Thanks in part to input from many MBC students, a major campus lighting project is underway. The walkway beside Cannon Hill, connecting lower campus to upper campus, now has new light poles with LED lights, providing a much-improved light level in that area.
According to Facilities Director Brent Douglass, the next phase of the campus lighting project will be to replace the obsolete light fixtures in the porch ceilings of Spencer Residence Hall, Grafton Library and Hunt Dining Hall, with new LED fixtures. Installation of these new light fixtures will begin next week, and when completed will significantly improve the light level in front of those three buildings on main campus. The “light-emitting diode” (LED) fixtures that are being installed are very energy efficient and require very little maintenance.
May Term is just a month away and many students are setting their sights on traveling abroad for the abbreviated academic term. Senior film production major Paige Howard reflects on the value of her experience traveling to India last summer and fall, where she participated in an exchange with Mary Baldwin’s all-women’s college partner, Lady Doak College, in Madurai. She produced the short video below.
MBC senior Paige Howard, right, spent almost six months in India.
How were you able to participate in the exchange? Because it is an exchange program, tuition is included. All that the student pays for is the plane ticket and any additional spending money. My family was able to help me with these expenses.
Talk about one of your most memorable experiences. There are so many. Going at dawn to see the villagers with one of our professors. We had been in the city most of our trip, so to learn about the villages only 30 minutes away was a very powerful experience.
How do you think the experience enhanced your work in your major? The experience taught me to pay more attention to the everyday things and my general surroundings. Film is a visual medium, so it is especially important for me to see as much as possible in order to capture it on film and in the editing room.
How do you think the trip might have changed you? I am more adventurous. Before, I was content to stay inside and not go out and do anything. Now, I am more than willing to go out and do everything! Even the little things like grocery shopping. I would say that this trip has made me happier in general.
Within a week of the announcement that Sweet Briar College (SBC) will close its doors in August, Mary Baldwin College has stepped up in various ways to lend support to its sisters across the Blue Ridge.
Members of the President’s Society decorated the Ham and Jam statues outside of the Administration Building in pink and green in honor of Sweet Briar College.
From quickly mobilizing an admissions process to smoothing out academic plans to wearing Sweet Briar pink and green and posting supportive messages on social media students, staff, and faculty are encouraging SBC students to consider MBC their new home as they begin the transfer process.
“My friends and I on campus are heartbroken at the loss of Sweet Briar College,” said Taylor Frick ’17, a psychology major from Martinsville. “I know the impact an all-women’s college can make on the lives of its students. I am completely devastated at the loss of [a school such as Sweet Briar] because I find them to be empowering.”
At a special meeting this week, MBC faculty unanimously affirmed a teach-out agreement with Sweet Briar, which paves the way for students who wish to continue their undergraduate studies at a women’s college. The provisions of the teach-out agreement recognize the integrity of the Sweet Briar academic program: students in Sweet Briar’s honors program will be automatically invited into MBC’s Global Honors Scholars program, and all SBC courses transferred in under this agreement will be treated exactly like MBC courses. Usually grades do not transfer and students have to start over with a new GPA when they move to a new school; for Sweet Briar students those rules are being suspended in order to recognize all their collegiate work.
“From the day of the Sweet Briar announcement, the MBC faculty has been working on creative strategies to serve SBC students. Departments have drawn up course equivalency charts to help Sweet Briar students see how courses will transfer, and individual faculty members have responded quickly to calls and emails from Sweet Briar students in their respective majors,” said Catharine O’Connell, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college. “Most striking of all has been the sincere compassion expressed by our community for everyone at Sweet Briar — students, staff, and faculty. I have been moved by the generosity of our faculty and their immediate desire to reach out to our sister school.”
The MBC Office of Admissions shows support for Sweet Briar College by wearing pink and green.
Vixens on Campus
SBC students and their families have begun touring the Staunton campus, and the Mary Baldwin admissions office has already received applications from dozens of SBC students. In the coming weeks, MBC representatives will be on Sweet Briar’s campus to help expedite the admissions process. Mary Baldwin’s website also provides direction for SBC students.
“If there are chemistry or psychology SBC students visiting and need some insight about classes at MBC, I’d love to help,” read a recent post on the anonymous message board Yik Yak, popular among students.
Many in the Mary Baldwin community, including an impassioned alumni base, have used the hashtags #stayfoxyatmbc and #vixenswelcome to show support.
“I was sad to hear the news about Sweet Briar, but I’m so proud of my alma mater for stepping in to lend assistance,” Rebecca Morrison ’98 posted to Facebook.
In the immediate aftermath of the SBC closure announcement, Lindsey Lieberman ’04 was inspired to support her alma mater with a gift to the Baldwin Fund in honor of Sweet Briar.
