Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Christmas Vespers concert includes new Chamber Orchestra and poetry readings

Randolph College’s new Chamber Orchestra will join Chorale for a new twist on the annual Christmas Vespers concert this Sunday at 7:30 p.m.

The concert will feature a mixture of baroque instrumental and choral music, French Christmas carols, and a progression of readings that tell the Christmas story and set the tone for the holiday season. Randolph music faculty and members of the Lynchburg Symphony Orchestra will participate with the student orchestra members and singers.

“Christmas Vespers will be larger than it has been in the past,” said Randall Speer, a Randolph music professor who directs Chorale. This is going to be a very neat opportunity to feature our students alongside professionals. It will have lots of opportunities for student soloists. The students are going to be very well represented musically.”

The College has held Christmas Vespers every December for decades. The tradition includes a candlelight procession in Houston Memorial Chapel, followed by about 90 minutes of music and readings that tell the Christian nativity story and address other topics related to the celebration of Christmas.

The main musical pieces chosen for the 2012 Christmas Vespers are Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 by Johann Sebastian Bach and Messe de Minuit Pour Noel (Midnight Mass for Christmas) by Marc Antoine Charpentier. While neither of these musical pieces is connected directly to the Christmas story, Speer organized the program so that both pieces contribute to the Christmas Vespers tradition.

The text of Midnight Mass for Christmas is actually a regular mass, but its music incorporates the melodies of French Christmas carols. Each movement will be preceded by a student soloist singing the carol whose melody is found in the music. The carols are ordered so that their text follows a logical progression telling the Christmas story. “That allows us to have a progression of readings to support that,” Speer said.

The readings consist of poems by secular poets about Christmas. “The poems match the progression of carols,” Speer said. “Not only do they address Christmas, but every single one of them mentions music in some way.” Selected by Megan Hageman ’13, the readings will be presented by Randolph faculty and staff members.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Randolph to host producers of documentary about WW-II journalist who helped Holocaust refugees escape to America

By Tory Brown ’13
College Relations Intern
Randolph College will screen the documentary, “Ahead of Time” Nov. 30 at 7 p.m.  in Room 300 in Smith Memorial Building. Directed by Bob Richman, the documentary follows the journey of Ruth Gruber, a foreign correspondent and photojournalist whose trailblazing career made history. The film’s producers, Patti Kenner and Ida Cole, will be on hand for the free event.

A lifelong writer, journalist, photojournalist, and humanitarian, Gruber has written 19 books and recently accepted a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Overseas Press Club. Her book, Haven, which told the story of escorting Holocaust refugees to America, was made into a television mini-series starring Natasha Richardson in 2001.

“Ahead of Time” is a feature-length documentary film focusing on the life of Gruber. who was born in 1911 to Russian Jewish immigrants. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Gruber attended New York University at the age of 15. At 20, she became the world’s youngest Ph.D. A feminist before feminism, Gruber became the first journalist to enter the Soviet Artic in 1935.  She traveled to Alaska as a member of the Roosevelt administration in 1941, where she was the first civilian on the Alaska Highway.

Ruth’s unique perspective of the events surrounding WWII is a result of her involvement in many of those historical moments. She was chosen by the Roosevelt administration to escort 1,000 Holocaust refugees from Naples to New York in a secret wartime mission in 1944. As a journalist, she accompanied leaders to the Middle East where they studied the problems of displaced persons and Palestine. Gruber covered the Nuremberg trials in 1946 and her photos of the ship Exodus 1947 were published in Life Magazine and around the world.

With her love of adventure, fearlessness and powerful intellect, Gruber defied tradition and in the process, emerged as the eyes and conscience of the world. Today, she still has the moxie and sharp wit that propelled her career, and the film interweaves vérité footage with interviews and archival material.

“Ahead of Time” has won multiple Best Documentary awards from many different film festivals. Additional screenings of “Ahead of Time” will take place on Dec. 1 at Lynchburg College at 12:30 p.m. in the Hopwood Auditorium and The Agudath Sholom Synagogue at 7:30 p.m.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Pan World Coffeehouse to highlight international cultures Saturday

By Tory Brown ’13
College Relations Intern
Randolph College’s Pan World club will host its popular Coffeehouse Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. in Houston Memorial Chapel, featuring music, dance, and fashions from around the world.

