State Highway Office Awards Washington College GIS Program

The Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration’s Maryland Highway Safety Office has awarded Washington College’s GIS Program a grant of $494,000 to continue its work helping minimize fatal and serious injury crashes on Maryland’s roadways. This is the fifth consecutive year the GIS Program has won the grant.

“The grant renewal is part of $11.7 million in federal highway safety funds that are distributed to various agencies and organizations throughout Maryland to assist the mission towards zero deaths,” says GIS Program Director Erica McMaster. The funds will support hiring an additional GIS statistical data analyst and will broaden the opportunities for College students who work in the lab.

“The GIS team has expanded and improved its support to the Maryland Highway Safety Office (MHSO) and local law enforcement,” McMaster says. The new analyst will be responsible for quality checking the datasets and running statistical methods on the data to report the findings to MHSO and Maryland’s Traffic Records Coordinating Council.

Six staff members and about 20 student interns are currently funded under the MHSO grant. Their work includes supporting the Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP)in six emphasis areas: impaired driving, aggressive driving, occupant protection, distracted driving, pedestrian/bicyclists, and highway infrastructure. Also, as law enforcement has quickly expanded its use of the Risk Analysis Vehicle and Environmental Networks, GIS staff travel statewide to train officers and agencies in how to use the web application, which maps hotspots and one-mile road segments for crashes and citations for each of the SHSP emphasis areas.

Along with affirming the GIS Program’s work, the renewed funding will give student interns greater opportunities to gain training and attend professional conferences that can expand their network of professional connections and help lead to a career after college.

For more information about Washington College’s GIS Program, visit https://www.washcoll.edu/centers/ces/gis/.

About Washington College

Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. It enrolls approximately 1,450 undergraduates from more than 35 states and a dozen nations. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at washcoll.edu.

WC Announces New Dual-Degree Partnership with Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment

Environmental science and environmental studies students at Washington College will now have the opportunity to earn their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in five years, thanks to a new partnership between Washington College and Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment.

The agreement, known as dual-degree, allows qualified students to leave Washington College after their third year and enroll at Duke, where they can study for a master’s degree in either environmental management or forestry. After successfully completing their first year at Duke, they will be awarded their bachelor’s degree from WC. The new dual-degree program joins others at the College, including one in engineering with Columbia University, and in nursing and pharmacy with the University of Maryland.

Washington College students get hands-on with Chesapeake blue crabs.

“To me, in environmental science and studies, it’s about creating more opportunities for students,” says Charlie Kehm, chair of the Department of Physics and McLain Associate Professor of Physics and Environmental Science and Studies, who oversaw the development of the dual-degree program with Duke. “I love that they can come into Washington College and see themselves at the end of this really cool path. Parents like that too, because they want to know what’s the next step. So, I think these opportunities are really powerful in that way, because if nothing else, they give you some imagination to see what the possibilities are.”

Patrice DiQuinzio, Provost and Dean of the College, says the new arrangement illustrates the College’s determination to provide distinctive opportunities to its students, and it continues to build upon the College’s growing and energetic environmental program.

“Environmental science and studies is increasingly one of our most popular majors, and this will only enhance what is already a strong, exciting program,” DiQuinzio says. “It also lends force to the power and breadth of the liberal arts, which form the foundation of all we do here.”

Although the program takes effect immediately for incoming freshman in 2019, current freshmen and sophomores are also eligible to work toward the dual-degree. Leslie Sherman, co-chair of the Department of Environmental Science and Studies and W. Alton Jones Associate Professor of Chemistry, says the department will work to help current students attain needed requirements, as well as support incoming students to ensure they stay on track.

“I had envisioned environmental science students wanting to do the forestry program, because we don’t have forestry here,” Sherman says. “But our science students want to do environmental management too, which is exciting. This opens a clear pathway to this wonderful program at a fantastic school. And students who wish to finish their four years at Washington College and then seek graduate admission to Duke will also be able to take advantage of this relationship.”

The Nicholas School of the Environment is internationally known for not only its forestry and environmental management elements but also the Duke University Marine Lab. Two recent Washington College graduates, Anna Windle ’16 and Kelly Dobroski ’16, are currently enrolled at the Nicholas School in the environmental management master’s program, and Sherman is planning for them to return to campus to talk with interested undergraduates. Windle, studying coastal environmental management, in September won a highly competitive NOAA/North Carolina Sea Grant fellowship to assess oyster reef health.

