Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Festive spirit, optimism mark new school year at opening convocation

Randolph College rang in the new academic year with opening convocation on Tuesday. The event brought together time-honored traditions and bright optimism about the College's future.

Led by a bagpiper, the Class of 2012 marched into the Smith Hall Theatre wearing their graduation robes that were, true to tradition, decorated with playful buttons and topped with funny hats. Along with the College's underclassmen, they then cheered as the faculty entered the auditorium.

Ja’el Daniely ’12, president of Student Government, addressed her fellow students and encouraged them to maintain optimism as they explore their identities and pursue higher education. “One thing we share as a school is honoring our past while looking forward to a bright future,” she said.

Randolph College President John Klein then addressed the student body, emphasizing their ability to meet new challenges and achieve goals. “It is unlikely that you will ever have four years again like the ones you spend here,” he said. “This is your chance to make the most of them.”

Klein emphasized the many positives the College is experiencing now: enrollment and alumnae giving have increased, and the faculty continue to earn high marks from students and academic honors from organizations outside the College. He highlighted the recent achievements of faculty members and presented awards to students and faculty.
These banners were presented to representatives of each class to mark a new tradition at Randolph College.

The ceremony also included the beginning of a new Randolph College tradition. Representatives of each class year received a class banner embroidered with the college seal and the name of the class. The banners will be displayed at events throughout the year to emphasize the participation of each class and foster class unity. Each year, seniors will sign their class banners and leave them as a symbol of their time at the College.

For more details about convocation and a list of awards given, see this Randolph College press release.

Student Center Renovation Update: Aug. 31

Work on the Student Center has gone underground--literally. As demolition crews finish clearing out debris, construction crews are digging under the floor of the Student Center to pour footings. This tedious and hard work will continue for several weeks.
The last of the staircases in the facility are just about gone, there is little left of floors, and most walls no longer exist. What is left is now a space with an amazing amount of room. Once the footings are poured, construction can begin. Demolition occurred from the top down. Construction will be conducted from the bottom to the top.
View of what used to be Main Grounds and the entrance into the Student Center from Main Hall. Construction crews are digging under the floors to pour footings.

View of the Student Center looking toward what used to be the staircase and upper floors. Notice the light created by opening the back area.
View from inside the main area of the Student Center looking out. The open space is where the organ and pipes used to be located.

Randolph College celebrates 100th anniversary of the Annual Exhibition

Randolph College will celebrate the 100th Annual Exhibition with a special opening event Sept. 2 at 6 p.m.

The exhibition--the longest running series of original exhibitions of contemporary art staged by an academic institution in the United States--features an impressive line-up of important American artists, that includes David Bates, Jake Berthot, Lee Bontecou, Richard Estes, Sam Gilliam, Alexis Rockman, Betye Saar, Kiki Smith, Joan Snyder, Donald Sultan, John Walker, and William Wiley.

The 2011 exhibition will be held in the Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College from Sept. 2 through Dec. 10. An additional exhibition features a dozen works that were purchased by the College from previous Annual Exhibitions. Among the artists represented in this companion exhibition are Joseph Cornell, Ben Shahn, and John Sloan.

In addition to a catalogue for the 2011 exhibition featuring the exhibited works by contemporary artists, the College will also publish a full-color, hardcover, illustrated timeline catalogue of the 100-year history of the Annual Exhibition. Virginia M. Mecklenburg, a granddaughter of Carrie Crane Kearney (Class of 1915) has written the catalogue's introduction. She will also moderate a panel discussion by several of the exhibition's featured artists for the 20th Annual Helen Clark Berlind Symposium on Oct. 22 at 2 p.m.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Randolph College ranks number one in education ranking on The Daily Beast

A dedicated faculty helps Randolph College stand out for the quality education it offers. Anyone who has participated in our small classes knows that personally, but Newsweek now has given the college a nod for our great professors.

The Daily Beast, an online publication of Newsweek, has ranked Randolph College number one in the nation for Accessible Professors. The Web site's College Rankings 2011 section features a photo of John Justice, the Mary Frances Williams Professor of Philosophy, teaching as students take notes. The site mentions the College's 5:1 student to faculty ratio and the faculty's high ratings on

For more information on the rating, see College Rankings 2011 page and Randolph College's press release.

Monday, August 29, 2011

After the first day, Fall 2011 semester is off to a good start

Whew! The first day of classes for the Fall 2011 semester proved to be a busy one around the Randolph College campus. Here are a few thoughts from some students who stopped to talk about the first day.

By 11 a.m., Brittney Via ’14 already had homework. After Differential Equations and Social Psychology, she sat down to take a break and enjoy the late morning weather.

“It’s been pretty busy, with a lot of work already,” said the mathematics major from Charlottesville, VA. “I think it’s good to start right off the bat.”

Tu Nguyen ’15, an international student from Vietnam, said he was caught off guard when his French professor started class by speaking only in French for several minutes. “We couldn’t understand any of it,” he said, but he looks forward to learning the language.

Nguyen also had attended a calculus class in the morning, and in the early afternoon he was heading to a physics class in the Martin Science building. He had not had time to socialize with his classmates much, but he was enjoying his first day at Randolph College. “The professors are really nice,” he said.

Xavier Suarez ‘12 was rushing to the Smith Memorial Building for his second class of the day, but he paused a moment in the bright sunshine to express good feelings for the first day of his last year as an undergraduate student. “It’s been great. It’s been a nice day,” said the communications studies major.

“People are excited to go to class,” said Suarez, who is from Costa Rica.

Faculty enjoyed the day as they got to meet their pupils, returning and new. Marjorie Wheeler-Barclay, a history professor, said her class on the history of England got off to a good start. “I had a lovely group,” she said.

After going over the syllabus for the semester, she asked the students to discuss their current perceptions of England in the 13th through 18th centuries. “They really got into it. They were very lively, and not too shy,” she said. “It’s always great when student seem pleased to be there. I sensed a good energy in the room.”

That’s just a short summary of the first day of the academic year—with more than 560 students enrolled, there are at least that many stories. But if these tales of the first day of the semester is any indicator, 2011–2012 will be a great year!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Randolph College students, employees volunteer in community for Day of Caring

Many members of the Randolph College community went to service projects around Lynchburg for the College's annual Day of Caring on Friday.

The event brings together new students, orientation leaders, staff, faculty, and administrators to make a positive difference in the Lynchburg community. It also helps students learn more about the city that will be their home during college.

Participants painted, pulled weeds, washed windows, and played games with elderly people, among other activities.
Randolph College President John Klein led a group to the Adult Care in Lynchburg, where they visited with day care participants and played games with them.

Susan Klein, the wife of President Klein, and a group of students went to the ARC of Central Virginia, where they pulled weeds and washed floorboards.
A group of transfer students went to Riverside Park to paint posts and picnic tables. Paula Tannenbaum, volunteer coordinator for Lynchburg Parks and Recreation, said it was great to have students helping at the park for the second year in a row. "This is their park," she said. "It's the closest city park to campus. They need to know it."

Below, Danielle Robinson '12, Christina Budd '13, and Robert Villanueva '14 paint posts at Riverside Park. To the right, Alan Sheaffer '14 does the same.

To the left, Bunny Goodjohn, an English professor, paints a post with her black Labrador, Bubba. Below, Emily Sirney '15 and Caity Hall '14 give a makeover to picnic tables beneath a gazebo at Riverside Park.

Another group went to the Old City Cemetery, a historic landmark in Lynchburg with beautiful landscaping.

They quickly cleaned and polished memorial plaques at the cemetery, where hundreds of Civil War soldiers, former slaves, and Lynchburg residents are buried. After they finished their work, the students toured the cemetery to learn more about its history.