Drawing participants from Randolph and the Lynchburg community, Pan World Coffeehosue is designed to promote cultural awareness and to provide Randolph’s international students with the opportunity to share a taste of their home countries. The event is held once each semester.

“Students have many things to look forward to when attending Pan World,” said Penny Trieu’15, the co-event chair. “Randolph has such a culturally diverse student body, and Pan World is where all these different cultures come to together to celebrate each other’s cultures.”

Pan World Coffeehouse includes fashion shows displaying the dress of other cultures.
This year, the event will feature 12 performances, including the traditional and urban fashion shows. There will also be a Moroccan wedding dance, a Bollywood dance, and students singing in different languages. Following the event, international foods will be served. Pan World Coffeehouse is free and open to the public.

A big surprise awaits the end of the performances, according to Mi Dan Nguyen ’14, the publicity chair. “It’s going to be awesome,” she said. “So everyone should come, and stay until the end!”

An after party is scheduled in Smith Banquet Hall from 10 p.m.– 1 a.m.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Multimedia journalists visit campus this weekend

Two well-known multimedia journalists will visit Randolph College this weekend to teach students about the craft of online storytelling and hold a public discussion of their work.

Brad Horn, a videographer at the Washington Post, and his wife, Coburn Dukehart, the picture and multimedia editor for NPR.org, will present “Changing the World One Story at a Time” at 2 p.m. Sunday in Martin 315.

Sponsored by the Driver Lecture Series, the event offers students a valuable opportunity for students interested in journalism, said Jennifer Gauthier, a communication studies professor.

“This is the main goal of the Driver program—to give students the opportunity to interact with professionals in the film and video field, see what careers are out there, and get practical advice on breaking into the business,” Gauthier said. “Other students will certainly learn from the passion of our guests to change the world using their talents, which is what we encourage all Randolph students to do.”

For the public lecture, the Horn and Dukehart will show and discuss some of their work. Horn has worked on projects such as a short documentary about the struggles small farmers face in getting their fruits and vegetables to consumers, and a recent production marking the 10 years since the arrest of two snipers who had terrorized the Washington, D.C., area. Dukehart has worked on multimedia projects such as a story about soldiers dealing with traumatic brain injury and a profile of a composer in a desert monastery.

Earlier in the day, students interested in journalism will attend a workshop and actually film and edit a story with the presenters. This type of experience strengthens the college’s multimedia journalism minor, which was added to the curriculum last year. “This initiative was designed to meet the interests of students in journalism and prepare them for the changing world of journalism, so they have the skills they need to compete when they graduate,” Gauthier said. “It is a unique program for a liberal arts college because it pairs the history and theory of media with practical skills.”

The Sara Driver ’77 Digital Filmmaking Course and Lecture Series was funded by Martha (Lou) Miller Driver ’50 in honor of her daughter, an alumna who is renowned in the independent film industry.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Randolph brings classic Chekov play to Lynchburg stage

Despite the fact that Anton Chekov ranks as one of the most important playwrights in history, it has been years since a Lynchburg stage showed his work. WildCat Theatre will change that this weekend as Randolph students and faculty perform Chekov’s Uncle Vanya.

The performance will unlock the comedic aspects and humanity of the play, making it accessible to a modern audience. “There are a lot of bad Chekov productions out there, but our actors are doing well,” said director Mace Archer. “The acting will be far more sophisticated than people have seen before.”

Uncle Vanya
by Anton Chekov
Presented by Randolph College
Thoresen Theatre, Randolph College
Nov. 15–19, 7:30 p.m.
Uncle Vanya tells the story of a Russian family and the staff that cares for the family’s rural estate as one family member proposes to sell the property. “It is more or less a familial squabble about what's going to happen to the family estate,” Archer said. “Some want to continue this way of life that they’ve known forever, and others are willing to sell it all off and start afresh.” It represents Russia’s change from a rural society to a more modern society during Chekov’s time.

Internationally-known theatre designer Marina Raytchinova designed the
set for Uncle Vanya and has been helping students build the set this week.
The story also includes interwoven and conflicting love stories. “Everybody in this house is in love with everybody else, but nobody can be with who they want to be with,” Archer said. “The thing that makes it fun is all the interpersonal dynamics in the house.”