For more information about Washington College’s Environmental Science and Studies program, visit https://www.washcoll.edu/departments/environmental-science-and-studies/

For more information about Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, see https://nicholas.duke.edu/.

About Washington College

Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. It enrolls approximately 1,450 undergraduates from more than 35 states and a dozen nations. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at washcoll.edu.

Program at Washington College Spotlights the African American Church

Washington College’s Institute for Religion, Politics and Culture is launching a new program on “The African American Church and American Ideals.” The inaugural event will be a two-part series titled “The African American Church: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.”

The series will feature three local church leaders: the Rev. Charles Pinkett of Cambridge, the Hon. Corey Pack of Easton, and the Rev. Dr. William T. Wallace, Sr. of St. Michaels.

On Monday, Oct. 16 in Hynson Lounge, the conversation will center on the strength of the African American church today and how it remains vital and vibrant, despite claims to the contrary. The Rev. Pinkett, recipient of the 2016 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Image Award, and the Hon. Pack, member of the Talbot County Council, Sunday School teacher, and lay leader at Union Baptist Church in Easton, will lead the lecture.  It will start at 6pm

 

In the second installment of the series, scheduled for Nov. 6 starting at 6:30PM in Litrenta Hall, Dr. Wallace, pastor of Union United Methodist Church in St. Michaels, will discuss the institution of the church and its history.

“The church is an important part of the American tapestry,” says Joseph Prud’homme, associate professor of political science and director of the Institute for Religion, Politics, and Culture. “It’s important to showcase it and for the community to have a deeper appreciation of its history and vitality.”

Future installments of the new program on the African American Church and American Ideals will include tours to historic sites across the Eastern Shore and performances by various church groups.

For more information about the program, contact Institute for Religion, Politics, and Culture Director Joseph Prud’homme at jprudhomme2@washcoll.edu.

$500K Grant to Center for Environment and Society

A male bobwhite quail at the Natural Lands Project

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation has awarded Washington College’s Center for Environment & Society (CES) $500,000 to expand its innovative Natural Lands Project into the mid-shore. The foundation grant meets $801,000 in matching funding from CES and its partners, Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited, and Pickering Creek Audubon Center, for a total of $1.3 million for the project.

The Natural Lands Project (NLP), piloted at the college’s Chester River Field Research Station at Chino Farms, enlists the support of local landowners to restore grassland habitat for bobwhite quail and other species while also creating buffers that help filter runoff into the Chesapeake Bay’s tributaries.

“The Natural Lands Project encompasses the best of what we do and teach—it restores habitat, cleans the Bay, and perhaps most important, it provides an example to our students of how the cultural links between environment and society can be used in restoration,” said John Seidel, director of the CES. “That social and community element in restoration is critical to the future of the Chesapeake, as well as to watersheds around the world.”

The grant, announced Sept. 19, was among 44 projects awarded through the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund, a partnership between the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grants and Small Watershed Grants programs, as well as other partners. Washington College is the only institution of higher education among the recipients.

“Through the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and our partners, especially the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, continue to invest in locally led efforts to protect and restore the more than 100,000 miles of local rivers and streams that feed the Bay,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO, NFWF. “These investments demonstrate that the actions necessary to restore local rivers and streams go hand in hand with opportunities to enhance local communities.”

One of the biggest issues for the Bay on the Eastern Shore is agricultural runoff. Collaterally, as more acreage is put into agriculture, grassland and upland habitats are vanishing, and with them, iconic species like the bobwhite quail. Using the restored grasslands at the college’s Chester River Field Research Station, Dan Small, a field ecologist with CES and now coordinator of the NLP, has been conducting surveys to document the quail population in the restored grasslands and around the farm. By last year, Small and Washington College student researchers documented an average of 25 calling males and an estimated 29 coveys—the highest concentration of the species in the state of Maryland since its precipitous decline began decades ago.

As a game bird, the bobwhite historically is on a cultural par with the Canada goose on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Its loss was keenly felt among hunters, sportsmen, and farmers. In an effort to motivate landowners to create more habitat for the quail—and, by extension, create buffers that would help reduce agricultural runoff into the Bay’s tributaries—the CES worked with the Chester River Association in 2015 to spin the quail restoration into the Natural Lands Project with a $700,000 award from the Department of Natural Resources.

