Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Washington College Taps Beloit Economist and Administrator As New Provost and Dean

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Washington College has named Emily Chamlee-Wright as its new Provost and Dean. Chamlee-Wright currently serves as Associate Dean at Beloit College in Wisconsin, where she also teaches economics and directs the Miller Upton Programs on the Wealth and Well-being of Nations.
Washington College president Mitchell B. Reiss says Chamlee-Wright stood out among a remarkably strong field of candidates because of her strengths as both a scholar and an administrator. “It is clear that Dr. Chamlee-Wright understands what it takes to be a great teacher and scholar, and what it takes to be a great liberal-arts college in the 21st century,” he adds. “She impressed us all with her passion for engaged learning, both in the classroom and in the field. In these challenging economic times, we also value her experience in bringing financial stability and sustainability to high-quality academic programs and in expanding summer programs at Beloit. Her talents, energy and creativity will help us move Washington College forward in significant ways.”
Associate Professor of Politics Melissa Deckman, who chaired the search committee that unanimously endorsed Chamlee-Wright for the position, says the students, faculty and staff who met with the candidate on campus in mid- February were struck with her high level of enthusiasm. “She was dynamic and approachable and generated lots of good ideas,” says Deckman. “Both on paper and in person, Dr. Chamlee-Wright evidenced a wonderful balance of confidence and humility, leadership skills and collegiality. She takes a holistic view of scholarship and teaching, and the College community appreciated her big-picture approach to building and sustaining an engaging learning environment for students.”
Chamlee-Wright says she was attracted to Washington College in part by its commitment to interdisciplinary and integrative learning, and also by the widespread confidence in its mission. “It was clear to me that the board of trustees, the administration, the faculty and the staff are unapologetically ambitious on behalf of the College and on behalf of the liberal arts,” she says. “Washington College offers students the ideas, investigative skills, and creative foundations necessary to navigate unchartered territory and then expects them to engage in genuine discovery. This is the kind of education that is truly emancipating.”
Chamlee-Wright grew up in northern Virginia and spent summers sailing the Chesapeake Bay with her family. She earned her Ph.D. in economics from George Mason University, where she also received her master’s and bachelor’s degrees. Her academic research combines her expertise in economics with her skills as an ethnographer, focusing on the interplay of cultural and economic processes. “My primary interest is to understand how cultural and economic processes combine to foster widespread social coordination. What allows society to achieve a level of ‘social intelligence’ that no individual could ever design?” In recent years, she has turned this question in the direction of examining how communities rebound—or fail to rebound—in the aftermath of catastrophic disaster, with particular emphasis on post-Katrina recovery in New Orleans.
Chamlee-Wright is the author of three books: The Cultural and Political Economy of Recovery: Social Learning in a Post-Disaster Environment (Routledge 2010), Culture and Enterprise: The Development, Representation, and Morality of Business, with Don Lavoie (Routledge 2000), and The Cultural Foundations of Economic Development (Routledge 1997). She is also co-editor of The Political Economy of Hurricane Katrina and Community Development (Edward Elgar 2010) and a manuscript titled How We Came Back: Voices from Post-Katrina New Orleans, which is under review for publication.
A former W.K. Kellogg National Leadership Fellow, she received the Underkoffler Award for Excellence in Teaching at Beloit in 1997. As Associate Dean at Beloit, she has worked with colleagues to expand summer programs, oversee campus museums (Wright Museum of Art and Logan Anthropology Museum), advance faculty development, and promote the performing arts.
Chamlee-Wright will be moving to Chestertown with her husband, Brian, and two daughters, Linden, 11, and Cailin, 9, over the summer and will start her new job in July.

