Thursday, June 28, 2012

Art Institute of Chicago internship gives student valuable museum experience

Andrew Schaeffer ’14 is getting first-hand experience in the operations of a large museum, working with famous art and visitors from around the world. While he leads tours every day, he gets a glimpse of a career that he hopes is in his future.

Schaeffer was chosen for the 2012 Catherine McCaskill Clark Internship at the Art Institute of Chicago. Funded by alumna Amanda Fox ’67 and her husband Matthew Fox, the internship allows a Randolph student to work at the museum for about eight weeks each summer. It is one of several alumnae-sponsored internships at Randolph College.

“The opportunity to intern at the second largest museum in the United States was too exciting to pass up,” said Schaeffer, a Randolph art history and museum studies major from Greenlawn, N.Y.

The Art Institute of Chicago is home to famous works of art such as French impressionist Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte and American Gothic by Grant Wood.

The internship started with two weeks of intense training, which Schaeffer wrote about in a blog that the docent interns are keeping this summer. Then he started leading tours for groups of children, families, and adults.

Schaeffer spends most of his time leading tours and researching art to include in later tours. “The most important thing I have learned is that no tour can ever be replicated exactly,” he said. “Every tour group is unique in terms of its makeup of people, ideas, and cultures, causing each tour to be different. You need to be on your toes.”

Schaeffer also attends meetings with offices and departments throughout the Art Institute so he can learn more about how a large-scale museum operates. The experience is helping him prepare for his goal of working for museums after college.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Student Center Renovation Update: June 26, 2012

The $6 million Student Center renovation continues to progress. Window installation and work on the two-level cardio center and third-floor theatre have brought big changes to the interior and exterior of the facility.

Check out the latest photo slideshow here:


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Alumnae and alumni invited to complete survey

Graduates of Randolph College and Randolph-Macon Woman’s College have the chance to help the College measure the long-term impact of their undergraduate education through a new survey.

John Keener, director of institutional research, planning, and assessment at Randolph College, recently e-mailed alumnae and alumni to share a link to the new survey. Coordinated by the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium, the survey will help the College understand and track the the impact of the liberal arts education and college experience offered here.

The survey is open to all alumnae and alumni of the College. If you would like to participate, but have not received an e-mail with the link, please e-mail or call Heather Ayers Garnett ’86:, or 434-947-8102.

Thank you for your participation.

Alumna shares solar cell research and grad school experience with Randolph students

The sun hits the earth with enough energy every year that it could power every home and electrical device on the earth. So why do we not convert more of that energy into electricity?

“The simple answer is that solar cells are expensive and not particularly efficient,” Kacey Meaker ’08 recently told a group of Randolph College students. “How do we solve that?” she asked.
Watch this video to learn more about how Randolph faculty and programs helped Kacey Meaker prepare for graduate school.

Meaker is investigating ways to make better solar cells in pursuit of her Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley. This week, Meaker spoke at a seminar that was part of Randolph College’s Summer Research Program.

Meaker said that solar cells would have to cover about 0.2 percent of the earth’s land mass in order to produce enough electricity to power the whole world. That is roughly half the size of Texas. Her graduate school research focuses on nanophotovoltaic molecules—substances that produce electric energy from light—in hopes of finding less-expensive materials for solar cells. “You can cover half of Texas if you can find the right molecules that are cheap enough,” she said.

Meaker participated in the Summer Research Program as an undergraduate student at the College. In one of those projects, she helped Peter Sheldon, a Randolph physics professor, research the science of roller coasters. During the Summer Research Program this year, Sheldon, Meaker, and Tim Slesinger ’14 are continuing the roller coaster research, which will culminate in a book.

Meaker gave students some advice about deciding whether to pursue graduate studies, preparing for graduate school, and choosing a school to attend. She said that the Summer Research Program provides a good glimpse into graduate school life.

“It’s like Summer Research all year round,” Meaker said. “This summer is a good opportunity to see whether you would like to go to graduate school.”

Recent graduate wins coveted prize for short fiction

A member of the class of 2012 has won a prestigious prize for a story she wrote while at Randolph College.

Sara Taylor ’12 was awarded the Stony Brook Short Fiction Prize, which comes with a $1,000 cash award and free admission to Stony Brook University’s Southampton Writer’s Conference. Her winning piece, “Chloe’s Story,” was a part of her senior honors project.

The story tells of a girl navigating her way through life fraught with economic hardship and abuse while watching over her younger sister. “You could say that it’s about wild dogs and defending what’s precious to you, but it has a wider meaning in the context of the complete collection in which it belongs,” Taylor said.

Taylor said she was honored, but surprised, to learn that she had won.

She has been a writer for much of her life. “When I was first old enough to handle a pencil, I started making picture books out of legal paper and lots and lots of staples,” she said. “When I was 11, I wrote my first novel (it was terrible) and just kept going from there.”

Taylor chose to attend Randolph College specifically for the creative writing major offered by the English department. Her classes helped her become a better writer by exposing her to excellent writing and demanding that she produce high-quality work.