“The concept was simple,” said Mike Hardesty, associate director of programs and staff at CES. “Transform less-than-productive agricultural land into natural habitat for iconic species. Give landowners a cultural reason—even more compelling than a financial one—to set aside some of their land for habitat management, which in turn would benefit local water quality and Bay restoration efforts.” The NLP also restores wetlands in order to achieve similar water quality and wildlife benefits.

In the first two years, the NLP created 274 acres of native upland grasses and wildflowers in marginal cropland on 11 participating farms. Ten wetlands projects—25 acres of wetlands in fields with unproductive soils poorly suited for growing crops—were also completed. College students and CES researchers began what will be a continuing survey of bird populations to monitor abundance and diversity at each site.

The new funding will be used to expand the project to into the middle and upper Eastern Shore to 285 more acres of buffers and 16 more acres of wetlands. Before receiving the award, five landowners signed on for an additional 115 acres. CES expects this project and its focus to grow and the model to be used in watersheds across the country.

Watch a video about the Natural Lands Project.

 

Starr Center’s Goodheart Earns National Endowment for the Humanities Award

Adam Goodheart works in the Library of Congress on his new book, 1865: The Rebirth of a Nation.

Adam Goodheart, director of Washington College’s Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, has earned a prestigious Public Scholar Award from the National Endowment for the Humanities to research and write the sequel to his best-selling 1861: The Civil War Awakening.

The NEH grant, in the words of its mission statement, supports “scholarship that will be of broad interest and have lasting impact.” It rewards writers who can bridge the gap between academia and popular nonfiction to shed light on a broad range of topics: from diabetes and species extinction to the French Revolution and—in Goodheart’s case—the Civil War. Scholars must have already published a major book to apply, and the acceptance rate is slender, only about 5 percent.

Goodheart, whose 1861: The Civil War Awakening was a New York Times bestseller, is working on its sequel, 1865: The Rebirth of a Nation. He is returning to the same deeply researched narrative techniques for which the Times praised 1861, saying, “Goodheart excels at creating emotional empathy with his characters, encouraging us to experience the crisis as they did, in real time, without the benefit of historical hindsight. He lets the players speak for themselves and make the best case for their own motives and beliefs.”

1861 was also a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in history, and the audiobook, published by Audible, won the Audie Award in history. President Barack Obama invited Goodheart to an Oval Office ceremony to recognize his role in having Fort Monroe, where part of 1861 is set, declared a National Monument.

“As with 1861, I’m working to evoke the lived experience of a moment in history, through vivid depictions of individual people and places,” Goodheart says. “Doing it successfully requires immersing myself in the primary sources, which is something I love to do. For instance, a few weeks ago I was at the National Archives, delving into the thousands of letters that families wrote to the federal government seeking information on loved ones who hadn’t come back from the Civil War. Reading some of them was an emotional experience, even 150 years later. Those little known but powerful human stories interest me more than troop movements and battle strategies.”

Goodheart has been able to take a part-time leave from his Starr Center duties to pursue the research and perform the writing. The book is to be published in hardcover by Alfred A. Knopf and as a Vintage paperback.

“I’m honored to be supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities,” Goodheart says, adding that he hopes Congress will continue to fund the NEH and its sister institution, the National Endowment for the Arts, both of which are zeroed out in President Donald Trump’s proposed budget. “If he succeeds,” Goodheart says, “it will be a disaster for the intellectual and cultural life of our country.”

 

 

WC Receives $1 Million Gift to Support Study of Classical World

Andrea Trisciuzzi, vice president for college advancement, accepts two checks totaling over $1 million from William Creager, executor of the estate of a couple who made the gift anonymously to Washington College.

A couple who visited Chestertown regularly for over 30 years has bequeathed more than $1 million to Washington College as an endowment for the study of the Classical world. The couple, who chose to remain anonymous for their gift, were not College alumni, although they were members of The 1782 Society, the College’s leadership giving society, and often attended events on campus.

“They enjoyed Chestertown and the influence the College had on the quality of life here,” says a local resident, also choosing anonymity, who was friends with the pair for some 50 years. “They particularly enjoyed the Washington College Concert Series every year.”