The play features a set designed by Bulgarian designer Marina Raytchinova who, before this play, had designed every Chekov play other than Uncle Vanya. Although most Chekov productions have “hyper-realistic” sets depicting the details of Russian architecture, Raytchinova opted for a more simple setting that will allow the audience to focus more on the characters and the story. That will make the play more enjoyable for the audience, Archer said. “The way it will be staged will be different than anyone else would do it.”

The performance also will draw on the humorous subtexts and events in the play, which are often dropped. “Chekov always said that his plays were comedies. But when they’re produced, they don’t seem very funny,” Archer said. “I think ours will be highly entertaining. Some very funny things will happen.”

Archer decided to bring Uncle Vanya to the Thoresen Theatre stage because Chekov’s plays are classics— second only to Shakespeare in Archer’s opinion. The plays are not produced often because of a perception that they are thematically heavy: the characters are driven by a subtext, they don’t always say what they mean, and an audience can get lost unless the actors capture those nuances. But the Randolph cast is proving it can make Chekov interesting and enjoyable. “It’s been fun to watch the students really begin to understand how Chekov works and how deep they need to go to make the characters seem believable and real,” Archer said.

Monday, November 12, 2012

College was another chapter of worldwide adventures for Danielle Robinson ’12

The news and photos of flooding and damage caused by Hurricane Sandy bring back memories for Danielle Robinson ’12. About seven years ago, she was in New Orleans slogging through knee-deep mud and trash piles in New Orleans, where she helped gut damaged homes so the rebuilding process could begin after Hurricane Katrina.

Danielle Robinson ’12 helped in the cleanup following
Hurricane Katrina before she came to Randolph.
“It was really the hardest work I’d ever done, suiting up with a mask and hazmat suit and going into someone’s home to face that destruction,” Robinson said. “People’s spirits were so strong. They were fighters.”

At that time, Robinson was a high school graduate postponing college for the chance to see the world. “I was afraid that if I went to school and got a job, I would never get to travel and experience life,” Robinson said. “I decided that I would jump into what I thought was real life.”

A few years later, Robinson finally pursued college, where she learned that higher education would be another chapter of her worldwide adventures.

She studied at Tyler Junior College in Texas for two years, then her family moved to Virginia. She applied to three Virginia colleges and was accepted. Because Randolph was the closest to her family’s new home, she decided to tour here first.

“As soon as I was here and had the tour, I knew this was where I wanted to go,” she said. “I never even visited the other schools.”

Robinson majored in English with an emphasis in creative writing. She remembers her first poetry class, with three other students and professor Jim Peterson. The creative writing faculty helped her fine tune her writing in ways that could not have happened in more crowded classrooms. “They’re published authors who know what they’re doing,” Robinson said.

Robinson presented some of her fiction writing
during the 2012 Symposium of Artists and Scholars
Robinson also worked on research outside her major. Last December, she traveled to the U.S. Virgin Islands with a group from Randolph to test for links between human-caused bacteria and the degradation of coral reefs around the island. Her task was to document the research with photos and writing, but she worked on the research, too.

“I always think it’s great to work with people in other disciplines,” she said. “They had so much to teach me, and my questions made them think of something they hadn’t thought about. Even though I wasn’t a science major, I felt like I was still valuable.”

When Robinson graduated, she was hired as an assistant for the College’s new Center for Student Research. The Center administers three programs—Summer Research, which lets students and professors work on projects together during the break; Randolph’s Innovative Student Experience (RISE), which gives students money to pursue research and creative projects; and the Symposium of Artists and Scholars, an annual event celebrating the best work among Randolph students.

Robinson also plays a role in running the American Culture Program and Passport, a new first-year experience program.

She felt like working in the new center would be a good way to contribute to the atmosphere that had helped her thrive as a student. She hopes her efforts help students become more involved in research.

“Research doesn’t have to be just in the sciences; it also can be in the arts and humanities,” Robinson said. “I want to generate that awareness that it doesn't matter what your major is, you can conduct very successful research in your field.”

Student Center Renovation Update: November 12, 2012

Primer and lighting are just a few of the changes that are taking place in the Student Center this week. Check out the latest slideshow of the $6 million renovation project here: http://web.randolphcollege.edu/studentcenter/slideshow/nov12/index.html.

For more information or to see the comprehensive coverage of the renovation project, please go to www.randolphcollege.edu/studentcenter.
This photo shows the new dining area for the Skeller (on the bottom floor to the left) and the new Student Government wing (top floor, left)

The Student Government wing features offices for student organizations as well as this new conference room, which overlooks the first floor.

