Monday, August 30, 2010

Washington College Fellow Marla Miller Creates Exhibition at Winterthur Museum

CHESTERTOWN, MD— "Betsy Ross: The Life Behind the Legend," a ground-breaking exhibition based on work supported by a fellowship at Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, will open at Winterthur Museum & Country Estate on October 2.

During her 2009-10 fellowship at the Starr Center, Marla R. Miller completed her book Betsy Ross and the Making of America (Henry Holt, 2010) and worked with Winterthur curators to plan the upcoming exhibition. The Patrick Henry Writing Fellowship offers a yearlong residency to authors doing innovative work on America's founding era and its legacy. Miller, who directs the Public History Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, spent the entire academic year at Washington College, where she also taught an undergraduate seminar in American Studies and Art History. The book on Ross – the first-ever in-depth work on the famous flag-maker – was published in April to critical acclaim.

The Wall Street Journal called the work “a deeply researched and cogently argued gem of a book that gives us Betsy Ross as a complete person, not just a colonial character with a one-sentence claim on our attention.” The Washington Post agreed in a special July 4th review, noting that, “Though she demolishes the legend of Ross as our national seamstress, Miller offers in return someone much more interesting.”

The companion exhibition, curated by Miller and Winterthur’s Linda Eaton and Katie Knowles, explores Ross’s personal life, her work in the upholstery trade and as a flag-maker, and how her legend grew into the story we know today. The curatorial team has gathered an eclectic mix of important Americana for display, including Ross’s snuff box, a pieced quilt made by her daughter Clarissa Claypoole Wilson, and an assortment of rare early American flags.

“We’re excited that some of the work that Marla completed at Washington College will soon be spotlighted at one of this country’s most important museums,” said Adam Goodheart, Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of the Starr Center. “One of the goals of the Patrick Henry Fellowship program is to draw a wide public audience into ongoing national conversations about America’s past and present. The Winterthur show will extend that conversation through a new medium.”

Winterthur Museum & Country Estate is known worldwide for its preeminent collection of American decorative arts, its naturalistic garden, and its research library on American art. The Winterthur Program in American Material Culture, operated in partnership with the University of Delaware, is one of the nation’s best graduate programs in decorative arts.

Betsy Ross: The Life Behind the Legend opens October 2, 2010 and will run through January 2, 2011. For more information, visit

Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience explores our nation’s history—and particularly the legacy of its Founding era—in innovative ways. Through educational programs, scholarship and public outreach, and especially by supporting and fostering the art of written history, the Starr Center seeks to bridge the divide between past and present, and between the academic world and the public at large. It also serves as a portal onto a world of opportunities for Washington College students. Its guiding principle is that now more than ever, a wider understanding of our shared past is fundamental to the continuing success of America’s democratic experiment. For more information on the Center, visit

Friday, August 27, 2010

Washington College Rises 19 Positions in Latest "U.S. News" Rankings of Best Colleges

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Washington College rose 19 positions in the 2011 edition of the U.S. News & World Report annual Best Colleges rankings and was in the top ten of the nation’s “Up-and-Coming” liberal arts colleges.

A total of 1,472 colleges and universities were surveyed for the 2011 rankings. In the category of national liberal arts colleges, Washington College rose to #93, from a 2010 position of 112.

For its list of “The 2011 Up-and-Comers,” the survey asked college administrators to nominate institutions that had “recently made the most promising and innovative changes in the areas of academics, faculty, student life, campus, or facilities.” Among liberal arts colleges, Washington College ranked 9th.

One of the oldest of a growing number of college rankings enterprises, the U.S. News list considers up to 16 factors, from acceptance and graduation rates to the percentage of faculty members who are full-time and the rate of alumni giving. It has been controversial in recent years because of the weight it gave its peer ratings—how presidents, provosts and deans of admission assess their peer institutions—in calculating a school’s academic reputation. For the 2011 rankings, the survey formula reduced the influence of those peer reviews and added the opinions of 1,787 college counselors at public high schools.

Mitchell B. Reiss, who became president of Washington College on July 1, is pleased to see the institution recognized for solid, ongoing improvements in opportunities for scholarly and creative engagement and in the physical plant. The College’s Chesapeake Semester, now in its second year, enables students to explore the history, ecology and sociology of the region in experiential settings both within the watershed and abroad. The Presidential Fellows program is a new co-curricular program offering special academic opportunities outside the classroom to high-ability students. In the past few years, the College has also invested some $70 million in campus improvements, including a new student center—the Hodson Hall Commons—and a renovated Gibson Center for the Arts.

