From Campus to the Persian Gulf to Cuba, a Hollins Junior Earns a Worldly Education

Hanna Strauss ’19 has embraced the notion of “global citizen” in a way few other college students have experienced.

During the summer following her first year at Hollins, Strauss spent eight weeks in Oman studying Arabic at the Center for International Learning in Muscat, the country’s capital. Last April, the National Council on U.S. – Arab Relations (NCUSAR) awarded her a fellowship to participate in a week-long visit to Qatar. Strauss is now preparing to spend her entire 2018 Spring Term in Cuba through an intensive program in which only two other Hollins students have ever participated.

“I was raised in a way that enabled me to appreciate other peoples’ cultures,” explained Strauss, who is double majoring in Spanish and political science. Embodying that understanding began at an early age: She took part in a Model United Nations program in middle school, an endeavor that took her to conferences at the UN itself in New York City.

“I was privileged to have that opportunity and decided to take it forward,” she recalled, and in addition to her two study trips to the Persian Gulf region in as many years, she has been actively involved in NCUSAR’s Model Arab League Conferences, particularly the Appalachia Regional Model Arab League (ARMAL) conference held annually at Hollins. ARMAL brings together college and high school students to learn firsthand what it is like to put themselves in the shoes of real-life Arab diplomats and other foreign affairs practitioners. Students act as representatives from Arabic-speaking countries ranging from Morocco to Iraq.

During each of the past two years, Strauss has served as the conference’s secretary-general, meaning responsibility for the event’s success has sat squarely on her shoulders. When she took on the project for the first time last year, she said she “had had some previous general experience with organizing, but I didn’t have any knowledge of what had come before with planning this particular conference. I went in pretty much completely blind last year.” Nevertheless, Professor of Political Science Ed Lynch was impressed with her dedication and enthusiasm and asked her to serve as secretary-general again when ARMAL returned to Hollins this November. He said his trust was well placed.

“Hanna performed well above and beyond the call of duty in preparing for the conference,” he stated. “In advance, she held weekly meetings to go over the rules and procedures, arranged practice debates, and created her own web page of directions, information, and best practices for council chairs.”

Strauss also established a paperless format, instituting a system that enabled conference chairs to submit resolutions to her through Google Docs and other platforms. She recruited help with running documents and checking on participants, “which made our conference just a little bit more prestigious,” and worked closely with Hollins food service provider Meriwether Godsey to provide meals and snacks, noting that “they made everything run really smoothly.”

“I took on a lot more this year, but I went in very confident,” she reflected.

Lynch believes a major factor in the achievement of this year’s ARMAL conference was Strauss’s work last spring in reactivating the Model UN/Model Arab League Club at Hollins, an organization that had been dormant on campus for roughly ten years.

“This revival, while done with my support and good wishes, was wholly a student-led initiative, from writing the club’s constitution to successfully petitioning the Student Government Association Senate,” Lynch said.

“I had thought about bringing the club back since my first semester at Hollins, and my fellowship to Qatar was the catalyst,” said Strauss. “We have a Model UN class here at Hollins, but I really wanted to supplement that.” The Model UN/Model Arab League Club now boasts more than 30 members and provided crucial support to the ARMAL conference, such as workers to assist Strauss with operations and funding for refreshments.

This year’s ARMAL welcomed 92 students from five colleges, two high schools, and one middle school, including 12 Hollins students. Delegates discussed a wide range of issues concerning the Middle East and North Africa, including changes in U.S. policy, efforts to alleviate poverty and isolation, and dealing with regional civil wars. Three Hollins students won awards: Samantha Makseyn ’19 was named Outstanding Delegate to the Political Affairs Council; Reilly Swennes ’20 was recognized as Outstanding Delegate to the Joint Defense Council; and Katie Grandelli ’20 was awarded Distinguished Chair for her work leading the Council on Palestinian Affairs.

Strauss, who is president of Hollins’ junior class, is pleased at the cohesiveness that is resulting from the Model UN/Model Arab League Club’s resurrection. “I wanted to make it like a family, more Hollins-y. I hope this will perpetuate after I graduate.” Down the road, she is “thinking about law school,” but for now she is relishing the many opportunities she’s enjoyed and continues to anticipate as a Hollins student.

“Just like being at Hollins has made me a better person, experiences such as traveling to the Middle East have rounded me out. They add something significant to you and your personality.”

