Thursday, May 29, 2008

$50,000 George Washington Book Prize Awarded to Marcus Rediker for The Slave Ship

Mount Vernon, VA — The fourth annual $50,000 George Washington Book Prize, honoring the most important new book about America's founding era, was awarded at Mount Vernon on May 29 to Marcus Rediker for The Slave Ship: A Human History (Viking, 2007). In this bicentennial year of the abolition of the slave trade, Rediker—a prize-winning author who chairs the history department at the University of Pittsburgh—was honored for his definitive and painfully evocative account of the floating prisons that carried an estimated 12.4 million Africans across the "Middle Passage" of the Atlantic to help build the new America.

A social historian, Rediker's subject is not only the ships—vessels of such terror they had to be outfitted with special netting to prevent the desperate Africans from throwing themselves overboard—but the kidnapped Africans and their many individual histories and attempts at resistance; the common sailors who were their prison guards, tormentors and sometime fellow victims; and the necessarily brutal ships' captains who were the agents of a new global capitalism made possible by the trade in human life.

"One of the things I wanted to do in this book was to make our understanding of the slave trade concrete—hence, my subtitle, 'a human history'—because I think our capacity to live with injustice depends to some extent on making it abstract," said Rediker, whose fierce opposition to the death penalty was the inspiration for The Slave Ship and its exploration of what he describes as the historic connection between race and terror. "The George Washington Book Prize is a tremendous honor, and a surprise. I grew up in the South, went to high school in Virginia, so George Washington and the Virginia aristocracy always loomed large in my mind. It's where I first came to understand issues of race and class and I've been working on them ever since."

Presented to Rediker at a black-tie dinner attended by some 200 luminaries from the worlds of book publishing, politics, journalism and academia, the George Washington Book Prize includes a medal and $50,000—making it one of the largest history awards in the country.

Complete with fireworks and candlelit tours of Washington's Mansion, the Mount Vernon event also celebrated the works of the two other finalists: Woody Holton for Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution (Hill and Wang) and Jon Latimer for 1812: War with America(Belknap/Harvard). The books were selected by a three-person jury of distinguished American historians, including Robert L. Middlekauff of the University of California at Berkeley, chair; Elizabeth A. Fenn of Duke University; and Andrew Jackson O'Shaughnessy, director of Monticello's International Center for Jefferson Studies and professor of history at the University of Virginia.

In their report on the winning entry, the jurors wrote that "Rediker shares one quality with the demographers who study the slave trade, he respects evidence and uses it in the telling of slave history. But it is not the numbers of people that interest him (though he reports the horrifying figures demographers give on the extent of the trade), it is the experience of these people. His is a 'human history,' his book's subtitle that may seem redundant, but isn't. Virtually every aspect of the story of where the slaves were from, how they were captured and imprisoned, transported to slave ships, and their treatment on board is covered... Along the way the reader learns much, not only about the slaves but also about the men who owned the ships and ran them... Rediker describes his book as 'painful'; it was surely painful to write. Despite the emotional cost to its author, it is beautifully written. Indeed the book is, in its use of evidence and its determination to expose the bleakness of the slave experience, evocative and moving, and deeply instructive in unsuspected ways."

Rediker's book was named the winner by a panel of two representatives from each of the three institutions that created and sponsor the prize—Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland; the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in New York City; and the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association—plus historian Patricia Bonomi of New York University.

"For more than 200 years, Americans have been engaged in an ongoing—and sometimes contentious—conversation about the meaning and significance of our founding era," said Adam Goodheart, Hodson Trust-Griswold director of Washington College's C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, which administers the prize. "The George Washington Book Prize honors books that contribute fresh insights to that national conversation, and that approach history as a literary art. Rediker's book succeeds marvelously on both counts: it is a majestic, even poetic book, profoundly moral but never moralistic, and suffused with a sense of deep human sympathy."

"Marcus Rediker's The Slave Ship is a brilliant, exhaustive and deeply humane work of scholarship, which, although it is a history that encompasses every country in the Atlantic World, nonetheless shaped the Founding Era in profound ways," said James G. Basker, President of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. "The legacy of this history remains one of our challenges in America today."

Created in 2005, the George Washington Book Prize was awarded in its inaugural year to Ron Chernow for Alexander Hamilton and in 2006 to Stacy Schiff for A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America. This is the second time it has been awarded for a book on the slave trade—last year it went to Charles Rappleye for Sons of Providence: The Brown Brothers, the Slave Trade, and the American Revolution.

