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At Convocation, Engaging Ideas and Awards for Excellence

Faculty, staff and students assemble on stage for Fall Convocation 2016
Professor of Physics Dan Boye bore the college’s ceremonial mace to the Frazier Stage in Duke Family Performance Hall.

The annual Fall Convocation, a long-standing college tradition, took place on a beautiful October day during the college's Family Weekend. At this year's gathering, faculty members and senior students donned academic regalia for the procession into Duke Family Performance Hall, which was followed by an award ceremony and featured an address by journalist and author Issac "Ike" Bailey '95, a respected voice in the national conversation on race in the United States.

A Harvard University Nieman Fellow in journalism, Bailey's work has appeared in publications including Politico and CNN. He also is the author of Proud. Black. Southern. (But I Still Don't Eat Watermelon in Front of White People). In his writings, Bailey examines the intersections of race, culture and politics through the lens of his experience as a black man from South Carolina, bringing into relief emotionally and politically charged issues by way of thought-provoking prose.

Drawing from his own experience with stuttering, Bailey suggested ways for people to "fight" and "dance" appropriately in their actions toward others so that people of privilege and those who are underprivileged may work together for mutual benefit. A piece upon which his remarks were based is available here.

Goodwin-Exxon Awards

Goodwin-Exxon Awards went to Anthony Ryback '19, of Avon, Indiana, Jonathan Sheperd-Smith '18, from Lithonia, Georgia, and Rachel McKay '17, from Solon, Ohio. Established by Henry S. Goodwin of the Class of 1930 and funded in part by the Exxon Foundation, these awards go annually to sophomores, juniors and seniors who exemplify the highest standards of character, good sportsmanship, friendliness and consideration for others.

Ryback is a Bonner Scholar and coordinator of the campus organization RightsideShirts, which works with local schools to develop and fund arts programs. He was praised for stepping outside of his comfort zone to jump into leadership roles when necessary, and for putting others first. Sheperd-Smith is a Bonner Scholar, Terry Fellow, Non-Profit Fellow and Education Scholar, as well as captain of the football team -- a position he was elected to by his peers. He was lauded as "the ultimate team player whose "relentlessly positive attitude" inspires those around him. McKay, a member of the cross country and track teams, has held a range of leadership roles on campus, from defense adviser for the Honor Council to hall counselor to member of the Shades of Brown Step team. Her passion for issues of social justice is evidenced by her consistent involvement with civic engagement work during her time at Davidson, including with Amnesty International and International Justice Mission, and as an alternative break trip leader and service odyssey leader.

Alumni Association Awards

The Alumni Association Awards for top grade point average during the first year of study went to Jackson Wood '19, of King, North Carolina, Leah Mell'19, from Charlotte, North Carolina, Lucas Weals '19, from Bethesda, Maryland, Kamran Shahbaz '19, of Boulder, Colorado, and Julie Bennett '19, from Middletown, Delaware.

Faculty Awards

Dean of Faculty Wendy Raymond presented awards to seven faculty members in recognition of their exceptional teaching, leadership and scholarly activity:

Prof. Jane Mangan: Mary Reynolds Babcock Professorship

The Mary Reynolds Babcock Professorship was established in 1960 by a gift from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, in honor of the sister of Z. Smith Reynolds, Mary Reynolds Babcock. It honors a member of the History Department. The Mary Reynolds Babcock Professorship has previously been held by Dr. Sally McMillen, Dr. Malcolm Partin and Dr. John A. McGeachy Jr.

Today we recognize a member of the Davidson faculty whose synergies of leadership, service, award-winning scholarship, and award-winning teaching bring international history and histories to life. She recently published her second monograph with Oxford University Press. She co-founded the Davidson in Peru program, collaborated to establish Latin American Studies at Davidson, and provides substantial service nationally in Latin American History.

Please join me in congratulating Mary Reynolds Babcock Professor of History Jane Mangan.

Prof. Malcolm Campbell: Herman Brown Chair in Natural Sciences

The Herman Brown Chair in Natural Sciences was established in 1983 by gifts from The Brown Foundation of Houston, Texas, and other friends of Davidson. The Herman Brown Professorship is named for the late chief executive officer of Brown and Root. The Brown Professorship in Natural Sciences has previously been held by Dr. Wolfgang Christian and Dr. John H. Williamson.

Today we honor a member of the Davidson faculty whose recognition for excellence in teaching includes top awards from the American Society for Cell Biology and the Genetics Society of America, as well as the Hunter-Hamilton Love of Teaching Award. His teaching includes collaborative laboratory research with hundreds of students and dozens of colleagues, generously supported by the National Science Foundation. He is an innovative textbook co-author, founding director of the Genome Consortium for Active Teaching (GCAT), and the founding director of the James G. Martin Genomics Program at Davidson.

Please join me in congratulating Herman Brown Professor of Biology Malcolm Campbell.

C. Shaw Smith: Joel O. Conarroe Professorship

The Joel O. Conarroe Professorship was established in 2005 through the generosity of an anonymous donor to honor Joel O. Conarroe, class of 1956, and president emeritus of the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. It was previously held by Dr. Mary Vázquez.

Today we recognize a member of the Davidson faculty who has been a leader in the Humanities Program, his home department and campus-wide. A champion and scholar of the arts, artists and art history, this colleague publishes in French and in English, reflecting his teaching and intellectual interests in a wide range of European and American visual art. A super-connector, this devoted member of the Davidson community engages us with beauty in our midst, whether on campus, in Charlotte, or elsewhere on the globe. 

Please join me in congratulating Joel O. Conarroe Professor of Art C. Shaw Smith.

Prof. Ken Menkhaus: Cora Louise Nelson Professorship

The Cora Louise Nelson Professorship, established in 2001 by Ross W. Manire, class of 1974, and his wife Dee, recognizes the dedication to teaching demonstrated by C. Louise Nelson, professor of economics at Davidson from 1964-1988. The Cora Louise Nelson Professorship has previously been held by Dr. Cole Barton.

Today we recognize a member of the Davidson faculty who is a leading international researcher and analyst, whose passions for comparative politics and conflict analysis have led to appointments with organizations including the United Nations, the Rift Valley Institute and the ENOUGH project. A prolific scholar in both public and academic venues, he is author or co-author of four monographs, has given expert testimony to the U.S. Congress, and consults with many groups internationally about security, conflict and stability in East Africa. He has served the college in many ways, including as the current chair of Political Science.

Please join me in congratulating Cora Louise Nelson Professor of Political Science Ken Menkhaus.

Prof. Ann Fox and Prof. Scott Tonidandel: Boswell Family Faculty Fellowship

Our faculty members place teaching as their highest priority. Yet it is by intersecting undergraduate teaching with research, scholarship and creative endeavors that distinguishes a truly great college like Davidson. Sabbaticals provide Davidson faculty opportunities discover and create new perspectives, knowledge and explorations of our worlds. These ultimately infuse our curricula in a synergy that is essential to an excellent liberal arts education.

The Boswell Family Faculty Fellowships were established by Tom and Cheryl Boswell to honor the exceptional education their sons experienced at Davidson. Boswell Fellowships provide salary, travel and research funding for one or two faculty members each year to extend a sabbatical to a full year.

This year's Boswell Fellowships go to two faculty members whose teaching, research, mentoring and leadership are outstanding. Our first Boswell Fellow is a highly published scholar, co-curator and pedagogical innovator whose interdisciplinary work spans multiple areas in the liberal arts. As an invited speaker at national and international scholarly conferences, this colleague illuminates intersections among literary studies, medical humanities, disability studies and social change, all the while exploring what she calls "the in-between spaces in representation." During her sabbatical, she will undertake a book project that knits together her scholarly, curatorial and digital work to explore "Adaptive Activism: How Disability Reconfigures the Cultural Landscape."

Our second Boswell Fellow is an award-winning, prolific scholar whose collaborative work with students and colleagues is supported by the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health. An elected fellow of three professional associations, he balances outstanding mentoring of Davidson students with participation in college-wide service and work as associate editor of two prominent journals. During his sabbatical, he will apply and extend his data science expertise to studying organizational leadership, using "big data" approaches to heretofore unexplored data provided by the Center for Creative Leadership.

Please join me in congratulating our Boswell Family Faculty Fellowship Recipients for 2017-18, Professor of English Ann Fox and Wayne M. and Carolyn A. Watson Professor of Psychology Scott Tonidandel.

Prof. Bill Lawing: Thomas Jefferson Award

Each year Davidson College recognizes a faculty member who by "personal influence, teaching, writing and scholarship" promotes the high ideals and accomplishments of Thomas Jefferson. The overriding outstanding quality for this award is that of having given of self, "generously and well beyond the call of duty."

The Jefferson selection committee, composed of students, faculty members, and alumni, chooses a recipient for this honor. It is my privilege to present to you a faculty member whose decades of distinguished service to the college span creative and courageous curricular expansion, devotion to students and teaching, selfless departmental and college-wide service, and creativity in his own art that we all hear, multiple times a year. Commencement, convocations and many other public events are graced by this colleague's trumpet playing, or by his conducting the Jazz Ensemble, or by the remarkable visiting artists he brings to campus.

Beyond Davidson, he performs with the Western Piedmont Symphony, the Carolina Brass Quintet, the Hickory Choral Society, and internationally as part of a long-standing duet. He devotes significant time with refugees in Charlotte to assist them in moving successfully from high school to, and through, college. In all these endeavors, and at every opportunity, this beloved colleague is always ready with a smile and encouragement. He is a wise listener whose kindness, generosity and substantive collegiality seem to know no bounds.

It is my honor to present the 2016 Thomas Jefferson award to J. Estes Milner Professor of Music Bill Lawing.