on behalf of the 40 million Americans who face persistent hunger, was crowned Miss Virginia 2018, marking the second year in a row a Hollins alumna has won the scholarship competition. • Whitney McWilliams, a gender and women’s studies major and social justice minor, has joined Day One, a New York City nonprofit serving young people who have suffered from dating abuse and domestic violence. • Kaitlin Gott, a biology major and chemistry minor whose passion for

animal health and ecology led her to study in the rainforests of Peru through Hollins Abroad, is continuing her studies at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. In short, Hollins did what Hollins does: we unleashed another generation of passionate, purposeful young women upon an unsuspecting world. Their superpowers include an unconventional tendency to listen before they judge, a willingness to listen to the many whose voices often go unheard, and the impulse to act for the common good. Our pride in them, and in you, knows no bounds. Our students worked with me and the campus community in the fall to articulate our community values and commit ourselves to them. We would listen openly; be kind and respectful; celebrate the riches offered by the diversity of people, experiences, and ideas; be intentional and accountable; and act with integrity. In 2015, T. Gregory Dewey, president of Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Science, described his first year in office as “a voyage of discovery.” I wholeheartedly agree. I have discovered some things about myself, much about the health of the Hollins community, and even a bit about the wiring in my own home. I approach my second year with great confidence in our mission and the people who embody it and with joyful curiosity. I would be honored if you would join me for the journey and share your own discoveries with us. Perhaps with your help I’ll finally learn what those two cobwebby switches in the basement actually do.


Loop “Working for a more inclusive society” Jennifer Barton Boysko ’89 delivers commencement address irginia House of Delegates member Jennifer Barton Boysko ’89 welcomed the class of 2018 to “the ranks of the strong, barrier-breaking women who have come before you” during the 176th commencement exercises on May 20. Reflecting on “what’s different between the time that I sat in your place 29 years ago and today,” Boysko noted that “most of my classmates were not as politically active or deeply civically engaged [as you are]. We realized society wasn’t perfect in 1989, but there wasn’t [the same] sense of urgency. We all have to acknowledge that in today’s society, we cannot afford not to be engaged. During the time that you’ve been here at Hollins, we’ve seen a number of movements spark real political engagement, specifically around racial and social justice issues. You have taken a stand on many of them, making sure that we are working for a more inclusive society.”

Sharon Meador



This self-portrait by art major Brittany Lewis ’18 was part of the senior exhibition displayed in the Wilson Museum in May. It was one in a series she created using grisaille painting, a centuries-old technique that emphasizes shades of gray and creates the semblance of sculpture. Lewis said that she only started realistic painting her senior year.


To read more about Lewis and her work, visit

Emili McPhail ’18 was crowned Miss Virginia in June. She is the second alumna in two years to win the title. McPhail succeeds Cecili Weber ’17, who reigned as Miss Virginia 2017. “Ending Hunger in the U.S.” was the communication studies major’s platform.

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Loop STEM students benefit from NYU summer internships Pilot program preps students for postgraduate success


our rising seniors who intend to pursue careers in STEM fields got the chance this summer to intern at one of the nation’s foremost academic medical centers. Biology majors Ya Gao and Assma Shabab and chemistry majors Veronica Able-Thomas and Rania Asif spent eight weeks in June and July working at the NYU Langone Medical Center in Manhattan. “Growing numbers of Hollins students are interested in STEM fields,” said Karen Cardozo, Hollins’ executive director of career development. To help STEM students become more competitive candidates for postgraduate education, she called upon her brother, Timothy J. Cardozo, who is an associate professor in the department of biochemistry and molecular pharmacology at NYU Langone.

“Tim generously agreed to open a special Hollins pipeline to his lab at NYU for a pilot program this summer,” Karen Cardozo explained. “As an interdisciplinary researcher with dual degrees, he’s an especially flexible mentor, able to support students with a wide variety of interests.” The internship program furthers Timothy Cardozo’s relationship with Hollins. Last April, he participated in a “PreMed Plus” panel at the university, joining alumnae and others who hold a variety of roles in a range of health care fields. He also provided informal mentoring to students especially interested in the M.D. and/or Ph.D. tracks. Karen Cardozo also praised “the incredible generosity of Hollins alumnae, some of whom stepped up immediately as donors when the opportunity arose to place these students at NYU.”

Left to right: Rania Asif, Ya Gao, Timothy Cardozo, Veronica Able-Thomas (seated), and Assma Shabab


New hires in chemistry and mathematics



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orn and raised in Vietnam, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Son Hong Nguyen moved to the United States in 2004. After receiving a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Tufts in 2015, he did postdoctoral research in biochemistry at the University of MassachusettsWorcester. Among his research interests is the design and development of probes for the detection of cysteinecontaining proteins.



tephen R. Wassell, associate professor of mathematics, received a B.S. in architecture in 1984, a Ph.D. in mathematics in 1990, and an M.C.S. in computer science in 1999, all from the University of Virginia. He has been a professor for more than 25 years, mostly at Sweet Briar College but also at the University of Virginia, Randolph-Macon College, and, most recently, the American University of Malta. His primary research focus is on the relationships between architecture and mathematics, which means he explores the mathematics of beauty. He has published many articles and has co-authored three books.

Michael Falco



Sandra Boatman: 50 Years of Hollins Science W

LAUREN CHIN ’17, ST. GEORGE’S UNIVERSITY MEDICAL SCHOOL, CLASS OF 2023 A fond memory I have of Professor Boatman was turning the corner into her office with a chemistry experiment in hand that had a different result than what we had predicted. She responded with, “Oh, that is interesting,” along with a change to the experiment, meaning that I would be in the lab for hours on end and into the weekend. Many times Professor Boatman would walk into the organic chemistry lab when I was decked out with gloves, full lab coat, and goggles on top of my glasses and proceed to tell me how ridiculous I looked, which I did. But at the end of the day she was always there when I needed her. Professor Boatman has inspired so many women in science. She provided us with the confidence to speak up when we were right and corrected us when we were wrong. She taught me valuable lessons beyond chemistry, about life and about myself. I will be forever grateful for her guidance.

BANSI KALRA, PROFESSOR OF CHEMISTRY It’s a privilege to have known Sandy for more than three decades. She has been dedicated to her students, to Hollins, and to women’s education. She believes strongly that the best way of educating students in chemistry is to get them involved in laboratory research and has mentored a large number of them—from first years to seniors. Sandy’s love for knowledge is boundless. She was trained as an organic chemist, but she learned and carried out research in virology, has learned and been teaching biochemistry for a long time, and would learn and teach a subject if any student(s) needed to take it. Her compassion and genuine concern for students have made her one of the most respected and loved professors, and her honesty, support, and straightforwardness have made her a dear friend to me.

ELLEN GEORGE SMITH ’80, RETIRED FAMILY PHYSICIAN Professor Boatman was my first chemistry professor at Hollins. Initially I did not know I would major in chemistry, but I quickly realized that chemistry was both fascinating and challenging. Professor Boatman is wise and learned, but equally important, she took complex issues and walked students through them to enable us to learn and reach our goals. Her encouragement of me to present our research at a conference was valuable and confidence building. I am certain that I would not have been as good a family doctor and medical teacher without her guidance and mentoring.