View photos from the ceremony on Flickr

About the Sponsors of the George Washington Book Prize

Washington College was founded in 1782, the first institution of higher learning established in the new republic. George Washington was not only a principal donor to the college, but also a member of its original governing board. He received an honorary degree from the college in June 1789, two months after assuming the presidency. The C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, founded in 2000, is an innovative center for the study of history, culture and politics, and fosters excellence in the art of written history through fellowships, prizes, and student programs.

Founded in 1994, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History promotes the study and love of American history. The Institute serves teachers, students, scholars, and the general public. It helps create history-centered schools, organizes seminars and programs for educators, produces print and electronic publications and traveling exhibitions, sponsors lectures by eminent historians, and administers a History Teacher of the Year Award in every state through its partnership with Preserve America. The Institute also awards the Lincoln, Frederick Douglass and George Washington Book Prizes, and offers fellowships for scholars to work in the Gilder Lehrman Collection. The Institute maintains two websites, and the quarterly online journal

With its new Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center, the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association has created the equivalent of a presidential library for George Washington. "We want to be the first place people think of when they have a question about George Washington," noted James Rees, Mount Vernon's Executive Director. "The George Washington Book Prize is an important component in our aggressive outreach program to historians, teachers, and students."

May 29, 2008

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Jeremy Rothwell, Recently Returned From Service in Iraq, Selected as Washington College's Presidential Fellow

Chestertown, MD — Washington College is pleased to announce that Jeremy Rothwell, a member of the junior class who recently returned from service with the Maryland National Guard in Iraq, has been selected as the College's 2008-2009 Robert W. and Louisa C. Duemling Presidential Fellow.

The prestigious Presidential Fellows Program is an annual institute presented by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for the Study of the Presidency (CSP), and open to one student from each of 85 leading American colleges and universities. Through Washington College's C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, this special opportunity is open to WC students.

"Jeremy Rothwell exemplifies the combination of scholarship and service that is the best of the Washington College tradition," said Adam Goodheart, Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of the C.V. Starr Center. Rothwell was selected by a faculty committee that included representatives from Political Science, International Studies, American Studies, and History.

"Jeremy's curiosity and passion for research have driven him to delve deeply into subjects from the philosophical underpinnings of local government in Maryland to the medieval origins of the British constitution,'" Goodheart said. "And his commitment to his community and nation has led to public service in places as far afield as Cecil County and Northern Mesopotamia."

While serving as a medic in Iraq, Rothwell performed a wide range of duties, first in Mosul and later in an outlying base. He worked operating/emergency-room shifts. He oversaw the company aid station. He did gate security and perimeter patrols. He ran obstruction-and-IED clearance missions on highways. And he went out for week-long shifts in small outposts along the Tigris River.

A political science and history major at Washington College, Rothwell was appointed in 2004 to the Citizens Advisory Committee to the Chesapeake Bay Program by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency office in Annapolis. In 2005 he went to France with a delegation from Virginia to study the influence of Asian-species introduction on the French oyster industry.

"Jeremy Rothwell is one of the most motivated and hard-working students I have taught at Washington College," said Associate Professor Melissa Deckman, chair of the Political Science department. "I have little doubt that he will bring a unique perspective to the Fellows program given both his experience working in local and state government and his recent tour of duty in Iraq."

"I was quite surprised to have been selected," said Rothwell. "I look forward to serving alongside many of the nation's best and brightest undergraduate students."

With its inclusion into the Presidential Fellows Program in 2007, Washington College joined a distinguished roster of participating American colleges and universities, including Harvard, Yale and Princeton. For more than 35 years, CSP Fellows have been coming to Washington, D.C., to learn about leadership and governance, to share their outstanding research and scholarship, to develop as future leaders of character, and to be inspired to careers in public service.

The Presidential Fellows Program is a non-resident, part-time, year-long opportunity to study the U.S. presidency, the public policymaking process, and the Chief Executive's relations with Congress, allies, the media and the American public.

"The program offers Washington College students an experience that—perhaps second only to a job in the White House—provides a close-up, insider's view of the U.S. presidency," said Goodheart. "Jeremy will be taking his place among the best and brightest from America's leading colleges and universities."

Washington College's participation in the program comes courtesy of a generous gift from Robert W. and Louisa C. Duemling, longtime friends and benefactors of the College.

Robert Duemling is former U.S. Ambassador to Suriname and former Director of the National Building Museum. In addition to having taught in Washington College's Department of Art, he is a Board of Visitors and Governors member emeritus and is Chairman of the Starr Center's Advisory Board.

