Tuesday, May 24, 2011

George Washington Book Prize Goes to Pauline Maier's "Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788"

MOUNT VERNON, Va.—The seventh annual George Washington Book Prize, co-sponsored by Washington College, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and George Washington’s Mount Vernon to honor the year’s best book about America’s founding era, has been awarded to Pauline Maier for Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788 (Simon & Schuster, 2010). Maier, author of five previous books on the history of revolutionary America, received the $50,000 prize Wednesday evening, May 25, at a black-tie dinner at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens.
“This book will really prove to be an eye-opener to many people who think that drafting the Constitution was the end of a long road to creating a strong and effective government,” said Mount Vernon’s president, James C. Rees. “But getting the document ratified was an uphill struggle most historians ignore, and on more than one occasion, the entire unification process was almost doomed to failure.”
The debates over drafting the Constitution that took place in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787 have long been enshrined in American history. But Maier’s book reveals an equally dramatic and essential — though almost forgotten — series of debates that played out during the year that followed, as citizens, journalists, and politicians argued state by state over whether to ratify the nation’s founding document.
“This debate was not a secretive discussion among a few gentlemen in Independence Hall, but rather a bare-knuckles, open-air contest throughout the young United States,” said Adam Goodheart, director of Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, which administers the prize. “Pauline Maier has captured it in all its political and intellectual vigor. And as she makes clear, the struggle over ratification could easily have turned out differently — and forever changed the course of American history.”
The George Washington Book Prize is sponsored by a partnership of three institutions devoted to furthering scholarship on America’s founding era: Washington College, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and George Washington's Mount Vernon. The $50,000 prize is among the nation’s largest literary awards. “We found Ratification to be a rich and very readable book that paints the process elegantly,” says James G. Basker, president of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, which funds the award.
Maier is William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of American History at MIT. She is the author of several books on American history, including From Resistance to Revolution: Colonial Radicals and the Development of American Opposition to Britain, 1765-1776 (W.W. Norton, 1992); The Old Revolutionaries: Political Lives in the Age of Samuel Adams (Knopf, 1980); and American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence, (Knopf, 1997), which was on the New York Times Book Review “Editor's Choice” list of the best 11 books of 1997 and a Finalist for the National Book Critics’ Circle Award.
The jury that chose Ratification as a finalist from among 59 entries called it “a tour de force of extraordinary research and scholarship.”
The Mount Vernon event also celebrated the works of the two other finalists for this year’s prize: Jack Rakove’s Revolutionaries: A New History of the Invention of America (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010), and Alan Taylor’s The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels and Indian Allies (Knopf, 2010). Finalists were selected by a three-person jury of distinguished American historians: Mary Beth Norton, the Alger Professor of American History at Cornell University, who served as chair; David Armitage, the Blankfein Professor of History at Harvard University; and Daniel Walker Howe, the Rhodes Professor of American History Emeritus at Oxford University and Professor of History Emeritus at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Maier's book was named the ultimate winner by a panel of representatives from each of the three institutions that sponsor the prize, plus historian Carol Berkin of Baruch College and the CUNY Graduate Center.
Created in 2005, the George Washington Book Prize was presented that year to Ron Chernow for Alexander Hamilton. Subsequent winners were Stacy Schiff (2006) for A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America, Charles Rappleye (2007) for Sons of Providence: The Brown Brothers, the Slave Trade, and the American Revolution, Marcus Rediker (2008) for The Slave Ship: A Human History and Annette Gordon-Reed (2009) for The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, which also won the Pulitzer Prize for History, the National Book Award and the Frederick Douglass Prize. Last spring, the 2010 prize was awarded to Richard Beeman for Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution.
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 at the College 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. www.washcoll.edu.
Founded in 1994, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization supporting the study and love of American history through a wide range of programs and resources for students, teachers, scholars, and history enthusiasts throughout the nation. Gilder Lehrman creates and works closely with history-focused schools through its Affiliate School Program; organizes teacher seminars and development programs; produces print and digital publications and traveling exhibitions; hosts lectures by eminent historians; administers a History Teacher of the Year Award in every state and US territory; and offers national book prizes. The Gilder Lehrman website, www.gilderlehrman.org, serves as a gateway to American history online with rich resources for educators designed specifically for K–12 teachers and students.
Since 1860, over 80 million visitors have made George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens the most popular historic home in America. Through thought-provoking tours, entertaining events, and stimulating educational programs on the Estate and in classrooms across the nation, Mount Vernon strives to preserve George Washington’s place in history as “First in War, First in Peace, and First in the Hearts of His Countrymen.” Mount Vernon is owned and operated by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, America’s oldest national preservation organization, founded in 1853. A picturesque drive to the southern end of the scenic George Washington Memorial Parkway, Mount Vernon is located just 16 miles from the nation’s capital. www.MountVernon.org

