Friday, May 25, 2012

Student Center Renovation Update: May 25

To see the latest photo slideshow of Randolph College's $6 million Student Center renovation, please see

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Randolph students restore Roman artifacts in Italy

A group of Randolph students is currently in Italy restoring ancient Roman artifacts with the Centro di Conservazione Archeologica (CCA).

What exactly do students DO on this trip? Watch and find out in this video from Roberto Nardi of the CCA.
In its second year, the two week Archaeological Conservation Institute is a collaboration between the CCA and Randolph College. Conservator Roberto Nardi and his staff lead the students on a series of lectures, discussions and site visits, emphasizing hands-on experience in conservation and methods of Roman painting, opus sectile and stucco.

Classics professor Susan Stevens organized the program with Nardi after he visited Randolph two years ago. In addition to working in CCA’s laboratories, participants get to experience a bit of Italian culture including wine tasting, pasta making, and olive oil production.

2012 Participants
  • Stormy Clowdis '13
  • Catherine DeSilvey '13
  • Meredith Dougherty '15
  • Melissa Halka '14
  • Claire Sumner '15
  • Kathleen Taylor '15
  • Monica Varner '14

2011 Participants
  • Catherine DeSilvey '13
  • Tierney Dickinson '14
  • Rhiannon Knol '11
  • Gage Stuntz '13
  • Monica Varner '14
  • Lindsay Wood '11

Randolph College Receives Award from Virginia Math and Science Coalition

Randolph College’s Science and Math Links: Research-Based Teaching Institute was one of only six programs in the state recognized as a 2012 Program That Works by the Virginia Math and Science Coalition. The award was given at a special ceremony in Richmond May 22.

The summer institute, which is designed to help elementary and secondary teachers learn more effective ways to teach science, is organized by Peggy Schimmoeller, a Randolph education professor, Peter Sheldon, a Randolph physics professor, and Tatiana Gilstrap, a Randolph environmental science professor.

The Virginia Mathematics and Science Coalition is an alliance of education, corporate, and public policy leaders who work together to revitalize mathematics and science education in prekindergarten through graduate school. The coalition grants the Programs That Work awards to effective student and teacher educational programs it considers exemplary and for which there is evidence of a positive impact on student or teacher learning.

The coalition’s selection committee recognized the significant work that had been invested in the design and implementation of Randolph College’s program as well as its impact on education.

“The science and mathematics education initiative works so well because it is truly a collaborative effort between the education department and the sciences department at the College,” said Schimmoeller. “Randolph College faculty members work in tandem to offer meaningful learning opportunities to area teachers.”

Randolph College has received funding for the Science and Math Links program from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) since its beginning three years ago. SCHEV recently awarded the College funding for a fourth year.

The Randolph program, which has grown steadily, trains elementary and middle school teachers to better teach science with an emphasis on hands-on and inquiry-based methods. The program includes intensive assessment of how the training affects teachers’ attitudes toward science, the attitudes of their students toward science, and the learning of science measured using the students’ standardized test scores.

“We started with basic science and math content and hands-on ideas in the first year and have expanded to include science literacy, reading, and some special programs,” said Sheldon. “We continue to expand to include more teachers and administrators in the workshop.”

The Randolph initiative involves local school divisions, the Jubilee Family Development Center, the Central Virginia Governor’s School for Science and Technology, and Agriculture in the Classroom.

“We strive to reach as many children as possible in a variety of settings,” Schimmoeller said. “We want students and teachers to feel confident in their ability to do and to understand all areas of scientific investigation. Scientific understanding allows our children to make informed decisions when they live, work, and vote in the future. Central to this community effort is eliminating barriers for women and minorities to enter science fields.”

Randolph’s program has improved the quality of instruction offered by its participating teachers. After participating in the program, the teachers use more hands-on and inquiry-based science discovery in the classroom, and survey data also show positive results in attitude and achievement.

“We are very proud of what we have done,” Sheldon said. “When we began our collaboration in 1999, our goal was to improve attitude and achievement for students in science in secondary school.”

Students, he added, sometimes make up their minds as early as high school, about whether they will enter a career involving science. “We decided that to make the most impact, we needed to start as early as possible to dispel the myths that ‘science is hard,’ or ‘science is done by white males in lab coats,’” Sheldon said. “We are so happy to be funded by SCHEV for these four years so that we can really work to make our intended impact.”