Sharon Meador

hen Professor of Chemistry Sandra “Sandy” Boatman interviewed for the chemistry job at Hollins in 1967, she was struck by the liveliness of the students she spoke with. “They enjoyed each other and seemed to have a lot of fun. That made the other places where I interviewed seem relatively dull,” she says. She was also impressed by the “emphasis [at Hollins] on undergraduate research.” Through her own hands-on approach to teaching and her support of the annual Science Seminar, now in its 61st year, Boatman has throughout her teaching career been a booster of serious research among science students. The following tributes, written on the occasion of Boatman’s retirement in June, speak not only to her dedication to teaching and research but also to her impact as a mentor and friend.


DAN DERRINGER, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF CHEMISTRY AND CHAIR When I came to Hollins, more than 25 years ago, Sandy had already been here for about a quarter of a century. With that many years behind her, it was easy for her to be the kind of person she was for me. At the gathering during the spring semester to celebrate her years at Hollins, I told her that I had never properly thanked her for her able mentorship over the years and that I would be remiss if I did not do so that day. Sandy had a huge hand in my success as an instructor. Over the years, and largely by her example, she taught me how to think with greater clarity, to speak with greater eloquence, and to write with greater persuasiveness. Read about the Sandra Boatman scholarship challenge on page 9.


To read longer versions of these tributes, visit

Summer 2018 5



Nancy Peterson: “A Hollins Icon” B

PETERSON’S HISTORY WITH HOLLINS My love for Hollins started at a very early age, as I grew up right across the road. After school each day I would ride my horse over to Hollins and ride with the Hollins riders. After graduating from Roanoke College, I became Guy “Red” Burkholder’s assistant, stayed in that position, and grew as a teacher, rider, and an individual. In those years, being a professional horsewoman was not exactly what my parents had in mind for their daughter, but with determination and grit I made it work.

PETERSON ON HER STUDENTS The joy of this job is the students themselves. Seeing them grow from (sometimes) struggling first-year students to confident, well-rounded adults at graduation is a reward. In this business you educate just as much as other faculty, but it’s a different type of progression. I consider [riding] a complement to their complete education, whether the student is a new rider or an accomplished rider who enters the gates as a wonderful junior rider and leaves ready to become a professional horsewoman.

ADA HUBBARD COSBY ’81 Nancy Peterson is a Hollins icon. Those of us who were lucky enough to ride with her left not only better equestrians, but also better people. She guided us with unwavering devotion and commitment. For many of us, our equestrian lives had consisted of competing in an individual sport. At Hollins under Nancy we became members of a team, which she led with exceptional horsemanship, humor, and honor. She expected our best and brought it out of us while understanding and managing college girls who often made decisions based on impulse rather than thoughtful consideration. PAULA P. BROWNLEE, FORMER HOLLINS PRESIDENT (1981-1990) When I arrived at Hollins in the summer of 1981, the old barn with its small riding ring had burned down the year before. I soon met the then-riding instructor, sunny and cheerful and immensely knowledgeable, filling me in on the program and its physical needs. She was passionate about her students and horses and about building a community out of the riding students and staff. To this day, whenever I get back to campus, I always visit the barn, hoping so much to see Nancy—and her great colleagues, Liz [Courter] and Elise [Roschen], whom I have known for so long. Nancy Peterson leaves a long-lasting legacy fully in keeping with Hollins’ highest aspirations. 6 Hollins

Sharon Meador

efore her retirement in June, Nancy Peterson spent 46 years with the riding program, many of them as director. During her tenure, Hollins riders earned 19 individual IHSA national championships, two team national championships, and four Fitch Trophy/Cacchione Cup Individual National High Point Rider championships. Teams qualified 12 times for IHSA Nationals, and won the Old Dominion Athletic Conference championship 20 times. Peterson herself won the ODAC Coach of the Year honor five times. The Virginia Horse Shows Association named her 2004 Horseperson of the Year. In 2012, she was named to the association’s Hall of Fame. In 2016, she received the J. Arthur Reynolds Sportsmanship Award. What follows are some of Peterson’s own reflections on her long career, along with accolades from others who learned from her or worked with her.

ELIZABETH “LIZ” BROWNLEE KOLMSTETTER ’85 You know Hollins Magic—that unique combination of people, place, dedication, excellence, learning, support, and passion. The Hollins riding program reflects the very essence of Hollins Magic, and to me—and hundreds of you—it is because of Nancy Peterson. I wasn’t a national champion, and I never advanced beyond intermediate showing. But in 1983, I won “Schooling Hunter Division Champion” while riding my beloved Hollins horse, Holy Smoke. I felt the way Olympians must feel when they win the gold—and there was Nancy, jumping up and down waiting for me as I rode out of the ring with her big smile and her “I knew you could do it—great job, Liz!” That glorious long ribbon is in my home office as one of many reminders of my Hollins Magic.


Read longer versions of these tributes at www.hollins/edu/magazine.


Connections President Lawrence continued her travels last spring with visits to alumnae events in Charlottesville and Richmond. 1


1. Lorrie Hannan Smith ’92 with hostess Barbara Beaman Sieg ’65 2. Vesta Gordon ’64 and Joyce Galbraith Colony ’50 with President Lawrence




1. Tiffany Anne Brown ’10, Sarah McCaig ’07, and Kimmie Lockett ’10 2. Hosts Ted Price and Carol Bayne Price ’66 with President Lawrence 3. Aerica Bruce ’11 and Hannah Irvin ’12 4. Marcail Moran Waskom ’02, Savon Shelton Sampson ’04, Carey Wodehouse ’03, Meika Downey ’17, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Harris Oglesby ’03




5. Richmond chapter cochairs Ashlee Kneip Ligon ’06 and Lorrie Noggle ’06 with Director of Alumnae Relations Lauren Sells Walker ’04 and hostess Carol Bayne Price ’66 6. Temple Forsberg Martin ’58, President Lawrence, Elizabeth “Buffy” Seydel Morgan ’60

Summer 2018 7


Philanthropy Donor Spotlight

Suzanne McCormick Taylor ’64: “How to live a purposeful life”


ur lives unfold in phases over which we have little control. If we are fortunate—and I am surely that—we are blessed with people, experiences, challenges, and trials that make us more loving human beings. Learning who we are is an endless process. In the last third of my life there is so much left to do. When he was a bit older than I am now, my father told me that he had “figured it out.” When I asked him to explain, he said, “You do the most that you can, the best that you can, for as many as you can, for as long as you can. That is it.” That is how he taught me to live a purposeful life. The other huge lesson Papa hammered into my head and heart happened when I was about to graduate from Hollins in 1964. He reminded me that I was a truly blessed individual and therefore would “owe” in this life. He explained that I was born to two parents who wanted and loved each other and me, that I had good health, intelligence, and creative abilities. Therefore, I would be obligated always to give back.