Louisa Duemling is a former director of E.I. duPont deNemours & Company, where she provided guidance for many years to the third largest chemical manufacturer in the nation. She is a former trustee of the Maryland/D.C. chapter of the Nature Conservancy, a former advisory committee member of the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, and a former director of the Corcoran Gallery and the National Parks Foundation.

Established in 2000 with a grant from the New York-based Starr Foundation, the C.V. Starr Center explores our nation's history—and particularly the legacy of its Founding era—in innovative ways. Through educational programs, scholarship, and public outreach, and especially by supporting and fostering the art of written history, the Starr Center seeks to bridge the divide between past and present, and between the academic world and the public at large. From its base in the circa-1746 Custom House along Chestertown's colonial waterfront, the Center also serves as a portal onto a world of opportunities for Washington College students. Its guiding principle is that now more than ever, a wider understanding of our shared past is fundamental to the continuing success of America's democratic experiment.

In addition to the Presidential Fellows Program, the Starr Center also offers a range of special programs and extracurricular opportunities to Washington College students, including the Comegys Bight Fellowships and Frederick Douglass Fellowships, as well as weekend road trips and summer programs. For more information, visit

May 18, 2008

Maryland College Awards Nation's Largest Undergraduate Literary Prize at 225th Commencement

22-Year-Old Senior from Baltimore Wins $67,481

Chestertown, MD — Most college seniors will look back on their graduation ceremony as a day of pomp and circumstance culminating in a handshake and a diploma. For Emma Sovich, 22, a Washington College English major from Baltimore, the ceremony brought another reward: a check for $67,481.

Sovich's prizewinning portfolio—a collection of poems, critical essays and essays from her blog—earned her the largest literary award in the country exclusively for undergraduates—the Sophie Kerr Prize—presented Sunday, May 18, 2008, during the College's 225th Commencement ceremonies.

The awarding of the Sophie Kerr Prize, given annually to the graduating senior who demonstrates the greatest "ability and promise for future fulfillment in the field of literary endeavor," has in recent decades been a highlight of the commencement ceremony at the 225-year-old liberal arts college. The Prize, worth $67,481 this year, is among the largest literary awards in the world.

Sovich was one of 17 to submit a portfolio for consideration this year, a relatively small pool due to a smaller senior class than in previous years, but according to English Professor Kathryn Moncrief, a competitive group nonetheless. "This was an exceptionally talented group of writers," Moncrief said. "representing a healthy diversity of genres and considerable experimentation with those genres." Moncrief chairs both the English Department at Washington College and the Sophie Kerr Committee, which awards the Prize.

A self-described printer, pot-thrower, writer, sketcher and poet, Sovich herself seems to embody a diversity of interests. In addition to crafting her poems, Sovich was a "printer's devil" in the printshop of the College's Rose O'Neill Literary House, hand-setting type and printing books on antique letterpress equipment. Her blog, "The Composing Stick" explores the nuances and gritty realities of old fashioned printing in a modern world.

"Emma has a passion for process that equals her passion for the beautiful finished product," Moncrief said. "She is an outstanding citizen of the literary community and a lover of the literary arts in all their forms."

Professor Peter Campion, a poet himself, and also the adviser who worked with Sovich on her poetry cited Sovich's "facility for condensed, vivacious language, sympathy for her subjects, and dynamic connection to the literary tradition," in applauding her selection.

Sovich and two classmates created handmade volumes of their work using antique presses and hand binding tools. At the same time she was working on the English Department's website and maintaining her own blog, which grew out of her experiences at the printshop of the Rose O'Neill Literary House, a center for literature and creative life at Washington College.

"On top of Emma's poetry," said Joshua Wolf Shenk, the director of the Rose O'Neill Literary House, "she has really established herself as a serious designer and printer, wrestling not only with the aesthetics of language, but of arranging those words in a form to reach into the minds of readers. This has taken her all the way back to the time of Gutenberg and also to the vanguard technology of the 21st century."

Sovich writes in the introduction to her portfolio: "Upon graduation, I face a new challenge: to balance my artistic nature with the demands of the professional world." She hopes to apply to Poetry M.F.A. programs next year, with plans to pursue a Ph.D in an interdisciplinary program combining English, Art and Mass Communications afterwards.

