Monday, November 29, 2010

Psychologist Lectures on Healthy Relationships

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Dr. Ralph Surette, an adjunct professor of psychology at Washington College, will lecture on finding joy in relationships tonight, November 29 at 7 p.m. in Litrenta Lecture Hall, Toll Science Center, on the College campus, 300 Washington Avenue.

Surette, a psychologist who has worked in private practice and at the Georgetown University Counseling Center, will offer strategies to improve and sustain healthy relationships throughout life.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Advertising Veteran Presents "Mad Men in the Digital Age" for Alumni Breakfast

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Ad agency veteran Jack Gilden ’87 will bring Don Draper and his crew at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce into the modern age at an alumni networking breakfast Thursday, December 9 in Annapolis. Gilden, a Baltimore-based marketing consultant and former advertising agency president will present “Mad Men in the Digital Age: A veteran ad guy's rags-to-riches-to-rags story about the rapid rate of change in business today and how to cope with it.”

The gathering will take place at Pusser’s Caribbean Grille, a waterfront restaurant in the Annapolis Marriott Waterfront Hotel from 7:30 to 9 a.m. It is sponsored by the Annapolis Alumni Chapter, the Recent Alumni and Student Involvement Committee of the Alumni Board, and the Center for Career Development.

Jack Gilden has more than 20 years of experience in the advertising industry as both an agency president and a creative director. He has represented clients such as Legg Mason, Sprint, Nextel, Severn Bank, The Strata Group, and Aether Systems. Jack is also a noted newspaper and magazine writer and columnist.

Please R.S.V.P. to the alumni office by Friday, Dec. 3 by calling 410-778-7215 and leaving a message, or Reply via email. Tickets, at $8 a person, may be purchased at the door with cash or check. For more information, email Carolyn Fuss Thompson at For directions to the hotel, click here.

Photos: Jon Hamm as Don Draper; and Jack Gilden as Jack Gilden.

Washington College Hosts Battle of the Brains As Computer Programmers Race the Clock

CHESTERTOWN—If you looked into Goldstein Hall on the Washington College campus Saturday, November 6, you witnessed 30 students clustered in threes around computers, typing furiously—when not shooting glances at the clock—with soda cans covering any spare desk space. These students, drawn from six colleges, were competitors in the 35th annual IBM-sponsored Association for Computing Machinery International Collegiate Programming Contest, also known as the Battle of the Brains.

Gary Fenstamaker '13, international student Mariam Riyad, and Kenny Higgins '11 finished fourth locally and 42nd overall in the region.

Associate Professor of Mathematics Michael McLendon presents a balloon to the team for answering a problem correctly.

The contest, which Washington College has hosted for the schools in the Mid-Atlantic region for the past nine years, is a five-hour competition during which computer science students are given eight difficult programming problems to tackle. The problems vary from year to year and deal with topics ranging from celestial navigation to geometry. At any given time, two team members design solutions while the other writes the programming. Once they complete a solution, students submit their solutions to a central site. A correct answer earns a balloon, while an incorrect answer earns 20 penalty points. At the end of the competition, the team which has solved the most problems and accumulated the fewest points wins.

Austin Lobo, chair of the Washington College Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, notes that, given the difficulty of the problems, solving at least one guarantees a place in the top 100 schools in the region; solving three or more advances teams to the top 50. It’s an intense and tiring five hours without any breaks, he adds. “We stock up on Mountain Dew and coffee!”
John Massey and William Fielder, members of the Washington College Office of Information Technology, volunteered their time to monitor the network throughout the day to prevent crashes or cheating.

Washington College had two teams coached by Dr. Shaun Ramsey in this year’s Battle of the Brains. Competition to join the teams is not that steep, says associate professor of mathematics, Michael McLendon. “Our students are really doing it for fun and the experience.”

Junior Gary Fenstamaker, senior Kenny Higgins of Easton, and international student Mariam Riyad, a freshman from Egypt, made up one team; they finished fourth locally and 42nd overall in the region. Sophomores Otto Borden and Corey Stokes and senior Dan Jansen made up the second team, which landed 112th overall for the region.

“I personally wasn’t very stressed,” says Borden. “There still are many classes that I haven’t taken which would have been helpful in the contest, so for me this year’s competition was more about getting my feet wet. I still had a lot of fun, and I learned some things that will be helpful for next year.”

For Gary Fenstamaker, the contest was a bit more nerve-racking.

“Most of the time was spent trying to fix our programs and make them right, the other half was spent being hyped up on Mountain Dew, typing faster than we could think,” he says.

Overall, adds Dan Jansen, the experience was rewarding. “It was nice to meet with computer science lovers from different schools and challenge ourselves with these extremely difficult problems,” he says.

Competing with
Washington College students were teams from Drexel University, Goldey-Beacom College in Wilmington, Rowan University in New Jersey, Temple University, and the University of Delaware. At the end of the day, a team from Rowan placed first, followed by a team from Delaware, with Drexel rounding out the top three.