 

 

 

 


Hollins Names Augustana College Provost as New President

Judy Lambeth ’73, chair of the Hollins University Board of Trustees, announced the selection of Pareena Lawrence as the school’s next president in this letter to students, faculty, staff, and alumnae on November 29, 2016.

Hollins University has announced that Pareena Lawrence, provost and chief academic officer of Augustana College, will become the school’s 12th president. She will take office in July 2017.

Lawrence will succeed Nancy Oliver Gray, who will be retiring next June after serving as president of Hollins since 2005.

“We were intent on recruiting a president who is devoted to women’s education and the liberal arts, and is a proven leader and strategic thinker,” said Judy Lambeth ’73, chair of the Hollins University Board of Trustees. “We wanted to find an individual who embodies the values we hold dear at Hollins and can also inspire us to advance the institution even further. Pareena has all these characteristics, together with boundless energy and optimism.”

“Enabling more students to have access to transformative educational opportunities, as I have had, has been the core to my life choices,” Lawrence said. “However, it wasn’t until I was contemplating the presidency of Hollins that it hit me that everything in my life, each experience was preparing me for this extraordinary opportunity.”

Lawrence has been at Augustana, a 156-year-old, nationally ranked liberal arts college in Illinois, since 2011, and her responsibilities have gone beyond the traditional role of provost. In addition to serving as a primary architect of Augustana’s strategic plan, she has overseen an innovative set of student services, pioneered new career development initiatives, and has been a successful fundraiser and external ambassador for the college.

Lambeth described Lawrence as “a passionate believer in the power of a woman’s college. She movingly conveyed to our presidential search committee how attending a girls’ school in India changed her life. It is precisely our mission as a women’s college that has drawn Pareena to Hollins.”

“The dedicated faculty and staff members at the school gave me the freedom and support to envision who I could become,” Lawrence recalled. “They mentored me and helped me grow in determination and confidence. They instilled in me a deep sense of social responsibility and giving back to the community. My education gave me the skills to break traditional norms and the assurance that I could make something of myself based on raw talents and perseverance despite scarce resources and lack of connections.”

Lawrence, 49, graduated from the University of Delhi in 1987 with honors in economics, and two years later moved to the United States to pursue her Ph.D. in economics at Purdue University. In 1994, she joined the faculty of the University of Minnesota at Morris, where she became a full professor of economics and management in 2008.

“It is a plus that Pareena is an award-winning instructor and an accomplished scholar, with research focusing on international development and women’s issues,” Lambeth explained. She added that Lawrence’s training as an economist gives her an extensive understanding of the finances of higher education, and her various administrative roles have equipped her to deal with the array of challenges and opportunities that arise on a college campus.

“Pareena embodies all that is a Hollins woman: smart, articulate, warm, caring, and engaged, and aligned with our mission,” said  Alexandra Trower ’86, a member of the university’s Board of Trustees and the presidential search committee. “She has the ability to execute with excellence while always looking ahead toward a great vision and strategy.”

“I am honored and delighted to join the Hollins community,” Lawrence said, “and I look forward to building on the tradition of excellence at the university.”

 

President-Elect Lawrence was officially introduced to the campus community during a special event in duPont Chapel on November 29, 2016. View her remarks here

Here is coverage of the presidential announcement from The Roanoke Times and WDBJ-TV (News 7)

 

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Hollins to Compete in Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge

Hollins University is joining 87 colleges and universities from across the country to compete in the Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge, which kicks off September 4 and runs through October 15.

The Challenge celebrates college students’ ideas, ingenuity, and good old-fashioned school rivalries to combat the inactivity trend among young people.

For six weeks, members of the campus community will take part in the “Mother-Nature-Meets-March-Madness” program with the goal of becoming National Outdoor Champion. An initiative of the Outdoor Foundation, the Challenge will employ prizes, competition, and gamification to fight the growing inactivity crisis in America among youth by helping connect them to the outdoors.

Jon Guy Owens, director of the Hollins Outdoor Program (HOP), said, “The Challenge is a great tie-in with two significant milestones this year: the university’s 175th anniversary and HOP’s 40th anniversary. For much of our history we’ve encouraged students at every interest and skill level to stay active in ways that are exciting and a lot of fun. The Challenge represents another opportunity for our students to embrace and enjoy the many benefits of being outdoors.”

“The Challenge is about using technology for good – specifically, for the health and wellness of an entire generation of young people,” said Chris Fanning, executive director of the Outdoor Foundation. “We are rewarding and incentivizing college students who spend time outside because we believe they will have memorable experiences, develop a love for the outdoors, and ultimately spend more time protecting and enjoying our beautiful parks and wild places. This is what the Challenge is about – creating a cultural shift that leads all young Americans to the great outdoors.”

