Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Gift from trustee helps honor accomplishments of 2013 graduate

An important piece of Randolph College’s athletic legacy is now on permanent display in the Randolph Athletic and Dance Center. Replicas of two trophies won by Colton Hunt ’13 for his athletic and academic accomplishments were donated to the College.

Randolph President Bradley W. Bateman presents Colton Hunt ’13
with the NCAA Division III Academic All America Award
At the end of his senior season on the Randolph College Men’s Basketball Team, Hunt was awarded the Jostens Trophy, which recognized him as the top scholar-athlete in NCAA Division III men’s basketball. That summer, he was named the top athlete in all of Division III sports and winner of the Division III Academic All America award, also recognizing his academic and athletic achievements.

An economics major, Hunt was a standout guard on the men’s basketball team, becoming the first male student-athlete at Randolph to reach 1,000 career points. He graduated at the top of his class with a 3.95 GPA.

Don Giles, a member of the College’s Board of Trustees, and his wife Francis Giles ’65, a trustee emerita, recently donated a replica of Hunt’s Jostens Trophy to the College.  It is displayed, alongside a replica of his All-America award, outside the basketball court in a trophy case donated by Jamerson-Lewis Construction.

During halftime of the men’s basketball game against Shenandoah University on Saturday, February 22, Randolph College President Bradley W. Bateman formally presented Hunt with the All America award. He also presented the Gileses with a certificate of appreciation for their gift. Although representatives of Jamerson-Lewis Construction were unable to attend, they were recognized during the halftime event.

“This wonderful gift will provide us the opportunity to showcase not only the amazing individual accomplishments of Colton, but also the ideals and characteristics we value in Division III athletics and Randolph College,” said Tina Hill, director of athletics. “This is just the start of our vision to celebrate the success of many of our student-athletes. Displaying this award in the main lobby area will be a daily reminder for everyone, to stay focused, work hard and be the best we can be.”

Independent filmmaker Joshua Zeman to speak at Driver Lecture

Randolph College will host New York filmmaker Joshua Zeman for a film screening and lecture on independent film making at 7 p.m. Thursday in Nichols Theatre.

The lecture is part of the Sara Driver ’77 Digital Filmmaking and Lecture Series, which is funded by Martha (Lou) Miller Driver ’50 and Al Driver.

Zeman will show his critically acclaimed horror documentary Cropsey, which explores a boogeyman-like figure in New York urban legends. In 2010, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times called Cropsey “one of the best movies of the year” and “one of the scariest movies of the year.”

Communication studies professor Jennifer Gauthier said the lecture will provide students, as well as the general public, with the opportunity to learn about the independent film industry from a professional. “He has a wealth of experience in many different roles, including producing, directing, screenwriting, and serving on film festival juries,” she said.

Zeman has been creating independent films for more than 10 years. In addition to Cropsey, which he wrote and directed with Barbara Brancaccio, Zeman is the writer and director of The Urban Legends Project, a documentary premiering this spring that examines the true crimes that inspire urban legends. Currently, he is directing his first narrative feature, No Man’s Land, which focuses on a well-respected journalist who agrees to interview a family of right-wing extremists involved in a tense standoff with the FBI.

Zeman is currently in residence at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts in Amherst, Virginia.

Randolph wins awards for publications and special events

Randolph College earned three awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) last week, recognizing the quality of the College’s publications and events.

Randolph magazine and the Bulletin, the College’s alumnae and alumni magazine, each won an Award for Excellence in the category of Magazine/Tabloid Improvement I. This category, which includes all schools with enrollment under 5,000 students, recognizes improvement in the overall publication over a period of two years, and only gives two Awards of Excellence.

Randolph magazine is produced by the Office of College Relations, and the Bulletin is produced by the Office of College Relations and the Alumnae and Alumni Office.

Randolph College also received a Special Merit Award in the Special Event category for its entry, “Celebrating the Ninth President of Randolph College.” Randolph competed against schools of all sizes in this category, which was designed to recognize university or college events organized by the institution’s communications and marketing team. Randolph’s entry included announcements, publications, and an event surrounding the 2013 retirement of John E. Klein.

The awards were presented at a banquet Tuesday, February 18, during the CASE District III annual conference in Orlando, Florida.

“These awards recognize the important work that the women and men who work in College Relations and the Alumnae and Alumni Office do day in and day out to share the good news of Randolph College,” said Wesley Fugate, vice president and chief of staff, who oversees College Relations. “This team works diligently to not only produce outstanding publications and events but also produce a product better than the last. I am so pleased that their hard work and talent has been recognized by their peers.”