This year’s world finals competition will take place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

-- Grace Arenas '14

Monday, November 22, 2010

SIFE Students help Food Pantry Clients Budget

CHESTERTOWN, MD—The Washington College chapter of Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) worked with the Kent County Community Food Pantry to help pantry clients make better choices about shopping and cooking during workshops held in October and early November. More than 120 clients signed up for workshops, which were funded with a $16,000 grant from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Inc,

The workshops included nutrition lessons and recipes from dietician Marcia Yeager. The SIFE students, led by advisors Susan Vowels and Aundra Weissert, helped clients learn to budget and get more from their food dollars. SuperFresh donated measuring cups, and Chesapeake Bank and Trust provided calculators for the local workshops.

Founded in 1975 and active on college campuses in 37 countries, the non profit SIFE network encourages students to take what they are learning in the classroom and apply it to real-life situations. Students use their knowledge of business, economics and free enterprise to complete projects that improve their communities and/or the world. The Community Food Pantry provides non-perishable food to more than 500 Kent County adults and children a month. It is supported by Kent County churches, service organizations, businesses, individuals and the United Way of Kent County.

For more information, visit

Photos: Washington College SIFE students Ben Jardot, Ben Keaton and Matt Hager and dietician Marcia Yeager helped the Community Food Pantry with its workshops about smart food shopping. Washington College professor Susan Vowels advises the SIFE chapter and helped with the workshops.
Images courtesy of

Center for Environment & Society Helps with Dec. 4 Open House at Wildlife Refuge

ROCK HALL, MD–Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge is hosting a special Open House on Saturday, December 4, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Volunteers from the Center for Environment & Society at Washington College will be among the participants offering guided walks during the day. The community is invited to explore Eastern Neck Island and areas of the Refuge that are normally closed to the public. “This is a great time of year to bring your binoculars and learn about local wildlife and island habitat,” says Gren Whitman, president of the Friends of Eastern Neck, whose members will help with the open house.

Related Video: Shoreline Cleanup at Eastern Neck Island

Refuge facilities include miles of hiking paths through woods and meadows, a small natural history/visitor center, ponds, beach access, wildlife and waterfowl observation decks, a watertrail with public access, a butterfly garden (pretty even in winter), a caretaker's house, relaxing picnic areas, bike racks, a small gift shop, clean restrooms and an ample visitor parking lot.

Other groups helping with the guided walks and talks include the Kent County Bird Club, a local chapter of Ducks Unlimited, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service . All the tours, talks and nature walks start at the Refuge Office. The bird walk begins at the trail head. It’s a family-friendly schedule,” says Refuge Manager Cindy Beemiller: 10 a.m., Tubby Cove & Boxes Point bird walk; 10:30 a.m., Cedar Point nature walk; 11 a.m., Green Tree Reservoir tour; 12:15 p.m., Tundra Swan talk; 1:30 p.m., Shipyard Creek nature walk; 1:45 p.m., Maintenance “Nuts & Bolts” talk; 2:30 p.m., Duck Impoundment & pond tour. Bookstore manager Jackie Cicconi says she’s offering a 10 percent discount all day, and the visitor center will feature live music and lunch concessions at noon.

This rain or shine event is free and open to the public. ENNWR is located at 1730 Eastern Neck Road in Rock Hall. For more information, contact or To learn more about volunteer opportunities through the Friends of Eastern Neck, Inc. or call (410) 639-7056.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Ethical Treatment of Elephants Topic of Talk

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Two experts from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute will lecture on society’s treatment of elephants in a talk Tuesday, November 30 at Washington College. Catherine A. Christen and Peter Leimgruber will present “Elephants and Ethics: Toward a Morality of Coexistence” at 7:30 p.m. in the Litrenta Lecture Hall on the College campus, 300 Washington Avenue.

Based on Christen’s 2008 book of the same title, the talk will explore the history of human perspectives on elephants—as war machines, sources of ivory, and objects of entertainment—and the responsibility of humans to protect the species.

An environmental historian at the Center for Conservation Education and Sustainability, Christen focuses her research on the practice and history of conservation science and wildlife management. Leimgruber, a research scientist and conservation biologist at the Conservation Ecology Center, studies the application of geographic information systems and satellite tracking techniques to the conservation and management of endangered species.

The talk is free and open to the public.

Pulitzer-Winning Columnist Joins Political Expert and Scholar to Discuss Politics in America

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Colbert I. King, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Washington Post and a panelist on television’s “Inside Washington,” will join scholar Joseph Prud'homme and government-relations executive Fletcher R. Hall for a roundtable discussion of America’s political scene Tuesday evening, November 30. Titled “The New Political Landscape: Looking at the Parties Brewing Political Tea,” the event will take place at 7 p.m. in Room 100 of Goldstein Hall on the Washington College campus, 300 Washington Avenue.

The event is sponsored by the Institute for Religion, Politics and Culture (IRPC) at Washington College, which serves as a forum for the objective study of religion’s influence on public life. Panelists will focus on the recent mid-term elections and the impact the Tea Party movement will have on the nation’s political life leading up to the 2012 presidential election.