Community Boosts Student Fundraising for Japanese Town Hit Hard by Tsunami

CHESTERTOWN, MD—As part of a weeklong Spring Break trip to Japan, a group of Washington College students will carry goodwill and aid from Kent County to the people of Matsushima, a seaside city ravaged by last year’s tsunami. Their gifts will include a cash donation of more than $7,000 to fund a new library building on Miyato, one of the 33 islands that are part of Matsushima, plus a collection of children’s picture books to start filling the shelves.
In efforts begun soon after the tsunami hit Japan’s coast in March of 2011, the Asian Culture Club and other student groups at Washington College raised more than $2,600 through a campus sushi night, the sale of origami birds, and donations from area residents, many of them members of the Washington College Academy of Lifelong Learning (WC-ALL). More recently, large gifts from the Friends of Miller Library, the Hedgelawn Foundation, and College Trustee Thomas Crouse and his wife, Kay Enokido, a native of Japan, boosted the relief funds enough to cover the estimated cost of a new library space for the people of Miyato.
Professor Noriko Narita, a lecturer in Japanese at the College who is spearheading the relief effort, says the library will be either a small pre-fabricated building or a dedicated space in a larger community building. Whatever form it takes, she adds, it will be named the Washington College Miyato Library.
Narita says the outpouring of help has been touching. “I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to the WAC community, WC-All members and citizens of Chestertown who supported us throughout the year by generous contributions of money, books and prayers,” she says. “They reached out when the Japanese people needed the help most, and deeply touched our hearts.”
The students started collecting picture books over the holiday break, and the community again joined the cause. Appeals went out through the Friends of Miller Library and the Washington College Academy of Lifelong Learning (WC-ALL), who were invited to leave their donations at the Miller Library. “The response has been terrific,” reports College Librarian Ruth Shoge. “We have filled five boxes with books so far. ” Professor Narita is translating some of the donated children’s books from English into Japanese.

Anyone who wishes to contribute to the relief effort is invited to deliver checks (made out to Washington College, with Japan Relief Fund on the memo line) and/or children’s picture books to the Miller Library by March 7, or contact Noriko Narita at, 410-778-7861. The group will depart for Tokyo on March 10, 2012 to arrive on the one-year anniversary of the disaster.
The two-day service trip to Matsushima is part of a weeklong visit to Japan (March 10-17) made possible by a generous grant from the Japan Foundation’s Center for Global Partnership (CGP). It was organized by Associate Professor of Political Science Andrew Oros to enhance his course on Japanese politics and foreign policy. Click here to read more about the trip.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Free Friday Concert Series Brings Annapolis Chamber Players to Washington College March 2

CHESTERTOWN, MD—The Washington College Music Department continues its free lunchtime concert series, “12 at Hotchkiss,” on Friday, March 2, at noon with the Annapolis Chamber Players, featuring faculty member Phyllis Crossen-Richardson on clarinet. Crossen-Richardson, who serves as artistic director of ACP, will be joined by flutist Gail Vehslage, violist and violinist Jonathan Richards, cellist Elizabeth Meszaros, and pianist David Ballena.
The concert will take place in Hotchkiss Recital Hall, Gibson Center for the Arts, on the College campus, 300 Washington Avenue. It will include selections of movements from Carl Maria von Weber’s Trio for Flute, Cello, and Piano; Beethoven’s Trio Op. 1, No. 3 for Violin, Cello, and Piano; and Brahms’ Trio Op. 113 for Clarinet, Cello and Piano.
Formed in 2004, the Annapolis Chamber Players grew out of collaborative ventures dating back to the 1990s. The ensemble specializes in mixed chamber music and performs music from the Baroque to the 21st century, interchanging winds, strings, and keyboard instruments. Their innovative programming features Classics & Gems: chamber “favorites” complimented by lesser-known gems of the repertoire for two to eight players.
The Annapolis Chamber Players are devoted to fostering an appreciation of mixed chamber music for all ages. More information about the ensemble can be found on

U.Va. Expert to Share How Modern Methods Enrich Knowledge of Famed "Alexander Mosaic"