Bunny Goodjohn ’04, an English professor and director of the Writing Program, said Taylor strengthened her writing talent by participating in creative writing classes and Randolph’s study abroad program in Reading, England. “Her characters are real and multi-dimensional,” Goodjohn said. “She throws herself into research; Sara’s a writer who prides herself on handing over authenticity.

“I know  I am going to find Sara’s name on the spine of a good book in the not-too-distant future,” she said.

During her senior year, Taylor worked with Goodjohn on a collection of stories for an honors project. “Working with her is what took my writing from technically adequate to worth submitting to publishers,” Taylor said. “She's also one of the most encouraging people I've ever met.”

This fall, Taylor will begin earning a master’s degree in creative writing at the University of East Anglia. She hopes to find a literary agent and get a book contract in the next few years.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Student Center Renovation Update: June 13, 2012

Construction crews have been busy installing windows and drywall in the Student Center during the past week. Check out the newest photos of the $6 million renovation here:

A view from the new WWRM deejay booth. The glass booth will overlook the first floor.

Drywall is being installed on the back of the third floor theatre area.

Window installation on the third floor.

Window installation on the second floor.

Summer Research talk gives behind-the-scenes look at stage design

Unlike many pursuits, theatrical design has to be more than a hobby, according to Christopher Otwell, a theatre professor, scenic designer and technical director for Randolph College’s theatre program.

“To have success, both personally and professionally, you have to have a lot of commitment. For scenic design, you truly have to give a piece of yourself,” Otwell said in a Summer Research seminar. He walked students, faculty, and staff through a discussion of the stages of a set design.
Christopher Otwell used his design for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
to demonstrate the need for research in stage design. He had to learn about
the workings of mental institutions to make the set accurate and compelling.

The first step to great scenic design is to read the play. “You have to know that play from inside and out,” he said. It helps to think like an actor and a director because the stage needs to provide both atmosphere and physical space for every scene, entrance, and exit for the show.

“After reading the play, you have to research,” Otwell said. “Every play is going to have a time and a place that it takes place in. It’s going to have a world that it occurs in.”

Otwell said scenic design requires factual research to help designers understand the play’s historical and geographical setting which must be recreated on stage. It also involves inspirational research to spark creative ideas. He showed collections of hundreds of pictures that he has reviewed and saved to help him develop ideas for scenic designs. He also displayed images of sketches, renderings, and models he has created while designing sets for various plays.

Otwell’s speech was part of a series of weekly seminars scheduled for Summer Research Program participants and other students, faculty, and staff on campus to learn about the ways research intersects with various fields of study.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Student Center Renovation Update: June 8, 2012

Construction work continues at Randolph as crews make significant progress on the $6 million Student Center renovation. Check out the latest photos here:

The view from back campus

Inside looking out of the third floor

Randolph's new theatre

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Youngest class of "Evens" graduates from Randolph College Nursery School

 Randolph College graduated its youngest “Evens” this week. On Tuesday evening, 15 “seniors” from the Randolph College Nursery School Class of 2012 received their diplomas and sang the much loved-school song, “Apple Red Happiness,” one last time.

A crowd of parents, grandparents, and friends packed Smith Banquet Hall for the event, which featured dinner, the diploma ceremony and multiple performances from the “seniors” as well as the “juniors” from the school.

“Graduation is a bittersweet event,” said Holly Layne, director. “We know our children are ready to take on the world of kindergarten, and we are excited for them. But it is so hard letting them go. It’s like saying good-bye to a beloved family member.”

The preschool was established in 1943 as a half-day program dedicated to providing quality education to young children. Today, the school offers multiple options for families, including full-day, half-day, and a summer camp program. The program serves children 3-5 years of age, and the students have access to a variety of campus resources and facilities.

“Randolph College Nursery School is a treasure to the preschoolers who experience the student-centered, dynamic curriculum that has been developed so thoughtfully over the program’s 69-year-history,” said Mimi Csatlos, a parent of a graduate. “And it is treasure to the parents of those preschoolers, too!

“In a time when younger generations are so often criticized for struggling to think critically and independently, to see three-and four-year-olds striving to solve problems and generate plans, all within the context of developmentally appropriate fun and exploration, is inspiring,” she added. “My husband and I both feel that the ‘High Scope’ educational model to which RCNS subscribes has helped us become better parents. Finally, the full-day preschool option has been a lifesaver for our family; we love that the afternoons are not merely about supervision— the learning continues all day, and this is another distinguishing attribute of the RCNS program. Our daughter is beautifully prepared for kindergarten and beyond.”

The Randolph College Nursery School has long been recognized for its excellent child-centered curriculum. In 2009, it was one of just 31 childcare providers in the state to receive a four-star rating from the newly created Virginia Star Quality Initiative, a voluntary quality rating and improvement system for early learning programs. The four-star rating is the highest rating given to date.