Colby King has extensive experience in journalism, banking and government. Prior to joining the Washington Post’s editorial board in 1990, he worked for the State Department at the U.S. embassy in Bonn. He also has worked as Minority Staff Director of the United States Senate, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, U.S. Director of the World Bank, and Executive Vice President for Middle and East Africa at Riggs Bank.

King was deputy editorial page editor at the Post from 2000 to 2007 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 2003 for his “against-the-grain columns that speak to people in power with ferocity and wisdom.” Today he continues as a weekly columnist for the Post, sharing his thoughts on urban and national life every Saturday. A graduate of Howard University, King is a regular panelist on the ABC-TV public-affairs program "Inside Washington" and a commentator on WTOP Radio.

A native of the Eastern Shore, Fletcher Hall has spent more than 30 years in government affairs and communications in Washington and Baltimore and is now chairman and CEO of F.R. Hall & Associates, LLC. The Washington-area firm specializes in government relations and communications, with a focus on agriculture, agricultural transportation, renewable fuels, and food security for companies and organizations worldwide. Hall was a consultant for State Senator Michael Oliverio in the recent Congressional campaign in the First District of West Virginia. A 1963 graduate of Washington College, where he was editor of the student newspaper, The Elm, he today publishes several electronic newsletters. He also is an advisor to the Economic Section of the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Washington D.C.

Joseph Prud’homme, an assistant professor of political science, founded the Institute for Religion, Politics and Culture shortly after joining the Washington College faculty in the fall of 2009. He and his Institute colleagues have already launched several major initiatives, including an academic partnership with Oxford University, a summer study program at Charles University in Prague, several lecture series on the interplay of religion and politics, and a peer-reviewed book series entitled Washington College Studies in Religion, Politics and Culture. A double-major graduate of Texas A & M with a Ph.D from Princeton, Prud’homme is author of the forthcoming book, Religion and Politics in America from the Colonial Period to the Civil War.

Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the United States. George Washington agreed to have the college bear his name, donated a substantial sum to its founding and served on its Board of Visitors and Governors before becoming president of the United States.

For more information on this event and the Institute, visit

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Brief and Wondrous Visit of Junot Diaz

By Emily Blackner

CHESTERTOWN--With its strongly personal voice and memorable characters, the Pulitzer-Prize winning novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, selected as the first-year read at Washington College for the fall, generated talk all across campus, whether students loved or hated it. The same intense style and personality was evident in the author, Junot Díaz, when he came to Washington College on November 8. The author spent time visiting with creative writing students at the Rose O’Neill Literary House on campus, then gave a public reading and talk that evening.

Díaz was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, before moving to New Jersey with his family. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao took many years of hard work to write. “The project was incredibly difficult; there wasn’t really an aspect of the pleasure principle, unfortunately,” Díaz said. “For the most part that doesn’t happen. This book, I just grinded it out,” he said.

“The book has an extremely complex structure so it seems conversational. If you’re interested, you can read it as being told through a fixed set of devices. But there’s also a formal complexity, which withstands multiple readings. That was a challenge to keep up,” he said.

The hard work that went into the book paid off for Díaz. His book won numerous accolades in addition to the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, including the National Book Critics Circle Award and a spot on the “Best Books” lists of major newspapers such as the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post.

He says those prizes aren’t as meaningful to him as they are to others. “I come from a military family; we were not taught to think like that, not raised to learn that one does things for applause. You do it because of duty.

“I won a Pulitzer, which is a big deal, supposedly,” said Díaz. “But I didn’t take a break to celebrate. I’m very much my family’s son, so it’s hard to think of these things as meaning anything.”

Additionally, Díaz remarked that “winning doesn’t mean your book’s any good, and not winning does not mean it’s bad.” There was one award of which he was especially proud, however: the Dayton Peace Prize. “I feel strongly about that because when I was given it, it acknowledged the power literature and art have in humanizing us,” he said.

“That’s how you stop wars, by humanizing. It recognized art as a peacemaker.”

Díaz’s book blends the cultures of America and the Dominican Republic. However, he said that his background didn’t particularly influence his work. “One should remember that there’s this divide. I’m asked to make what is not a legitimate leap. My background didn’t generate this art, my training and my diligence did. It’s what separates who you are and what you do from creating.

“This is not to say the preoccupations in place and time don’t have bearing on our interests as artists, but interest doesn’t get a book done. It requires absolute commitment and training.”

The author was somewhat hesitant about giving other advice to students. “Young people spend a lot of time hearing old people giving them advice. My experience was that I always wanted less advice and more support.”

He did share some thoughts with aspiring writers, however. “Some seem to have a career tack that’s the same as my friends who want to be dentists. They want to go right from undergrad to grad school, in as little time as possible. It’s somehow a problem to take years off.

“Writing is about being in the world, not sheltering yourself from one institution to another. Experiencing the world and connecting to it gives you something to say about it. Real experience comes from being an adult, in a real narrative. The real world is an enormously powerful place to be; it takes strength to be there. And people are dying for news from the world.”

For students who do not want to pursue writing as a career, Díaz offered this advice: “Life is so short that the only thing that makes it worth living is living your own dream. I spent a good part of my life living other people’s dreams— I’m not angry at myself about it. We live in world where a formula is set up for us.”