Sovich is a 2004 graduate of Towson Senior High School in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Sophie Kerr Prize is the namesake of an Eastern Shore woman who made her fortune in New York writing women's fiction during the 1930s and 1940s. In accordance with the terms of her will, one-half of the annual income from her bequest to the College is awarded each year to the graduating senior demonstrating the best potential for literary achievement. The other half funds scholarships, student publications and the purchase of books, and brings an array of visiting writers, editors and publishers to campus to read, visit classes, and discuss student work. Her gift has provided the nucleus for a thriving community of writers on the bucolic Eastern Shore campus.

Washington College is a private, independent college of liberal arts and sciences located in historic Chestertown on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Founded in 1782 under the patronage of George Washington, it is the first college chartered in the new nation.

May 18, 2008

Sarah DeVan Awarded Washington College's 2008 Frederick Douglass Fellowship

Chestertown, MD — Washington College is pleased to announce that Sarah DeVan '09 has been awarded the school's Frederick Douglass Fellowship.

Now in its fourth year, the Frederick Douglass Fellowship supports student work in African-American studies and related areas. The author, activist and diplomat Frederick Douglass (1818-1895), for whom the fellowship was named, was born in Talbot County, Md., about 30 miles south of Chestertown, and retained a deep attachment to the Eastern Shore until the end of his life.

The fellowship, which provides an annual grant of up to $1,500 to a sophomore or junior and a $500 honorarium to a faculty mentor paired with the student, is administered through the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience.

"Sarah's project, while academically and intellectually intensive, has also taken her out into the world beyond campus to address a significant social problem," said Adam Goodheart, Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of the Starr Center. "It is exactly the kind of work that the Starr Center's fellowships were designed to support—and it is especially appropriate for a program named after Frederick Douglass, who was both an author and an activist.

DeVan's project, "Missed Opportunity and Brighter Future: The Reading Lag in African-American Students and How to Fix It," explores the achievement gap in reading comprehension between elementary students of different racial backgrounds.

Through visits to schools with high performing programs, an intensive examination of the Head Start program at Chestertown's Henry Highland Garnet Elementary, and participation in the State of Maryland Reading Council Conference, DeVan has worked to pinpoint the best strategies, both current and developing, to narrow the gap.

A human development (teaching) major and black studies minor, DeVan hopes to apply her conclusions to her own work in elementary classrooms. With support from the Cater Society of Junior Fellows, she plans to continue the project over the summer, testing her conclusions "on the ground" through operating a tutoring program for struggling readers in Harford County.

"As this year's Frederick Douglass Fellow, I've had the opportunity to explore the gap in literacy skills that frequently develops among minority students," said DeVan. "I've been able to research the factors that contribute to this gap as well as the programs that have been successful in closing it."

Throughout her project, DeVan has worked closely with her chosen faculty mentor, Professor Sean O'Connor, Chair of the Department of Education at Washington College. "Sarah's enthusiasm for her project was born in her reading and study of inequality in schools," said Dr. O'Connor. "Her caring is fathered (or mothered) by her admirable sense of social justice, and she has been teaching me as her project progressed. It has been a simple pleasure to work with Sarah."

The Frederick Douglass Fellowship was established through a generous gift from Maurice Meslans and Margaret Holyfield, to encourage students to conduct independent research in African American studies. Each year, during the spring semester, it also brings to campus a visiting scholar, writer, musician, etc. engaged in the study or interpretation of African-American history and related fields.

This year's Frederick Douglass Visiting Fellow, Gretchen Gerzina, Kathe Tappe Vernon Professor of Biography at Dartmouth College, spent a week in residence at Washington College in March, visiting classes, meeting with students, and discussing her work on 18th-century black New Englanders Abijah and Lucy Terry Prince.

Established in 2000 with a grant from the New York-based Starr Foundation, the C.V. Starr Center explores our nation's history—and particularly the legacy of its Founding era—in innovative ways. Through educational programs, scholarship, and public outreach, and especially by supporting and fostering the art of written history, the Starr Center seeks to bridge the divide between past and present, and between the academic world and the public at large.

From its base in the circa-1746 Custom House along Chestertown's colonial waterfront, the Center also serves as a portal onto a world of opportunities for Washington College students. Its guiding principle is that now more than ever, a wider understanding of our shared past is fundamental to the continuing success of America's democratic experiment.

"This research has left a huge imprint on my heart," said DeVan, "and I will never look at teaching the same."

