Boldly Baldwin word mark

Mary Baldwin will roll out a new major in health sciences in fall 2015, strengthening connections between the undergraduate program and the Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences as well as creating a clear pathway to graduate studies and professions in rapidly growing health care fields.

Students can earn a BA or a BS in the interdisciplinary major, which combines courses in anatomy, psychology, health care administration, statistics, social sciences, and more. In addition to courses that already exist at Mary Baldwin, three new classes will be part of the core requirements: Introduction to Health Professions, Medical Terminology, and a senior seminar. A new faculty member will be hired this summer to support the new major and serve as a joint appointment to the undergraduate program and MDCHS.

The major could be particularly attractive to Adult Degree Program students, several of whom have already expressed interest in applying to graduate programs at Murphy Deming, according to ADP Director Lallon Pond. “This major will appeal to students who typically look for the quickest way to complete their bachelor’s degree and who have explored other transfer options,” Pond said. Most courses in the major will be offered online, providing convenient access for adult students.

A competitive early admissions option is available for Mary Baldwin undergraduates who wish to secure a place in one of the Murphy Deming graduate programs during their junior year.

“Through my own experience as a physical therapy patient, I came to appreciate professionals in the field,” said Sheridan Lawrence ’16, who was recently accepted into the PT program at the college of health sciences and plans to attend after finishing her undergraduate degree in psychology. “The entire MBC community was so supportive during the process. It will be the start of a new adventure in my life.”

BethanyZaimanAlgernon Sydney Sullivan Student Award: Bethany Zaiman

Recognizing unselfish service, noble character, and spiritual qualities. The student also receives the accompanying Mary Keith Fitzroy Award.

In all of her interactions and roles at Mary Baldwin College, Zaiman demonstrates respect for all people and values the diverse perspectives of others. The anthropology/sociology major enthusiastically revived the anthropology club, and she has both found personal enrichment and enriched the campus community with leadership roles at the Spencer Center, Quest interfaith group, and the MBC chapter of the Clinton Global Initiative University. Travel to Mexico, the Czech Republic, Northern Ireland, and Haiti during her college tenure has strengthened an already acute sensitivity to the struggles of people around the globe. Zaiman employed her Margaret Kable Russell Award to develop a senior thesis that examined the purity culture movement in contemporary Evangelical Christianity, undertaking a study that was both academically rigorous and beneficial to the broader community. She also earned the Carrie Douglass Award for Excellence in Anthropology and graduated summa cum laude with distinction in her major.


MariahDittrichCollege of Education Outstanding Graduate Student: Mariah Dittrich

As the first BA/MAT graduate to earn the College of Education’s highest honor, Dittrich thrives as an inquiry-focused teacher and leader in the classroom. Her infectious enthusiasm and wide-ranging connections at MBC — which include roles as PEG resident advisor and senior class advisor — also garnered her the Unsung Hero Award in 2014. Noted by peers and professors alike for her “good-natured attitude, commitment, and desire to positively impact her community,” Mariah has served as Class of 2014 secretary; chairwoman for the Association for Campus Outreach and Resources for New Students (ACORNS); board of elections co-chair; peer advisor for Honors Scholars, Career Academy, and Healthy Lifestyles gateways; Honors Scholars president; and a team leader in Grafton Library.


CearaArmstrongCollege of Education Outstanding Undergraduate Student: Ceara Armstrong

Professors in the College of Education saw Armstrong’s potential early in her undergraduate tenure, and she represented MBC at the annual Teachers of Promise Institute as a freshman. Her drive and disposition for teaching, learning, and leadership, made Armstrong stand out as this year’s honoree. She plans to remain at Mary Baldwin to earn her Master of Arts in Teaching.





JimLottAlgernon Sydney Sullivan Non-Student Award: Jim Lott, dean emeritus and professor emeritus of English

Recognizing unselfish service, noble character, and spiritual qualities.

