2013 Distinguished Leadership Awards
In a ceremony held on February 28 in the Welsh Hills Room of Burton D. Morgan Center, Denison’s Vice President of Student Development Laurel Kennedy presented the university’s 2013 Distinguished Leadership Award to 27 deserving seniors.
Kennedy added, “We looked not for assertions of good character or even the presence of the traits of leadership, including passion, care, commitment, and critical skills, but for the alchemy that occurs when those elements are combined in the crucible of our community, producing something remarkable. Those outcomes are sometimes public, sometimes private; some occur on paper and others in people’s hearts or their heads. Often they are tinged with the unique personalities of the leaders, their exuberance or their quiet thoughtfulness, their sincere humility or their take-no-prisoners, get-the-job-done spirit.”
This year’s awardees, listed below, exemplify a remarkably broad and diverse range of interests, contributions, and achievements. Click any name for a profile of the student’s accomplishments and Dr. Kennedy’s presentation remarks.
B.A. History and Spanish; Round Lake, Ill.
Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority, Inc. - Founder, President, Vice President of Program Development; Head Resident – 1 year, Resident Assistant – 2 years; La Fuerza Latina - Secretary
Presentation remarks: Natalie, from the moment you arrived on campus, it was clear that you would be a campus leader. You sought out opportunities to learn and to lead, beginning with DU Lead, DCGA and then La Fuerza Latina and service as a resident assistant. You saw early on the benefit of bringing a multicultural sorority experience to Denison and, along with several others, set to the task of establishing a Sigma Lambda Gamma colony and seeking chapter status. You wrote that early on, amidst all these activities, you discovered the need to break the habit of overloading yourself with tasks that could be shared by others, who you discovered could be trusted to care as much about the outcomes as you did. Providing that trust was a way of according respect to your peers. This has become a hallmark of your leadership.
Your ability to honor others, and especially to empower those whose may be at the margins of social status, is a theme that runs through the letters written on your behalf. They say that you present yourself not as an authority figure, but as a resource for others, and an organized and capable leader who models passion and drive. Beyond our campus, we were also moved by your mentorship of a Heath high school student, whose pursuit of higher education has benefitted from your advice and support, and who in turn inspired you to research the DREAM Act for the Defender Association of Philadelphia. With your recommenders, we affirm that you will make a richer, safer multicultural society a tangible reality, and we thank you for what you have brought to Denison in that regard.
B.A. History; East Boston, Mass.
Muslim Students Association - President, Vice President, Treasurer, Publicity Chair; Somali Famine Relief Concert, Chair; Head Resident – 1 year, Resident Assistant – 2 years; Presidential and Board of Trustees Events - Student Ambassador; The Vail Series - Intern
Presentation remarks: Abdi, you moved and motivated members of our community with your leadership of the 2011 Somali Famine Relief Effort, and you provided a religious home for others through the Muslim Student Association. But your recommenders say that it has been as a resident assistant and head resident that you have made the greatest impact on our campus.
It seems likely that first-year students, especially some who were committed to being rowdy, were stunned into rethinking their plans upon meeting you. Jill Lindbergh described that experience in her recommendation letter, recalling how—by being completely and genuinely yourself—you commanded the respect of your residents. Your self, of course, is an unusual self. Jill recounted two practices that exemplified your methods: first, you would study the very best traits of every resident, so that you could call upon that quality in a time of need; and second, you would invite those who violated policies to join you for breakfast to talk things over. These are also examples of what Lyn Robertson’s claim that you “uphold high standards without alienating others.” Your record of leadership calls to mind one of the best-known lines from the great writer Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Abdi, you have made us each feel honored by your presence here.
B.A. Sociology/Anthropology: Houston, Texas
Outlook - Vice President; Admissions Office - Tour Guide Co-Coordinator; Department of Sociology/Anthropology - Fellow
Presentation remarks: Caitlin, you have served in a number of employment positions—Tour Guide, Tour Guide Coordinator, “right hands” to both Ann Showman and Cookie Sunkle, August and June O staff member—all jobs, it’s true, but jobs that cannot be won without unusual poise, intelligence, energy, and capability. You have been a thoughtful and articulate presence on the Ad Hoc Committee on Alcohol & Its Effects, enacting your commitment to a safer and healthier campus culture. Those same commitments have found a different outlet in your leadership of Outlook, which has grown in visibility and effectiveness during your time as one of its leaders.