May 18, 2008

Thursday, May 15, 2008

History Lives Online: Washington College's 'Revolutionary College Project' Site Launched

Chestertown, MD — Washington College is pleased to announce the debut of theRevolutionary College Project, a dynamic new web site chronicling two and a quarter centuries' worth of College history.

Visitors to the site can watch FDR visit Chestertown in a 1933 newsreel, listen to the original Washington College fight song, take a close-up look at George Washington's Washington College diploma from 1789, read about the alumnus who set "The Star-Spangled Banner" to music and another who paired up Fred Astaire with Ginger Rogers, learn about the peerless record of the Washington College football team, the day when Allen Ginsberg levitated Chestertown, and much more from the fascinating past of one of America's most historic educational institutions.

The Revolutionary College Project, spearheaded by the College's C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, is highlighted by groundbreaking research and scholarship by Washington College students and recent alumni. Edited by Sheila Austrian (Class of 2003) and featuring web design by Francoise Sullivan of Moo Productions, the site is being launched at the culmination of the College's year-long 225th anniversary celebration.

"The Revolutionary College Project will serve as a permanent legacy of the 225th anniversary celebration," said Adam Goodheart, Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of the C.V. Starr Center, "and will continue to grow in the months and years ahead as more work is added."

Benefiting from the personal patronage of George Washington, Washington College is an institution rich in history and tradition. The story of the College opens windows into the history of American higher education, and even into the history of America itself—from the Revolutionary era, through the early Republic, the Civil War, the Progressive era, the rise of feminism, the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s and beyond.

The Revolutionary College Project site is packed with information on the College's historic founding, its growth along with the surrounding region through the years, its notable alumni, interesting curiosities, and much more. The "Presidential Connections" section chronicles the visits that many U.S. presidents, from George Washington to George H.W. Bush, have made to the Chestertown campus. "Struggle & Strength" charts history's path to racial equality at the College, as well as the Maryland Eastern Shore's rich African-American legacy. "Three Centuries on the Chesapeake" views the College through the perspective of its region's national historical significance.

A section called "Your Stories" features alumni, faculty and staff reminiscences about Washington College; more will continue to be added.

"A number of the oldest American colleges and universities—places like Penn, Dickinson, the University of North Carolina—have created impressive websites or 'virtual museums' showcasing their campus history," Goodheart said. "We wanted our site to be as comprehensive as these—but also more exciting, more fun and with more potential to grow, becoming an ongoing project that links our students of today with their predecessors of past generations."

The site will serve as the eminent resource for researchers into the College's past. "Finally, there is a definitive destination for anyone interested in the Washington College story," said Justine Hendricks, a 2007 graduate who contributed to the site. "It's such a multi-layered and diverse history, one that only becomes more fascinating the more you learn."

Hendricks is one of many students and recent alumni who have taken part in the daunting task of researching, writing and producing the site. The students have been using Washington College's past as a laboratory to study the larger American saga. "They were probably the greatest body of undergraduates I've worked with, and that includes teaching at Vassar and Hopkins," said Ben Kohl, a member of the College's Board of Visitors and Governors, who was instrumental in shepherding along the project. "These students contributed their own scholarship about Washington College to the site, and it will serve online as a lasting contribution to the history of the institution."

The Revolutionary College Project can be viewed at

May 15, 2008

Thursday, May 1, 2008

From Washington College to Washington, D.C.: Tony-Nominated Actress/Playwright Anna Deavere Smith to Appear at Smithsonian, May 10

Washington — Anna Deavere Smith, known for her brilliant solo performance pieces (including "Fires in the Mirror: Crown Heights, Brooklyn and Other Identities") as well as her work on TV's "The West Wing," will appear at the Smithsonian on Saturday, May 10, as part of the new American Pictures Distinguished Lecture Series. She will unravel the mystery and meaning of Ruth Orkin's photo, "Member of the Wedding, Opening Night: Ethel Waters, Carson McCullers, and Julie Harris, New York, 1950."

Sponsored by Washington College in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the American Pictures Distinguished Lecture Series features an all-star lineup of eminent cultural figures who, on four Saturdays this spring, are each exploring a single powerful image in American art.

Millions of TV viewers know her as National Security Advisor Nancy McNally on "The West Wing" or District Attorney Kate Brunner on "The Practice," but Anna Deavere Smith is a versatile creative force with noteworthy accomplishments in various fields.

As a dramatist, she is known for her "documentary theater" style. She was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1993 for "Fires in the Mirror," which won her a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding One-Person Show. She was nominated for two Tony Awards in 1994 for "Twilight," one for Best Actress and another for Best Play. The play won her a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Solo Performance and a Theatre World Award.

