Blackwell Library

New Student Reader

New Student Reader  

2011-2012 Book


Faculty: documents and information


Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption

by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton

with Erin Torneo


About the Book

Jennifer Thompson was raped at knifepoint by a man who broke into her apartment while she slept. She was able to escape, and eventually positively identified Ronald Cotton as her attacker. Ronald insisted that she was mistaken-- but Jennifer's positive identification was the compelling evidence that put him behind bars. After eleven years, Ronald was allowed to take a DNA test that proved his innocence. He was released, after serving more than a decade in prison for a crime he never committed. Two years later, Jennifer and Ronald met face to face-- and forged an unlikely friendship that changed both of their lives.
In their own words, Jennifer and Ronald unfold the harrowing details of their tragedy, and challenge our ideas of memory and judgment while demonstrating the profound nature of human grace and the healing power of forgiveness.


About the Authors

Jennifer Thompson-Cannino, a native North Carolinian and mother of teenage triplets, has become an outspoken opponent on the death penalty and speaks frequently about the need for judicial reform. She is a member of the Actual Innocence Commission, advisory committee for Active Voices, member of the Constitution Project and Mother's for Justice.


Ronald Cotton, lives with his wife and daughter in North Carolina and currently works at an insulation plant. He has spoken at various schools and conferences including Washington and Lee University, University of Nevada Las Vegas, Georgetown Law School, and the Community March for Justice for Troy Anthony Davis in Savannah, GA


Purpose of the Program

The purpose of the New Student Reader Program is to orient new students to our academic community at Salisbury University by having a common reading experience with fellow classmates, faculty, staff, and upper-class students who serve as orientation team peer leaders. 

The goal of the New Student Reader Program is to engage students in discussions, projects, curricular and co-curricular opportunities generated by a common reading experience.


Thursday, August 25th

5:30 - 6:30 pm

Dinner for Essay Contest winners and their family with the President and other University Officials

Held in the Worcester Room in the Commons

7:00 - 8:00 pm

Jennifer Thompson and Ronald Cotton, subjects of the book, speak to the community

Held in the Social Room and Great Hall in Holloway Hall

Friday, August 26th

9:00 - 10:00 am


Convocation Speaker, Jennifer Thompson

Held in Red Square.

10:00 - 11:00 am

Small group book discussions led by faculty and staff

Held in various classrooms on the SU campus.

11:15 - 12:30 pm

Academic Open Houses

                             Held in respective Academic Schools.

12"30 - 2:00 pm

Lunch on the Lawn (new students & faculty)

Campus book signing by New Student Reader special guests, Jennifer Thompson and Richard Cotton

 Held on the lawn of Devilbiss Mall.


Committee Members of the New Student Reader Program

Diane Davis – Fall 2004

            Faculty/Clinical Laboratory Science/Medical Technology/Health Sciences

 Lawanda Dockins-Gordy – Fall 2004

            Director/Guerrieri University Center

 Patricia Richards – Fall 2004

            Faculty/REED Coordinator/Education Specialties

 Vaughn White – Fall 2004

            Director/Multicultural Student Services

 Alex Williams­- Fall 2008

            Student (Graduate)

 Sarah Case – Fall 2008


 Leigh Ann DePope – Fall 2009

            Faculty/Serials/Electronic Services Librarian

Nancy Michelson -- Fall 2010


Vicki Willey -- Fall 2010


Helena Hill -- Fall 2010

            Graduate Student

June Krell-Salgado -- Fall 2010

            Director/Cultural Affairs

Jessie Redmon -- Spring 2010


Christie Stone -- Fall 2010




For additional information about the public event or about the New Student Reader Program, please contact Lawanda Dockins-Gordy, Co-Chair, New Student Reader Committee
at 410-543-6100.


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