“Leadership does not require a position or a title; it requires action,” said Judge Pamela Shell Baskervill ’75 in her 2005 Founders Day address at Mary Baldwin College. On May 19, she will be back at the lectern to deliver a rousing message to graduates and their families as the keynote speaker for the college’s 171st Commencement.
Baskervill continues a tradition of noted alumnae, such as Louise Rossett McNamee ’71 and Charlotte Jackson Berry ’63, who have returned to their alma mater to share life experiences. She is the third MBC graduate to give the Commencement address while working as a presiding judge.
Baskervill is eager to enrich her long relationship with the college, which has included service on the Advisory Board of Visitors and Parent Council. A political science major, staff member of Campus Comments, and scholar at Oxford University as a student, Pamela Baskervill — and her youngest daughter Susannah, a 2005 graduate — were both Russell Scholars while at MBC.
A member of the Virginia Bar Association since 1978, Baskervill earned her juris doctor from the T.C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond and worked for more than two decades as a private practice attorney, following in her father’s footsteps. In 2001, Baskervill was appointed as judge of the 11th Judicial Circuit of Virginia, headquartered in Petersburg. She is also an active volunteer, previously holding leadership positions for the American Cancer Society, the American Red Cross, and Poplar Springs Hospital, as well as being involved in church activities and serving as a mock trial coach and judge.
Baskervill credits her undergraduate education at Mary Baldwin with instilling a variety of life skills, in addition to imparting solid academic preparation.
“I learned how to acquire information from which I could form my own opinion and to express it in a manner that was not adversarial so that I could learn from my colleagues and they could learn from me. I learned it was acceptable to fail as long as I had tried,” she said.
Baskervill’s husband, Charles, also an attorney, recently retired from the MBC Board of Trustees. Her older daughter, Ann, is a graduate of Washington and Lee University.
Mary Baldwin’s Commencement ceremony begins at 10 a.m. May 19 on Page Terrace. In the event of rain, Commencement will be held at Augusta Expoland in Fishersville at 10:30 a.m.
One of the most anticipated events during Reunion Weekend is the annual awards presentation. This year’s event followed MBC President Pamela Fox’s remarks about the momentum and future plans of the college on Saturday morning. Alumnae/i from all classes gathered to congratulate award recipients.
Emily Smith Medallion
Named in honor of distinguished MBC alumna Emily McKelden Smith, this award was created by the MBC Board of Trustees to “honor an alumna/us who has made outstanding contributions to her/his community, church, the college, and the Commonwealth.”
Judy Lipes Garst ’63 is committed to providing top-notch educational experiences for students in Salem City Schools and volunteer service to her community and alma mater. Judy taught sixth grade full time for eight years and continued to substitute teach for 20 more years amidst numerous civic engagements. She served on the Committee for Standards of Quality Education and has remained active in the local Parent Teacher Association (PTA) since 1963, for which she was honored with the Virginia PTA Lifetime Membership award. Her 40 years of membership in the Salem Garden Club have included service in every office, and she works to preserve her community’s heritage as a member of the Salem Historical Society. Salem Presbyterian Church also has a large presence in her life, as she serves as deacon, elder, and trustee, as well as performing in its vocal and bell choirs. Judy, a history graduate, has contributed to Mary Baldwin as a member of the Alumnae Board of Directors and Board of Trustees, as a class leader, and by representing MBC at college fairs. In 2002, she received the prestigious Emily Wirsing Kelly Leadership Award.
Veteran philanthropist Anna Kate Reid Hipp ’63 has dedicated herself to a lifetime of service to numerous organizations, including steadfast support of MBC. After working in the development office at the University of Pennsylvania, Anna Kate focused on volunteerism and raising her family. She is a champion for environmental preservation and enrichment, and has chaired organizations such as Friends of the Reedy River, Trees Greenville, and the Pawley’s Island Beautification Committee. Anna Kate is also founding chair of Success by 6 of Greenville, a United Way program dedicated to improving school readiness, which is among the many activities that led to her receiving the YWCA Women of Achievement Award and the Women Making History Award, among other honors. During more than 25 years on the MBC Board of Trustees, she was the first woman to chair the board and she has served on every fundraising committee. Anna Kate has been honored with Mary Baldwin’s Sesquicentennial Medallion, an honorary doctorate of humane letters, and the Emily Wirsing Kelly Leadership Award.