Photo: Winner Pauline Maier, with her prize medal, poses with Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, who made the prize announcement at Mount Vernon, Washington College president Mitchell Reiss and C.V. Starr Center director Adam Goodheart.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

"Let Life Surprise You," Sportswriter Deford Advises Class of 2011 at 228th Commencement

CHESTERTOWN, MD—In remarks that drew from the Apostle Paul, Col. Sanders and Thomas Jefferson, sports journalist and author Frank Deford encouraged the Washington College Class of 2011 to keep their minds open and informed, engage with the world and let life surprise them. He delivered his remarks after receiving an honorary doctor of letters degree at the school’s 228th Commencement ceremony, held Sunday morning, May 22, on the campus lawn.

Deford, who has been called “the world’s greatest sportswriter,” has authored 16 books and is senior contributing writer at Sports Illustrated. He also is a regular commentator on NPR’s Morning Edition and a senior correspondent for HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. In his Commencement address he used Biblical scripture (Hebrews 13:1) to underline the need for the graduates to constantly widen their circle of acquaintances and friends: “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

“You will probably learn the best lessons in the strangest, most unlikely circumstances,” Deford told the graduates. He shared a humorous anecdote about meeting Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Harland Sanders years ago at a coffee shop counter in Chicago. “As he stood to leave, he told me, ‘Son, I want to give you the most important piece of advice I know: If you want people to listen to you, wear a white suit.”

Deford, garbed in deep red and black academic robes, stressed the importance of reading and staying informed. When it comes to public threats, he said, the Military Industrial Complex that President Eisenhower warned about as he left office has been replaced by an “Entertainment Amusement Complex” that distracts us from what is important.

“It frightens me that the U.S. might well end while we are all watching American Idol or Monday Night Football,” he said, adding that Thomas Jefferson’s advice about the need for an informed citizenry remains important today. “Jefferson said, ‘Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.’ He knew we needed newspapers for the good of the country. Deep, involved, investigative journalism is a bulwark against deceit and chicanery. … Please do not worry about being amused,” he told the graduates. “Don’t let us be the first country to be overwhelmed by amusement.”

The graduates and their families also heard brief remarks from another honorary degree recipient, Tadataka Yamada, president of the Global Health Program of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr. Yamada, a scientist and scholar in gastroenterology, joined the Gates Foundation in 2006. He oversees more than $7 billion in grants and leads the foundation’s efforts to develop and deliver low-cost, life-saving health tools for the developing world.

After receiving his honorary doctor of science degree, Dr. Yamada reminded the graduates that there is great inequity in the world and cited the “moral tragedy” that his foundation works to remedy—that each year 8 million children around the globe die unnecessarily from diseases that can be treated. He ended with a quote from Bill Gates: “Humanity’s greatest advances are not in its discoveries—but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”

The Commencement ceremony was a time for honoring outstanding seniors and alumni alike. Harry Rhodes ’35 was recognized as the oldest alumnus participating in the College’s Reunion Weekend. Leading the official commencement procession, he was followed by members of the 50th and 25th reunion classes.

Business major Brittany Dunbar delivered the traditional Senior Speech, challenging her classmates to not get too comfortable, but rather to keep challenging themselves and to remember that in life, “You get what you give.”

As part of the College’s celebration of the International Year of Chemistry, the Alumni Association awarded Alumni Citations to two chemists who have made significant contributions to their field: James P. Bonsack ’53 and Kenneth M. Merz ’81. Bonsack, an industrial chemical engineer, holds 17 U.S. patents and 61 foreign patents relating to the manufacture of titanium dioxide products. Merz is a professor of chemistry and co-director of the Quantum Theory Project at the University of Florida.

