Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Symposium of Artists and Scholars celebrates student excellence

The sixth annual Symposium of Artists and Scholars will include more than 60 presentations highlighting Randolph College students’ scholarly work and creative ventures.

The symposium will take place Thursday and Friday. Students will present research on a wide range of topics, such as the effects of dance exercise on coordination improvement, the role fungi play in allergic reactions, and philosophical questions of artificial intelligence. They also will present creative works, such as a poem about a Lynchburg pawn shop, a student-authored play about relationships, and musical compositions.

“Randolph College students are engaging in an amazing variety of high-quality research projects and creative pursuits,” said Peter Sheldon, director of the Center for Student Research. “We are proud of the work our students are doing, and we look forward to celebrating and sharing their work in the Symposium.”

Doug Shedd, the Catherine Ehrman Thoresen ’23 and William E. Thoresen Professor of Biology, will present the keynote address, “Why Biodiversity Matters,” at 7 p.m. Thursday.

For a full schedule of the Symposium of Artists and Scholars, read the symposium program here.

The annual symposium, modeled after traditional academic conferences, was started in 2008 to celebrate the height of Randolph College student achievement.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Alumna Anne Wilkes Tucker ’67 featured in Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal recently published a column about the career of Anne Wilkes Tucker ’67. On the occasion of Tucker’s upcoming retirement after nearly 40 years of curating photography at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), the Journal interviewed her about her career.

The column highlights her groundbreaking exhibitions on Czech Modernism, Japanese photography, and war photography. It also touches on changes she has seen during her career.

Tucker, who first worked with photography when she took photos for the Randolph-Macon Woman’s College newspaper and yearbook, has grown MFAH’s photography collection from just 141 prints when she arrived there in 1976 to more than 29,000 prints by more than 4,000 artists today.

She also is a member of the Randolph College Board of Trustees.

Read the full story here:

Friday, April 11, 2014

Model UN team represents Malta at national conference

Students on Randolph College’s Model United Nations team will spend this week in New York, where they will represent Malta in the National Model United Nations Conference.

Model UN challenges students to learn about the history, public policy, and culture of another country and then represent that country in diplomatic simulations much like actual UN meetings. During the conference, students present speeches, negotiate with students representing diplomats from other countries, and vote on important international issues.

Members of the Randolph College Model UN team speak with Carl Girelli, vice president
for academic affairs and dean of the College, during a practice caucus session. More photos.
Months of researching, writing resolutions, and practicing speeches has prepared the students for a successful experience, said Jennifer Dugan,a Randolph College global studies professor who advises the Model UN team. “I expect great things from them and believe they will learn much about themselves and the world of diplomacy," she said.

For more than a decade, the College’s Model UN team has proven its ability to train students in the art of international diplomacy. The team has won numerous awards for having an outstanding delegation and position papers. The team has represented countries such as Portugal, Senegal, Yemen, and now Malta.

Randolph College President Bradley W. Bateman participates in a practice caucus
session with members of the College's Model United Nations team. More photos.
Malta is a small, democratic island country off the coast of Sicily. It has significant social programs, such as universal health care, and it serves as a gatekeeper for immigration from northern Africa into the European Union, said Dugan.

The Model UN team will meet with the UN’s deputy permanent representative from Malta during the conference, Dugan said.

This year’s Model UN team consists of 16 students, including Jacob Lusczek ’15 and Samantha Terry ’16, the head delegates. To meet the delegates and learn about how they have been preparing to represent Malta, read the Model UN Blog. The students also will update the blog during the conference.

“We are all so excited to get to the conference this year. After months of painstaking work, we are ready to put our knowledge to the test,” said Terry. “We have a diverse collection of knowledge and experience in our delegation this year, and I know they will be highly successful.”

Watch Randolph College’s Happy music video

We had a lot of people participate in our recent music video set to the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.

Randolph College community members all over campus—including our campus abroad by the University of Reading, England—showed that they have something to sing, dance, and smile about.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Randolph Mathletes Finish Strong in National Competition

(left to right) Pujan Shrestha ’15, Hart Gillespie ’15, Zhe Zhang ’15,
Si Thu Aung ’16, Marc Ordower, Duc Dang Dinh '16,
Nam Hoang '15, and Tung Tran '15

A team of Randolph College students recently scored in the top fifth of all participating colleges and universities in the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, a prestigious and famously difficult contest of mathematical skills and creative reasoning.

Randolph ranked 106th out of the 557 participating institutions. Individually, Nam Hoang ’15 earned special distinction by placing 266th out of the more than 4,000 competing students.