To the right, Danielle Lewis '15 scrubs a memorial monument at the cemetery.

Another group of students went to Amazement Square, a children's activity center and museum, where they added colorful tile pieces to a mosaic depicting the history of Lynchburg. They helped piece together a segment that tells the story of Lynchburg during the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

Some of the students climbed a scaffold to work on the mosaic.

They smashed tiles to create small, colorful shards. Then, they spread mortar on them and attached them to the work of art, fitting them in like pieces of a puzzle.
Amanda Denny, director of student activities, and Glenna Gray '14 add pieces of tile to the mosaic.Robert Santmyer '15 and Emily Jamerson '15 fix mosaic tiles to the wall that will depict Lynchburg's history.
Other groups went to the Academy of Fine Arts, the Lynchburg Visitor Information Center, the Jubilee Family Development Center, the downtown YMCA, the Daily Bread, Lynchburg Grows, the Boys and Girls Club of Central Virginia, Point of Honor, and Rush Homes.

The Day of Caring united the campus in service to the community, serving as a great start to the new semester.

Student Center Renovation Update: Aug. 26

Major progress has been made on the Student Center during the past few weeks. An inset area that once housed the organ and pipes was torn out this week, making way for new construction. The organ pipes are being stored for safekeeping and will be included in the new Student Center.

Most of the floors in the facility have been torn up, and the walls have been removed. Demolition will continue for a few more weeks. Stay tuned for more updates!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Research by professor and rising sophomore chosen for talk in international conference

Zahra Adahman ’14 is just about to enter her second year of college. But she already has a head start on preparing for her Ph.D., thanks to one of her professors and Randolph’s Summer Research Program.

Katrin Schenk, a physics professor, told Adahman about an opportunity that would allow her to play a significant role in an ongoing research project. Their work together will be featured in an international conference later this year.

Adahman, who is from Nigeria, began examining and classifying sonograms charting the ultrasonic pitches during the spring semester. She continued her work in the College’s 2011 Summer Research Program, spending about five hours each day for eight weeks scrutinizing the sound waves. The research is far from over, but it is making progress.Schenk has been working with researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, to analyze ultrasonic mouse squeaks and identify communication disorders in mice. If they can identify mice that exhibit the traits of communication disorders such as autism, researchers could then study those mice to learn more about the disorders.

The project is receiving high-profile attention. A paper about the research has been chosen for a talk at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, an international organization. The annual meeting provides the world's largest forum for presenting new neuroscience research and networking with neuroscientists. More than 30,000 people are expected to attend the conference in Washington, D.C., in November.

Adahman said the project taught her much about research methods that will help her later on. “Research is very important in medicine and science,” she said.

Schenk said engagement in serious research will benefit students who want to pursue graduate school. “The earlier you get students doing real research—not just a science project—the better,” Schenk said. “My goal is to have every student publish a peer-reviewed paper before they graduate. I think it’s possible.”

While some larger colleges restrict research to upperclassmen, Randolph College has no such restrictions, Schenk said. “I think that’s one of the great things about being here.”

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Randolph College Welcomes Largest Number of New Students in Years

Randolph College welcomed the largest number of new students in years Wednesday, Aug. 24 with balloons, music, and plenty of smiling faces.

Davenport Leaders, Student Government volunteers, athletes, members of the College's Macon Activities Council, and some staff helped the new students and their parents unpack cars and transport boxes, suitcases, and other necessities to the residence halls.

New student enrollment is expected to top 225 this year, and Randolph's total enrollment will climb from 524 last year to more than 565 for the 2011-12 academic year.

Students were greeted with a new campus store and renovated lounge area near the dining hall. The area, which once housed the Darden and Casner conference rooms, is now called Caldwell Commons and offers the store, a new seating area, and several conference rooms.

