It’s a scene that plays out every year, but the annual Academic Awards Convocation never seems to lose the excitement that surrounds it: Students, faculty, staff, and trustees making their way into Swasey; the student performances (this year from the Singer’s Theatre Workshop); the cheering as the new faculty chair holders are announced and take their places on stage; the enthusiastic applause when the Fulbright and other national and international scholarships are recognized, with those students receiving everything from the Benjamin Gilman Scholarship to the David Peace Project prize. And, of course, the recognition of the Phi Beta Kappa inductees.
But perhaps the very best parts come with an element of surprise, like revealing the faculty winners of the Charles A. Brickman Excellence in Teaching Awards and the naming of the President’s Medalists, which only become public when they are announced from the stage in the most anticipated moment of the event.
This year the Brickman awards went to Chair of the Faculty and Associate Professor of History Cathy Dollard ’88 and Associate Professor of Psychology Nestor Matthews.
The President’s Medalists—the highest award bestowed upon Denison students—were called to the stage, one by one, by Dollard. This year’s honorees are seniors Josh Goldman, Andrea Karl, Carlos Maciel Neto, Michaela Grenier, Yubo “Paul” Yang, Meghan Callahan, and Daniel Persia.
This was Adam Weinberg’s first Academic Awards Convocation at the college as he wraps up his first year as president—and he readily admitted that he had been looking forward to it since day one of his tenure.
He also shared a few words on what inspires him. “Inspiration does not come from the mythical giant that does heroic things,” Weinberg said. “We are inspired by some in our communities who do the normal in some extraordinary way.” Our faculty and students, he said, are doing just that, every day.
There’s a reason why this day is one of the most anticipated of the year on the Hill. It acknowledges the college’s hope, Weinberg said, to instill three intellectual habits in Denison students: To create lifelong learners committed to producing and consuming knowledge as part of their everyday lives; to foster students who learn to connect people, ideas, and actions to become people who can embrace change, thrive across difference, and solve complex problems; and to seek excellence in all that they do.
The day could easily be summed up in one of the moments that Weinberg deviated from his prepared remarks. He simply couldn’t help himself after the student singers performed “The Hills of Tomorrow.”
“I wanted to stick to the script,” he said, “but I just want to add one thing: We have very talented students.”
And there’s no doubt that those student talents are fostered by our very talented faculty.
Congratulations to all!