The constellation of your achievements emanates from these originating points of light: a centered sense of self, unstinting honesty, a great sense of humor, perfect approachability, empathy. You’ve brightened our lives during your time here, and the ways you’ve made Denison a safer place will be counted not just by the students here, but by generations of students yet to come.
B.A. Philosophy and Spanish; Worthington, Ohio
Multicultural Greek Council - President, Vice President, Founding Member; Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority Inc. - Founding Line Member, Vice President of Recruitment, Treasurer; Episteme - Editor-in-Chief, Editorial Board Member; Writing Center - Consultant; Philosophy Department - Senior Fellow
Presentation remarks: Melissa, your steady presence as a leader has enabled you to do a great deal in a range of venues on campus. In the Philosophy department, a historically male-dominated intellectual enterprise, you have been a visible model of astute thinking, creative questioning, and inviting collegiality. You have sustained Episteme as Editor-in-Chief and created new avenues for philosophical thought, especially around popular culture. You have also played a critical leadership role in nurturing the growth of the multicultural fraternity and sorority community at Denison, as a founding member of Sigma Lambda Gamma and inaugural Vice President of the Multicultural Greek Council.
To review the array of commitments you have at Denison, from your sorority to SafeZone and Outlook, to the Asian Culture Club and Hillel, to service through the Alford Center, one quickly observes the curious mind of an explorer. The ways that you have integrated these disparate experiences into a thoughtful whole are what makes you unique on our campus. We are grateful that you’ve shared the meanings of this in thoughtful ways, in classrooms, council meetings, with friends and community members. Thank you, Melissa.
B.A Women’s Studies and French; Maumee, Ohio
Share Advocates - President; CSMART - Member; Center for Women & Gender Action - Program Assistant; Women’s Studies Program - Senior Fellow; Listening for a Change - member
Presentation remarks: Katy, your friend Haley Hudler wrote in her recommendation of you, “An outstanding campus leader identifies ways in which the campus can be improved and helps bring system change where it is needed.” Through your work as a SHARE Advocate and later as President of SHARE, your work with the Center for Women & Gender Action and in Women Studies, and your participation with Delta Gamma, your sorority, you have taken every opportunity to find ways to make Denison a safer place and a more positive environment for women students.
Over the course of your four years, you have also increasingly sought ways to open up our conversations about one of the most complicated issues on our campus, or any college campus: healthy relationships. As Crystal Lapidus-Mann wrote, you have the passion and drive of an outstanding leader, and the skills essential to being highly effective. I would add that you have been a thoughtful leader, one who has challenged both peers and authorities to think harder and do better. Not all of the questions you asked have been answered yet, but our great respect for you demands that we’ll continue to work at that effort after you go. Thank you, Katy.
B.S. Biology; Singapore, Singapore
DCA - President, Vice President, Events Committee Member; Habitat for Humanity - President, Local Build Chair, Fundraising Chair; Kappa Kappa Gamma - Vice President for Academic Excellence, Philanthropy Chair; Head Resident – 1 year, Resident Assistant – 1 year; Leadership Fellows - Fellow
Presentation remarks: Tori, Alana Giordano’s letter on your behalf put into words a remarkable aspect of your leadership growth at Denison. She wrote that, when you arrived, you were shy, sometimes reticent to speak up. At the same time, you arrived with deep commitments, especially regarding service to others. As a first-year student, you took on an inconceivable task: running the Habitat carnation sale, with extraordinary success. That was the beginning, and since then you have been a rare, two-term DCA President, a highly-admired resident assistant and head resident, a leader of Kappa Kappa Gamma, and a member of the local Habitat for Humanity Board, among a long list of other accomplishments.
You have never gotten louder. On the contrary, you have remained a model of quiet, thoughtful, positive engagement, and that has permitted you to make one of your least visible but most significant contributions to our campus: inspiring others all around you to join you in your commitment to serve. Thank you, Tori.