Emily Wirsing Kelly Leadership Award
Artist and former Alumnae/i Association Board of Directors President Emily Wirsing Kelly ’63 passed away in 1985. Her husband, Timothy Kelly, established a leadership award and a student scholarship in her memory through the Kelly Foundation. The Emily Wirsing Kelly Leadership Award recognizes an alumna/us who has demonstrated outstanding service and excellence in leadership on behalf of Mary Baldwin College.
An accomplished professional and an active volunteer, Emily Elizabeth Oehler ’93 has 20 years of experience in the communication field. She works as a strategy and organization communication consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton, assisting clients from the Army Warrior Transition Command, Veterans Benefits Administration, Army Wounded Warrior Program, and Army Casualty and Mortuary Affairs. Last year, Emily became an advisor for a new nonprofit organization, Silent Siren, which expands community crisis intervention support for military service members and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. She also serves on the board of directors for The Child & Family Network Centers, a nonprofit providing free education to at-risk children, and she has been a member of the Junior League of Northern Virginia since 1994. Emily has made a contribution to the college every year since graduating and is a member of the Kiracofe Society in recognition of her planned gift. Her leadership roles for MBC have included serving as a class leader for several years and a stint on the Advisory Board of Visitors.
After graduating from Mary Baldwin College with her biology degree, Shearer Troxell Luck ’63 attended the Medical College of Virginia and earned her bachelor of science in physical therapy. Her work as a physical therapist at Sheltering Arms Physical Rehabilitation Hospital and Richmond Memorial Hospital, as well as membership in the Virginia Physical Therapy Association and the American Physical Therapy Association kept her connected to a vibrant professional network throughout her career. Shearer’s activities outside of work centered around her four children, including membership in various parent teacher associations, band boosters, athletic boosters, Boy Scouts, and mentoring elementary school students. She has also been a champion for health and wellness causes through the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society, as well as an active member of Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church. Shearer is the gift co-chair for the Class of 1963 and has served as Reunion co-chair and as New Directions Campaign chair for the Richmond area. In 2003, MBC acknowledged her energetic commitment with the Service to Community Award.
Admissions Volunteer Excellence
Neille McRae Wilson ’68 was involved in nearly every possible activity as a student at MBC, including Glee Club, English Clan, Young Democrats, Campus Comments, the Sophomore Show, and Student Activities Committee. During her junior year, she traveled to Paris, and, after earning her degree in French, she worked as a secretary for several organizations. She was also active in the Telfair County Middle School Parent Teacher Association. An advocate for the arts, Neille chaired the Arty-Facts program through Orlando Public Schools, which sought to introduce students to famous artists and their works. Over the years, Neille has remained an avid supporter of Mary Baldwin, serving on the Alumnae/i Board, chairing her 10th Reunion, and participating in the Atlanta alumnae group. She frequently attends college fairs to encourage prospective students to explore MBC, and she assists with alumnae luncheons and other events.
Community of Faith Award
The Community of Faith Award honors an alumna/us who has provided distinguished service to her church and spiritual community.
Reverend Betty Jean Gilmer Young ’50 igniting a passion that would lead her on her future career path when she joined the Presbyterian church at the tender age of 9, and has dedicated her life to worship and service. During her Mary Baldwin days, she was a leading member of the Young Women’s Christian Association and shepherded the Westminster Fellowship group. Additionally, she was a member of the Presidents’ Forum, Student Council, Glee Club, Music Club, and French Club. After graduating from MBC, Betty Jean earned a master of religious education from Princeton Theological Seminary and a master of divinity from San Francisco Theological Seminary. Prior to becoming a Presbyterian minister, Betty Jean filled many important roles within the church and provided guidance to committees and task forces covering topics such as curriculum and child advocacy. She served as a Christian educator at Blacksburg Presbyterian Church and joined the Rotary Club. She has since served as a pastor, interim minister, and minister at several churches in northern California and Washington.