“Tonight, as I raise my glass to 114 years of Sweet Briar College women, I am reminded once again of just how fragile women’s colleges really are,” Lieberman posted on Facebook. “Sweet Briar’s closing is heartbreaking, and I refuse to sit by and allow my alma to mater fail — especially now that we have opened our doors to the Vixens.”
Likewise, leadership of the college’s Alumnae/i Association Board of Directors took the opportunity to reaffirm support of President Pamela Fox and the Board of Trustees for providing vision for MBC.
“We thank you, and applaud you, for having the foresight and courage to position MBC for success before dire circumstances had the opportunity to surface. You have been brave. You have been steadfast. You have been passionate and successful,” wrote Christy Hawkins Howell ’93 and Theresa Cash Lewis ’99.
With Sweet Briar’s closure, MBC and Hollins University in Roanoke will be the only two all-women colleges in Virginia. With a national spotlight on all-female institutions of higher learning, Fox penned an op ed for The Washington Post to challenge the notion that small, women-centered, liberal arts colleges are doomed to failure, pointing to MBC’s own record of reinvention that has allowed the institution to thrive for 173 years.
“At first glance, Mary Baldwin — a women’s college in a small Virginia city without a large endowment — might seem to fall into the endangered species category,” Fox wrote. “MBC has defied all odds because it has evolved in ways that connect enduring heritage with courageous, entrepreneurial spirit to serve new generations of students.”
One of Mary Baldwin College’s most anticipated annual events, Reunion 2015 will welcome home alumni with class years ending in 0s and 5s April 9–12.
While many of the festivities have become traditions in their own right, this year will offer several special activities on Thursday, April 9, in honor of Grafton Society members from the classes of 1945, 1950, 1955, and 1960.
These esteemed alumnae will come together for a luncheon, a Staunton trolley tour, and a Dutch treat dinner at Emilio’s Italian Restaurant.
“We want to honor these alumnae and their special relationship with the college, and we found that many were interested in gathering for special events. We look forward to welcoming alumnae from these Grafton Society years back to campus for Reunion Weekend,” said Director of Alumnae/i Engagement Kim Hutto.
Other popular events include a wine tasting reception with faculty and faculty emeriti; the Brenda Bryant 5K Memorial Run/Walk; the alumnae awards ceremony and president’s address; Wine and Design, where alumni create their own artwork; speed networking with current students to share professional guidance; and the Reunion dinner celebrating all classes.
“Our theme for this year’s Reunion focuses on the timeless values that have remained steadfast through the years at Mary Baldwin, and we are excited to celebrate with our wonderful community of alumni,” Hutto said.
Register for your favorite events by March 23. For more information, visit www.mbc.edu/reunion.
With the adoption of new college-wide themes, Mary Baldwin College has solidified 10 years of uniting the campus community around a central idea that fosters civic and global engagement.
After taking nominations and hearing input from students for several weeks, faculty fellows and staff from the Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement chose Moment for the 2015–16 theme and Identity for the 2016–17 theme. Past years’ refrains have included Courage, Place, Power, Heart, Maps, Voices, and Wisdom. During this year, Roots gives definition to the academic and co-curricular programs and provides a way to link together the work of students, faculty, and staff from all disciplines.
“The  nominations were broad and creative and demonstrated a commitment across all facets of the college to civic engagement in a global context,” said Steve Grande, the Spencer Center’s executive director. “We selected Moment because it connected well to many disciplines and challenged our community to consider what it means to ‘be in the moment,’ to ‘seize the moment’ and consider how ‘moments are the precursor to stories,’ as one reviewer wrote. It connects to physical motion (momentum) and to what it means to assess social situations (read the moment) and to take advantage of the unique opportunity to pursue an education at Mary Baldwin (this is your moment).”
MBC senior Lynnae Sauer, who also successfully nominated Roots for this academic year, suggested the winning theme for next year. Sauer also won the essay competition on campus that was meant to encourage deeper reflection on this year’s theme. Her essay focused on recent study abroad experiences.
MBC senior Lynnae Sauer successfully nominated Roots for this academic year and suggested the winning theme for next year.
“You see, roots aren’t just our root system reaching outwards,” Sauer wrote. “Roots are also connections, relationships, and community. I believe that by firmly planting our roots all over the world and forming connections with those around us, we can all contribute to a global community that has the power to solve world hunger, stop climate change, cure Ebola, confront conflicts, and respond to every challenge in every corner of the world.”
Abigail West ’18 composed a song for the harp that Spencer Center staff thought best reflected this year’s theme.
“Finding yourself, believing in yourself, trusting your abilities, and accepting who you are is imperative for every student within a student body to know how to do,” wrote Nicole Rector ’18, in her winning nomination of Identity.
