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Celine Brooks ’16, of Big Stone Gap, is one of only four students nationwide to receive the GEICO/Psi Chi Undergraduate Scholarship, which provides students with financial assistance toward education-related expenses such as tuition, books, and fees.Celine Brooks Picture.1

Major funding was given by insurance company GEICO and Psi Chi members who gave to the organization’s Steps to the Future fund. Students were selected based on financial need, merit, and academic performance.

“There were many deserving students,” said Evan Zucker, chairman of Psi Chi’s scholarship review committee. “Pairing the pool from 152 to four was not a particularly easy task.”

Chandra Mason, assistant professor of psychology, said Psi Chi is underscoring what faculty at Mary Baldwin College already know about Brooks, who will graduate in May.

“By every measure, Celine is an exceptional student; not only does she consistently outperform her classmates in even the most challenging courses in the psychology major, but she does so with an endearing and charmingly upbeat attitude, and an intrinsic motivation and passion to learn that is seemingly boundless,” Mason said.

While at MBC, Brooks has had several opportunities to research and present at conferences.

“Doing research has provided me with a knowledge of a variety of techniques and laboratory skills that I will be able to build upon in graduate school, and that will help prepare me for  a career in research,” Brooks said.

After graduation, Brooks plans to earn a doctorate degree in biopsychology and eventually hopes to perform research at a university or for the government.


Mary Baldwin College is one of 24 institutions opening its doors July 27–August 1 for Virginia Private Colleges Week, providing a special opportunity for prospective students to tour campus, attend information sessions, and learn about the high quality and affordability of a private education.

front_campusCampus visits are a critical part of the college search process. It’s all about finding the place where students will feel comfortable and can begin to forge their futures, according to admissions officials.

“They are looking for the right fit,” said Lois Hicks Williams, vice president for enrollment management at MBC. “Parents want to know that they are making a solid investment and students want to be able to picture themselves in college. A good campus visit will answer important financial questions, provide that experience, and hopefully make the decision easier.”

Tours will be held Monday through Friday at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. and at 9 a.m. on Saturday. MBC admissions officials will be on hand to talk with prospective students and dispel common myths about private education, including the notion that private colleges cost significantly more than public colleges.

In fact, the difference is far less than many families assume, thanks to significant institutional, merit and need-based grants, and the Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant. According to a recent study by the Human Capital Research Corporation, the average price gap between a Virginia private and public college is only $4,700.

In addition to its historic hilltop campus and classical architecture, Mary Baldwin is home to programs and opportunities that students won’t find elsewhere, including the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership, the only all-female cadet corps in the country; partnerships with the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and the American Shakespeare Center; the chance to engage in undergraduate research projects; and new graduate programs in health sciences.

Students who visit at least three participating colleges during the week will receive three application fee waivers. The annual event is hosted by Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia (CICV). Register online.

A note from President Fox:

In March when we heard the news of Sweet Briar’s closing, we were deeply saddened, and we offered Sweet Briar students the opportunity to find their new home here at Mary Baldwin College. We were very glad to hear the recent news that Sweet Briar will now remain open.

We have contacted all Sweet Briar transfer students to let them know that we will refund their enrollment deposits should they choose to return. We stand ready to assist students as they consider this new opportunity before them, whether they choose to enroll at Mary Baldwin or return to Sweet Briar.

On behalf of the Mary Baldwin community, we extend best wishes.


Pamela Fox

Starting in fall 2015, Mary Baldwin College students can shop for textbooks and course materials and place orders anytime, anywhere through a mobile optimized online bookstore and pic 1

The college is announcing a new partnership with Akademos, Inc., a leader in providing affordable textbooks and digital learning tools for schools.

“We are confident that Akademos’ online bookstore platform is the right choice to connect Mary Baldwin students with the course materials they need to thrive academically,” said Carey Usher, associate professor of sociology, associate dean of the college and faculty director of the first-year experience. “Students will get the right textbooks, at the most competitive prices, and on time.”

Students will be able to order course materials through the new school-sanctioned online bookstore and seamlessly choose between new, used, marketplace, rental, and eBook options, dramatically expanding their access to lower-cost textbooks. At the end of each term students will have the option to sell back their textbooks through the Akademos peer-to-peer marketplace to recoup some of their cost.

