Friday, March 30, 2012

Great a cappella music and a fundraiser for local schools

An a cappella music festival Saturday at Randolph College will raise money for music and art education programs in local schools.

“Acappelooza” will feature music from Randolph College’s own student music groups Songshine, Voices, and Touch of Harmony, with guest performances by the Sweet Tones from Sweet Briar College and Ball in the House, a professional group from Boston.

“We’re a group of students who wanted to put together a show for the community,” said Ja’el Daniely ’12, co-president of Songshine, Randolph’s all-female a cappella group. “We thought it would be a great idea to get out into The Dell and have an afternoon of fun and music.”

The event will kick off at 3 p.m. when Touch of Harmony, a singing ensemble focused on jazz music, takes the stage. Sweet Tones will sing at 3:40 p.m., followed by Voices, the College’s coed a cappella group, at about 4:10 p.m.

Ball in House will perform for about an hour starting at 4:45 p.m. Daniely said Ball in the House wowed the student community during an event last year, so Songshine invited them back for the community concert.
Songshine will take the stage for the last half hour of the show.

Admission to the event itself is free. Songshine and Voices will sell CDs, and several student groups around campus have volunteered to make baked goods and other items to sell for the fundraiser.

Independent film world rediscovers '77 alumna and her films

The independent film world has rediscovered Sara Driver ’77.

Driver, the namesake of an annual film festival at Randolph College, became a popular independent director and producer in the 1980s and 1990s. This week, the Anthology Film Archives in New York has been screening all of Driver’s films with a couple of guest appearances by Driver herself. A DVD compilation of her work is forthcoming, too.

“I have been restored in my lifetime!” Driver said in a recent Wall Street Journal interview. “I’m a total optimist about everything.”

After graduating from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, Driver began creating films in New Jersey and New York. One of her first breakthroughs was You Are Not I, a short film based on a Paul Bowles short story about a woman escaping from an asylum. The film built a cult following and was screened in international film festivals in the early 1980s until misfortune struck: The film prints and negatives were destroyed in a New Jersey storage facility.

A happy discovery came in 2009. Driver received a phone call from a librarian who had acquired some of Paul Bowles’ personal belongings. Among the belongings was a copy of You Are Not I that Driver had sent to Bowles. The film was digitally preserved, and it was featured in the Masterworks section of the 2011 New York Film Festival and the Edinburg Film Festival.

Driver's other works include popular independent films such as When Pigs Fly, a ghost story, and Sleepwalk, which one critic praised as possibly “the most visually ravishing American independent film of its year (1986).”

The Film Anthology Archives, a film museum focused on avant garde and independent works, opened “Sleepwalking: The Films of Sara Driver” on March 23, and will continue showing her films through April 1. Visit the Anthology Film Archives website for more information. Also, a box set of Driver's works can be ordered online

Driver’s mother, Martha (Lou) Miller Driver ’50, funded the Driver Film Festival at Randolph College in honor of Sara. This month, the festival brought Tracey Deer and Robin Honan to campus to discuss their films and examine the role that women play in the film industry.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Randolph College Annual Spring Dance Concert Dedicated to the Memory of Visiting Artist Rebecca Jung

The Randolph College Annual Spring Dance Concert kicks off a weekend of performances today. This longstanding tradition features choreography from Randolph students and visiting artists.

The performances will take place at 8 p.m. March 29-31 in Smith Hall Theatre in Smith Memorial Building. Admission is $8 for general admission, $4 for students, and children 12 and under are free.

This year’s concert is dedicated to the memory of visiting artist Rebecca Jung. Jung passed away on September 6, 2011, less than two weeks before her Randolph College residency was to begin. Jung was a frequent visiting artist at Randolph, and was scheduled to stage a work for this year’s Annual Concert. Her death from advanced cancer was devastating and shocking to the entire dance community, and Randolph’s students and faculty members wanted to honor her creativity, talent, and “exuberant zaniness.” The dances included in this year’s Concert celebrate life—its joys, moments of humor, fleeting images of strength, beauty, and pathos.