During his 37-year tenure at Mary Baldwin, Lott effortlessly balanced intense academic and programmatic discussions with the lighter side of campus life. A consummate scholar and published author in his own right, Lott’s measured leadership guided the MBC faculty — and the college as a whole — through several periods of transition. His contributions to the community are wide-ranging, including theater performances; membership at Emmanuel Episcopal Church; and service on the boards of several non-profit agencies, such as the Salvation Army and Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library.


SophiaStoneMartha Stackhouse Grafton Award: Sophia Stone

Given to the graduate with the highest cumulative grade point average.

Triple major (biology, chemistry, psychology) Stone started earning academic accolades in her first semester at Mary Baldwin and has served as a class marshal for several years by carrying one of the highest GPAs in her class. Her psychology Capstone project was presented at the Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology and the Society for Neuroscience annual meetings, and is being considered for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. She also completed summer research internships at Oklahoma State University and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. Stone earned a bachelor of science with summa cum laude honors and distinction in two majors, and she will pursue her master’s degree at the University of Washington in the fall.

Stone excelled in the athletic arena as well as the classroom, becoming Mary Baldwin’s first All-American in cross country and placing 19th at the NCAA championship meet as a junior.


Adult Degree Program Outstanding Student: Shawna Mills Franklin

Franklin was among the first Adult Degree Program Social Work majors in the Roanoke area. In addition to maintaining an impressive 3.96 GPA, she juggled a family and community service through the Court Appointed Special Advocates program and the Conflict Resolution Center in Roanoke. Franklin is passionate about child welfare, adheres to high standards of excellence, and handles challenges admirably. She was the recipient of an ADP Loyalty Fund Scholarship in 2014.


MarshallMLitt/MFA Ariel Award: Marshall B Garrett

Recognizing outstanding program service and leadership to the Shakespeare and Performance program.

A leader in the classroom, the conference room, and in the rehearsal room, Garrett is often sought out by other Shakespeare and Performance students for guidance. Truly an actor-scholar, he never fails to bring out the best in others, and he has learned that he is at his best when helping others. Garrett is continuing at Mary Baldwin College to pursue his masters of fine arts, but, according to S&P Director Paul Menzer, “he has already mastered the fine art of service.”



LynMcDermidHonorary Doctor of Humane Letters: Margaret E. “Lyn” McDermid ’95

The first Adult Degree Program graduate to earn an honorary doctorate from MBC and also the first to serve as chair of the Board of Trustees, McDermid has been an invaluable partner and generous friend to the college in visionary planning as well as giving and development. Most recently, she has been instrumental in bringing Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences to fruition and championing the historic fundraising effort Ever Ahead: The Campaign for Mary Baldwin College. She readily shares her considerable experience and business acumen with the college, gleaned through leadership positions at Dominion Resources and the Federal Reserve Bank.

President Fox, Trustees, Faculty, Staff, Family, Friends, and most importantly you, Mary Baldwin College Class of 2015, congratulations!

Now look, the last thing I wanna do is stand up here in front of a quiet crowd, and I think that’d be pretty boring for you, too. Not to mention, graduates, I’ve heard that of all the many wonderful things you are, quiet is not one of them.

So, let me hear you celebrate now and for the rest of this speech! Mary Baldwin College Class of 2015, congratulations!

Being with you today is and will always be one of the greatest honors of my life. Thank you so much for this opportunity. It wasn’t long ago, in fact, that I sat on this very terrace as a graduating senior.

I remember being so glad we hadn’t ended up at Expoland.

I remember looking over the campus from my seat and realizing just how incredible I was to have perfected the nine-minute speed walk from Kable to Pearce, which included a slide down the dirt path near the security house.

I remember hoping against hope that my family wouldn’t cheer when my name was called. They, of course, cheered any way..

And, I remember being filled with an indescribable sense of gratitude, probably a lot like the feeling many of you have today.

Of course, I can’t think about the milestone of my Baldwin graduation without remembering, too, all of the adventures that have followed.