It isn’t necessary to follow the formula, however. “Ask yourself every semester, what is my dream? Find your dream,” Díaz said.

He also advocated studying abroad. “That’s what college is good for, study abroad. Go to three continents and try to fall in love on each one. There’s no rush,” Díaz said.

In the evening, Díaz read for a full house at Decker Theatre, which included visitors from the community and from high schools in the region. “If you wrote a transcript of me talking, you’d see the book isn’t really how I talk,” he shared with students. “Try saying one of those sentences to someone. It’s a book trying to convince you that it’s someone talking.”

He also told them that he turned to books as a way to understand the world. “As an immigrant kid with a thick accent, I couldn’t go up to an American kid and ask them questions. Since I couldn’t look to my peers, I tried books.” Because of this, Díaz understands the enduring legacy a book can have. “I wanted to be an artist. Will I create something that matters tomorrow? Relevance past tomorrow—that’s what I’m obsessed with.”

Washington College creative writing students were especially impressed by the novelist and his thoughts on writing. Kimberly Uslin ’14 of New Oxford, PA, said Díaz was “the most brilliant, inspirational speaker I have ever heard.” And her classmate Megan McCurdy, a first-year student from Philadelphia, commented that “hearing him read from and talk about his book made me appreciate it so much more. I want to go back and re-read it a few times. … And he inspired me to want to write a book. He’s just awesome in general.”

Christopher Stokes, a first year creative writing student from Sussex, N.J., agreed the author’s visit was “awesome.” “Junot Díaz was the most bad ass, smart, down to earth nerdy author I have ever heard,” Stokes added. “His talk was very insightful and made me look at how I should approach my own writing and novels in general.”

The winner of the 2010 Sophie Kerr Prize, Hailey Reissman ’10, came down from Wilmington for the event. “I kind of wish I could have Junot Diaz there every day to slam life back into perspective for me, to remind me why we read, why we write, why we’re not alone, and why we go back, again and again, to art, to people, to words, even when they can be so dark, scary, devastating, and hard to handle,” she commented. “It was a great reminder, something I definitely needed to hear in college and definitely still need to hear now.”

After the event, Junot signed books for over an hour and spent some time answering questions both from Washington College students and from high school students who had journeyed from northern Virginia, Delaware, and southern Maryland for the event.

This article is reprinted courtesy of The Elm, the student newspaper at Washington College, with additional reporting on student reactions from Lit House director Mark Nowak. For the full online edition of The Elm, please click here.

Photo: Author Junot Díaz visiting with students in the Literary House. Photo by Ashley Carol-Fingerhut

WC Joins Alliance for Advances in Teaching

CHESTERTOWN—Washington College president Mitchell Reiss has joined 70 other college presidents in a voluntary campaign to assess student learning more effectively and to use the data to improve the quality of teaching over the next two years. As part of the Presidents’ Alliance for Excellence in Student Learning and Accountability, Reiss also has pledged to work cooperatively to share information and strategies not only with other Alliance members but also with the public.

Officially announced November 5, the Presidents’ Alliance is a project of the New Leadership Alliance for Student Learning and Accountability, which was created in 2009 by a consortium of higher-ed groups (the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the American Council on Education, and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation). Funding is provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Teagle Foundation.

The executive director of the New Leadership group, former Hamilton College dean David C. Paris, says he hopes the Presidents’ Alliance will be a resource for innovative teaching methods that really work. “The real purpose of the pledges is to deepen an ethic of professional stewardship and self-regulation among college leaders,” he told the Chronicle of Higher Education. “Teaching is an art, not a science. But there is still probably a lot that we can learn from each other.”

“The project calls attention to the myriad ways in which institutions of higher learning already work systematically to measure results, improve teaching, and ultimately benefit student learning,” says President Reiss. “For Washington College, this initiative allows us to promote the good practices we currently engage in and to celebrate the ways in which our faculty are always enriching the work they do for students.”

For more information on the initiative, visit:

Talk to Probe Causes, Treatment of Dementia

CHESTERTOWN—Jennifer Fitzpatrick, founder of Jenerations Health, Inc., will give a lecture, “Understanding Different Types of Dementia,” at Washington College on Thursday, November 18. The talk will begin at 7 p.m. in the Casey Academic Center Forum on campus, 300 Washington Avenue.

Fitzpatrick will address the many types, treatments, and causes of dementia, including Alzheimer’s Disease. Among the topics she will explore are how dementia can be prevented and how one can cope with a family member’s diagnosis.

Fitzpatrick founded Jenerations Health, Inc., to educate health-care professionals on patient care and to help patient families deal with the many challenges they face. Through the company, she works as an educational consultant for the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Maryland. She is an Adjunct Instructor in the gerontology program at Towson University and in the health sciences and business divisions of Howard Community College.