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I asked him how I would do that. He said, “At least four years in the classroom in appreciation for those four years at Hollins,” which included 1962 at the Sorbonne in Paris. With this encouragement, I became a teacher and spent many years at that before morphing into a professional fundraiser. My husband, Bob, and I raised four sons. Giving back to Hollins has come naturally. My gift from my IRA will be the last of many gifts made to my beloved alma mater. I encourage you to make your own gifts and to remember that Hollins is an everchanging, dynamic place that educates women to be their best selves and to make a difference in the workplace, community, at home, in the studio, or wherever we find ourselves. Levavi Oculos.


1907 Scholarship awarded for the first time Funded by ADA, scholarship has school spirit component


he 1907 Scholarship was funded in the fall of 2017 by a group of ADA alumnae and is awarded annually to a rising second-year undergraduate student. The recipient of the award, which references the year in which ADA was founded, must demonstrate exceptional leadership, character, and initiative in school affairs. Because the scholarship is funded by ADA, a group known for its school spirit and frivolity, the application process requires students to submit interpretations of their school spirit.

The scholarship’s first recipient is Tori Carter ’21, a native of Halifax County, Virginia, who learned about Hollins when she was in elementary school. One of her cousins was applying to Hollins at the time. When Carter was old enough to begin her own college search, she knew she only wanted to go to Hollins. The 1907 Scholarship allowed her to continue exploring her interests, open doors, increase access, and branch out. She plans to major in creative writing, and after graduation wishes to continue her experimentation with writing in a graduate program.




Sandra Boatman scholarship challenge Honors retiring chemistry professor


n anonymous alumna has pledged to match dollar for dollar up to $250,000 to fund a full scholarship ($500,000) in honor of Sandra Boatman, professor of chemistry. Boatman retired in June after 51 years of teaching excellence (see tribute on page 5). As of July 1, $100,000 had been pledged to the challenge, which means to date a total of $200,000 (with the match) has been committed. If you are interested in making a gift or pledge, please contact Suzy Mink, vice president for external relations, at

New student village project moves ahead Gifts received to date toward $10 million goal


Sharon Meador

lanning and preparing the site for the new student apartment village continues at a strong pace. Demolition of the East Campus Drive houses took place in July to make way for the construction of 10 apartment buildings designed to house 96 students. The cost of the project is $10 million. To date, Hollins has received the gift of a full house, the village green, several bedrooms, porches, and common rooms. The following opportunities are available:

Suzy Mink ’74 has been named vice president for external relations, a position she has committed to for the next two years. Mink will concentrate on setting the strategic direction of the Office of Institutional Advancement and on external advancement efforts on behalf of the university.








$ 50,000


$ 35,000


$ 25,000

For more information, please contact Suzy Mink, vice president for external relations, at or (202) 309-1750.

Summer 2018 9


Philanthropy Reunion 2018 class gift totals Includes gifts and pledges for all purposes made between July 1, 2017, and June 2, 2018.



Total Commitment

Reunion Gift Chairs and Committees

1953 Reunion Gift Chair Jean Fabish hollins rock award Highest participation in giving among the 10 most recent reunion classes CLASS OF 2013, WITH













1978 Reunion Gift Chair Alexandria Stathakis



1983 Reunion Gift Chair Susan Arnesen Hammock












2008 Reunion Gift Chair Miranda Dennis



2013 Reunion Gift Committee Kelsey Breanna DeForest, chair





1958 Reunion Gift Chair Wyndham Robertson 1963 Reunion Gift Committee Susan Barth Dobbs, chair

1968 Reunion Gift Committee Louisa Condon Barrett, cochair Cathy Strause Plotkin, cochair

catherine orgill west award Highest participation in giving to the Hollins Fund CLASS OF 1958, WITH


tinker mountain award Largest total gift to the Hollins Fund CLASS OF 1968, WITH

$765,368 president nancy oliver gray award Highest total giving to Hollins for all purposes CLASS OF 1958, WITH

$2,757,363 10 Hollins

Percent Participation

Anne Cross Cooney Sally Dukes Folcher Amelia “Mimi” Ridenhour Fountain

Carolyn Wilson Long Florence Cabaniss Parnegg

Tricia Thrower Barmeyer Clark Hooper Baruch Page Trout Ciordia Terry Jones Eddy Susan Farley Ferrell Diana Gibson Garner Joan Livingston Guzzetti Anne Hipp Habeck Twig Whitmore Hickam Ibby Seale Jeppson

Zelime Gillespie Matthews Ginny Mann Maye Charlotte Kelley Porterfield Courtney Goode Rogers Vicky Watt Sheldon Julie Greenfield Six Cameron McDonald Vowell Sally White Pam Jackson Winton

1993 Reunion Gift Committee Sindhu Hirani Blume, chair Valerie James Abbott Punky Brick Christina Flores Dimacali

Mollie Eller Garrett Suzanne Rushton Harper

1998 Reunion Gift Chair Sara Dettmer Blakeney 2003 Reunion Gift Committee Lindsey Mann Field, chair

2016 Reunion Gift Committee Pavithra L. Suresh, chair

Grand Total

Lindsey Fitts Copeland

Maggie Magdalen Hackett

Liam Hudson Mollyemma Townzen Claire Mason McCown Teague Kathryn Michele McDowell Meghan Brown Veal Kayla N. Deur Hailey M. Hendrix Lela M. Ijames Jeanne “Scout” Louise Moran Tayler L. Morris

Wibecka A. Oliver Haley L. Ortiz Maya S. Rioux Caroline R. Rottkamp Auburn B. Smith $6,147,937


“Inquisitive minds, spirit, spunk, and love”


hose words from 50th reunion speaker Sally White ’68 summed up the essence of this year’s gathering. Punky Brick ’93, who delivered the remarks on behalf of her class, added these words of wisdom and solidarity: “Like all roads, each of ours has its own twists and turns, high points and low valleys, but in our hearts, we all travel together.”


Read the entire remarks and see highlights at, including photos of the following award winners: • Kelsey DeForest ’13, recipient of the HAVE Award, which honors alumnae who exemplify excellence in volunteering for Hollins through a specific project or for overall spirit • Judy Lambeth ’73, who received the Rath Award, for the alumna whose participation in the life of Hollins has been extraordinary • Hollins Athletic Hall of Fame inductees Cathy Strause Plotkin ’68, Caroline McGehee Pascual ’98, and the 1977 field hockey team

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Photos by Michael Sink

Summer 2018 13


Connections Jean Hélion: Artist

This story, told during a reunion event by Jenine Culligan, Marilyn Moriarty, and Beth Harris, is the stuff of adventure movies. Among the cast of characters are two war heroes: One was blinded at a young age and still fought in the French Resistance and survived the horrors of Buchenwald; the other was a significant 20th-century artist. And they are both connected to Hollins.

By Jenine Culligan, director of the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum

The Fonds Jean Hélion à l’Institut Memoires de l’Edition Contemporaine, Paris, France


The Art Concret Group, founded by Jean Hélion (far left). Standing on right: Otto Carlsund. Couple in center unidentified. Seated from left to right: Jean Blair, Theo and Nelly Van Doesburg, Marcel Vantz. The photograph came from a catalog for a 2004-05 exhibition on the work of Jean Hélion at the Centre Georges Pompidou.