From one of my first jobs at a jam packed community center in Harlem that was every day abuzz with hundreds of kids and the hopes and challenges of education reform-

To working at an innovative faith-based non-profit in DC helping those returning from 10, 20 years of incarceration find jobs, housing, and spiritual care-

To an electric four-year ride in the Obama White House, complete with meetings with the President, office visits from diplomats Bo and Sunny, and the very cool feeling of watching projects led by the eleven-person team I worked with be celebrated on national news-

To these days, spending most of my time at the tallest church in the United States, where speakers like Martin Luther King once delivered words, and where the church’s first female pastor, Amy Butler, now delivers words and vision for a future.

They all sound really pretty different at first, I know. But, there’s actually been something incredibly consistent about all of them, a particular kind of challenge. And, there’s a photo of me from a few years back that illustrates it perfectly.

A friend of mine snapped it while we were getting some work done one Saturday at a museum. In the frame, I’m sitting at a table working. I’m hunched over my laptop with my back arched and tense, left hand on the keyboard of my computer and right hand on my notebook. There are papers, binders, and books scattered all around, and I’m looking at the camera, but I’m kind of scowling, because when I’m working furiously and intensely I get, let’s call it, witchy resting face. Anybody else know that super intense, I’m working, why are you interrupting me, face? Right.

Now, directly behind me, my back to it and nearly touching it, is a humongous painting that completely engulfs the wall it’s hanging on. At maybe 14 feet wide and 14 feet tall, the painting is a canvas of epic proportion and color. It’s covered in rectangles of smoldering red, bright green, golden yellow, deep blue, wild purple, and fire orange that mash together to make triangles so dynamic the shapes seems to move.

And, the center point of this fantastic backdrop is me.

The thing is: when that photo was snapped, I had no idea the painting was there, because in all of my fury and intensity that day, I never once turned around to see it.

As a side note, having minored in art history, my, shall we call it, oversight, is deeply embarrassing, and I plan to avoid eye contact with Dr. James and Dr. Hobson for the remainder of today’s events.

I had no idea the painting was there, because I never once turned around to see it.

Living with eyes wide open to what’s seen and what’s not seen…yet, has been one of the greatest challenges of my life. And, I’ve found, in all my adventures, that the specific work I do with my hands never matters nearly as much as much as the work I do with my eye-

a mind’s eye that works furiously and intensely to see the here and now and the canvas that is yet unseen-

the smoldering red of something new-

the moving lines of a dream dreamed-

the humongous frame that shows poverty, violence, and oppression reversed-

so close our backs can almost touch it.

Here’s an example of what I mean.

The very first time I heard of Mary Baldwin College I was 13 and had just taken the SAT. I got a purple postcard in the mail that said something to the effect of, “How would you like to start college four years early?” I thought about it for a second … and remembered a news story I’d once heard about some young boy somewhere heading off to college. But, I thought … he was white and I had never heard of anyone who looked like me doing anything like that. So, I threw the postcard away – and logged onto AIM for a very normal evening of middle school fun as sofresh&soclean813.

Thankfully, and not long after, my dad found the postcard and asked me why I’d thrown it away. So, I told him. And, the depth and wisdom of his response pushed me out of the comfort of the “what I see now” and into the discomfort of “I don’t see it now, but it could be and it could be me,” his response pushed me to have, if even for a second, eyes open to what’s seen and what’s not seen … yet.

He said:

“Girl, if you don’t get out of my face with that nonsense and call these people back, Imma hurt you.”

So I called, applied, visited, and began my Baldwin journey of a lifetime. It was still the case that I’d never heard of, at that point, a person of color doing anything similar, and the unknown of that terrified me.

But, the bravery, creativity, and grit that greatness and change require, are only found in that tricky little place where we dare to see both what is and what can be.

On the one hand, and because one can’t cast a vision for something new onto present systems she doesn’t understand, the challenge is to see and study the nuts and bolts of the world’s right-now-needs as they really are: complex, not to be oversimplified, inter-connected, not mutually exclusive, shape-shifting, not stagnant.