The talk is sponsored by the Sociology Club and is free and open to the public. It will be followed at 8 p.m. by a candle lighting service in honor of loved ones struck with all kinds of dementia, including Alzheimers.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tinsel and Lights: Washington Post Writer to Explore Christmas in Modern America

CHESTERTOWN—Award-winning journalist, essayist, and pop culture writer Hank Stuever will read from his latest book, Tinsel: A Search for America’s Christmas Present (Harcourt) on Tuesday, November 30, at Washington College. The reading will begin at 5 p.m. at Center Stage (also known as The Egg), a performance space in Hodson Hall Commons, 300 Washington Avenue.

View photos from the event.

Tinsel is a fascinating and hilarious account of the role that the Christmas holiday plays in modern American life. Stuever chronicles the experiences of three Texas families over the course of three holiday seasons, from 2006 through 2008. Following these families from crowded malls and megawatt Christmas light displays to church services and craft bazaars, Stuever explores the impact of the year’s biggest holiday on modern American culture, family dynamics and the consumer economy. USA Today called Stuever’s observations “laugh-out-loud funny,” and the New Yorker heralded the book as “cultural anthropology at its most exuberant.”

Stuever describes the setting for Tinsel this way: “It’s a story about people living in the newest kind of America—a land of new malls, new houses, big churches, easy credit, and freshly built highways.” As he takes the reader through the typical holiday practices of the Parnell, Trykoski, and Cavazos families, he identifies the spiritual, emotional, and material meanings that have come to be synonymous with Christmas.

Stuever has been a writer for the Washington Post’s Style section for ten years and is currently the newspaper’s television critic. In addition to Tinsel, he is the author of Off Ramp: Adventures and Heartache in the American Elsewhere (Henry Holt, 2004), a collection of essays about the intersection of popular culture and real life. He is a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in feature writing, and has appeared on Today, The View, MSNBC and National Public Radio.

The reading is free and open to the public. A book signing and holiday treats will follow.

About the C.V. Starr Center

Based in the Custom House along Chestertown’s colonial waterfront, the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College fosters the art of written history and explores our nation’s past—particularly the legacy of its Founding era—in innovative ways, through educational programs, scholarship and public outreach. 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. For more information on the Center, visit

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Eastern Shore Society of Baltimore City to Fund New WC Scholarship Focused on Environment

CHESTERTOWN—Thanks to a gift of $85,000 from the Eastern Shore Society of Baltimore City, Washington College will create a new scholarship for students with strong Eastern Shore ties and a strong interest in the environment. The new Eastern Shore Society Scholarship Fund will provide an annual scholarship to an entering freshman from the Eastern Shore, or of Eastern Shore heritage, who plans to focus his or her studies largely on the environment.

College president Mitchell Reiss says the school is proud and grateful to have this new tie to the tradition of stewardship the Society has established over the decades. “We appreciate this investment in educating the sons and daughters of the Eastern Shore about the fragility of the Bay and its ecosystems. The society’s constitution states its purpose as ‘to preserve and foster an appreciation of the history, traditions, and pleasant memories of the Eastern Shore of Maryland,’ ” he adds. “As a college community that benefits so much from our setting in beautiful Chestertown by the Chester River, we share that mission. And we know it can be accomplished only with an educated citizenry and a healthy Chesapeake Bay.”

The scholarships will be administered by the College’s Center for Environment & Society (CES). The CES supports a variety of programs focused on the environment and has created a special Chesapeake Semester that provides students with hands-on experience in several key study areas in the Chesapeake Bay region. Chesapeake Semester students learn the history of the region, with stops at significant sites such as the James River plantations and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michael’s. They study the biology and ecology of the Bay, getting onto the water to run tests and study the health of the ecosystem. And they explore the sociology of the people who inhabit the region, meeting with a variety of constituencies with important stakes in the future of the Bay and its watershed, including farmers, watermen, environmentalists, and legislators.

“We're fortunate to have the world's third largest estuary in our backyard,” says John Seidel, director of the CES. “This support will help students from the region fully explore the Chesapeake Bay and develop the skills to help save it."

The Eastern Shore Society of Baltimore City traces its origin to 1911 when a group of Caroline County natives began meeting in the City to maintain their ties to their home communities. Two years later, that Caroline County Society expanded to include members from all the counties of the Shore. The first meeting of the Eastern Shore Society on December 13, 1913 drew 113 charter members to the Belvedere Hotel in Baltimore. Over the decades, membership has expanded further, to also include descendants and spouses of Eastern Shore natives.

“We are pleased to be able to provide tangible help to students from the Eastern Shore who wish to study issues that directly affect the Eastern Shore,” says Society president John Woodall. “And we’re happy to partner with Washington College to help the region flourish.”

The first Eastern Shore Society scholarship will be offered to a member of the Class of 2015. For more information, contact Kevin Coveney, Vice President for Admissions and Enrollment Management at 410-778-7700 or

PHOTO CAPTION: From left, John Seidel, director of the Center for Environment & Society, Carroll J. Collins, secretary/treasurer of the Eastern Shore Society of Baltimore City, John R. Woodall, president of the Society, and Mitchell Reiss, president of Washington College, pose in front of the school's portrait of its founding patron George Washington.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Talk to Explore the Economics of Happiness

CHESTERTOWN—Dr. Carol Graham, author of Happiness Around the World: The Paradox of Happy Peasants and Miserable Millionaires, will talk about “The Economics of Happiness,” on Thursday, November 11 at Washington College. The lecture will take place in the Casey Academic Center Forum on campus, 300 Washington Avenue, at 4 p.m.