“This college is building on a rich tradition of excellence,” says Dr. Reiss. “We have a dedicated faculty that gets to know the students as individuals, a beautiful and historic setting, and nationally known centers of excellence for the study of the literary arts, the environment and American history. The stage is set for us to surge ahead in many areas.”

The rankings are available online and will be published in the September issue of U.S. News & World Report.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Washington College a Partner in $950,000 Initiative on Teaching American History

CHESTERTOWN, MD—A federal grant worth $950,000 will fund a new professional development program for American History teachers in seven Maryland counties including Kent, Calvert, Caroline, Dorchester, Queen Anne's, St.Mary's and Talbot, thanks to the joint efforts of Sultana Projects, Kent County Public Schools, Washington College and the Calvert Marine Museum. Titled “Roots of a Nation – a Chesapeake Journey,” the local program is one of 124 “Teaching American History” grants awarded in 40 states. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the grants earlier this month.

The federal initiative requires grant recipients to partner with organizations that have broad knowledge of the nation’s history, such as libraries, museums, nonprofit historical or humanities organizations, and higher education institutions. As the organization spearheading the grant process, Sultana Projects worked under the auspices of the Kent County Public Schools to partner with the Calvert Marine Museum and two Washington College centers known for their hands-on and intensive study of Chesapeake Bay history—the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience and the Center for Environment and Society.

The principal goals of the "Roots of a Nation” initiative are to increase teacher content knowledge, improve teaching practices, and measurably improve student achievement in American History. The program will provide 35 teachers with a rigorous three-year professional development program that emphasizes the use of primary documents, connects teachers to local resources, and examines innovative methods for delivering history content in the classroom. The participating teachers will be drawn from Kent, Calvert, Caroline, Dorchester, Queen Anne’s, St. Mary’s and Talbot Counties.

John Seidel, the director of the Center for Environment and Society at Washington College, says the objective is for these 35 teachers to become “master teachers” who take critical resources back to their schools and share their experience and knowledge with others. “We'll work with five teachers from each of the seven school districts,” he elaborates. “The program also will produce a wide range of very rich materials and resource guides that allow teachers to share lesson plans, student work samples, and effective teaching techniques across Maryland.

"The idea is to use this region itself as a microcosm for exploring American history," adds Adam Goodheart, the Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of the C.V. Starr Center, "everything from Native American cultures to the Underground Railroad and the Civil War. Along with intensive seminars, workshops, and research training, the participants will visit museums, battlefields, and archaeological digs, as well as sail aboard the Sultana."

U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin voiced strong support for the grant. “It will ensure that our Eastern Shore youngsters develop an appreciation of the unique history of the Chesapeake Bay region and the important role it has played in our nation's history,” he said.

Using the Chesapeake Bay as a unifying theme, "Roots of a Nation" will explore content and teaching goals related to four key periods in American History: 1) Native American History and European Settlement, 2) the Revolutionary War Period, 3) the War of 1812, and 4) Slavery and the Civil War.

"I am very excited about the awarding of this grant," said Kent County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Barbara Wheeler. “The professional development funds will provide teachers with strategies that will make history come alive for our young learners. Because multiple counties will participate in the grant, teachers will be able to network and learn from others in the same profession. This is a great opportunity for our children and teachers."

For additional information, please contact Sultana Projects at 410-778-5954 or email

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Professor Richard Striner's New Book Explores Presidential Power at its Bipartisan Best

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Washington College professor Richard Striner’s latest book, Lincoln’s Way: How Six Great Presidents Created American Power, explores the power of the U.S. presidency to create sweeping and positive changes throughout the nation. Published by Rowman & Littlefield, it is available online and will be in stores by late September. The book has earned critical praise for the way it combines scholarship and depth of knowledge with an engaging and clear style of writing. Blending intellectual history and presidential biography, the forceful narrative creates a valuable lens for viewing the present.

In the book, Dr. Striner explains how Abraham Lincoln set the stage for America’s global superpower status by using his federal authority in shrewd and inspired ways, borrowing from both ends of the political spectrum. It was a legacy and a way of leading adopted by five subsequent presidents: Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy. These six presidents—three from each party—helped America fulfill its great potential. Lincoln’s Way illustrates how their leadership spanned the huge gulf that exists between our ideological cultures: they drew from both conservative and liberal ideas, thus consolidating powerful centrist governance.

Dr. Striner’s argument strongly contradicts the philosophy of the current Tea Party movement, that “the government that governs best, governs least.” The presidents he admires for their leadership denounced the idea that government was “always the answer” but did believe it was “sometimes the answer” when it came to necessities. “They believed in the value of coordinated national life—in teamwork,” he writes in his introduction.

Lincoln’s Way earned advance praise from two well-known fellow historians and authors, James MacGregor Burns and James M. McPherson. Burns called Lincoln’s Way “an unforgettable book” and “must reading for lovers of American History—a fresh and spirited presentation of some of our greatest leaders, with special emphasis on key ideas, presented in a broad intellectual framework.”

Noting Dr. Striner’s “remarkable range of knowledge,” McPherson wrote: “Drawing on a lifetime of scholarship, the author writes with great clarity for a general audience beyond the academy, while at the same time offering original insights that deepen and broaden our understanding of how the government promoted greater justice and equity in the American socioeconomic order during the century from the 1860s to the 1960s.”

Dr. Striner’s earlier book, Father Abraham: Lincoln’s Relentless Struggle to End Slavery, was published in 2006 by Oxford University Press. A professor of history at Washington College, he is an interdisciplinary scholar whose fields of study include economics, architecture, historic preservation, English literature and film. He also is a senior writer for the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Committee.

The C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience will sponsor a public reading from Lincoln’s Way on Thursday, September 23. Dr. Striner’s reading will begin at 4:30 p.m. in the Sophie Kerr Room, Miller Library, and will be followed by a reception and book signing. Copies of the book will be available for purchase.

Dr. Reiss Announces Exclusive NATO Internship

CHESTERTOWN, MD—A Washington College student with an impressive resume and a passion for foreign affairs may spend next summer in Belgium working with NATO, thanks to a new internship announced recently by College president Mitchell Reiss. Based at the U.S Mission to NATO in Brussels, the Washington College intern would work with one of four mission offices: the Office of Public Affairs, the Armament Cooperation Division, the Office of the Political Advisor, or the Office of the U.S./EU Defense Advisor.

Washington College becomes one of only a few U.S. colleges to offer the exclusive NATO summer experience. The number of interns accepted each year depends on the amount of meaningful work available and how many offices are willing to supervise interns.

NATO, a defense alliance created in 1949 as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, now includes 26 European countries, the United States and Canada. Dr. Reiss describes the NATO internship as an “extraordinary opportunity to do valuable work in one of the most interesting places in the world. This internship offers exposure to military affairs, diplomacy, European politics, trans-Atlantic relations, and the stature of the U.S. in Europe.” The students are given high levels of responsibility, from monitoring press wires to compiling research to writing briefs for the ambassador and other senior officials.

To qualify for the eight-week experience, a student must be a U.S. citizen, obtain a security clearance and meet stringent academic and character qualifications. “We’ll be looking for a student with a deep interest in international relations, a high caliber of academic performance, proven maturity and a commitment to public service,” says Dr. Reiss. “Language skills are certainly a benefit as well.”

Washington College’s Assistant Dean for Academic Resources, Kathy Sack, is coordinating the application process for the new internship along with the Career Development Center. Because of the extra time needed for security clearance, applications for the summer of 2011 are due September 15. An information session on this opportunity and new U.S. State Department internships, both domestic and abroad, will be held on Wednesday, September 1 at 3:30 p.m. in the Casey Academic Center Forum Room. For more information on the U.S. Mission to NATO, visit For information on this new internship, please contact Dr. Sack (, phone 410-778-7213) or the Career Center (410-778-7890). You also can learn more from the College website:

Monday, August 23, 2010

Washington College Concert Series Brings World Class Talent to Gibson Center Stages

CHESTERTOWN, MD—The 59th season of the Washington College Concert Series will bring internationally acclaimed musicians to the Gibson Center for the Arts and will showcase the Music Department’s two new Steinway pianos. Some of the brightest young stars of the classical and jazz worlds will appear in programs that range from solo pianists to a string quartet.

Thomas Pandolfi, piano, Sept. 19, 2010
Pianist Thomas Pandolfi (in photo, right) opens the season with an all-Gershwin program Sunday, Sept. 19 at 4 p.m. in Decker Theatre. A virtuoso known for his passionate artistry at the keys in both classical and pop repertoire, Pandolfi is considered a leading interpreter of the works of George Gershwin. He earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The Juilliard School and has performed throughout the world, including guest performances with major U.S. symphony orchestras, two tours of Europe and recitals in China and Canada. A highlight of his 2009-10 season was the world premier of British composer Simon Proctor’s “James Bond” piano concerto in London.