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n the 1930s, a young Sweet Briar College graduate from Richmond, Virginia, named Jean Blair traveled to Paris and fell in love with a young French modernist painter named Jean Hélion. Hélion was an influential artist and writer who founded the groups Art Concret and AbstractionCréation. After Hélion and Blair married in 1932, Hélion traveled to the United States for the first time. He fell in love with New York, describing it as the only city with a true modern spirit. Two events occurred in 1939 that would have a large impact on Hollins. Louis Blair was born, the son of Jean Hélion and Jean Blair, who before the war split their time between Rockbridge Baths, Virginia, and France. That same year Hollins art professor John Ballator invited Hélion to exhibit his paintings on the Hollins campus. In 1940, four months before the Nazis began their occupation of France, Hélion left to join the French army. Six months later he was taken prisoner and was interned in a camp near the Polish border. After a dramatic escape, the artist made his way to Paris. In October 1942, he arrived in the United States where, to aid the Free French, he lectured widely on his war experiences and wrote a bestseller, They Shall Not Have Me. Hélion died in 1987. His paintings are best known in France, but in the past 20 years his work has been re-examined and shown in major retrospective exhibits and accompanying catalogs. Louis Blair has given hundreds of his father’s works to the Wilson Museum (see sidebar), including the sketch shown on these pages, unveiled at the reunion event, of Jacques Lusseyran.

Jacques Lusseyran: Activist, Teacher, and Writer


Jacques Lusseyran taught French literature at Hollins from 1958 to 1961.

By Marilyn Moriarty, professor of English acques Lusseyran lost his eyesight at the age of seven or eight. He attributed his many successes in life to his memory, which he said made room for everything: for example, 1,050 Paris telephone numbers (for use by the French Resistance), 15 pages from letters of Cicero in Latin, the metaphysical system of monads according to Gotfried Leibniz, and 19th-century Turkish history. Before entering the University of Paris in the fall of 1942, he had been part of a group of France’s brightest students, the Upper First. Students were to learn all of Latin, Greek, and French literature, philosophy, the history of the ancient world, and world history from 1715 to the modern day. When Lusseyran’s beloved tutor, a Jew, was taken away by the Gestapo, Lusseyran fell ill. After his fever broke, Lusseyran resolved to meet with 10 of his friends to discuss the German occupation of France. They formed a group called the Volunteers of Liberty, which built an information network and helped downed Allied airmen out of the country. In 1943, the Volunteers of Liberty joined with another group, the Défense de la France (DF). In July 1943, Lusseyran was arrested after the DF was infiltrated and betrayed by a German spy. He was eventually sent to the concentration camp at Buchenwald and survived illness and hardships until the camp was liberated in 1945. Lusseyran was 34 when, in August 1958, he arrived in New York aboard the American ship The Independence. He was bound for the Hollins campus to teach French literature. Lusseyran always said he was born three times: first, when he came into the earth; second, when he lost his sight; and third, when he stepped on board the ship to come to America. HOW LUSSEYRAN AND HÉLION MET: The lives of the two men crossed in France in the 1950s when Hélion attended a meeting at which Lusseyran was a guest speaker. They connected over their wartime experiences, and Lusseyran became a frequent visitor to Hélion’s studio, where Hélion sketched and painted multiple portraits of his friend.

Lusseyran at Hollins


By Beth Harris, special collections librarian and archivist usseyran was a visiting professor of French literature from fall 1958 through spring 1961. Susan London Riser ’60 remembered, “When he came to Hollins, I think most Hollins Abroaders flocked to his classes. He taught in Bradley and paced the stage, usually with a cigarette in his mouth. When he got close to the edge we would hold our breath. He then explained his ability to sense objects and obstacles.” Julia Gray Manning ’59, who took two of Lusseyran’s classes, recalled “that he could identify each of us by our footsteps, by name, as we entered the class. It seemed he could do it even if we wore different shoes. He missed occasionally but not often.” The late Fenton Goodwin Friend ’59 wrote that “he never spoke of his experience in the war—I did not know anything about it until I read his book [And There Was Light] after I graduated.” Years after Lusseyran’s death, his courage in reinventing his life as a blind person was one of the inspirations for Anthony Doerr’s bestselling novel All the Light We Cannot See.

THE BLAIR FAMILY’S GIFT TO HOLLINS When Professor of Art Emeritus Bill White retired in 2010, his good friend Louis Blair, the son of Jean Hélion and Jean Blair, donated four of his father’s works to the Wilson Museum in White’s honor. In early 2016, thanks to their friendship and White’s guidance, Blair gave the museum a treasure trove of more than 400 sketches, drawings, prints, and small paintings by his father, along with funds to enable the museum to purchase archival flat files and storage materials to safeguard the collection in perpetuity. These sketches explore the disparate details that went into Hélion’s finished works. Depicted are everyday street scenes, including mannequins, shop windows, flea markets, people with umbrellas and reading newspapers, car accidents, still lifes, and the female figure. In 2017, the Hélion family, through Blair, donated Relevé de la Figure Tombée, 1985, a large-scale brightly colored painting that combines figuration and abstraction. Hollins is now the largest repository of works by Jean Hélion. —Jenine Culligan

This pastel sketch of Jacques Lusseyran by Jean Hélion was unveiled during the reunion talk. It is one of more than 400 works donated by the Blair family.

Summer 2018 15

16 Hollins

The Quest for

Historical Justice

Some of the more than 20 students who spent a week digging in the first on-campus archeological site, located near the library.

Hosting the Universities Studying Slavery conference last spring symbolizes Hollins’ efforts to come to terms with its own connection with enslavement. B Y J E F F H O D G E S M . A . L . S . ’ 11

Sharon Meador


n 2016, a group of students, faculty, and staff coalesced with a goal of promoting campus-wide dialogue on issues of collective memory, diversity, and reconciliation. Nearly two years after it began, the Hollins Heritage Committee (HHC) achieved a major milestone when it brought the spring meeting of Universities Studying Slavery (USS) to the school in April. One of nearly 40 USS member colleges and universities from around the country that are exploring the historical role of slavery at their respective institutions, Hollins hosted the semi-annual meeting to discuss strategies, collaborate on research, and learn from one another. “I think all of us involved in making this conference possible knew it was the right decision for our campus to host this event, as it has been our goal from the beginning to be at the forefront of the Universities Studying Slavery movement,” said Jon Bohland, associate professor of international studies and HHC chair. USS organizes multi-institutional cooperation as part of an effort to facilitate mutual support in the pursuit of common goals. It also enables participating institutions to work together as they address both historical and contemporary issues dealing with race and inequality in higher education and in campus communities, as well as the complicated legacies of slavery in modern American society. Among the highlights of the USS spring meeting at Hollins were sessions devoted to strengthening historically black colleges and universities; collective wisdom workshops for small colleges, liberal arts universities, and research universities; and discussions among traditionally Baptist colleges and universities that focused on developing common research agendas and collaborative practices. During the conference, Bohland paid tribute to the student activists at Hollins who were the catalysts for HHC’s creation and have subsequently undertaken a number of projects to further its mission. “It was students who demanded that our university openly

acknowledge our past connections to enslavement and begin to find ways to reconcile that history. As a result of [their] direct action, hard questions are being asked, long-lost names are being found, classes are being taught, conferences are being held, and we can begin to honor these previously unacknowledged founders and supporters of the university.” President Pareena Lawrence stated at the spring meeting’s opening session, “If we are to grow and evolve as institutions of higher learning, we cannot ignore or hide from our past. Indeed, at the very least we owe the enslaved who built and labored for our colleges and universities the fundamental decency of recognition and gratefulness. And in their memories, we must use that knowledge and understanding to promote diversity and inclusivity.