In the Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge, individuals compete to see who can spend the most time outside and active, and earn the title of Outsider of the Year. The college or university that has the most individuals logging outside hours will be named National Outdoor Champion. With the support of Challenge sponsors, schools will provide incentives to their student bodies and larger communities to get outside and active, including stickers, gear, head-to-toe outfitting, and even a trip and an internship opportunity.

At Hollins, HOP is the lead organizer for the Challenge, planning school-wide activities and promoting individual participation. Ultimately, the goal is to have students working to build a stronger outdoor campus community and culture.

The Challenge was developed to combat some of today’s bleak statistics regarding young people and outdoor participation. Research has found that young people spend 50 percent less time outdoors in natural settings than the generation that preceded them. The average young adult today spends eight hours in front of a screen and only a few minutes outside.

The Outdoor Foundation is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to inspiring and growing future generations of outdoor enthusiasts. Through groundbreaking research, action-oriented outreach, and education programs, the Foundation works with partners to mobilize a major cultural shift that leads all Americans to the great outdoors.

 


Hollins Signs On to Commitment to Advance Women Leaders in Higher Education

Hollins University has signed on to the Moving the Needle: Advancing Women Leaders in Higher Education call to action campaign to work toward ensuring that 50% of chief executives of our nation’s higher education institutions will be women by 2030.

The campaign was launched in January 2016 by the American Council on Education (ACE), the coordinating body for all the nation’s higher education institutions. It encourages colleges and universities to increase awareness by signing a statement of support to advance women into senior leadership positions in higher education.

Hollins President Nancy Gray joins a group of over 100 leaders that recognize that there is a pivotal opportunity to help advance women into the CEO position at America’s colleges and universities as higher education is beginning to see turnover of a generation of leaders.

The campaign notes that although women now earn the majority of all college degrees, they have made surprisingly little progress when it comes to gaining the top job at colleges and universities, moving the needle just three percentage points since 2006. As of 2011, only 26% of college and university presidencies were occupied by women.

When presidents sign the Moving the Needle: Advancing Women Leaders commitment, they pledge to:

  • Nominate qualified women to the highest positions of leadership in higher education wherever and whenever possible.
  • Provide opportunities for emerging women leaders to gain access to the skills and experiences necessary to advance.
  • Educate others, including boards, on the benefits of a gender-diversified leadership.
  • Empower leadership teams in their own institutions to sponsor women leaders.

Expert on Middle East to Keynote Model Arab League Conference

James Phillips, Senior Research Fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at The Heritage Foundation, will deliver the keynote address at the Appalachia Regional Model Arab League (ARMAL) conference, which will be held November 6 – 8 at Hollins University.

Phillips will speak at the Opening Plenary session on Friday, November 6, at 5:30 p.m. in Hollins’ Dana Science Building. His appearance is made possible by a grant from the Charles Koch Foundation.

Hollins Professor of Political Science Ed Lynch, coordinator for this year’s ARMAL conference, said Phillips is one of Washington’s foremost experts on the Middle East and the author of dozens of papers and hundreds of op-eds and blog posts on the Arabic-speaking world.

“Phillips will speak about the failure of socialism in the Arab world, and make suggestions for dealing with the aftermath of the Arab Spring. He’ll provide a fascinating perspective on the region for the delegates,” Lynch said.

Model Arab League is the flagship student leadership development program sponsored by the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations (NCUSAR). ARMAL brings together college and high school students from the Appalachia Region to learn firsthand what it is like to put themselves in the shoes of real-life Arab diplomats and other foreign affairs practitioners. Students act as representatives from Arabic-speaking countries ranging from Morocco to Iraq. At this year’s conference, they will discuss political, economic, social, and environmental issues, as well as the future of the Palestinian people and the vital matter of relations with the State of Israel.

In addition to Hollins, students from Converse College, Fairmont State University, Jacksonville State University, and Washington and Jefferson College are participating, as are local students from Roanoke Catholic High School and William Byrd High School.

ARMAL is one of 22 Model Arab League conferences sponsored each year by NCUSAR. The conference opening session is free and open to the public.


Hollins to Co-Host Virginia Women’s Conference on Nov. 21

Hollins University is joining U.S. Senator Mark Warner, Virginia Tech, the Roanoke Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the City of Roanoke in hosting the 2015 Virginia Women’s Conference on Saturday, November 21, from 8 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. at The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center.