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Students begin Summer Research projects

Two dozen Randolph College students are going to spend this summer investigating such puzzles as how to make better puppets for the show Avenue Q, how to map all the motions of a roller coaster, and how to better measure the amount of oxygen in water.

The 2012 Summer Research Program kicked off Monday with a luncheon where students and faculty members introduced their projects. Peter Sheldon, a physics professor and director of the new Center for Student Research, said this is the program’s largest year, with 24 student researchers, 14 faculty members, and one high school student who will attend Randolph this fall.

Although students will spend most of the next eight weeks working closely with faculty members, there will be numerous meetings like Monday’s opener where they can meet together to learn about the progress of their research or to hear from speakers who will teach about the research process.

“The Summer Research Program is not just about your projects,” Sheldon said. “It’s about a community of scholars coming together regularly.”

Here is a list of the projects students and faculty members are undertaking this summer:

  • Ashley Peisher ’15, Emily Sirney ’14, and Sonja Cirilo ’15 will work with theatre professor Mace Archer to produce Tracy Lett’s Bug in a motel room (the play’s setting) or a similar space. “We are going to see if the audience needs aesthetic distance to enjoy a show, or if you can be right up there in the action,” said Sirney.
  • Bill Bare, a chemistry professor, and Mimansha Joshi ’14 will research ways to use luminescent substances to measure oxygen levels in water with greater reliability.
  • Tatiana Gilstrap, a physics and environmental science professor and an earthquake expert, will study the the aftershocks of the earthquake that struck Virginia in August 2011. Chiamaka Asinugo ’14 and Nam Hoang ’15 will work with her to map the aftershocks using available seismic data.
  • Education professors Peggy Schimmoeller and Robbi Parker will work with Dominique Rose ’14 on a project that aims to measure the effectiveness of the College’s teacher education programs.
  • Bunny Goodjohn, an English professor, and Lauren Dowdle ’13 will attempt to make better tests for English skills assessments.
  • Brooke McKelvey '14 and Babatunde Ajao '15 are working with Ken Parks, a theatre professor, will build puppets for the College's production of Avenue Q, which will take the stage in February 2013. They will experiment with ways to make puppets more intuitive for actors to use on stage.
  • Biology professor Adam Houlihan, Laura Word ’13, and Michael Taylor ’13 will focus their research on chickens in the Randolph College Organic Garden. They will attempt to determine whether ground vegetation influences a chicken’s health and egg quality.
  • Marc Ordower, a mathematics professor, and Zhe Zhang ’15 will explore the solutions to several complicated mathematical questions.
  • Five students will work with Katrin Schenk, a physics professor, on two different projects. Zahra Adahman ’14, Chris Hollingsworth ’15, and Alex Kwakye ’15 will run experiments with Schenk to learn about the ultrasonic calls that mouse pups make to their mothers. Jim Kwon ’14 and Thawda Aung ’13 will continue developing ways to use cell phones to monitor Alzheimer’s patients.
  • Beth Schwartz, a psychology professor, and Megan Hageman ’13 will continue the Summer Research project they began last year, investigating academic integrity and also developing a proposal for a book about student success in college.
  • Tim Slesinger ’14 will help with Sheldon’s ongoing research regarding the physics of roller coasters.
  • Laura-Gray Street, an English professor, plans to complete a novel with the assistance of Marisa Mendez ’13. They will study the collaborative writing and editing process as well as compile information on the process of getting published to create a guide for future Randolph students.
  • What prompts people to buy unhealthy food? Psychology professor Holly Tatum and Zara Sibtain ’13 will study the factors that influence food purchase choices in a Lynchburg food desert.
  • Schimmoeller, Sheldon, and Gilstrap will also add to their ongoing research about how science education is affected by the use of hands-on lessons. They will hold a program to teach educators about hands-on teaching methods and continue a week-long summer science camp for local children.
Watch the Randolph College blog for updates on these projects later this summer.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Randolph College Celebrates Class of 2012

Bright sunshine and a blue sky greeted the 91 members of Randolph College’s Class of 2012 on Sunday, May 13. The class, which includes two graduate students earning master’s degrees, shared the special Mother’s Day ceremony in The Mabel K. Whiteside Greek Theatre with a crowd of family, friends, faculty, staff, alumnae, and alumni.