Randolph College Nursery School is currently accepting applications for the fall. A limited number of spots are available. For more information or a tour, please contact Holly Layne at or 947-8787.


Randolph College Sports Information Director Earns Top Honor

Randolph College’s sports information director has been named the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Sports Information Director of the Year.

Jamie Chagnon received the honor at a league meeting in May. The annual award winner is chosen by peers in the ODAC.

“Jamie is a great fit in the ODAC,” said James De Boer, SID for Eastern Mennonite University and president of the ODAC SID Committee. “He has quickly earned a reputation for doing quality work, and it’s a joy to see the many advancements he has made in the Sports Information office at Randolph.”

Chagnon, who also served as secretary of the ODAC Sports Information Directors Committee, began his tenure at Randolph two years ago and has expanded the College’s coverage of athletics and delivery of athletic news in numerous ways. In addition to multiple advancements in social media, including, Facebook and YouTube, Chagnon recently launched a new athletics website. “The new site allows fans, student-athletes, and prospective students to really feel the pulse of what’s happening with WildCat athletics,” Chagnon said.

Tina Hill, director of athletics, was not surprised Chagnon received the honor. “Jamie has been a great addition to our community and has done an outstanding job at taking the responsibilities of the Sports Information office to new heights,” she said. “He works tirelessly and creatively to promote our athletics program as well as the College. We are very appreciative of all that Jamie does on our behalf and are proud of his work and accomplishments. He certainly is well deserving of this honor and is to be congratulated for a job well done."

Being recognized by peers makes this award more meaningful to Chagnon. “It’s always nice to be recognized, but when it comes from a group of people that you respect so much it means that much more,” he said. “I got my start in sports information in the ODAC thanks to people like Mike Carpenter at Lynchburg College and Brian Laubscher at Washington and Lee University, and continue to learn from each and every one of my colleagues. It was just a special feeling to know the award came from the group that it did.”

Randolph’s growing athletic program has presented challenges and exciting opportunities, Chagnon said. Growing teams have offered plenty of “firsts,” including the women’s lacrosse team’s first ODAC win. Experiencing the journey of Randolph’s history-making men’s soccer team last fall has proven to be one of the more fun parts of his job. Chagnon followed the team from its ODAC win to the NCAA Tournament in Newport News, where the team beat the #2-ranked team in the nation, and then to California for the NCAA Sweet 16. “To be able to document all of the team’s hard work and dedication before the game, and then see if pay off on that stage was a special moment for me,” he said.

Chagnon is looking forward to another exciting year promoting the Randolph WildCats. “Sports information is a field that is always changing and evolving, and it is intriguing to learn new ways to deliver information,” Chagnon said. “I have always been passionate about sports, and it was something that my parents, my grandfather, and I really shared with each other as I grew up.

“Being able to come to work every single day with a love for what you do, it makes life that much more enjoyable,” he added.

Alumna recognized for efforts organizing women's caucus

Ann Page Blair Stecker ’64 has received an award for raising awareness of issues critical to women’s rights and health.
Ann Page Blair Stecker ’64, third from the
top, helped her colleagues organize the New
Hampshire Women's Caucus.    

Colby-Sawyer College, where Stecker is a professor of humanities, honored her with a Gown Award for her efforts to organize the New Hampshire Women’s Caucus. In November 2011, that convention drew nearly 200 people to Colby-Sawyer to discuss ways to improve women’s lives.

The convention focused on access to healthcare, equality in the workplace, and ending discrimination against women.

After graduating from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, Stecker earned a master’s degree at the University of Virginia. She then joined Colby-Sawyer in 1980. Her areas of teaching include environmental literature, autobiography, British literature, New England history and women’s literature.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Help Amazement Square win a car from Toyota — Vote June 5

A children’s museum just a few miles from Randolph College could win a new car with the help of the College and Lynchburg community—and you can help no matter where you live.

Amazement Square is participating in Toyota’s “100 Cars for Good” contest. On June 5, the Lynchburg nonprofit will go up against four other groups, and whichever group garners the most votes will receive a Toyota Sienna. Amazement Square would use that vehicle to travel to its outreach programs throughout Virginia. Currently, museum staff use a 16-year-old vehicle that is unreliable for long distances.

To help Amazement Square win the car, you can sign up for a reminder to vote on June 5 using the “100 Cars for Good” app. Also, you can share this blog entry with Facebook or Twitter to tell your friends about it.

Amazement Square has many ties to the College. Students and graduates have had internships and jobs there, and Randolph President John E. Klein serves on the museum’s board of directors. Last year, a group of students helped Amazement Square assemble pieces for a giant mosaic depicting the history of Lynchburg. Randolph’s education department plans further involvement with the museum.

Help Amazement Square win this prize!

Randolph College Student Center Renovation Update: May 31, 2012

Progress on Randolph's $6 million Student Center renovation continues. See up-to-date photos here:

The view from what will be the two-level cardio center on the third floor of the Student Center.

Seating for Randolph's new theatre on the third floor has been framed.