Admission is free but registration is required.

The theme of this year’s conference is “Leadership and Lifelong Learning.” The agenda features a variety of breakout sessions, including:

  • From Conflict to Curiosity: Leadership Lessons Applied to Real Life
  • Women & Digital Domination
  • The Myth and the Math: Capital in the Community for Women-Owned Businesses
  • Prepare to Care – Physically, Mentally and Financially
  • Your Health: Ages & Stages
  • Leadership: From Fear to Fun
  • Four Keys to More Effective Leadership Behaviors
  • The Power of Friendship
  • The Modern Home Front
  • What’s Your EQ (Emotional Intelligence)?
  • The Woman in Charge: Financial Empowerment
  • Managing Stress with Success
  • Women as Agents of Change

Also highlighting the conference will be remarks from Senator Warner; a keynote address by Rynthia Rost, vice president of public affairs at GEICO; and a speed networking lounge. Joy Sutton, host of The Joy Sutton Show, is the emcee.

To register or learn more about this year’s Virginia Women’s Conference, visit www.warner.senate.gov/womensconference.

 

 


Director of Hollins Outdoor Program Joins Coastal Canoeists Board of Directors

Jon Guy Owens, director of the Hollins Outdoor Program, has been elected to the Board of Directors for Coastal Canoeists, Virginia’s largest canoeing and kayaking club.

“I am excited to work with Coastal Canoeists to help grow their presence in southwest Virginia and increase involvement with college and university groups,” Owens said. “Most of all, I hope to take advantage of the club’s great emphasis on camaraderie and sense of unity to open up paddling options to Hollins students.”

Based in Richmond and family oriented, Coastal Canoeists has members of all skill and age levels from across Virginia and the United States who share a passion for water sports and a love for the outdoors. The club encourages environmental responsibility to keep Virginia’s and America’s rivers clean.

 


Hollins Alumna and One of America’s Most Dynamic Pastors to Speak at 173rd Commencement

Rev. Dr. Cynthia L. Hale ’75, founding and senior pastor of Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur, Georgia, will be the guest speaker at Hollins University’s 173rd Commencement Exercises, which will be held Sunday, May 24, at 10 a.m. on the school’s historic Front Quadrangle.

A number of accomplishments highlight Hale’s distinguished 36-year career in the ministry. In 2004, she established Elah Pastoral Ministries, Inc., a mentoring program that assists in the spiritual as well as practical development of pastors and para-church leaders. The following year, she convened her first Women in Ministry conference, which develops, coaches, and mentors Christian women in ministry for the 21st century. She is a contributing writer for Power in the Pulpit II: How America’s Most Effective Black Preachers Prepare Their Sermons, and Feasting on the Gospels, a preaching resource series. In 2010, she authored her first book, I’m a Piece of Work: Sisters Shaped by God. Ray of Hope Christian Church has been cited in the book, Excellent Protestant Congregations: Guide to Best Places and Practices.

Hale has been recognized nationally and internationally for her leadership, integrity, and compassion. In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed her to serve on the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships. She has been honored by the National Urban League and is a recipient of the inaugural “Women of Power” award. In July 2012, she received the Preston Taylor Living Legacy Award at the 22nd Biennial Session of the National Convocation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The following November, Ebony magazine named her one of the Power 100, a yearly compilation of the most influential African Americans in the country.

In addition to earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hollins, Hale holds a Master of Divinity degree from Duke University and a Doctor of Ministry from United Theological Seminary.

Hale presently serves on the Hollins University Board of Trustees and the Board of Visitors at Duke Divinity School. She is chairperson of the Board of Directors at both Beulah Heights University and City of Hope Ministries, Inc. She is also secretary for the Hampton University Ministers’ Conference.

 


Hollins to Explore Affiliation with State Department’s Women in Public Service Project

womenserviceHollins University President Nancy Gray joined other women’s college presidents from throughout the nation at the inaugural colloquium of the Women in Public Service Project, held at the United States Department of State in Washington, D.C.

“The goal of the Women in Public Service Project is to cultivate a generation of women leaders who will invest in their democratic countries, be willing to provide leadership through public service to the governments, and change the way global solutions are forged,” Gray explains. “The project intends to create training and mentoring opportunities for emerging and aspiring women leaders to establish and sustain an international network of such leaders.”