And, because the way things are is not the final word, the challenge is to also and at the same time dream outside the bounds of reality, to imagine new systems, new solutions, new ways of being, and new and more-creative-than-we-ever-thought-possible expressions of change and justice.

Just as the voice of fear, that great critic, rose up in the mind of sofresh&soclean813, it will arise for you if you dare to work and live from this place.

Seeing something that hasn’t yet taken shape takes courage, because it resists the security of what we’ve seen and done so far – because even if “the way it’s always been” is destroying us, there’s a seeming safety in at least knowing what the heck to expect.

When 34-year-old Mary Julia Baldwin became the head of the Augusta Female Seminary, on the one hand understanding the effects of war on the national and academic economy and on the other hand believing deeply in the vibrantly patterned backdrop of what our school had the potential to become, I’m sure the unknown terrified her.

But, the bravery, creativity, and grit that greatness and change require, are only found in that tricky little place where we dare to see what is and what can be.

In all of my adventures, I’ve been challenged to be in that place, and to comprehend the value of being scared, shoot, being terrified, while still having eyes wide open to what is seen and not seen…yet. Because, no one’s really asking us to be fearless. The world just needs us to, with visionary eyes, see our communities’ biggest questions and the change that’s possible.

Word on the street, class of 2015, is that, in fact, a good many of you understand yourselves to be change makers, justice seekers, boundary pushers, the right kind of outspoken rabble rousers, even advocates and activists.

And, that’s really good, because the combination of your Baldwin foundation and your passion makes you particularly well-suited for living with eyes wide open.

You know what it means to study the complexity of the world as it exists right now. Just have a look at your Capstone presentations and senior and graduate theses that explored questions of neurological development and mood, themes of love in music, criminal justice and violence, teacher tenure in public education, and international affairs and politics. Just have a look at your internships and creative leadership in hospitals, jails, and schools.

More than two hundred and fifty of you will receive baccalaureate degrees today and more than 100 will receive one of four types of graduate degrees, honoring your study of our world. Some of you tackled Business or Psychology, two of you are triple majors, and one brave, brave soul among you is majoring in Applied Math.

As a side note, perhaps you, lone Applied Math major genius, can help us derive an equation that solves for just how a fork makes its way into a dining hall ceiling.

Class of 2015, just as you know what it means to study the world as it exists right now critical and interdisciplinary thinkers, you know, too, what it means to say yes to a vision unseen, even while standing in the fear of the unknown. Your passion for change and justice speaks to hopeful eyes that refuse to take “the way it is” as the final word, and dare to see a fantastic canvas of epic proportion, color, and possibility.

And, how could this not be true of you, of us, graduates of Mary Baldwin College?

That kind of seeing is woven into the very history and spirit of this school you come from, this institution that is growing and evolving, not just as any school, but as a women’s college, a celebrated college of the liberal arts, a community that does Boldly Baldwin really well.

In every adventure that matters you’ll be challenged to choose the way you will see. Keep your eyes wide open to understand furiously and intensely the right now and to see, with your mind’s eye, the yet unseen frame of what can be, the possibility of justice, the possibility of change, the possibility of our world renewed.

Class of 2015, again, and again, and again, congratulations!

Dear Mary Baldwin students, faculty, and staff:

I am delighted to share important news with you.

Today — May 11, 2015 — the Mary Baldwin College Board of Trustees has made a far-reaching decision. Effective August 31, 2016, the name of our institution will be Mary Baldwin University. The name of the campus-based program for women, now called the Residential College for Women, will be Mary Baldwin College for Women, affirming our commitment to both the legacy and the future of our undergraduate women’s college on our historic campus. The vote of theBoard was unanimous on both counts.

Mary Baldwin University accurately describes both what we are and who we arewhat we are because the word “university” proclaims how far we have come since the days of the Augusta Female Seminary. Today we are, indisputably, a small university. This category includes institutions that are more complex than traditional four-year liberal arts colleges and offer a wider range of programs, but that remain small and personal with a focus on teaching. And Mary Baldwin University reflects who we are because the historic women’s college that is the foundation and the heart of our identity is named for Mary Julia Baldwin, a remarkable woman whose legacy of courage and leadership still infuses the character of our institution. We retain her name with pride.

