Monday, November 25, 2013

Edward Hopper and Walker Evans discussed in documentary viewing and lecture at the Maier

Two upcoming events at the Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College will focus on two American artists who realistically documented the lives of everyday in the 20th century, even as many of their peers modern European styles of art.

Mrs. Scott's House by Edward Hopper is part of the collection
at the Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College.
At 1 p.m. on December 2, the Maier will screen the documentary Edward Hopper: A National Gallery of Art Film which discusses the painter and printmaker’s works and influences, The documentary combines archival photographs and film with current footage of locations that he painted. Actor and art collector Steve Martin narrates the film.

One week later, on December 9 at 1 p.m., audiences can return to the Maier to learn more about Edward Hopper as well as Walker Evans, a photographer who documented life during the Great Depression, when Jeffrey Allison presents “An American Silence: Walker Evans & Edward Hopper.” Allison, the Paul Mellon Collection educator and statewide programs coordinator for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, will discuss the works of both artists, who distinguished themselves from many of their peers at the beginning of the 20th century by not following the fads towards a European influence, but rather staying true to their own style.

The Maier collection includes works by both Hopper and Evans. In fact, Hopper’s Mrs. Scott’s House was it was the first purchase made possible by the Louise Jordan Smith Fund in 1936.

Allison’s lecture is made possible because the Maier’s is an educational partner with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Earlier this semester, this educational partnership brought Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda to discuss ekphrastic poetry at the Maier.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Randolph couple hosts students for Thanksgiving

Every November, some Randolph students find a home for Thanksgiving without having to look far.

Randall Speer, a music professor, and Karen Speer ’04, who works in the registrar’s office, invite College students to join them for Thanksgiving dinner. While some students go visit their own families or go home with friends, the Speers set a place for students who stay on campus over the break.

“We both had experiences when we were in college and we were stranded on campus during the holidays,” said Randy Speer, noting that one year his wife’s Thanksgiving dinner consisted of Cheez Whiz and crackers. “We promised ourselves that when I got a full-time teaching position, we would offer this to students.”

They hosted a couple of students their first Thanksgiving at Randolph, but the tradition has grown. Sometimes they host more than a dozen students, including international students who need a place to go. “We always have room, even if we have to set up a TV tray and let someone eat on the couch,” Karen Speer said.

There was only one year that the Thanksgiving meal almost did not happen: an oven fire threatened the feast. They extinguished the flames and went to the store to purchase another oven.

Students, faculty, staff, and other friends gather at the Speers’ house at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving day. Shortly thereafter, they take turns telling the group what they are thankful for, and then the meal begins.

Igor Bayder ’14, a senior from Moscow, Russia, is looking forward to his fourth Thanksgiving with the Speer family. “I am friends with the whole family, so it is a time for me to hang out with them, and the food itself is very enjoyable,” he said.

Students do not need to bring food to contribute to the meal, but the Speers do ask students to let them know in advance if they plan to come.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

2013 International Photo Contest winners

The Randolph College International Photo Contest winners have been announced.

First Place
Children Selling Floating Lanterns in Hoi An, Vietnam, by Ngoc “Kelly” Pham ’16
Hoi An is known for its beautiful lanterns that line streets and are floated down the river. Originally, the lanterns were released to guide spirits to a happy resting place. Today, one night each month is designated as a “lantern festival” when all electric lights are turned off and lanterns are used instead.

Second Place
Little Boy Riding a Water Buffalo, Sapa, Vietnam, by Phuong Tran ’15

Third Place
London at Night, by Mi Dan Nguyen ’14
This photo was taken during a solo backpacking trip in Great Britain.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tutoring services help students make the grade

As final exams approach, Randolph’s tutoring department is a busy place.

Although many students utilize the College’s tutoring services all semester long, many are seeking a little extra assistance hoping to improve that final grade just a bit. Randolph tutors encourage this practice, even if students are doing well in a class and just hope to do better.