Gray adds that the project is currently an initiative supported by the U.S. Department of State and five of the “Seven Sisters” colleges – Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mt. Holyoke, Smith, and Wellesley. However, she notes that “the partnership is eager to expand and include other colleges, especially women’s colleges.”

The colloquium, which Gray describes as “a remarkable event,” was keynoted by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and featured addresses from Christine Lagarde, president of the International Monetary Fund, and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.


“I Could Not Do Everything I Do If I Wasn’t at Hollins”

carmanThroughout most of her life, Hollins University senior Macy Carman has naturally blended leadership and sportsmanship. But lately, the environmental studies major from Billings, Montana, is going the extra mile to strengthen those inner qualities.

Carman first started taking riding lessons at the age of four and three years later became a member of Pony Club, a youth equestrian organization that serves more than 100,000 members in over 30 countries. “Pony Club is dedicated to developing young people as riders, leaders, team players, and teachers,” Carman says. “It focuses on responsibility and building good character as well as becoming good horsemen and women.”

In 2010, Carman was elected to the National Youth Board of the United States Pony Club (USPC). When the youth board chose her as chair in January 2012, she not only went on to design a campaign, appear on a radio show, and meet with groups of the British Pony Club, she was also nominated and elected to the USPC Board of Governors.

“That’s been the most exciting thing. Going in, I didn’t know how much I would be able to do as a youth member, but the rest of the members of the board have given me so much opportunity to have a real say.”

Carman’s dedication to her sport is a big reason why she’s earned such a prominent role in the USPC. After spending two years on the Hollins riding team, she decided to concentrate on three-day event riding, or eventing, one of the most demanding disciplines of equestrian competition. “Eventing is the triathlon of horse sports,” she explains. “The first day is dressage, where you ride a set of prescribed movements and are scored by a judge. The second day is cross-country, which is what eventing is best-known for – galloping over terrain and jumping natural or fixed obstacles. The final phase is show jumping, a course of stadium fences in an arena. It was originally designed as a test of discipline, bravery, and stamina for military horses.”

While Carman mostly competes during the summer months because of her academic responsibilities the rest of the year, training for eventing is a year-round job. “My horse is stabled about 15 minutes away from campus and we train six days a week. It’s an investment of time and financial resources, but it’s important for his fitness and my fitness.”

In addition, Carman has worked for international eventer and Pan American Games Gold Medalist Michael Pollard, and served as a groom for the U.S. eventing team during its trip to Holland during the fall of 2011.

Hollins’ Batten Leadership Institute has also had a profound influence. “I’ve always been classified as the leader, the Type A personality who took over group projects,” Carman notes. She admits to having been “a little dubious” at the outset about what the program could teach her. However, as a result of Batten, she says she has discovered the tremendous value in playing a supportive role. “I’ve learned to delegate, trust, and support others and realize that I don’t have to do everything, to look at a situation and not take over. It’s important to balance those things.”

One of the approaches Carman says she has learned in Batten that is helping her meet her responsibilities within the USPC is taking a “balcony perspective” when performing her board work. “It’s stepping back and saying, ‘What’s happening here?’ That’s fairly easy to do in the classroom but much harder when you’re in a situation with real results on the line. But just having the awareness of needing to look at the overall picture is really important. You have to look at how the board itself is functioning and what you need to change to get the results you want, rather than just focusing on the results themselves. Batten has helped me to prioritize and put the focus on the process rather than the product.”

While deeply committed to equestrian competition, the USPC, and the Batten Leadership Institute, Carman has still found time to serve at Hollins on the Senior Legacy Committee, the Student Athletic Advisory Committee, and in the Office of Admission. She also enjoyed what she calls a “life-changing” adventure, studying abroad her junior year in London and interning with the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management. The trip culminated with a solo trip to Scotland, where she hiked to the top of Arthur’s Seat, a dormant volcano that’s the highest point in Edinburgh. “It was the most liberating experience of my life. It’s given me a whole new perspective on who I want to be and where I want to go from here.”

Carman is now applying to architecture schools with the hope of embarking on a career in sustainable architecture. The encouragement she has received at Hollins has given her every confidence she will succeed.

“When I went to Holland last year, it was very short notice, just 48 hours, and it ended up I was gone eight days during midterms,” she recalls. “But my teachers, they knew me, they knew I could catch up, and they were so supportive. That’s the thing I love the most about Hollins, everyone wants to make it work. I could not do everything I do if I wasn’t at Hollins.”