World’s Leading Geneticist Will Inspire

October 22, 2008

There are 3.1 billion things — give or take a few — that make Mary Baldwin University’s Alumnae/i College weekend a learning experience not to be missed. That is approximately the number of letters in the complete human genome, which the event’s special guest, Dr. Francis Collins, decoded as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute. Two sessions with Collins headline the college’s first Alumnae/i College, inviting graduates back to campus to celebrate the arts and sciences at Mary Baldwin.

“Our goal is that alumnae/i and the public will return home with new knowledge — having learned in the company of scholars and friends,” said Jennifer Kibler ’91, executive director of alumnae/i and parent relations.

Collins’ scientific breakthroughs earned him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007, presented by President George W. Bush. His 2006 book about his melding of science and faith, Language of God, was on The New York Times bestseller list for more than 20 weeks. Francis Collins’ presentations will set the stage for exploration of his parents’ influence on Mary Baldwin University during the event. His father, the late Professor Emeritus of Theatre Fletcher Collins, taught at Mary Baldwin for more than 30 years, his legacy memorialized in the name of the black box theatre in Deming Fine Arts building on campus. His late mother, Margaret Collins, was also intimately connected with the college and its students.

Several faculty and staff members will lead workshops during the weekend. Terry Southerington ’72 and Virginia Francisco ’64, professors of theatre, offer their insight during the sessions about Fletcher and Margaret Collins. Blending scientific and artists worlds, other offerings include an exploration of biological studies of Lewis Creek in downtown Staunton with Associate Professor of Biology Lundy Pentz, and a discussion of and trip to a mural in the city created by Mary Baldwin students and Argentine artist-in-residence Claudia Bernardi with Marlena Hobson, associate professor of art, among others. Students, faculty, staff, and community members are invited to register to attend and share the experience with alumnae/i.

For more information and to register for Alumnae/i College October 24–26, visit .