Critics have praised Pandolfi’s technique as “brilliant” and his stage presence as “charming.” A review of a Gershwin concert in the Fredonia Post-Journal opined that “Every note, however fleeting, was cleanly and clearly stated, and themes rolled out of supporting structures, as clear as could be,” and noted that the climax of the concert was “the famed ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ performed with thrilling virtuosity. It was jazzy, it was classical, it was Gershwin, wonderfully done."

Ensemble Schumann, piano, viola and oboe, Nov. 12, 2010

On Friday evening, Nov. 12, at 8 p.m. the Ensemble Schumann trio will take the stage of Hotchkiss Recital Hall with pianist Sally Pinkas, violist Steve Larson and oboist Thomas Gallant. This colorful combination of artists and instruments brings to life works by such composers as Schumann, Brahms, Saint-Saens, Loeffler, Poulenc, Shostakovich, and Franck. The members of Ensemble Schumann have collectively performed at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall in New York City, at Jordan Hall in Boston, Wigmore Hall in London, at the Library of Congress in Washington, as well as at the Tanglewood, Ravinia, Lucerne, Spoleto and Mostly Mozart Festivals.Sally Pinkas has appeared with the Boston Pops and Aspen Philharmonia and collaborated with a wide variety of artists including Cuarteto Latinoamericano, the Adaskin String Trio and the Lydian String Quartet. She also performs with her husband, Evan Hirsch, as the Hirsch-Pinkas Piano Duo. With degrees from Indiana University, Brandeis University, and the New England Conservatory of Music, Pinkas now teaches at Dartmouth, where she is pianist-in-residence of the Hopkins Center, and at the Longy School in Massachusetts.

As a member of the acclaimed Adaskin String Trio since 1994, Steve Larson has performed extensively in the U.S. and Canada and recorded the complete string trios of Beethoven for the Musica Omnia label. He also performs as part of the Avery Ensemble and has collaborated with many other artists, including the Emerson and Miami String Quartets. A native of Saskatchewan, he holds degrees from McGill University, l’Université de Montréal, and the Hartt School at the University of Hartford, where he teaches.

Thomas Gallant is one of the world’s few virtuoso solo and chamber music performers on the oboe and has performed as both soloist and chamber musician in prestigious halls around the world and with such artists as Jean-Pierre Rampal, the Kronos Quartet, the Adaskin String Trio and the Prague-based Martinu Chamber Orchestra. After studying at the Indiana University School of Music, he performed with the New Orleans Symphony and the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra. His unique performance style combines the American and European traditions of oboe playing. His instrument is an “Evoluzione” oboe made by the Italian maker Fratelli Patricola.

Jasper String Quartet, Feb. 19, 2011
The Jasper String Quartet performs at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 19 in Hotchkiss Recital Hall. Newly named quartet-in-residence at the Oberlin Conservatory, the quartet consists of first violinist J Freivogel, violinist Sae Niwa, violist Sam Quintal, and cellist Rachel Henderson Freivogel. The four Jaspers, as they call themselves, studied together and formed their quartet while students at Oberlin and began their professional career as Rice University’s graduate quartet-in-residence in 2006. They continued their studies at Yale University with the Tokyo String Quartet.

The quartet has performed across the United States and in Canada, Norway, England, Italy, and Japan. In 2008 it won top prizes at the Plowman Chamber Music Competition, the Coleman Competition, Chamber Music Yellow Springs, and the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition. The next year it became the first ensemble to win the Yale School of Music’s Horatio Parker Memorial Prize, an award established in 1945 to recognize artists who fulfill “lofty musical ideals.” The four musicians served an unprecedented two years as the prestigious Ernst C. Stiefel String Quartet in Residence at the Caramoor Center for Music and Arts in Katonah.

Mark Valenti, piano, March 4, 2011
It’s back to the ivories with accomplished Chicago-based pianist Mark Valenti in a Friday evening performance, March 4, at 8 o’clock in Decker Theatre. Valenti holds a bachelor of music degree from the Philadelphia Musical Academy and a master of music degree from Northwestern University and has studied with Benjamin Whitten, Zoltan Kocsis and Mary Sauer. Formerly Professor of Music at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Xavier University in Chicago and the Loire Valley Music Institute in France, he now teaches at his private studio in Chicago. Valenti has soloed in cities throughout the U.S. and has performed in France, Belgium, Hungary and Luxembourg. He also has worked extensively in jazz, including performances with Gregory Hines, Frank Foster and Al Grey.