Four members of the Class of 2012 shared the annual Maude Huff Fife Award, which is presented to the student or students with the highest academic grade point average. The four graduates receiving the honor were Danielle Marie Robinson, Susannah Marie Lukens, Angelina M. Haines, and Joanna Elizabeth Bourque.

Josiah “Si” Bunting III, a member of the Randolph College Board of Trustees offered the Commencement address. Bunting also serves as president of The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation in New York City and is an adjunct professor at Princeton University. He has served as president of Briarcliff College and Hampden-Sydney College and was the superintendent of Virginia Military Institute (VMI) for eight years. An accomplished author, Bunting is a VMI graduate and Vietnam War veteran.

Bunting told the class that their liberal arts education would prepare them well for the profession they would all share in life—citizenship. He encouraged them to embrace that responsibility by opening their minds and listening to others, no matter what their political stance or view. “We must always embrace—you must always embrace—no matter what the cost to yourself, the positions of others and what you can learn from them and receive from the convictions of yourselves,” Bunting said. “Always reach across aisles with a spirit of learning and friendship.”

Bunting told the seniors they would be liberally educated and liberally self-educated for the rest of their lives. “Always stand up and say exactly what you think,” he said. “That is your heritage. Be an original.”

Derrick Woods-Morrow ’12, president of the senior class, congratulated his classmates on their hard work and perseverance and told them to appreciate the experiences they have received. “Our Randolph College education has taught us to be adventurous, open-minded, and seeking of momentous phases in life that are spurred by vast dreams,” he said.

He encouraged the graduates to remain confident as they head into the world. “It’s time to take that diploma and use it to be extraordinary people.”

John E. Klein, president of Randolph College, congratulated the Class of 2012 for their accomplishments and the impact they have had on the College. “Over the past four years, we have watched you grow, develop, and thrive,” Klein said. “We’ve seen you face challenges head on, discover new talents and passions, and learn to believe in yourself. You have carved your own path, while also preserving the traditions and commitment to learning that have long been the hallmarks of this great institution. You have become leaders in the classroom, on the stage, in the community, on the athletic field, and in every other aspect of campus life.

“Because of you, Randolph College is a better place.”

To read more about the 2012 Commencement ceremony, please see

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Student Center Renovation Update: May 9, 2012

to access the latest photos of Randolph's $6 million Student Center renovation project.

Alumna receives award for songbird habitat research

Another one of our alumnae recently was recognized for outstanding work as a graduate student.

Jessica Shahan ’08 received an award for Outstanding Graduate Student Research at the University of North Dakota, where she is studying the habitats of songbirds in Midwest prairies. The research requires long hours and intense focus, but she was ready for this work thanks to her degree from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, she said.
Jessica Shahan worked with chemistry professor
Bill Bare on a summer research project exploring
how to turn frying oil into diesel fuel.

“I love being out in the middle of North Dakota at dawn and knowing that I totally have it handled,” she said, adding that the educational foundation she received from the College’s rigorous academic program helped prepare her for graduate school. “After that, fieldwork is not so hard.”

Shahan studied environmental science and biology as an undergraduate. For the Summer Research Program in 2006, she explored methods of turning frying oil into biodiesel fuel. She later received the Myers Scholarship, funded by Martha Myers Smith ’38, to study options for global warming solutions.

For her master’s project, Shahan is trying to determine how the landscape around a pocket of prairie land affects the birds that live there. Most of the grasslands in that region have been taken over by agriculture, limiting the habitat for many birds. “We’ve taken these birds that used to live all across the Great Plains and corralled them to these little fragments of prairies,” she said.

“It’s a very big question and involves a very large-scale project, and it requires a large amount of time,” Shahan said. She drives to 29 sites at least twice a year to make observations, and she also has been converting aerial photos into digital maps of the study areas.

In April, Shahan presented some of her research at the national conference of the U.S. Chapter of the International Association for Landscape Ecology.

Shahan hopes her research arms wildlife managers with information that they can use to focus on helping prairie lands that need the most attention. She plans to pursue opportunities in biology education and environmental outreach. “And I still want to be able to do some research,” she said. “I’d like to have it all.”

Student research and ancient drama get boost from new campus organizations

Earlier this week, we announced two new, exciting ventures here on campus. We are creating the Randolph College Center for Student Research and the Randolph College Center for Ancient Drama to create synergy with several related educational programs.