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Lecturing at Washington College on Wednesday, March 7, an award-winning professor of Roman Art and Archaeology from the University of Virginia will use advanced technology to illuminate one of the most famous ancient artworks in the world. John J. Dobbins will deliver his talk, “Art, Archaeology, and Advanced Technology: The Case of the Alexander Mosaic at Pompeii,” at 4:30 p.m., in Decker Theater, Gibson Center of Arts on the College campus, 300 Washington Avenue.
Sponsored the Department of Art and Art History, the talk is free and open to the public.
The Alexander Mosaic, discovered in the House of the Faun at Pompeii and now on display in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples, depicts a dramatic encounter between the armies of Alexander the Great and Darius III of Persia. In the foreground, Darius looks on in horror from his chariot as Alexander, on horseback, impales a Persian cavalryman with a spear. The mosaic is valued for the sophisticated painterly effects it creates with minute stone tesserae.
Dobbins will show how a 3D digital model and “a lighting package calibrated to 100 B.C.” has helped art historians answer questions about how the mosaic would have appeared in its Pompeii setting.

A graduate of the college of the Holy Cross, Dobbins earned a master’s in English from Boston University, and a Ph.D. in classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. He is co-editor of The World of Pompeii (Routledge: London and New York 2007; paperback 2008) and author of numerous articles in professional journals, including the American Journal of Archaeology and the Classical Journal.
Dobbins has received several teaching awards at U.Va., including the All-University Teaching Award. In 2010, he was awarded the Richard A. and Sarah Page Mayo Distinguished Teaching Professorship, funded through the National Endowment for the Humanities. The three-year award supports the development of active learning exercises that push students to explore the complexities of their course material in dynamic ways.
In his March 7 talk at Washington College, Dobbins will include a learning exercise he developed for his class on Etruscan and Roman art at U.Va. (To receive advance materials for the exercise, please email Donald McColl, Nancy L. Underwood Associate Professor of Art History at Washington College, at

Friday, February 24, 2012

Acclaimed Writer Daniel Mark Epstein to Discuss His New Biography of Bob Dylan, March 5

CHESTERTOWN, MD— From the moment he first exploded onto the American music scene in 1963, Bob Dylan has been lauded as a poet, a prophet, and a savior. In a talk at Washington College on Monday, March 5, acclaimed poet and biographer Daniel Mark Epstein will offer an intimate, nuanced look at this legendary singer-songwriter, the most important lyricist America has ever produced.
Sponsored by the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, Epstein’s talk, “The Ballad of Bob Dylan,” is free and open to the public, and will begin at 7:30 pm at Center Stage, Hodson Commons (popularly known as The Egg), on the College campus, 300 Washington Avenue. Epstein’s recent book The Ballad of Bob Dylan (Harper, 2011) will be available for purchase, and a book signing will follow the presentation.

In his talk, Epstein will frame Dylan against the background of four seminal concerts performed over four decades and will explore the larger context of the artist’s life, from his meteoric rise as a young folksinger through his reemergence in the 1990s and his role as the éminence grise of rock and roll today. “We all know Dylan was a master wordsmith,” says Adam Goodheart, Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of the Starr Center. “But so is Daniel Mark Epstein, so this is guaranteed to be a memorable evening.”
The New York Journal of Books praised The Ballad of Bob Dylan for doing “what few have been able to at all, much less this well: capture [Dylan’s] spirit and somehow get closer to the essence of an American icon.” The Sunday Times (London) concurred, noting that “Epstein is refreshingly direct and accessible,” and the Telegraph lauded the book for its “fine sensitivity to all aspects of Dylan’s art.”

Daniel Mark Epstein's poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review, and The New Republic. He is the author of three plays and more than a dozen books, including Lincoln and Whitman: Parallel Lives in Civil War Washington (Random House, 2004), and The Lincolns: Portrait of a Marriage (Ballantine), which was named one of the Best Books of 2008 by both the Wall Street Journal and the Chicago Sun-Times. His 1999 biography of another musical legend, Nat King Cole (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux), was a New York Times Notable Book.
A graduate of Kenyon College, Epstein has held fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. The American Academy of Arts and Letters awarded him an Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2006.
* * *
Founded in 1782 under the patronage of George Washington, Washington College is a private, independent college of liberal arts and sciences located in colonial Chestertown on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience is dedicated to fostering innovative approaches to the American past and present. Through educational programs, scholarship and public outreach, and a special focus on the literary craft of history, the Starr Center seeks to bridge the divide between the academic world and the public at large. For more information on the Center, visit