Grande said the Spencer Center faculty fellows became enthusiastic as they considered the many advantages of Rector’s motif.
“Student reviewers described how Mary Baldwin shapes and provides a rich environment for students to gain insight into their evolving and multiple identities,” Grande said. “It also connects to disciplines like psychology, social work, anthropology, literatures and cultures and sociology as well as to other disciplines from the perspective of our identities as scholars.”
The Mary Baldwin College community is saddened at the imminent closure of Sweet Briar College, a venerable and historic college that, like us, is committed to the education and advancement of women. We extend our sympathy to the Sweet Briar faculty, staff, students, and alumnae in this very difficult time of transition, and will assist in any way we can.
One way we will assist is through a “teach-out” for current Sweet Briar students who seek to complete their undergraduate degrees in a women’s college environment where experiential learning, original research, and leadership development are key elements of a liberal education.
Mary Baldwin today is a thriving small university serving 1,750 students through a variety of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs. We are confident in our future.
As articulated through our strategic plan, Mary Baldwin 2020, we remain committed to providing the opportunities for women’s leadership and academic development. We believe with great conviction in the power of single-sex education for women, and that the depth and breadth of a liberal education is the best preparation for a life of purpose.
We are also convinced that our best path forward is the one we have already established in meeting the needs of new student populations. As far back as 1977, when we launched the first college degree program in Virginia designed specifically for adults, Mary Baldwin’s path as an institution has been one of creating financial sustainability through diversification of offerings. Mary Baldwin has since its founding in 1842 had the courage to innovate and serve new generations while steadfastly maintaining our commitment to our mission.
Teach-out for Sweet Briar students
In the coming weeks, Mary Baldwin representatives will be on Sweet Briar’s campus to help expedite the admission process for students interested in transferring to MBC. In establishing the teach-out arrangement, Mary Baldwin and Sweet Briar are acting in accordance with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges’ guidelines as well as relevant state and federal regulations.
Prospective and current Sweet Briar students interested in attending Mary Baldwin may call 540-887-7019 or 800- 468-2262 for more information about enrollment.
Mary Baldwin College, founded in 1842, is a distinctive small university offering a variety of coeducational programs at 11 Virginia locations and, at the same time, one of the nation’s oldest women’s colleges. At the undergraduate level, the Residential College for Women serves about 750 students on the college’s historic main campus in downtown Staunton, Virginia, and the Adult Degree program serves both men and women on campus and at regional centers throughout Virginia. MBC also offers co-educational graduate programs in education, Shakespeare and Performance, and health sciences.
Mary Baldwin College is one of 15 institutions of higher learning Virginia tapped to participate in the planning for the use of solar energy on their campuses.
The SunShot Initiative — made possible by an $807,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy and administered by the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia (CICV) — calls for engagement of local government and utilities and participation from students and the local community organizations, even offering credit to students who help other non-profits in designing and installing solar energy systems.
At this stage, funding will go toward the planning process, according to MBC Director of Facilities Management Brent Douglass. The implementation of the plan will happen in a subsequent phase, contingent on funding. The goal is to deploy a minimum of 30 megawatts of solar energy on the 15 campuses within five years.
MBC will also help improve procedural, administrative, financial, and legal processes in local communities; achieve price reductions by leveraging, public-private financing, innovative legal frameworks, and group purchasing power among the participating colleges; and help develop a learning network accessible to those organizations who seek to deploy solar energy in the future.
“CICV member colleges are interested in sustainability and reducing their carbon footprints,” said CICV President Robert Lambeth, who serves as principal investigator for the program. “Our recent success with a collaboration that now provides five of our colleges with electricity generated from landfill gas provided the impetus for expanding our efforts to solar power.
“The SunShot Initiative presents an opportunity to work as a team to effectively make progress in an area that is challenging when working individually, particularly for our smaller schools that may be limited in the resources they can commit to installing solar.”
Use of solar energy has been on the rise in the United States, including among major corporations, which see the alternative energy source as a money saver. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the top 25 corporate solar users in America have installed more than 569 MW of capacity at 1,100 different facilities across the country as of August 2014. It is also an economic driver as well, according to the SEIA, reporting that there are nearly 174,000 American solar workers, a more than 20 percent increase over employment totals in 2014.
Other institutions involved in the collaborative initiative include Appalachian School of Law, Bridgewater College, Eastern Mennonite University, Emory & Henry College, Ferrum College, Hampton University, Hollins University, Lynchburg College, Marymount University, Randolph College, Roanoke College, Shenandoah University, Virginia Union University and Washington & Lee University.
In recognition of Black History Month, the Black Student Alliance at Mary Baldwin College is shining a light on an often minimized or ignored group: missing black children.
