Goldstein Lecturer to Discuss African Elections


Yolande Bouka

Yolande Bouka, who studies politics, the dynamics of war, and gender and security in Sub-Saharan Africa, will visit Washington College October 3 to speak on the rise and “contagion” of electoral authoritarianism in East Africa. The lecture, sponsored by the Louis L. Goldstein Program in Public Affairs, begins at 7 p.m. in Hynson Lounge, and is free and open to the public.

Bouka, a postdoctoral fellow at Sié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, examines the deceptive appearance of free and fair elections in many African countries. International observers have lauded the organized and peaceful manner in which elections now take place in many African countries, where blatant fraud initially characterized multi-party elections. What is less often discussed, however, is how ruling parties determined to hold on to power have fine-tuned their tactics to abide by superficial criteria of “free and fair” polls on elections day.

As monitoring tools, international missions, and electoral processes have become more sophisticated, autocratic regimes have moved from overt rigging to mimicking democratic rituals and behaviors while manipulating elections to strengthen their hold on political power. Increasingly, savvy heads of states have been able to leverage democratic institutions to promote durable dictatorships. Interestingly, these authoritarian trends have had a tendency propagate from one country to the next in Africa. Between 2015 and 2017, all five states of the East African Community held elections and enacted similar legislation and restrictive policies before and during their elections.

Bouka is co-director of studies of the RVI Great Lakes Course and the Research Team Leader in RVI’s Women in Politics in Kenya research project. Between 2014 and 2016 she was a researcher at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in the Conflict Prevention and Risk Analysis Division, focusing on the Great Lakes Region. She has published numerous reports and articles on politics and security in Burundi and Rwanda. In the course of her research, she has also conducted extensive fieldwork in conflict-affected countries, including Burundi, Kenya, Namibia, and Rwanda. She holds a PhD in international relations from the School of International Service at American University.


Craig Steven Wilder Speaks on Race, Slavery, and the American University Sept. 28


Craig Steven Wilder

Craig Steven Wilder, a historian of American institutions and ideas, will speak in Hynson Lounge in Hodson Hall on September 28. The event, which is co-sponsored by the Sophie Kerr Lecture Series and the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, starts at 4:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

Wilder’s most recent book is the award-winning Ebony & Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities (Bloomsbury, 2013), which Kirkus Reviews named one of the best nonfiction books of the year. It inspired the Grammy Award-winning artist Esperanza Spalding’s song, “Ebony and Ivy” in Emily’s D+Evolution (Concord Records, 2016). A book titled Ebony & Ivy was featured in the film Dear White People (Code Red Films, 2014). He is also the author of A Covenant with Color: Race and Social Power in Brooklyn (Columbia University Press, 2001) and In the Company of Black Men: The African Influence on African American Culture in New York City (New York University Press, 2001).

Wilder began his career as a community organizer in the South Bronx. He is a senior fellow at the Bard Prison Initiative, where he has served as a visiting professor, a commencement speaker, and an academic advisor. He has taught at Dartmouth College, Williams College, and Long Island University, and he has been a visiting professor at the New School University and University College London. He is currently the Barton L. Weller Professor of History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Wilder will also be speaking with Washington College faculty, staff, and students during a panel discussion at 10 a.m. on Friday, September 29, in the Casey Academic Center Commons Room.

For more information on this and other English Department and Sophie Kerr events, visit the English Department website or view our annual Literary Events Calendar brochure. Click here for more information on the C.V. Starr Center.

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’s Board of Visitors and Governors Welcomes Three New Members


CHESTERTOWN, MD—Washington College’s Board of Visitors and Governors has elected three new board members, all of them WC alumni. Rick Wheeler ’86, Valarie A. Sheppard ’86, and Brandon Riker ’10 will fill three vacancies.

Two of the openings require the approval of the Office of the Governor, and the board put forward the names of Sheppard and Wheeler, who await state approval, which is expected.