The Center for Student Research will integrate three strong programs that help students experience original and innovative research:
Peter Sheldon, a physics professor at the College, will serve as the director of the Center for Student Research. He currently directs the Summer Research Program and has been an advocate for student research programs.

The Center for Ancient Drama will enhance the College’s growing reputation as a preferred destination for students who are interested in the study of classics and ancient drama.

Directed by Amy R. Cohen, a classics professor, the Center will incorporate several of the College's current undertakings:

  • The Greek Play, a Randolph tradition that allows students to perform classic theatre in the Mabel Kate Whiteside Greek Theatre with techniques like those used by ancient Greek actors.
  • The Conference on Ancient Drama in Performance, which brings scholars to the College to discuss studies of ancient Greece
  • Didaskalia, an internationally renowned journal dedicated to the study of ancient Greek and Roman performance
The next Greek Play is Seven Against Thebes by Aeschylus, and will be performed in October 2012. The Conference on Ancient Drama in Performance will be held in conjunction with the play.

For more information on the role the Centers will play at the College, read this news release on the Randolph College Web site.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Theatre students finish year of strong performances, prepare for Avenue Q and other shows

From skill-building stage shows to a summer theatre camp for youth, Randolph’s theatre program is providing many opportunities for students.

This year has required acting and theatre design students at Randolph College to step up to demanding work on stage and behind the scenes. Next year’s shows—including Avenue Q and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf—will continue to offer new challenges.

“Everything we’re selecting presents real challenges to our actors and designers that are going to make them better,” said Mace Archer, a theatre professor. “There’s nothing easy next season.”

Want to get to know the Randolph College theatre program? Listen to Marian van Noppen '12, one of the stars from Randolph's productions of Spring Awakening, and A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Sonja Cirilo '15, a star from Reasons to be Pretty and Extremities, talk about how their experiences here have helped them develop talent for working on stage and behind the scenes in this video.
This season, students tackled two large shows—the rock-n-roll musical Spring Awakening and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream set during Brazilian carnival—and two plays with four-person casts—Extremities and Reasons to be Pretty. These plays gave opportunities to all theatre students, Archer said.

“The designers have learned the process of starting with nothing, going into design meetings with directors, evolving their ideas, and getting their work done,” Archer said. “Our actors have taken great strides in terms of the difficulty of the roles that they were tackling this year. The roles in these plays are really ambitious.”

Archer said the experiences students gain in these shows are already paying off. Two students graduating this year have secured summer jobs in well-known theatres. Emily Perry ’12 will work in Philadelphia’s Walnut Street Theatre and Rebekah Baumgartner will work in the Olney Theatre near Washington, D.C.

Next year’s theatre season kicks off with The Scene by Theresa Rebeck, followed by Anton Checkhov’s Uncle Vanya. In the spring, the College will present Avenue Q, a hit musical in which some characters are played by puppets. The season will wrap up with Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

Several students will be on campus this summer working on a variety of theatre projects. During the Summer Research Program, Brooke McKelvey ’14 and Babatunde Ajao ’15 will work with Ken Parks, another theatre professor, to design a puppet control system for Avenue Q; Ashley Peisher ’15, Emily Sirney ’14, and Sonja Cirilo ’15 will help Archer produce the play Bug to experiment with environmental theatre, performing the play in the setting of a motel room.

Some students will help Archer and a group of professional actors conduct a two-week summer theatre camp for youth. Dubbed WildCat Theatre Conservatory, the camp will run from July 30–Aug. 11 with theatre instruction and activities for students from kindergarten to 12th grade. (Registration is now open!) Experience teaching theatre to children will give students more opportunities in the future, Archer said.

Student Center Renovation Update: May 2, 2012

Check out the latest photos and update on the $6 million Student Center renovation here:


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Awards ceremonies mark academic and athletic achievement

As the end of another academic year approaches, it is time to celebrate the great accomplishments of our students. They excelled in the classroom, triumphed in athletic contests, and demonstrated what it means to lead a life more abundant.