This is a rare moment in Mary Baldwin’s history, but not unprecedented. Our institutional tradition is to change our name to reflect major stages in our evolution. We started as Augusta Female Seminary in 1842. After Mary Julia Baldwin had left her indelible mark on the scope, size, and character of the seminary through more than 30 years as principal, in 1895 the trustees renamed the school Mary Baldwin Seminary in her honor. When baccalaureate degrees were first granted in 1923, the name was changed to Mary Baldwin College. Now we have two beautiful campuses, we serve students through 12 regional centers, and we award doctoral as well as bachelor’s and master’s degrees. We have evolved in significant and exciting ways that meet student needs and create a thriving future for our very special institution. This is indeed the right moment to become Mary Baldwin University.

The name change will formally and legally take effect on August 31, 2016 — Charter Day — in the first week of the 2016–17 academic year. This will kick off a year of celebration in which we observe our quartoseptcentennial, the 175th anniversary of our founding in 1842.

Please join me in celebrating this important milestone in the history of our dynamic, courageous, and forward-looking institution.

Jane Harding Miller ‘76

Chair, Mary Baldwin College Board of Trustees

It will still be another year before Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences professor Kai Kennedy takes graduate students to Haiti, but her new elective course is coming to fruition.

Transfer lab 051“It was important for me to make sure I developed the right program for the students here,” said Kennedy, director of clinical education for the physical therapy program and assistant professor. “I wanted them to come right back to rural Virginia and be able to effect change.”

Kennedy said it has been critical to keep an open mind while developing the course, as the scope has changed quite a bit since her first MBC-related trip to Haiti in early 2013.

“Initially, we thought that the area we visited around Cherident would benefit from rehabilitative services, but its health care system does not support that yet,” she said. “They are seeking more primary care services and ongoing management of chronic diseases. I hope to revisit the possibility of working with the medical community in Cherident when the physician assistant program is up and running.”

Kennedy’s most recent trip in February took her to a new nursing school on the Haitian island of La Gonave. At Wesleyan University of Haiti, she found ideal opportunities for physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT) graduate students to work with undergraduate nursing students.

Slated for summer 2016, Perspectives in Global Health Care will encourage PT and OT students — and those in the physician assistant program in coming years — to analyze a health care system in another part of the world and share ideas about how rehabilitative services are both taught and carried out in clinical settings. Kennedy is carefully crafting the syllabus to ensure that students approach the course as a genuine exchange of ideas. She also wants the trip to take place as students finish their second year at Murphy Deming, after they complete a required community service practicum. Upon their return, Kennedy envisions students giving collaborative presentations to the Mary Baldwin community as well as to local organizations and church groups that have established partnerships in Haiti.

Mary Baldwin’s relationship with Haiti has strengthened since the country’s devastating earthquake in January 2010, and students, faculty, and staff members have made meaningful connections in the small Caribbean nation. Several factors make the country a powerful learning laboratory.

“We have finally connected with a partner community with an expressed interest in rehab skills and a definite need,” Kennedy said.


Members of this year’s graduating class wanted their gift to the college to create a long-lasting tradition while serving as a physical representation of their time on campus. When the chimes of a new, bronze bell ring following Commencement on May 17, they will know they have succeeded.


Senior Class President Meagan Barron

“Ringing the bell will represent our message to the world that we are coming and we are ready to accomplish great things,” said senior class President Meagan Barron. The plan is that MBC President Pamela Fox will give the bell — which will be located on the front lawn of the Administration Building — its inaugural ring to kick of Commencement Weekend on May 15. Seniors will then be invited to tug the cord for a gratifying “gong” after picking up their diplomas right after the Sunday ceremony.