“It was students who demanded that our university openly acknowledge our past connections to enslavement and begin to find ways to reconcile that history.” “We cannot even come close to repaying our debt or making amends,” she continued, “but through our discussions and research, we can take vital steps to ensure we undertake what social scientists call ‘historical justice.’” Idella Glenn, Hollins’ special advisor on inclusivity and diversity, told the conference audience that the institution had begun to “dig into our past…to uncover the untold history of Hollins University.” One such literal endeavor occurred a couple of weeks before the USS spring meeting with the establishment of the first on-campus archeological site, led by the HHC and supported by a team from Wake Forest University. More than 20 students spent a week digging in an area near the



Wyndham Robertson Library that is believed to have been the location of a home called Edgehill in the 19th century. “We know the campus as it is now, but there were so many people who contributed to making this university,” international studies major Cheyenne Wright ’18 told The Roanoke Times. “It’s interesting to see what we can find out, to learn how they lived and where they lived.” The Times reported, “Students have uncovered ceramic fragments, building materials, coal, and other remnants of a bygone era.” Glenn expressed that some of the results of research into the history of the enslaved at Hollins “are not easy to look at and may even cause pain and discomfort. But we must deal with it if we are to heal and move forward. I especially applaud the courage of our students, faculty, and staff who have earnestly taken on this difficult work. We have a responsibility in society, especially in higher education, to fully examine our history and put energies toward addressing the impact of the ‘peculiar institution’ of slavery.” Glenn stated that the investigations and conversations at Hollins are helping to inform the breadth and scope of memorialization, which includes interactive education on campus and community outreach in the Roanoke Valley. “I have come to the knowledge that this work of digging into our past and reconciling our history is foundational to authentic diversity, equity, and inclusion work,” she said. Jeff Hodges is Hollins’ director of public relations.

Summer 2018 17

What Makes Ticks Tick?

Hollins researchers partnered this summer with Old Dominion University and the University of Richmond to better understand these parasites and how they spread Lyme disease. B Y J E F F H O D G E S M . A . L . S . ’ 11


n a warm and sunny June morning, Assistant Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies/Environmental Science Elizabeth “Liz” Gleim ’06 and two student researchers are kneeling, motionless and silent, in a forest near the Hollins Riding Center. They are staring intently into what appears at first glance to be containers of dull and lifeless leaves. The chance they’ll get to see anything of significance is remote; still, the three scientists dutifully scan these leaf litters over and over in an effort to learn more about the spread of a malady the Centers for Disease Control estimates will affect 300,000 Americans each year. In the fight to stop Lyme disease, one question has baffled investigators: Why is the disease so prevalent in the northeastern United States, but in the Southeast, relatively few cases have been reported? The trend persists even though the blacklegged ticks (or deer ticks) that transmit Lyme through their bites can be found throughout the eastern U.S. Gleim, a tick biologist, says one hypothesis has gained traction: the possibility that “the northern and southern populations of the blacklegged tick are genetically distinct, and that difference manifests itself in terms of how ticks quest for a host. A questing tick crawls up on the tips of vegetation and hopes a human or animal host is going to brush up against them and they can hop a ride.” She adds that northern ticks have been found to be far more aggressive when questing and thus more likely to latch on to people than southern ticks. (Interestingly, the Roanoke area is a major hot spot for Lyme disease. Researchers theorize that northern ticks are making their way down through the mountains to the southern region.)

Left: Liz Gleim ’06, who teaches in the biology department, and Cheryl Taylor, biology lab technician, setting up the “tick arenas” in the woods near the riding center.

Even in Virginia, questing behaviors vary between ticks from the coastal, central, and southwestern parts of the state. This summer, Gleim and a student researcher collaborated with scientists from Old Dominion University and the University of Richmond to learn why. “Ticks along the coast are generally not as aggressive as those here in the Roanoke area. So we collected ticks locally, around Richmond, and along the Virginia seaboard, sort of an east-west gradient, in the hope that we could get populations that may be showing different questing behaviors,” Gleim explains. “Is their behavior actually controlled by genes, or is it prompted by three distinctive climates?” Gleim and her fellow researchers took the ticks they gathered and placed them in “tick arenas” situated in mature hardwood forest areas, the preferred habitat of blacklegged ticks. At Hollins, the tick arenas were located in the woods near the northeastern part of campus. “It’s great that we could take advantage of our conveniently located natural forests,” Gleim states. “We’re lucky because the researchers in Richmond and on the coast had to use public lands. They had to go through the process of working with state and public officials to secure permission.” Faculty from the biology and environmental studies/environmental science programs at Hollins helped Gleim construct the tick arenas and ensure the ticks in the study stayed in place while those living in the surrounding forest were kept out. “We put sterilized leaf litter into the containers to be certain we weren’t inadvertently picking up ticks that weren’t part of our research. Installing metal flashing and chicken wire not only helped keep ticks out but also prevented wildlife from entering the arenas. The last zone of defense was a sticky material that we used to coat the inside of each arena. Any ticks that tried to leave or enter the arenas got stuck.” The campus site was maintained through early July to coincide with when blacklegged ticks are naturally active. Gleim was assisted by Shravani Chitineni ’21, who is leaning toward

Shravani Chitineni ’21 (left) and Hailey Bivens, a recent graduate of the University of Richmond (right), assisted Gleim, spending hours each week during the summer observing the insects’ questing behaviors.

pursuing a biology major and mathematics minor at Hollins, and Hailey Bivens, a recent graduate of the University of Richmond and a Roanoke resident. They visited the tick arenas twice a day, twice a week, to spot the ticks and see what questing behaviors they were exhibiting. “I wanted to get a feel for working outside. Even seeing a little bit of movement was very exciting,” Chitineni recalls. “This has piqued my interest in doing more fieldwork in the future.” Both Chitineni and Bivens say the experience helped them develop keen observation skills and considerable perseverance. With this work, Bivens says, “you have to have a lot of patience to get results.” For extended periods of time, “you’re not seeing what you want, you’re not seeing a whole lot of anything.” “It’s always an eye-opening experience the first time we have students coming and doing any type of research,” Gleim adds. “Fieldwork is really hard.” After the outdoor initiatives at Hollins and other parts of Virginia concluded in July, the tick research transitioned into its second phase, a molecular component conducted at the University of Richmond and elsewhere that will wrap up early this fall. “If all goes well,” Gleim says, “we plan to publish the results in a yet-to-bedetermined scientific journal, and our students will be included as co-authors.” Jeff Hodges is Hollins’ director of public relations.