The 2012 Annual Spring Dance Concert will also feature a special tribute to Jung. The dancers will perform Takehiro Ueyama’s “Footsteps in the Snow,” a stunningly beautiful requiem that Ueyama says reflects on the poignant reality that “nothing is permanent, nothing’s immortal, but we are going to leave something behind.”

photo by Keith Thieneman

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Randolph College's 2012 Science Festival doubles attendance

More than 1,400 people of all ages got a taste of the magic of science March 23-25 during Randolph College’s 2012 Science Festival.

The Science Festival is in its fourth year and is designed to spark an interest in science in people of all ages by making science fun and accessible. The festival revolves around interactive exhibits and kid-friendly activities while also including lectures with leaders in the science community. Randolph’s Society of Physics Students runs the event each year with the help of more than 90 student volunteers.

“The student volunteers did an amazing job making all the events happen, and making them happen well,” said Peter Sheldon, a Randolph College physics professor and director of the Science Festival. “We grew Science Festival significantly this year, with more activities and more attendance, and we could not have done it without the huge community support.”

Michael Shermer, founder of Skeptic magazine, kicked off the event with a classroom demonstration and public lecture on Thursday, March 23. Other events included a poetry contest for students in K-12, the popular Science Day for third through sixth graders, a drop-in event featuring hands-on science activities, the opportunity to view and critique the movie Twister with a scientist, the regional Cub Scout Pinewood Derby, and much more.

Randolph College provides Science Fest free to the community with the help of generous individual and corporate sponsors: Lead Sponsor: The News & Advance, AREVA, Edison2, Frito-Lay, Future Focus Foundation, Dominion Electric Vehicles, Greater Lynchburg Community Trust, High Peak Sportswear, Meriwether Godsey, Stewart Langley Properties, Pepsi, Marge Dillard ’4848, and The Honorable Elliot S. and Rosel H. Schewel.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Former Emerging Writer-in-Residence gets book contract and offers advice for Randolph students

Anthony D’Aries arrived at Randolph College last year with two tasks ahead of him. The first task was to teach a course for seven weeks. Second, he wanted to finish a book he had worked on for years.

Bunny Goodjohn, a Randolph English professor, dropped him off at an apartment where he would stay on campus. When she returned to check on him a few hours later, she found him sitting on the floor surrounded by copies of his manuscript.

“When I got to Randolph, I had a big chunk of material. I was at a point where I felt I needed to print all this and physically cut things out and move them around,” said D’Aries, the College’s 2011 Emerging Writer-in-Residence. “By the end of my time there, I felt really solid about it.”

D’Aries has now secured a publisher for The Language of Men, the memoir he polished at Randolph. The book is due out from Hudson Whitman / Excelsior College Press this summer.
Watch this video to hear Anthony D'Aries read from The Language of Men during his time as Randolph College's Visiting Writer-in-Residence in 2011. At the time, his memoir was under the working title Aural History.

Goodjohn said D’Aries’ achievement demonstrates the value that students can receive from Randolph College’s Emerging Writer-in-Residence program. Each year, that program invites an author who has recently received a master of fine arts but has not yet published a full-length book to teach a creative writing class at Randolph.

“Working with someone who is a fine writer, who is pursuing the grail of publication but has not yet found it, makes the process seem more do-able for a novice,” Goodjohn said. “If students can work with an emerging writer who then completes that emerging process and becomes a published author, it becomes more real.”

The experience also helps students understand the hard work required for becoming a published writer, Goodjohn said.

D’Aries said his time at Randolph provided him with an excellent opportunity to complete his book while also working with talented students. “The students at Randolph brought a lot to the class. A lot of them were strong writers to start with,” he said. “I was really excited to work with all the students.”

Advice for Aspiring Writers

D’Aries offered a few bits of advice for his former students based on his experience since he visited Randolph:

     1. Trust your instincts. “You have to really trust what you're writing about, even if it seems totally irrelevant. If certain things keep appearing in your work, your subconscious is telling you something.”

