“What Is Worthy of Our Bravery?” – Unitarian Universalists of the Chester River


Reverend Susan Carlson Browning

On Sunday, October 1, at 10 a.m., Reverend Sue Browning will give a sermon entitled “What Is Worthy of Our Bravery?” for the Unitarian Universalists of the Chester River, 914 Gateway Drive (Crestview), Chestertown. In his book The Philosophy and Mythology of Harry Potter author Patrick McCauley reminds us of a core lesson from the Harry Potter series: “The decision to approach and confront that which scares us is not a thought, it is an act.”  Being brave is hard. What is worthy of our bravery? When should we act in light of fear? What guides these choices?  At this service, Rev. Sue Browning will explore these questions and the sources that inspire our acts of courage. Special music by Karen Somerville.

All are welcome to our service. For more information, call 410-778-3440.

Special School Board Meeting


Reliable Transportation school buses

The Kent County School Board of Education is holding a
special meeting for the purpose of approving a cancellation
agreement with Reliable Transportation. The meeting will be held on
Wednesday, September 27, 2017, at 5:30 p.m. The meeting will be held
at the Kent County Board of Education Administration Building, 5608
Boundary Ave., Rock Hall.

Part of the meeting will be conducted in closed session to allow the board to consult with legal counsel. The board will then reconvene in open session to announce the cancellation agreement.

It’s Official — Washington College Has a New President!


Kurt Landgraf is sworn in by Larry Culp, chair of Washington College Board of Visitors and Governors

Kurt Landgraf is now officially Washington College’s new president.

In ceremonies on Martha Washington Square on the college campus, Landgraf was sworn in on Saturday, Sept. 23, on the college’s Fall Family Weekend. He is now the college’s 29th president, in a line stretching back to William Smith in 1782.

A tent was erected in event of showers, but the weather was close to ideal as the academic procession filed in, led by members of the Chesapeake Caledonian Pipes and Drums.  When all were in their places, the Rev. Darcy Williams of Emmanuel Episcopal Church spoke the benediction and WACapella sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Patrice DiQuinzio, provost and dean of Washington College

After a welcome by Lawrence Culp, chair of the Board of Visitors and Governors, Provost Patrice DiQuinzio introduced a series of greeters beginning with Chestertown Mayor Chris Cerino. Cerino said he looked forward to the college’s extensive projects along the Chester River waterfront, and to a new era of cooperation between the college and the town. “In three to five years, it will be a different place – a win-win for Washington College and Chestertown,” he said.

Joe Holt, director of Institutional Giving

Arian Ravanvakhsh, chairman of Alumni board








Joe Holt, director of institutional giving, and Arian Ravanbakhsh, chairman of the alumni board, greeted Landgraf on behalf of the college staff and alumni, pledging their support and cooperation. And May Kiros, president of the student government association, told how he responded within an hour to an email welcoming him to the college , saying he would love to meet with her. WACapella then returned with a spirited performance of “Come Join the Family,” with solo bits by several members.

May Kiros, class of 2018 and president of the WC Student Government Association Association

WACapella Choir

Richard Guarasci, president of Wagner College, Landgraf’s alma mater, greeted him on behalf of the academic community. He praised the college’s tradition of liberal arts studies as a key to nurturing the critical thinking that is essential in an age of information overload. He noted the emergence of new demographic groups, many previously neglected, in the academic world, calling liberal arts colleges “a beachhead for continuing opportunity.” He praised Landgraf’s honesty, openness and directness, and his willingness to solicit ideas from all segments of the community. “Kurt Landgraf is up to the task; he relishes the challenge,” Guarasci said. He ended by urging the new president to become the agent of positive change.

James Allen Hall, director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House, read a newly-composed inaugural poem, inspired by a letter to George Washington from the college’s first president, William Smith. Echoing the letter’s phrases, Hall described the college as a “monument” to Washington, “only half-built,” but inspiring the nation’s youth to live up to the ideals he embodied. The audience responded with a standing ovation.

Culp then administered the oath of office to Landgraf, and draped the chain of office over his shoulders.

Washington College faculty procede to inaugural tent.

Landgraf began his inaugural address by noting how fortunate he has been, giving much of the credit to the liberal arts education he gained at Wagner College and the influence of one professor who took him under his wing. He thanked the Board, the faculty and the community for choosing “to honor a man from very humble beginnings who understands how powerful liberal arts education actually is.Washington College is one of the finest representations of what liberal arts education can be and can achieve in our great country.”

“The best scientists, the best businessmen, and the best policymakers are grounded in liberal arts education,” he said. “The reason is, they have a sense of history, philosophy, and international affairs. They know how to approach problems critically and analytically. They know how to communicate effectively. And fundamentally, they learn the difference between right and wrong.” He told the assembled faculty, “You teach them how to do that.”

Landgraf went on to outline the “three pillars” of society that a liberal arts education helps nurture: capitalism, democracy, and the rule of law. Capitalism, he said, needs “a strong moral compass” — the kind imparted by a liberal arts education — if it is to truly serve the whole of society and not just the richest segment.