Photos by Sharon Meador

Summer 2018 19

In her new memoir, Mary Carter Bishop M.A. ’89 brings to light a family secret and explores the pressures—cultural, religious, and economic— that kept it hidden so long. B Y M A R T H A P A R K M . F. A . ’ 15

20 Hollins


n her application to the graduate creative writing program, Mary Carter Bishop asked Hollins to unbolt her brain. Writing for newspapers had locked her into a “tight, utilitarian prose,” Bishop says, “and for good reason. Our readers are in a hurry.” For two decades, Bishop had been climbing the journalism ladder: from writing obituaries at The Richmond News Leader, to graduate school at Columbia University’s School of Journalism, then to work at the Charlotte Observer,

Bob Crawford

and finally the Philadelphia Inquirer, where Bishop was assigned to a team of reporters covering the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster. “Our editors put a small army of reporters and photographers on the story for weeks,” Bishop says, “We tracked down workers, meeting them at their homes when they got home from work, sometimes in the middle of the night.” The Philadelphia Inquirer staff, including Bishop, was awarded a Pulitzer for their work. By 1982, ready for a break, Bishop rented a cabin outside Lexington, Virginia. “I hadn’t planned to stay,

but I did,” she says, “and I never returned to big-city journalism.” When Bishop was offered a position at what was then The Roanoke Times & World-News, covering Lexington and surrounding counties, she jumped at it. “I didn’t know much about it, but my savings had run out,” Bishop says. After working for papers in larger cities, Bishop wasn’t sure there’d be much news to cover. “I’d forgotten that wherever there are people, news is all around and lots of it runs deep.” Bishop ran a one-woman bureau out of Lexington until her move in 1987, which brought her to Roanoke, and to Hollins. “The reading as well as the writing at Hollins woke me up,” Bishop says, “From the back of [Professor of English] Richard Dillard’s American lit class, I marveled at his mind, his wit, and his casual, self-effacing style. In writing workshops with [English professors] Cathy Hankla [’80, M.A. ’82], and Jeanne Larsen [M.A. ’72], I wrote my first and only short stories.” Bishop published one of those short stories in Elvis in Oz: New Stories & Poems from the Hollins Creative Writing Program, an anthology that featured writing by such Hollins graduates as Annie Dillard ’67, M.A. ’68, Madison Smartt Bell M.A. ’81, Natasha Trethewey M.A. ’91, Jill McCorkle M.A. ’81, and Lee Smith ’67. The protagonist in Bishop’s story, “Offerings to Jackie O,” was inspired by her brother Ronnie, a brother she didn’t know she had until she was in her early 30s. While applying for a passport, Bishop discovered her mother’s secret there in the government paperwork—that the quiet, lanky boy who’d once slept in the barn was not a cousin, as she’d been told, but her mother’s first child, conceived when her mother was a teenager. Ronnie was 10 years older than Bishop and had spent much of his childhood with a foster family or in a boys’ home, but when he was a teenager, he spent some time in Keswick, Virginia, where Bishop’s parents worked in the estates of wealthy heirs and heiresses. Bishop finally reunited with Ronnie during her first semester at

Hollins, visiting him in the Vinton barbershop where he worked. When she returned to the newsroom, Bishop says, “I probably was more observant in my reporting, with a keener eye and ear, than I was before Hollins.” Her career after Hollins saw several highlights: In 1989, Bishop received a George Polk Award for her coverage of illegal pesticide use; in 1995, The Roanoke Times published her special report on the history of urban renewal in Roanoke— a devastating, blow-by-blow account of a community all but leveled by racist housing policies and displacement; and in 2001, Bishop won a federal grant to do research on eugenics survivors. “I left the paper and never went back,” she says. “I interviewed about 30 survivors and planned to write a book about them.” But when her elderly parents’ health began to fail, Bishop stepped back from her research in order to care for them until they passed away. When Bishop returned to her work, she wondered where to focus her attention. Ultimately, she settled on Ronnie. “Other people have written about eugenics; if I didn’t write Ronnie’s story, nobody would ever know about him,” she says. Don’t You Ever takes its title from the instruction Bishop’s mother gave Ronnie never to call her “mama.” And though there’s nothing Bishop could have done to change Ronnie’s fate, she takes responsibility for his abandonment, caring for him in the last years of his life, through a rare hormonal disorder that caused his limbs and his facial features to grow long and distorted (a fact illustrated poignantly by Ronnie’s driver’s license photos, included in the book’s chapter headings, which show his face changing dramatically over time). All of Bishop’s writing—whether journalism, fiction, or memoir— exemplifies a reporter’s eye for accuracy and clarity, and a novelist’s attention to the psychological import of objects, clothing, gestures, and expressions. These gifts are just as evident in Don’t You Ever, from Bishop’s description of her mother’s thick, fleshy ankles and her pronunciation of words like pretty

(priddy) and sweetheart (swee-dart); her father’s droopy eyes, love for animals, and his childhood nickname for Bishop— Pie, short for Sweetie Pie—the nickname Ronnie still used when he and Bishop first reunited in his Vinton barbershop. Bishop knew her brother for only three years before his death, but his story troubled her own, casting into new light everything closest to her: her home, her family, and her life’s own trajectory out of poverty and the lush hills of Keswick. As she got to know Ronnie, Bishop toed the line between reporter and sister, curious about Ronnie both as a subject and as longlost family, someone at once totally unknown and strangely familiar. “If Mom and Ronnie were here now and read the book,” Bishop says, “I think they’d quibble over details, but I believe they would feel vindicated by their stories being out there. Ronnie would probably say: ‘Pie, what the hell you writing about me for? Don’t you have anything better to do?’ And I’d say: ‘No, I don’t.’” Bishop notes that her time at Hollins affected her decisions as she crafted her memoir. “Dillard back then talked a lot about how American writers are stuck in a structure of the narrative arc in the middle and an ending that neatly ties up all the loose threads. This, of course, is not the way life is lived.” Dillard’s comments were ringing in Bishop’s mind as she wrote the book’s final lines. It’s an ending that does not offer any conclusions or tidy lessons but feels true to the way Bishop is still—and might always be—thinking about her family, their story, and her own. Martha Park is a writer and illustrator from Memphis, Tennessee. She received an M.F.A. from Hollins’ Jackson Center for Creative Writing and was the Philip Roth Writer-in-Residence at Bucknell University’s Stadler Center for Poetry. Mary Carter Bishop is giving a reading from Don’t You Ever in the Green Drawing Room on Thursday, September 6, at 8:15 p.m. Her book, Don’t You Ever: My Mother and Her Secret Son, is published by HarperCollins.

Summer 2018 21


Leading the Classroom to

Leading the School Emily Sullivan DoBell ’06 and Martha López Coleman ’01 took different paths, but each is now a school principal. BY BETH JOJACK ’98

Neither Emily DoBell nor Martha López Coleman spent her childhood dreaming of becoming a school principal.

