Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Hello Call to Pens Contestants!

I am writing from the Office of Admissions at Patrick Henry College on behalf of the school and the Call to Pens competition to apologize for the inexcusable amount of time the contestants were made to wait in receiving word back on the results.

 Below you will find a letter of explanation and apology from one of our literature professors here at the school. Patrick Henry College does not officially run this writing contest, although from the way the website and Facebook page are crafted, it certainly seems as though we do. We understand the confusion and are deeply sorry for the way this was handled.We hope this will help shed some light on what went awry and explain the whole situation more fully. The Office of Admissions is now working to complete the competition and get the results out to you all.

The results of the contest will be forthcoming and each family and contestant will be contacted individually.

Here is the transcript of the letter:

"Dear Call to Pens Contestants and Parents Thereof,

I am writing to offer an apology for and a brief explanation of the unfortunate delay(s) in judging the Call to Pens submissions and in responding to inquiries made about the timeline and the judging process.  Perhaps I should first introduce myself, however.  My name is Dr. Cory Grewell.  I am an Associate Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, and I am also the faculty advisor for the student who is administrating the Call to Pens Competition, Sarah Armstrong.

First, I must echo the apologies of the College Admissions Department for the lack of response to inquiries from parents and contestants made since mid-May about the competition.  These should have been answered as promptly as possible.  I have reached out to Miss Armstrong about why they were not, though to date I have not yet received a response, so I cannot at this time provide a reason for the sudden disappearance of communication.

One thing I can do is provide a more clear explanation of what the Call to Pens Competition is and how it runs, which might temper some of your concerns about the integrity of education at Patrick Henry College.  It should be noted that the Call to Pens Competition is in its essence an independent student project.  The initiative was started by Peter Forbes (Literature ’09) while he was an undergraduate student here.  He came up with the idea of a short story competition, ran it through the college, and assembled a team of judges from among the college community to evaluate submissions in the first year of the competition.  Subsequent students have occasionally resurrected the competition for internship credit.  Miss Armstrong was one such student.  Under my oversight as a mentor, Sarah developed the theme, established the guidelines and prizes, and used the networking resources of PHC to solicit submissions.  She and I were in fairly regular contact through the end of the academic year, though the credit phase of Miss Armstrong’s internship ended in December ‘15. But as of our last contact in early spring, the judging team was assembled and the contest was due to be completed within a few days.  That it wouldn’t, and that communication had apparently stopped as of mid-May came as a great surprise to me when I learned of it this week.  I will say, as faculty advisor for Sarah’s internship, I should have kept myself more aware of the progress of the competition through its entire completion, and I apologize for not knowing what was transpiring during the summer.

Currently, our Admissions Office is working to make sure that the competition is brought to an expedient conclusion.  It is unfortunate that Miss Armstrong let communication lapse.  In her defense, I can tell you that this was something of an overwhelming spring for Sarah.  One of the distinctives of a PHC education, and something we are usually quite proud of, is how much we ask of our students and how much they accomplish.  Unfortunately, I think we may have asked too much of Sarah this spring, and as her advisor, I will personally accept the blame for not being proactive enough in providing her the support and oversight she needed to see all of her projects through to a prompt conclusion.  This does not excuse the lack of any communication, but perhaps when you imagine yourselves or your own children in the crunch of the end of a busy semester, you might be inclined towards a generous measure of grace towards Miss Armstrong herself.

In any event, it is my hope that the relative failure of this particular iteration of the Call to Pens competition will not reflect entirely negatively on the college as a whole.  I would stress again that the competition is a semi-independent student project, not an official initiative of the College.  I will also stress that we will all learn from this.  We will make good on seeing this Call to Pens competition set to right, and going forward, we will make sure that, provided the Lord puts it upon a Literature student to administrate the competition, we will provide her with adequate support and oversight to see it through expediently and thoroughly.
If you have any questions or further concerns, do feel free to email me at  I will answer your emails as quickly as I can.
Thank you and God bless,"

Dr. Cory Grewell
Associate Professor of Literature
Patrick Henry College
10 Patrick Henry Circle
Purcellville, VA  20132   

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