B.A. Economics and Cinema; Recife, PE, Brazil
Outlook - Treasurer; Center for Cross-Cultural Engagement (CCCE) - Intern; CSMART - Activist; Department of Modern Languages - Teaching Assistant, Tutor; Writing Center - Consultant
Presentation remarks: Bernardo, you have brought inspired leadership to more corners of the campus than just about anyone. You have been a presence in our community, a sort of a statesman for the right and good: you have served as a beloved RA, a trusted ally in Outlook, a standard-bearer on the Conduct Board, an imaginative contributor to C-SMART, a valued and effective staff-member in the Writing Center and the Center for Cross-Cultural Engagement. You have exercised your considerable talents in many venues, but of course leadership is more than applied ability. Your recommenders agree that your impact is also the result of the strong character you bring to each encounter: your maturity, self-discipline, compassion, high ideals and hard work.
Jeremy Kleven says you inspire others to be less afraid, to be more confident, to try more, to think differently. You urge us, he says, to be agents of moral change and to press the bar up so that we can all perhaps reach higher human potential. There is no question that Denison is closer to its potential as a result of your presence here and that each of us who have known you have been inspired to stretch in new directions and to new heights.
B.A. Sociology/ Anthropology; Pittsburgh, Pa.
University Programming Council - Executive Director, Director of Special Events, Director of Finance; Leadership Fellows - Fellow; Campus Leadership & Involvement Center - Programming Assistant; Sustained Dialogue - Member; Listening for a Change - Co-Moderator
Presentation remarks: Gary, sometimes our campus is a place that requires courage—the courage to take risks, to represent those without a lot of social power, to be one’s unique self in a culture that likes uniformity. Your record at Denison, perhaps more than anything else, is a compendium of risks taken: new approaches to social programming, just one example of which was reconceiving the Slayter Sizzle; vulnerability as a leader with UPC, the Leadership Fellows and CLIC; major responsibilities not just for overseeing students but for negotiating contracts and working with agents and vendors.
What that willingness to take risks has won for you—and for us—has been three years of engaging events for the campus community, repeated national recognition for your outstanding work through the National Association for Campus Activities, and the unending admiration of colleagues and friends who have been moved by your genuineness, your understanding and caring nature, and your creativity and your unfailing work ethic. Thank you, Gary.
B.A. English and Educational Studies; Cincinnati, Ohio
DCGA - President, Senator; Break Away - Site Leader; June Orientation - Student Staff; Donuts for Darfur, -Former President; Denison University Presidential Search Committee - Student Representative
Presentation remarks: Hannah, I suspect that there isn’t a student on campus who doesn’t know your name; I am hopeful that they also know that you have been an advocate for them all, going to unusual distances to ensure that you represent the diversity and complexity of our student body. You know better than anyone in this room how difficult that is, but your many admirers—students, faculty and the administration—give you full acknowledgement. Your many successes—and the Party Registration Policy can be claimed by you more than anyone else on campus—are the result of three attributes that your DCGA colleague Ian Shapiro correctly identified: you are kind; you are unfailingly optimistic; and you are unbelievably hard-working. When Ian wrote that he would vote for you for any office, on campus or on a national stage, I found myself agreeing with him.
You have, as you hoped, inspired young women on our campus but also women and men at all ranks, to stretch our capacities, to reach for the best imaginable outcomes, and to include as many as possible in any effort. You have made tangible the idea of transformative change and you have exemplified sustained leadership. We’ll watch for you, hopefully, to appear on that national stage.
Ruiya “Richie” Huang
B.A. Economics and International Studies; Shandong, China
Global China Connection, Denison Chapter - President; Beta Theta Pi - Treasurer; Head Resident –1 year, Resident Assistant –1 year; International Student Services - Peer International Student Advisor
Presentation remarks: Richie, you appear as a leader all over campus: in Residential Education, International Student Services, Beta Theta Pi, and more. A site of unusually valuable leadership, however, has been in establishing the Denison chapter of Global China Connection in 2010. Your leadership in that effort caused Xinda Lian to note a sense of urgency in advancing you for this award. GCC is more than a meeting ground for our growing Chinese student population. It serves the entire student body, building international and intercultural awareness, as you did in organizing a “China in Photos” exhibit, a masked dance party, and earthquake relief fund raising efforts.
