Community Impact

Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest

Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest

Randolph students now have more opportunities to reach beyond the Red Brick Wall to serve and to learn thanks to several key new partnerships formed in the Lynchburg community.

This year, students have helped analyze the historic landscape at Thomas Jefferson’s plantation Poplar Forest, publicized educational and fundraising events for the Amazement Square children’s museum, and created a museum catalog of items in the home of Harlem Renaissance poet Anne Spencer.

Recently, the College formalized partnerships in an effort to increase involvement with each of these organizations, including internship opportunities and collaborative events. The end result provides valuable experience for students and allows the College to share its resources and expertise with the community.

“Working with Randolph is a wonderful partnership for Poplar Forest,” said Jeffrey Nichols, executive director of Poplar Forest. “Having students come out here and help our professional staff is wonderful, and we’re also willing to help the students as they are working on research and other aspects of their studies.”

Poplar Forest also is working with Randolph to plan and host the symposium “Facing the Past, Freeing the Future: Slavery’s Legacy, Freedom’s Promise” in April 2014. It will include three days of presentations and discussions at Randolph and a field trip to the plantation.

Randolph’s involvement with and impact on the Lynchburg community has grown in recent years as students, staff, and faculty have increased volunteer efforts, and the College has expanded its outreach to area organizations. The partnerships create a win-win situation, providing valuable services to local groups while increasing learning opportunities for students.

“These community partnerships are the highest expression of the Randolph College commitment to experiencing life abundantly,” said Carl Girelli, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College.

“Our students and faculty experience the liberal arts in action as they bring their talents and energies to bear on real need and are rewarded by refining their own ideas about what they most need to teach and learn,” he added. “This cycle of study and learning informed by doing and giving is central to our mission and method.”