The 14-inch, 44-pound bell will be produced by Scanmix Corporation in Maine and cast in Sweden, said Brent Douglass, director of facilities management. It will hang inside a brick structure designed by architects from Kahler Slater to reflect Mary Baldwin architecture and the recently constructed college sign at the corner of Coalter and Frederick streets, a gift from the Class of 2014. The inscription, “To these halls where Wisdom reckons,” from A Hymn for Mary Baldwin, circles back to the college theme during the class’s freshman year, Wisdom. A plaque noting the gift and new tradition is also slated to accompany the bell structure.

Douglass has been happy to provide connections and help with the execution of several class gifts during the past few years. He is impressed with students’ initiative to enhance the campus before they depart. The projects overseen by Douglass include an ornate lectern gifted by the Class of 2011 (first used at Commencement 2013), a fire pit near Pannill Student Center from the Class of 2013, and the college sign.

“Each class has been very creative and thoughtful in deciding how to leave its mark at MBC,” Douglass said.

“We wanted a gift that would be interactive, meaningful, and live on after our time here,” said Kathryn Laflin, senior class vice president.

The Class of 2015 plans to hold several fundraisers this semester to cover the gift’s $2,000 price tag. The Split Banana downtown hosted a successful event to benefit the group in February, and the next fundraiser will be held 1–5 p.m on March 29 at Tropical Smoothie.

Watch the Mary Baldwin College Facebook page for fundraiser details, progress updates about the bell and photos when it is delivered and installed, and more Commencement 2015 information, and check out all posts related to graduation at #MBCgrad2015.


Christian Peele ’05 is familiar with reaching milestones at a young age. Barely past her 14th birthday when she entered the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted (PEG) in 2001, Peele became the youngest person to earn a master of divinity from Duke University Divinity School at age 20. Not long after, she embarked on the first of two positions on President Obama’s White House staff, and she is now preparing for a career shift to oversee development activities at one of New York City’s premier churches.

Christian_commence2015On May 17, Peele will tuck yet another “youngest” distinction under her belt, when she delivers Mary Baldwin College’s Commencement address at age 27, shortly after marking her 10th Reunion. She was humbled by the invitation from the Class of 2015 — members voted for Peele as the alumna that they would most like to hear speak about how her MBC education influenced her professional life.

“I learned about Ms. Peele and her accomplishments when I was applying for an internship at the White House,” said Kathryn Laflin ’15, senior class vice president. “Then the Class of 2015 voted for her as the alumna that it would most like to hear speak about how her MBC education influenced her professional life.”

“Being 10 years out from graduation gives me some perspective to see all the ways in which my Mary Baldwin education weaves through my life path,” said Peele. “In addition to the solid foundation in religious studies, Mary Baldwin is the place where I was introduced to critical thinking, pushing boundaries, conveying messages clearly, and the concept that one can better understand an idea by discovering how it is connected to other ideas.”

As soon as MBC President Pamela Fox convinced Peele that she was the top choice of the graduating class, she began to think seriously about her message to graduating seniors. Peele is not taking her latest MBC assignment lightly.  Although she hasn’t settled on a topic yet, she has been regularly jotting down stories that seem worth sharing and moments that taught her valuable lessons.

“More than anything, I want my words to be memorable. I realized that the speeches that stayed with me have a few things in common: they were relevant to me, taught me something I didn’t already know, were sprinkled with humor, and proposed a risky idea with conviction. That’s the model I’m trying to reach,” said Peele, who will join notable alumnae Commencement speakers such as advertising executive Louise Rossett McNamee ’70 and Federal Reserve Bank Chief Information Officer Margaret E. “Lyn” McDermid ’95.

A native of Goldsboro, North Carolina, Peele majored in religion and minored in art history at Mary Baldwin, and she participated in two outreach trips to Jamaica to lead Bible study, music, and art classes and work at a Christian summer camp. She earned undergraduate accolades including the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, the Rita Dove Frontrunner Scholarship, and the Charlotte Forten Grimke Award, recognizing her scholarship, spiritual qualities, and service to the community.