Lisa Shihoten, violin, and Wei-Yi Yang piano, April 15, 2011

Violinist Lisa Shihoten and pianist Wei-Yi Yang conclude the 2010-11 series on Friday evening, April 15, at 8 p.m. in Hotchkiss Recital Hall. Shihoten made her New York solo debut at Avery Fisher Hall with the Juilliard Orchestra under the direction of Kurt Masur and now enjoys an active career as a chamber musician, recitalist, and teacher. She tours throughout Israel, Greece, Turkey and the United States and appears frequently with the ensemble Concertante, with the Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players, and with organist Ken Cowan. She also has participated in the Caramoor, Ravinia, Verbier and Aspen Music Festivals. Ms. Shihoten received her bachelor’s degree from the Juilliard School, and her master’s degree from the Yale University School of Music. She makes her home in Princeton, New Jersey and teaches at Princeton University.

Pianist Wei-Yi Yang has performed in North and Central America, Asia, Europe, and Australia in solo recitals, with chamber music groups and with symphony orchestras. His venues include Lincoln Center, Steinway Hall and Merkin Hall in New York; the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.; the Kumho Art Hall in Seoul; and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music in Glasgow. Winner of numerous prizes and fellowships, Mr. Yang co-founded the award-winning Soyulla Ensemble, which recently debuted at Alice Tully Hall, toured Korea, and released a CD on the Renegade Classics label. Born in Taiwan of Chinese and Japanese heritage, Yang studied with Russian pianist Arkady Aronov at New York City's Manhattan School of Music. He earned his doctorate in musical arts from Yale University, where he now teaches.

Ticket Information Season tickets and tickets for individual concerts are sold at the door and by mail. Season tickets are priced at $50. Patron levels, which include season tickets, begin at $75 per person. Tickets to individual concerts are $15 (or $5 for youth ages 18 and under). Washington College students are admitted free with a valid ID. There are no reserved seats. Please call 410-778-7839 for more information, or email For updates and more program details throughout the year, please visit the Concert Series web page:

College Welcomes Record-Setting Class of 2014

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Washington College and its new president are welcoming the largest, most diverse freshman class in the school’s 228-year history. If test scores are any indication, it’s also one of the smartest: the class of 2014 has the highest high school GPA and the most impressive SAT/ACT profile in a decade. Forty percent were members of the National Honor Society, and 25 percent of the in-state students were recognized as Maryland Distinguished scholars. Many are benefiting from the College’s largest ever amount of scholarship and financial aid funding—more than $18 million.

The record-setting 420 freshmen will be moving onto campus Thursday morning, August 26, and starting several days of orientation activities. Statistics paint a portrait of a class that is 57 percent female and hails from 21 states and the territory of Guam, plus Argentina, China, Ethiopia, Korea, and New Zealand. Fifty-four percent are Marylanders, with 51 students representing the Eastern Shore.

Students of color make up 13 percent of the new class—the largest percentage of minorities to date. Washington College legacies account for 8 percent of the freshmen, and some 35 percent were recruited for athletic teams. The prestigious Presidential Fellows program, which offers a select group of high-achieving students additional opportunities for intellectual and cultural growth, will welcome 11 percent of the freshmen to its ranks.

President Mitchell Reiss, who took office July 1, is looking forward to the start of the academic year and to meeting both new and returning students. “The freshmen and I are starting out together on this new adventure,” he says. “I’m very excited about the diverse talents and experiences they are bringing to campus, and I look forward to getting to know them over the next few months at meals and events.”

College administrators and staff have been busy all summer preparing residence halls for the influx of new students. Mela Dutka, vice president and dean of student affairs, says Gibson Hall has been refurbished to house 21 men. For the past two years, dining services used the Gibson building as office space while Hodson Commons was under construction. In addition, says Dutka, “we have increased occupancy in some other dorms, making a double into a triple where space allows, and we’ve selectively converted some residence-hall lounges into student rooms.”

The orientation schedule includes a welcoming ceremony for new students and their families on the Campus Green, a tour of Chestertown, and a series of information sessions mixed with social events such as an outdoor movie and a dance. On Sunday evening, when all students have returned to campus, a traditional campus-wide picnic will end with a fireworks display. Classes start Monday morning, August 30.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Men's Lacrosse Alumni Game Slated for October 2

The annual Washington College men's lacrosse alumni game will be held on Saturday, October 2 as current and former Shoremen will go head-to-head on Kibler Field at Roy Kirby, Jr. Stadium.