The donors intend for the bequest to encourage development of new academic opportunities and to sustain the work of faculty members already involved in areas of study related to the Classical world. The funds could support the hiring of instructors; library materials; new and existing courses in the literature, history, art, philosophy, or religion (including the study of mythology) of the Classical world; faculty research; and honoraria and expenses for visiting lecturers.

“The study of the Classical world has always been a key component of a liberal arts education,” says Patrice DiQuinzio, Provost and Dean of the College, “and we are thrilled to have this fund to support the work of Washington College faculty who teach courses related to that era.”

“This is truly a remarkable and generous gift,” says College President Kurt M. Landgraf. “It’s clear that Washington College connects with people in sometimes unexpected ways that remind us why we do what we do. The relationship between the College and the town of Chestertown is strong, with powerful potential. This couple saw a local opportunity to affect generations to come, in a meaningful way, and we are deeply grateful.”

About Washington College

Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. It enrolls approximately 1,450 undergraduates from more than 35 states and a dozen nations. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at washcoll.edu.

The Collaborative Turtle Research of WC Student and Professor Earns the Cover of “Animal Conservation”

After Hannah O’Malley proposed that her senior thesis be based on research with Washington College Biology Associate Professor Aaron Krochmal, the results of her original hypothesis and the pair’s collaboration to test it are helping conservation managers reassess the role of learning when it comes to moving endangered animals from one habitat to another.

The results of their study are featured in a manuscript entitled “An Empirical Test of the Role of Learning in Translocation” published this summer in the online edition of Animal Conservation. Coauthored by Krochmal’s research associate Timothy C. Roth of Franklin & Marshall College, the paper will be the print edition’s cover story in February 2018.

Hannah O’Malley ’12 in the field radio-tracking Eastern painted turtles.

For O’Malley ’12, a biology major who minored in secondary education and has gone on to become a key member of Walt Disney’s Animals Sciences and Environment education team, co-authorship of her first peer-reviewed paper “feels great, and I’m very excited to officially see it in writing, (and) that my thesis has a purpose beyond just being my Senior Capstone Experience. I love that it has implications for conserving species.”

Although many researchers have studied translocation—the practice of moving an animal from one location to another to protect it from habitat loss or other extinction risks—this research is the first that examines the practice experientially through the lens of cognition and learning. Wildlife managers have long used “soft release”—giving an animal time to learn a new habitat by penning or otherwise protecting it for a period of time before turning it loose—but this research shows that for some species, even soft-release translocation can only succeed if the animals are able to learn the new habitat.

For Eastern painted turtles, whose migratory patterns and navigational methods Krochmal and his students have been studying for eight years, that critical window of learning only happens within their first three years of life. O’Malley was one of Krochmal’s Summer Research students who had worked with him on turtle research at DuPont’s Chesapeake Farms, a 3,300-acre agriculture and wildlife management property near the College.

An Eastern painted turtle with radio tag attached sets off in search of a new water source.

“This project was Hannah’s idea. She was looking into the conservation education side of things but with a strong science background,” Krochmal says. “She suggested the idea of translocating animals with both a short time window and a long time window to compare their behavior against animals that live in that habitat, asking ‘Can you, as newly introduced animal, catch up to their culture?’ And the answer is no, unless you do it when you’re young.”

These data, Krochmal says, encourage more research into this question for other species that are likely to need translocation. And, it can help conservation managers better allocate limited resources—for instance, they may want to spend their money and efforts only on juvenile and newly hatched turtles, rather than adults, since the former are clearly able to learn a new environment while the latter will likely die in the attempt.

“I remember Dr. K saying, ‘What do you think is going to happen?’ and I said, ‘We’re going to translocate turtles and they’re not going to know what the heck is going on,’ ” says O’Malley. “I had already watched how the resident turtles know so clearly what they’re doing. It’s like us waking up in the morning and saying, ‘It’s wintertime and I guess I need to put my coat on.’ They just know what to do.”

Asking newly introduced adult turtles to learn the new habitat “was like moving someone from Florida up north—‘Whoa! I don’t know how to handle this!’ It would have been cool if they miraculously have this sense of direction without having to learn that, but we definitely saw that was not the case.”

In her career with Disney, O’Malley works with other teams to connect children and families to the global environment, creating outdoor education experiences at Walt Disney World in Florida, as well as curricula and resources for educators. For instance, while working with content from the film “Moana,” O’Malley helped develop an activity packet and teacher resource guide that included lessons on sea turtle conservation, while with the new film “Born in China,” she worked on materials related to education and conservation of pandas, snow leopards, and golden snub nosed monkeys—key species featured in the film.