In the decade since her graduation, Peele has creatively interwoven theology, leadership, and social welfare through a range of positions. She worked with families as a program coordinator at Harlem Children’s Zone after earning her master’s degree, pursuing a calling into ministry that she first began to consider when she entered MBC. In 2009, Peele landed a coveted internship at the White House in the Office of Management and Administration, and she served as director of the White House Internship Program from May 2011 to June 2013, working to create a robust professional and academic experience for interns and increase the program’s diversity. For the next year and a half, she served as deputy director for operations at the White House, managing a team of people that ensured resources for technology, strategy, facilities, and buildings were used creatively and distributed responsibly.

While preparing for her Commencement appearance, Peele is also getting ready for her next professional role. March 16 will be her first day as director of stewardship and development for The Riverside Church in Manhattan. The 1,750-member progressive Christian church describes itself as “interdenominational, interracial, and international,” and Peele is eager to support its mission of outreach, education, social justice, and peacemaking.

“It’s energizing to me to be involved with an organization that is at the intersection of social justice and faith. I’m also excited to help Riverside’s first ever female pastor realize her vision and make her mark,” she said.

Commencement will be held at 10 a.m. May 17 on Page Terrace at Mary Baldwin College (10:30 a.m. at Expoland in Fishersville in the event of inclement weather). The ceremony will be streamed online at

ethiopian_peacemakerEthiopian peacemaker the Rev. Tsanganesh Ayele Asele will visit Mary Baldwin College next week, kicking off her fall series of appearances around the country as an International Peacemaker for the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA). An ordained clergy member with extensive experience in gender and diversity studies, Ayele Asele will speak in several classes and give college-wide presentations during her residency September 22–26 (see schedule below).

As director of the women’s department of PCUSA, Ayele Asele has special training in the roles of women in peacemaking efforts and has led courses and workshops for women in Ethiopia. Her tenure with the International Peacemaker program also includes trips to St. Mark Prebyterian Church in California, Presbytery of Plains and Peaks in Colorado, and Cameron Presbyterian Church in North Carolina.

Ayele Asele’s visit is co-sponsored by the Shenandoah Presbytery as well as MBC’s Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement, the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, the Quest Interfaith Village, the peacebuilding and conflict resolution and women’s studies minors, and the international affairs major.



September 22

  • Class discussion: Politics of Developing Nations

September 23

  • Class discussion: Gandhi and Non-Violence
  • Class discussion: Post-Conflict Development
  • Quest Interfaith discussion

September 24

  • Class discussion: History and Theories of Leadership
  • Public event: International Café: Challenges and Opportunities in Ethiopia Today. 12 p.m., Spencer Center.
  • Public event: Community Service Speaker Series: Building Community in Ethiopia. 1 p.m., Miller Chapel.

September 25

  • Class discussion: International Relations
  • Public event: Teaching Peacemaking to Women in Ethiopia. 7 p.m., Miller Chapel.

Ralph Alan Cohen, Mary Baldwin College’s Virginia Worth Gonder professor of Shakespeare and Performance and director of mission for Staunton’s American Shakespeare Center (ASC), recently became the first American to receive the prestigious Sam Wanamaker Award from the London-based Globe theater.

“Like Sam [Wanamaker], Ralph passionately believes in making Shakespeare accessible to as wide an audience as possible,” said Patrick Spottiswoode, director of education at the Globe, when introducing Cohen at the award ceremony June 14. “[Ralph] is determined to eradicate what he calls ‘ShakesFear.’”

The award recognizes Cohen’s contributions to the study and appreciation of Shakespeare in the States and worldwide. After establishing the successful traveling troupe Shenandoah Shakespeare Express in the late 1980s, Cohen was instrumental in the vision and creation of the Blackfriars Playhouse in downtown Staunton, and he co-founded the American Shakespeare Center headquartered in that building. The same year that the Blackfriars venue opened, the first students enrolled in MBC’s Master of Letters and Master of Fine Arts program, guided by many of Cohen’s ideas. Cohen has been a member of the Mary Baldwin faculty since 2003. He also launched the Blackfriars Conference to draw Shakespeare scholars from around the world to Staunton, and he has directed more than 30 productions of plays by the Bard and his contemporaries.