All winners can be found on the CASE District III website:

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Randolph produces “The Great American Trailer Park Musical”

UPDATE: After inclement weather caused the cancellation of the final showing of The Great American Trailer Park Musical, another performance has been scheduled for Tuesday, March 4, at 7:30 p.m.

The newest production from the Randolph College theatre department invites audiences to come laugh along with the residents of Armadillo Acres in what Talkin’ Broadway called a “wheel-spinning, mud-splattering good time of a show.”

The Great American Trailer Park Musical opens in Thoresen Theatre on Thursday at 7:30 p.m., with shows each evening through Monday. The comedy tells a story of perseverance as the main characters deal with challenges in their lives.

Brooke Edwards, the Randolph theatre professor directing the show, said the show is entirely comedic and not to be taken seriously. “It’s about keeping on keeping on. It is pure entertainment,” she said. “It has a lot of fun music and really ridiculous characters. We have had a really good time.”

She could not even recite a sentence summarizing the plot without breaking into laughter. “An agoraphobic wife and her toll collector husband face challenges in their marriage when a stripper, who is running from her crazy ex-boyfriend, moves into their trailer park.”

The show centers on Jeannie (Marianne Virnelson ’17) and Norbert Garstecki (Kirk Mortensen). Jennie’s fears have confined her to her trailer for 20 years ever since their son was kidnapped, but she hopes to prepare herself to go out for the couple’s upcoming anniversary—if their marriage survives the arrival of Pippi (Claudia Troyer ’14), who has moved to town in hopes of starting over. The story is narrated by a trailer park trio of Betty (Emma Bartholomew ’14), Linoleum “Lin” (Emily Sirney ’14), and Donna “Pickles” (Grace Cummins ’16). Bentley Kennedy-Stone ’16 rounds out the cast as Duke, Pippi’s angry ex-boyfriend.

The show proceeds through hilarious events and ends with the reuniting of the Garsteckis with each other—and their long lost son.

The 90-minute show includes musical styles such as 1940s swing, 1950s rockabilly, ’70s disco, and ’80s rock. Edwards said Kelly Malone Dudley ’95 infused the choreography with dance moves that accompany those musical genres.

The set, the costumes, and the acting were planned to emphasize the over-the-top nature of the show so the audience can enjoy it as the spectacle it is and laugh with, rather than at, the cast. “I just hope everybody has a good laugh and that they feel good when they leave,” Edwards said.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Students get opportunity to thank scholarship donors

Next week, students have a special opportunity to express gratitude to people who have helped them receive a Randolph College education.

The College will hold a Scholarship Thank-a-thon from 7:30 to 10 p.m. on Tuesday in the Student Center. Students just need to bring their own pens and they will be given paper and an envelope.

Students only need to write a few paragraphs to express appreciation for the gifts that help make their education possible, said Terry Bodine, donor relations coordinator. The Thank-a-thon is a good opportunity to enjoy snacks, socialize with other students, and introduce themselves to their scholarship donors.

Gifts to the College and its scholarship funds are crucial and help more students afford a quality liberal arts education. “Without these generous donations, Randolph could not continue to provide the grants and scholarships that make higher education possible for so many of our students,” Bodine said.

Students who receive scholarships from a specific donor or endowed fund will be given information to write a letter to their specific donors, while students with general scholarships will write letters to annual fund donors. Students who cannot attend the Thank-a-thon will be able to submit a letter online.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Professors honored by Annual Fund gifts and sunflowers

Some alumnae and alumni recently surprised some of their favorite professors with sunflowers, and gifts to the College, just before Valentine’s Day.

The Randolph College Annual Fund recently held a special campaign to reach out to some of the College’s younger alumnae and alumni. Staff asked them to make gifts in honor of their favorite professors, who would receive a sunflower and an acknowledgement of the graduate’s gift.

When snow threatened to impact the College on Valentine’s Day, the Annual Fund staff moved quickly to deliver the flowers early.

“We would like to extend our sincere thanks to those who supported the Annual Fund through their participation in our Valentine’s Day campaign,” said Tamera Jamerson, director of the Annual Fund. “The professors were, of course, delighted to have been honored and remembered by their former students in such a special way. Annual Fund participation is absolutely vital to our students and faculty, as it ensures that the College will continue to provide transformative educational experiences in a close-knit, caring community.”

View some photos of professors receiving their sunflower valentines in this Facebook photo album.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Alumna leads United Way fundraising campaign

Maggi Keyes Beckstoffer ’86 plans to jump out of an airplane for the United Way this spring.

