Thursday, April 26, 2012

Senior Schelberg One of 20 in Nation Named to USA Today's All-USA College Academic Team

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Washington College senior James H. Schelberg has been named to the 2011 USA Today All-USA College Academic Team, an honor bestowed on only 20 undergraduates for their academic and community achievements. Selected from among hundreds of juniors and seniors nominated by their colleges and universities throughout the U.S., Schelberg was judged on criteria that included academic rigor, leadership and intellectual endeavor that benefits society. He received a check for $2,500.

Schelberg, a double major in Humanities and Philosophy who attends Washington College on a Hodson Trust Star Scholarship for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, was the only First Team member selected from a small liberal-arts college. The other 19 winners represent state universities that include Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and California at Berkeley, or large private universities such as Johns Hopkins, Emory, Cornell and Rice.

“I can’t imagine anyone more deserving of this recognition or more representative of the best qualities this generation of students has to offer the world,” says Washington College president Mitchell B. Reiss. “The entire Washington College community is proud of what this says about Jim Schelberg, and what his experience says about the value of a liberal-arts education in creating a life of meaning and purpose. He embodies the idea of moral courage.”

Schelberg, a U.S. Marine veteran, was twice deployed into combat overseas, first to Iraq (October 2006 to April 2007) and then to Afghanistan (November 2009 to May 2010), where he served as an infantry corporal. He has maintained a 4.0 grade point average each of his semesters at Washington College. He also has been a member of the Cater Society of Junior Fellows, the College’s flagship academic enrichment program for outstanding scholars; conducted research at the University of Oxford as part of the College’s summer Oxford Research Seminar on Religion, Politics and Culture; taught boxing as founder of the Washington College Mixed Martial Arts Club; and conducted important archival research for the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience and the Maryland State Archives.

As part of the application for the All-USA College Academic Team, Schelberg wrote about how the two years of humanities classes he took before deploying to Afghanistan helped him become a “more passionate humanitarian and thoughtful warrior. In the bleak landscapes of the Helmand River Valley, ” he continued, “my experiences of loss, tragedy and violence shaped my understanding of the destructive effects of illiteracy and the opportunities to bring social change through education.”

He saw similar opportunities back home, where wasted intellectual potential is such a devastating force among educationally underserved, low-income males, many of whom end up in prisons. In summer of 2011, Schelberg created and launched a prison outreach program called Partners in Philosophy, which offers courses in philosophy, logic and ethics to inmates of Maryland’s Jessup Correctional Institution. Washington College professors joined him for several of the classes, which ranged from ethical choices in Art History to the teachings of Plato, Buddha and Frederick Douglass. He plans to continue the program this summer.

Those who nominated Schelberg for the All-USA College distinction were pleased but not surprised by the news.  Joseph Prud’homme, assistant professor of political science, has worked closely with Schelberg as one of his academic advisors at Washington College.  “I can say without a doubt that he is the strongest student I have ever worked with as a college professor, here at Washington College, and earlier at Princeton and Harvard,” Prud’homme wrote in his nominating letter.

Prud’homme describes Schelberg as “a brilliant young man, remarkable for his depth of knowledge, his profound creativity and analytical precision, and his passion for community service—traits of character that are deeply rooted, and which his combat service in Afghanistan has fortified and refined. He has an unswerving commitment to the transformative power of education,” Prud’homme adds, “and the importance of critical and reflective thinking for renewing lives and communities.”

Marine Chief Warrant Officer Steve J. Rose, who supervised Schelberg in Iraq’s Anbar Province, saw him tested under the daily stress of combat conditions and was impressed with the younger Marine’s intelligence, character and courage. He described Schelberg’s enthusiasm for learning new cultures and meeting Iraqis and Afghanis, getting to know the fishermen on the Euphrates or the farmers of the Helmand River Valley. In a situation where it is often impossible to tell innocent civilian from enemy combatant, he wrote, “Jim was the first to shake hands, or to laugh with new foreign friends. His caring and compassion for strangers was obvious, and daily he influenced those around him to make personal connections to the civilians they protected. I have seen him lead with courage and the highest professional conduct while under enemy fire in combat. … Jim has seen firsthand the worst of human behavior and responded with the highest human ideals.”