Her work with Krochmal, she says, taught her that the purpose of research is less to find answers than to learn what are the next questions to ask. As an educator now, she also has realized fully the value of his method of mentorship.

“Dr. Krochmal was one of the first educators who treated me as an equal,” she says. “It was, ‘OK, we have this question, let’s work on it together and see where it goes and where it takes us.’ He would say, ‘This is as much your project as it is my project.’ Over time I became more and more invested and empowered and more confident, and I definitely felt like I was contributing, which as a student you don’t always get.”

See the Animal Conservation abstract here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1469-1795/earlyview

Read the entire paper: here: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/317719204_An_empirical_test_of_the_role_of_learning_in_translocation

Learn more about the turtle research here: https://www.facebook.com/taskforceturtle1/

About Washington College

Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. It enrolls approximately 1,450 undergraduates from more than 35 states and a dozen nations. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at washcoll.edu.

Washington College Names Kurt M. Landgraf as Next President

CHESTERTOWN—The Washington College Board of Visitors and Governors today announced the appointment of Kurt M. Landgraf as the next President of the college. President-elect Landgraf, who was determined to be an exceptional and highly qualified candidate during the Board’s most recent national search in 2015, will begin his tenure July 1.

Kurt M. Landgraf – New President of Washington College

“Throughout his remarkable career, Kurt Landgraf has set himself apart from his peers as an exceptional leader and an exemplar of the values we seek to instill in our students, faculty, and community here at Washington College,” said Board Chair H. Lawrence Culp, Jr. “We believe his collaborative leadership style, his ability to craft ambitious and integrated strategies, and his operational experience will be an asset to Washington College.

“We are thrilled that such an exceptional candidate was available to lead our College in support of the groundbreaking work of our students and faculty,” Culp continued.

“I am deeply honored by the opportunity to join the Washington College community, and to continue the work of my predecessors in providing students with the best possible education,” said Landgraf. “To join the ranks of this storied and historic institution is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I’m certain that by working with the faculty, staff, student body, and board, as well as others in the community, we will be able to accomplish extraordinary things. And while new leadership always brings change, rest assured that President Sheila Bair’s exceptional work to address the national student debt crisis and to launch a comprehensive campaign will not only continue, but I hope will be energized and invigorated.”

Landgraf is well known to both the Washington College Board of Visitors and Governors and the most recent presidential search committee. In 2015, that search committee— proportionally comprised of faculty, senior staff, and board members—began its national search for a new president, considering nearly 400 candidates and seriously vetting nearly 60 contenders. During that process, Landgraf proved himself to be an outstanding candidate.

Landgraf comes to Washington College with a decades-long résumé as a senior executive with DuPont (including serving as Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chairman of DuPont Europe Middle East and Africa, Chairman and CEO of DuPont Pharmaceutical Company and CEO of DuPont Merck Company), and a 13-year tenure as President and CEO of ETS, one of the world’s leading providers of measurement programs and evaluations for schools, including both the K-12 and higher education communities.

Currently, Landgraf serves as a member of the boards of directors for Corning Incorporated and the Louisiana-Pacific Corporation. He has also served as President of the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science, and was nominated, confirmed, and served as Vice Chairman of the Higher Education Commission for the State of New Jersey, the state’s governing body for higher education institutions.

“Kurt Landgraf’s vision of cooperative co-governance will be a strong foundation from which to work together as a campus, and he has already shown a willingness to embrace the Washington College strategic plan. I’m certain his leadership will lend our campus and community essential guidance, and assist us in every facet of operations, from helping fight the national student debt crisis, to accomplishing our unprecedented fundraising goals as part of our Forge a Legacy campaign,” said Jonathan McCollum, Chair of the Washington College Faculty Council and Chair of the Department of Music. “It is a pleasure to welcome President-elect Landgraf to campus, and I look forward to working with him to continue instilling in our students the core values of Washington College: critical thinking, effective communication and deep, abiding moral courage.”

