Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Poet Hadaway Receives Prestigious Fellowship

AMHERST, VA. – Poet Meredith Davies Hadaway of Chestertown has been awarded a fellowship to the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA). Funded by the William G. Sackett Fellowship Endowment, the award will provide a three-week working retreat in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in spring 2012. Hadaway, who serves as Vice President of College Relations and Marketing at Washington College and – occasionally – as an adjunct instructor in English, will focus on her poetry in the company of 25 other artists during her fellowship.
Hadaway has published two volumes, The River is a Reason (January, 2011) and Fishing Secrets of the Dead (2005), both issued by Word Press in Cincinnati, Ohio. One of Hadaway's poems was recently selected by Mark Doty for honorable mention in the 2010 Robinson Jeffers Tor House Poetry Prize. Another was chosen for inclusion in Best Millennium Writings Awards. She has received two Pushcart nominations and a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award. In addition to publishing poetry in numerous literary journals, she is a frequent contributor of book reviews to Poetry International and serves as poetry editor for The Summerset Review.
Hadaway also is an avid musician who has combined poetry and Celtic harp in performances around the U.S. and Ireland. She holds an M.F.A. in poetry from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, an M.A. in Psychology from Washington College, and a B.A. in English Literature from American University.
The VCCA is one of the nation's largest year-round artists’ communities and has served more than 4,000 artists since its inception in 1971. It provides lodging, meals, and an undistracted environment where visual artists, writers, composers, performance artists, filmmakers and other collaborative artists can focus on their work.
Previous VCCA Fellows have received worldwide attention through publications, exhibitions, compositions, performances, and have earned major awards and accolades, including MacArthur grants, Pulitzer Prizes, Guggenheim fellowships, National Endowment for the Arts awards, Rome Prizes, Pollock-Krasner grants, National Book Awards, Broadway and Off-Broadway productions, and Academy Award nominations.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Hodson Trust Awards $2 Million to WC for Scholarships, Faculty Development, Technology

CHESTERTOWN, MD—The Hodson Trust, Washington College’s single largest benefactor, has awarded $2,004,250 in grants to fund scholarships, faculty development and technology upgrades to the school it has supported for more than nine decades.

In announcing receipt of Hodson’s generous annual gift, College President Mitchell B. Reiss explained that more than $1 million is earmarked for the Hodson Trust Merit Scholarship Fund, which provides four-year awards to full-time students who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement, character and citizenship. Sixty-four current Washington College students receive merit scholarships funded by the Trust. “In this economic climate, these scholarships are vitally important as students and families stretch their resources to meet the cost of a private education,” says Reiss. “The Hodson Trust’s steadfast support in this area is greatly appreciated.”

An additional $44,764 will support ongoing Hodson Trust Star Scholarships for veterans of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Washington College currently has three veterans enrolled under the program.

Professional development for the faculty is another priority traditionally supported by The Hodson Trust. This year’s gift will add $412,500 to the endowment of the Hodson Trust Faculty Development Fund, established last year to fund competitive grants for faculty research, scholarship, seminars and other opportunities for learning and advancement. An additional $37,500 is available to support grant awards in the coming year. “Our gifted faculty, and the myriad ways in which they share their enthusiasm and expertise with our students, is at the heart of our mission,” said Reiss. “By empowering the faculty to stay current and engaged in their subject areas, we can continue to inspire our students to pursue their own passions.”

The 2011 gift also boosts by $200,000 the endowment for the Hodson Trust Chair in Economics, currently held by associate professor Lisa Daniels.

In response to the College’s technology needs, The Hodson Trust has earmarked $300,000 to help pay for upgrades in admissions software and website architecture. Over the next two years the College will implement a new software program for prospective students and introduce a new website design and content management system.

The Hodson Trust’s generous support of Washington College began more than nine decades ago. The Trust was established in 1920 by the family of Colonel Clarence Hodson to benefit four private educational institutions in Maryland: Washington College, Hood College, St. John’s College and The Johns Hopkins University.