Student tutors gather for a training meeting
“Some of the brightest people that I know still use tutors for help in subjects that they want to improve in,” said Alyssa Everett ’15, a tutor who assists students with chemistry and physics classes.

Randolph serves students with three different types of tutors: learning strategies tutors, subject tutors, and writing lab tutors. The College has about 65 student tutors, and each tutor has been recognized for their academic strengths and are recommended by faculty or staff members.

All tutors complete regular training so they can assist Randolph students in the most effective way possible. Sandeep Poudyal ’16 found the training helped him realize the importance of empathy and understanding an individual’s learning style.

Three Kinds of Tutors

Learning strategies tutors help students with study skills, note taking, and time management. See Tina Barnes, coordinator of Disability Services and the Learning Strategies Program, to request a learning strategies tutor.

Subject tutors have excelled in a particular class and provide further explanations or answer questions about their areas of expertise. Find a subject tutor by searching for "Tutoring Services" in the My Links section of the Portal.

Writing lab tutors excel in English and help students through any part of the writing process. Request a writing tutor by searching for "Writing Lab Appointments" in the My Links section of the Portal.
“Before I was a tutor, I would help my friends with economics or math and would talk to them as if it were so simple. I didn’t realize it wasn’t so simple for them,” said Poudyal. In the training, “we were encouraged to empathize with them. It sounds simple, but you should look at it from their point of view.”

While still occasionally helping students in math or economics, Poudyal officially serves as a learning strategies tutor. He sees quite a bit of value in the tutoring program at Randolph—not only does he serve as a tutor, but he has also utilized the assistance of a subject tutor. “Sometimes the professor is intimidating or what they say is not installed in your head, but when a peer says, it can be more effective,” said Poudyal.

Many Randolph students seem to agree with Poudyal and seek tutors for assistance throughout the semester. Everett said she has about five or six appointments to tutor each week, but sometimes she has as many as eight or 10. “Some people keep consistent appointments and others just come to me as needed,” she said.

Poudyal formerly attended a school where there was a stigma against tutoring. “People didn’t understand that you could get a tutor even if you are good at something, just to stay good at it,” he said, noting that the environment is different at Randolph. “Here people do not criticize you if you have a tutor. It’s free help; Why wouldn’t you take advantage of it? There is always room for improvement.”

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pearl S. Buck centennial graduation anniversary celebration begins with Anchee Min lecture

Speaking at Randolph College allowed Anchee Min to answer some long-held questions about Pearl S. Buck, one of her literary inspirations who graduated in the Class of 1914.

“I said yes to this invitation because I was very curious about this College,” said Min. “I wanted to know what kind of school had prepared and shaped Pearl Buck’s mind at the critical thinking level and also at the global level.”

Anchee Min signs books after her lecture at Randolph College.

Min, a novelist and memoirist, visited Randolph this week to begin a celebration of Buck’s centennial graduation anniversary. Tuesday afternoon, she attended a combined session of two writing classes and talked about the process of writing, her life in China, and her respect for Buck. She shared her story during a public lecture.

As a child, Min spent her summers not far from the region of China where Buck grew up. She first heard of Buck, though, when she was in middle school, and students were assigned to write essays denouncing Buck and her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Good Earth, which teachers and communist leaders claimed was insulting to Chinese peasants.

Decades later, Min was given a copy of The Good Earth while on a book tour in the United States. Reading the novel she had once denounced was an awakening experience. “I have never read any authors who portrayed our peasants with such love, affection, and compassion,” she said. She decided right then she would someday write a book about Buck.

Min told the audience at Randolph how she set out to learn more about Buck, visiting Buck’s home and interviewing many people who knew her. She wrote Pearl of China, a novel that portrays Buck as the friend of a young Chinese girl. Central to the book is her depiction of Buck as a loving and compassionate person. “Pearl Buck never lost her love and her faith in China,” Min said.

Visiting writer positions named for Pearl S. Buck and Anne Spencer

Randolph College has renamed two of aspects of its Visiting Writers program in honor two authors with ties to the College and Lynchburg: Anne Spencer and Pearl S. Buck, a member of the Class of 1914.