“Kurt is an exceptional leader who has an impressive record of success in higher education and the corporate world. At ETS, he did a remarkable job advancing its social mission, reimagining the future of the organization, and building a strong organization and culture,” said Robert Murley, who served as Chair of the ETS Board of Directors for four years during President Landgraf’s tenure as CEO, and who has been an ETS board member for nearly 18 years. “As a result of his leadership and his commitment to diversity and to ensuring fairness and equity in assessment, promising students have been able to realize their dreams to attend college and graduate school regardless of their financial circumstances. Washington College is fortunate to have him as its next president.”

About Washington College

Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. It enrolls approximately 1,450 undergraduates from more than 35 states and a dozen nations. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at washcoll.edu.

 

Two Innovative Scholarship Programs at WC Get $715,000 Boost

Washington College President Sheila Bair today announced an additional $715,000 that will support two of the school’s most innovative scholarship programs, Dam the Debt and George’s Brigade. The additional funding brings the programs, which President Bair inaugurated two years ago, to $1.25 million and $5.7 million, respectively.

“From the moment I became president of Washington College, affordability and accessibility have stood at the top of my to-do list,” President Bair says. “We could not have achieved all we have already through Dam the Debt and George’s Brigade without the generous and far-sighted support of our donors to these programs, who clearly see that making college more affordable for everyone must be a priority, both for Washington College as a small liberal arts institution, and for higher education as a whole.”

George’s Brigade pays full tuition, room, board, and fees all four years to high-need, high-potential students. Begun with the Class of 2020, the Brigade saw 14 students complete their first year in May, and 20 new students are expected to matriculate with the Class of 2021 this fall. The inaugural year of the program saw an 88 percent retention rate. Under President Bair’s leadership, the College’s overall retention rate for first-to-second-year students increased by four points from the previous year to 86 percent.

Of the $5.7 million accumulated to date for George’s Brigade, $3.7 million is endowed. New donors to George’s Brigade arethe J. Willard & Alice S. Marriott Foundation, which committed $160,000; the Hearst Foundation, which contributed $100,000; Morgan Stanley, which donated $80,000; T. Rowe Price, which committed $50,000, and the Charlotte and George Riggs Charitable Fund, which contributed $20,000. In addition, President Bair designated $160,000 of presidential discretionary funds to the Brigade to fund two four-year scholarships.

Since its inception in late 2015, George’s Brigade has received support from a variety of sources including H. Lawrence Culp, Jr. ’85, president of the Board of Visitors and Governors, The Hodson Trust, M&T Bank, DLA Piper, Avant, Bank of the West, PNC, Heron Point of Chestertown, Host Hotels Resorts, Ann D. Horner ’80, Nina Houghton P’85, GP ’11, the Grayce B. Kerr Fund, Dr. Robert Kirkwood, M&A Enterprises, Mr. and Mrs. James Miller, Morgan Stanley & Company, T. Rowe Price, Thomson Reuters, Mr. and Mrs. Michael J. Travieso ’66 ’66,Mr. and Mrs. James Aris P ’17, itBit, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, P. C. Massey III ’58, James Riepe, and Mr. and Mrs. Brian Rogers.

Taking a different tack on cutting college costs, Dam the Debt acts as a back-end scholarship that awards eligible graduating seniors a grant that pays for federally subsidized loans they have taken out for their last semester of college. Since its inception in May 2016, the program has awarded a total of $659,000 to 252 eligible graduating seniors, reducing the students’ overall debt by over 10 percent with an average grant amount of $2,615.

President Bair has designated $145,000 of presidential discretionary funds to Dam the Debt. Previous donors include BB&T, bloooom, inc., TD Bank, Santander Bank, Avant, John and Peggy Bacon, and Philip and Joan Riggin.

In addition to these two programs, the College has launched FixedFor4, which will fix tuition for four years for incoming freshmen, beginning with this fall’s incoming Class of 2021. Last year, the College also announced the Saver’s Scholarship, which matches the amount that families contribute from a 529 college savings plan or an Educational Savings Account, up to $2,500 per year, to pay for their student’s tuition. Learn more at http://www.washcoll.edu/value/.

In addition to these new programs, Washington College annually provides more than $23 million in grants and scholarships, with 90 percent of students receiving merit-based scholarships or need-based financial aid.

About Washington College

Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. It enrolls approximately 1,450 undergraduates from more than 35 states and a dozen nations. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at washcoll.edu.