Democracy is at the very foundation of Washington College, Landgraf said, noting that the school was “established for the singular purpose of educating responsible citizens who could lead this country in its new democracy.” By teaching the lessons of history and philosophy, Washington College gives its students the tools to make decisions based on a sense of right and wrong.

As for the rule of law, he said, “For those who serve to protect the law — police officers, attorneys, judges, juries and, yes, even business leaders —having a moral compass is not just incidental, it is imperative.” To accomplish that goal, he said, “everyone associated with this college has a critical responsibility to maintain the sustainability of this institution so that we can ensure that this country will get a moral compass and travel the high road for every citizen.”

Landgraf gave two examples of decisions he made because of the moral compass he gained at Wagner College: pulling the Dupont Company out of South Africa in protest of its apartheid policy, and withdrawing a drug from the market in response to learning it was toxic. He made these decisions, he said,, “because I remembered the moral compass that said above all, do what is right, not what is convenient.”

Landgraf concluded by telling the audience, “I promise you this, I will give you my heart and my soul. I will do everything that I can to make sure that the values of this school, that the faculty of this school, and the alumni of this school, and the board of visitors and governors of this school, know that this place will be sustainable for generations to come, because I want to conclude by saying, I love this place.”

The audience responded with a prolonged ovation.

The ceremonies concluded with WACapella singing the alma mater, “Old Washington,” and a benediction by the Rev Darcy Williams. Attendees then partook of a buffet lunch on Hodson Commons.

Chesapeake Caledonian Pipes and Drums led the procession.

Richard Gillin, Inauguration Marshal,  director of Humanities Program and professor of English Literature at Washington College

James Allen Hall, director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House

Chris Cerino, mayor of Chestertown

“I love this place,” – Kurt Landgraf, president of Washington College

Photography by Peter Heck


School Board Schedules Community Meetings on Facility Use


Kent County Public Schools are developing a Facility Strategic Plan for future facility usage and configuration. The school board is asking the community to provide input into future school facility requirements.

Community members are invited to attend one of the community input meetings to provide insights and suggestions into school facilities. Community members are asked to limit questions/comments to 3 minutes. Cards will be provided for written comments and questions.


Sept 25 6:30 p.m. Community Meeting, Kent County High School – Auditorium

Sept 27 6:30 p.m. Community Meeting, Galena Elementary School – Cafeteria

Sept 28 6:30 p.m. Community Meeting, Rock Hall Elementary School – Cafeteria


6:30 p.m.                     Greetings and Introduction                           Dr. Couch

6:40 p.m.                     Strategic Plan Background                             Dr. Lever

7:00 p.m.                     Public Comment                                               The Community

8:20 p.m.                     Closing Remarks                                               Dr. Couch

8:30 p.m.                      School Building Tour                                      Building Principal

The next Strategic Planning Committee meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 29 at Kent County Middle School in the Cafeteria.


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 410-810-7162jfrees2@washcoll.edu or  visit the website. Events are organized by the Center for Environment & Society at Washington College for Fall Family Weekend.


WC-ALL Learn at Lunch — A Look at Watermen


Pete Lesher

Washington College Academy of Lifelong Learning has announced its schedule of Learn at Lunch speakers for the fall semester. The monthly series is open to members and non-members alike, and brings a broad array of speakers and topics to the community. The buffet lunches begin at noon in Hynson Lounge in Hodson Hall on the Washington College Campus, with the presentation and question and answer period following.

The first luncheon, to be held Sept. 20, will feature Pete Lesher, chief curator of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. His topic will be “Cultural Crossings on the Chesapeake – Watermen and Boaters 1870-1970”. Using regional literature, this talk will explore the Chesapeake Bay watermen’s culture through the eyes of visiting yachtsmen – encounters that varied from welcoming to troubled. From the writings of 19th century sportsmen who explored the Bay to 20th century photojournalist Robert de Gast’s observations, the watermen are admired for their knowledge of the waters and weather, as well as their boat handling skills. The writings of these visitors to the Chesapeake played a role in shaping the public perception of the region’s watermen as fiercely independent, rugged individualists. The talk will be illustrated from various historical accounts and the photography of Robert de Gast.

Lesher has been on the staff of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michael’s since 1991, and now oversees museum collections, exhibitions, and programs as chief curator. He graduated from Lafayette College, holds an MA in History from Columbia University, and studied maritime history at Mystic Seaport’s Munson Institute for American Maritime Studies. He regularly speaks on a variety of maritime topics.

Learn at Lunch presentations for the rest of  2017 will feature Kristin Saunders, speaking on “Bound to Keep a Promise: The Story Behind the Creation of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center, State Park, and National Historic Park” on Oct. 18, followed by Sherwin Markman’s presentation, “Presidents and Our Constitution: Have They Always Honored Their Oath of Office?” on Nov. 15.

To attend Lesher’s Sept. 20 talk, reservations with payment are required by Thursday, Sept. 14. The cost is $20. for WC-ALL members and $25. for non-members. Make checks payable to WC-ALL and send to WC-ALL, 300 Washington Ave., Chestertown, MD 21620 with name, phone number, and email included. No phone or email reservations can be accepted. For more information, call the WC-ALL office at 410-778-7221.