William and Mary Digest: Oct. 4

Student wins Trollope Prize

Katherine Scott is graduating in December having won the Trollope Prize. The contest for the prize is open to students worldwide; it is sponsored by the University of Kansas and asks for interpretations of novelist Anthony Trollope’s work.

English professor Deborah Morse, the faculty sponsor for the contest, said Scott’s biblical knowledge opened the path for a rare interpretation of “The Small House at Allington.” Scott drew parallels between the main character in that play, Lily Dale and Ruth, a prominent figure in the Bible.

“It’s a really original focus to see that Trollope was using this Biblical story — something very familiar to the Victorians — to say that Lily is really being perverse, that she’s really resisting her own redemption,” Morse said. “She’s not like Ruth, moving from Naomi to Boaz; instead, she’s staying with her mother.”

Scott, an only child, has personal reasons that both stories are important to her.

“It’s a story that I relate to a lot; my mother is a widow,” she said. “That bond between mother and daughter was something in Allington that I was immediately drawn to.”

Students study physical, mythical worlds

Geology professor Chuck Bailey is taking his students as far as Richmond to see earth structures, since there isn’t much of good terrain in Williamsburg area is buried.

“We’ve got these lovely estuaries around us. We’re on a gentle plain, primarily covered by sediment,” he explained. “These sediments cover up a lot of the earth structure that I’m so interested in studying.”

“We want our geology students to be able to understand earth structures,” he added. “To understand them, you often have to go to the field to see them in the real world.”

Bailey even created a fake map of Middle Earth patterned after “The Lord of the Rings.” Rob Rose, director of the college’s Center for Geospatial Analysis, suggested the idea.

“One day, we were watching the movies. And I thought, has anyone ever mapped out the route that Frodo took from the Shire to Mordor?” he said. “And do we know if that’s the best route to take? Because that’s a common question we ask with GIS: What’s the best way to get from point A to point B. We do what’s called a least-cost path analysis.”

In the physical world, the Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge mountains also provide some excellent areas for students to study.

“Field trips are an important part of what we do in geology,” Bailey said. “These field experiences are important to understanding structural geology because the earth is complicated. Talking about it in lectures is one thing, but being there in person is important.”

New director seeks inclusivity, expression

Kimberly Weatherly, the new director of the Center for Student Diversity, sees her employer as a place on the cusp of being a leader in the movement to make colleges and universities across the nation more hospitable to students from a variety of backgrounds.

“I think William and Mary is on the forefront of doing some things with diversity and inclusion,” she said. “No institution is perfect, but I think William and Mary wants to strive to be the best and to be as inclusive as possible.”

Weatherly, previously the director of multicultural affairs and African-American cultural affairs at Columbia College Chicago, wants to create an environment where students feel at ease expressing themselves.

“I want a noisy hallway, to really have this bustling and have people come in and out,” she said. “I want to make sure the center is a home away from home for students.”

Weatherly stressed that the center is open to everyone.

“All are welcome to the center, and what I always say is learning is both ways – it’s a pendulum,” Weatherly said. “In order to have diverse conversations, we need diverse people. And diversity doesn’t mean just people of color – that’s culture, that’s identity, that’s race, that’s socio-economic, that’s faith, that’s even students who come from the southern hemisphere, north, west or east coast.”

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