“Jim is a classic humanist: an intellectual who delves into the complexities and ambiguities of human experience, and ponders the nature and limits of our understanding,” says Adam Goodheart, director of Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, where Schelberg is a student associate. “He is also an idealist in the best sense, a person who believes that words and ideas have the power to transform lives – and, indeed, entire societies – for the better.”

Other colleges and universities represented on the 2011 First Team are the U.S. Naval Academy; Arizona State University; the University of California, Irvine; the University of Maine, Orono; Louisiana State University; the University of Iowa; Southern Illinois University; University of Southern California; Georgia Institute of Technology; and Northwestern University. The national newspaper also selected 40 runners-up for a Second and Third team, and 20 honorable mentions.

Washington College Dedicates New Hillel House as Welcoming Center for Jewish Life on Campus

President Reiss presents Nan and Roy Ans with a hand-set broadsheet of Jehanne Dubrow's poem commissioned for the occasion.  The couple made the lead gift to bring the long-awaited Hillel House into being.  

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Washington College dedicated its new Hillel House Friday, April 20, in a program that featured remarks by the national president of Hillel, a poem written for the occasion by award-winning poet Jehanne Dubrow, and the installation of the mezuzah at the front door. Located at 313 Washington Avenue, the charming gray-and-white bungalow faces the Campus Lawn. Nearly 200 people gathered for the dedication ceremony, which was held outside beneath a white tent.  
            The house bears the name of Washington College alumnus Roy P. Ans ’63, M.D., and his wife, Nan. Roy Ans chairs the committee that has raised funds to renovate and endow the House. A retired ob-gyn doctor who lives in Florida, Dr. Ans is a member of the College’s Society of Visitors & Governors and a longtime supporter of an enhanced Jewish life at Washington College. In 2006, he endowed the Roy P. Ans Fellowship in Jewish American Studies.
            Roy Ans “willed this building into existence,” College president Mitchell B. Reiss said in his remarks. “He and his wife, Nan, made the lead gift and then worked tirelessly to recruit a committee of alums who were similarly committed to building a center for Jewish life on campus—a beautiful, inviting space where students can gather, study and learn.”
Special guest Wayne L. Firestone, national president and CEO of Hillel, The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, eloquently traced the evolution of Jewish students on America’s college campuses—from their early efforts to blend in, to their desire today to stand out and proudly share their heritage with others. Likewise, he said, “Hillel is not your father’s Hillel,” he explained. “In the old days, Hillel houses were safe havens, refuges where students could take a break from the mainstream. Now the mandate of Hillel is essentially the opposite: We go out into the mainstream, where Jewish students feel very comfortable, and show them ways to explore what sets them apart.”
Jehanne Dubrow, assistant professor of creative writing and English and interim director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House, read her prose poem commissioned for the occasion, referencing her mother’s family and their personal journey as a window into the universal Jewish story of Diaspora and the search for “home.”  President Reiss presented the Anses with a framed and signed limited-edition broadside of Dubrow’s poem, which master printer Michael Kaylor set by hand in the press room of the Rose O’Neill Literary House.
            Following the remarks, the crowd gathered around the entrance to the new Hillel House to watch Rabbi Peter E. Hyman, MAHL, DD, of Temple B’nai Israel in Easton, and Washington College alumnus Lawrence Golub ’63 affix the mezuzah to the doorframe. Dr. Gary Schiff, a cantor in the Chestertown Havurah and an adjunct professor at the College, recited the traditional blessing (likboah mezuzah) and prayer of thanks (Shehecheyanu). Guests then entered the house for a reception and, for many, a first look around.
The College continues to raise funds toward its goal of $350,000, not only to cover the cost of the renovations but also to fund an endowment for the House and its programming. Joining Dr. Ans on the fundraising committee are fellow alumni Jonathan D. Bookbinder ’10, Beth Kahn Leaman’73, Peter D. Maller ’90 and Mark A. Schulman ’67, Ph.D.  For more information:

Poem on the Dedication
of the Hillel House, at Washington College,
on Maryland’s Eastern Shore

I think of my mother’s family, circa 1936—folding
Warsaw and Berlin in their steamer trunks,

beneath prayer shawls, pictures of the dead. How,
shipped to Honduras,

they learned to speak new languages the way they
learned to eat

tortilla after years of bread. How they built history in
walls, shelves for books,

windows framing a street that wasn’t Stuttgart or
Odessa. There would be a table for their meal,

a box of charity. Candles would stop them getting
lost. How all of us need an entrance,

even here, a post on which to pin a prayer, a door that
creaks when prophets enter,

or when angels. How all of us carry home like a
steerage ticket crumpled in our hands.

— Jehanne Dubrow

Jehanne Dubrow is the recipient of numerous poetry awards and honors, including a Sosland Foundation Fellowship from the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. She recently won the Poetry Society of America’s 2012 Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award for her fifth collection, a manuscript-in-progress entitled The Arranged Marriage.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tribeca Films Founder Jane Rosenthal to Speak at Washington College Commencement May 20

TV journalist Harris Whitbeck ’87, banker Seetharaman and Mount Vernon CEO Rees also to be honored at 229th graduation ceremony

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Renowned film producer Jane Rosenthal, co-founder of Tribeca Productions and the Tribeca Film Festival, will address the graduates at Washington College’s 229th Commencement on Sunday, May 20. She also will receive an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree during the ceremony, which begins at 10:30 a.m. on the Campus Lawn.
            The College will bestow honorary degrees on two other special guests that morning: international banker Raghavan Seetharaman, and James C. Rees IV, President and Chief Executive Officer of George Washington’s Mount Vernon.  In addition, CNN  journalist and reality-show host Harris Whitbeck ’87 will receive the Alumni Citation for excellence in journalism and television broadcasting.
            A graduate of Brown and New York Universities, Jane Rosenthal was working as a vice president of production at Disney’s film group in 1988 when actor Robert DeNiro lured her back to the East Coast to help him create and run Tribeca Productions. In partnership with Rosenthal’s husband, real estate investor and philanthropist Craig Hatkoff, the company has steadily expanded its influence in the film industry through the creation of Tribeca Enterprises (which Rosenthal serves as CEO), the non-profit Tribeca Film Institute, and the wildly successful Tribeca Film Festivals.             
            Rosenthal, DeNiro and Hatkoff co-organized the first Tribeca Film Festival in the wake of the September 11 attacks as a way to help revive the economic and cultural conditions of lower Manhattan. Since that first festival in 2002, the event has become one of the largest film celebrations in the world. Because of their work, Rosenthal, Hatkoff and DeNiro received the inaugural September 11 National Museum and Memorial Foundation “Notes of Hope Award” for Distinction in Rebuilding.
Doha Bank Group CEO Seetharaman
As a producer, Rosenthal has enjoyed boundless commercial and critical success with dozens of films. Her comedies include Meet the Fockers and Analyze This, both  starring DeNiro, and her production Meet the Parents, also starring DeNiro, is one of the highest-grossing comedic franchises in history. In the drama category, her many films include the Matt Damon spy film The Good Shepherd and the crime drama A Bronx Tale. She won a 1997 Christopher Award, which recognizes media that “affirm the highest values of the human spirit,” for Marvin’s Room, a family drama with Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio and Diane Keaton.
            Also being honored by the College is influential banker Raghavan Seetharaman, Group CEO of Qatar-based Doha Bank. Seetharaman, who was on campus in February to deliver a lecture in the George Washington Leadership Series, will be receiving an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. A native of India, Seetharaman applied a strong work ethic and a welcoming attitude toward globalization and new technologies to transform Doha Bank into the fastest growing bank in the Middle East.  London-based EMEA Finance magazine, which covers the financial industry in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, has twice named him CEO of the Year. He has shared his expertise as a guest of major news outlets that include the BBC, CNBC, Bloomberg and Al Jazeera.
Mount Vernon CEO James Rees