As the campaign chair for the United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg, Beckstoffer promised to go skydiving along with other local United Way campaign leaders if the organization met certain fundraising goals. They are on target to raise more than $13.5 million by the time the campaign ends, so she is looking forward to the jump in May.

“We’re doing very well,” she said “We’ve had some challenges along the way, but between jumping out of an airplane as a way to raise money and using direct mail, we’re going to be very successful.”

Maggi Keyes Beckstoffer ’86 has been leading the fundraising
campaign for United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg.
Beckstoffer, who majored in psychology and philosophy at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, volunteers with numerous causes, and has served on her local United Way board for more than six years.  She is the first woman, as well as the first small business owner, to chair the campaign for this United Way chapter.

She has owned MBM Marketing, a company that organizes and executes marketing campaigns for small and medium-sized businesses and community banks, for about 15 years. Her background in philosophy and psychology helps her see business problems from different angles and motivate her clients’ target audience, she said.

“Understanding how different people think and where they’re coming from is critical to success in any business,” she said. “The College gave me confidence, wisdom, and the ability to think for myself, which has allowed me to build relationships with my clients and leaders in the community and be successful.”

Beckstoffer put those skills to work for the United Way campaign last summer. As campaign chair, she threw the opening pitch at a Richmond Squirrels game to kick off the fundraising,  and then she began meeting regularly with community and business leaders to promote the campaign. Her marketing expertise helped her craft a direct mail effort to complement other forms of fundraising.

The volunteer work requires a lot of time and dedication, but Beckstoffer said it is worth it to help the community. “I feel like I’m very fortunate in my life,” Beckstoffer said. “People have helped me and my family along the way. I am in a position where I can use my skills and talents to help others, and it just feels like the right thing to do. It’s a privilege.”

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

First 2014 Star Party scheduled for Saturday

The Winfree Observatory at Randolph College will be open Saturday with views of the moon and Jupiter available for astronomers.

The first Star Party of 2014 will begin at 8:30 p.m. Saturday. During Star Parties, Randolph students open Winfree Observatory for members of the campus community and the general public to use the telescope to view celestial objects.

Hart Gillespie ’15, the student who organizes the events, said the full moon will be the main focus of Saturday’s Star Party. Jupiter will be visible, and attendees may also get the chance to look at the Pleiades star cluster and the Double Cluster in the Perseus constellation, he said.

In case of inclement weather, check to confirm whether the event is still being held.

Other Star Parties this semester will be on March 29 at 8:30 p.m., part of the Randolph College Science Festival, April 12 at 9 p.m., and May 10 at 9:30 p.m.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Science Festival wins Programs that Work award

A statewide organization recently honored the Randolph College Science Festival for its effectiveness in teaching people the value of science.

The Virginia Math and Science Coalition gave the Science Festival a Programs that Work award, which recognizes effective educational programs around the state. Physics professor Peter Sheldon, director of the Science Festival, received the award along with Sarah Lawson, a physics and environmental studies professor, and Amanda Rumore, director of the Summer Research Program.

This is the second time in recent years that a program of the College has received a Programs that Work award. A summer institute that trains local teachers in hands-on approaches to teaching science was recognized in 2012.

The Science Festival grows every year. This year, new activities include remote-control drone races and a photography competition. For more information and a schedule of events, see this blog post.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Broadway singer Marcus Nance to perform at Randolph

UPDATE: Due to flight cancellations caused by forecasts of impending snow, the master class and recital with Marcus Nance have been canceled.

A renowned Broadway baritone will teach Randolph students how to improve their vocal performance as well as give a public recital of his own next week.

Randolph College is hosting Marcus Nance, who frequently performs in musicals and operas, for two public appearances Feb. 12–13. Randall Speer, a Randolph music professor, invited Nance to perform and also to teach Randolph students about the realities of a music career.

Speer and Nance actually attended college together. “He was always the consummate performer,” Speer said. “At the undergraduate level, he had already demonstrated a lot of potential, and within a few years he was performing professionally.”

When Speer took the Randolph College Chorale to perform in Carnegie Hall in 2012, he arranged for students to meet with Nance, who was performing the role of Caiaphas in Jesus Christ Superstar on Broadway, and learn about what it is like to be a professional singer. Speer wanted to invite Nance to campus so more students could interact with him.

Nance’s public performances will begin with a master class at 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 12. Four students will perform works from musical theatre or opera. In front of the audience, Nance will work with each student to immediately improve aspects of the performance.

A master class offers a unique opportunity to the audience, Speer said. “It’s sort of like getting a glimpse on the voice or performance studio,” he said. “The audience glimpses the nuts and bolts of the craft, in addition to seeing some fine performances.”