The view from the new cardio center features back campus and the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The new Skeller will be located on the main floor.

Friday, November 9, 2012

2012 International Photo Contest Winners

The 2012 International Photo Contest results are in, and six Randolph students have been honored for taking some fantastic shots at home and abroad.

Here are the winners in each category:


First Place: Justin DeSmith '13, Photo taken at Rolling Thunder protest rally in Washington, D.C.

Second Place: Tra Cao, A woman doing farm work at Bai Giua in the Red River in Hannoi, Vietnam

Third Place: Dorji Dema '13, Grandmother at an ancestral home in Bhutan


First Place Megan Hageman ’13, taken in Nyhavn Copenhagen Denmark

Second Place: Luisa Poveda ’13, Sunset in Tagana Colombia

Third Place: Hailey Nguyen ’15, Sapa Vietnam

Be sure to congratulate the winners, and take a look at the 2011 winners, too.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Longtime College supporter Mary Michels Scovanner '77 makes major gift to fund new plaza

Thanks to a significant donation from Mary Michels Scovanner ’77, what was once an asphalt parking lot behind Main Hall and adjacent to the Student Center, will soon be transformed into an attractive brick-lined plaza, complete with a fountain, ampitheatre seating, and bricks honoring faculty emeriti.

Construction on the plaza, which will be named Michels Plaza, will begin soon and is expected to be completed at the same time as the Student Center renovation. The two projects have been designed to work together to enhance and beautify one of the most traveled areas on campus, while providing a unique space for the community.

“Once the Student Center renovation is complete, the outdoor spaces associated with that facility and this new plaza will transform the look and feel of back campus,” said John E. Klein, president of Randolph. “In addition to providing a unique gathering space for students, classes, and other events, the new plaza will highlight Randolph’s views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.”

For Scovanner, a Randolph College trustee, the opportunity to support campus life was important. “This is an exciting project that I believe will create a vibrant and welcoming place for our campus community to gather,” she said. “It’s great to have this opportunity to support the College in a way that I hope will enrich campus living for our current and future students.”

The new plaza will feature ampitheatre seating around a fountain. The seating is designed to mimic the seating in Randolph’s Greek Theatre, and the fountain, which will feature three bursts of water, will add energy to the space. In addition to landscaping, the design of the plaza will incorporate the same diamond pattern found on the front campus brick walkway. An area of the plaza will also be designated to honor faculty emeriti with special bricks.

Klein expressed gratitude for Scovanner’s commitment to improving student life. Several years ago, another initiative funded by Scovanner provided amenities and campus improvements designed to enrich the campus community and improve the student experience.

“Mary Michels Scovanner has been a long-time supporter of the College, giving of both her time and financial resources,” he said. “We are grateful for her unwavering commitment to Randolph College.”

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Katelin Shugart-Schmidt ’10 shares research on fishing regulations

An alumna asked her audience at Randolph College to think of a few questions about the seafood they enjoy.

“Could you tell me where, specifically, that piece of seafood came from?” Katelin Shugart-Schmidt ’10 asked a group of students, faculty, staff, and visitors Monday night. “Can you tell me how it was caught?”

Then she addressed the question that has dominated her research as a graduate student: How can regulations effectively make the seafood and fishing industries more sustainable?

“We’re not managing fisheries because we feel like it, but we regulate fisheries because they are important to people and people depend on them,” she said.

Katelin Shugart-Schmidt ’10 shares a graph illustrating North Atlantic cod
population during a talk at Randolph College on Monday, Nov. 5. 
Shugart-Schmidt was invited to speak at Randolph to explain the research she has conducted in graduate school at Virginia Tech. She has studied the effects and uncertainty associated with fishing regulations, and her work has been well received among her peers. Earlier this year, she was named Virginia Tech’s Graduate Woman of the Year, and she will be this fall’s graduate commencement speaker there.

Effective fishing regulation is important because it ensures that the fishing industry—and the economic and cultural benefits associated with it—are sustainable and not ruined by overfishing. “It is OK for us to be fishing,” Shugart-Schmidt said. “We just have to be able to do it at the right levels.”

