English Major Caroline Harvey Wins Washington College 2018 Sophie Kerr Prize

Caroline Harvey, an English major and creative writing minor from Arlington, Virginia, whose writing frequently examines otherness through the perspective of the insect world, has won the 2018 Sophie Kerr Prize. National Public Radio book critic and author Maureen Corrigan announced the winner of the nation’s largest undergraduate prize, this year valued at $63,711, at Washington College this evening.

Harvey, who served as editor-in-chief of The Collegian and managing editor of the Washington College Review, submitted a portfolio that included poetry, nonfiction, and academic scholarship from her thesis, entitled “Poetics of Otherness: The Marginalized Experience Through the Insect Lens.” She attributes her fascination with the insect world to her early reading of Jurassic Park, which propelled her interest in connecting science and writing.

“Caroline’s work is gorgeously detailed and specific. As a poet and academic writer, she takes as her subject matter things that others may find distasteful and difficult and finds the beauty in them. As an editor, she has worked to facilitate of the writing of others and to build a dynamic and supportive literary community on campus,” says Professor Kathryn Moncrief, Chair of the English department and Sophie Kerr Curator.

“I had the distinct pleasure of directing Caroline’s thesis, which incorporated complex literary and identity theory with contemporary poetry in order to posit that Otherness can be owned and deployed in subversive and empowering ways,” says James Hall, Director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House. “Her own poems find new metaphors to think in striking ways about gender, faith, and representation. Caroline uses traditional forms like sonnets and villanelles to subvert patriarchal assumptions about who has the right to speak. Reading Caroline Harvey’s work, I’m reminded of what Wallace Stevens said about how every poet has to reinvent the language for herself.”

At the announcement, Harvey thanked her family, friends, staff of the Rose O’Neill Literary House, and her professors, especially James Allen Hall, from whom she took her first undergraduate class and who advised her senior thesis. She also thanked her former professor, Jeanne Dubrow.

“She was the first person to sit me down and call me ‘poet,’ and that was so important,” Harvey said. “And finally, I have to thank my cohort. Everyone I grew up with in this community, everyone who wrote with me, who read with me, and especially Rhea, and Brooke, and Mallory, and Casey [fellow Sophie Kerr Prize finalists], all of whom came together in this moment. There’s so much about this place that I love, and so much I would like to change. But the one thing that I hold on to at all times is the people—the wonderful people who helped me get where I am.”

A member of Omicron Delta Kappa, the leadership honor society, and Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society, Harvey plans to take a gap year before pursuing an MFA in poetry and a PhD in English.

Harvey was among five finalists chosen from a number of student portfolios, encompassing essay, poetry, non-fiction, journalism, academic scholarship, and print projects. Although the Sophie Kerr Prize is not limited to English majors, this year’s finalists were all majors in English with one who double majored in political science. Several were creative writing minors, and all represented multiple honors societies and campus leadership activities. Several have worked on College publications including the student newspaper, The Elm, the student review, The Collegian, and Cherry Tree, the College’s national literary journal.

“It is always a privilege to read these portfolios. They illuminate the best of the literary culture and the commitment to writing that is the heart and soul of this College,” Moncrief says. “These students and their outstanding work highlight their diverse interests and approaches, their promise in the field of literary endeavor, their dedication to craft, and their shared passion for the written word.”

Washington College Among Top Liberal Arts Colleges in America!


Statue of George Washington on Washington College campus in front of Middle Hall.

Washington College continues its upward progress in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges rankings, with today’s announcement that the College is 96th among liberal arts colleges across the nation in the 2018 report. This is showing a continuing positive trend, from 99th last year, 100th in 2016, and 105th in 2015.

On an overall score out of 100, Washington College bumped up from 54 to 56, reflecting factors including the College’s three-year average for retention, which went from 83 percent to 84 percent, increasing selectivity of applicants with an acceptance rate change of 54 to 49 percent, and a peer assessment score—based on surveys sent to peer institutions—that improved by a tenth of a point. Alumni giving also increased from 17 to 19 percent over a three-year average.

As previously, the College continued to be well represented in the “A+ Schools for B Students” category—“where spirit and hard work could make all the difference to the admissions office,” as the listing says.

“I am very proud that we are on this list, and that we continue to improve our U.S. News Best Colleges rankings,” says College President Kurt Landgraf. “It shows how hard we as a College have worked across the board to provide our students with terrific opportunities and a liberal arts education among the best in the nation.”

The CAC – Casey Academic Center on Washington College campus

In the U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges rankings, 77.5 percent of a school’s ranking in “is based on a formula that uses objective measures of academic quality, such as graduation rates, faculty information, and admissions data,” the report says. “The remaining 22.5 percent is based on academic reputation, determined by a peer assessment from top academics at colleges; in the National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges categories, ratings from high school counselors are also factored in.”

For more information on Washington College, visit their website.

Washington College Graduates 292

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, encouraged graduating Washington College students to keep an open mind to the constant question of “what comes next,” while knowing that their education has given them the strongest footing from which to answer it throughout their lives.

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, addresses the Class of 2017 at Washington College, May 20

“Saying ‘I don’t know’ is one of the hardest things to do in life,” Lagarde told graduates, families, faculty, and alumni during the college’s 234th Commencement on the Campus Green, May 20. “We have all been trained from a young age to have an answer at the ready. But the reality is that the answer is not what matters most—it is knowing how to find the answer that is key. Your education—this wonderful, complex, classical, liberal arts training—has given you the foundation you need to begin to solve the puzzle of ‘What comes next?’ ’’

Although the future these graduates face is one where technology, automation, and artificial intelligence may take over the tasks now managed by humans, Lagarde said that the problem-solving skills, empathy, and perspective inherent in the liberal arts will become even more critical as time goes on.

“Many of the founders of this country, who were lawyers, businessmen, and farmers by training, could also recite orations from Pericles by heart. Those polymath skills not only gave their revolution historical context, it informed the society they hoped to build,” she said. “Your school embodies their vision and has instilled in you a love of knowledge. Success for your generation requires a commitment to life-long learning and an understanding that today is a milestone in your education, but it is not the end. The truth is that college has taught you how to learn, not what to learn.”

“By choosing Washington College, each of you has stood up and said that public service is important in your life. The values of this institution come directly from Washington himself; his example serves as the inspiration for your honor code. You have made a promise to help others and now you must follow through,” she said. “Think about what matters most to you—is it climate change? Homelessness? Improving education? Whatever it is, fight for it.”

Read the complete text of LaGarde’s speech here.

Before the address, President Sheila Bair awarded Lagarde an honorary doctor of laws.

Along with conferring degrees upon 292 graduates, the ceremonies on the campus green included multiple awards and citations:

  • James Allen Hall, associate professor of English and the director of the Rose O’ Neill Literary House, earned the Alumni Association’s Award for Distinguished Teaching.
  • Alex Aiello Roberts, a math and computer science major, philosophy minor, from Bel Air, Md., won the George Washington Medal and Award, given to the senior who shows the greatest promise of understanding and realizing in life and work the ideals of a liberal education.
  • Anna Elizabeth Inserra, a chemistry major from Dix Hills, N.Y., won the Clark-Porter Medal, given to the student whose character and personal integrity, in the opinion of the faculty, have most clearly enhanced the quality of campus life.
  • Alexandra D. Kurtz, of Lancaster, Pa., a political science major with minors in economics and Spanish, won the Louis L. Goldstein ’35 Award, for a graduating senior who, in the opinion of the faculty, has demonstrated unusual interest, enthusiasm, and potential in the field of public affairs.
  • Erika Louise Koontz, of Woodbine, Md., an environmental studies major with minors in Spanish and biology and a concentration in Chesapeake regional studies, earned the Eugene B. Casey Medal, given to a senior woman voted by the faculty to be outstanding in the qualities of scholarship, character, leadership, and campus citizenship.
  • Patrick S. Ginther, of Harleysville, Pa., a double major in chemistry and biology with concentrations in biochemistry and organic and medicinal chemistry, won the Henry W.C. Catlin 1894 Medal, given to a senior man voted by the faculty to be outstanding in the qualities of scholarship, character, leadership, and campus citizenship.
  • Two students won this year’s Jane Huston Goodfellow Memorial Prize, which goes to the graduating senior majoring in science who has an abiding appreciation of the arts and humanities and has shown scholastic excellence. They are Laura Elizabeth King, of Rising Sun, Md., a double major in biology and Hispanic studies, and Ryan Manning, of Chestertown, an English and chemistry double major and creative writing minor.
  • The Gold Pentagon Awards go to one senior and one alumnus, faculty, or friend of the College, selected by the Omicron Delta Kappa Society, in recognition of meritorious service to Washington College. This year they are Madeleine Morrissette, of Arlington, Mass., a biology major with a minor French studies, and Edward P. Nordberg ’82, former chair of the Board of Visitors and Governors.
  • Catalina Righter, an English major and creative writing minor from Manchester, Md., won the Sophie Kerr Prize, given to the senior who shows the most promise for future literary endeavor.

Very Cool: Annie Coleman Honored by Washington College Scholarship for Kent County Students


President Sheila Bair announced today that the Eugene B. Casey Foundation, one of Washington College’s most generous benefactors over the past three decades, has created a $1 million endowed scholarship fund in honor of Annie Brown Coleman, the Kent County native who has served as executive assistant to seven College presidents.  

Betty Brown Casey ’47, who has chaired the Casey Foundation since her husband’s death in 1986, became acquainted with Annie Coleman when she began working in the President’s office in 1983. For the past 32 years, Mrs. Coleman has been an invaluable executive assistant to sitting presidents as she has overseen handling of the Presidents’ phone calls, calendars, correspondence, and communications with members of the Board of Visitors and Governors, students, parents, community members, and donors.  

Annie Brown Coleman

Annie Brown Coleman

Mrs. Coleman said that she was “deeply touched” by Mrs. Casey’s decision to endow a scholarship for local students in her name. “This scholarship will give many generations of deserving Kent County students opportunities they would not otherwise have had. Washington College is a special place, and I want it to be broadly accessible, particularly to those in my home community.”

Mrs. Casey, who joined the College’s Board in 1973 and continues to serve as an emeritus member, struck up a friendship with Mrs. Coleman who answered the phone when she called to discuss college business or to confirm social engagements with a long line of Presidents. “We share a lot of great memories about the College,” Coleman says.

Mrs. Casey’s generosity to her alma mater has been longstanding, providing essential support for renovating existing buildings and constructing new facilities to provide space for the arts, academics, technology instruction, and swimming.

In 1984, the Casey’s pledged $5 million to build the indoor swimming facility on campus, and they entirely funded the construction of the Casey Academic Center, as well as the purchase and renovation of other buildings on campus including the Rose O’Neill Literary House and Brown Cottage. Last year, the Casey Foundation provided the funds to expand and renovate the swim center that first opened in 1985.

Aid for students has also been a central part of Mrs. Casey’s generous philanthropy.  She endowed the Eugene B. Casey Medal in her husband’s honor, and has established and supported endowed scholarships now valued at more than $10 million.  In addition, she has created the W. James Price Chair in Business Management.

The Annie Brown Coleman Scholarship will be awarded to a student “of impeccable character” from Kent County, Maryland. Mrs. Casey has requested that Annie participate in choosing the scholarship recipient as long as she is able.

A graduate of Chestertown High School, Mrs. Coleman has served as president of the Chestertown High School Alumni Association since its inception in 1997 and represented her classmates at the recent groundbreaking for the College’s new academic building, now under construction on the site of the old high school. She and her husband, Dudley, are also Washington College parents—their son Brian graduated in 1994 with a degree in chemistry. Another son, Lawrence, lives in Minnesota.  In her free time, Annie enjoys spending time with her family, which now includes ten grandchildren.

“The scholarship we are announcing today pays tribute to two outstanding women who have played major roles in the history of Washington College,” said President Bair. “Each in their own way has contributed to the grace and beauty of our campus, and our culture of support and caring for our students.  We owe them both huge debts of gratitude.”



Four-Week Intensive Creative Writing Workshops Offered at WC

Come spend the summer studying with some of the prize-winning faculty of the Washington College English Department. Hone your craft in the art of personal narrative, develop your ear, and immerse yourself in literary tradition.

James Hall

James Allen Hall

ENG 598. Writing our Lyric Truths:  A Creative Nonfiction Workshop with Professor James Allen Hall

May 25-June 17, MTW 6-8:30 p.m. The Rose O’Neill Literary House

Memory has been called the ultimate mythmaker; still, the creative nonfiction writer must be dedicated to the act of delivering these myths in as true — and as beautiful — a way as possible.  In this four-week-long class, we will explore the ways that metaphor, tone, point of view, and form can help us carry forth both truth and beauty.  We will read examples by published writers like Jo Ann Beard, Julie Marie Wade, John D’Agata, and James Baldwin in order to expand and explode our notions of narrative structure, linguistic play, and genre convention.  The workshop will be writing intensive and generative, meaning that it will focus on helping you write new work.

ENG 599. Poetic Form: A Creative Writing Workshop with Professor Dubrow

June 22-July 15, MTW 6-8:30 p.m. The Rose O’Neill Literary House

Jehanne Dubrow

Jehanne Dubrow

This creative writing workshop explores the rich literary tradition of received forms in American verse. By studying a wide range of formal poems—by writers like Elizabeth Bishop, Natasha Trethewey, and Marilyn Hacker, among others—students will discover the adaptability of forms like the sonnet, villanelle, and sestina. Participants will produce a series of poems in received and fixed forms.

For more information, or to enroll in or audit these courses, please contact Professor Rich De Prospo: rdeprospo2@washcoll.edu


Washingotn College Properties Vandalized This Weekend

Washington College offered this statement about the weekend vandalism incident.

 At 12:06 a.m. on Saturday morning, Public Safety received a report of suspicious activity in the Rose O’Neill Literary House, located at 407 Washington Avenue.  The caller described hearing the sounds of glass breaking.  A Public Safety Officer was on patrol near the area when he received the information from our dispatcher.  The officer responded and observed a suspect fleeing the area.  Assistance was requested from area police agencies.  Upon arriving at the Literary House, officers determined the house had been broken into.  Further investigation revealed areas in the house had been vandalized.

With the assistance of the other police agencies, other buildings along Washington Avenue were checked.  It was then discovered the Publications House, also known as the Sears House, at 311 Washington Avenue, had also been broken into.  Areas in this house were also vandalized.

At 12:26 a.m., Public Safety received another call from a resident on the 300 block of Washington Avenue reporting someone had just thrown an object through the back door of the residence.  This object broke the windows in the door.  Officers responded to the residence but were unable to locate the person responsible for this act.

All three incidents are under investigation by the Chestertown Police Department and the Washington College Department of Public Safety.

Former Irish Prime Minister Set for WC Convocation

Bertie Ahern

Bertie Ahern

Washington College will recognize the accomplishments of former Irish Prime Minister Bartholemew “Bertie” Ahern on Friday, February 20, during the annual George Washington’s Birthday Convocation. A savvy politician and statesman known for his outstanding negotiation skills, Ahern led Ireland’s government for more than a decade beginning in 1997. He is best known internationally for helping to negotiate the historic Good Friday Agreement that set Northern Ireland on a path out of the sectarian conflict known as “The Troubles.”

Ahern will receive an honorary doctorate of law degree at the Convocation ceremony, which gets underway at 3:30 p.m. in Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts. The public is welcome, but seating is limited.

Patrick Bartholemew “Bertie” Ahern was first elected to the Irish parliament in 1977 as a member of the Fianna Fáil party to represent a section of his native Dublin, a city he would also serve briefly as Lord Mayor. After holding national ministerial positions in several Fianna Fáil administrations, he was elected Taoiseach, or Prime Minister, at age 45. Elected to serve two more consecutive terms, he became Ireland’s second longest serving prime minister.

Early in his first term he negotiated with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and leaders of political parties in Northern Ireland, including Sinn Féin, to end “The Troubles.” Their landmark agreement, signed on Good Friday of 1998, laid the groundwork for peace and shared governance.

First as Minister of Finance and then as Taoiseach, Ahern helped shape a robust Irish economy with unprecedented growth and rising prosperity that became known around the world as the Celtic Tiger. He also led the European Council during the six-month period when it welcomed eight new countries from Eastern Europe.

Since leaving office in 2008, Ahern has been active in numerous groups that focus on conflict resolution, negotiation, and diplomacy.

The February 20 convocation, a ceremony attended by faculty, students and members of the community, also will recognize this year’s recipients of the College’s President’s Medal, Alumni Service Awards, and Distinguished Service Awards.


Talbot County’s Alex Stinton Wins WC’s Kerr Award

Alex Stinton at the podium reading from his poetry at Award Ceremony.

Alex Stinton at the podium reading from his poetry at Award Ceremony.

BALTIMORE, MD—A student-poet who grew up on Maryland’s Eastern Shore will receive $61,382 as winner of the nation’s largest undergraduate literary award, the Sophie Kerr Prize, at Washington College.

Alexander Stinton, a native of Wittman, Md., was named the winner of the 47th Prize at a public event honoring him and four other finalistson Tuesday evening, May 13, at Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library. The other finalists are Grace Arenas of Baldwin, Md., Peter Fortenbaugh of Chestertown, Md., Kimberly Uslin of New Oxford, Pa., and Kay Wicker of Columbia, Md. A total of 32 seniors submitted portfolios to be considered for the Prize.

The Sophie Kerr Prize is awarded each year to the Washington College senior who shows the most “ability and promise for future fulfillment in the field of literary endeavor.” Stinton, a graduate of St. Michaels High School, entered Washington College with a Sophie Kerr Scholarship and an invitation to join the Presidential Fellows, a select group of high-achieving students at the College. An English major with a minor in Creative Writing, he was inducted into the English honor society Sigma Tau Delta and won the 2014 Jude and Miriam Pfister Poetry Prize, which is awarded for a single poem.

His Sophie Kerr portfolio included fourteen poems and an excerpt from his senior thesis, “The Eternal in the Poetry of W.B. Yeats.” The English Department faculty who sit on the Prize jury praised Stinton’s poetry as very polished and informed by his knowledge of classical works. “Many of his poems evoke a strong sense of place, most often the Eastern Shore,” one juror noted. In the introduction to his portfolio, Stinton wrote, “For years I have struggled with my thoughts and feelings regarding the Eastern Shore, where I was born and raised and have lived all my life. It is only now, as an adult studying poetry, that I can come to ‘write’ the Shore with reasonable amounts of confidence and creative ability.” He also wrote that he considers Yeats “the greatest poet in the language (though [Seamus] Heaney is a strong contender).”

At the announcement event in Baltimore, renowned poet Mary Jo Salter, co-chair of the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University, delivered keynote remarks and returned to the podium later to reveal the winner’s name. As stipulated by benefactor Sophie Kerr’s will, Stinton will receive the Prize check during Washington College’s 231st commencement on Saturday, May 17.

The Sophie Kerr Prize was established by a posthumous gift from Kerr, a prolific writer who grew up in Denton, Md., and built a successful publishing career in New York City. She was managing editor of Woman’s Home Companion magazine and authored 23 novels and hundreds of short stories before her death in 1965. Over the years, the endowment from her gift has provided more than $1.4 million in prize money to promising young writers, in amounts that have ranged from $9,000 in 1968, the inaugural year, to a high of nearly $69,000 in 2009. Winners have gone on to establish careers as writers, editors, teachers, and marketing their work as novels or collections of short stories or poetry.

The other half of Kerr’s bequest funds scholarships and library acquisitions and brings world-class literary figures to campus for public readings and workshops. Such luminaries as EdwardAlbee, Jonathan Franzen and Toni Morrison have visited Washington College under the auspices of the Sophie Kerr Lecture Series. More recent guests have included poet Natasha Trethewey, and novelists Junot Díaz and Tim O’Brien.

Washington College is a private, independent college of liberal arts and sciences located in historic Chestertown, Md., a Colonial town on the Chester River. Founded in 1782 under the patronage of George Washington, it was the first college to be chartered in the new nation.professionals, and many have published


WC Hires Mark C. Hampton as New V.P. for Finance

Washington College has announced the hiring of University of Virginia budget and finance officer Mark C. Hampton as its new Vice President for Finance and Administration. Hampton is currently Assistant Vice President for Budget & Financial Planning at U.Va., where he oversees the Academic Division’s $1.4 billion operating budget and $800 million capital budgets. He has developed strategies for tuition and financial aid that support the university’s funding needs and long-range goals and has led the various schools and departments in using analysis and metrics to align their spending with institutional priorities.

Washington College has announced the hiring of University of Virginia budget and finance officer Mark C. Hampton as its new Vice President for Finance and Administration.

Washington College has announced the hiring of University of Virginia budget and finance officer Mark C. Hampton as its new Vice President for Finance and Administration.

For six prior years in Charlottesville, Hampton was chief financial officer at the University’s Curry School of Education, where he also has regularly taught courses in higher-education leadership as an Associate Professor in the Department of Leadership, Foundations and Policy.

He held key institutional research and planning positions at Virginia Commonwealth University (2001-2007), after starting his higher-ed career at the University of Utah in a series of jobs in institutional research, planning and budgeting.

Hampton says his 20-plus years teaching, planning, and managing budgets for large universities have been rewarding but that he was drawn to Washington College by its small size, its focus on student learning, and its broader mission of preparing graduates for lifelong learning and engaged citizenship. “As I read the College’s strategic plan, it became clear to me that I wanted to be part of it—that this is a place where I could do my best work and help the leadership team keep moving the College forward on its goals.”

Washington College president Mitchell B. Reiss describes Hampton as bringing a winning mix of big-picture planning and detail-oriented budget analysis. “He understands and values our mission. He knows how to be a responsible steward of limited resources, how to shepherd a capital project from design to completion, and how to set ambitious but reachable goals,” says Reiss. “I think he’ll bring great energy, creativity and commitment to our team.”

Hampton holds three degrees from the University of Utah: a bachelor’s in mathematics, a master’s in statistics and a Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy. He is a competitive runner, triathlete and swimmer who has run in four Boston Marathons and has completed three ultramarathons. He expects to be on the job in Chestertown by July 21, 2014.


Mount Vernon President Viebranz to Deliver Lecture

Washington College pays homage to its namesake on Tuesday, February 11, with a visit from Curtis G. Viebranz, President of George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Scheduled for 5 p.m. in Hynson Lounge, his presentation, “The Future of Mount Vernon,” will address current and future projects at Washington’s beautifully restored plantation home.

Prior to the lecture Viebranz will meet with a group of students for a Tea & Talk, where he will discuss his work with the nonprofit Trinity Forum, a national organization of business leaders that addresses faith in the corporate world.

Curtis G. Viebranz has served as the President of Mount Vernon since September 2012. Prior to his current position, he was a noted corporate leader who held top positions with HBO International, AOL and Olé Communications. He holds a BA from Middlebury College and an MBA from Harvard University.

Viebranz’s visit to Washington College is sponsored by the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Politics, dedicated to the objective study of religion’s influence on American and world history.