In retirement, Betty Jean is chair of the Vespers committee, working to bring ministers into the community each week to provide worship opportunities for residents of the Lexington, Virginia, retirement community where she resides.
Community Service Award
Whether she is in her hometown of Rye, New York, or in London, Gabrielle “Gabby” Gelzer McCree ’83 touches the community in lasting ways. She is a member of New York State Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, a nonprofit association of professionals concerned with instructing English language learners at all levels of public and private education. For the past 20 years, she has also been a steadfast volunteer at her childrens’ schools, serving multiple functions, from class parent to library volunteer. She began tutoring writing at the School of the Holy Child last year, and she went on a school-led mission trip to Lagos, Nigeria, with her daughter. While living abroad, Gabby served on the board for Junior League of London and spent time as a Sunday school teacher at St. Columba’s Church. A member of Rye Presbyterian Church, she participates in various worship activities, including Bible study, mission study, and co-chairing the stewardship committee. Gabby has served as an MBC Reunion chair and on the Reunion gift committee, and she raised funds with her classmates to establish the Mona Olds Scholarship. Gabby is earning her master’s degree in education while working as an adjunct instructor at the English Language Institute at Manhattanville College.
Career Achievement Award
The career accomplishments of Page Putnam Miller ’63 span work as historian, professor, director, and lobbyist. During two decades as executive director of the National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History, Page lobbied in Washington DC for the historical and archival professions, providing testimony to United States House and Senate committees on more than 30 occasions. She now serves as Distinguished Visiting Lecturer for the University of South Carolina’s history department. She was honored for outstanding contributions to public policy and practice by the Third National Conference on Women and Historic Preservation, and she received the Society for History in the Federal Government’s Franklin Delano Roosevelt Award. Even in retirement, her enthusiasm for history has not waned and neither has her work ethic. She has written several books and scholarly articles on historical topics, including women’s roles throughout history and Fripp Island, the South Carolina town where she lives. An active supporter of MBC, she regularly attends Reunion and received the Sesquicentennial Medallion in recognition of her contributions.
After working with more than 100 students in her microbiology lab for nearly 20 years, Louise Temple is convinced that engaging in research is life-changing for undergraduates.
“At some point in the process, they almost always realize that there is so much left to learn, but also that they can make a contribution to our understanding of the living world,” said Temple, James Madison University (JMU) professor of Integrated Science and Technology, about the students she mentors. “It is the first time they have a say in what to do in the lab, which starts to build the independent thinking that is a critical part of becoming a scientifically literate person, someone who understands the inquiry process and feels competent to try and understand what has gone before.”
Temple’s perspective caught the attention of Mary Baldwin Associate Professor of Biology Paul Deeble, who invited her to give the 2013 Humphreys Biology Lecture. Temple’s public presentation, which will focus on her interaction with students through the discovery method of teaching, begins at 6 p.m. on April 1 in James D. Francis Auditorium. She will also meet for a more informal discussion with biology faculty and selected students following the lecture.
“She truly believes in the concept of learning by doing and the impact of research as a learning tool for undergraduates,” Deeble said, noting that Temple is one of the major forces in the American Society for Microbiology’s active Shenandoah Valley chapter.
Temple’s study of phages — viruses that infect bacteria (illustrated at right) — and bacterial pathogens complements courses offered this semester at MBC such as Microbiology and Genetics, Deeble said. Her research on bacteriology and virology has been supported by grants from the United States Department of Agriculture, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health. She is currently leading several undergraduate projects with JMU students, including one where student researchers are working to identify methicillin resistance genes in viruses in the environment.