Laura-Gray Street, an English professor and coordinator of Randolph’s creative writing program, announced the new names yesterday during an event celebrating the centennial anniversary of Buck’s graduation from the College. “Both women were from small towns and small colleges, and they produced very powerful writing and changed the world in significant ways,” Street said. “This acknowledges our debt to these writers, and it honors their connections with the College.”

Buck graduated from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in 1914 and later won the Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize for Literature. She authored more than 100 books, stories, and essays, including many that helped bridge cultural gaps between China and the west.

Anne Spencer, a well-known Harlem Renaissance poet and civil rights activist, lived in Lynchburg with her husband, who delivered mail to the College. She also occasionally met with students from R-MWC at her home. Through a formal partnership, the College and the Anne Spencer House and Garden Museum work together to provide educational opportunities to students.

Street said it is fitting to honor these women. “These are authors who we hold up as examples for our own writers here,” Street said. “Anne Spencer was an important civil rights activist and did a lot in the community. Pearl Buck’s writing takes you into the experience of another culture and immerses you in it in a way that helps you understand things that are very different than your own lives and experiences.”

The College hosts several writers each year for four-week sessions during which they focus on writing, teach a class, and give public readings. Clifford Garstang, a fiction writer who is at Randolph this fall and will give a public reading tonight, is the first official Pearl S. Buck Writer-in-Residence. Last month, Garstang won the Library of Virginia 2013 Literary Award for Fiction for his novel What the Zhang Boys Know, which tells the story of a Chinese family living in America.

Shara Lessley, a widely published poet and author of Two-Headed Nightingale, will be the first Anne Spencer Poet-in-Residence and will give a public reading on March 26, 2014.

The College’s emerging writer position, which brings a writer who has not yet published a full-length book, has been renamed the Randolph Writer-in-Residence.

The Randolph College Visiting Writer Series is supported by The Carolyn Wilkerson Bell ’65 Visiting Scholar Fund, which was created and endowed through the generosity of the Maier Foundation, Inc. in 1976. The Foundation inaugurated the Visiting Scholar Program in order to encourage excellence in the composition of English prose and poetry at the College.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Faculty member tracks sightings of rare white deer

Randolph faculty and staff members have been fascinated lately with sightings of rare white deer.

Doug Shedd, the Catherine Ehrman Thoresen `23 and William E. Thoresen Professor of Biology, said white deer of any kind are fairly rare, and true albino deer are nearly unheard of. But last year, some members of the College community noticed a ghostly white deer near the campus and began asking Shedd about it.

Since then, Shedd has collected information on white deer sightings, including descriptions and photos. He has seen white deer a couple of times near the College campus, and some have reported seeing a deer on campus.

Shedd has determined that there are multiple white deer in the neighborhood, although most probably are not true albino deer.

Anyone seeing a white deer in the area can contact Shedd with details about the sighting so he can learn more about the campus wildlife.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Visiting writer Clifford Garstang teaching at Randolph, will give public reading Nov. 13

Just a few weeks after winning a statewide literary award for fiction writing, Clifford Garstang is teaching Randolph College students about the craft of writing.

Garstang is Randolph’s writer-in-residence this fall. In addition to teaching a class, he will give a public reading from his novel What the Zhang Boys Know at 8:15 p.m.Wednesday, November 13, in the Alice Ashley Jack Room in Smith Memorial Hall.

What the Zhang Boys Know tells the stories of people who live in the same condominium complex in Washington, D.C., but focuses on a Chinese father and his sons. The book recently won the Library of Virginia 2013 Literary Award For Fiction.

Garstang practiced law for 20 years before he decided it was time for a change. Having always had a love for fiction writing, he turned to his master of fine arts training and started on his first collection of short stories. “It was a new millennium; it seemed like an auspicious time to make a switch,” said Garstang.