Colonel Hodson, who grew up in Somerset County, founded the Beneficial Loan Society, a groundbreaking home mortgage business that grew into a major financial services corporation. An initial investment of $100 grew over the ensuing decades into a trust that has awarded more than $230 million to the four beneficiary institutions. For more information, visit

Washington College is a private, independent college of liberal arts and sciences founded in Chestertown in 1782 under the patronage of George Washington. It was the first college chartered in the new nation. To learn more, please visit

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Town and College Announce Agreement on Armory

CHESTERTOWN, MD—The Town of Chestertown and Washington College have announced an agreement that will, if fully realized, transfer ownership of the Chestertown Armory to the College. The announcement follows a Town Council vote Monday night, December 5, on the most recent proposal from the College.

Under the agreement, the College agrees to pay the remaining debt service on the Armory property, estimated at $320,000, to reimburse the Town for approximately $10,000 already spent on an environmental study of the property, and to bear the costs of all future environmental remediation of the site. In addition, the College will provide easements that allow the continuation of the Chester River promenade along the waterfront portion of the Armory site, and will provide access to the promenade from Quaker Neck Road. Finally, the College pledges to provide no fewer than five days per year of community access to the Armory.

The Town and the College will now begin the lengthy process of negotiating the transfer of the property with the Maryland Department of Planning’s Clearinghouse for surplus state property, the Maryland Department of General Services, and the Board of Public Works. Included within this process will be negotiations with both the Maryland Military Department and the Maryland Historic Trust on appropriate easements and other conditions for the transfer.

Once the College assumes ownership of the property, it must undertake a full evaluation of the conditions of the buildings and grounds, retain the services of an architectural firm to develop plans for the renovation, and launch a fund raising drive before any work can commence. The College has pledged to work collaboratively with the Town Planning Commission in the rehabilitation of the Armory property.

In a letter to the Council dated December 5, Washington College President Mitchell B. Reiss reported that the school’s Board of Visitors and Governors, following discussions held during its regularly scheduled meeting December 2 and 3, agreed to make a gift of $200,000 to the Town of Chestertown.

“The Board wanted the College to make a significant contribution to advance Chestertown’s vision for the Chester River waterfront,” Reiss explained Tuesday in acknowledging the agreement. “The $200,000 will assist the Town with master planning, infrastructure, and recreational initiatives.”

President Reiss expressed his appreciation to the Town Council, Mayor Margo Bailey and Town Manager Bill Ingersoll for their persistence and faith in pursuing a fair and mutually beneficial resolution to the issue. “We look forward to working with the Town as we go forward with plans to build a state-of-the art waterfront campus — plans that will incorporate the historic Armory property and be a point of pride for Washington College and the entire Chestertown community.”

Monday, December 5, 2011

Book by Starr Center's Jill Ogline Titus Explores Ultimate Case of Resistance to Integration

CHESTERTOWN, MD—A new book by Jill Ogline Titus, Associate Director of the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College, tells the story of one Virginia county’s radical reaction to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. Published this month by The University of North Carolina Press, Titus’s Brown’s Battleground: Students, Segregationists, & the Struggle for Justice in Prince Edward County, Virginia explores how Prince Edward County simply closed all its public schools to avoid integrating them.
Five years later, when the county was forced to reopen its schools, the battle continued as county officials worked to ensure that the “new” system remained segregated, impoverished and substandard.
Titus first learned about the story while working as an intern in the Philadelphia office of the National Park Service’s National Historic Landmarks program, which in 1998 had designated Prince Edward County’s Moton High School as a National Landmark. “I had known that the Brown v. Board of Education decision included a Virginia case,” she says. “But it wasn’t until I started digging into the specifics of the history of Moton High School that I realized that resistance to the decision had been so intense as to shut down an entire county’s public school system.”
Titus, who earned her Ph.D. in History at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2007, wrote her dissertation about the closing of the Prince Edward County schools. In converting her research into Brown’s Battleground, she shifted her focus to the people whose lives were affected not only by that one drastic decision, but also by the prevailing attitudes and prejudices of the time. “I wanted to show modern-day readers the disastrous consequences that befell children, the most vulnerable members of our society, when a group of adults decided that their community could do without a public school system.”
Adam Goodheart, the Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of the C.V. Starr Center, says Brown’s Battleground “perfectly exemplifies the kind of historical writing that we strive to foster here at the Starr Center: deeply researched, intellectually rigorous, and elegantly narrated. Moreover, it speaks powerfully to questions that still challenge us today.”
Titus agrees that the story she tells is still relevant a half-century later. “We’re living in an age of mounting retreat from Brown v. Board of Education, and intensifying debate over the future of public education itself. I see the Prince Edward crisis as a cautionary tale for our time,” she says. “It challenges the idea that any substitute for a public school system can consistently provide quality education for all children, regardless of their ability to pay.”
Before joining the staff of the Starr Center in 2007, Titus worked extensively for the National Park Service as a ranger-historian at several historic sites. While serving as a historian with the National Historic Landmarks Program, she helped create the Sites of Conscience Project, which encourages stewards of historic properties to make their sites centers of civic dialogue. Her articles and reviews have appeared in Journal of Southern History, Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, The Public Historian, and The American Scholar.

