Thomas Frost Hankinson '02
B.A., English Writing and Philosophy; Mansfield, Ohio
Thomas Frost Hankinson, son of Margery and Richard Hankinson of Mansfield, Ohio, was among six graduating Denison University seniors who were honored by President Dale T. Knobel as this year's "President's Medalists" during the University's annual Academic Awards Convocation on April 19.
Hankinson, a double major in English (writing concentration) and philosophy, was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest academic honorary, Phi Society (an honorary recognizing excellence in the first year) and Omicron Delta Kappa (the international leadership honorary). A consistent dean's list student and member of the Honors Program, he held the Mary Hartwell Catherwood Scholarship, a Faculty Scholarship for Achievement and was a National Merit and Ohio Academic Scholar. A fellow in the philosophy department, Hankinson was a candidate for the prestigious Marshall Scholarship. His honors project was titled "Debunking the Paranormal." He was given a Young Scholar Award to pursue research with a faculty member during the summer and was named to Who's Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities.
Hankinson was active on campus serving as co-editor of the Bullsheet, a student newletter, and as co-editor of MoYo, a campus magazine. He was a disc jockey on the student radio station, WDUB, and also was a member of Burpees Seedy, an improvisational troupe, the Denison Orchestra and a bluegrass ensemble. Hankinson also volunteered with the Denison University Recycling Program and at a local domestic violence shelter. He participated in symposia during Honors Program weekends for prospective students and also served on the staff of the Jonathan Reynolds Young Writers Workshop.
Hankinson is a graduate of Lexington High School.
"Tom, in trying to portray why it is you are being awarded a president's medal, it is hard to know which part of you to highlight: The Intellectual? The Humorist? The Satirist? The Stand-up Performer? Along with earning a near-perfect G.P.A. and meriting a place in Phi Beta Kappa, you have etched a high profile in a wide array of literary and performing venues: Co-Editor-in-Chief of MoYo, staff member of the Jonathan Reynolds Summer Writing Program, performer with the Burpees Seedy Theatrical Group, and member of the Denison Orchestra.
"What one of your nominators calls your 'happy iconoclasm' emerges in both your scholarly and extra-curricular accomplishments, and you haven't hesitated to poke fun even at your own immersion as a philosophy and creative writing major at Denison. As a Young Scholar last year you carried out research on humor as a weapon and, as a part of that project, you penned the following epitaph for a philosopher:
He lived a quiet life alone,
As many a thinker does,
And right up till he ceased to be,
He doubted if he was.
"On the performance front, one of your professors says that 'In the style of Mark Russell, Tom has used his wit and linguistic playfulness to compose a bushelful of satirical songs, performing them numerous times to enthusiastic audiences on campus and elsewhere.' Here is another reflection on philosophy that you sang to the tune of the Lovin' Spoonful's 'Do You Believe in Magic?'
Have you reached the decision
That constructing metaphysics is a useless ambition?
If nothing is your credo, that's peachy
You might get along with the teachings of Neitzsche.
"We will miss your keenness of mind and the depth of intellect that undergirds your good humor, and it is with great pleasure today that we applaud and congratulate your countless accomplishments at this college."