Held in conjunction with Family Weekend, Davidson's annual Fall Convocation gave mothers, fathers and others with student ties an opportunity to see the college at its finest. Faculty members and senior students paraded into Duke Family Performance Hall in their academic regalia for a ceremony honoring several outstanding ones among them, and featuring an address by Ann B. Clark, a 1980 Davidson graduate currently serving as superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS).
The platform party was seated in front of the industrial-looking set for the theatre department's production of "The Birds," an original work created by students and faculty. The ceremony began with brief remarks from Zi Yang '16, president of the senior class. Yang noted that commencement is just 205 days away, and urged his peers to treat that time preciously, using it to reinforce existing relationships and develop new ones.
President Carol Quillen then greeted attendees and introduced Clark. Clark has been with CMS since 1983, when she joined the district as a teacher of behaviorally and emotionally disabled children. Since then she has been involved at all levels of CMS administration. She has been a principal at elementary, middle and high schools, and served as associate superintendent of education services and regional superintendent. Her achievements have been recognized locally, regionally and nationally, including designation as a national principal of the year, and an honorary doctor of laws degree from Davidson in 1995.
Clark, who was among the first class of women enrolled at the former all-male college, said that earning her Davidson diploma is her proudest lifetime achievement. She told senior students in the audience that Davidson is preparing them well to be leaders in a world of rapid change. She urged them to carefully consider the choice of paths they will face after graduation, and follow the one that will lead them to lives of leadership and service. She noted several times that a career in public education is one of the most important, noble and enriching paths any of them could follow.
The event included presentation of several awards. Goodwin-Exxon Awards for sophomore, junior and senior students of high character, sportsmanship and consideration of others went to Meron Fessehaye '16 of Charlotte, Nate Casey '17 from Tega Kay, South Carolina, and Morgan Spivey '18 from Trenton, New Jersey.
Fessehaye was praised for her leadership as president of the Black Student Coalition and for living her life approachably and seeking to lift up the needy. Casey was noted as a Bonner Community Service Scholar and member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity. He has been an inspirational player on the football team, fighting through injuries while maintaining a can-do attitude appreciated by his teammates. Spivey holds a Presidential Scholarship and has leadership positions in the Black Student Coalition, Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and residence life office. She was praised as "the face of many social justice initiatives on campus," specifically for her work with the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Alumni Association Award for top academic average during the first year of study went to Nathaniel Tenpas '18 of Chevy Chase, Maryland, and Lauren Himes '18 of Nashville, Tennessee.
Dean of Faculty Wendy Raymond presented awards to three faculty members. She conferred the Malcolm O. Partin Endowed Professorship to Assistant Professor of Sociology Joseph Ewoodzie. The professorship was established by a gift from Will Mathis '88. Ewoodzie teaches courses on qualitative methods, sociological theory, culture, race and urban sociology. He examines how marginalized populations in urban areas make sense of inequalities they face, and how boundaries constrain and enable them.
His dissertation at the University of Wisconsin, titled "Getting Something to Eat in Jackson," is a study of everyday eating practices among socioeconomically diverse African Americans living in Jackson, Mississippi. He considered how food availability, choice and consumption are woven into the daily lives of people inhabiting different social classes. His first book, titled Break Beats in the Bronx, provides a historical account of the making of hip hop, and will be published by University of North Carolina Press.
Professor of History Jane E. Mangan received the Boswell Family Faculty Fellowship. Established by Cheryl and Tom Boswell and their children, Andy Boswell '98, Tim Boswell '01 and Patrick Boswell '04, the fellowship V†Å•\00273B"">funds a one-year sabbatical with full salary and benefits, as well as discretionary research and travel support for its recipient. Mangan joined the Davidson faculty in 2004. She has directed the department's Kelley Honors Program, cofounded the study abroad program in Peru and currently chairs the Latin American Studies program. She teaches upper-level courses on colonialism, gender, immigration, U.S. Latino history, and survey courses on colonial and modern Latin American history. She specializes in issues of inequality in historical context, inspired by research on indigenous women, in colonial Latin America.
Her first book, Trading Roles: Gender, Ethnicity, and the Urban Economy, Potosi, 1545-1700, is a social history of trade in Spain's biggest mining town in the New World. It focuses on the effect of native Andeans and women in the city's economy. She is now finishing another book which explores how families in the 16th century responded to the challenges of colonial expansion.
Raymond also presented the Thomas Jefferson Award to Dana Professor and Chair of German Studies Scott Denham. The award recognizes a faculty member who by influence, teaching and scholarship has given selflessly to the life of the college. Denham teaches and researches in a broad range of German Studies subjects, and has worked tirelessly to inform campus constituencies about German politics and culture. He teaches courses on modernism and narrative theory, the Holocaust and its representation, postwar German film, German politics and culture. He also teaches regularly in Davidson's Humanities program, from Homer to post-colonialism, and received the Hunter-Hamilton Love of Teaching Award for his devotion to the classroom. The citation for his award noted, "This professor works in relentless pursuit of elevating the intellectual life of the campus."
Denham received his doctoral degree from Harvard University, and joined the Davidson faculty in 1990. He directed the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies from 2005 through 2013, and currently serves as coordinator of the interdisciplinary minor in Global Literary Theory. He served as the resident director of the study abroad program in Würzburg, past and present chair of German Studies, coordinator of writing courses, equity advisor, and member of many faculty committees, task forces and projects.