            Honoree James Rees has served George Washington’s Mount Vernon, America’s most visited historic home, for nearly 30 years, the past 18 as president and chief executive officer. Under his leadership, more than a quarter-billion dollars have been raised for projects designed to renew national attention and emphasis on George Washington. Rees also has been an active partner with Washington College in strengthening students’ connections to George Washington as the school’s founding patron. He visited the Chestertown campus in 2007 to deliver a lecture based on his just-published book, George Washington’s Leadership Lessons: What the Father of Our Country Can Teach Us About Effective Leadership and Character. Rees will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters.
Alumni Citation recipient Harris Whitbeck ’87 is a multi-faceted journalist and television producer who has earned high accolades for his coverage of war, disaster, the environment and issues of social justice.  A native of Guatemala who is fluent in English, Spanish and French, he earned his undergraduate degree in International Studies from Washington College and his master’s in journalism from Columbia University before starting his career with CNN’s Spanish-Language network Telemundo. He later served as  an international correspondent for all of CNN’s networks and was Bureau Chief in Mexico City.
Whitbeck has made major contributions to coverage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the September 11 attacks, the 2004 Haitian coup d’etat, and various political, economic and social developments throughout Latin America. He has been recognized with a number of journalism awards, including a 1999 National Headliner Award for his coverage of the Ciudad Juarez killings, and a DuPont-Columbia Silver Baton Award for his coverage of the Tsunami disaster in Sri Lanka.
Award-winning journalist Harris Whitbeck.
            Whitbeck’s Zodiak Latino production company was nominated for an International Emmy in 2011 for a reality program he wrote and produced about 11 physically disabled people testing themselves with a challenging expedition. In Guatemala, he co-founded Atitlan Producciones, a television production company that produces socially-minded content.  For the past several years, the busy Whitbeck also has hosted the reality-television series The Amazing Race: Latinoamerica.  
            General seating for the Commencement exercises will be available on the lawn. In case of rain, the event will move to the Benjamin A. Johnson Fitness Center and admission will be by ticket only. For more information, please visit:

Monday, April 23, 2012

Junior Daniel Primiani Earns a Top Award at History Honor Society Conference

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Washington College junior Daniel Primiani’s research paper on the Revolutionary War and slavery earned a top prize at a recent conference hosted by the history honor society Phi Alpha Theta. Primiani brought home the third-place award after presenting his paper, “The Slaves of the Revolution: An Exploration of the Effect of the Revolutionary War on Slaves in the State of Virginia” at the society’s Mid-Atlantic Region conference at Towson University. His was one of only three undergraduate and two graduate works recognized at the regional conference.
            Primiani, of Trevilians, Va., was surprised by the recognition. “I wasn’t really expecting to win because of the number of people there,” he said of the students in attendance from schools that included Catholic University, George Washington University, Georgetown University, Howard University, McDaniel College, Notre Dame of Maryland University, St. Mary’s College and Towson University.
Two other Washington College students participated in the conference: Mike Kuethe, a senior from Severna Park, Md., presented a paper titled “Archeology of Anglo-Saxon Ironworking Sites: Assembling a Historical Picture from the Remains of the Past,” and Charles Weisenberger, a senior from Nazareth, Pa., explored the fate of America’s fugitive slave communities in his paper, "The Ecological, Political, and Cultural Failures of American Maroons.”      
            History Professor Kenneth Miller organized Washington College’s  participation in the conference, soliciting work from chapter members and selecting for submission the three best and most appropriate papers for the conference. “The members of the History Department have always felt very confident about the students we send to these annual regional conferences,” Miller said. “Dan, Mike, and Chuck are three of our best. I knew they’d do us proud.”
            Miller was particularly pleased with Primiani’s recognition: “He’s been doing fantastic work this year. Claiming a third-place prize is no small achievement.”

