Event Examines Power, Reveals Upcoming College Themes

February 23, 2011

Amy Tillerson Nadine Gergel-Hackett Paula Davis-Olwell Joseph Sprangel

Each year at Mary Baldwin University, new themes are introduced that reflect and foster civic and global engagement — critical components of Mary Baldwin’s mission. Previous themes have included Voices, Maps, and Heart, and the 2010–11 theme, Power, has people talking.

At noon on February 24, a Power Panel of faculty members representing the four Schools of Excellence — Amy Tillerson, associate professor of history; Nadine Gergel-Hackett, assistant professor of physics; Paula Davis-Olwell, assistant professor of healthcare administration; and Joe Sprangel, assistant professor of business administration — will gather in Francis Auditorium to discuss the concept of power, their thoughts concerning it, and how it applies to academics. Organizers invite the entire community to attend the discussion.

Gergel-Hackett sees the event as an “opportunity to realize the richness of the theme.”

“I’ve been thinking about power from a general physics perspective, how it can have varied applications, such as in electrical power or mechanical power systems,” she said. “My perspective on power will come from its definition as it applies to physics.”

Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College Catharine O’Connell will announce the college-wide themes chosen for the next two academic years at the event. The top five choices under consideration are Difference, Justice, Place, Water, and Wisdom. (Read about the selected themes in the next issue of The Cupola , on newsstands next week.)

Student creativity will also be featured. A contest sponsored by the Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement garnered entries from students who wrote poems and essays and produced drawings and paintings to capture the scope of this year’s theme. Those students have been asked to attend the Power Panel and one student will be chosen to present her finished project at the event and receive $50.

Olivia Grace ’13 submitted a drawing (pictured below) inspired by Czech artist Alphonse Mucha, and is hoping that she will have the chance to present her artwork at the panel discussion.

“Alphonse Mucha is one of my favorite artists because I love the style and the colors he used, but mostly because of the way he drew women,” Grace said. “The women were always beautiful, powerful, ethereal figures, and I wanted to recreate that in my piece.”

Grace’s portrait depicts a collection of images including a woman; a map of the world; symbols central to Mary Baldwin such as a squirrel, pearls, and Hunt Dining Hall; stars; and flowers.

“The red flowers in the drawing are stargazer lilies, which signify ambition, and the little yellow flowers are statice flowers, which mean success,” Grace explained. “The ambition to succeed is something that I’ve gained here at Mary Baldwin, and that ambition is also part of what makes me powerful.”

Grace said she wanted to submit her work because of the passion she feels for Mary Baldwin and this year’s theme and to share what she had learned about herself and others through her art.

“I’ve learned that Power is something we all have within us,” Grace said. “It may be big, or small, but it’s there. Each day, we use that strength to help ourselves and others succeed, even when we think we can’t.”