“I am pleased to welcome Mary Baldwin College to Akademos and look forward to teaming with students, faculty, and administrators to lower the cost of course materials, to enhance textbook adoption efficiencies, and ultimately to achieve our mutual goal of improving learning outcomes for students,” said Akademos Chief Executive Officer John Squires. “Our solution will encourage students to use the school-sanctioned bookstore website by offering competitively priced textbooks and a mobile-optimized easy-to-use shopping experience.”

akademoslogoThe online bookstore will also give students, parents, alumni, and others a way to order apparel and other MBC-branded merchandise on the go. The move allows MBC to close the bookstore in Pannill Student Center and open a new retail space in the heart of campus. The space will be constructed inside the Nuthouse in Hunt Dining Hall.

Shifting the bookstore space from Pannill to Hunt also opens up much-needed interim office space for the College of Education.

More information about the online textbook offering will be available throughout the summer.

Commencement at Mary Baldwin College in recent years has become an avenue to celebrate tradition that honors the school’s diversity. In recent years, the institution has added military ceremonies to recognize the inclusion of the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership and Ajani, to honor those who have shown a commitment to diversity. lavender ceremony 2

This year, the college held a lavender graduation May 8 in an overflowing Miller Chapel, joining the ranks of colleges and universities around the country who honor college seniors who have dedicated a significant part of their college tenure to supporting and advocating for the LGBTA community.

Kathy McCleaf, professor of health and studies of gender and sexuality, delivered the keynote address, inspiring 20 MBC seniors, numerous guests, faculty, staff, and family members with an extraordinary historical account of MBC’s path towards embracing the LGBTA community. She recounted the first meeting of SOULS (Sisters Out and Understanding and Loving Sisters) in 1994, MBC’s Coming Out Week in 2006, the establishment of the sexuality and gender studies curriculum in 2013, among other milestones.

“Identity development, personal growth, learning about others and oneself, visibility, alliance, facing oneself in a way that allows one to comfortably face others with authenticity, and pride are the components connected to the phenomenon of standing under the rainbow,” McCleaf told the crowd. “The rainbow symbolizes hope — hope after a storm, the pot of gold, and the colors of the universe and stands as a representation of a people’s passion for life lived to the fullest. LGBT pride is displayed when the rainbow flag is flown.”

lavender ceremony 1Students Alexandra Ellmauer and Nichole Kennedy were bestowed the Community Engagement Award, which honored their meaningful contributions to the Mary Baldwin College community and creative approaches to resolving conflict. Kristia Vasiloff was awarded the Academic Achievement Award due to her unwavering academic advocacy and continued research on behalf of transgender youth. Abagail Ramey was also honored during the ceremony for her diligent work throughout her senior year to plan and implement the lavender graduation program.

Finally, the crowd stood to honor McCleaf as she was awarded the Project Safe Zone Award and was named an honorary lavender graduate. Each graduate was given a lavender pin to be worn during Commencement.

“It was superb,” said Professor of Philosophy Rod Owen, about the program. “Not only was it exceptionally well organized with attention to many logistical details, but it was also imbued with the best spirit of Mary Baldwin College.”

According to the Human Rights Campaign, lavender is a combination of the pink triangle that gay men were forced to wear in the concentration campus and the black triangle designating lesbians as political prisoners in Nazi Germany. The LGBT civil rights movement took these symbols and of hatred and combined them to make symbols and color of pride and community. Ronni Sanlo, a Jewish lesbian, created the lavender graduation ceremony after she was denied the opportunity to attend the graduations of her biological children because of her sexual orientation. It was through this experience that she came to understand the pain felt by her students. Encouraged by the Dean of Students at the University of Michigan, Sanlo designed the first lavender graduation ceremony in 1995.

Mary Baldwin College celebrated the retirements of seven faculty and staff members May 14 during a special reception at the President’s House.

Faculty slated to retire this year are (from left to right) Ken Beals, Dan Metraux, Sally Ludwig, Lowell Lemons, and Eric Jones.

Faculty slated to retire this year are (from left to right) Ken Beals, Dan Metraux, Sally Ludwig, Lowell Lemons, and Eric Jones.

Director of Enrollment Technology for Admissions and Financial Aid Gail Auen came to MBC in 1997 as a network associate for computer information systems. An alumna of both Blue Ridge Community College and MBC, Auen made the beautiful quilts that hung in her office.