One of the student organizers, Kiera Kimp, a senior social work major from Baltimore, said the second-annual Black and Missing event at 7 p.m. on February 18 is designed to highlight the disparity between abducted children of different races and the amount of mass media coverage the disappearances receive.
“More than 800 African-American children vanish every day,” Kimp said. “These missing children receive 80 percent less mass media attention than their Caucasian counterparts.”
Organizers hope that students and other attendees will find a missing child from the Black and Missing Foundation website, print information about that child, and carry a picture of the child throughout the day and to the 7 p.m. vigil. Taking one step further, they are asking their classmates to prepare a 30-second pitch, explaining the idea behind the campaign and providing specific information about the missing child they’ve researched. The pitch, Kimp said, can be taken into the classroom and out into the community.
“We encourage [students] to walk around downtown and visit local shops in groups to help make an impact in the community,” she said.
Supporters are encouraged to wear black T-shirts and have their faces painted white at the Spencer Center on campus between 8 and 11 a.m. next Wednesday before the evening event.
“We hope that our community event will ignite the hearts of community members to advocate and find our children,” Kimp said. “We paint our faces to make a statement — letting the community know that we have not forgotten about our missing children. On our faces we have the child’s name, and year that they were announced as ‘missing.’ We strongly encourage all clubs, majors, and community members to participate in our service project.”
Other Black History Month events include a master class and concert on February 17 with Afro-Blue, Howard University’s premier student vocal jazz ensemble, and perennial favorites such as the Ladies of Elegance Step Show and the Praise House Service at Allen Chapel AME Church, in which congregants are encouraged to wear slave-era attire [which is made possible in large part thanks to the college theatre department].
According to the Rev. Andrea Cornett-Scott, associate vice president for inclusive excellence and for student affairs, the annual service — to be held at 11 a.m. February 22 — helps students to explore the roots of African-American worship.
“It is impossible to study the black church without being totally immersed in it because there is a difference in seeing church and being church,” Cornett-Scott said. “The dress allows students to go back in time and reenact the plantation church which [civil rights activist W.E.B.] Du Bois calls the greatest repository of African culture. Teaching is more than chalkboards and desks. It is living the subject.”
Religion plays a key role in the planning of Black History Month events, according to Cornett-Scott. The theme, “Roots: My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord” is inspired by title of an African-American spiritual.
“At the very core of African-American culture is the rooted idea of faith,” she said. “[The theme] exemplifies the abiding faith within the culture that says that not only are African-American people made in the image of God, but that there is a certain reliance on God.”
Black History events began in January with the annual Martin Luther King Jr. service, Kwanzaa celebration, and guest speaker Douglas A. Blackmon and will continue through March and April with several more events. For more information, please see the Black History Month poster online.
As the Virginia General Assembly is in full swing, members of the Mary Baldwin College community traveled to Richmond recently to lobby on behalf of students and issues important to them.
Director of Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences physical therapy program Lisa Shoaf (front row, center) attended the Annual Virginia Physical Therapy Association Lobby Day at the Virginia General Assembly on January 21 accompanied by six students in MBC’s charter class. The group was lobbying on behalf of a bill that would improve patient access to physical therapy services.
Several MBC students traveled to Richmond with Vice President for Communication, Marketing, and Public Affairs Crista Cabe (far right) and Virginia Women’s Institutional Leadership (VWIL) Commandant Terry Djuric (far left) to thank state legislators (including Del. Richard P. Bell, center) for their support of the Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant and to promote continued funding for VWIL. TAG grants provide all in-state students with $3,100 toward tuition for the 2014–15 academic year.
Mary Baldwin College senior Shekira Ramdass won the prize for best undergraduate student paper at the Association for Asian Studies (AAS), Southeast Chapter’s annual conference January 16–18 at the University of Virginia.
Director of Student Activities Erin Paschal presents Shekira Ramdass with the 2014 Global Citizenship Award. Ramdass earned top honors for her a paper she presented this month at an Asian studies conference.
Ramdass presented her paper — her 2014 senior thesis in Asian studies, “The Socio-Economic Impact of HIV/AIDS on Indian Women” — at the three-day conference in Charlottesville. She received a certificate and $100. The southeast region of the AAS consists of institutions from the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, and West Virginia.
It is the fourth time a Mary Baldwin College student in Asian Studies has won the top undergraduate prize at the regional conference.
Ramdass, a double major in Asian studies and international relations from Mount Rainier, Maryland, earned MBC’s 2014 Global Citizenship Award. She spent a semester studying at Lady Doak College, MBC’s sister school in India; has twice held summer internships at the State Department in Washington DC; has served as an active teaching assistant; and taught four sessions of Professor of Asian Studies Daniel Métraux’s Asian Women class while he recruited students in Japan and Korea. Ramdass also has given talks on Indian women and AIDS at the International Café series organized by the Spencer Center.