At 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 13, Nance will present a recital in cabaret style.

Both the master class and the recital will be held in Wimberly Recital Hall, and both are free and open to the public.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Play authored by alumna tells story of African American women

This weekend, Randolph College is hosting the debut of a play written by an alumna to shed light on the experience of African American women.

From the Valley to the Peak and Still Climbing consists of four monologues representing four generations of African American women, from a newly freed slave in the Civil War era to the modern president of a historically black college. It deals with injustice, domestic violence, education, and feminism.

“I want people to understand that although we may project many differences, we have a lot of similarities, and we go through a lot of the same trials and tribulations,” said Teresa Harris ’80, who wrote the play. “I hope that the audience will understand better what African American women are about.”

Harris said that she developed a love for writing while attending the College, but this is the first play she has written. She undertook the project after Dee Brown, a local playwright, wrote a similar play for Lynchburg’s Black Theatre Ensemble. His play, Climbing the Mountaintop When There is Nowhere Left to Walk, featured monologues from four male African American characters. Brown told Harris that he felt a woman should write a companion play from a female perspective.

Each character in the play presents a unique perspective on issues that African American women faced at different times in history. “Education is emphasized throughout the play. That’s a big part of it,” Harris said. “It also deals with the stereotypes that have plagued the black community ever since slavery.”

The play will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Smith Hall Theatre. The Office of Multicultural Services is hosting the play as part of the College’s Black History Month celebration.

The cast includes two Randolph students—Sonja Cirilo ’15 and Lexus Morton ’16—and an alumna, Leslie King ’06. Taylor Obeng-Amponsah rounds out the cast. Admission is free.

In addition to the four monologues, the performance will include dance routines to help set the stage for the eras represented. Harris said the entire show should last about two hours, including an intermission.

Harris, who works in the Randolph College Office of Student Success, said writing the play has been an emotional journey, but she is excited to see it performed. “I’m eager to see how people will connect with it and relate to it.”

Love at the Maier 2014

The Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College will host its 11th annual Love at the Maier this weekend to continue celebrating the connection between love and art.

On Friday, members of two Randolph College student clubs will present “The Love that Dare Not Speak Its Name,” including presentations about the art and the relationships of artists who had same-sex relationships and whose work is represented in the College’s art collection.

Love at the Maier

Schedule of Events
The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name
Friday, February 7, 5:30 p.m.
Maier members $5, others $10, Randolph College students free.

Family Program: Birds of a Feather
Sunday, February 9, 2 p.m.
Maier members $4, others $5. All materials provided.
On Sunday, the Love at the Maier Family Program will include bird-themed Valentine crafts for children.

Melissa Halka ’14, president of FRAME, Randolph’s student docent club, said the students considered several themes for the educational presentations for Friday’s event. They decided to focus on queer artists because the topic had never been covered in Love at the Maier before, although the College’s art collection includes works by several artists who were not strictly heterosexual.

“We want people to learn more about their lives and their artwork, which were just as interesting as all the other artists we have presented on,” Halka said.

Four students will give presentations and slideshows about the lives of four artists. Several students from Bridges, a club for LGBT students and advocates, will be dressed as famous artists and deliver first-person presentations about those artists.

Sunday’s family program is titled “Birds of a Feather,” inspired by the birds in art professor Jim Muehlemann’s exhibition Fear and Wonder, which is showing in the Maier this semester. Children ages 5 through 12, with accompanying adults, will be able to make Valentine crafts inspired by birds. All materials are provided.

(“Queer” is an accepted term used especially in academia to refer to anyone who doesn't self-define as heteronormative.)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Buck graduation centennial continues with documentary viewing

This week, Randolph College will continue its celebration of the centennial anniversary of Pearl S. Buck’s graduation with a viewing of East Wind, West Wind, a documentary about her life.

East Wind, West Wind: Pearl Buck, the Woman Who Embraced the World will be shown at 7 p.m. Thursday in Nichols Theatre. Frances Webb ’77, Lipscomb Library’s reference librarian, and Elizabeth Lipscomb, a former English professor from the College, will host the screening and will be available to take questions afterward.

The documentary, about 85 minutes long, tells the story of Buck’s life through interviews with Buck’s contemporaries and scholars of Asia. It includes fascinating footage of rural and urban China.

Buck, a member of the Class of 1914, was one of the best-known authors of the 20th century. She won the Nobel Prize for Literature as well as the Pulitzer Prize.

The College started a celebration of the 100th anniversary of Buck’s graduation in November, when Anchee Min, author of Pearl of China, spoke at the College. For more information about the celebration, see