Kenneth Beals, assistant professor of philosophy and religion, said he is looking forward to more travel time in retirement, especially to see far-flung family. He will continue reading, hopefully write on interfaith issues, and continue teaching part-time at MBC. Of the things that Beals said he would miss most is the interaction with great colleagues and great students.

Field naturalist and a muddy boots plant ecologist Eric Jones, associate professor of biology, will take with him the relationships with students forged during his nearly 30 years at MBC. “You the students are what makes it worthwhile, watching you grow, watching a light dawn on your faces in a class, a random hug in a hallway, many memories that I will carry in my heart forever,” he said. “I taught for you, to be able to share a joy in knowing, to see it catch and take hold in my academic children, and I do think of all of you as my children, gives meaning to life. May all of you find the joy in what you do that I have found in teaching.” In retirement, Jones plans to overhaul and update wildflower web site, add 100 additional species, and recode to fit modern adaptive standards.

Reflecting on his favorite memories of working at MBC, Professor of Education Lowell Lemons recalls traveling with practicum students during May Term — three times to New Zealand and once to a Navajo reservation — so they could experience classrooms in other cultures; conversations with colleagues Jim McCrory and Jim Harrington; and walking to class from Edmondson House early in the morning, topping the hill by Hunt and looking over the campus, “a great way to start the day.”

Still working out her post-retirement plans, adjunct associate professor of business administration Sarah H. “Sally” Ludwig knows what she’ll miss most about MBC: the professional association with the dedicated faculty, staff, and administration of the college and the opportunity to interact with remarkable students. Ludwig, who started at MBC in 1992, offered her courses as independent tutorials for ADP students and served as pre-legal advisor for students interested in law school or law-related careers.

Professor of Asian Studies and International Relations Dan Metraux leaves behind a strong legacy in the Asian studies department, having led 17 international May Term trips, created and/or further developed partner relationships with five schools in Asia, and wrote several books on Japanese, Chinese, Burmese politics and religion, as well as many book chapters and journal articles. Most of all, Metraux said he’ll miss working with students, but looks forward to teaching courses online, writing books and articles, and traveling to visit family.

Supervisors say Tom Thorne, with custodial services, is always reliable, conscientious, helpful and easy-going. He began at MBC in 2006 and in 2014 was promoted to interim lead worker for event set-ups and served in that capacity until his retirement. He worked as a floor tech and housekeeper, worked on vacuum cleaners, did mail runs and filled in at the shop when needed.

The threat of rain did not dampen the joy of graduates at Mary Baldwin College’s 173rd Commencement exercises Sunday morning on Page Terrace. In fact, the sun made an appearance during the ceremony, mimicking the joy of hundreds of family members and friends who came to celebrate the Class of 2015.


Christian Peele ’05, this year’s keynote speaker.

Keynote speaker Christian Peele ’05 — herself familiar with reaching milestones at a young age as an alumna of MBC’s Program for the Exceptionally Gifted — reminded the soon-to-be graduates to be open to all the changes that life brings.

“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,” Peele said. “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.”

Peele — the youngest person to earn a master of divinity from Duke University Divinity School at age 20 — worked on President Obama’s White House staff and now oversees development activities at one of New York City’s premier churches.


Sophia Stone receives her diploma from President Pamela Fox.

Before the graduates walked, several were singled out and honored for their achievements, including Sophia Stone, this year’s Martha Stackhouse Grafton Award winner — a triple major and cross country standout who is headed to the University of Washington next year to pursue an MD/PhD.

The college conferred an honorary doctor of humane letters upon Margaret E. “Lyn” McDermid ’95. The former Board of Trustees chair is chief information officer at the Federal Reserve Bank.

Bethany Zaiman and dean emeritus and professor emeritus of English Jim Lott were presented this year’s Algernon Sydney Sullivan awards, the top honors presented at Commencement recognizing unselfish service, noble character, and spiritual qualities.

For a group of grads in the Master of Arts in Teaching program, the day began on an especially sentimental note as classmate Brittany Baker received a marriage proposal from beau Brandon Cash while taking the class photo on North Court. (She said yes!)

At the post-commencement reception in front of the Administration Building, newly minted alumni rang the new 14-inch, 44-pound bronze bell — their gift to MBC—and started a new campus tradition.