Opening face-off for the game is slated for 5:00 p.m., following the men's soccer game against McDaniel College. The inauguration of Mitchell B. Reiss as the 27th President of Washington College is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. the same morning.

The alumni game will be the first formal competition for the current Shoremen under new head coach Jeff Shirk, who was hired in late June after spending four seasons as the head coach at Division I Virginia Military Institute (VMI). The Shoremen are expected to return their top 10 scorers from a year ago.

Alumni interested in playing in or attending the game should contact Coach Shirk at

The 2011 season will be the 70th season of varsity men's lacrosse at Washington College. The College first fielded a varsity men's lacrosse program from 1929 until 1934 and revived the sport for the 1948 season.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Major Grants Enhance Studio Art Experience at Washington College

Right: The Kohl Gallery and the William Frank Visual Arts Hall showcased student art in an April 2010 exhibition.

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Two grants totaling nearly half a million dollars are strengthening the Washington College art department and its collaborative efforts with other academic disciplines on campus. Provost Christopher Ames says the latest grant, $331,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, awarded earlier this month, is building on an important earlier grant of $164,798 from the Davenport Family Foundation.

Awarded in May of 2009, the Davenport funds provided sophisticated projection systems, furnishings for Kohl Gallery, photography equipment, and materials for drawing and painting studios. The Mellon funds will enable the College to hire a new full-time professor in studio art and to fund interdepartmental exhibitions in the new Kohl Gallery.

“These grants are helping a dynamic art department reach a new level of excellence,” says Dr. Mitchell Reiss, who became president of Washington College on July 1. “I look forward to even more engaging and provocative collaborations on campus as a result of this new funding.”

The $331,818 Mellon Foundation grant will help the College continue the momentum and excitement created by the opening of the $24 million Gibson Center for the Arts in fall of 2009. The Center includes the 1,200 square-foot Kohl Gallery, a state-of-the-art space where major exhibits are showcased. (The highly acclaimed opening exhibition, “Second Nature: Masterpieces of 19th Century Landscape Painting,” featured rarely seen works by Monet, Renoir, Pissarro and others.) An adjacent hallway, the William Frank Visual Arts Hall, provides a venue for student art exhibits, as well.

The upcoming improvements to the visual arts program are based in part on findings from an external peer review. That review, conducted by art professors from Connecticut College and Mount Holyoke College, recommended refurbishing the charming but cramped Larrabee Arts Center, a renovated boiler plant that houses studio art spaces. It also suggested adding a second tenure-track studio art teacher, one with expertise in some form of three-dimensional art such as sculpture, ceramics or installations.

The full time Art Department faculty now includes two art historians—Nancy L. Underwood associate professor Donald McColl, and associate professor Aileen Tsui—and assistant professor of studio art Monika Weiss, who spent the 2009-10 year on sabbatical in Prague, Warsaw and Berlin. Painter, sculptor and installation artist Ricky Sears, Weiss’s sabbatical replacement, will remain on campus as a visiting professor for the coming year while the College conducts a national search for the new tenure-track position.

Provost Ames says these grants will enrich the entire curriculum at Washington College. “I fully expect our faculty to embrace this ongoing opportunity, and to collaborate on exhibits that link art specifically to their areas of research and scholarship,” he says. “The environment, literature, music, mathematics, political movements, … the possibilities for subject matter are exciting, and they are endless.”

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

College Riverfront Series Hosts Guitar Duo Mac Walter & John Cronin

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Guitarists Mac Walter and John Cronin will bring their impressive finger work and gorgeous harmonies to Chestertown for the second concert of the Washington College Riverfront Concert Series on Tuesday evening August 17.

Sponsored by the College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, the concert will take place at 6:30 p.m. on the riverside lawn behind the Custom House, located at the corner of High and Water streets. Lemonade and light refreshments will be provided; attendees are encouraged to bring their own blankets or lawn chairs. In case of inclement weather, the concert will take place in The Egg, a performance space in Hodson Hall Commons on the main Washington College campus.

Walter and Cronin, who are cousins, started making music together as teenagers, playing at family gatherings and developing a mutual interest in folk music. Each later established his own impressive career.

A three-time winner of the Washington Area Music Awards, Mac Walter (at right in photo, above) began his music career at 15 when Marianne Price, formerly of Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks, convinced him to give up the ukulele and try the guitar. Three months later he was playing in Price's band, and he never looked back. After attending the Berklee College of Music, he returned to the Washington D.C. area and began working as a guitarist and singer/songwriter.