Professor Kathryn Moncrief received the Alumni Association’s Distinguished Teaching Award. Moncrief, who chairs the English Department and the Sophie Kerr Committee, teaches 16th and 17th century English literature and culture.

While dozens of student departmental honors are given earlier at a Senior Luncheon, the College saves its highest honors and prizes to be announced during Commencement.

Nicole Christine Robinson, a biology major, earned the Jane Huston Goodfellow Memorial Prize, which goes to a science major who has exhibited scholastic excellence and an abiding appreciation of the arts and humanities. A Summa Cum Laude graduate, Robinson also earned First Honors recognition as the senior with the highest grade-point average.

The Gold Pentagon Awards bestowed by the Omicron Delta Kappa Society go to one senior and one non-student in recognition of meritorious service to the College. This year senior Katelyn Malchester, a biology major, and Joe Holt ’83, M ’98, the Chief of Staff in the College President’s office, received the honors. The Louis L. Goldstein ’35 Award for unusual interest, enthusiasm and potential in the field of public affairs went to political science major Michael Mason.

The Sophie Kerr Prize for the “best ability and promise for future fulfillment in the field of literary endeavor” was officially awarded to Lisa Beth Jones, an anthropology major from Fork, Md., in the form of a check for $61,062.11. For the first time in 44 years the winner’s name was not a surprise at Commencement. Five days earlier, the Sophie Kerr Committee had honored five finalists and announced Jones the winner at a special event at Poets House in New York City. The other finalists—Maggie Farrell, Dan McCloskey, Insley Smullen, and Joseph Yates--were given a round of applause, as well.

The Eugene B. Casey Medal, awarded to a senior woman who exhibits outstanding qualities of scholarship, character, leadership and campus citizenship, went to psychology major Meaghan Chelsea Moxley. The Henry W.C. Catlin 1894 Medal, which honors the senior man with those same qualities, went to Mikhail Alexandrovich Zaborskiy, a business management and economics major from Russia.

Another international student, Alketa Tanushi, a business major from Albania, took home the Clark-Porter Medal as the student whose character and personal integrity have most clearly enhanced the quality of campus life.

General George Washington himself arrived on horseback to award the Medal and Award conferred in his name to the senior who most reflects the ideals of a liberal education. The 2011 George Washington Medal and Award went to Rachel Elizabeth Field, an environmental studies major from West Chester, Pa., who knew to curtsy in front of the general and who received a kiss on the hand in return.

Before leaving the podium, Washington reminded the students to keep in mind a few of his most important Rules of Civility as they entered the world stage. “As you celebrate later, remember rule no. 7: Put not off your clothes in the presence of others, nor go out of your chamber half dressed.” He also stressed what is perhaps the most important of his rules, no. 110: “Labour to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.”

College president Mitchell B. Reiss concluded the program with a final humorous admonition to the graduates. “Up until now, your parents may have viewed you as an investment. Beware, they may now view you as a profit center.”

Friday, May 20, 2011

Photography Exhibition by Karly Kolaja Examines Modern Culture in the Sacred Valley, Peru