His first book, In an Uncharted Country, was a collection of linked short stories that shared some characters as well as the setting. This book caught the attention of Bunny Goodjohn, director of the Writing Program, and Sarah Taylor ’12 when Taylor was working on a collection of linked stories for a senior honors project. “We both fell in love with the work,” said Goodjohn.

While at Randolph for the visiting writer program, Garstang is teaching a special topics class in creative writing. By the end of the class, students will have each finished a short story. Garstang also has encouraged other types of writing. He took students to the Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College and each wrote a short piece of ekphrastic flash fiction.

Goodjohn is glad to have Garstang here for the class and for Wednesday’s reading. “He’s a great storyteller and a generous teacher. The combination makes for a wonderful visiting writer,” she said.

Summer Research project plays in film festival this weekend

This weekend, independent film lovers in Oregon will watch a film made at Randolph College.

Beholder, which was created as part of the Randolph College Summer Research Program this year, was accepted in the Mt. Hood Independent Film Festival in Hood River, Oregon. Beholder will be screened at 10 a.m. Saturday, November 9.

“Being accepted to the Mt. Hood Film Festival was both incredibly exciting and validating,” said Ashley Peisher ’15, one of the students who worked on the film. “It’s easy to fall in love with something you pour your time and abilities into, so it was fantastic to hear that it was valued by others on such a level. It felt like we had done the message justice.”

Beholder tells the story of a man who carries his ailing father into the mountains in hopes that his father will learn to see the beauty in the world. Jim Peterson, a Randolph English professor who retired this year, wrote it as a play. Peisher worked with Sonja Cirilo ’15, former Randolph theatre professor Mace Archer, Randolph videographer Skip Wallace, and others to turn the play into a short film. They recorded it on a nearby mountainside in June.

As part of the Summer Research Program, they explored the techniques used in adapting a play for the screen. The experience helped the students learn about everything from storyboarding to post-production editing. “I’ve tried to branch out as much as I can within our theatre department, so it was a truly beautiful experience to dip my toes into film,” Peisher said. “It has given me a new perspective on the difference between the two crafts.”

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Corban Addison to speak at Randolph Nov. 13

Only a few years ago, Corban Addison had no idea how widespread human trafficking and forced prostitution had become, infesting cities and towns across the United States as developing countries. His wife suggested a novel on the topic, and after months of heart-wrenching research, he wrote A Walk Across the Sun.

Addison will speak at 7 p.m. November 13 in Nichols Theatre in the Randolph College Student Center.

The book details the adventures of a lawyer who sets out to rescue two Indian girls who were kidnapped and forced into prostitution after a tsunami ravaged their village. Jennifer Dugan, a political science professor at Randolph, invited Addison so students could learn from him about human trafficking, which remains a pervasive global problem.

“It’s one vivid and disturbing form of human insecurity that paradoxically gets worse when the global economy does better,” Dugan said. “It’s one of the more complex issues of our time.”

Dugan hopes students with an interest in global politics and issues will come away with ideas about long-term solutions to human trafficking, but she also hopes students interested in creative writing will learn about the process of translating real-life research into a fictional story.

In addition to his speech Wednesday evening, Addison will visit two classes and eat lunch at Randolph on November 14 to hold further discussions with students.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Retired faculty member donates fossils to Randolph College Natural History Collection

The Randolph College Department of Biology held a reception Nov. 1 to celebrate the donation of about 300 fossils to the Randolph College Natural History Collection.
Chris Goldman, right, donated fossils which
Will Guzman '15 cleaned for Randolph's
natural history collection.

Chris Goldman, a retired Randolph political science professor, and his wife, Carol, donated the fossils and attended the reception.

Goldman has a personal interest in fossils and has collected many found in Virginia and West Virginia. Earlier this year, he decided to donate his personal fossil collection to the College. Students who work with the Natural History Collection moved the fossils to the campus, and Will Guzman ’15 helped clean the fossils and restored a storage cabinet for them this summer.

The fossils are now part of the College’s multi-faceted collection of preserved artifacts that allow students to examine natural history up close. The collection includes bones, rocks, minerals, birds, insects, and other animals that have been preserved for study.