     2. Avoid getting too much feedback too early in the writing process. Give yourself time to develop your voice. “You still need feedback, but getting that too early can be more stunting than helpful.”

     3. Don’t put too much faith in writing habits—such as what time of day to write and how to get started—just because they have worked for others. “You've got to develop your own habits.”

     4. Don’t be too much of a perfectionist. “You have to get to a certain point where you allow yourself to be satisfied with it, where you allow yourself to feel like it’s finished.”

Lynchburg Bird Club donates money to Randolph biology department for growing bird and mammal collection

Randolph College is fortunate to have a growing collection of bird and mammal specimens that students can examine to learn more about animal biology and evolution. Thanks to the Lynchburg Bird Club, that collection of skins will have a new home.

Last week, the club presented a $1,000 donation to the College. The money will help pay for a new museum cabinet for the expanding collection of avian study specimens, said Doug Shedd, The Catherine Ehrman Thoresen ’23 and William E. Thoresen Professor of Biology.

A group of three students and an alumna recently began working with Shedd to prepare bird specimens to be added to the collection. The students have been learning how to perform taxidermy to preserve the birds and repair any damage they have. “For the first time in many years, we’re adding new specimens to the collection,” Shedd said.
Angelina Haines '12 (left), Will Guzman '15, professor Doug Shedd, Emily
Smith '11, and Aaron McRorie '13 have been working to expand the
College's collections of animal study skins. Photo by Barbara Shedd.

Emily Smith ’11, who graduated in December, organized the project after spending last year cataloging the College’s natural history collection and updating the tags on each animal specimen. Aaron McRorie ’13, Angelina Haines ’12, and Will Guzman ’15 have been working with her to preserve the new specimens.

Shedd said this project is helping to expand an important resource at the College. “Natural history collections play an important role in ecological and evolutionary studies and in teaching,” he said, pointing out that biology students study the specimens to learn about evolution, while art students use the collection to draw animals with great detail.

“We are excited about the progress we've made with the Collection Project and look forward to important additional advances soon,” Shedd said.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Student Center Renovation Update: March 22, 2012

Spring has arrived, and the view outside from the top floors of the Student Center is filled with blooming trees, flowers, and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Inside, the view is filled with progress. Floors, walls, and framing continue to be installed. The third floor is being transformed into a modern conference and theatre facility that is enhanced by the gorgeous, unique architectural elements of the original Student Center.

Outside, scaffolding lines the back wall of the facility. Crews will soon begin tearing down parts of the exterior wall. What is now brick will be replaced by floor-to-ceiling windows offering stunning views of Randolph’s back campus and the nearby mountains.

Keep checking back for more updates on Randolph’s $6 million Student Center renovation. To see previous posts and photos, please go to

View of the second and third floors.

This area used to house student organization offices such as the Sundial.

View of the top floors in the back part of the facility.

View of the Chapel from the Student Center.

Work continues on the addition that will be added to the building.

The third floor of the Student Center has been transformed. This area will contain seating for the theatre.

View of what will become a glass vestibule entrance way.

View of back campus and the Student Center renovation.

Scaffolding has been placed on the back of the facility as workers prepare to replace much of the brick with large, floor-to-ceiling windows.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Founders' Day 2012 celebration

On Thursday, we paused to remember and honor the founders of our College. In 1891, William Waugh Smith and his associates had the vision of establishing a quality educational institution for women in Lynchburg. More than 120 years later, Randolph College continues to offer that education, now to women and men. Their hard work and commitment to education are still worth praising in speech and song every Founders’ Day.

On March 15, students, faculty, and staff gathered for a brief ceremony, after which they planted rose bushes along the Red Brick Wall in celebration of a line in the College song, which reads, “where roses tumble along sunny walls.”

Randolph College President John E. Klein said the Founders’ Day tradition allows students, faculty, and staff to pay homage to the rich history of Randolph-Macon Woman’s College.

“By honoring our past and those so instrumental in laying the strong academic foundation of this College, we can assure that the spirit of the women who came before us will live on, so that future generations of women and men may also achieve their dreams behind, and eventually outside, the College’s Red Brick Wall,” Klein said.