CHESTERTOWN, MD—An exhibition opening May 20 at the Kohl Gallery will showcase the Senior Capstone Experience of Karly Kolaja, a Crumpton resident who will graduate from Washington College this Sunday, May 22, with a double major in Photojournalism and English, and a minor in Art and Art History.
The exhibition, which continues through June 18, features some 30 photographs with captions and Kolaja's essay, " 'The Essential Impulse of the Andes:' Visual Literacy and the Culture of the Sacred Valley, Peru." It is the culmination of more than three years of work.
Transferring to Washington College in the second semester of her first year, Kolaja wanted to combine her dual interests in photography and social justice and to follow in the footsteps of female photographers such as Dorothea Lange, Carol Guzy, and Washington College's own Constance Stuart Larrabee. To accomplish her goal, she created a Self-Designed Major in photojournalism under the direction of Professor Donald McColl in the Department of Art and Art History. She also complemented the classes required by her English major with a wide array of classes across several disciplines, including Introduction to Western Art, Photography, American Pictures, Global Ethics, Social Inequalities, American Government and Politics, Nonfiction Writing, and Creative Nonfiction. She completed independent studies with photographer Denise Campbell, an adjunct Lecturer of Art.
With the help of a grant from the College's Douglass Cater Society of Junior Fellows, Kolaja eventually went to Peru to document in photos the tension between tourism and traditional ways of life. "The area I explored once encompassed the Sacred Valley—the religious, political and military seat of the Inca Empire," she writes. "Now, it is recognized as the country's tourism capital, with some 800,000 visitors passing through its largest city, Cuzco, each year. I wondered if any vestiges of traditional Andean ways of life have survived this vacationing onslaught."
"Ever since my childhood," she continues, "my cinematographer father has instilled a belief in me that photography is all about telling stories. I have come to agree with him.... [Photography] has the power to arouse sincere feelings. And it can effect real change."
While completing her degree at Washington College, Kolaja consistently made the Dean's List, in addition to receiving the Hugh McGuire Award and Academic Scholarship and the 2010 Undergraduate Studio Award for Most Promising Undergraduate Artist. She was also made a member of Omicron Delta Kappa (the National Leadership Honor Society), Sigma Tau Delta (the National English Honor Society), and Phi Beta Kappa.
Kolaja photographed countless events on campus through her work in such organizations as the College's Office of College Relations and Marketing, the WACapella singing group and the Pegasus yearbook. She worked as a reporter for The Chestertown Spy and completed two internships: At Baltimore's Urbanite magazine, she worked under the direction of Alex Castro, an artist, architect and designer who serves as Designer in Residence at Washington College. And as an intern with BuildaBridge (a Philadelphia-based nonprofit that uses the transformative power of the arts to bring hope and healing to children, families, and communities) she documented an exhibition of young people's art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
An Opening Reception in honor of the artist will be held Friday, May 20 at 6 p.m. The gallery show and reception are free and open to the public. The Gibson Center for the Arts is located on the Washington College campus, 300 Washington Avenue. Kohl Gallery hours are Wednesday and Thursday, 1 to 5 p.m., Friday noon to 6 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Closed Monday and Tuesday.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Anthropology Major Takes Nation's Top Student Literary Prize, the Sophie Kerr

NEW YORK—An Anthropology major who wrote about a life-changing trip to Tanzania and the simple pleasures of life in a one-intersection town in the Maryland countryside has won the largest student literary prize in the nation, the Sophie Kerr Prize.
Lisa Beth Jones, who grew up in tiny Fork, northeast of Baltimore, was named the winner Tuesday evening, May 17, at a special reception at Poets House in New York. That means she will cap her four years of study at Washington College this coming Sunday by walking off the commencement stage with a check for $61,062—a prize believed to the be the largest awarded to any senior anywhere this graduation season.
For 43 years, the Sophie Kerr Prize has gone to the graduating senior at Washington College who demonstrates the greatest literary ability and promise. Jones earned it with a portfolio of nonfiction work that includes travel writing, recollections of family life on a farm, and excerpts from her senior thesis on African immigrants in America. In writing about the month she spent on a College-sponsored trip to Tanzania the spring of her Junior year, she delivered sensory postcards of the land and the people based on entries from her weathered travel journal.
The committee of 13 English professors who selected Jones from among 30 portfolios, were impressed with the way she shaped a sense of place with her language and with the maturity she brought to her observations and her craft. “She takes a place that means a lot to her, whether her home town or a country in Africa, and, through a constellation of anecdotes and the powers of description, makes that place come alive for others,” says Kathryn Moncrief, the chair of the Sophie Kerr Committee. “Her writing was intimate, honest and vivid.”
While at Washington College, Jones earned a place on the Dean’s List every semester and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. She also made time to work in the College’s Geographic Information Systems Lab and to help other students in the campus writing center. She finished her required coursework in December and has since worked as the Grants & Contracts Coordinator at the International Youth Foundation in Baltimore and as a travel writer for Examiner.com.
This year, for the first time, the Sophie Kerr Committee also selected four finalists for the prize. They are:
Maggie Farell, 22, a Drama major from Hatfield, Pa. who submitted a full length stage play and short stories about working her first job—and learning Hindi—at a Dunkin Donuts.
Dan McCloskey, 21, of Ellicott City, Md., an English major who minored in Spanish and Creative Writing. His creative nonfiction manuscript captured in stark and powerful fashion his struggles with the vision deficiencies that render him legally blind.
Insley Smullen, 22, of Frederick, Md., an English major whose fascination with the natural world and love of language shone through in her poetry and creative nonfiction.
And Joe Yates, 22, a Tampa native who double majored in Biology and Studio Art and wrote about everything from elderly relatives to complex scientific theories with sophistication and humor.
The Sophie Kerr Prize is the namesake of an Eastern Shore woman who forged a successful career in the New York publishing world. Born in 1880 in Denton, Md., some 30 miles from Washington College, she graduated from Hood College and launched her career briefly in Pittsburgh as the women’s page editor at two newspapers. After moving to New York, she became managing editor of the Woman’s Home Companion. A prolific writer, Kerr published 23 novels and published hundreds of short stories in the popular magazines of the day, including The Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s, and McCall’s.
When she died in 1965, she left more than $500,000 to Washington College with the stipulation that half the income from the bequest would be awarded annually to the senior showing “the most ability and promise for future fulfillment in the field of literary endeavor.” Over the years, the endowment from Kerr’s gift has provided more than $1.4 million in prize money to promising young writers, in amounts that have ranged from $9,000 the inaugural year, 1968, to a high of nearly $69,000 in 2009. The winners have gone on to establish careers as writers, editors, teachers, and marketing professionals, and many have published their work as novels or collections of short stories or poetry.
The other half of Kerr’s bequest funds scholarships and library acquisitions, and brings a parade of world-class literary figures from across all genres to campus for public readings and workshops. Such literary luminaries as Edward Albee, Jonathan Franzen, Allen Ginsberg, Toni Morrison and William Styron have visited Washington College under the auspices of the Sophie Kerr Lecture Series.
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 was the first college to be chartered in the new nation. For more information, visit http://www.washcoll.edu.
Photo: Lisa Jones with primary school students in Tanzania.
In the News
Baltimore Sun, 5/17/11