Your recommenders agree on the attributes that contributed to your success with these undertakings: the ability to think independently and for the good of the organization, the ability to listen well and to draw out the talents of others, and excellent negotiation skills, that enable you to make concessions without sacrificing what is most important or what is right. Your impacts have reached to many corners of the campus and halfway across the globe; we feel the impact now, and we will feel it into the future. Thank you, Richie.
Shiyu “Amy” Huang
B.A. Economics; Chongqing, China
DCGA - Finance Chair, Class of 2013 Senator; Denison University Presidential Search Committee - Student Representative; DCA - Events Captain, Volunteer; Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority - Member; Omicron Delta Epsilon Economics Honor Society - Treasurer
Presentation remarks: Amy, you have distinguished yourself wherever you have served. In DCA and your sorority, you have accepted significant responsibilities and completed them with distinction. As the June O International Student Coordinator, you supported two classes of first-year international students through the confusing and complicated task of selecting and registering for classes in a foreign academic system. As Chair of DCGA Finance, you set a new standard of attention to detail and commitment to fairness. You were willing to look beyond the immediate moment, as Finance is often unable to do, to examine the origins of, and possible solutions to, quirks of the DCGA budgeting process. Your successes in these different areas was acknowledged in your selection to serve on the Presidential Search Committee last year.
You have won the deep respect of your peers and the faculty and staff with whom you have served in these different capacities. They say you have made a remarkable contribution to Denison and have improved the college during your time here, and they say you have done this by applying one of the most simple but elusive qualities of a leader: you care about the outcome, and invest yourself deeply and personally in getting to outcomes that are positive, forward-thinking, and inclusive. Thank you, Amy.
B.A. Economics; Chicago, Ill.
Black Student Union - Chief Minister/President; An Alliance Reinventing Tradition - President, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Rho Upsilon Chapter - Secretary, Treasurer; National Pan-Hellenic Council at Denison - Secretary; Resident Assistant - 3 years
Presentation remarks: In recommending you, Brandon, Erik Farley recalls first meeting you a little over four years ago. Unlike the typical high-schooler, he says, you were already discernably a quiet leader, acutely focused, and grounded in reasoned thinking and sound observation. What he saw bespoke the honor and integrity that has characterized your presence at Denison. With Multicultural Epistemology and later aART, the Black Student Union, Residential Education, and Alpha Phi Alpha, your leadership has been consistent in style and commitment. You have worked to create safe havens for honest expression. Employing those same capacities for quiet observation, reasoned analysis, and a respectful presence, you have brought others together in shared enterprise. Lakeesha Leonard invokes the leadership writer John Maxwell in describing you: “The bottom line is not how far we advance ourselves, but how far we advance others,” she quotes.
Your success on this measure resonates in Lennon Johnson’s description of your committed service at Yes! Clubhouse in Newark, and Brittany Maddox’s observation that you have prepared younger Denisonians to take the reins as you depart. To be offered the liberty to express one’s experience, in spoken word or other artistic expression, is a great and unusual gift that you have given to many. We acknowledge you today for this and all your gifts, Brandon. Thank you.
Michael Ivy Jr.
B.A. Sociology/Anthropology; Chicago, Ill.
Listening for a Change - Dialogue Fellow; Sustained Dialogue - Moderator; University Programming Council - Co-Director of Concerts; Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee - Member
Presentation remarks: Michael, your account of your time at Denison, and your recommenders’ descriptions of your emergence as a leader here, is of beginning with a breadth of opportunities for engagement, and then focusing on those that had most meaning and the greatest potential for your unique imprint. Your work on social justice and human rights, and on the use of dialogue and experiential learning as tools of personal and social change, have made your name synonymous with the campus’s best efforts at progressive change: Sustained Dialogue, Listening for a Change, Denisonians for Social Change, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Learning. Your recommenders say that you are generous in your commitments to these programs, which engage members of our campus in new ways of thinking, speaking, and listening.
As a leader, you are a person who has big and provocative ideas, as well as the ability to get things done—a rare pairing of talents. Catalina Esparza wrote, “Michael’s presence and charisma brings light to others because he remains true to himself and he knows how to put people at ease.” You have used your considerable abilities to help us learn, to connect ideas and experiences, and to interact in new ways. We are grateful.
B.A. Religion and English Literature; Cleveland, Ohio
Outlook - President; Bandersnatch - Operations Manager; Religion Department - Senior Fellow; DCA - Chair
Presentation remarks: Taylor, your contributions to our campus, as Sara Livingston wrote in her recommendation, have been all about depth (their breadth notwithstanding!). In everything you have done at Denison, through DCA committees, the Garden of Hope, Outlook, the Bandersnatch, you have given your full self to making the experience as meaningful for everyone involved as possible. And your ways of doing this have provided some of the best illustrations of “leadership by example.” You are calm in a storm, you are fair-minded, organized and innovative in thought, and you make any task fun, even pulling weeds. You wrote in your own essay about appreciating the role of allies in any significant undertaking.
Your most enduring contributions have taken exactly that form, strengthening alliances between current LGBT students and alumni, Outlook and other student organizations, students and administrators, and Denisonians and community members. Further, you do everything you do with a sort of robust spirit and contagious pride that is more meaningful and more powerful than you might imagine. Thank you.
B.A. Economics; St. Louis, Mo.
Women’s Club Rugby - Captain; Denison Service Orientation - Coordinator and Leader; DCA Cabinet - Chair Liaison, Hours Coordinator; Venture Philanthropy Club - Vice Chair of Outcomes Assessment, Database Project Manager, Summer Fellow, Social Chair; Admissions Office - Senior Interviewer
Presentation remarks: Kate, Josh Goldman rightly observed in his letter for you that you are one of the first Denisonians that many students actually encounter. You have served as Admissions Senior Interviewer, as August O staff member, and as a Denison Service Orientation staff member. Fortunately, you represent everything that we might hope incoming students to emulate. As Mike Brady wrote, you inspire with your innate charisma, your impressive intellect, and your indomitable commitment to service to others, expressed both through direct action and also through the creation of opportunities and invitations to others to serve as well.
Dr. Brady made another observation that I think we would all echo: you lead not merely through example, but through joy. You exude possibility and positivity, whether on the streets of Washington DC or on the rugby field. It seems entirely likely that you have started scores of young Denisonians off on a path of positive and meaningful engagement—which is to say that you have embodied that “multiplier effect” is at the heart of service geared toward capacity building. Your impact, thus, will live on in both subtle and visible ways for many generations, Kate. Thank you.
B.A. Sociology/Anthropology and Spanish; Erie, Pa.
Women’s Soccer - Co-captain; Break Away - Co-chair; DCA - Chair Liaison; Admissions Office - Senior Interviewer; Sigma Delta Pi Spanish Honorary - Treasurer
Presentation remarks: Sara, as we read students’ applications for this award, we often come to discern one trait that truly characterizes the individual and their way of conducting themselves in life. If I have been successful in drafting these citations, I have captured those in at least some of the citations I’ve prepared. The quality that most distinctively emerged in reading about you was humility, one of the most lovely and welcome traits to see in a leader—and one of the most rare. In your own essays, you acknowledged by name the leaders whose examples you’ve tried to emulate. You wrote about the hard lessons of conflict, even failure, and you acknowledged the importance of the least glamorous aspects of leadership: collecting money and answering emails and finding the positive when spirits are low.
So when Gail Murphy writes about the team chemistry that you have achieved as the Women’s Soccer captain, or Genevieve Eng-Surowiec writes about the profound impact that your attention and sheer kindness had on her Denison experience, there is no surprise. Through athletics, DCA, Break Away, the Garden of Hope, and America Reads, you have established an extraordinary record of accomplishment by helping others to imagine the best in themselves, and then pursue it. Thank you.
B.S. Biochemistry; Kirtland, Ohio
Beta Theta Pi - Vice President of Administration, Treasurer; Head Resident – 2 years, Resident Assistant – 1 year; Order of Omega - Co-president; University Honor Committee - Student Board Member; Alpha Epsilon Delta - Treasurer
Presentation remarks: Vince, Peter Kuhlman made a provocative distinction in writing your recommendation. Observing first the depth and genuineness of your intellectual interests as a chemist, and second the extent to which your peers look to you as both a model of academic ability AND a generous and approachable resource, he delineates between an academic achiever, and an academic leader, making clear that you are each of these and you are both of these. Your other recommenders supply evidence of this beyond the academic realm: in residential education, you are diligent in meeting the responsibilities of your post in a timely and thorough way, but you also approach the work in a manner that commands the respect of both your staff and your residents. In Beta Theta Pi, your peers say you solve problems, even those that predate your membership, rather than permit them to weigh on the organization. In all things, you model with consistency what it means to be engaged as a scholar, a citizen, and a leader, and a friend. Thank you, Vince.
B.S. Biochemistry; Louisville, Ky.
Beta Theta Pi - President, Philanthropy Chairman, Pledge Educator; June Orientation - Student Staff; Burpee’s Seedy Theatrical Company
Presentation remarks: Cullen, your resume speaks volumes to why you are recognized today: You have been a summer scholar twice, yielding projects with these names: “A comparative analysis of microcontact printing chemistry for the development of a clinical ELISA on microchips”—a bio-chemistry project related to diagnostic tests for kidney disease; and “An analysis of the drum and rhythm in traditional Ojibwa music and culture.
You have served in four different executive capacities for Beta Theta Pi, including President, seeing your fraternity through that critical expansion period, when different conceptions of Beta competed for dominance. As a senior, you agreed to join the Inter-Fraternity Council, a decision anyone reading between the lines would understand to be a selfless act of service to the Greek community. You are a member of Burpee's Seedy Theatrical Company and a two-time member of the June O staff. Your resume captures what an unusual presence you have been on the campus.
What it cannot capture is the cumulative effect you’ve had on the members of our community you’ve met in all these different capacities. Lauren Tyger and Nathaniel Thomas provide that, saying the same thing in two different ways: “Cullen inspires the community around him to be better, to do better.” And, “I am a better person for having been befriended by someone of such kindness, patience, curiosity, honesty, and enthusiasm for the everyday.” We’re all going to miss you, Cullen. Thank you.
B.A. International Studies and Religion; Denton, Md.
Panhellenic Council - Vice President Recruitment; Kappa Kappa Gamma - Corresponding Secretary; International Studies Committee - Member; University Honor Committee - Member; D.U. Lead - Club Advisor
Presentation remarks: Caitlin, you’ve been active in a number of domains on campus, but it is your contributions to the betterment of women’s lives, both here on campus and as an international scholar, that you are acknowledged today. Your experiences studying feminism and women’s organizations in Tunisia prepared you to serve as a student representative for efforts on our campus to create an International Studies major and to expand awareness of international human rights issues. Your commitments to improving the lives of women on our campus led you to leadership roles in your sorority and in Panhellenic Council, which changed important aspects of its recruitment practices under your leadership. Aimee Maczko captured you well: “Caitlin is a young woman ahead of her time, with unwavering care for human equality and a fair chance for a good, just life. No matter where she is on the globe, she is bound to make the world better with her every action.” We are proud of you, and grateful that Denison was where your work began
B.A. English Literature and Theatre Arts; Wildwood, Mo.
Denison Independent Theatre Association - President; Exile - Editor-in-Chief; Head Resident – 2 years, Resident Assistant – 1 year; Burpee’s Seedy Theatrical Company - President
Presentation remarks: Ellen, you are a person of the humane arts, using your creative abilities on behalf of the highest purposes. As your recommenders note, your contributions to the literary and performing arts at Denison have been both as a talented artist, and as a skilled behind-the scenes leader.
With Exile, you served as an editor early on, then participated in a Fulbright institute in the UK on how editors create texts, before becoming editor-in-chief, responsible for digitizing the archive of the magazine and creating an on-line website. With the Denison Independent Theater Association, you restructured the entire organization, from staffing to recruitment methods, with the net effect of dramatically increasing participation and effectiveness.
As a Head Resident, you have practiced the humane arts of meaningful conversation and personal engagement, building a strong and well-supported staff. In the Newark community, you contributed your talents to a college-awareness program, undoubtedly presenting one of the best models of a college student that Denison could hope to offer. You have made a lasting imprint on organizations, on the students who comprise them and on the larger communities who are touched by them. We look forward to your next act, Ellen, and we offer you heartfelt applause.
B.A. English Literature and Religion; Toledo, Ohio
Panhellenic Council - Vice President of Standards; Ad Hoc Committee on Alcohol and Its Effects - Member; Academic Affairs Council - Member; Sigma Tau Delta - President; Appeals Board - Member
Presentation remarks: Emily, as all of the letters written on your behalf attest, you are known widely for your tremendous commitment to the good of the college, and you have been unusually willing to accept the most challenging assignments for its improvement. The responsibilities of Academic Affairs Council, the University Honor Committee, and the Appeals Board are some of the most important but most thankless and invisible work of our campus: establishing curricular expectations and maintaining the accountability of students to our codes of conduct. Serving as Vice President of Standards on Panhellenic Council meant the even greater challenge of maintaining accountability among your sisters in the sorority community.
Your willingness to take on the difficult task of refining the Party Registration Policy and smoothing its implementation were confirmation of your deep commitments. As Dean Fox observed, you have chosen these activities with purpose, serving in each with distinction. You have positioned yourself to know our college deeply, and to understand and advocate for positive solutions to problems. This award recognizes sustained leadership, and we could point to few members of our community whose commitment has been so consistent, so far-reaching, or so direct in impact. Thank you, Emily.
B.A. Political Science; Xenia, Ohio
DCGA - Rules Chair; Sketch’rs - Head Writer; Denison Independent Theatre Association - Actor, Director, Writer
Presentation remarks: Ian, we debated your candidacy for a long time, not because we doubted your deservedness, but because—we ultimately realized—your leadership has been unique in nature. Unquestionably, you’ve made important contributions in what Paul Djupe calls “private acts of leadership” helping your peers as an informal resource and academic friend. But after three years as DCGA Rules Chair, your most public engagement, we couldn’t point to a resolution or even a particular practice that had your signature affixed. We realized then that the same impulse behind the kindnesses of your “private leadership” explained much: There is little glory, and few accolades, for those whose role is to maintain order. But as Hannah Frank rightly notes, precious little could have been accomplished without the order you brought to DCGA. You are called upon nightly, hourly, to answer questions and settle debates so that deliberations can continue. The respect and authority you are accorded is the product of your long tenure, as well as you unfailing presence of mind, and proclivity for getting things right.
While you may not point to a single act and say “I did that,” you can point to a great many acts and know that you made them possible. Further, you have done so (again quoting Hannah), with “lightheartedness and joy, and a well-known appreciation for an efficiently-run meeting.” We acknowledge, therefore, your contributions public and private, and the genuine esteem you have earned in the process. Thank you, Ian.
B.A. Cinema and English Literature; Wilton, Conn.
Restorative Justice Task Force - Chair; Student Conduct Board - Member; Listening for a Change - Facilitator; Campus Affairs Council - Member
Presentation remarks: Sam, the hardest way to earn this award is to effect significant and enduring change. Change is difficult to produce in a complex institution, and few can honestly claim it, because few actually attempt it. As Allison Kranek suggests in her letter for you, it’s so much easier, once the magnitude of the undertaking is evident, to just let it go.
But once your imagination had been inspired by Restorative Justice, as Nicole Casey writes, you put your heart and soul into implementing it at Denison. It did require a lot from you: service on Campus Affairs Council; leadership of a task force of faculty, staff and students from diverse constituencies; service on the Student Conduct Board, adjudicating difficult cases; and hours spent drafting policy, recruiting facilitators, planning training, and publicizing the new system through campus media.
As a result, though, three important things happened: Denison implemented RJ circles in January. You won the sincere respect of all who worked alongside you and were inspired by your energy and commitment. And you became a confident, competent, and effective leader, a change agent, in each of the venues I’ve noted, as well as others. We are changed for the better as a result of your work, Sam, and changed for the better by having worked alongside you. Thank you
B.A Chemistry; Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Tehillah - Minister of Records; Denison Chemical Society - Activities Coordinator; aART - Member; WDUB College Radio; African Student Association - Public Relations Officer
Presentation remarks: Faith, there are few students who will just come right out and say that Organic Chemistry is their first love, their passion, and their window onto their leadership talents. But there are many faculty who will say, as Joe Reczek does, that affinity for learning, genuine fascination with a topic, and joy in sharing knowledge can spark academic leadership in special and admirable ways. As a tutor, you model the qualities of persistence, an unfailing work ethic, intellectual courage and kind encouragement of others.
Your passion for science is balanced by your love of art and your talent for music; through Tehillah, the non-scientists at Denison witness your smile and your voice, through which your enjoyment of music exudes. In any setting, you listen well, and you bring creativity to problem-solving, whether that’s a student who is stumped by a word problem or an organization that has encountered struggle.
In all that you do, Faith, you are distinguished by your generosity of spirit. Your special talent is instilling in others, so naturally, the enthusiasm and sense of possibility you seem to feel. Through your example, you have inspired us to keep going, to try harder, to persist, and to look for beauty and find joy. Thank you, Faith.
B.A. Communication and Religion; Holland, Mich.
Young Life - Community Leader, Campus President; Admissions - Senior Interviewer; August Orientation - Student Staff Coordinator; Religion Department - Fellow
Presentation remarks: Val, your leadership has occurred in locations across campus and, as David Woodyard wrote, has not often been of the big and visible kind that sometimes brings students to this room. In August O, as a leader and then as coordinator, in Career Exploration and Admissions, and through your service in Young Life, you have found myriad ways of being, as Dr. Woodyard says, a significant presence, a “remarkable combination of academic achievement and interpersonal sensitivity who ‘nudges’ others into their fuller selves, gently and convincingly.
Your maturity, organizational acumen, willingness to share an opinion or concern, and commitment to solving problem have resulted in your being given authority, even special assignments, in each venue where you’ve worked on campus. Most of your leadership has cohered around mentorship of younger students, and we are heartened that you have decided to continue to apply your talents in higher education after graduation.
B.S. Biochemistry; Accra, Ghana
African Student Association - President; Tehillah - Member; Grant Medical Center - Volunteer; Alpha Epsilon Delta (Pre-Med Honorary) - Member; Head Resident - 2 years, Resident Assistant - 1 year
Presentation remarks: Efua, your priorities at Denison were clear from the start: you are here as a dedicated student. We are fortunate as a community that you decided to pursue a position in Residential Education, however, because that enabled you to emerge visibly as a mature and capable staff member and a public leader.
As Molly McGravey writes, you live your strong work ethic every day, managing your time so that you can excel academically, while also supporting your peers as a tutor, an RA and HR, and as a leader of the African Student Association. You model reflective thought and impeccable integrity, embodying a calm self-awareness that accords you quiet authority. You understand the importance of genuinely listening to others, especially in moments of conflict, but you also speak with candor, whether advocating for, or admonishing, a student. As a tutor, you insist that your tutees take seriously the challenges they face, and you call them out if they give only half effort.
You are leaving a legacy as an head resident, having shown your staff how to build community in ways that honor all voices. Building strong community is one of the greatest puzzles we face, but your model has demonstrated these key elements, and we’ll work to live into that legacy after you go. Thank you.
B.A. History; Coto De Caza, Calif.
Hillel - President, Treasure; Quidditch League - Captain, President, Treasure; Equestrian Team - Member; People Endorsing Agricultural Sustainability (PEAS) -Member
Presentation remarks: Hannah, your application was a joy to read: original, witty, fun and profound in its own way. You have combined a most unlikely pair of activities: Quidditch, which layers athleticism with literary prowess, and Hillel, which you open to all Denisonians with invitations to enjoy latkes. In championing these two organizations, you have provided the comfort of a supportive environment to a great many students seeking their place on our campus.
As Anneliese Davis writes in her letter for you, you have made it your priority to build a stronger sense of community on our campus. Through quiet, steady, capable leadership, you have created spaces for meaningful conversations and the formation of lasting relationships. Karen Spierling observes that your self-motivation, your capacity for reflection, and your good critical eye are key ingredients for long-lasting rather than fleeting, accomplishments. You have two strong organizations and many engaged and grateful students to show for your efforts, as well as great skills with a broom. Thank you.