For more photos from the event, see our Founders' Day 2012 album on Facebook.

Randolph chef advances to national cooking competition

Randolph College’s top chef is heading to a national competition thanks to his culinary talent and improvisational skills.

Dave Wasson recently won the regional round of a contest called Aramark Culinary Excellence. (Aramark is the dining services company contracted by Randolph.) He competed against 15 other Aramark chefs from four different states to see who could quickly prepare a quality three-course meal using surprise ingredients—not unlike popular reality shows such as Chopped and Top Chef. He was one of three regional winners who will advance to the national Aramark contest in Orlando, Florida, in November 2012.

“I have taken part in this competition every year for the last six,” Wasson said. “My first year I placed third in my heat, and last year I took second, losing by less than a tenth of a point. That was a tough loss.

“Finally, this year, I broke through and made the national team. … I can’t begin to express how exciting it is to have achieved this accomplishment.”

In addition to winning a cooking contest, Dave Wasson also recently starred in this video about dining services at Randolph College.

In this year’s regional contest, Wasson was given a mystery basket with three ingredients. “In my basket I had Guinea fowl, red snapper, daikon radish, kiwi berries, and hard cider,” he said. He was given 15 minutes to write the menu, three hours to cook the meal, and 15 minutes to plate and serve the dishes.

Here are Wasson’s final masterpieces:

First Course

 Ricotta Gnocchi and Guinea Fowl Meatballs with Tomato Veloute and Basil Pistou (like a French cousin to pesto)

Second Course
Seared Red Snapper with Cider, Daikon and Pink Peppercorn Risotto, Haricot Vert and a Daikon and Herb salad with Cider Vinaigrette

Ganache Enrobed Layer Genoise (sponge cake) with Chocolate Mouse and Coffee Whipped Cream and Kiwi Berry Gastrique

Wasson said the contest coordinators commented that his cooking and food presentation have improved since his first competition six years ago, and he said the change is obvious to him, too.

He is looking forward to the national contest. “Orlando will be a nice place to visit in November!” he said.

Read more about Wasson and his approach towards managing the kitchen at Randolph College in this Randolph magazine story.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Security director explains how phone system keeps Randolph safe

Kris Irwin, our director of safety and security, recently stepped in front of the camera to talk about one piece of technology that helps keep Randolph College safe: Talk-A-Phone call boxes.

The College has more than 30 call boxes that allow people to get assistance from the campus security team. Pushing a button on the boxes activates a strobe light and immediately opens an audio connection to the reception desk. A communication officer can then send a security officer to provide assistance as needed.

Watch the video below to hear Irwin talk about how the phones help people feel more secure.

Did you know some of Randolph College’s security officers have emergency medical technician training?
Read more about our security team and their work to keep campus safe in this recent Randolph magazine article.

Senior wins Addy Award

A studio art major at Randolph College has won a regional award for his graphic design project.

Derrick Woods-Morrow ’12 received a Student Silver Addy Award from the American Advertising Federation Roanoke chapter on Saturday, March 10. The award recognized a creative business brochure he made.

The brochure was part of a semester-long project last year that incorporated many aspects of branding and advertising. “I created a fictional company called Fleeting Light Photography. Throughout the semester, I created different implementations of the company’s brand label,” he said.

When he was required to create a brochure for the business, Woods-Morrow decided to go beyond the standard three-panel folded pamphlet. He chose some of his favorite photographs from the previous year, applied a bokeh effect to them using Photoshop, and designed a custom calendar that doubled as a brochure. He had it printed with clear spiral bounding that gave the production a clean edge.

Photography is one passion that Woods-Morrow first began developing at Randolph College.

“I’ve always been interested in art, and I really liked photography, but I had never explored it,” he said. A couple of years ago, a friend gave Woods-Morrow a camera, and he started shooting. He took a photography class at the College, earned good reviews, and kept practicing.