Recently, Randolph held two awards events to recognize students for their performance in academics and athletics. Here are the award winners:

Academic Awards

Rachel Trexler Ellis  ’44 Art Prize for Excellence: Lauren Shelton ’12

Asian Studies
David Anthony Asian Studies Award: Qi Zhang ’13

Sophomore Biology Award: Zahra Adahman ’14
Ann Grant Gerhardt Cup & Award: Lauren Dowdle ’13 and Treasa Bryant ’13
Grace Taylor Wiltshire Honorary Alumnae Award: Angelina Haines ’12
Marnie Reed Crowell Award: Lily Noguchi ’13

Departmental Award for Outstanding Achievement: Madeline Carmain ’13
CRC Freshman Chemistry Award: Hart Gillespie ’15 and Alyssa Everett ’15
American Chemical Society Award for Inorganic Chemistry: Madeline Carmain ’13

Latin Diploma Contest: James Potter ’15
College Greek Exam: Kathleen Taylor ’15 and Katherine Bickley ’14

Communication Studies
James Carey/Marie Nichols Award for Excellence: Xavier Castanedas ’12
Carla Heath/James Hoban Award: Emily Hood ’15

Helen McGehee Award: DuQuan Little ’12
Genia Melikova Award: Lauren Boergert ’14
Sally Spencer Award: Isabelle Dom ’12
Eleanor Struppa Departmental Award: Martin Wiley ’13

Economics and Business
Carl Stern Award for Excellence in Economics: Reid Winkler ’12
Stan Marchall Award for Excellence in Business: Pavol Kosac ’12

Halley Smith Excellence in Intern Teaching Award: Tim Clarke ’12
Kathleen Bowman Research Award: Nicole Gammons ’12

Academy of American Poets: Jennifer Bundy ’12
Academy of American Poets, Honorable Mention: Grace Gardiner ’15 and Jerry Wells ’12
Sarah I. Davis Award in American Studies: Jerry Wells ’12
John P. Kirby Award for Explication: Grace Gardiner ’15
John P. Kirby Award for Explication, Honorable Mention: Jerry Wells ’12
Charlotte Stephenson Oresman '41 Prize for Humor: Jennifer Bundy ’12
Margaret I. Raynal First-Year Essay Award: Grace Gardiner ’15
Margaret I. Raynal Fiction Award: Sara Taylor ’12
Margaret I. Raynal Fiction Award, Honorable Mention: Jennifer Bundy ’12 and Danielle Robinson ’12

Environmental Studies
Outstanding Environmental Studies Student: Kavya Pradhan ’14
Environmental Studies Senior Award: Louise Searle ’12

Prix de l'Alliance Francaise: Glenna Gray ’14
Prix du Club de Francais: John Grzelak, IV ’13 and Melissa Halka ’14

Maier Museum of Art
Helen Owen Calvert Writing Award: Sara Taylor ’12

Outstanding First-Year Math Student: Hart Gillespie ’15 and Tung "Alex" Tran ’15

Outstanding First Year Physics & Engineering Student: Hart Gillespie ’15
Outstanding Contributor to Science Education: Timothy Slesinger ’14 and Yong "Jim" Kwon ’14

Outstanding Academic Achievement Award: Morgan Thompson ’13

J. Kenneth Morland Award: Lauren Groves ’12

Charlotte Daniels Stern Award: Emily Lockhart ’13
Helen Edwards Morrison Award: Lis Chacon ’13

Outstanding Contributor in Theatre Award: Matthew Cornpropst ’14
Academic Achievement Award: Christine Gnieski ’13

Writing Board
Best Short Paper: Sara Taylor ’12
Best Long Paper: Danielle Robinson ’12

Athletic Awards
Athlete of the Year: Ashley Gardner ’13 and Corey Sindle ’14
Rookie of the Year: Patricia Verdezoto ’15 and Coulton Watson ’15
Coaches’ Award: Malcolm Nelson ’12
Emily Ryals Sportsmanship Award: Lauren Dees ’13
Reynolds Cup: Brooke Camper ’12
Spectators of the Year: President John E. Klein and Susan V. Klein
Cushman Cup: Ben Downs
Deacon Award: Chris Staats ’13
Scholar Athlete Award: Jerry Wells ’12
Jefferson Cup Recipients: Janie Campbell ’12, Courtney Collier ’13, Jennifer Fowler ’12, Lauren French ’12, Greg Herrick ’12, Nick Hudson ’12, Kevin McCracken ’12, Malcolm Nelson ’12, Gina Pagano ’12, Timmy Songer ’12, Julius Thomas ’12, Caitlin Unterman ’12, Jerry Wells ’12, Reid Winkler ’12, Derrick Woods-Morrow ’12