Graham, a professor of public policy at the University of Maryland, will discuss what effect a person’s economic status has on his or her happiness and how that influence differs from country to country. The book explores examples from around the world, from Afghanistan to Peru to the United States.

Graham’s research focuses on poverty, inequality, public health, and different measures of well-being. She is a Senior Fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution and served as Vice President of Brookings from 2002 to 2004. She co-authored Happiness and Hardship: Opportunity and Insecurity in New Market Economies (Brookings Institute Press, 2002) and has published numerous articles in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, the Journal of Latin American Studies, and Foreign Affairs, among others.

The “Economics of Happiness” talk is sponsored by Omicron Delta Epsilon, the economics honors society at Washington College, and is free and open to the public.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Community Thanksgiving Service Set for Nov. 18 on Washington College Campus

CHESTERTOWN—The Chester Valley Ministers’ Association (CVMA) will hold its annual interfaith Community Thanksgiving Service on Thursday, November 18, at 5:30 p.m. at Washington College’s Hynson Lounge, in Hodson Hall, 300 Washington Avenue. The music and worship service is free and open to the public. Immediately following the program, there will be a Thanksgiving Dinner in the College’s Dining Hall, pay as you go, at $8.50 per person.

The hour-long program will feature different faith perspectives, including West African prayers and readings by the Asian Culture Club, Campus Christian Fellowship, and Hillel (Jewish Student Organization) at Washington College. Pastor Sarah Holben, Presbyterian Church of Chestertown, will give the Invocation; The Rev. Allen LaMontagne, St. Paul’s Parish, Kent, will offer reflections on Thanksgiving; representatives of CVMA member churches and organizations will lead the Prayers of the People; and Cantor Gary Schiff, Chestertown Havurah, will deliver the Benediction in English and in Hebrew.

Pianist Kate Bennett will invite the community to sing along on “Come Ye Thankful People Come,” “We Gather Together,” and a resounding rendition of “All Good Gifts” from the musical Godspell. All are invited to attend this community event. For information contact or Ruth Briscoe at 410-348-5267.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Ensemble Schumann Performs Friday in Hotchkiss

CHESTERTOWN—The Ensemble Schumann trio will take the stage at Washington College Friday evening, November 12, with pianist Sally Pinkas, violist Steve Larson and oboist Thomas Gallant performing works by W.A. Mozart, Robert Schumann, August Klughardt and Robert Kahn. Part of the Washington College Concert Series, the performance will begin at 8 p.m. in Hotchkiss Recital Hall, which is part of the Gibson Center for the Arts on the College campus, 300 Washington Avenue.

Tickets, priced at $15 for general admission and $5 for youth ages 18 and under, will be available at the door. Washington College students are admitted free with a valid ID.

A colorful combination of artists and instruments, the Schumann Ensemble members have performed at prestigious venues that include Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall in New York City and Wigmore Hall in London, as well as at the Tanglewood, Ravinia, Lucerne, Spoleto and Mostly Mozart music festivals.

The evening’s program will begin with “Serenade in F-minor, Op. 73” by Kahn (1865-1951). In the program notes, Pinkas describes Kahn’s style as “intimate and lyrical.” His “Serenade” is a through-composed work, with no breaks between movements. “Not a sonata, nor a fantasy, the Serenade invents its own organic coherence,” writes Pinkas.

What follows is Klughardt’s “Schilflieder, 5 Fantasy Pieces on Lenau’s Poems, Op. 28.” Schilflieder translates as “Reed Poems.” These “tone poems” by Klughardt (1847-1902) are based on Nikolaus Lenau’s written poems, which tell of the sadness of lost love as the poet wanders at the edge of a reed-filled pond.

The program will continue with Schumann’s “Marchenerzählunger (“Fairy Tales,) Op. 132.” Schumann (1810-1856) suffered from bouts of deep depression and hallucinations. His “Fairy Tales” were written in 1853, during his last creative burst before the final mental breakdown that sent him to an asylum.

The concert closes with “Trio in E-flat Major, K. 498.” The composition is nicknamed Kegelstaat, or “Skittle Alley,” and it was rumored that Mozart (1756-1791) composed it during a game of skittles. Pinkas writes that the Trio is “one of the most delightful and beloved chamber music works in the literature.”

About the performers:

Sally Pinkas has appeared with the Boston Pops and Aspen Philharmonia and collaborated with a wide variety of artists including the Adaskin String Trio and the Lydian String Quartet. She also performs with her husband, Evan Hirsch, as the Hirsch-Pinkas Piano Duo. The couple has toured in Russia, China and Nigeria and recently released a compilation of George Rochberg’s piano works on the Naxos label. Pinkas teaches at Dartmouth, where she is pianist-in-residence of the Hopkins Center.