Friday, December 2, 2011

WC's Peer Mentors Host Horizons Children For a Saturday Play Day and Campus Tour

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Washington College’s Peer Mentors recently hosted a Play Day for some 30 students from Kent County’s Horizons program, a six-week enrichment program for low-income students hosted each summer at Radcliffe Creek School. The Horizons students are drawn from Kent County public schools, grades K through Five. The local program annually serves approximately 60 children, and plans to add a Grade Six classroom next summer.
Senior Jesse Schaefer, a Peer Mentor Leader, says the idea for the Play Day was sparked at last spring’s Neighbors for Good day on campus, when Sarah Feyerherm, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, introduced her to Connie Schroth, Executive Director of Horizons. “I had been eager to incorporate a community service element into the Peer Mentor program, and Horizons seemed like a perfect organization to connect with,” she adds.
Radcliffe Creek School, located on Talbot Boulevard in Chestertown, is one of approximately 20 independent schools that host an affiliate of Horizons, a national enrichment program that works to combat “summer slide” in academic skills and reduce the achievement gap between low-income students and their peers from middle- and high-income families. During the six-week sessions over the summer break, Horizons teachers work with students to maintain and improve on skills learned during the school year, bolster students’ confidence, and encourage creativity.

In creating the Washington College Play Day, the Peer Mentors sought “to expose these students to a college campus in the hopes of illuminating college as a relevant and attainable goal,” says Schaefer.

“The Horizons kids really responded well to the Peer Mentors, who were enthusiastic, creative, and served as great role models,” says Feyerherm, who coordinates the Peer Mentor program. She adds that the experience not only helped the Peer Mentors polish their teaching skills, but also reminded them that “they live for four years in a community in which they can make a difference.”
The day began at about 8:30 a.m. with introductions and breakfast snacks and ended with lunch and a tour of the College campus. In between, the students took part in their choice of two activities from the half-dozen being offered by the college students—juggling, acting/improv exercises, basketball, art, balloon animals, and dancing.
Senior Ryan Adams-Brown says that as the day went on, many of the students who had been shy at first started to open up. “It was really cute whenever I would hear ‘Miss Ryan, watch this!’ and they would show me a dance move they finally figured out, or a balloon animal they’d made. My favorite part was getting tapped on the thigh and getting a hug as one of the little girls that I had in my dance session was about to leave. It was the cutest thing! I think it’s safe to say that everyone went home happy that day.”

Sophomore Hilary Rosenberg agrees. “[The Play Day] was a fantastic experience,” she says. “I honestly didn’t even notice the time pass because I was having so much fun. It felt so great to just play, and I hope to do it again next year.”
Her chances of repeating the experience are looking good, according to Feyerherm. “We are planning to make this a once-a-semester event where the Peer Mentors either host the Horizons students on campus or we do some other activity with them,” she says. “We hope to continue this every year.”
Connie Schroth wrote to Feyerherm to express hers and the children’s appreciation for the day. “Play Day was perfect in every way,” she said. “The Horizons children were delighted with everything, and the Peer Mentors were so empathetic, sensitive, and energetic. It does take a village to make a difference.”