campus encounters

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Archive for the category “Virginia”

Old Dominion University

Old Dominion University (visited 1/31/19)

√P1110926

The new Education building

I can’t say that my initial impressions of the university were stellar (although I think they redeemed themselves so keep reading!). The Welcome Center (the actual admissions dept is elsewhere) was hard to find; I found out that they weren’t even offering a tour on the day I arrived despite it being listed on their website; and they had no record of me coming, even though I had confirmation from the admissions rep that I was welcome to join the (non-existent) tour/info session. The Welcome Center was a small office on the side of a large atrium in a large building off the quad … with almost no signage to get people to the right place. When I got into the right building (after calling the office to get directions which at least got me to the right building), I asked a CNU employee for help … and she had no idea that the office was even in that building. The people in the welcome center (when I finally found them!) were confused as to why I was there, although they were incredibly nice and went out of their way to help. When I went to put the parking pass in my car (visitors park on the 4th or 5th floor of the garage more than a block away), they arranged for the student intern, a senior, to give me a personal tour since there were no tours that day.

 

P1110920

The main quad (with 70s architecture)

All that being said … the student spent 90 minutes giving me an amazing tour, and he was one of the best ambassadors that ODU could have asked for. He was not at all scripted (so many tour guides can’t get off “the script” to save themselves), and I feel like I got the real scoop on what it was like to be a student. He didn’t hold back when he felt that there was room for improvement, and he didn’t sugar coat his experiences. When he got excited, that was genuine as well.

 

P1110937I think this is one of the most racially diverse campuses I’ve ever seen (and I’ve visited over 420 schools at this point). Fewer than 50% of students self-identify as Caucasian; about 1/3 self-identify as African-American and almost 10% as Hispanic. I mentioned this to the guide, and he agreed. “The mix of students you see in the classrooms aren’t staged. That’s how things are here.” In the new Student Center, there are multiple Affinity Rooms (not just for race), and students can use whichever one they identify with. I asked the tour guide about the less-visible diversity (religion, political views, socio-economic status), etc. He thinks it’s impressive; he loves that he knows all sorts of people with all sorts of backgrounds and views.

P1110941

This “monorail” was built to help move students around campus — but the builders never tested to see if it would run off the ground!

ODU is technically classified as a residential campus, but doesn’t seem to be the reality. My tour guide said that there are only about 2000 beds on campus; the university says that 24% of the undergraduate population (hovering around 19,500) – and 75% of freshmen — live in “university owned, operated, or affiliated housing” (aka not necessarily on campus). As a senior, he lives off campus, and says that there’s no issue finding housing. There are a lot of houses to rent as well as apartment complexes. Because of the high number of students commuting from home or living off campus, “parking is an issue.” However, it’s easy to walk and bike – in fact, it’s ranked #7 “most bike friendly campus” in the country. Campus is flat “and you’ll see a lot of people biking and skateboarding.” Students can get free weekly bike rentals or pay a fee of $35 a year to guarantee a bike.

 

P1110943

Some of the dorms

Only about 10% of the student go Greek. “I’m not affiliated and I’ve never felt like I’ve missed out.” There’s no Greek Housing – and they have a rule that no more than 5 (6?) members of a chapter can live together. I asked if they really enforced that, especially with the number of people living off campus. He said no, but in practicality, there were few rental places that would accommodate more than that anyway. Food on campus “is good! They even have a hibachi grill and a conveyer belt with fresh-sushi and other things to grab-and-go. You just wait for what you want to come around!”

P1110945

Freshly made sushi on the grab-and-go conveyor belt in the dining hall

Their 6-year graduation rate isn’t wonderful. Only about 55% of their students graduate within this time frame. “I think that commuting is a big reason for people who transfer out,” said the tour guide. “It’s just not conducive to the college experience.”

ODU started as the Norfolk division of William and Mary in 1930, and became its own school with university status in 1969: the main quad architecture definitely has a 1970s vibe! However, campus outside of that main quad has lots of new buildings and a modern feel. Academics are impressive, and the new buildings have amazing classrooms geared towards discussion and group work. The tour guide’s largest classes (intro level) had “about 75 students.” The smallest had 10.

© 2019

College of William and Mary

William & Mary (visited 1/31/19)

√P1110917No doubt, W&M is an amazing school with a beautiful, historic campus and strong academics. I was disappointed that along with that, I got a strong “We don’t have to try” vibe during the visit. I was glad that the info session didn’t have a PowerPoint (and therefore more of a conversational feel) but there wasn’t much insight into the college during this time. The thing that the rep got the most excited about was the Cheese Club which was started because a student liked to buy cheese and share it with his dorm-mates.

P1110905

The Sunken Garden where a lot of campus-wide events take place

 

This is the 2nd oldest college in the US (after Harvard), but they’re quick to point out that they are first in lots of other areas: oldest law school, honor code, honor society, and the oldest academic building (Wren) still in use. “It’s a tradition to take a class in there before graduation,” said the rep. With a school as old as this, there are lots of traditions. The rep highlighted a couple favorites:

  • Yule Log: In mid-December, the community (including people from town) gathers in the courtyard where there are bonfires going. Everyone gets a sprig of holy, and there’s singing, hot cider, and more. Someone reads “’Twas the Night Before Finals” and the university President shares a story, as well.
  • P1110910

    The Wren Building – the Oldest continually used academic building in the country and is used for many of the campus traditions

    Opening Convocation welcomes freshman to campus. The Provost and President give speeches, then students get ushered through Wren into the Courtyard on the other side where all other students and faculty cheer. First-years go single file and get high fives. At graduation, they basically reverse this walk and exit campus as a group.

  • The Raft Debate has 4 faculty members appealing to the audience – in highly theatrical fashion – why they should be the sole survivor of shipwreck to use the raft to get off the desert island on which they’re stranded.
W&M bridge 2

The iconic (and infamous?) bridge – as with any campus, there are legends. At W&M, if you kiss someone on the bridge, you’re going to marry that person. To reverse this, you have to push that person off the bridge.

One of the most interesting bits of information I got was that W&M operates a joint program with St. Andrews. Students spend two years at each institution and have some flexibility in the order in which they do these. I spoke with two first-year students while waiting for the info session to start, both of whom are in the incoming class’ 27-person cohort. They are both planning on spending their first and last years at W&M with the 2 years in between at St. Andrew’s. Students have a limited number of majors from which to choose if they’re in this program (Film Studies is the most competitive; others include English, History, Econ, International Relations, and Classical Studies). In order to be accepted to the program, they had to submit an additional 2000 word essay with their W&M application. They said that there’s no special orientation other than a brunch and dinner at the beginning of the year, but they’ve been taking a class throughout the semesters that covers things like culture shock.

P1110882In terms of academics, “We’re a liberal arts institution while still being a research university,” said the rep. They take an interesting approach to the Core requirements: all students take “Coll” Classes (the College Curriculum): there are 2 First-Year Experiences classes. In the 2nd year, the classes focus on academic disciplines to provide breadth of knowledge. The 3rd year has a global focus and can be covered by study abroad. The 4th year is a capstone for the major.

W&M solar charger

Solar Panels run the outlets on this picnic table!

The majority (70%) of students do research (but she had a hard time coming up with examples outside of the sciences when asked – psychology (the major is technically Psychological Sciences) was mentioned, which is another fairly common research area – and not surprisingly, the new Integrated Science building includes the psychology department). About 25% of those who do research are published before graduation.

As a medium sized university (6,000 undergrads, about 2/3 of whom come from Virginia – many people forget that this is a public institution!), they offer a good range of majors, including some more specialized ones that you’d expect to see at larger schools:

P1110902Students have the opportunity to apply for an Early Assurance entry into VCU or Eastern VA Medical School. Eligibility requirements differ between the schools, but both a 3.5 GPA from W&M and must get a minimum score on the MCAT (505 or 507) in addition to other things.

Campus is bike-friendly and easy to navigate (regardless of how you get around!). A few areas of note include “Ancient (or Historic) Campus” which has 3 of the 4 oldest campus buildings in the country. Martha Barksdale Field was created to give women a place for sports; although men were not specifically banned from this space, the stipulation she put on it was that cleats could not be worn – and since the men wore cleats to play, they had to stay off.

© 2019

University of Mary Washington

University of Mary Washington (visited 2/1/19)

UMW delivery bikes

Food Delivery Bikes!

This is the first campus I’ve seen where they will deliver food to students using bikes! (Maybe there are others out there; I’d love to know who they are, if so – and they should absolutely point that out on tours!)

I was last on UMW’s campus about 10 years ago with 34 students in tow. I could picture the main walkway – the “spine” – running through this long, skinny campus. On that trip, 3 former students met the group, took us to dinner, and showed us campus which was great for the students since they got didn’t get the “canned admission’s spiel.” However, I’m really glad I had this chance to come back, talk to a couple current students, remind myself about what was going on at the school, and see what had changed (and a lot tends to change on campuses in 10 years!).

UMW walkway 2

The main walkway through campus

This is a quintessentially pretty, traditional-looking campus full of brick buildings. I didn’t realize that it had functioned as a sister school to UVA (which didn’t accept females into undergraduate programs at the time); they went coed – and was fully independent of UVA – in 1972 and earned university status in 2004.

For a school this size (just under 4400 undergrads, making it the smallest public school in VA), they have some impressive choices for majors, and they seem to be thoughtful in their minors that allow students to build upon their interests and gain additional skills that will allow for better job procurement.

UMW collaboration lab

One of the many collaborative classroom workspaces

One of the students said that she was surprised by how much teachers want them to succeed. Classes are relatively small, and both students I spoke with raved about their First-Year Seminars. The FYS teacher is the advisor for the first 2 years; then they get an advisor in their major. The FYS is one of the Gen Ed requirements (which are fairly typical compared to other schools). All students must complete 2 “Speaking Intensive” (which I rarely see) and 4 “Writing Intensive” (more than many colleges) classes as well as an Experiential Learning experience. This can be done in a variety of ways such as internships or study abroad. One of the students said that his Experiential Learning psychology class (many majors offer classes that will fulfill the EL requirement) – Mentoring Students at Risk – class was the best one he had taken. This is offered during the summer; students were in the classroom for a week, then they spent a week working at a camp for children with incarcerated parents.

UMW dorm 2

Some of the dorms

Fredricksburg is a great college town. Although campus is just outside the city-center, things are accessible. Both DC and Richmond are an hour away, and students can hop on the Amtrak/VRE from the station located a 5-minute drive from campus. The students told me that some of their friends have done internships in those cities. They appreciate that there are so many additional social and academic opportunities because of the university’s location.

UMW Greek rockHowever, students aren’t running from campus, either; there’s plenty to do. One of the most popular student organizations is the Canine Companions for Independence club which allows students to raise and train service dogs. Students Helping Honduras (now a national organization that was co-founded by a UMW student) is another highly popular group. One of the students I spoke with, a sophomore, has already traveled to Honduras with the group to do work there.

UMW 1UMW has a 2-year residency requirement, but about 15% of first-year students commute from home (about 90% of students are from Virginia). One of the students told me that 68% of students stay in campus housing all 4 years. For those who choose to move off, there are several apartment complexes within walking distance. They’re redoing the entire dining hall, and there are a few other smaller food options on campus. “Food is a 7, maybe an 8. I’m not sure you can get to a 10 when you’re cooking for 5000 people.”

UMW bell towerUMW doesn’t recognize Greek Life although there are a couple unofficial chapters off campus as well as an on-campus community service organization that anyone can join. They have a trial every 10 years to hear student voices regarding whether they want to start officially recognizing Green organizations, and to date, they’ve never wanted to do so. The student telling me about this said that she appreciates that the college is responsive to students, cares about their opinions, and allows them input into decisions affecting campus life. Overall, she was very happy with her decision to come here and with UMW as a whole. “If anything, I would spend more money on internships and scholarships for study abroad, but it’s still pretty good the way it is.”

© 2019

Virginia State University

Virginia State University (Visited 1/27/19)

VSU 10I arrived on Sunday to walk around and talk to some people; I was pleasantly surprised to see how active students were on a weekend. Students were playing football, walking across the street to the church, hanging out in the gazebo, walking between buildings. It had a lively vibe that not all campuses have on a weekend, particularly on a relatively chilly day in January.

VSU 9This HSCU is located in Petersburg, a small city about 20 minutes south of Richmond. Campus is very pretty – and is completely gated which surprised me. They’re in a slightly more residential area less than a mile from the downtown area of the city; there is public transportation available, and the train station is about a mile away. Students said that there’s been an increase of things to do on and around campus recently. They still say that a lot of it is “make your own fun,” but if you put some effort in, it’s fine. There are just over 4,000 undergraduates, about 2/3 of whom come from Virginia. Most freshmen (and just under 2/3 of the total study body) live on campus which explains part of why there was still a vibrant feel on campus on a weekend.

VSU 8As a land-grant school, it’s not surprising that majors within the College of Agriculture are strong here (Hospitality Management and Dietetics fall within this school in addition to Agriculture and other more traditional majors you’d expect). They also run a 400+ acre Agricultural Research Station about 2 miles from campus.

VSU 4However, students had a lot to say about other departments, especially Business. The College of Engineering and Technology offer 2 engineering majors (Computer and Manufacturing) as well as 3 in Engineering Technology degrees (Electronics, Information Logistics, and Mechanical).

I’m a bit concerned about retention and graduation rates; fewer than 45% of students graduate within 6 years. However, for students looking for a good bargain (tuition is less than $6,000 for in-state and less than $16,000 for out-of-state) at a medium-sized university where faculty will likely know who they are, this might be a good option.

© 2019

Norfolk State University

Norfolk State University (visited 1/31/19)

NSU 2I was impressed with the spaciousness, greenery, and attractive brick buildings on NSU’s campus (and I found out later that the campus used to be a golf course! That helps explain the terrain and why it’s so open and green). This is located in a great group of college-towns with schools like Old Dominion, William & Mary, Christopher Newport, Hampton, Virginia Wesleyan, and others all less than an hour away.

NSU 9This is one of many HBCUs in Virginia and is a member of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. It was started as a chapter of Virginia Union (another HBCU near Richmond) (It seems like a lot of Virginia schools were off-shoots of other schools).  Not surprisingly, they pull about ¾ of their students from Virginia, and the student body is heavily female (about 2/3).

NSU 7Students like NSU’s size – it gives enough for some options and variety, but not so large that you fall through the cracks. Students said the professors are accessible and want to teach. However, they say that although a lot of the academic buildings have been worked on and the main quad gives a great first impression, the dorms and some other student life areas need a lot of work. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of support transitioning into college life.

NSU 5I visited campus in the late afternoon, around 4pm. There were almost no students around campus which was a disappointment. I was unable to get much of a sense of the campus culture from the students I encountered. While a majority of freshmen live on campus, well under 40% of the overall population lives there. The number of commuters give it a “touch and go” feel (and the parking lots were nowhere near full at 4:00 which tells you how quickly people leave classes after campus). Parking seems to be adequate; there’s that going for the school. “Social life isn’t all that active. We have good sports [they’re DI] but we go off campus a lot,” said one student. The city provides a decent amount to do, “but it’s the typical stuff in town – but the beaches are great, or we’ll go to Hampton to hang out.”

This all may feed into retention. While their freshman-to-sophomore retention rate was decent (hovering around 75%), they can definitely do better – and their graduation rate (in the mid-30%) worries me a great deal. I would not feel comfortable sending students here based on that alone. Students mentioned that financial aid was a bit of a hassle (but I’m not sure if it’s any more so than at other schools); this may be one of the barriers to completion.

© 2019

 

Radford University

Radford University (visited 4/3/18)

Radford fountainI was excited to have the chance to visit Radford since a student of mine was all fired up about it several years ago; it was the only one he wanted to go to. My welcome to the university by the admissions staff was enthusiastic, and they were helpful with parking and getting me registered for the tour. That being said, I was highly disappointed in the visit, and I left not knowing why I would recommend the school to a student, mostly because I had no idea what made it different from a multitude of other medium sized universities.

Radford 4This is a public university with 9,400 students, 90% of whom are undergraduate. The school didn’t go co-ed until 1972; today, it’s still almost 60% female. I do get the feeling that their reputation is getting better corresponding to its growing academics and cracking down on some of the partying that the school had been known for. “I get the party question a lot,” said the tour guide. “It was definitely a party school at one point. It’s not like that anymore. Admissions is getting more selective, and this is a dry campus. They even consider your body to be a container. If you come back to campus visibly intoxicated, you can get in trouble. You might not even get into your major if you’ve been written up for an alcohol charge.” They do seem to be doing some things right; retention is at about 77% which above the national average.

Radford dorm quad 4Radford is a good choice for a solid B/B+ student. Admitted students have a middle GPA range of 2.9-3.5. Generally, scholarships are granted to students with at least a 3.2 GPA and 1080 SAT or 22 ACT. Students must apply by December 1 to be considered for scholarships. Scores received by then will be considered: if new scores come in, they’ll reconsider the scholarship offer. Out-of-state scholarships are higher corresponding to the higher tuition (about $32,000 for OOS compared to just under $20,000 for in-state).

Radford dorm towerThe average class size is 30-35 students. This is a bit larger than many schools of this size, although fewer than 3% of classes are taught by Grad Assistants. Students seem pretty happy with their classes. There are 6 colleges to choose from for majors:

Radford dorm quad 1There are 15 residence halls clustered around several small quads. All dorms are suite-style or have en suite bathrooms; none have bathrooms down the hall. I’m sure this has gone a long way to Radford being ranked #3 best dorms in the state and in the top 100 nationwide. Their meal plan is like a debit card. With their card, food is half-price at the on-campus fast food vendors (Wendy’s, Starbucks, Chik-fil-a, etc) and 70% off listed prices at the dining hall. They have a sit-down style restaurant on the first floor of the largest dorm on campus, a 10-floor dorm that houses about half the freshmen. Parking is available for all students in a lot across a footbridge from the main campus, but cars aren’t needed. The Radford Transit shuttles run every 10 minutes from about 8am to about 1am. This gets them around campus as well as in town to places like Walmart and as far as Blacksburg (Virginia Tech area).

Radford dining hallStudents seem happy with the things to do on and off campus. “We’re in Southern Virginia among the mountains and rivers,” said a rep. There is a town, and Virginia Tech is not too far up the road, but this is not a booming college town. Thy have a popular Outdoors Club which gets students into the immediate area to hike, bike, ski, etc as well as outside of the area to scuba dive, sky dive, and more. The DI sports are strong, and students go for free, including trips to see away games during the NCAA tournament. “We’re the only Virginia team to win a game in the that,” said a rep. There are plenty of chartered club sports and 200 intramurals for students who don’t want to play varsity.

© 2018

 

 

Virginia Commonwealth University

Virginia Commonwealth University (visited 3/13/17)

VCU 1

One of the dorms; much of campus sits on streets like this

Students looking for an urban campus with lots of diversity, school spirit, and big sports will do well here. However, they need to be willing to advocate for themselves.

This is a state school with 24,000 undergrads, 37% of whom are male and 89% coming from in-state. Gen Ed classes run 150-200 students in lecture halls, but the upper level major classes average 27 students. “It’s the students’ job to take advantage of the opportunities.” Classes are varied, as you’d expect from a school this size. A couple favorite classes were Cultural Text and Context about Egypt and Women in Global Politics.

VCU ped walkway

The pedestrian walkway part of central campus

Campus sits in the middle of Richmond with almost no “central campus” in the traditional sense. However, location means there’s plenty to do, and students have opportunities to connect to the community, get internships, and apply what they’ve learned. The James River is minutes away from campus with hiking and other activities. Richmond itself is centrally located, only 1.5 hours to Virginia Beach and a little more than 2 hours to DC.

VCU 2

One of the older buildings on campus

VCU is a relatively new institution, starting in 1968 when 2 colleges merged. The main campus sits on the site of one school; all the medical programs (including graduate schools) are on the other one a couple miles away. The do offer a Guaranteed Admissions Program for some honors students into several of the graduate health programs as long as they meet the minimum requirements. This is not binding so it’s ok if they change their mind. Applications for this have a hard November 15 deadline; students need a 1330 SAT or 29 ACT and a 3.5 unweighted GPA. Beyond that, they should have done something to stand out such as shadowing or volunteering.

Engineering and the Arts are big here:

  • Engineering has offerings in Biomedical, Chemical and Life Science, Electrical and Computer, and Mechanical and Nuclear.
  • VCU arts 1

    One of the art studios

    The Arts Department includes both visual ad performing arts.

    • Visual arts are very much studio-based. “It allows us to establish ourselves and experiment,” said a junior painting/printmaking major from Kansas. “I wanted to go somewhere where I had the resources of an entire university.” He loves the program and is very happy with his decision to come to VCU, but said the downfall is that they don’t get any help in establishing a design portfolio. “We’re on our own to figure that out.” There also aren’t really any internships easily available or at least advertised. “I looked online; I think this major is the only one with nothing listed for internship opportunities,” he told me.
    • Unusual offerings include Kinetic Imaging and Craft and Material Studies.

VCU plaza

The plaza outside the main dining commons (to the left). The library is the glass building on the right.

Humanities and Sciences, of course, is the biggest school. A few unusual offerings are Military Science and Leadership, Statistical Sciences and Operations Research, Kinesiology, and Forensic Science.

The smallest majors/schools are Social Work (35 freshman) and Life Sciences with 51 freshmen (this includes Bioinformatics, Envi Sci, and Integrative Life Sciences; biology and other sciences are in the Arts and Sciences division).

Students really like the diversity on campus. “Campus shows off the spectrum of people there. I’ve made friends from all over,” said one of the tour guides (we had 3).

VCU LLC 1

An LLC building

There are plenty of living opportunities such as LLCs and Global Living. There is no residency requirement, but 74% of freshmen do live on campus. Food gets good reviews from the students: “There’s so much food! They keep adding new options every year.” The dining hall sometimes runs what they call ‘Upper Cuts’ which serves “really, really great food!” according to one of the tour guides. It requires a second swipe on the meal plan. Restaurant Row, on one of the main streets running through campus, takes Rams Bucks. For students living off campus, it’s easy to find apartments and houses to rent near campus.

VCU dormAdmissions is rolling, and it takes about 4-6 weeks to get a decision after application is complete. They recommend that students include their SSN on the app to facilitate the link to FAFSA. This streamlines, the process, reduces mistakes, and allows them to get the package to students earlier. Students applying by Jan 15 will get an answer by April 1 at the latest. Test scores are optional for students with a 3.3 GPA at the time of application BUT are required for merit scholarships, the Honors College, Engineering majors, and for homeschooled applicants. If you want to get considered for automatic-consideration scholarships – apply by 11/15!!!

VCU stu cntrThe Honors College will look at writing on standardized tests; regular admissions does not. Priority deadline for freshman Honors Program is 2/1. The Guaranteed Admissions program falls under the honors college: if you’re admitted to GA, you’re admitted to HC, but not vice versa! The application for GA is on the Honors College website and is completely separate from the Common App.

© 2017

Emory & Henry College

Emory & Henry College (visited 11/4/16)

eh-quad-1This is the only college I know of that has a “retirement home” for horses – and the only I’ve heard of that enable students to earn a semester’s worth of work for through-hiking the Appalachian Trail (or another of similar scope).

eh-barn-1

The Equestrian Center barn

When E&H bought Virginia Intermont University in 2014, they took over their barn and equestrian program. One student rider we spoke to told us, “I’m glad they bought it because I wouldn’t have achieved this success without it.” About 50 horses live at the Equestrian Center, 16 miles from the main campus (3 shuttles a day run back and forth). All the horses are donated, including “some famous ones” like a horse from the Beijing Olympics. An alum, concerned about what would happen when they got too old for the 60-ish riders in the Equine Studies program, donated $250,000 for a retirement barn for the older horses. That barn, currently with 5 residents (and room for 6 more per year after this) sits adjacent to the main campus.

eh-studentE&H is another CTCL school that did not disappoint. Students we spoke to – ranging from tour guides to random kids in the café to the singers performing for us over dinner – couldn’t say enough about the school. One said, “People are so nice, it’s almost creepy!” Another one had this to say about academics: “Classes are challenging but not so much that you get down on yourself.”

It’s no wonder kids rave about their classes: E&H has more Virginia Professors of the Year than UVA and VTech combined!

eh-quad-and-chapelAt any CTCL school, I ask students how the institution has changed their lives. Here’s what I got:

  • “I can be myself here.”
  • “The music program is amazing and I’ve learned so much. It’s pushed me well beyond my comfort zone.”
  • “Individual attention I get here is outstanding. I really didn’t expect that from college.”
  • “People are really accepting. We’re not labeled here. We can spend hours in rehearsals or in a practice room. People don’t see that as weird. They just say that we’re hard working.”
  • “We go to a lot of auditions. We met people from schools where the students there didn’t even know each other. Here we do, and we support and help each other all the time.”

eh-statue-henry

The Patrick Henry statue

E&H is named for Patrick Henry (yes, of “Give me liberty or give me death!” fame – also the 1st Governor of Virginia) and John Emory (a Bishop of the Methodist Church); statues of the 2 men stand prominently in the middle of campus facing each other (and will often get dressed up

eh-statue-emory

The John Emory statue

by students for special occasions). A third statue of Ephraim Wiley (the longest standing college president) sits on top of one of the main buildings. This statue and the Chapel are the same height to show Wiley’s belief of their equal importance in the students’ education. E&H is associated with the Methodist church, and students must take 1 religion course. However, that’s where the religious requirements end.

There are a few academic programs worth highlighting:

  • eh-tech-workshop

    The theater tech workshop

    The music and theater programs are great, with BFAs offered in Acting, Directing, Musical Theater, and Production & Design. They put on 4-6 productions a year. They were putting on Rocky Horror Picture Show right after we visited (including a midnight performance!), so the students performed several numbers for us during dinner. There are several scholarship for music based on audition. The Chorale competes internationally (they went to South Africa last year). Students tend to get involved cross-disciplines (ie, the marching band Drum Major is in chorale).

  • eh-art-displayThe Art program is developing a Museum Studies Track. Students curate shows from the college’s permanent collection. They bring in visiting artists who give talks to the students (the community is invited as well). When we visited, the art on display in the main gallery was fresh from Renwick Gallery (Smithsonian). 30-35 students from all disciplines including EnviSci helped to install it. The insects are all real, mostly from SE Asia and the Pacific Rim. The exhibit is meant to make a positive out of negative; the Skull symbolizes what could happen and the eye is meant to represent the Evil Eye.
  • Lyceum Program: students must attend a certain number of lectures and cultural events. All arts count towards this.
  • Along with standard majors, they offer unique programs like Civil Innovation; Politics, Law, and International Relations; and a 5-year, BA/MA program in Community and Organizational Leadership. Students can build their own major if they choose to do so.

eh-debate-room

The Hermesian Literary Society room

Something unique are the debate rooms set aside for the 2 main Literary Societies/Debate clubs on campus. The Hermesian Literary Society (Lincoln-Douglass style debating) was founded when the school was founded; it stopped for awhile and was restarted 4 years ago; students interested in joining must take part in an introductory debate in which they can decide the topic. The Calliopean Room is across the hall; they debate in Parliamentary Style. There’s a friendly rivalry between them, and they’ll have intersocietal debates.

eh-dorm-1

One of the new dorm buildings

Most freshmen and 80% of all students live on campus. Two new apartment-style dorms have been built recently, both having about 250 beds. About 35% of the students join one of the 15 Greek organizations. While there’s no Greek Housing, members can choose to live together on a floor (although the college limits the number of students from any particular organization who can live on a single floor). This used to be a dry campus but that’s been rescinded, although a clear alcohol policy remains in effect.

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One of the outdoor riding areas

This has been named a Best Small School for Outdoor Activities. The Outdoor Program is well utilized by students. They’re located near the 2 highest peaks in Virginia, and they have a 9-hole golf course on campus. One of the most amazing programs is the Semester A.T.rail which lets students hike the length of the Appalachian Trail for a semester. They plan their program with the Director, but Nature Writing (an English Course) is required of all hikers.

eh-chapelStudents admit that there’s not much going on in the town of Emory, but “There’s a good farmer’s market in town.” On campus, however, there’s plenty to do. Football brings out big crowds. Homecoming is a big deal; lots of alumni come back for it. Tailgating becomes a networking event in addition to just being fun.

© 2016

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