As a member of the acclaimed Adaskin String Trio since 1994, Steve Larson has performed extensively in the U.S. and Canada and recorded the complete String Trios of Beethoven for the Musica Omnia label. The Adaskin String Trio’s release of Fauré piano quartets with Sally Pinkas for the MSR Classics label has been praised as “ferociously gorgeous” and “worth celebrating.” Larson also performs as part of the Avery Ensemble and has collaborated with many other artists, including the Emerson and Miami String Quartets. He teaches viola and chamber music at the Hartt School, University of Hartford.

Thomas Gallant is one of the world’s few virtuoso solo and chamber music performers on the oboe. He has performed as both soloist and chamber musician in prestigious halls around the world and with such artists as Jean-Pierre Rampal, the Kronos Quartet, the Adaskin String Trio and the Prague-based Martinu Chamber Orchestra. New Yorker magazine described him as “a player who unites technical mastery with intentness, charm and wit.” His unique performance style combines the American and European traditions of oboe playing.

For more information on this concert, please call 410-778-7839 or email For updates and news of future concerts, please visit the Concert Series web page:

Friday, November 5, 2010

Religious Philosopher to Discuss Divine Friendship November 18 at Washington College

CHESTERTOWN—World-renowned philosopher of religion Marilyn McCord Adams will speak about friendship from a religious viewpoint when she visits Washington College on Thursday, November 18. Her talk, “Friendliness: Human & Divine,” will begin at 7 p.m. in the Litrenta Lecture Hall on the College campus, 300 Washington Avenue.

Adams will approach her topic from a philosophical and historical perspective, first developing the concept of friendship between man and God, and then discussing how this “divine friendship” affects the formation and maintenance of human friendships.

From 2004-2009, Adams was the first female to hold the position of Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford, a prestigious professorship that was created in 1535 by King Henry VIII. She is currently a distinguished research professor in the Philosophy Department at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Adams’ work focuses on the history of philosophy and theology and the debates they raise in the modern world. She has written nine books, including The Problem of Evil (1990), Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God (1999), and Christ and Horrors: The Coherence of Christology (2006). She has published more than 80 articles in journals such as Philosophical Review, Franciscan Studies, and Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic.

Sponsored by the Institute for Religion, Politics and Culture at Washington College, the talk is free and open to the public.

Panel to Tackle Topic of Religion in the Classroom

CHESTERTOWN—A panel of five distinguished scholars will explore the role of religion in America’s public schools Tuesday evening, November 16, in Chestertown. Entitled “Religious Literacy and Education: The Political Battle Over the Bible in Public Schools,” the event will take place at 7:30 p.m. in Hynson Lounge, Hodson Hall, on the Washington College campus, 300 Washington Avenue.

The panel was organized by the new Institute for Religion, Politics and Culture at Washington College, which provides a forum for the objective study of the role religion plays in public life. Its director, political science professor Joseph Prud’homme, will participate on the panel.

The chair of the College’s political science department, Melissa Deckman, will serve as moderator. An expert on religion and politics in America, Deckman is author of School Board Battles: The Christian Right in Local Politics (Georgetown University Press, 2004).

Special guest panelists are the Rev. Barry Lynn (pictured above) of the Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Dr. Diane Moore of Harvard University’s Divinity School, and Dr. Daniel Dreisbach of American University’s School of Public Affairs.

Rev. Lynn has been executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State for the past 18 years. A long-time civil-rights activist and lawyer, he also is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. He often provides analysis of First Amendment issues on nationally broadcast television and radio news shows.

Lynn holds a law degree from Georgetown and a theology degree from Boston University. He has published two books: Piety & Politics: The Right-Wing Assault On Religious Freedom (Harmony Books, 2006) and First Freedom First: A Citizen's Guide to Protecting Religious Liberty and the Separation of Church and State (with C. Welton Gaddy, Beacon Press, 2008).

As director of the Program in Religious Studies and Education at Harvard Divinity School, Diane L. Moore focuses her studies and teaching on how religion relates to culture, ecology and human rights. An ordained Disciples of Christ minister, she serves on the editorial boards of the journals Religion and Education and the British Journal of Religious Education. She also chairs the American Academy of Religion's Task Force on Religion in the Schools, which recently completed a three-year initiative to establish guidelines for teaching about religion in K-12 public schools.

She holds degrees from Harvard Divinity School, Episcopal Divinity School and Union Theological Seminary and taught at Phillips Andover Academy before joining the Harvard faculty. She is author of Overcoming Religious Illiteracy: A Cultural Studies Approach to the Study of Religion in Secondary Education (Palgrave, 2007).

Daniel L. Dreisbach is Professor of Justice, Law and Society in the School of Public Affairs at American University, where he researches and teaches in the areas of constitutional history, First Amendment law and church-state relations. He earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Oxford University and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia. Author or editor of numerous articles for scholarly journals and books, he wrote Thomas Jefferson and the Wall of Separation between Church and State (New York University Press, 2002) and co-edited The Sacred Rights of Conscience (Liberty Fund, 2009).