“I could have told you in second grade I wanted to be a teacher,” says López Coleman. When she was little, DoBell thought she wanted to teach, too. “Then, as I grew up, I realized I really liked arguing,” she says. “I was like, ‘Oh, that must mean I want to be a lawyer.’” And yet, both women now run schools. López Coleman came aboard as principal of St. Patrick Catholic School in her hometown of Lufkin, Texas, in 2015. DoBell recently took a job as principal at KIPP Academy Lynn Collegiate High School in Massachusetts after serving for three years as principal of KIPP Academy Boston Elementary. Both women love their jobs. “There are times when I will see a kid who’s struggling with math or something,” López Coleman says. “I will be able to stop and work with that child and give him some one-on-one attention, which was always the part that I loved about teaching in the first place.” As a principal, DoBell has learned it’s possible to be warm with students while also demanding that they do their very best. “Kids rise to whatever expectation that you set, high or low,” she says. “When you give a kid feedback or hold a line, as long as it’s a line that is reasonable, logical and meaningful, you are showing love.”

A winding path


fter graduating from Hollins armed with a degree in history and her teaching license, López Coleman returned home to Lufkin, where she took a job teaching middle school and married her high school sweetheart. The husband worked out better than the job. “I had 150 kids over two days,” she says. “That didn’t give me a chance to get to meet kids, to get to know them, to do what I thought was best for every child. I was just surviving.” A move back to Virginia to teach at a junior detention facility didn’t leave López Coleman any more satisfied with her profession. She began reminiscing about how much she had enjoyed her work-study position in the Wyndham Robertson Library at Hollins. “If people had research questions, you were supposed to turn them over to the librarian,” López Coleman explains. “I would just field them.” López Coleman took a new job as media coordinator for an elementary school in High Point, North Carolina, while earning a Master of Library and Information Science degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. “I felt like I’d finally found my niche,” she says. Once she finished that degree, López Coleman started on a Master of Education from Averett University, while running a high school library in Martinsville, Virginia. She had an idea that one day she might like to work as an administrator, overseeing all the libraries in a school district. Her carefully made plans went tilta-whirl, though, after having her first child. She and her husband decided to return to Texas, where they’d have support from their families. When she first got back home, López Coleman worked as an assistant director at a public library before deciding to try the

stay-at-home-mom life. That wasn’t a great fit. “I was used to being very busy and having lots of interaction with adults,” she says. She applied to the doctorate program at Stephen F. Austin State University, thinking the work would be good preparation for homeschooling her daughter. As she worked toward her Ed.D., members of her parish at St. Patrick Catholic Church mentioned again and again that the principal at St. Patrick Catholic School was looking to retire. López Coleman knew the school well. She entered kindergarten there as a first-generation American who spoke little English. Her parents, who were born in Mexico, wanted their daughter in classrooms where everyone spoke English instead of in English-as-a-secondlanguage classes. St. Patrick’s was willing to do that. “Because I went to school here, I have a doctorate,” López Coleman says. “It taught me that I could do things.”

She opens the school and holds a morning meeting, a time when she checks in on each of her students. “I can make eye contact with every child before we get into the classroom.” Even so, she had no interest in running the place. “By nature, I’m very much an introvert,” she says. “It’s really hard for me to talk to strangers. That’s part of the job of a principal.” By her third year in the doctoral program, people at church were still encouraging López Coleman to apply for the principal’s job. She thought

López Coleman

about the adage that “God doesn’t call the qualified; he qualifies the called.” She got the job. St. Patrick Catholic School, which runs from pre-K to 8th grade, has about 80 students each year. López Coleman does double duty by serving as St. Patrick’s librarian. Even though she’s not a natural extrovert, López Coleman has found her groove with the job. Each morning, she opens the school and holds a morning meeting, a time when she checks in on each of her students. “I can make eye contact with every child before we get into the classroom,” she says. “I’ve already got a feel for how my day’s going to go before 8:15 in the morning.” She’s happiest walking through the school. “My students see me,” López Coleman says. “I hate being in my office because I’m away from the kids. I’d rather be walking through classrooms seeing what’s going on.”

Summer 2018 23

What kids need


ike López Coleman, DoBell studied history at Hollins. She also majored in economics. She planned to teach for a few years after graduation before heading to law school. In the spring semester of her senior year, DoBell remembers agonizing over whether she’d end up in a private or a public school. Professor of History Emerita Ruth Alden Doan told her, “All kids everywhere need great teachers.” It’s a piece of advice she’s never forgotten.

DoBell ended up launching her career by teaching special education at public middle schools in North Carolina and Virginia. She loved the work. “It’s such a fun age,” she says. “They’re really exploring who they are.” DoBell’s passion for teaching made her forget all about law school. But although she was excited about the field, DoBell didn’t think she was a very good teacher until she took a job teaching math in North Carolina at Gaston College Preparatory, a school run by KIPP [Knowledge Is Power Program], a nationwide nonprofit network of public charter schools. Here, another educator taught DoBell how to assess whether students were learning as she taught and adjust her approaches accordingly. “Not only are we having a fun time in class,” DoBell remembers thinking, “but they’re learning crazy amounts of math and then they’re internalizing that they’re good at this.”

“I wasn’t sure I was going to love high school students the same way I felt about five- and six- and seven-year-old students. But they’re just taller. They’re the best.”


24 Hollins

Until the job in Gaston, DoBell had never considered working as an administrator. The principal’s office, she says, “seemed like the place you went where something bad was happening, and that’s not where I wanted to spend my day.” With KIPP schools, though, DoBell saw leadership positions as being more

about helping other educators the way she had been helped. “Coaching adults to be growing as teachers, so the kids could grow as students, did appeal to me,” she says. In 2012, DoBell moved to Massachusetts to work as a learning specialist for KIPP Academy Boston. The next year, she was selected for a Fisher Fellowship, a one-year program that prepares educators to found and lead a new KIPP school in an underserved community. DoBell opened KIPP Academy Boston Elementary, where she worked as principal for three years. “I thought middle-school students learned quickly, but, dear lord, watching kindergarteners learn to read and write their names,” DoBell says. “I was like, ‘Elementary school is where it’s at.’” Last spring, DoBell signed on as principal at KIPP Academy Lynn Collegiate, a high school. “I wasn’t sure I was going to love high school students the same way I felt about five- and sixand seven-year-old students. But they’re just taller. They’re the best.” Throughout her career, Dobell says, she has felt twinges of guilt when she’s moved from one school to another. That’s when she thinks about what Professor Doan said. “It’s really hard to leave a group of kids or a team of teachers,” DoBell says. “But ultimately, it has led me to be in a position where I can impact even more kids through even more teachers. “I don’t know that I would have allowed myself to look forward and think about the kids I was about to meet if it hadn’t been for keeping her words in the front of my mind.” Beth JoJack is a frequent contributor to Hollins magazine.

Early Birders Participants in this year’s reunion bird walk were rewarded with the sights and sounds of several of the species that make their home on campus. B Y J E A N H O L Z I N G E R M . A . L . S . ’ 1 1


t 6:30 on the Saturday morning of reunion weekend, a group of alumnae gathered on the front steps of Dana for biology professor Morgan Wilson’s annual bird walk. Rain-soaked clouds didn’t dampen the participants’ enthusiasm—or that of the nearby birds, who sang with early-morning gusto. Even though we tend to use the term “bird watching,” Wilson said, listening is just as important. “The challenge [to birding] is learning the species not only by sight, but by song.” To that end, an important part of the curriculum of his ornithology class is becoming familiar with the sounds birds make. “Every time I had a song file on a quiz,” he said, “there would be a collective groan.” Still, even during this hour-long stroll along Carvin Creek, participants found it easy to distinguish between the sweet call of the song sparrow and the “cheer-cheer” of the northern cardinal. Group members ranged from beginners to seasoned birders. Rachel Townsley Toth ’98 described herself as

64 Hollins

an “amateur” who likes to watch birds while she walks her dogs in Sandy Bottom Nature Park in Hampton Roads. Zelime Gillespie Matthews ’68, from San Antonio, Texas, was so enthusiastic about bird watching when her children were young that they told her they never wanted to see another bird. They have since changed their minds. Bebbie Thrower MacCary ’63 watches birds in New York’s Central Park and is especially active during the spring and fall migrations, heading to the park several times a week to see what she can see (and hear). “The real treasures,” she said, “are the warblers.” You can catch a glimpse of her, binoculars in hand, in the Netflix documentary Birders: The Central Park Effect. Wilson told the group that there was no predicting what they would see on their walk—at the very least, several of the 75-80 species that have been spotted on campus. And that’s just what happened. After taking note of the song sparrow darting in and out of the foliage of the trees in front of Moody, the group saw the red flash of the male northern cardinal and the silhouette of two mallards flying overhead. High up in a tree along the creek was a gray catbird, a mimic like the mockingbirds and brown thrashers, also campus visitors. Sailing low over the creek was a yellow-crowned night heron. “That bird’s not supposed to be here,” Wilson said. Until recently the species didn’t show up on the distribution maps of the birds in the area. Now that they’ve taken up residence on Carvin Creek, there’s a little square on the maps representing their presence.

Wilson pointed out a pair of bird boxes on the edge of the Moody playing field. For years, Wilson and his colleague Renee Godard have conducted various kinds of research on the bluebird population on campus—for example, testing whether applying the scents of predators to the boxes affects nesting behavior. Although the data about how bluebirds detect the scent of nest predators were inconclusive, the species has become accustomed to nesting on campus. While Wilson cleaned an old nest out of one box and showed the group the new nest being constructed in the box nearby, a pair of bluebirds, perched on a lacrosse net 25 yards away, watched closely. Overhead, barn swallows dipped and swerved, possibly on their way to nests under the gym pass-through. In the distance participants could see a black vulture (“not a buzzard,” said Wilson— buzzards are raptors found in Asia and Africa) perched high atop the chapel steeple. Also on view was a blue jay, one of the most intelligent bird species, Wilson said, “capable of performing complex tasks.” The birds that elicited the most “awwws,” however, were the mother mallard and her eight ducklings waddling along the water’s edge.


To see a video of the birds that showed up for this year’s reunion walk, visit com/hollinsvideo. Visit magazine to see Professor Wilson’s photos of campus birds. Illustrations by Kristin Bell ’14. Jean Holzinger is the guest editor for this issue.


Nicole Oxendine ’03

This year’s Distinguished Young Alumna Award winner has been recognized for her dance expertise and her business and leadership acumen.


psychology major, Nicole Oxendine earned an M.A. in dance and movement therapy from Columbia College in Chicago. Before and after graduate school, she taught at Hillside High School in her hometown, Durham, North Carolina. In 2014 she was named Spectacular Magazine’s Woman of the Year in the emerging leader category. The following year, she founded Empower Dance Studio. Seeing a need to raise funds for dance students who had limited financial resources, she founded Empower Dance Foundation. In 2016 the Durham Business & Professional Chain presented her with its new business award, and in 2017 Empower Dance Studio was a top-four finalist in Independent Weekly Triangle’s best dance studio category. What part has your psychology major played in your roles as dancer, teacher, small business owner, and fundraiser?

I was fascinated with memory, so my concentration was in cognitive psychology. These interests led to designing units and lessons based on movement memory. As a small business owner, I find my psychology major has helped me develop a strong marketing strategy. It also helps me relate better to our customers. What is movement therapy, and how has that training informed your teaching?

According to the American Dance Therapy Association, dance/movement therapy and counseling are the “psychotherapeutic uses of movement to further the emotional, cognitive, physical, and social integration of the individual.” For me, it is the perfect combination of dance and psychology, and I have been able to use this training to become a better teacher.

You were Spectacular Magazine’s Woman of the Year in the emerging leader category. What is good leadership to you?

Good leadership is providing guidance while allowing people to have autonomy in their work and process. Leaders are not complacent; they are thinking about the next step and the best way to get there. When and where were you/are you happiest?

When I am teaching! Especially with children, you must be present and engaged. Sometimes happiness is viewed as what’s going to happen next in life and not enjoying the moment. Children enjoy the moment. I am also happy at the ocean. Who are your heroes/heroines?

My “sheroes” are women who speak up, get things done, and make change in the world. What is your favorite music to dance to?

I love acoustic music, anything with great vocals. I love the cello and violin. Anyone who plays or sings music with heart and passion—I feel it and want to dance with the same passion. If you could go back and do one thing at Hollins differently, what would it be?

I think everything I did led me to the opportunities I have now. I wouldn’t change anything. What would you tell your 18-year-old self?

Your life will be exactly what you envision. However, the path to get there will not be the way you think. Every trial and hardship will lead to something great, so be flexible.

Paris Williams ’18 HOMETOWN: New Orleans MAJOR: Dance AT HOLLINS: • Interned twice with Hollins’ M.F.A. program in dance • Participated in the Hollins AbroadLondon program • Served as chair of the campus Black Student Alliance AFTER GRADUATION: • In June, attended the Dance/USA 2018 Annual Conference in Los Angeles on a full scholarship • Remains in LA to complete a residency with No)one. Art House, an arts/dance collective that The Huffington Post reports “is one of the only black-run contemporary dance organizations in the country” • Fall of 2019, will pursue her M.F.A. in choreography at London’s University of Roehampton

THE HOLLINS FUND Supporting Outstanding Students


By giving annually to the Hollins Fund, you support the education of exceptional Hollins women like Paris.


Sharon Meador


Three ways to give: - Online through our secure website at - Via check to the Hollins Fund, Hollins University, Box 9629, Roanoke, VA 24020 - By calling us with your credit card number: (800) TINKER1 (800-846-5371)

Hollins Summer 2018 Alumnae Magazine  

Hollins magazine is published quarterly by Hollins University, Roanoke, VA

Hollins Summer 2018 Alumnae Magazine  

Hollins magazine is published quarterly by Hollins University, Roanoke, VA