Walter was heavily influenced by folk luminaries such as Doc Watson, Mississippi John Hurt and Raun MacKinnon Burnham. He developed his unique finger-style approach to playing a variety of music—folk, rock, blues, jazz, and country—at the Charlie Byrd Studio in Bethesda, MD. Starting in 1987, Walter spent eight years with Boogie Woogie and blues vocalist Deanna Bogart and her band. The group released three CDs and headlined jazz and blues festivals all over Europe and the U.S. Walter also played with other Washington, DC legends, including Grace Griffith, Danny Gatton, and Roy Buchanan.

John Cronin homesteaded in Alaska before settling in British Columbia, where he was drawn to the Western cowboy flavor of the local music. His music soon reflected the ruggedness of his environs, and he developed a muscular style of guitar playing. He led many bands in British Columbia and spent seven years as lead guitarist for Canadian musical icon Ian Tyson. With Tyson's band, Cronin played to sold-out concerts all over Canada and the U.S. He also toured with renowned fiddle player Vassar Clements.

Together, John Cronin and Mac Walter have created two albums: Cousins, released in 2003, and Second Cousins, released in 2006. They also provided back-up guitar and vocals on Tom Wisner's last album, Follow on the Water. Wisner, a musician known as the Bard of the Chesapeake Bay, commented about the duo: "I've heard it said, ... that Mac is the mind and John is the heart of the guitar. The fact is that any interval of time may find either one of them using heart, mind and body to pull meaning out of this simple machine they love." For more on the duo, visit

The concert sponsor, the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College, explores our nation's history, particularly the legacy of its Founding era, in innovative ways. Through educational programs, scholarship and public outreach, and especially by supporting and fostering the art of written history, the Starr Center seeks to bridge the divide between past and present, and between the academic world and the public at large. Its guiding principle is that now more than ever, a wider understanding of our shared past is fundamental to the continuing success of America's democratic experiment. For more information visit

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Three Alumnae Are Maryland Teachers of the Year

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Three Washington College alumnae are among the 24 educators chosen by their districts as Maryland’s 2010 Teachers of the Year. Each year, Baltimore City and Maryland’s 23 counties select the best public school teachers in their districts, and they become nominees for the statewide title of Maryland Teacher of the Year. The state winner will be announced October 8.
In 2008, Washington College alumna April DeMar Todd ’95, then a language arts teacher at Somerset Intermediate School in Westover, won the state title. The alumnae in the running for that honor this year are Crystal Windsor Owens ’96 (Dorchester County, pictured above, right), Kristin Rosegren Hurlock ’00 (Queen Anne’s County, pictured below), and Tanya Briddell ’04 (Somerset County, pictured above, left).

Crystal Windsor Owens ’96, lives in Salisbury and teaches first grade at Choptank Elementary School. After earning a degree in psychology from Washington College, she received a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from Salisbury University and a master’s in psychology from the University of Baltimore. Majoring in psychology helped her understand child development and various learning styles, she says. “My professors at Washington College encouraged me to develop and maintain positive and professional relationships with people,” she adds. “They also provided an excellent example of how teachers work hard each day to encourage students to achieve their potential. ”
Owens says she aims to instill a love of learning in her young studentsand works hard to involve the parents, too. “We host a variety of parent events, from student showcases to a summer skills academy that prepares the parents to help their children with homework,” she explains. In addition to her school committee work, she mentors candidates for teaching certification and assists with a school-based Girl Scout Troop. She recently received a grant for Professional Development in Reading, which she will use to help improve student sight word recognition. One thing Owens says she knows for certain: “All children can learn.”

Kristin Rosegren Hurlock ’00 (above, with students) was nominated from Queen Anne’s County by her Advanced Placement students in U.S. government and politics at Kent Island High School. A political science major who minored in philosophy, she credits professor emeritus of politics Dr. John Taylor for giving her one of the foundations for her teaching. “He always influenced me to not only read the text and know the background, but to stay up with current events—to know how our systems of government were conceived and how they work today, she says. “He also especially embodied the principle of loving what you teach.”

Students pay her back with their performance: Her classes have averaged a 96 percent pass rate on the state’s high school assessment tests in U.S. Government, and boasted a 100 percent pass rate in 2009. Kristin says she rarely passes up a chance at professional development or an opportunity to contribute to the greater school community. She has revitalized the high school’s student advising program and led initiatives to improve attendance, discipline and communication with students and families. For the 2010-11 school year, as part of the new Teacher Academy of Maryland, she will teach college-level classes in education to high school seniors who want to jump- start their teacher training.

