|Senior Students and Outstanding Community Members Garner Honors at Commencement
May 18, 2008
Contact: Bill Giduz
Read President Ross' complete remarks.
Presiding over his first commencement as Davidson College's seventeenth President, Thomas W. Ross urged graduates on Sunday to recognize the value of knowing what they don't know.
|Graduate Larissa Hohe and friends marched in appropriate eyewear.|
In accordance with college tradition, the president is the featured commencement speaker. President Ross expressed confidence that the 423 graduates are prepared for postgraduate life. He said, "You are people who care about each other and the world, your minds are sharp and filled with ideas and innovations and you are truly prepared for the adventures, opportunities and challenges life will bring to you."
Ross expressed his hope that the graduates also have learned the most important lesson he has learned from them-"the value of knowing what you don't know." He said, "You reminded me to recognize what I don't know, to ask questions, to identify issues, to research, think about solutions, seek advice and learn, learn in any and every way I can."
He cautioned that, "When you no longer value learning... your options will narrow, your choices evaporate and your new opportunities vanish." Instead, he concluded, "Ask questions, seek new information and understanding, struggle with other's ideas, try new approaches, develop different strategies and value new knowledge and continued learning."
Davidson's 171st annual Commencement occurred in the shade of the picturesque front campus oaks on a beautiful, cool and sunny morning. The experienced crew of about 80 Davidson physical plant workers turned the shaded lawn into a perfectly spaced gallery of 5,200 chairs for participants, family members and well-wishers in just 90 minutes.
Students individually crossed the stage as their names were called to receive their bachelor of arts or bachelor of science diplomas, and shake hands with President Ross and John McCartney, chair of the Board of Trustees.
Hunter-Hamilton Love of Teaching Awards
The ceremony also included presentation of six major awards. Hunter-Hamilton Love of Teaching Awards, the college's top teaching honor, went to A. Malcolm Campbell, Professor of Biology and Director of the Martin Genomics Laboratory, and to John Wertheimer, Professor of History. Each award includes $7,500 for the recipient, and $7,500 more for the recipient to designate to a college cause.
|(l-r) Professors John Wertheimer and Malcolm Campbell won Hunter-Hamilton Love of Teaching Awards.|
Wertheimer, a graduate of Oberlin College who earned master's and Ph.D. degrees from Princeton University, has taught modern U.S. history and legal history at Davidson since 1993.
He was honored for creative teaching methodology, challenging assignments, and constructive review of student work that inspires them to become better writers, researchers and investigators. Several of his collaborative research projects with students on North Carolina legal history have been published in law and history journals. "He truly enjoyed being able to work with me so I could create the best work I was capable of," wrote one student nominator.
Wertheimer's academic interests range from civil liberties in the United States to family law in Latin America. Last year he won the American Society for Legal History's Surrency Prize for the best article published in its Law and History Review journal. Titled "Gloria's Story: Adulterous Concubinage and the Law in Twentieth Century Guatemala," his article concerns unintended consequences from the combination of haphazardly composed individual legal strategies and well-intentioned shifts in legal policy in that country.
In addition to his scholarship, Wertheimer was praised for his "ebullience, intelligence, and 'joie de teaching'." His citation said, "His subtle humor and witty responses to students' questions transform a history lesson into a combination of a Robin Williams stand-up routine and a Ken Burns documentary. He leaves his students both laughing and wanting to know more."
Wertheimer is also a talented guitarist who enjoys jamming with students in his home, and playing area engagements with his bluegrass band, Davidson Express.
Campbell graduated from Davidson in 1984 and earned his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University.
|(l-r) The Rev. Albert Connette '81, pictured here with his son, Grant '08, delivered the Baccalaureate sermon on Saturday afternoon of Commencement weekend.|
One of his students told the Hunter-Hamilton nominating committee, "I have not encountered another professor with such a profound sense of balance, expectation, generosity, justice, respect, patience and genuine curiosity."
Campbell is a national authority in biology education pedagogy. More specifically, he has worked steadfastly and won several large grants to help make the study of genomics accessible and affordable for all undergraduate students, rather than just those at well-funded research institutions.
Campbell founded and continues to direct the Genome Consortium for Active Teaching, whose mission includes providing microarrays of genetic material at low or no cost, so that educators with limited budgets can teach genomic research techniques to their students.
In 2002 he and Laurie Heyer of the Davidson mathematics department co-authored the first undergraduate textbook for genomics, titled Discovering Genomics, Proteomics & Bioinformatics. He and Heyer also have developed free software for DNA microarray data processing and analysis.
For the past three years student researchers in Campbell's genomics lab have developed innovative adaptations of genetic material that have won several prizes at the annual international Genetically Engineered Machines competition held at M.I.T.
Campbell has given countless presentation at professional meetings on how to teach genomics at undergraduate institutions, and is a senior editor of the journal CBE-Life Sciences Education. The American Society of Cell Biology has awarded him its Bruce Alberts Award for Excellence in Science Education.
Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards
Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards recognizing outstanding contributions to campus life were presented to graduating senior Elizabeth A. Henry of Little Rock, Ark., and to longtime Davidson resident Susan D. Abbott.
Henry, who holds the John M. Belk Scholarship, was praised for her activities in campus religious life, community service and the Davidson Outdoors program. She was a leader in the Sanctuary peace and justice faith group, and helped bring issues of social justice to the forefront of campus consciousness as a founder of the Engage for Change movement. She has helped Davidson Outdoors as a leader in the pre-freshman year Odyssey adventure program, and served as one of three students to represent the student voice on the Presidential Search Committee that last year selected Tom Ross as the college's new leader. She is the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. J. Charles Henry of Shadow Lane, and is a graduate of Episcopal Collegiate School.
Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award winner and Belk Scholar Elizabeth Henry.
Susan Abbott was praised as a model of the welcoming spirit that characterizes the Davidson community. Her citation said, "She has opened her doors many times to new faculty, homesick students, international students, girlfriends of students, a stray dog and countless others." Abbott has contributed to the cultural and social life of the town through service to the Davidson Garden Club, Horticultural Symposium, the Copeland House Gallery, Village Store, Habitat for Humanity, Davidson-Cornelius Daycare Center and 10 years as the Coordinator of Special Events for the Davidson College College Relations Department. She is also one of the founders of Davidson's annual Town Day civic celebration.
Abbott moved to Davidson in 1964 with her husband, Tony Abbott, who served on the English faculty from 1964 until his retirement in 2001. She was hailed as "the one who heals our hearts, lifts our spirits, softens our sorrows, brightens our hopes and graces our lives."
|Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award Winner Susan Abbott|
Academic Awards to Two Top Scholars
Twenty-seven students graduated magna cum laude, with grade point averages of 3.75 or above. Just one student, Halley M. Aelion of Bowie, Md., graduated summa cum laude. That perfect academic record for her entire Davidson career earned Aelion First Honor for the Class of 2008.
Aelion, who holds a McGaw Scholarship, also earned high honors in French. She spent her junior year studying at the University of Paris Denis Diderot, and wrote an honors thesis about the noted 20th-century French writer Colette. She investigated instances of solitude of the female characters in Colette's writing to demonstrate that the author was a precursor of the "Žcriture fŽminine" style of French literature in the 1970s.
Aelion was an assistant in the French department's writing program this year. She plans to attend graduate school at Georgetown University's BMW Center for German and European Studies, and eventually to conduct a career in international diplomacy.
|Top scholar Halley Aelion was cheered by her classmates.|
Second Honor went to Brenna T. Burns of Weaverville, N.C., who received a B.S. degree magna cum laude with Honors in psychology. Burns, a four-year standout athlete on the college's cross-country and track teams, holds the Lowell L. Bryan Athletic Scholarship, the college's top award for scholar/athletes.
She recently won the college's Rebecca Stimson Award as the top female athlete, and also won the psychology department's William Gatewood Workman Award as the top student in that program.
The NCAA recently awarded Burns its $21,500 Walter Byers Postgraduate Scholarship, the organization's top academic award for senior athletes nationwide. The award is presented annually to just one female athlete in the U.S. Burns holds five Davidson records, was named to the All-Southern Conference team four times, and was named the Most Outstanding Track Performer at the 2007 Indoor Southern Conference championships.
Burns plans to begin working in July as a residential teacher at the New England Center for Children, the nation's leading autism treatment center. She will then pursue a Ph.D. in applied developmental psychology, and plans to working in an autism treatment center.
|Outstanding scholar-athlete Brenna Burns won Second Honor.|
Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,700 students located 20 minutes north of Charlotte in Davidson, N.C. Since its establishment in 1837 by Presbyterians, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently regarded as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country. Through The Davidson Trust, the college became the first liberal arts institution in the nation to replace loans with grants in all financial aid packages, giving all students the opportunity to graduate debt-free. Davidson competes in NCAA athletics at the Division I level, and a longstanding Honor Code is central to student life at the college.
Posted By: Bill Giduz