Several awards are presented annually to graduates, staff and faculty members during the William & Mary Commencement ceremony. Below is a list of the awards that were presented during this year's ceremony on May 16. - Ed.
The Lord Botetourt medal was established in 1772 “for the honor and encouragement of literary merit.” In contemporary times, it has been given to the graduating senior who has attained the greatest distinction in scholarship.
The 2015 recipient is Ellen Shaffrey ’15.
As a student, researcher and athlete, Shaffrey embodies the best of William & Mary, said President Taylor Reveley. She impressed her professors with her insightful questions and enthusiasm for learning. A Phi Beta Kappa kinesiology major and chemistry minor, Shaffrey, Reveley said, has truly challenged herself at W&M, holding a grade-point average of 3.997 – particularly impressive given the academically rigorous nature of her pre-med curriculum.
During summer sessions, Shaffrey conducted research at the University of Virginia, which resulted in publication of two peer-reviewed papers. She served as first author for one of these, and presented her data at a meeting of the Scoliosis Research Society held in Lyon, France, in 2013. That’s a rare accomplishment for any student, Reveley said. She will attend medical school at the University of Virginia next fall.
In addition, she has enjoyed tremendous success on the Tribe’s lacrosse team. A two-year team captain, she has been honored as CAA player of the week, was named to two CAA All-Academic teams and was a finalist for the prestigious Yeardley Love Award.
Still, a professor claims her greatest achievement is the fact that “she has achieved all of this while maintaining the kindest and most grounded personality I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. She is an unparalleled representative and ambassador for William & Mary.”
Laura Pugh ’15, a double major in biology and public health, has combined her academic aptitude with her commitment to service.
The Carr Cup is awarded to a graduating senior on the basis of character, scholarship and leadership. The recipient should be a well-rounded student, having a good standing in all three of these respects, and carrying within the spirit of willingness to sacrifice and give oneself to a cause.
According to Reveley, Pugh truly demonstrates the qualities that are embodied by the Carr Cup. For her honors thesis, Pugh spent two summers in Uganda talking with locals about water access and child morbidity and drawing on the connection between the two. Last summer for her Monroe project, Pugh developed a study to understand how women’s perceptions of food security changed during pregnancy, comparing the experiences of women in urban slum settings to poor rural settings.
Her research in Uganda led to two presentations at national conferences; in both instances, she was the only undergraduate to present. Her work with pregnant women led her to write a manuscript that is under review with the journal Ecology of Food and Nutrition.
Most recently, in one night she organized an event to benefit the victims of the 2015 earthquakes in Nepal.
A faculty member on Pugh’s thesis committee wrote that her work “was above and beyond what I would have expected from an undergraduate-level student.”
Jonathan Lefcheck Ph.D. ’15 received the Thatcher Prize, which was created to honor the 21st Chancellor of William & Mary, Margaret, the Lady of Thatcher. It is given to an outstanding graduate or professional student completing an advanced degree in Arts & Sciences, education, marine science, business administration or law, and is awarded on the basis of scholarship, character, leadership and service.
Wrote one nominator, Lefcheck’s “star is still rising fast and shows no sign of stopping. He will be a major, collaborative leader in ecology in the coming decades.”
Lefcheck developed rapidly as both an independently and collaborative researcher in the Ph.D. program at William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science. An exemplary student, he received a Dean’s Fellowship and a Matthew Fontaine Maury Fellowship Award. He also was a recipient of the Kelley Watson Award for exemplary academic performance and leadership as a first-year student.
During his time at VIMS, Lefcheck joined the editorial board of a major journal and published several papers in peer-reviewed journals as first author and several books that are co-authored with global leaders. His work has been published in highly respected journals, including Nature Communications, Ecology and Nature.
In addition to his own work, he served as a teaching fellow for the undergraduate marine science minor, a teaching assistant, and in an integral role for the Zostera Experimental Network research project with undergraduates.
Two professors received the Thomas Ashley Graves, Jr. Awards for their sustained excellence in teaching: Jonathan F. Arries and William T. Geary.
Arries is an associate professor of Hispanic studies. Thirty years ago, not long after Thomas Graves completed his tenure as president, Arries arrived on campus to begin a career that includes status as a campus leader in service-learning education and innovator of cross-cultural programs.
Nearly 20 years ago, Arries loaded a campus van with freshmen and drove to Virginia’s Eastern Shore, visiting medical clinics that served thousands of Spanish-speaking migrant farm workers. His students’ projects for literacy became the basis for what is now W&M’s Community Partners for Adult Literacy, a student-run tutoring program for adult learners of English who live in the Williamsburg area.
A former student of his wrote, “The role of a liberal arts university is not to instill complacency in the world but to step outside of our boundaries to serve communities in need … Jonathan Arries produces alumni who are dedicated to justice and social change.”
Geary has been the recipient of many awards during his 30-plus year career, some by students in the undergraduate, M.B.A, and executive M.B.A. programs in the Raymond A. Mason School of Business.
Geary’s research interests include management control systems, professional ethics and higher education. He has developed cases in cooperation with healthcare organizations for use in both the university classroom and executive education. Working with W&M colleagues, their team was recognized with a national award for their educational work in physician leadership, working with more than 4,000 physicians in healthcare organizations throughout the United States.
Geary, who served as assistant dean for undergraduate studies from 2005-12, led a major review of the undergraduate curriculum that established innovative structures that have endured. The curriculum encourages students to integrate their studies to develop “an individual program of study,” taking full advantage of the opportunities within a liberal arts university. He was honored with a major gift from Barry and Anne Sharp intended to promote and support curricular innovation by the faculty in the undergraduate business program.
Two graduating seniors are selected to receive the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards each year at Commencement for their “characteristics of heart, mind and helpfulness to others.” This year, the student recipients were Hannah Kohn ’15 and Andrew Wilke ’15.
Kohn’s involvement on campus earned notice in 2013, when she organized a summit around addressing hate speech, propaganda and civic engagement, asking “How could we create environments where hate would not flourish?” It was the first conference of its kind on any university campus.
For the past two years, she has been involved with the Student Assembly, first as undersecretary for religious affairs and then as secretary of diversity initiatives. In these roles, she has contributed as the student representative to the President’s Diversity Advisory Committee, advisor for Humans of William & Mary and on the Compassionate Action Board.
She consistently brings as many voices into campus conversations as possible. As an example, she spearheaded a Student Assembly survey that will be extensively utilized by the President’s Task Force on Race & Race Relations in the coming years.
One administrator wrote of her: “Hannah feels deeply, thinks deeply ands engages in the world around her with an earnestness and sensitivity that I truly admire.”
Over four years, Wilke has served as freshman class president, sophomore class senator and chief of staff for two Student Assembly presidents. Early on, he was presented with the Outstanding Male Sophomore Award.
Time and again, he has proven to be a thoughtful advocate for positive solutions throughout W&M, Reveley said. He often worked behind the scenes without regard for credit, to ensure that the best possible outcomes were met.
A double major in government and finance, Wilke involved himself with many projects, including efforts to reform campus elections, addressing student policy on policing and medical issues, relations with the City of Williamsburg, student concerts and events and improving the Student Assembly itself. At every turn, he reached out to people, considered their concerns and helped broker the best solution.
A nominator wrote, “Such helpfulness has become part of Drew’s fabric.”
Each year, a third Sullivan Award is presented to a person with “a close working relationship with the College.” This year, Stephen Tewksbury, executive director of University Events, was the honoree.
The job can be thankless, but Steve goes above and beyond to make sure that every event, no matter how complicated, shows W&M in the best possible light, Reveley said His work behind the scenes encompasses large events (such as Commencement), extraordinary events, (the visit of the Dalai Lama) and the heartfelt (farewell receptions and dinners for long-time faculty, administrators and staff).
According to one of his nominators, Tewksbury “takes painstaking care with details big and small: from draping a 13-foot statue for a ceremony to arranging the Commencement stage or pinning down flags in high winds.”
Since coming to W&M in 2003, Tewksbury has successfully planned and executed events at William & Mary Hall, Colonial Williamsburg, Kingsmill Resort and in cities thousands of miles from campus. He does it all with unfailing good humor, often commended by members of the university community, including the Board of Visitors for his careful attention to detail.
“Steve is intensely dedicated and hardworking; he is conscientious and committed to excellence,” one nominator wrote, “and makes working with the most difficult personalities in the most difficult situations look effortless.”