Students, Faculty Lauded for Academic Excellence, Service at Spring Convocation Ceremony

Regalia-clad faculty and members of the class of 2018 filled the Duke Family Performance Hall to celebrate academic excellence, service and leadership at the annual Spring Convocation Ceremony April 24.

Senior Class President Emily Yates '18 addressed the class following the invocation, exhorting seniors to cherish their last days on campus and to draw on the memories of those first days–"The first time trying and failing to swipe into Belk"–as a reminder of how far they have come.

"Don't forget to breathe, and praise yourself for how much you've grown," she said.

President Carol E. Quillen shared gratitude for the impact the class of 2018 has made on campus and in the world beyond Davidson.

"Every class of Davidson students leave this place stronger, wiser, more just and more humane than they found it," she said.

The annual spring convocation ceremony provides a pause in the hectic spring semester prior to the commencement ceremony, set to take place this year on May 20.

College leaders presented students, faculty, staff and community members with awards for academic and athletic excellence, leadership and community service. The accomplishments and interests of this year's award winners ranged from improving equity in education to funding a medical organization in Syria to ancient art to entomology.

The audience erupted in applause and loud praise several times for the recipients of awards presented by Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK) and the Student Government Association (SGA):

  • Professor of Art History Larry Ligo received the ODK Teaching Award for "lectures that never fail to captivate even the most sleep deprived student;
  • Staff member Eva Alvarez, of dining services, garnered the ODK Staff Award for going "above and beyond for countless students," and "playing a central role in making Davidson feel like home;"
  • The "Dynamic Duo of Davidson Alumni," and loving caretakers of the Davidson Community Garden, Eddie and Connie Beach received the ODK Community Member Award;
  • Professor of Anthropology and Chair of the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies Fuji Lozada, who "takes time to see students grow as individuals even if they are not taking a class with him," received the SGA Faculty Award; and
  • Professor of Hispanic Studies Magdalena Maiz-Pena, described by students as an energetic, caring and welcoming person who loves teaching, received the SGA Pre-Major Advising Award.

New members of honor societies and students receiving graduate school fellowships and scholarships also received recognition during the ceremony.

The ceremony closed with a benediction delivered by College Chaplain Rev. Rob Spach '84:

"Be aware of the vast and intimate mystery of your life. Think about the people around you right now, and honor the mystery of their lives as well. Your life is a gift. May you experience the blessing of being alive this day. And may you live as a blessing to those around you, living with kindness, living towards what is just and beautiful, living out of and into love."

Pre-Tenure Endowed Professorships

Pre-tenure endowed professorships allow Davidson to recruit and retain talented tenure-track faculty members. Four assistant professors have been awarded such professorships, providing them with annual funding for their professional endeavors.

The Lester D. Coltrane, III Professorship

The Lester D. Coltrane, III Professorship, established by the Cannon Charitable Trusts in 2018, just a few weeks ago, began as a visiting professorship in Religious Studies that has recently been converted into a pre-tenure professorship for any field.

The inaugural awarding of the Coltrane pre-tenure professorship goes to an assistant professor whose colleagues and students applaud the many new courses she has taught inclusively and effectively. Since her arrival at Davidson, this scholar-teacher’s research on a wide range of topics on Tibetan Buddhism has been well received at international and national meetings and as peer-reviewed publications. Her service includes holistic advising, significant participation in several college committees, as faculty advisor to the Chinese Culture Club, and contributions to professional associations.

Please join me in congratulating the Lester D. Coltrane, III Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Dr. Rachel Pang.

Albert Keiser, Sr. and Lena Virginia Keiser Professorship

The Albert Keiser, Sr. and Lena Virginia Keiser Professorship was established in 2017 by Mr. Albert Keiser, Class of 1966, who is here with us today, and made possible with additional support from The Duke Endowment, to honor Mr. Keiser's parents, Dr. Albert Keiser, Sr. and Mrs. Lena Virginia Keiser.

Today we award the inaugural Keiser pre-tenure professorship to a Fulbright Global Scholar whose digital art has garnered the support of multiple prestigious grants, including from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Pollack-Krasner Foundation. By invitation, her creative work has exhibited across the United States and in several international venues. Her teaching in studio art at Davidson has drawn students in and elevates them to new creative capacities.

Please join me in congratulating the Albert Keiser, Sr. and Lena Virginia Keiser Assistant Professor of Art, Joelle Dietrick.

L. Richardson King Professorship

L. Richardson King Professorship was established by the Kimbrough and King families in honor of L. Richardson King, Class of 1959 and Richardson Professor of Mathematics from 1964-2002.

Today we recognize a pre-tenure member of the Davidson faculty whose curricular contributions in international politics are accompanied by a talent in making difficult concepts inclusively accessible to students. This teacher-scholar’s peer-reviewed articles, chapters, and short pieces on European governance regularly appear in highly regarded journals. And at the same time, this assistant professor advises dozens of majors, ran our Davidson in Washington Program, and provided shared leadership of a student-faculty-staff study trip to Vienna.

Please join me in congratulating the L. Richardson King Assistant Professor of Political Science, Bes Ceka.

John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professorship

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professorship was established in 1981 by a gift from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Our newest MacArthur professor teaches courses that students describe as difficult and outstanding. Colleagues praise her course content, methods, inclusivity, and high standards. She sustains a prolific peer-reviewed publishing capacity, examining the state’s relationship to citizens in areas such as incarceration, welfare policies, and gendered practices. She actively serves her profession nationally and internationally while simultaneously dedicating herself to mentoring students in research, educating the world through her MOOC on “Engagement in a Time of Polarization,” and collaborating across campus.

Please join me in congratulating the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Assistant Professor of Sociology, Dr. Natalie Delia Deckard.


  • April 24, 2018