Tanya Briddell (shown above with some of her students), a 2004 summa cum laude graduate of Washington College, is in her seventh year of motivating learners in her English and theater classes at Washington Academy and High School in Somerset County. She majored in drama, minored in English and prepared for her teaching certificate while at WC. She says she felt “super prepared” to be a teacher. Especially influential were Dale Daigle, professor of theater, and former head of the education program, Sean O Connor.

“With Dale, you wanted to try new things and stretch yourself because he was so supportive,” she says. “I try to model how I teach my theater classes after the way he taught me.” Similarly, she adds, Dr. O Connor created a sense of community among education students and built their confidence through in-class teaching experiences. “Every day, he modeled what a good teacher is,” she says. “He used the strategies he wanted us to learn.”

Briddell’s drama program at the high school grows bigger and stronger each year. In addition to producing two plays a year, she takes students to the Festival of Eastern Shore Theater – “a great opportunity for high school students to get together to learn and compete” – and brings small groups of students to Chestertown to see Washington College productions. Her theater outreach has earned her kudos not only as her county’s Teacher of the Year, but also as an “Unsung Hero” of Somerset County.

O Connor, who retired from teaching in 2008, points out that the Teacher Certification program at Washington College is the smallest in Maryland in terms of student numbers; interested students pursue a traditional academic major and add education courses that prepare them for teacher certification. “What’s interesting to me, too, is the number of WC graduates who don’t go through our education program but six or seven years after graduation decide they will gain more intellectual and civic satisfaction by becoming a teacher,” he adds. “Two of the three nominated for Teacher of the Year are in this category. I like to view these decisions as a byproduct of our liberal-arts education, of stretching young minds. It would appear that ‘growing educators’ is a significant part of what our faculty does each year.”

Washington College A National "Best" in Princeton Review Guides

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Washington College is one of the best schools in the nation according to the Princeton Review, the nationally known education services company. The historic college, which was founded under the patronage of George Washington in 1782, is included in the just-published 2011 edition of the company’s respected flagship guide, The Best 373 Colleges. Approximately 15 percent of the four-year colleges in the United States, plus two in Canada, are represented in the book.

The Princeton Review uses both institutional data and student input to create its profiles of the selected colleges and universities. Washington College students describe “a great, small-school environment where everyone is always friendly and active,” and where professors “are always available and willing to help or even just chat about daily life.” They mention the frequency of “famous guest lecturers,” give high marks to WC’s “exceptional premedical program” and “strong environmental studies program,” and note that it is “a very good writing school.”

Robert Franek, Princeton Review’s Senior Vice President for Publishing, commends Washington College for its “outstanding academics,” which is the primary criteria for selecting schools for the book. “Our choices are based on institutional data we collect about schools, our visits to schools over the years, feedback we gather from students attending the schools, and the opinions of our staff and our 28-member National College Counselor Advisory Board,” he explains. “We also work to keep a wide representation of colleges in the book by region, size, selectivity and character.”

For its descriptions of campus life, the company relies heavily on an 80-question survey of students at each school, surveys that are updated every three years. (Washington College students were last surveyed in the 2007-2008 academic year; institutional data is updated annually.) “Only schools that permit us to independently survey their students are eligible to be considered,” Franek notes.

Dr. Mitchell Reiss, who became President of Washington College on July 1, says the student input helps make the list credible to its main audience: high school students facing the college admissions process. He’s optimistic that updated student input and data will bring even better news. “I think we’ll see our rankings continue to grow stronger every year,” he says. “This is a dynamic campus with a devoted faculty, and our students are constantly being offered new opportunities for growth and learning.”

Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and was founded with the support of George Washington. In 1782 he gave his name and pledged 50 guineas “as an earnest of my wishes for the prosperity of this seminary.” He also served briefly on its Board of Visitors and Governors before becoming the nation’s first president. Today, the College occupies 120 acres in historic Chestertown and offers 44 academic majors and programs.

The Princeton Review is headquartered in Framingham, MA, and New York City, and operates test preparation centers across the country. It is not affiliated with Princeton University, nor is it a magazine. Published by Random House, The Best 373 Colleges is the 19th edition of The Princeton Review’s annual guide. Washington College also is included in the “Best in the Northeast” section of the company’s recently posted website feature, “2011 Best Colleges: Region by Region,” and in The Best Northeastern Colleges: 2011 Edition, a print publication to be released August 10.