Commencement award winners:

Algernon Sydney Sullivan Student Award: Bethany Zaiman

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

Martha Stackhouse Grafton Award (highest GPA): Sophia Stone

Adult Degree Program Outstanding Student: Shawna Mills Franklin

MLitt/MFA Ariel Award for Outstanding Program Service and Leadership: Marshall B Garrett

Graduate Teacher Education Outstanding Student: Mariah Dittrich


Read more

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

Remarks by Commencement speaker Christian Peele ’05.

Mary Baldwin College will hold its 173rd Commencement exercises at 10 a.m. May 17 on the Barbara Kares Page Terrace. The keynote speaker is Christian Peele ’05, director of stewardship and development at The Riverside Church in New York City.[C]WP_0914_GRAD_2014-W

In the event of bad weather, the ceremony will be moved to 10:30 a.m. at Expoland in Fishersville.

Here are 8 things you should know about the big event:


  1. This year, 362 students will graduate from MBC.*


  1. The theme for the Class of 2015, chosen for their freshman year, is “Pearls of Wisdom,” and the class colors are green and white.


  1. Graduates include 152 in the Residential College for Women, 109 in the Adult Degree Program and 101 students in MBC’s graduate programs (76 in the Graduate Teacher Education program and 25 in the Shakespeare and Performance program).*


  1. The senior class is giving to the college a 14-inch, 44-pound bronze bell inscribed with a line from “A Hymn for Mary Baldwin:” To these halls where wisdom reckons. Designed by Kahler Slater architects — the same firm that designed MBC’s new Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences — the structure that holds the bell is located in front of the administration building. Students are invited to ring the bell at the post-Commencement reception, starting a new campus tradition.


  1. Commencement speaker Christian Peele ’05 is familiar with reaching milestones at a young age. Barely past her 14th birthday when she entered MBC’s Program for the Exceptionally Gifted 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 recently shifted careers to oversee development activities at one of New York City’s premier churches.




  1. The oldest graduate from the class of 2015 is ADP student Sally Beachy, 69. The youngest is Jennifer Jin, 16, who is enrolled in MBC’s Program for the Exceptionally Gifted.


  1. Former chair of the MBC Board of Trustees Margaret E. “Lyn” McDermid ’95 will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters. McDermid joined the Federal Reserve Bank as chief information officer (CIO) in 2013. Most recently, McDermid served as Senior Vice President and CIO at Dominion Resources, a Richmond-based Fortune 500 energy company.


  1. The ceremony will be streamed online at for those who cannot attend. The live stream will also be available for viewing inside James D. Francis Auditorium, and, if the ceremony is moved to Expoland for bad weather, it will be shown in the annex building.


*As of May 13


Cruz, right, returned to campus to teach a May Term writing course.

One of the highlights of May Term is the return of the Doenges Artist/Scholar to teach an intensive, three-week course. More than a dozen students have engaged with this year’s distinguished visitor, novelist Angie Cruz, in the class Writing and Leadership. “To write is an empowered act. And to lead, one must feel empowered,” said Cruz, a faculty member in the creative writing program at the University of Pittsburgh. Students worked alongside Cruz, writing original stories, thinking critically about the narratives we consume, and using drawing to move away from abstract thinking to concrete thinking.

Capstone Winners_2015

The annual Capstone Festival on May 7 featured Mary Baldwin’s brightest academic stars. Among the outstanding students whom faculty selected to present their scholarly and artistic works to the wider campus community and the public, six were singled out for their work.

Delivered Papers

Allyson Cline, The Chernobyl Meltdown of April 26, 1986: How the Soviet Union Created a Radioactive People. Project and Academic Advisors: Mary Hill Cole and Amy Tillerson-Brown.

Performances (co-winners)

Leslie Pittman, Vocal Selections: Exploring the Theme of Love. Project and Academic Advisor: Lise Keiter.

Tiffany Waters, Using Bogart’s Viewpoints Method to Physicalize Character in Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses. Project Advisor: Janna Segal. Academic Advisor: Terry Southerington.


Makenna Plum, Antibiotic Resistance of Escherichia coli in Fecal Samples from Dairy Cattle. Project Advisor: Paul Deeble. Academic Advisor: Eric Jones.

Multimedia Presentations (co-winners)

Lynnae Sauer, To Buy or Not to Buy? International Comparisons of Consumer Preferences for Environmental Goods and Policy to Influence Preferences. Project and Academic Advisor: Amy Diduch.

Kristia Vasiloff, The Effect of Lupron on the Physical and Neurological Development of Prepubescent Female Mice. Project and Academic Advisor: Louise Freeman.