Rick Wheeler

Wheeler is a vice president for state and local accounts at Oakland Consulting Group, an information technology enterprise in Lanham, Maryland. An international studies major at Washington College, Wheeler was a member of the rowing team, Kappa Alpha Order, the Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society, and the Student Government Association. He has maintained his connection to the College since graduation as a member of The 1782 Society, and by serving as chair of the President’s Leadership Council and as chair of the 25th reunion committee for the Class of 1986. Over the course of his 30-year career he earned professional certification in project management and has held a variety of leadership positions building and implementing innovative information technology solutions for state, local, federal and international government entities. As a founding partner of Accenture, he served 18 years in leadership, including roles as Managing Director of Government Health Industry, and Managing Director of Global Health and Human Services, the company’s largest public sector industry, where he led market expansion and produced rapid growth.

Valarie Sheppard

Sheppard, who majored in psychology at WC, earned her master’s degree in industrial and organizational psychology at the University of Akron and is now Chief of the Executive Services Unit at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security. Though her career has focused on a variety of human resources and human capital organizations, she also taught briefly as an adjunct professor in the College’s Department of Psychology. She’s one of the longest-serving officers of the Alumni Association, having been a member-at-large, vice president, and president of the Alumni Board. She also served as an alumni representative on the Presidential Search Committee.

Brandon Riker

Riker is executive director of strategic planning for Teucrium Trading, an innovative investment firm he helped found with his parents, who are CFO and CEO. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the College with a degree in economics and a minor in business management, then earned a master of science from the London School of Economics. While at WC, he was a member of the Douglass Cater Society of Junior Fellows, captain of the rowing team, and a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity. A grassroots campaigner and regional field director and organizer for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, he is an accomplished veteran of half-dozen major political contests. He jumped right into the political fray in his home state of Vermont in 2015 when he ran for lieutenant governor at only 28 years old.   

About Washington College

Founded in 1782Washington 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.

Get Ready to Float Your (Cardboard) Boat


Washington College’s 11th Annual Cardboard Boat Race is set for September 23, and this year the event will offer a new opportunity to connect with and learn more about the College’s Center for Environment & Society (CES), which sponsors the race. The public is invited to Wilmer Park from 1 to 4 p.m.for the “Get to Know CES” event , which will include food, beer, live music by local favorites the High & Wides, and the always entertaining Cardboard Boat Race.

CES staff will be on hand discussing, and sometimes demonstrating, their innovative and educational programs. Visit each booth for a chance to win a 90-minute cruise on the Chester River for up to ten people on the research vessel Callinectes, or a guided tour of beautiful Chino Farm, including Foreman’s Branch Bird Observatory and the native Grasslands Restoration Project. Stop by the trivia table to test your CES knowledge and win a T-shirt. Other activities include river cruises aboard the 46-foot Callinectes ($5 per person), kayaking, and paddle boarding on the Chester River.

The Cardboard Boat Race, which begins with boat viewing at 12:30, a parade at 2:50, and the starting gun at 3 p.m., is open to individuals, businesses, schools, civic groups, and non-profit entities in Kent or Queen Anne’s counties. Over $650 in prizes will be awarded for the winners of categories including First Around the Course, Best Construction, Most Team Spirit, and the ever-popular People’s Choice. College President Kurt Landgraf and his wife, Rita, will be on hand to help with the judging.

The deadline for registration is September 22, and participants must be at least 12 years old.

Registration is online here and costs $15 per team; boatbuilding tips are also available.

In case of foul weather, activities may be cancelled.  For information contact Jamie Frees at or  visit the website. Events are organized by the Center for Environment & Society at Washington College for Fall Family Weekend.


Landgraf Inauguration Sept. 23


Washington College President Kurt Landgraf

Washington College will inaugurate Kurt M. Landgraf as its 29th president at a mid-morning ceremony Saturday, September 23. The inauguration in Martha Washington Square, during Fall Family Weekend, is set for 10:30 a.m., with a buffet luncheon to follow on the Hodson Green.

The public is invited to the inauguration, which will mark the formal installation of Landgraf, who has been president since July 1. He came 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.

Landgraf has also served as president of the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science, 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.