All eight Randolph students who competed scored in the top half of all participants. Five were in the top third. Two were in the top quarter.

The team consisted of Tung Tran ’15, Hart Gillespie ’15, Tu Nguyen ’15, Pujan Shrestha ’15, Zhe Zhang ’15, Nam Hoang ’15, Si Thu Aung ’16, and Duc Dang Dinh ’16.

Marc Ordower, a Randolph College mathematics professor, offers a course in Mathematical Problem Solving aimed at students who wish to participate in competitions such as the Putnam.

The Putnam is the oldest, largest, and most prestigious undergraduate mathematics competition in North America. Students from institutions in Canada and the United States participate by taking a 12-problem test. Questions on this proof-based exam are meant to test originality as well as technical competence, covering topics from linear algebra to graph theory. The questions can typically be solved with only basic knowledge of college mathematics but require extensive creative thinking.

The competition takes place in early December, with the results being announced in the spring.

Randolph hosts kickoff for Virginia Urban Agriculture Summit

Randolph will help launch the first Virginia Urban Agriculture Summit with a screening of the documentary Growing Cities on Monday, April 14.

The summit will bring more than 100 people from around Virginia to Lynchburg to learn about ways to foster sustainable urban farms. Michael Van Ness, the executive director of the local, nonprofit farm Lynchburg Grows, asked Randolph College to host a viewing of Growing Cities to provide a national perspective on the issues the summit will address.

The College’s ongoing work in the field of sustainable food—including the growth of the Randolph College Organic Garden and student/faculty research on the topic—made him want to hold the film viewing here, Van Ness said. “Randolph has been going in this direction for a number of years, and we just thought it was a natural fit,” he said.

Growing Cities is a documentary about urban farming across the United States. It follows two filmmakers around the country as they interview people and show the ways urban agriculture promotes economic development and improves nutrition.

“It’s an inspiring film,” said John Abell, a Randolph College economics professor whose research focuses on the economics of sustainable food supplies. “It lets you know what the possibilities are. It shows lots of youthful enthusiasm for the whole farm-to-table movement.”

The screening will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday in Smith Hall Theatre. Hor d’oeuvres, including some local produce, will be served in the Alice Ashley Jack Room on the second floor of Smith Memorial Building beginning at 5:30 p.m. Abell will lead a discussion about the documentary.

For more information about the Virginia Urban Agriculture Summit, visit

Monday, April 7, 2014

Kelley Swain ’07 publishes three books in 2014

Behind Randolph’s Red Brick Wall, Kelley Swain ’07 pushed pens and critiqued poetry with the writing group “the Quill Drivers.” Now across the Atlantic Ocean, she continues her prolific writing.

In fact, the London author is publishing three books this year.

photo credit: Marcos Avlonitis
In March, Valley Press published Opera di Cera, a poetry collection written as a series of monologues about the creation of the anatomical Venus, a life-sized waxwork figure she saw at a museum in France.

This spring, Cinnamon Press will publish Atlantic, a collection of poems that she has worked on since 2009. Although much of Swain’s writing addresses the history of science, Atlantic is more introspective. “It is a very personal collection which engages with family, grief, exile, and love,” she said.

Swain’s first novel, Double the Stars, will debut in September. Also from Cinnamon Press, the historical novel is about Caroline Herschel, an astronaut best known for discovering comets.

These books follow Darwin’s Microscope, her 2009 poetry collection about science history, and two volumes of poetry she has edited.

She said there are a couple of factors that led to her prolific success. “Half of the answer is hard work and discipline. If you want to be a writer, you have to write,” she said. “The other half is having an astonishing system of support. Since writing my first poem at the age of seven, my family, teachers, friends, and relationships have been supportive and constructive in my aim to become a writer, and this support has made all the difference in the world.”

Swain said a lot of that support came from friends and professors at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College. She said the faculty encouraged her interests in writing as well as science and helped her develop her talent and understanding. “I would not be the writer I am today without them,” she said.

Swain added that the liberal arts curriculum prepared her for life after graduation and her position at the Imperial College of London, where she teaches medical students about the confluence of science and the arts. “Though we used to joke that graduating from a liberal arts college with a degree in English would lead to dubious job prospects, it is exactly that unique educational background which has led to my being a guest lecturer at one of the top science universities in the world,” she said.

You can learn more about Swain’s work, and read excerpts from Opera di Cera and Atlantic, in an interview in the Inpress Catalogue.