Washington College will publish the panel’s proceedings as part of a peer-reviewed book series—Washington College Studies in Religion, Politics, and Culture—that is a major component of the new Institute.

Expert on Diversity and Racism Explores How Cultural Stereotypes Divide Us

CHESTERTOWN—Dr. David Pilgrim, Chief Diversity Officer at Ferris State University in Michigan and a national expert on race relations, will use cultural memorabilia to explore discrimination and stereotyping when he lectures at Washington College Tuesday, November 16. “Them: Images of Separation,” begins at 4:30 p.m. in the Casey Academic Center Forum.

Pilgrim is the founder and curator of the Jim Crow Museum, which houses 5,000 artifacts related to racial segregation and civil rights at Ferris State. The goal of the museum is to promote the examination of historical and contemporary expressions of racism and, in Pilgrim’s words, “to use items of intolerance to teach tolerance.” His lecture will draw heavily from a traveling exhibit he co-created in 2005 to carry the Jim Crow Museum’s message to a national audience. It focuses not only on prejudices against African-Americans, but also the damaging stereotypes of women, poor whites, gays, Jewish-Americans, Mexican-Americans, and those who fall into an “other” category regarding body type or sexual orientation.

Pilgrim worked with Ferris State colleague Clayton Rye to produce the documentary film Jim Crow’s Museum, in which he explains his approach to battling racism. His short stories on the topics of multiculturalism and race relations have been published in Obsidian, Aim, and African American Review.

The November 18 event is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the College’s Black Studies program, Sophie Kerr Committee, Office of Multicultural Affairs, and Department of Art and Art History.

Community Dance Day is Saturday

The Washington College Dance Program will host its 8th Community Dance Day on Saturday, November 6 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Johnson Lifetime Fitness Center on campus.

Open to Children grades K-8, this is an opportunity for dance instruction in creative movement, hip hop, and Broadway dance. Members of the Nu Delta Alpha Dance Honor Society will lead the instruction. No prior dance experience is necessary. For more information contact Professor Karen Smith at 410/778-7237, or N∆A president Rachel Dittman at

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Panel Will Discuss College-Town Culture and Town/Gown Relations Nationwide

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Town/gown relations will take center stage on Thursday, November 18 when geographer Blake Gumprecht, author of the widely-praised 2008 book The American College Town, comes to Chestertown to highlight a wide-ranging panel discussion about college towns and the people – young and not so young – who live in them. "The College Town: A Conversation" will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Norman James Theatre on the Washington College campus, 300 Washington Avenue.

View photos from the event.

Comprised of both townsfolk and gownsfolk, the panel – which includes Gumprecht, three Chestertown residents and a city planner from Newark, DE – will explore some of the enduring questions about college towns. Is every community with an institution of higher learning a “college town”? How do college towns differ from their surrounding communities, or from urban areas with similar amenities? How do college towns negotiate the sometimes conflicting needs and interests of students and permanent residents?

Adam Goodheart, Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, will moderate the conversation, which will include open Q&A time with the audience and touch on some questions unique to Chestertown.

“The Starr Center is delighted to sponsor this conversation about what makes college towns uniquely vibrant communities,” said Goodheart. “As Chestertown and Washington College both face decisions for the future, we hope that the discussion will help us to see our own community in new ways.”

As a geographer, Blake Gumprecht’s interests lie in the “personalities” of different places. Using examples from across the country, his book examines what makes a college town a college town and what characteristics separate it from other kinds of communities. In the process of writing the book, Gumprecht conducted research on 60 very different college communities, eventually settling on 8 to profile extensively.

Published to rave reviews, The American College Town won the 2008 J.B. Jackson Prize from the Association of American Geographers and was selected as the Outstanding Academic Title in 2009 by Choice, a magazine published by the Association of College & Research Libraries. The Philadelphia Inquirer noted, “There are red states and blue states, and then there are college towns – a universe of their own, anomalous political creatures. This brilliantly worked-out idea by a University of New Hampshire geographer is that rarest of things – the first full-length study of its subject.”

During the panel’s discussion, Newark city planner Roy Lopata, who was profiled in Gumprecht’s book, will provide an “outsider’s” perspective on the nature of college towns in general. Chestertown residents rounding out the panel will be Chris Cerino, chair of the Chestertown Planning Commission; Dave Wheelan, a Washington College alumnus, former college administrator, and current publisher of The Chestertown Spy; and Carla Massoni, the civic-minded owner of a downtown art gallery that bears her name. They will offer their observations on how residents, students, and tourists interact in Chestertown’s college-town setting.

“The College Town: A Conversation” is free and open to the public. A book signing will follow the event. The conversation is cosponsored by the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College and The Chestertown Spy.

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About the C.V. Starr Center

The C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience supports the art of written history and explores our nation’s past–particularly the legacy of its Founding era–in innovative ways through educational programs, scholarship and public outreach. From its base in the circa-1746 Custom House along Chestertown’s colonial waterfront, the Center seeks to bridge the divide between past and present, and between the academic world and the public at large. It also serves as a portal onto a world of opportunities for Washington College students. For more information on the Center, visit