The public is invited to the luncheon after the inauguration ceremony. Later that day, President Landgraf and his wife, Rita, will judge the 11th Annual Cardboard Boat Race, sponsored by the College’s Center for Environment & Society, at Wilmer Park. With categories ranging from Best Construction to Most Team Spirit and Best Unintentional Sinking, the boat race is always a raucous, fun event for students, faculty, staff, and community members and is certain to top off a celebratory day.


Washington College Fall Concert Series Begins Thursday, Sept. 14


Formosa Quartet

Washington College’s Fall Concert Series will provide an eclectic and global range of offerings this year, kicking off its Premier Artist Lineup on Thursday, September 14 with Davy DeArmond, trumpet, Brandon Schantz, percussion and Matt Brower, piano. Formosa Quartet with Woobin Park, piano, will follow on Thursday, September 28.

Both performances will be in Hotchkiss Recital Hall at the Gibson Center for the Arts and begin at 7:30. Tickets are $20 (adults), $15 (non-WC College Students/Seniors over age 65/WC faculty and staff), and $12 (1782 Member). WC students and youth 17 and under are free.

The first concert features DeArmond, a lecturer in music at Washington College, where he teaches trumpet and leads the Brass Ensemble, Schantz, who began his professional career in 2010 as a percussionist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and Brower, a lecturer in piano at Washington College since 2015, teaching group piano classes and individual lessons for students at all levels.

Davy DeArmond

Matt Brower

Brandon Schantz

DeArmond has performed with a diverse group of ensembles including the Charleston, Asheville, Delaware, Knoxville, and Annapolis symphonies, as well as the Lexington Philharmonic, the Tony Award-winning Signature Theatre, and Washington Symphonic Brass.

Schantz, a Carnegie Mellon University distinguished alumni, was named the Grand Prize winner at the 2007 Percussive Arts Society’s Le Concours International de Caisse Claire held at the Paris Conservatory, as well as second runner-up at the inaugural Atlanta Symphony Modern Snare Drum Competition.

Brower is a Philadelphia-based pianist, coach, and educator who brings vision and sensitivity to a variety of genres, from classical piano, chamber music, opera, and art song to musical theatre and jazz. He is also a faculty member of the University of Delaware’s Master Players Summer Festival.

Woobin Park

On September 28, Washington College welcomes Formosa Quartet with Woobin Park on piano. Winners of both the First Prize and Amadeus Prize at the London International String Quartet Competition, Formosa Quartet is “one of the very best quartets of their generation” (David Soyer, cellist, Guarneri Quartet). They have been hailed as “spellbinding” (BBC Music Magazine) and “remarkably fine” (Gramophone). Formosa Quartet is deeply committed to championing Taiwanese music and promoting the arts in the land of its heritage, as well as exploring diverse and adventurous mediums for string quartet.

Praised for her commanding stage presence and elegant musicianship, Woobin Park has appeared throughout the United States and South Korea with various types of solo and chamber recitals as well as collaboration with renowned orchestras. Prior to her appointment at Washington College as a lecturer in piano, Park had been invited to join the faculty of Winona State University as visiting assistant professor of piano, teaching applied piano lesson and collaborative piano.

Tickets can be purchased with a credit card in advance or with cash or check at the door. Inquiries can be sent to Debbie Reed or 410-778-7839.


“Wishes Are Horses” Opens Kohl Gallery Season


Kohl Gallery at Washington College will kick off the 2017-18 academic year with a one-person show featuring interdisciplinary artist and faculty member Julie Wills. Opening on September 14 with a public reception from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.Wishes Are Horses will run through October 22. The exhibition will feature collage, installation, and a range of work in three dimensions. Wills is scheduled to deliver a talk in the gallery on September 26 at 4:30 p.m.