A Randolph College program then helped Woods-Morrow acquire equipment to strengthen his photo editing skills. He used a grant from the Randolph Innovative Student Experience (RISE) program, which provides juniors and seniors with up to $2,000 to pursue their own research or creative interests, to buy a laptop capable of creating and editing photos, videos, graphic designs, and three-dimensional animations. “I use it all the time in my work,” he said.

In addition to being a successful art student, Woods-Morrow is president of the class of 2012 and plays forward on the men’s basketball team, and recently eclipsed the 1,000 point mark. Please use the comments below to congratulate Derrick on his latest accomplishment.

Monday, March 12, 2012

What makes the Maier the best? Here's why it will be featured in Virginia Living Magazine

Virginia Living Magazine has reaffirmed what the College community and our neighbors already knew about the Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College.

In May, the magazine will feature the Maier as one of the top three art museums in Central Virginia. (The actual ranking is a secret until May, though.) The selection came from reader contributions and was not sought by the Maier, according to Martha Johnson, interim director.
Maier volunteers Betsy Jones (sitting) and Judy Arthur (with apron)  lead a tour for local
elementary school children and their student-teacher, Erin Dunn '09.

“It is pretty exciting that we didn’t go out there looking for this,” Johnson said. “We were the ones the readers of this magazine thought about.”

In honor of this recognition, we compiled the top five reasons the Maier is a fantastic resource for the art and education community. Here they are:
  • Art
The Maier cares for the nearly 4,000 works of art in the College’s collection. While some art cycles through exhibitions in the Maier galleries, other paintings grace the walls of buildings around campus, including Main Hall corridor. The collection includes works from American artists representing a variety of styles and media.
  • College Education
The College’s art collection and the Maier’s facilities enhance the liberal arts education we provide to our students. Art students meet there to study techniques and art history; creative writing students craft poems about paintings; psychology students analyze artwork; and Spanish students write Spanish essays about the paintings.

Last semester, a group of six students took an opportunity for even more hands-on learning. They curated afull exhibition that is now on display in the Maier. More than 200 people came to the exhibition’s opening reception. Experiences like that help us share the high quality art education we offer to our students with the general public.
  • Local education
For about 20 years, the Maier has hosted Art and SOL, a program which allows second and fifth graders from Lynchburg to experience art and learn principles outlined in Virginia’s Standards of Learning by visiting the Maier.

“We give the second graders the vocabulary for talking about art. When they come back as fifth graders, the conversation just gets better,” Johnson said.
  • Community programs
The Maier hosts community events throughout the year, including programs for the entire family. Regular favorites include The Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Art and Love at the Maier. In a new program, the Alzheimer’s Association will conduct Arts Fusion tours, which give dementia-afflicted patients and their caregivers the opportunity to explore art together.

“They found that patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia responded so well to a structured experience in art museums,” Johnson said. “It was beneficial to them as well as to their caregivers.”
  • Dedicated staff and volunteers
None of this would be possible without the people who make it happen. Sarah Bare, the office manager, keeps track of the Maier’s books and runs its website and social media properties. Deborah Spanich acts as custodian of the artwork and the documentation regarding the collection, while her husband, John Spanich, serves as preparatory, hanging each exhibition, conducting minor frame repairs, and rotating the art around campus.

The Maier also has about 60 volunteer docents and receptionists. Many of the docents are alumnae of the College, but anyone is welcome to volunteer. “It’s open to anyone who has the interest and the desire and the time to do it,” said Johnson.

Any of these reasons by themselves make the Maier a great resource; together, they make it one of the best. We look forward to the May edition of Virginia Living to find out more.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Randolph alumna to speak at local historical society meeting

A recent Randolph College graduate will be the keynote speaker at the Friends of Rivermont Historical Society’s annual meeting next week.

Kathleen Conti ’11 will discuss historical research she conducted at Randolph. Her work shed light on controversy that erupted after the National D-Day Memorial, about 30 miles from the College, installed a bust of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, commemorating his involvement in D-Day.

“Embarking on the project, I knew that it was a very timely and a very controversial subject,” Conti said. “I also knew that it would matter.”