Friday, May 13, 2011

Professor Jehanne Dubrow's Poetry Earns Honors

CHESTERTOWN—Poet Jehanne Dubrow, assistant professor of English at Washington College, is being recognized with national, regional and state honors this month.

On Monday, May 9, her collection Stateside was awarded the 2011 book prize for poetry from the Society of Midland Authors. Since its founding in 1915, the Chicago-based literary society has presented jury-based awards to authors and poets who “reside in, were born in, or have strong ties to the 12-state Midwestern Heartland.” (Dubrow forged her strong ties while earning her PhD in English from the University of Nebraska.)

The same day, the Poetry Foundation’s column and website “American Life in Poetry,” (http://www.americanlifeinpoetry.org) began featuring her work “Chernobyl Year” as the poem of theweek. “Chernobyl Year” is the first poem in Dubrow’s recently completed manuscript ""Red Army Red." The “American Life in Poetry” column, which is edited by Pulitzer Prize winner and former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser, is carried in newspapers across the country and on the New York Times education blog, “The Learning Network.”

To cap it all off, on Tuesday, May 16, Dubrow will be recognized at a Maryland State Arts Council reception as the recipient of a $6,000 Individual Artist Award in poetry.

In addition to Stateside, Dubrow is the author of two earlier poetry collections—From the Fever World and The Hardship Post—plus a chapbook, The Promised Bride. Her work has appeared in numerous magazines and journals, including Poetry, New England Review, The New Republic, West Branch, The Hudson Review, and Ploughshares. She also blogs about the writing life at “Notes from the Gefilte Review” (http://gefiltereview.blogspot.com).

Dubrow has been the recipient of a Walter E. Dakin Fellowship and Howard Nemerov Scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, a Sosland Foundation Fellowship from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and scholarships from the West Chester Poetry Conference, the Nebraska Summer Writers’ Conference, and the Institute on the Holocaust and Jewish Civilization. For more information, visit http://www.jehannedubrow.com/

Washington College Names Five Finalists for its Famous Literary Award, the Sophie Kerr Prize

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Washington College has named five finalists for the famous Sophie Kerr Prize, the largest undergraduate literary prize in the nation. The generous cash prize, this year valued at more than $61,000, is believed to be the largest cash prize of any kind being awarded to a college senior this graduation season. The winner will be announced May 17.

The 2011 finalists represent a mix of disciplines—not only English majors and Creative Writing minors, but also majors in Biology, Anthropology and Art. The portfolios they submitted to the Sophie Kerr Committee in late April contained a diverse sampling of writing, too, from poetry and fiction to non-fiction and travel writing. The finalists are:

Maggie Farrell, a 22-year-old Drama major from Hatfield, Pennsylvania. Farrell served as the president of Fakespeare, a comedic Shakespearean troupe, and the student-run Riverside Players. She received the Mary Martin Scholarship, which is awarded to a student majoring in Drama who demonstrates great dedication to any area of the theater arts. Her portfolio includes a collection of short stories about her first job and examples of her work as a playwright. After graduation, she will be apprenticing at the Hedgerow Theatre in Media, Pennsylvania.

Lisa Jones, a 22-year-old from Fork, Maryland, who majored in Anthropology and minored in Creative Writing. Jones achieved distinction as a member of Phi Beta Kappa and was on the Dean’s List every semester of her college career. She also served as a writing center consultant and worked in the Geographic Information Systems Lab. The highlight of her academic career was spending time abroad in Tanzania last spring learning about Maasai culture and volunteering in primary schools. Her portfolio comprises creative non-fiction—including personal essays about her experiences in Tanzania and life growing up in a small town—and a portion of her thesis that focuses on African immigrants in the United States. After finishing her Washington College classes early in December, she put her passion for international development and writing to work as the Grants & Contracts Coordinator at the International Youth Foundation in Baltimore.

Dan McCloskey, a 21-year-old from Ellicott City, Maryland, who majored in English and minored in Spanish and Creative Writing. McCloskey worked for the past year as the editor-in-chief of the College’s magazine of features and creative arts, The Collegian, and also as a technical support assistant at the campus Information Technology Help Desk. His portfolio includes a large section of his creative non-fiction manuscript “LIGHTS,” which focuses on his experiences with a vision deficiency and anxiety disorder. His portfolio also contains poems, other small non-fiction pieces, and two critical essays that examine specific uses of narrative and style in Shakespeare’s work and in modern poetry. He hopes to pursue his MFA with a focus in non-fiction.

Insley Smullen, a 22-year-old student from Frederick, Maryland. Smullen majored in English with a minor in Creative Writing. She was a member of the Writers’ Union, a club for student writers on campus, and worked at the College’s Rose O' Neill Literary House. Her portfolio spans a wide range of genres, from short stories to poetry to creative nonfiction. After graduation, she plans to continue her exploration of the art of writing and photography and find a job that supports what she describes as her “obsession with the written word.”

Joseph L. L. Yates, a 22-year-old double major in Biology and Studio Art who hails from Tampa, Florida. Yates founded and served as President of both the Artists’ Union, a club for students in the visual arts, and the Guerrilla Musical Theatre Troupe, which creates improv song-and-dance performances. He worked as a consultant for the Multimedia Production Center on campus and as a staff writer for the features periodical, The Collegian. His portfolio of writing includes creative nonfiction that addresses both his personal life and contemporary scientific theory, several works of fiction, a smattering of poems, and one “not-quite-children-oriented storybook.” After graduation, Yates hopes to find a job as a writer.

This is the first time in the 44-year history of the prize that the Sophie Kerr Committee, which includes the 13 members of the English Department faculty and the college president, has named finalists. In the past, the name of the single recipient was announced but the names of those who came close remained a secret the committee members vowed not to disclose. As one committee member has commented about the winner-takes-all approach of the past, “One senior walks away from graduation with a check for $64,000, and the student who comes in second never even knows it.”

The naming of finalists is just one of the changes the College is making in announcing and awarding this year’s Prize. For the first time ever, there will be a special reception for the finalists in New York City, where for 40 years Sophie Kerr lived and built her successful career as a national magazine editor and writer. The reception is being held Tuesday, May 17, at 6:30 p.m. at Poets House, a literary center and poetry library on the Hudson River in Lower Manhattan. Internationally prominent author Colum McCann, whose novel Let the Great World Spin won the 2009 National Book Award, will offer keynote remarks and announce the big winner.

At a simultaneous party on the Washington College campus in Chestertown, the local and campus community can watch the announcement live on several big screens. The party will be held in the Casey Academic Forum on campus, 300 Washington Avenue, beginning at 6:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public. (For more information, call the alumni office at 410-778-7812.) Those unable to be in New York or Chestertown can watch the ceremony live by streaming the simulcast from a link provided on the College homepage: (http://www.washcoll.edu).

Come May 22, the Sunday of Washington College’s 228th Commencement, the Sophie Kerr Prize, in the form of a check for $61,062.11, will be officially awarded to the winner.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

WC's Weissert is Named Maryland's Admission Counselor of the Year

CHESTERTOWN—Washington College Admission Counselor Aundra Weissert was recently named Maryland’s Counselor of the Year by the Potomac & Chesapeake Association for College Admission Counseling (PCACAC). PCACAC is a regional affiliate of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) serving Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. Its mission is to support and advise college admissions professionals as they help students and parents make the transition to college.

Weissert began working as an admissions counselor three years ago after graduating from Washington College. She is responsible for high school students from 16 states, ranging from nearby counties in Maryland to as far away as Alaska and Hawaii. Since joining the admissions staff, she has also focused on how the College can use new media to communicate with prospective students and their families about the opportunities Washington College has to offer.
"Every year, the Association selects one member from the college sector and one from the secondary school sector in each of our five states, and recognizes them for their commitment to their schools and the organization as a whole,” says Chestertown resident Dal Holmes, a former associate director of admissions at Washington College who has remained very active in the PCACAC. The criteria for selection include professional leadership, honesty, sensitivity, patience and thoroughness.Aundra’s been very active on the PCACAC Technology Committee, and instrumental in the technological advances the Washington College Admissions office has made,” says Holmes. “She’s been a terrific addition to the Washington College staff and really deserves this award.”
In addition to her full-time admissions work, Aundra is known for the Zumba exercise classes she leads and for the blog she writes about healthy living and local food sourcing (http://chestertownfitforlife.com).

Monday, May 2, 2011

Washington College to Welcome 500 Bocce Players for Special Olympics Event Thursday, May 12

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Washington College and Special Olympics Maryland are joining forces to host the 2011 Unified Outdoor Bocce State High School Invitational on Thursday, May 12 in Chestertown. In this all-day event, slated to run from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., 250 Special Olympics athletes and their high school teammates will compete on Kibler Field in the Roy Kirby Jr. Stadium.
Nine Maryland school systems (Anne Arundel, Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, St. Mary’s, Talbot, and Wicomico Counties) will be represented by teams of six to eight, with half of each team’s roster comprised of students with an intellectual disability. The competition will start with an Opening Ceremony and end with the presentation of medals.
Washington College’s Student-Athlete Mentors, selected members of each varsity intercollegiate team who mentor other student athletes, will take time out of their final exam studies to staff the event. The SAMs organize a number of on and off-campus outreach efforts in order to achieve their goal of “creating a safer and more positive environment that reduces social hazards for student athletes.”
Washington College athletic director Bryan Matthews says the College and the Student Athlete Mentors, or SAMS, are excited to be hosting this first major Special Olympics event on the campus. “Special Olympics is a wonderful partner for our student-athletes and for any other members of the Washington College and Chestertown community who wish to volunteer,” says Matthews. “The Roy Kirby Jr. Stadium is a perfect venue for the Bocce Ball Tournament, and we look forward to welcoming the competitors and their families.”
Nate Garland, the V.P. of Field Services and Outreach for Special Olympics Maryland, says his organization anticipates building a lasting partnership with Washington College. “Washington College has a strong history of providing training opportunities to Special Olympics families in the Chestertown community, and we are ecstatic about hosting a statewide event that will further shine the spotlight on both our athletes and that beautiful campus.”
By partnering their athletes with non-intellectually disabled high school students, the Maryland Special Olympics’ Unified Sports Program helps break down stereotypes by promoting community, empowerment, and friendship between the two groups. Volunteers are needed to assist at the 2011 Unified Sports Bocce Ball Tournament in different shifts throughout the day. Volunteers will undergo online training to familiarize themselves with what they will be doing the day of; assistants will be needed to keep score, to act as officials, and to be athlete escorts to competitions and awards, among other things. To register, please visit http://www.somd.org/registration/2011/outdoorbocce2011.php.
A relatively new sport for Special Olympics, bocce was first introduced at the World Games in 1991.