Julie Wills

Wills, an assistant professor of studio art at Washington College, works in the expanded field of sculpture, including installation, collage, works on paper, performance, video, and site-specific practices. She holds an MFA from the University of Colorado, and an MA in art criticism from the University of Montana. Wills is a 2017 recipient of a Denbo Fellowship and residency from Pyramid Atlantic Art Center, and she has been an artist-in-residence at the Jentel Foundation, PLAYA, and the Hambidge Center, among others. Recent solo exhibits of Wills’ works have been presented at the Arlington Arts Center in Arlington, Virginia, and at Hillyer Art Space in Washington, D.C. In addition to her individual studio practice, Wills has worked since 2004 as one of four members of The Bridge Club collaborative.

The exhibition’s title cuts to the heart of much of the artist’s current practice. As Wills puts it, “Wishes Are Horses adapts the wistful phrase ‘If wishes were horses…’ to instead suggest that wishing might really offer movement or transcendence. My current sculptures and collages are inspired by the tools of desire: wishes, hopes, effort and intention. These works offer me a means of exploring current conditions and activating hope for an unrealized but longed-for future.” Wills’ engagement with desire is facilitated by her chosen materials, all rich with metaphorical or associative meanings. The candles, cloth, twine, words, and wood deployed—to name but a few of her materials—draw us into a material poetry dedicated to mining our more abstract lived experiences, and the conflicts that surface therein.

Kohl Gallery is located on the first floor of the Gibson Center for the Arts at Washington College. It is open Monday through Wednesday,1 to 6 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, please email:

This show is funded in part by a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant.




George Washington Prize Winner Philbrick to Speak Sept. 19


Nathaniel-Philbrick.– photo by Christopher-Noble

Nathaniel Philbrick, whose Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution, won the 2017 George Washington Prize, will visit Washington College on Sept. 19 to discuss his book and the craft of writing narrative nonfiction.

Philbrick’s talk at Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts, will start at 5:30 p.m. A book signing will precede the talk at 4:15 p.m. in Underwood Lobby, and a reception will follow. Hosted by the Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, all events are free and open to the public.

Valiant Ambition is a complex, controversial, and dramatic portrait of a people in crisis and the war that gave birth to a nation. The hero and the anti-hero, George Washington and Benedict Arnold, loom large in the story of our nation’s founding. These charismatic men shared traits like ambition and an obsession with honor, yet while one rose to lead the revolution and win the war, the other tragically fell to traitorous notoriety.

The Washington Prize jurors praised Valiant Ambition for its “narrative bravura.” Adam Goodheart, the Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of the Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, describes Philbrick’s work as “an impressive feat of research” that  transforms “dramatic episodes largely forgotten into a heart-racing adventure story.”

A best-selling and prizewinning author, Philbrick is well-known for his works that bring to life America’s history including In the Heart of the Sea (National Book Award) Mayflower (Pulitzer Prize finalist), Bunker Hill, and Sea of Glory. A maritime historian and former collegiate sailing champion, Philbrick earned a BA in English from Brown University and an MA in America Literature from Duke University, where he was a James B. Duke Fellow. He lives on Nantucket with his wife Melissa.

The full schedule for the Washington Prize celebration:

4:15 – 5:15 p.m. Book signing with Nathaniel Philbrick, Underwood Lobby, Gibson Center for the Arts;

5:30 – 6:30 p.m. “Making History: A Conversation with Nathaniel Philbrick and Adam Goodheart,” Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts;

6:45 p.m. Public reception, Underwood Lobby.

The George Washington Prize campus celebration is co-sponsored by Washington College Department of History, American Studies Program, Department of English, Sophie Kerr Committee, Rose O’Neill Literary House, Center for Environment & Society, and the History Society, Phi Alpha Theta.

Philbrick received the $50,000 Washington Prize at a black-tie dinner at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate in May. Sponsored by Washington College, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and Mount Vernon, the Washington Prize is one of the largest literary prizes in the nation. Awarded annually for the year’s best written work about America’s founding era, it particularly recognizes works that contribute to a broad public understanding of the American past.

Established in 2005, the George Washington Prize has honored a dozen leading writers on the Revolutionary era including the Tony Award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda and Pulitzer Prize winning historians Annette Gordon-Reed and Alan Taylor. Over 60 books were submitted for the 2017 prize.