Other summer renovations included a new teaching and learning center on the main floor of the library, a new reception area in Main Hall, a new (temporary) Main Grounds, which will be housed near the computer labs on Main Hall, and resurfaced tennis courts. Work on the $6 million Student Center renovation continues as well.

Returning students begin arriving this weekend, and classes for all students begin Aug. 29

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Earthquake shakes Randolph Campus for a few seconds

UPDATE: The Virginia Tech website that hosts the data from Randolph College's seismograph is online again, and you can view the graphs of data taken during Tuesday's earthquake.

We heard this morning that the estimate of the earthquake's power has been reduced to 5.8.

And Tatiana Gilstrap's comments on the earthquake were featured in news stories by WSET Channel 13 and The News & Advance.

Original Post:

The Randolph College campus experienced tremors from the 5.9-magnitude earthquake that shook much of Virginia and the East Coast on Tuesday.

People on campus felt the quake, but there were no reports of injury or property damage on campus.

There was a hint of irony in the situation for first-year students who were in an introductory science course. On Monday, Tatiana Gilstrap, an environmental science professor whose research focuses on seismology, was teaching them about the physics of earthquakes.

Only about 24 hours later, the actual earthquake hit.

The students were in the midst of presentations about math and physics projects they had completed. Gilstrap, who was observing the presentations, said the Martin Science building just started quaking.

The building has felt its share of shaking due to road and utility construction nearby, so at first Gilstrap did not think an earthquake was happening. But when it lasted for more than a few seconds, she knew more than construction was going on.

Once the shaking stopped, the students continued their presentations. Gilstrap left soon, though, because local news organizations were seeking interviews with her. She reviewed data from the College’s seismological station—before Virginia Tech’s website that hosts the data went down due to high traffic volumes.

She said the seismograph provided “a beautiful record” of what transpired.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Senbazuru at Randolph College

As students flock to the Randolph College campus over the next week, they’ll find a flock of 1,000 paper cranes in the hallway of the Dean of Students office.
Several members of the College community worked together this summer to create a senbazuru—a collection of 1,000 origami cranes suspended by string. The colorful decoration now hangs in the Dean of Students office hallway. It sports the College colors as well as a variety of bright, eye-catching hues on origami paper with intricate designs.

A Japanese legend promises good fortune or a wish to someone who creates a senbazuru.

“We thought it would be an excellent symbol of good will and optimism, things we want to foster on campus this year,” said Terry Bodine, interim dean of students.

The Dean of Students office employees folded the cranes, with help from staff, faculty, summer students, and friends of the College.

After accumulating hours upon hours of origami practice this summer, everyone on the Dean of Students staff now knows how to fold the cranes and are happy to teach others. “In fact, we’ve already started teaching the skill to various student leaders,” Bodine said.

For those who want to learn how to make origami cranes but do not want to wait until arriving on campus, Google lists more than 150,000 sites that will tell you how, including some with video instructions.

In addition to the thousand cranes hanging by string, the office has a basket of cranes for people to take for free. The delicate paper creations are spreading themselves around campus as people come to see the masterpiece.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Welcome new Randolph College international students

Randolph College is proud to be a global community. With 12 percent of our student body hailing from outside the U.S., we foster international perspectives for all of our students, whether they are from right here in Lynchburg or from as far away as Japan or Afghanistan.

This week, the College welcomed about 30 new international students from 11 different countries.

They checked in on Thursday as a group of returning international students welcomed them to campus. The international orientation leaders will help the new students get acquainted with the cultural and academic life in this community.

"You are going to enrich our experience at the College," Nancy Goulde, coordinator of international student services, told the new students during orientation this morning. "You are going to have some amazing experiences, too."

Seated in the fifth floor lobby of Randolph College's Leggett Building, the students introduced themselves to each other and taught each other how to say hello in their native tongues.

They come from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Nigeria, Nepal, and Vietnam.

Randolph College welcomes all of these students and we wish you success in your studies here!