Author Nathaniel Philbrick Wins 2017 George Washington Prize

Author Nathaniel Philbrick has won the coveted George Washington Prize, including an award of $50,000, for his book, Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution (Viking). One of the nation’s largest and most prestigious literary awards and now in its 12th year, the George Washington Prize honors its namesake by recognizing the year’s best new books on the nation’s founding era, especially those that engage a broad public audience. Conferred by George Washington’s Mount Vernon, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and Washington College, the award will be presented to Philbrick on May 25 at a black-tie gala at Mount Vernon.

“To have Valiant Ambition recognized in this way means a tremendous amount to me, especially given the extraordinary quality of the books produced by the other six finalists,” said Philbrick. “My heartfelt thanks to the jurors involved in the selection process and to the George Washington Prize’s sponsoring institutions.”

Valiant Ambition is a surprising account of the middle years of the American Revolution and the tragic relationship between George Washington and Benedict Arnold. Philbrick creates a complex, controversial, and dramatic portrait of a people in crisis and of the war that gave birth to a nation. He focuses on loyalty and personal integrity as he explores the relationship between Washington and Arnold—an impulsive but sympathetic hero whose misfortunes at the hands of self-serving politicians fatally destroy his faith in the legitimacy of the rebellion. As a country wary of tyrants suddenly must figure out how it should be led, Washington’s unmatched ability to rise above the petty politics of his time enables him to win the war that really matters.

“Philbrick brings both careful craftsmanship and propulsive energy to his storytelling—a hallmark of all his widely read and acclaimed books,” says Adam Goodheart, the Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College. “Moreover, Valiant Ambition is also an impressive feat of research: it offers dramatic episodes that have been largely forgotten, such as a naval battle fought by Arnold on Lake Champlain in 1776, which Philbrick turns into a heart-racing adventure story.”

Established in 2005, the George Washington Prize has honored a dozen leading writers on the Revolutionary era including, Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the hit musical Hamilton. For this year’s prize, a distinguished jury comprised of notable historians David Preston, Kathleen DuVal, and Nick Bunker, selected the finalists from a field of nearly 60 books.

Mount Vernon’s event on May 25 will also honor the six finalists for the 2017 prize:
T.H. Breen, George Washington’s Journey: The President Forges a New Nation (Simon and Schuster)
Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter S. Onuf, “Most Blessed of the Patriarchs”: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination (Liveright Publishing)
Jane Kamensky, A Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley (W.W. Norton)
Michael J. Klarman, The Framers’ Coup: The Making of the United States Constitution (Oxford University Press)
Mark Edward Lender and Garry Wheeler Stone, Fatal Sunday: George Washington, the Monmouth Campaign, and the Politics of Battle (University of Oklahoma Press)
Alan Taylor, American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804 (W.W. Norton)

ABOUT THE SPONSORS OF THE GEORGE WASHINGTON PRIZE

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

Founded in 1994 by philanthropists Richard Gilder and Lewis E. Lehrman, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is the nation’s leading nonprofit American history education organization. The Institute’s mission is to promote the knowledge and understanding of American history through educational programs and resources for teachers, students, and the general public. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is supported through the generosity of individuals, corporations, and foundations. The Institute’s programs have been recognized by awards from the White House, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Organization of American Historians.

For more information: www.gilderlehrman.org.

George Washington’s Mount Vernon

Since 1860, more than 85 million visitors have made George Washington’s Mount Vernon the most popular historic home in America. A privately-owned national treasure, Mount Vernon is maintained and operated by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. Since purchasing the estate from the Washington family and assuming stewardship in 1858, the Association has embraced a heroic mission to preserve, protect, and maintain the estate for the American people, relying exclusively on private donations, admission fees, and restaurant and retail proceeds. Through robust education and outreach programs, the Association expands awareness about the exceptional life and character of George Washington, sustaining his legacy through research, interpretation, and public education. In experiences on the estate and through its digital outreach platforms, Mount Vernon strives to preserve George Washington’s place in history as “First in War, First in Peace, and First in the Hearts of His Countrymen.” For more information: www.mountvernon.org.

Washington College was founded in 1782, the first institution of higher learning established in the new republic. George Washington was not only a principal donor to the college, but also a member of its original governing board. He received an honorary degree from the college in June 1789, two months after assuming the presidency. The college’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, which administers the George Washington Prize, is an innovative center for the study of history, culture, and politics, and fosters excellence in the art of written history through fellowships, prizes, and student programs. For more information: www.washcoll.edu.