She also is the author of the books Talk to Me: Travels in Media and Politics and Letters to a Young Artist: Straight-up Advice on Making a Life in the Arts—for Actors, Performers, Writers, and Artists of Every Kind.

Smith was one of the 1996 recipients of the MacArthur Fellowship, often referred to as the "genius grant." She also won a 2006 Fletcher Foundation Fellowship for her contribution to civil rights issues, as well as a 2008 Matrix Award from the New York Women in Communications Inc. In addition to teaching at New York University School of Law, she teaches in the Department of Performance Studies at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. She formerly taught in the drama department at Stanford University.

Her May 10 "American Pictures" lecture, which is free and open to the public, will take place at 4:30 p.m. in the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture at 8th and F Sts., N.W., in Washington, D.C. For more information about the series, visit

May 1, 2008

NEH Chairman Bruce Cole, "Wire" Creator David Simon, Singer-Songwriter Patty Griffin to Address Washington College's 2008 Graduating Class, May 18

Chestertown, MD — Three prominent figures in various fields of the arts will address the graduates at Washington College's 2008 Commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 18.

Bruce Cole, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities; David Simon, creator of the hit HBO drama "The Wire" and other acclaimed works; and Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Patty Griffin will receive honorary degrees and be guest speakers at this year's Commencement.

Ceremonies will begin at 10:30 a.m. on the Campus Lawn. Rain site is the Benjamin A. Johnson Lifetime Fitness Center by ticket only.

A highlight of Washington College's Commencement is the annual awarding of the Sophie Kerr Prize, the largest undergraduate literary prize in the nation. It's larger than ever this year, totaling $67,481.41.

The prize was established by the will of the late Sophie Kerr, a writer from Denton, Md., whose generosity has done so much to enrich the College's literary culture. When she died in 1965, Kerr left the bulk of her estate to the College, specifying that one half of the income from her bequest be awarded every year to the senior showing the most "ability and promise for future fulfillment in the field of literary endeavor" and the other half be used to bring visiting writers to campus, to fund scholarships, and to help defray the costs of student publications.

The 2008 Commencement culminates a year-long celebration of Washington College's 225th anniversary. Anniversary events have been anchored around three themes reflecting salient aspects of the College's mission: "Making History," "Exploring Our Environment" and "Fostering a Haven for the Arts."

The upcoming Commencement reflects the arts theme, as represented by the honorary-degree recipients/guest speakers.

Bruce Cole took the helm at the National Endowment of the Humanities in December 2001, coming from Indiana University in Bloomington, where he was Distinguished Professor of Art History and Professor of Comparative Literature.

Appointed by President George W. Bush, Cole was chosen for a second term in 2005, a reappointment unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate.

Cole has written 14 books, many of them about the Renaissance. They include The Renaissance Artist at Work; Sienese Painting in the Age of the Renaissance; Italian Art, 1250-1550: The Relation of Art to Life and Society; Titian and Venetian Art, 1450-1590; andArt of the Western World: From Ancient Greece to Post-Modernism. His most recent book isThe Informed Eye: Understanding Masterpieces of Western Art.

Author, journalist and TV writer-producer David Simon was a City Desk reporter at theBaltimore Sun for 12 years. His coverage of the Baltimore Police Department's homicide unit led to his first book, the acclaimed Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, which won the 1992 Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime Book. It later spawned the popular TV series "Homicide: Life on the Street," for which Simon contributed teleplays that garnered him a WGA Award for Best Writing in a Drama.

Simon's next book, The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-city Neighborhood, painted a grim, vivid portrait of a drug-plagued community. The subsequent HBO mini-series "The Corner," co-scripted and produced by Simon, won three Emmy Awards.

Simon's latest success is "The Wire," the recently concluded smash-hit HBO drama. Meanwhile, he continues to work as a freelance journalist, writing for such publications asThe Washington Post, The New Republic and Details magazine.

Maine native Patty Griffin went from playing guitar and singing in New England coffeehouses to international fame. The Grammy Award-nominated musician's songs have been performed by a variety of artists including the Dixie Chicks, Bette Midler, Linda Ronstadt, Mary-Chapin Carpenter, Kelly Clarkson and Martina McBride.

Griffin's hit albums include Living With Ghosts, Flaming Red, 1000 Kisses and Children Running Through. In 2007 she received the Americana Music Association's highest honor as Artist of the Year.

May 1, 2008