“I hope that Sam would have liked the fact that this year the award … goes to an American,” Cohen said. He added that ASC actors and educators, the Blackfriars Playhouse, and Mary Baldwin’s MLitt and MFA students are all “children of Sam Wanamaker’s vision.”

He was also quick to point out that the award — established in 1994 in memory of the American actor and director who moved to Great Britain and spent a quarter-century campaigning for the creation of the Globe — was an honor for the American Shakespeare Center as a whole, not just himself.

The Wanamaker Award is the latest in a series of notable recognitions Cohen and others associated with the ASC have earned:

  • 2008: Governor’s Arts Award (Cohen and ASC co-founder Jim Warren)
  • 2009: Theo Crosby Fellow at Shakespeare’s Globe (Cohen)
  • 2013: Shakespeare Steward Award from the Folger Shakespeare Library (Cohen)

Watch the award presentation on the American Shakespeare Center’s website.

older_gradA perfectly sunny, mild morning greeted Mary Baldwin College’s 371 graduates and their families and friends May 18 for the 172nd Commencement. The college debuted a live stream of the ceremony, which included undergraduates in the Adult Degree Program and Residential College for Women and graduate students in the Master of Letters/Master of Fine Arts in Shakespeare and Performance and Graduate Teacher Education programs.

Roanoke-based journalist and author Beth Macy inspired soon-to-be graduates with anecdotes and advice from her life and career that elicited laughter and nods.

“Remember the lilacs. That’s my way of telling you to spend your time doing what taps into the essence of you, whatever that essence may be,” Macy said.

“As much as you can, try not to focus too much on the money,” continued the the nationally published writer and Harvard Nieman Fellow. “As much as you can, spend your energy engaged in meaningful work that makes you happy and enriches your larger community — and the rewards will follow, eventually, I promise”

Internationally acclaimed artist Betty Gold was presented with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, recognizing her notable body of creative work — including three abstract steel sculptures on the Mary Baldwin campus.

The picturesque hillside erupted with cheers and applause as graduates received degrees in master’s and bachelor’s programs. Near the middle of the line-up was Berra Kabarungi, a Rwanda native who earned her bachelor of social work after enrolling at MBC in 2011 as part of the college’s relationship with Women for Women International.

pamelafox2014“It’s very exciting, very humbling, and beyond what my mere words can describe,” said Kabarungi, who will return to her home country to pursue a career.

Two employees in the Mary Baldwin Adult Degree Program (ADP) earned their degrees alongside family members, making the moment particularly memorable. Teri Maerki, assistant advisor, grasped her master of education diploma and then proudly watched her daughter receive her BA, while ADP Director of Operations Debby Bibens walked just ahead of her husband, ADP graduate Gary Bibens.

Senior class president Holly Johnston and MBC Associate Dean of the College Lew Askegaard garnered Algernon Sydney Sullivan awards, the top honors presented at Commencement recognizing unselfish service, noble character, and spiritual qualities.


Commencement award winners:

Algernon Sydney Sullivan Student Award: Holly Johnston

Algernon Sydney Sullivan Non-Student Award: Lew Askegaard, dean of institutional research, associate dean of the college, and registrar

Martha Stackhouse Grafton Award (highest GPA): Selma Elsarrag

Adult Degree Program Outstanding Student: Debby Bibens

MLitt/MFA Ariel Award for Outstanding Program Service and Leadership: Amy W. Grubbs

Graduate Teacher Education Outstanding Student: Victoria Cave


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More information about the awards given at MBC’s Commencement.

Remarks by Commencement speaker Beth Macy, journalist and author based in Roanoke.

Profiles of several 2014 graduates are available on MBC News.