Renowned Guitar Maker Paul Reed Smith Brings Band to Campus for April 27 Concert

CHESTERTOWN, MD—World-renowned guitar manufacturer Paul Reed Smith and the Paul Reed Smith Band will perform at Washington College on Friday evening, April 27. The concert will begin at 7 p.m. in the Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts on the College campus, 300 Washington Avenue. Sponsored by the Washington College Musician’s Union, the event is free and open to the public.
Smith will hold a master class for Washington College students that Friday afternoon. 
            The Paul Reed Smith band consists of Paul Reed Smith and Mike Ault on guitar, Gary Grainger on bass, and Greg Grainger on drums, with vocalist Mia Samone Davis. The band, which plays an eclectic mix of classic rock, current hits, and original compositions, is known for its high-energy performances and interaction with the audience. The musicians have played throughout the United States and internationally.
            A native of Bowie, Md., native Paul Reed Smith first began making guitars while studying at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. In 1975, he opened The Guitar Shop in Annapolis, where he custom-built guitars for local musicians. He formally established Paul Reed Smith (PRS) Guitars in 1985, and today the Stevensville-based firm is one of the largest manufacturers of high-end guitars in the world. Smith’s guitars, known for their distinctive tone and style, have been played by famous musicians of all genres and generations, from Carlos Santana to Dave Navarro to Jimmy Buffett.
            For more information about PRS guitars and Paul Reed Smith, himself, please visit For more information about the Washington College Musician’s Union, visit

Photo: Paul Reed Smith, foreground, with bassist Gary Grainger.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Expert to Discuss Eastern Influences On Renaissance Art, April 27 at WC

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Meredith J. Gill, associate professor of art history at the University of Maryland, College Park, will lecture on “Turks, Scribes, and Magic Carpets: Looking East in the Renaissance” on Friday, April 27, at Washington College. The talk will begin at 4 p.m. in Litrenta Lecture Hall, John S. Toll Science Center, on the College campus, 300 Washington Avenue.
Gill’s research revolves around Italian art and architecture from the late medieval period through the sixteenth century, concentrating on theological and philosophical influences. She is the author of Augustine in the Italian Renaissance: Art and Philosophy from Petrarch to Michelangelo (Cambridge University Press) and is currently writing a second book, Flight of Angels: The Order of Heaven in Medieval and Renaissance Italy.
She also has contributed to many other Renaissance art publications. A recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Gill has led two sessions of the NEH’s Summer 2010 Seminar, “Re-Mapping the Renaissance: Exchange between Early Modern Islam and Europe” (Center for Renaissance and Baroque Studies, University of Maryland).
“Turks, Scribes, and Magic Carpets” is sponsored by the Friends of Miller Library, the Department of Art and Art History, and the Department of History and is free and open to the public.

KICK Film Festival to Screen Documentaries "Play Again," "Hoop Dreams" and Kolaja's "Season in D3"

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Chestertown’s first KICK Film Festival will bring two award-winning documentaries and a new video series on Shoremen basketball to the Garfield Center for the Arts Sunday, April 22. Sponsored by the Chestertown Spy, Washington College Department of Athletics, and the Echo Hill Outdoor School, this year’s inaugural KICK Festival aims to inspire students and community members alike with stories about dedicated athletes and the value of sports and outdoor play.
The Festival will kick off at 2:30 Sunday with the award-winning documentary Play Again, which explores the increasing loss of outdoor “playtime” for American children and its impact. The Play Again screening is sponsored by Echo Hill Outdoor School and has special meaning for the School’s associate director, Andrew McCown. “For forty years Echo Hill Outdoor School has been exploring nature with children, and Play Again confirms our belief in the importance of maintaining a human connection to the natural world,” he says. “It is about the value of spending time outside and what may be lost if we do not.”

