Top students, faculty recognized at Stetson
During its convocation and commencement ceremonies, held Friday and Saturday, May 10 and 11, Stetson University presented several awards to exemplary students and faculty.
William Hugh McEniry Award for Excellence in Teaching is considered Stetson’s most prestigious award for faculty. It is awarded to a faculty member chosen by students and other faculty. Excellence in classroom teaching is the primary criterion, though other factors, such as intellectual growth, professional competency, academic activities outside the classroom, and service to students and the university as a whole may be considered. The recipient of this year’s McEniry Award is Harry Price, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry. The award was presented at the Saturday commencement ceremony by Terry Farrell, Ph.D., professor of biology, and last year’s recipient of this award.
“I believe education is as important as personal freedom,” said Price in a recent interview with Stetson University magazine. “I decided to become a college professor so that I could pass on my love of learning, my love of science, and my knowledge and insights to my students just as my professors had done for me. Teaching for me is my way of giving back, my way of changing a life for the better.”
“[Price] has an incredible ability to not only understand life in its most minute details—he can also relate biochemistry to the major challenges our society faces,” said Farrell. “More impressively, he also constantly inspires his students to do the same.”
Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award is presented annually to the man and the woman in the graduating class whose nobility of character and dedication to service sets them apart as examples for others. This prestigious award is among the highest recognition given to a graduating senior and is given jointly by Stetson University and the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation in New York. This award was created nearly 100 years ago to honor Sullivan’s life of service to others. This year’s awards go to Lauren Dunn and Kai Eckenrode, and were presented at the Friday Honors Convocation by Beth Paul, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs.
As a J. Ollie Edmunds Distinguished Scholar, Lauren Dunn’s resume is replete with the names of organizations she has not just been associated with, but has held leadership roles in: president and vice president of the Honor System Council; secretary of the Order of Omega Greek Honor Society; clerk of the Senate for the Student Government Association; and secretary, Psi Chi International Honor Society in Psychology. Dunn received her B.A. degree in psychology from Stetson, graduating magna cum laude.
“Lauren’s success as a leader, in part derives from her ability to cooperate and work with a variety of people,” said Paul, “a talent which stems from her open-mindedness and respect for others and her ability to understand their feelings.”
Dunn has served her community both here and abroad. She volunteered with the Woodward Elementary after-school program, read with elementary students at Starke Elementary, worked with the Volusia County Literacy Council teaching adult women practical reading and writing skills, cleaned up and removed branches and other obstacles from the handicap trails at Lake Woodruff, served as tutor in the Psychology Department here, and volunteered with the Transgender Equality Network of Ireland in Dublin, Ireland, helping them fight for workplace rights.
Kai Eckenrode “represents the best of the Stetson student experience,” according to Paul. “Overall, he is an outstanding student and a well-rounded, thoughtful person who is committed to living out his values.” Eckenrode received his B.A. in communication studies.
Eckenrode is an NCAA soccer player, who previously played soccer in the United Kingdom. He is an activist on social issues, evidenced through his involvement with environmental activism, gender issues and politics. Research Eckenrode did in summer 2012 (supported by a SURE Grant) will be presented at the undergraduate honors conference at Stetson’s regional communication conference this month in Louisville, Ky. Eckenrode also is president of the Lambda Pi Eta Communication Honor Society and has served as a teaching assistant helping mentor younger students.
Etter McTeer Turner Award is named for Stetson’s first woman dean of students, and is presented to the student who shows outstanding academic achievement, leadership and service to the community. This year’s recipient is Tara Formisano. This award was presented at commencement by Provost Paul.
Formisano received her B.S. in integrative health science with minors in French, chemistry, and women and gender studies. She is an exceptional student, graduating summa cum laude, who is motivated by a love of learning. Formisano has received several awards including first place in the Anne Morris Research Essay, first place in the duPont-Ball Library Research Essay, and was recognized as an Outstanding Junior/Senior in the Integrative Health Science Department. Formisano is also an Atlantic-Sun Conference Scholar Athlete, as a member of Stetson’s softball team. Formisano was recently inducted into Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society.
“It is evident from her experiences that her motivation to pursue a career in medicine stems from genuine interest, altruism and advocacy,” said Paul in presenting the award. “Her path is filled with volunteer experiences that fuel her passion to help and empower others providing her an understanding of the service side of medicine…It is these experiences that fuel her passion to pursue a career in medicine and research.”
Formisano participated in a Global Medical Brigades trip to Panama to assist in the administration of health care to the less fortunate in that country, exemplifying a commitment and passion for helping others, strong personal and leadership attributes, and superior academic achievements.
The John Hague Award for Distinguished Teaching in the Liberal Arts and Sciences celebrates Stetson’s tradition of excellence in teaching and its devotion to scholarship, morality and friendship. These are the guiding principles of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious undergraduate honorary society. Kimberly FlintHamilton, Ph.D., professor of sociology and anthropology, is this year’s recipient. The award was presented at Honors Convocation by Karen Ryan, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
“A lover of the past and the very origins of liberal education, [Kimberly] is praised for helping students to find eureka moments in their undergraduate education,” said Ryan when presenting the award. “As a mentor of senior projects or a steadfast counselor of students and colleagues, this professor is someone who truly embodies the values of liberal, or liberating education.”
FlintHamilton received two nominations for the award from Phi Beta Kappa students who praised her “clear and contagious enthusiasm for every subject she teaches, every single day,” adding that “she engages with all of her students on a level I have never experienced in any other classroom, and more than anything, she just has this innate capability to bring people together and lead them in meaningful discussion.”
Established in 2007, this award is named in honor of the late John Hague, professor emeritus of American studies, and a widely admired teacher, scholar and academic leader. Hague led Stetson’s application to earn a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa in 1982, which became the first chapter established at a private university in Florida. The initial gift allowing Stetson to honor the career of John Hague was made by William and Margaret Dunifon.
The Hand Awards were established by Stetson Trustee Emerita and College of Law alumna Dolly Hand and her husband, Homer, to applaud faculty members who are not only dedicated teachers but also who have notable achievements in scholarship or creative work in their areas of expertise and who have made a difference in their local or larger communities. These awards were announced at Commencement by Provost Paul.
The Hand Award for Research, Creative and Professional Activity honors outstanding faculty. This year’s recipients are Mark Powell and Michael Rickman.
Mark Powell, Ph.D., assistant professor of English, is the author of four novels: Prodigals (2002, nominated for the VCU First Novel Award), Blood Kin (2006, received the Peter Taylor Prize for the Novel), The Dark Corner (2012), and The House of the Lord (2012). He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference, the Collegeville Center for Ecumenical Research and the Vaclav Havel fellowship in playwriting to the Prague Seminar. For the past three years, Powell has taught a fiction workshop at Lawtey Correctional Institute, a Level II prison in Raiford, Fla. In spring 2011, Powell took his students to the prison to participate in a Creative Writing course called “Creative Outreach.” Powell compiled the resulting work of the inmates into an anthology and had it published. Powell and his students continue to work with the inmates to help them with their creative writing.
Michael Rickman, Ph.D., professor of music, has been hailed by the New York Times and newspapers around the globe for his brilliance on the piano. One of his most significant achievements came in 2009 when Rickman was named to the prestigious roster of Steinway artists, consisting of only 1600 pianists worldwide. With international performances in Latvia, Chile, Bolivia, Italy, Germany, Austria, Toronto, London, and Paris as well as throughout the United States, Rickman’s performances have received exceptional praise from audiences and the media worldwide. This year marks Rickman’s 30th at Stetson. A highly sought-after performer and teacher, he maintains a studio of prize-winning students, preparing them for musical studies in noted graduate programs, competitions, and positions in the professional musical world.
The Hand Community Impact Award celebrates the achievements of faculty serving the needs of the community – the Stetson community as well as the community beyond campus. This year’s recipient is Robert Sitler.
Robert Sitler, Ph.D., professor of modern languages and chair of Stetson’s Latin American Studies academic program, fell in love with the Mayan world in the mid 1970s while visiting Ch’ol villagers in the rainforest of Chiapas, Mexico. Sitler’s ongoing academic passion for all things Maya has been complemented by numerous immersion experiences in Guatemala, Mexico and Belize, where he travels frequently. These student trips provide substantial “real world” exposure for Stetson students to Native American cultures and languages as well as Spanish and Hispanic culture. Sitler also serves as chair of Stetson’s Values Council. His work on behalf of environmental initiatives and his commitment to the Latin American community both in our region and beyond, is an “orchestra of outreach, cultural understanding, and development that draws town, gown, and others together,” said Paul. “Bob’s commitment to both is immersive and comprehensive: his impact on the community has been profound.”