Conti conducted a summer research project titled “Memory as a Political Strategy: The Politics of Stalin Remembrance in Russia,” which considered ways Russian politicians evoked selective memories of Stalin to foster nationalism, while the nation as a whole sought to expunge him from memory. She expanded her research to study the purpose and history of the National D-Day Memorial.

Conti, who is now studying at UNC-Chapel Hill, said her summer research project and her senior paper prepared her for graduate school. She recalls several graduate school interviewers being impressed upon learning how much research she had done using primary sources.

“Many undergraduate programs don’t have the intensive capstone experiences that Randolph offers,” Conti said. “That’s one of our strengths.”

The Friends of Rivermont Historical Society established a historic district in the area around Randolph College and is dedicated to preserving and improving the beauty, safety, and community spirit of Historic Rivermont. Gerry Sherayko, a history professor at the College, is the president of the society and invited Conti to be this year’s speaker.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Students present and win awards at communication research conference

Two of our communication studies students recently won accolades at the Student Undergraduate Research Forum, a conference that honors research about communication.

Hannah Asher ’12 won first prize in the conference for her research about page layout and font styles in the magazines Cosmopolitan and Maxim. Her paper, titled “Comic Books and To Do Lists,” compared the men’s magazine Maxim to a comic book for its frequent use of cartoon-like images, its cluttered layout and its block text fonts. Meanwhile, Cosmopolitan features more color variations, softer fonts, and more organized layouts—including to-do lists. She argued that these design elements reinforce traditional gender roles that claim women must be more organized and in control of themselves while men can slack.

Julianna Joyce ’13 won second prize with her presentation about race depictions in Disney film. She noted that Disney animations that portray racial minorities perpetuate negative racial stereotypes. Even when minority characters are portrayed as protagonists, they usually have more Anglican features than antagonist minorities in the same movies, according to her research. Joyce conducted some of her research during the Summer Research Program in 2011.

Two other students also participated in the conference. Xavier Suarez ’12 presented his research about ska music and its contribution towards a Latin American cultural identity. He analyzed songs and music videos by Latin American bands Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, La Maldita Vecindad, and Los Rabanes, and discussed how the rhythms, lyrics, and themes of those songs create a hybrid culture from the various countries in that region.

Catherine Godley ’13 also presented research about the magazines Cosmopolitan and Maxim, but, unlike Asher, she focused on the images used in the magazines and what they say about gender roles. While prior research has focused on images in the magazines’ advertisements, she studied the images that editors themselves chose for magazine illustrations. She documented how both magazines (even Cosmopolitan, which is geared toward a female audience) cast women in weaker roles than men.

Randolph College gives students many opportunities to share their work with others, which is a very important part of the academic experience here and in graduate schools. In addition to regional and national conferences, our students participate in the Symposium of Artists and Scholars, which highlights the best academic research and creative work at the College each spring, and the Summer Research Program, which concludes with a mini-conference.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Student Center Renovation Update: March 2, 2012

View from what used to be the WWRM office.

View of the old Skeller (bottom floor) and what will soon be a two-level cardio area (top floor).

Progress is being made on the facility's addition.

View of the soon-to-be glass vestibule.

Breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Randolph's back campus from the Student Center.

The third floor will feature the building's gorgeous arched ceiling.

This area used to be chopped up with walls, stairs, and multi-level floors.

View of the back part of the facility.

Special seating will be constructed around these arched elements, which will utilize this unique architectural element.

View from what will be the WWRM's new DJ booth. The steel frame seen ahead will house a large screen. A projector mounted on the opposite side will provide the capability to play movies, etc .

View of what was the Harriet Fitzgerald Conference Room.
Randolph's Student Center renovation continues and changes are visible everyday. The progress is exciting and the beauty of the architectural elements of the current facility emerges more everyday.After months, access was finally available to the third floor this week. An area that was once divided by a large wall has been opened up, exposing windows and light. The old floor plan in this area was segmented by stairs and several floor levels. The renovation will allow all of the space in this part of the building to be used--and will offer views of the beautiful arched ceiling. The third floor will house the theatre and conference room areas.