Common Reading

Survival of the Prettiest Events

The 2010-2011 Common Reading selection, Survival of the Prettiest by Dr. Nancy Etcoff, has been a great success. Thanks to all who read the book and took part in the events! Over 400 faculty, staff, students and community members attended common reading events during the spring semester.  

In February, the film “Good Hair” was shown in Reynolds Hall in honor of Black History Month; this event was co-sponsored by the Shepherdstown Film Society and Multicultural Services.  Also in February, Lillian Phipps led a post-documentary discussion on “Skin Deep:  Beauty in a Jar”.  In March, Dr. Jeff Groff, Assistant Professor of Physics presented a lecture entitled “Deconstructing Rainbows”. “Faces”, a sociological/psychological experiment was conducted where students, faculty and staff voted on pictures of unknown faces to gauge attractiveness, dependability, honesty, kindness, and intelligence.  Preliminary data from this project has been analyzed and results were emailed to the campus. If anyone wants to delve more into the data, please contact Judi McIntyre in LB-156, ext. 5396.

We were very fortunate to have author Nancy Etcoff visit campus in late March. She met with students and presented a lecture on the themes discussed in her work. Thanks to the Scarborough Society and the Vice-President for Academic Affairs for generously supporting the CTL with this major event.

In April, we showed the film Marty, co-sponsored with the Shepherdstown Film Society, followed by an interesting audience discussion led by Dr. Kathy Corpus. To culminate the program, a final discussion on The Perspectives of Beauty, was led by Dr. Julia Sandy-Bailey (History), Dr. Larry Corpus (Biology) and Dr. Heidi Hanrahan (English). 

Audience evaluations are collected at most common reading events, and the results have been very positive overall.  Finding effective ways to alert students to common reading events is ongoing.  The Common Reading website, Facebook page and Twitter accounts have helped to generate interest, but we urge you all to get involved and help us “talk-up” the program by urging your students to read the book(s) and attend future events. 

This I Believe chosen as the 2011-2012 Common Reading

The Common Reading Committee met in January to discuss and narrow down the twenty-some books nominated for consideration for the next common reading selection.  All books were read over winter break by one or more members of the committee then discussed at length to come to a consensus on the final top five to be voted upon by the campus as a whole. The five books that were voted upon by faculty, staff, students and community were:  Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder; Red Scarf Girl by Ji-Li Jiang; This I Believe, edited by Jay Allison; Flight by Sherman Alexie; and Frederick Douglas and the Fourth of July by James A. Colaico. 

The winner and the 2011-2012 common reading selection is: This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women. A Planning Committee will meet later this month to begin formulating events around the book’s topics for the next academic year.  The editor of This I Believe, Jay Allison will visit students and deliver a lecture on campus on November 15th, 2011.  For more information, visit or call (304) 876-5396.