That evening at 7:30, the focus will turn to basketball, with the award-winning documentary Hoop Dreams, which critic Roger Ebert praised as “one of the best films about American life that I have ever seen.” The movie (view the trailer here) tells the stories of two African-American teenagers recruited to play for a predominantly white high school with an outstanding basketball program. The two young men take 90-minute commutes to school, enduring long and difficult workouts and practices, and adjusting to a totally new social environment. The film raises a number of important issues concerning race, class, economic division, education and values in contemporary America.
“We selected Hoop Dreams as our first film because it remains the gold standard of what a sports documentary is all about,” says Bryan Matthews, director of athletics at Washington College. “I think it will be as meaningful to our college students as it will be for the students at Kent County High. It shows, in very dramatic ways, how the life of the body intersects with the life of the positive mind.”
Washington College men’s basketball head coach, Rob Nugent, who recently gained national headlines for his team’s sportsmanship, will introduce the film. As a bonus with strong local ties, Chestertown-based filmmaker Kurt Kolaja, whose 2010 documentary on the Kent County Marching Band won top honors at the Chesapeake Film Festival, will screen selections from his latest, an online documentary series on DIII basketball. Kolaja and his camera followed the Washington College Shoremen through a full season of practices and games to create a portrait of the coaches and scholar-athletes that personify Division III sports.

Students at Washington College and Kent County High School will be admitted to all films for free. All other adults are asked to make a donation at the door ($10 suggested). The Garfield Center for the Arts is located at the Prince Theatre, 210 High Street, downtown Chestertown. Click here to reserve tickets. For more information, visit the Garfield Center website or call the box office at 410-810-2060.

Monday, April 16, 2012

National Fraternity Advisor to Address Campus Life and How Relationships Affect Self Esteem

CHESTERTOWN, MD—On Wednesday, April 18, Dr. Lori Hart will visit the Washington College campus as part of the “Stand Up! Stand Out!” program spearheaded by the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority and sponsored by the Panhellenic Council. Stand Up! Stand Out! was established to bring together women on campus and encourage them to stand up against negative pressure from their peers and society. Hart will be speaking at 8 p.m. in the Cain Gym.
Hart, who is part of the CampusSpeak series, will talk about relationships and their effects on self-esteem. With her casual, humorous style, she gets campuses across the country talking about the big issues that impact everyday life. She is the Director of Alcohol Education for Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity and has been an active volunteer for Alpha Omicron Pi Fraternity for 18 years, including a stint as chair of the Education and Training Committee.
She was recognized in 2007 by Campus Activities magazine as their Speaker of the Year and Female Performer of the Year, and she is the 2009 recipient of a Distinguished Service Award from the Association of Fraternity and Sorority Advisors.
The talk is free and open to the public (men and women alike) and there will be refreshments served afterwards.

April 22 Concert by College Consorts Offers Renaissance Music and Period Instruments

CHESTERTOWN, MD—The Washington College Vocal Consort and the Washington College Early Music Instrumental Consort will perform a free concert on campus on Sunday, April 22, at 4 p.m. in Hotchkiss Recital Hall, Gibson Center for the Arts.
The program will include English Renaissance motets, German instrumental music from the early Renaissance, and choral works from the 20th century. In addition, audience members will be treated to a range of Renaissance period instruments, including the sackbut, rauschpfeife, lute, viola da gamba, drum, and various sizes of wooden recorders.
The Vocal Consort is led by Professor Garry Clarke, long-time chair of the Washington College Music Department. Dr. Clarke also serves as Director of Music for Trinity Cathedral. Leading the Instrumental Consort is Dr. Jonathan McCollum, Assistant Professor of Music at the College.
For more information, visit,