MBC junior biology and psychology major Sophia Stone is intrigued by the professor’s decades-long work with a pathogen that is similar to Bordetella pertussis, the causative agent of whooping cough.
“I would like to know more about how her findings have applications in health care and in commercial industries,” Stone said. “I also hope she will share how she balances teaching with research, in addition to future directions for her research.”
Temple’s commitment to helping students grow combines with her scholarly credibility and cutting-edge research to position her as a strong role model for women in science.
“I found out early in my teaching career that extremely capable women lacked confidence and they lacked an accurate assessment of their own abilities,” said Temple, who earned her PhD in microbiology and immunology from the Medical College of Virginia. “I strive to explicitly encourage all my students, especially those young women who apologize for everything. I’ve even posted the statement, ‘No self-deprecating remarks around here’ in the lab.”
The Mary E. Humphreys Biology Lecture Series was established in 1992 to bring prominent scientists to campus to present public lectures. Sponsoring the series are friends and former students of the late Mary Humphreys, professor emerita of biology, who served on the faculty at MBC for 25 years. Read more about the Humphreys Lecture, including a list of past participants.
The Advisory Board of Visitors (ABV) sponsored a Couture Fashion Show to display fashionable career dressing for interviews, meetings, and professional office settings. Held in Hunt Dining Hall, student diners were entertained while learning about mixing and matching pieces to achieve different looks. ABV sophomore mentees and other student volunteers served as models, and special guests included Crystal Jackson and event organizer Suzannah Meyers Zachos ’97 of Lord & Taylor and career coach Torski Dobson-Arnold ’99. See the full photo gallery online.
Public affairs broadcaster C-SPAN brought its mobile learning center to Mary Baldwin College February 20 in conjunction with the launch of its new original series, First Ladies: Influence and Image, premiering this month. Airing at 9 p.m. on Mondays, it will be the first television series to showcase all of the American first ladies, from Martha Washington to Michelle Obama. Dozens of students, faculty, and staff toured the bus, which is a 45-foot interactive multimedia learning center that brings C-SPAN’s coverage of public affairs to communities nationwide. Inside are interactive stations demonstrating C-SPAN programming, online resources, and how to use C-SPAN video library, an archive featuring more than 190,000 hours of programming that dates back to 1987.
An in-person voting session at the Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement and lively Facebook feedback led to the selection of Courage and Roots as the provocative themes that will guide academic and co-curricular activities at Mary Baldwin College during the next two years. There were a record 22 submissions from faculty, staff, and students who all had thoughtful ideas about how to integrate the concepts across campus.
After collecting comments and votes, Spencer Center staff and faculty fellows discussed the merits of a handful of the top-rated potential themes, said Rhea Vance-Cheng ’09, associate director of Civic and Global Engagement. The group considered how well the ideas could be applied to various disciplines, how they could be illustrated visually, and how similar they were to previous themes, she explained. The college-wide theme was introduced in 2007–08 as a way to further unite and enrich the MBC community. The inaugural subject was Voices, followed by Maps, Heart, Power, Wisdom, and the current topic, Place.
One of the strongest connections with the annual theme is the way each entering class identifies with that year’s word; the initial interpretation of the theme is typically seen in the tagline chosen for first-year orientation.
Courage, the theme for the next academic year, was proposed by alumna and longtime faculty member Sara Nair James ’69. James, professor of art history, was delighted that her suggestion was seen as timely and relevant.
“I see students, professors, families, and MBC as an institution in uncharted waters and challenging times,” she said. “We need courage to meet those challenges and make a difference in this world. With courage, we have the potential to change the world for the better.”
Sophomore Lynnae Sauer hopes that others at Mary Baldwin will enjoy exploring Roots, her proposal, in 2014–15: “I believe that Mary Baldwin is a starting place for many people, and the root of their success. The college helps students grow and learn and it remains a source of knowledge and help, the way that roots sustain a tree no matter how tall it grows.”