For a regulation to work, it needs to be based on an accurate count of fish populations, and it needs to correctly affect the number of fish that are caught. Shugart-Schmidt’s research as a graduate student has focused on the second requirement. She explained that changes in regulations set a target for how many of a species of fish should be caught. If fewer fish are caught, then regulations are too strict and are limiting the benefits of fishing. If more fish are caught, regulations are not protecting the population.

She and other researchers working on the same project pored over thousands of pages of fishing regulations to determine the number of fish that regulators expected would be caught. They compared those numbers to actual catches and created a measure for what they called “management uncertainty.”

They found that commercial fisheries usually catch significantly fewer fish than the regulations targeted, but recreational fisheries tended to see more fish caught. Shugart-Schmidt said this data needs to be considered as regulations are drafted for the different kinds of fisheries. “In the future, we're also going to have to assess the management uncertainty,” she said. “Seafood is too popular a thing right now to just let them go with no regulation altogether.”

Monday, November 5, 2012

Student wins awards at fast-paced international affairs conference

Over fall break, Youssef Elkei ’13 exiled a government leader, convinced a nation’s cabinet not to start a war, and was assassinated—all as a part of a government simulation at a foreign affairs conference.

Elkei represented Randolph College in the Cornell International Affairs Conference (CIAC). He served as minister of justice in a mock Egyptian cabinet during a time of emergency. The cabinet members debated issues, gave speeches, and made decisions. Then they learned about the results of those decisions and acted again.

Youssef Alkei pauses for a picture with Aishani Bansal, director-general
of the organizers of the Cornell International Affairs Conference. (Photo
courtesy of CIAC photographer Lindsay Levine.)
The event had a much faster pace than other foreign affairs conferences Elkei has attended. “You use every ounce of negotiation skills that you have. You debate, you introduce amendments. It’s fast paced, more intense, and the speeches are impromptu,” he said. “If you’re not ready and you’re not engaged, you’ll miss out.”

Elkei, a global studies major, previously attended college in Cairo, Egypt, and Washington, D.C. Because he plans to graduate after the fall 2012 semester, he recognized that he would not be able to participate in Model United Nations a third time next spring. He decided to attend the CIAC to give him another chance to practice diplomatic skills.

Randolph’s Innovative Student Experience, a program that allows juniors and seniors to apply for financial support of research, creative works, and other projects related to their studies, provided the funds for Elkei’s participation.

In the crisis simulation assigned to Elkei’s committee, a group had stolen weapons from a military chemical factory. The committee debated and voted on how to respond to each development in the situation.

The panel had to make difficult decisions, such as whether to authorize enhanced interrogation tactics. Elkei voted in favor. “I thought it would help us find the perpetrators,” he said. “But as a result, one of the people being questioned died.”

Another difficult decision was whether to start a war with Israel, which, according to the simulation, had been building up its forces in what seemed like an effort to attack Egypt. The committee members debated whether to make a preemptive strike. Elkei was the last to speak, at which point only one had voted against attack.

Elkei gave a passionate speech opposing the strike. “I knew that if we went to war, we would lose,” he said. “Internationally, we would be seen as the aggressors, and we would lose militarily.” He drew upon the principles of Just War Theory, which he recalled from a class taught by Randolph professor Jennifer Dugan, to make his case. When the committee took a final vote, several people had changed their positions and voted against the strike.

Later in the simulation, Elkei was shot with a Nerf gun after a government leader he had voted to exile earlier escaped and sought revenge. He left the room and was given another role in the simulation.

Elkei’s speech against a preemptive strike was voted as the best speech in that committee. He also received an award for being one of the best delegates.

The conference allowed Elkei the chance to prove and strengthen the skills he learned at Randolph. He hopes to apply those skills and work in diplomacy or international intelligence. He believes his liberal arts education and the commitment to the honor code will serve him well. “In a liberal arts education like this, you’re more well-rounded,” he said. “I’m not coming to higher education expecting to learn how to write reports for a specific job. I’m learning how to research something, how to give a speech. These skills are the foundation which you base the rest of your professional career on.”

Friday, November 2, 2012

Calithumping tradition returns

A group of Randolph students decided to revive an old tradition at the College:


In Calithumping, students visit their professors’ homes on Halloween night to sing songs they wrote for them. On Wednesday, they sang to several professors and staff members, and finished off the evening by singing to President John E. Klein.

Here is a photo taken as the students sang at the home of Laura-Gray Street, an English professor: