You Read it in The Cupola: Stories Highlight Activities of the Year

April 25, 2007

Given the size and frequency of our newspaper, The Cupola every story we select must be timely, complete, interesting, and critical for readers to know about. For those reasons, we believe each article in The Cupola has been important. Yet, we know some pieces stood out the lasting effect the topic will have on Mary Baldwin University. Our self-inflicted end-of-year task was to choose the Top 10 stories — which we hope will also serve to remind everyone of the highlights of 2006–07. This was one tough assignment.

Single-Sex Education Takes Center Stage

Headlines appeared last fall in news media across the country about Randolph-Macon Woman’s College’s (R-MWC) historic decision to admit men in fall 2007, and single-sex institutions responded with their opinions on the issue. An editorial by Mary Baldwin President Pamela Fox, which also appeared in Staunton’sThe News Leader, andCampus CommentsEditor-in-Chief Star LaBranche’s ’08 editorial about the perception of women’s college students comprisedThe Cupola’scoverage of the issue in October. That was not the end of the discussion. An editorial response to the R-MWC vote by Sara Nair James ’69, Mary Baldwin professor of art, appeared in theRichmond-Times Dispatchshortly thereafter, and just last month the same newspaper featured Hampden-Sydney College, an all-male college in Farmville, Virginia, in a front-page article documenting its success as one of the few all-male institutions in the country. A landmark study by Indiana University also illustrated that women’s colleges continue to serve a vital role in society, based on data from the National Survey of Student Engagement (in which Mary Baldwin students participated for the first time this year).

Freshmen Earn a ‘Perfect 10’

We go all the way back to the first issue of the 2007–08 year for a highlight that demonstrated Mary Baldwin is not only surviving, but thriving as a single-sex college. The 10 components of the Mary Baldwin University Advantage (Mary BaldwinA) were officially introduced to freshmen for the first time during revamped Orientation activities, and the new class continued to explore each one in Mary Baldwin 101 courses for the duration of fall semester. “The Perfect 10” was a well-timed theme for the Class of 2010, and it included Mary Baldwin’s unique adaptation of best-practices in use at colleges nationwide. Elements of the Mary BaldwinA — community service, international experiences, and wellness plans to name a few — popped up in The Cupola throughout the year, and in April we reported on the changes that will occur in Mary Baldwin 101 next year as a result of student end-of-course surveys during its first run.

‘One Giant Step’ for Mary Baldwin Recruiting

Some colleges on the east coast consider California the limit for long-distance recruiting, but Mary Baldwin set its sights on Asia this year and followed through with several visits. Crista Cabe, associate vice president for Communication, Marketing, and Public Affairs, embarked in February on a two-week tour of schools in India, covering thousands of miles. She returned with a better picture of how to target recruiting in that country. She also met several interested prospective students. Daniel Métraux, professor of Asian studies, recently returned from a recruiting trip during which he made many contacts in Korea and built existing relationships with Mary Baldwin’s solid base of sister schools in Japan.

The World at Our Doorstep

While the college explored overseas for students to add to its increasingly diverse international community, global voices and perspectives also converged on campus in surprising numbers. A summary of a few words can hardly do justice to the likes of those who graced Mary Baldwin with personality, wisdom, and a broader world view. Suffice to say that visits by former Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto, Indian human rights activist Sanjana Das, musician Srinivas Krishnan of India, Indian Fulbright Visiting Specialist art historian Geeti Sen, Ashoka Institute representative Venkatesh Raghavandra of India, and year-long Lebanese Fulbright Visiting Scholar Sahar Saba enriched the campus in more ways than we may realize at present. Unforgettable artist and activist Claudia Bernardi, Doenges Visiting Artist/Scholar for the year, is back on campus for a dynamic May Term course, continuing Mary Baldwin’s international discovery.

SACS Review Favorable

The college was prepared for the March on-campus visit of a team from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). Just a little thing known as Mary Baldwin’s future as an accredited institution of higher education hinged on the committee’s report. After a few days of exploration at the Staunton campus and two of its regional sites, the SACS team left Mary Baldwin with a favorable report; in fact we earned high marks in areas that typically may be problematic, according to Lew Askegaard, registrar, associate dean of the college, and dean of institutional research, and Mary Baldwin’s SACS guru. He expects the organization’s final report to yield few, if any, surprises. The college celebrated with an event at the President’s House, and the college continues to develop one of the primary pieces of reaccreditation, our Quality Enhancement Plan, Learning for Civic Engagement in a Global Context. During the 2007–08 academic year, the QEP theme “voices” will weave into the fabric of campus life and civic engagement will be integrated into all academic majors.

Moving to the Head of the Class

Alumnae/i whose graduation year ends in 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, or 9 are by now versed in the ways of Class Leadership at Mary Baldwin. We introduced the concept in The Cupola last year, before the first classes — those ending in 2, 3, 7, and 8 — met to elect their initial leaders. This spring, two of those groups who were celebrating Reunion (the 2s and 7s) held their inaugural class meetings as part of that event and elected a second slate of officers. Class Leadership is revolutionizing the way Mary Baldwin alumnae/i communicate with each other. Class officers compile Class Notes forThe Mary Baldwin University Magazine, organize Reunion and mini-reunions, and engage in fundraising. “Everyone keeps in touch with at least one other person in the class, and if we shared that information in a big bank, it would be great,” said Alison Shiprek Kemper ’92. Members of classes who graduated in a year ending in 0, 1, 5, or 6 will be introduced to the system in September 2007, completing the cycle.

Signature Programs Celebrate Milestones

“I have never felt so affirmed in all of my days here,” wrote Andrea Cornett-Scott, associate vice president for student affairs, in response to the front-page October 2006 article about the college’s celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Office of African-American and Multicultural Affairs.The Cupolawas with the year-long commemoration, from Harlem Renaissance Ball revelry in October, to the announcement of those who would be included on the impressive Wall of Honor in November, and to the poignant reveal of the Wall and reuniting of alumnae in March. This year also brings festivities for two other milestones in Mary Baldwin programming — the 10th anniversary of Quest was heralded at its induction ceremony during Reunion, and the Baldwin Online and Adult Programs will celebrate 30 years in June.

National Media Spotlight Burns Bright

Newsweek. MTV. ESPN. Animal Planet. When national media made its presence known on campus, The Cupola was in the interesting position of reporting about the reporting. A Newsweek piece featuring Mary Baldwin University hit newsstands October 30 [issue date November 6]. Many months later, at the Reunion reveal of the Wall of Honor, at least two alumnae referenced the article’s information about Mary Baldwin’s impressive diversity. MTV crews were at the college at around the same time as Newsweek, and although Mary Baldwin did not end up appearing on the channel, it was a valuable experience. More recently, the ESPN family of channels brought the spotlight to Mary Baldwin once again, this time for three-sport athlete and VWIL cadet Karen Potter ’08 in a profile on NCAA On Campus. Not to be left waiting in the wings, beloved squirrel mascot Gladys was highlighted on Animal Planet in a show about animal mascots around the country. Gladys received at least as much airtime as many larger colleges and universities, and shared the show with nationally-known mascots. Each media visit was an opportunity to position Mary Baldwin University as a nationally recognized leader in providing personalized, transforming liberal education.

Building Community With Virginia Community Colleges

Mary Baldwin University and the Virginia Community College System signed an articulation agreement in September whereby students who graduate from any of the 23 community colleges in the state are guaranteed transfer of credit and admission to the Baldwin Online and Adult Programs or the Residential College for Women at Mary Baldwin. The historic pact eliminated the need to sign individual agreements with each college, which Mary Baldwin had started to secure in 2005. The ease of the transfer agreement could boost the number of applicants for slots at Mary Baldwin next year over the 2006–07 record of 1,485 — the college is already 9 percent ahead of that record pace. The Cupola also reported in January about the strengthening relationships between Baldwin Online and Adult Programs regional centers and their “adopted” community colleges where students primarily take classes via online tutorials. At least one student is on her way to earning an Mary Baldwin bachelor’s degree this spring through connections with an outlying community college.

CMP progress photo spread

< The Mary Baldwin University campus master plan, Transforming Our Environment, details the long-range plan for construction, landscaping, and renovation in a text of thousands of words. The Cupola heeded the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand such words — and hundreds of work hours, in this case — when we illustrated the progress made on the campus master plan during summer 2006 with a photo spread in the first issue of the year. Seeing the breadth of work laid out in that manner conveyed the scope of the transformation in many areas of campus and gave the college ever-more appreciation for the work of its physical plant personnel. The Samuel R. Jr. and Ava Spencer Center for Global and Civic Engagement continues the plan’s vision, and melds it physically and visually with another of Mary Baldwin’s important ventures, the Quality Enhancement Plan based on worldwide service learning. Some of the projects planned for summer 2007 include replacing the columns and balcony at the Student Activities Center, adding Class of 2011 banners around campus, expanding wireless locations, and revamped lounges (including large screen TVs) in Hill Top, Memorial, Tullidge, and the PEG Center, according to Sharon Campbell, director of auxiliary services.

Some of Our “Stories to Look For” in 2007–08:

  • Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) accreditation for the education program at Mary Baldwin, which includes undergraduate and graduate degrees, and post baccalaureate teacher licensure; the program has completed several steps toward its first attempt at national accreditation
  • Changes in athletics, including a conference change from Atlantic Women’s Colleges Conference to USA South
  • Fulbright scholars and other prominent visitors from abroad
  • Expanded (overseas) recruiting and partnerships for Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership
  • “Voices:” incorporating this year’s Quality Enhancement Plan theme into all disciplines and many campus events
  • Opening of the Samuel R. Jr. and Ava Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement