Harrison Fletcher Wins 2013 Colorado Book Award

Harrison FletcherHarrison Fletcher joined the Department of English last fall as an assistant professor of creative writing. He is also the author of Descanso for My Father: Fragments of a Life, a memoir in essays about his journey to know the father he lost when he was nearly two. Descanso, which means resting place in Spanish, recently won the 2013 Colorado Book Award in Creative Nonfiction and the 2013 Independent Book Publisher Bronze Medal. His work has appeared in many literary journals and anthologies including New Letters, Fourth Genre and The Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction, which selected his essay, “Beautiful City of Tirzah,” as among 50 outstanding works since 1970. He is also the founding editor of Shadowbox literary journal.


Below is an excerpt from Descanso For My Father: Fragments Of A Life. Congratulations to Professor Fletcher on his esteemed recognition!

A postcard. A faded, wrinkled, colorized street shot of downtown Albuquerque in the rosy afterglow of World War II. `Indian Country,’ the back caption says. Glossy black sedans crawl like desert beetles along Route 66. The adobe façade of the Franciscan Hotel rises from the dust like an Anasazi ruin. On the south side of the street, between a typewriter shop and a flower stand, hangs a faded green sign with white block letters – Fletcher Drugs, my father’s pharmacy.

 fletcher_bookThe image is my family’s only record of the landmark. My oldest sister found it in an antique store shoebox while browsing artifacts with our mother. I borrowed it, stole it, really, because we’re all stingy with his things, because there aren’t enough to go around.

 Alone at night, thirty years after my father’s funeral, I study the image like a tarot card. The red Texaco star. The yellow road stripes pointing east. The black silhouette on the sidewalk outside the drug store – the man in a fedora. I can’t make out the face. It’s hidden in shadow. But I can see this much – he’s looking forward, into the camera, at me.


To read more about Harrison Fletcher and Descanso for My Father: Fragments of a Life visit his website here.

Written by Denise Johnson


Ishita Purohit Wins French Embassy’s LabCitoyen Youth Travel Grant

Ishita Purohit

Ishita Purohit

French minor Ishita Purohit is one of four winners from America who will be attending the French Embassy’s LabCitoyen Youth Travel Grant Program this summer. Every year, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs invites the young people of the whole world to gather and interact to promote the French language as language of debate and action on the big questions of our time. Only four students from the U.S. were chosen; those who have learned French and displayed a public commitment and interest in human rights were selected to attend a ten day cultural stay in France from Saturday, July 6th to Tuesday, July 16th, 2013.

This year’s theme is “Human Rights in the 21st Century: Act now to shape tomorrow.” The program will focus on the rights of women and girls, political freedom, freedom of speech, and minority rights. As Europe celebrates in 2013 the 30th anniversary of the abolition of death penalty in the Union, the LabCitoyen program will also emphasize the issues of capital punishment.

Ishita is passionate about social justice and fluent in French. Her certification at the B2 level on the Paris Chamber of Commerce exam in Fall 2011 was a factor in the decision to award her the grant. Dr. Patricia Cummins, a professor in the School of World Studies, was instrumental in helping Ishita with the application process. Congratulations to Ishita on her prestigious award!

Read More at French Culture

Written by Denise Johnson


Cristina Stanciu Wins Prestigious Fellowship at the Newberry Library in Chicago

Cristina Stanciu, Ph.D.

Cristina Stanciu, Ph.D.

Cristina Stanciu, Assistant Professor of English at VCU, is the recipient of the Monticello College Foundation Fellowship, a long-term fellowship at the Newberry Library in Chicago, for 2013-14. Dr. Stanciu is very excited to join the Newberry’s vibrant community of fellows and staff next year and to research in one of the strongest collections on American Indians in the world. The Newberry Library, an independent library in Chicago, holds special collections ranging from Medieval, Renaissance, and Early Modern Studies, the History of the Book, to American Indian and Indigenous Studies and American History and Culture. Dr. Stanciu will spend the spring 2014 semester in residence, working on her book manuscript, The Makings and Unmakings of Americans: Indians and Immigrants in American Literature and Culture, 1880-1924.

Dr. Michael Schreffler, Associate Professor of Art History and Department Chair in VCUarts also received a Newberry Fellowship.

Learn more about the fellowship at newberry.org.


Darcy Mays Wins Paul Minton Service Award

Dr. D'arcy Mays

Dr. D’arcy Mays

The Southern Regional Council of Statistics annually recognizes the exemplary contribution of a member of the statistics profession by bestowing them with the Paul Minton Service Award. We are pleased to announce the recipient of 2013 is our very own Darcy Mays, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Statistical Sciences and Operations Research. Not only is Dr. Mays the third person from VCU to win this award but we now have the honor of being the university with the most recipients of this esteemed recognition.

Previous winners from VCU include Paul Minton and Jim Davenport. Paul Minton joined VCU in 1972 as the Dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences until 1978; he then served as Director of the Institute of Statistics before retiring in 1988. Jim Davenport was a professor at VCU in the Department of Statistical Sciences & Operations Research from 1987 until his retirement in 2008.

The Southern Regional Council of Statistics established the Paul Minton Service Award in 1992 to honor Dr. Minton, who also served the statistics profession nationally and in the southern region for many years and was instrumental in the continued development of statistical education.

The highest award that SRCOS gives is the Paul Minton Service Award. Congratulations to Darcy for this outstanding achievement!


College Presents Awards and Honors Retiring Faculty

The College presented its annual Faculty Awards at a breakfast this morning, and also honored retiring faculty for their years of service to VCU. Dean Jim Coleman made opening remarks, followed by the presentation of the awards by Dr. Alison Baski, Executive Associate Dean for the College.

The retiring faculty were congratulated and offered words of thanks by their department heads, and presented a gift for their service by Dr. Coleman.

The following is a complete list of the faculty award winners and retiring faculty:

Nelson Wikstrom
2012 Elske v. P. Smith Lecturer Award
The L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs

Alenka Luzar
2012 Distinguished Scholar
Department of Chemistry

Laura McLay
2012 Excellence in Scholarship Award, Math & Sciences
Statistical Sciences & Operations Research

Andrew Crislip
2012 Excellence in Scholarship Award, Humanities and Social Sciences
Department of History

Sally Hunnicutt
2012 Distinguished Teaching Award, Math & Sciences
Department of Chemistry

Daniel Perdue
2012 Distinguished Teaching Award, Humanities & Social Sciences
School of World Studies

Susan Gooden
2012 Distinguished Service Award
The L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs

Natasha Long
2012 Distinguished Advising Award
School of Mass Communications

Gay Cutchin
2012 Distinguished Adjunct Award
The L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs

Retiring Faculty:

John Berglund
Department of Mathematics & Applied Mathematics

Marilyn Gloyer
Department of Mathematics & Applied Mathematics

Charlotte Morse
Department of English

Ted Tunnell
Department of History

Nelson Wikstrom
The L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs

Congratulations again to all the winners and retirees. Your service to VCU and our students is inspiring!

Update: Pictures have been uploaded to our Facebook page!


Kathleen Graber Receives Guggenheim Fellowship

The College of Humanities and Sciences congratulates Kathleen Graber, Assistant Professor of English, for being awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, one of the top awards available to artists in the United States and Canada.

From an article by VCU News:

Graber, who teaches in the Creative Writing Program in the Department of English … received the honor in the Poetry category. Graber is the author of two collections of poetry, “Correspondence,” which was published in 2006, and “The Eternal City,” which was published in 2010. “The Eternal City” was a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and it was the winner of the Library of Virginia Literary Award for Poetry. She is currently working on a new collection of poems, tentatively titled “The River Twice.”

“We’re very proud of Professor Graber for earning this prestigious honor,” said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. “Her poetry continues to attract attention from the highest ranks and represents the excellence of VCU’s faculty among their national and international peers.”

Read the complete article at the VCU News Center.


College of Humanities and Sciences’ 2011 Alumni Star: Edmond F. Bowden, Ph.D.

Pres. Rao and Ed Bowden

Every other year, the VCU and MCV Alumni Associations recognize university alumni for their achievements and the infinite possibilities they bring to the future. This year, Ed Bowden was one such Alumni Star.

Edmond F. Bowden (1982 Doctor of Philosophy, VCU College of Humanities and Sciences) came to Virginia Commonwealth University with the intention of earning a master’s degree so he could further his career in the chemical industry, where he worked as a mechanical engineer. He left with a passion to learn and to teach.

After earning his Ph.D., Bowden began a career as a professor in the Department of Chemistry at North Carolina State University, where he is in his 27th year. Under his direction as administrator from 1999-2008, the chemistry graduate program at NCSU increased in size by about 50 percent while also increasing its entrance standards. He credits VCU faculty members for his success, an effect that has come full circle, as many of his past students have successful careers in education as well.

 As a researcher, Bowden focuses on the electrochemistry of proteins and enzymes, a topic that he first explored at VCU. Twenty years ago, his research group at NCSU, in partnership with Michael Tarlov, Ph.D., at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, developed a means for immobilizing active proteins on electrode surfaces. The discovery fueled research and developments relating to biosensors — analytical measuring devices used to combat such things as disease and pollution. Since 1980, his research group has published approximately 50 journal articles, which have received, on average, 60-plus citations each.

 Bowden is a member of the American Chemical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Electrochemical Society and the Society of Electroanalytical Chemistry.

Photo by Jay Paul


Three VCU Students Win Boren Scholarships for Study Abroad Next Year

News courtesy of Jeff Wing, National Scholarship Office,
Photos courtesy of VCU News Center:

Senior Margaret Cotter, Sophomore Bertrand (Yohannes) Mpigabahizi, and Junior Rachel Sine have been awarded Boren Scholarships to study abroad next year.

Margaret Cotter

Yohannes Mpigabahizi

Rachel Sine

With their selection, VCU students have now won twelve Boren Awards for International Study in the past five years. Senior Ben Cohen (Mass Comm) is studying Mandarin in Taiwan and junior Elisabeth Moore (English) is just about to complete a year of study of Mandarin in Beijing.  All five of these students are members of The Honors College.

Margaret Cotter is from Midlothian and was about to graduate summa cum laude with University Honorswith a double major in International Studies and Political Science and a minor in Italian.  She will now postpone her graduation until after she completes a year studying Turkish language and culture in Istanbul as a Boren Scholar.

Yohannes Mpigabahizi has just completed his first year at VCU.  From Bristow, Virginia, he is majoring in International Studies and Economics and planning to get a minor in Arabic.  He will spend the next year studying Arabic and Egyptian politics, history and culture in Cairo.

Rachel Sine is a sophomore from Roanoke majoring in International Studies with concentrations in International Relations and Southeast Asia Studies and a minor in Religious Studies.  She will spend the next year continuing her Hindi studies in India, while also studying Indian culture, history and politics.  Rachel was also selected for a Critical Language Scholarship earlier this spring and will undertake intensive Hindi language studies in India this summer before she begins her Boren studies in the fall.

In this year’s competition, approximately 140 Boren Scholarships were awarded from a field of more than 900 applicants.  While nationally only about one in six Boren applicants will be selected, three of VCU’s seven candidates were selected, a fact which speaks well of the quality of applicants, the education they are receiving as undergraduates at VCU, and the support that they receive from faculty mentors and recommenders as well as the review panels.  Over the past five years, just over a third of VCU’s Boren candidates have been successful.

VCU National Scholarship Office

Boren Awards for International Study

VCU News Center Article: “Three VCU Students Receive Boren Scholarships”