Campus & Community

Extension School names winners of student prizes, faculty awards

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This year, the Extension School’s Commencement Speaker award will go to Kimberly Parke, A.L.M. ’00, assistant director for undergraduate degree programs at Harvard Extension School. The title of her talk will be “The Pocket Value of a Liberal Arts Education.”

The main address at the Graduate Certificate ceremonies, titled “Education as Citizenship,” will be delivered by Francis H. Duehay, former mayor of Cambridge, Mass.

The following Extension School students and faculty will receive special recognition during Commencement:

Dean’s Prize for Outstanding A.L.M. Thesis

The Dean’s Prize for the outstanding A.L.M. thesis recognizes the work that embodies the highest level of imaginative scholarship. A prize is awarded in each of the four disciplines of the Extension School’s Master’s Degree Program.

The Dean’s Thesis Prize for the outstanding A.L.M. thesis in the behavioral sciences will be awarded to Robert E. Kelly, for his work “A Comparative Morphological Study of the Hominoid Forelimb which Indicates Tripedal Knuckle-Walking in the Protohominid.” The work assesses, on the basis of present-day human anatomical evidence, the possibility for a knuckle-walking precursor to homo sapiens and proposes a tripedal model for locomotion in the protohominid. The thesis director, David Pilbeam, the Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences, commented that this “original thesis… is a very sound and creditable piece of work. Mr. Kelly has now convinced me that his argument…is worth rating as seriously as several other biologically plausible hypotheses currently in the literature.” Kelly received his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh in 1965 and is a retired professor of anatomy.

The Dean’s Prize for the outstanding A.L.M. thesis in the natural sciences will be awarded to Christine E. Lemire for her work on “Forensic Aspects of Trace Human Blood Evidence.” This research documents the exciting capabilities of STR profiling of trace amounts of biological evidence found at some crime scenes. Associate Professor of Pathology Frederick Bieber directed the work and evaluated it as a “an outstanding level of achievement… and is the best thesis that I have directed.”

The Dean’s Thesis Prize for the outstanding A.L.M. thesis in the social sciences will be awarded to Evelyn Gerson, graduate in Women’s Studies. Gerson’s thesis, “A Thirst for Complete Freedom: Why Fugitive Slave Ona Judge Staines Never Returned to Her Master, President George Washington,” discusses the escape of one of Washington’s slaves from the executive mansion in Philadelphia in 1796 and his failed attempts to recover her. Gerson analyzes Staines’ flight to Portsmouth, N.H., in the context of the African-American community there and of slavery at the time in New England. The thesis director, Professor John Stilgoe wrote that “Ms. Gerson has done a splendid job with a very difficult topic. This thesis exemplifies creative and diligent – at times dogged – research in archives. Gerson received her B.A. from the University of New Hampshire in 1990 and plans to continue her graduate studies this fall in the Ph.D. program in history at the University of Virginia.

The Dean’s Prize for the outstanding thesis in the humanities will be awarded to Gary J. Cahill, a 1984 graduate of Syracuse University, and a former financial adviser in the Benefits Office at Harvard. His thesis, titled “The Black Critical Response to Erskine Caldwell’s Literary Works from 1931 to 1940,” is a 422-page study of Caldwell’s realistic and courageous depiction of the inhumane conditions experienced daily by the rural poor, especially blacks, throughout the 1930s; and the respect that Caldwell gained from the black community as virtually the only white writer willing to expose the horror of lynchings, racial discrimination, and share-cropping in his works. Cahill’s thesis director, Michael Shinagel, senior lecturer on English, stated, “This thesis could well eventuate as a book for publication by a university press. It is a timely and cogent reassessment of a neglected American writer who, in his time, ranked among our most popular and respected novelists and short story writers. This critical study is worthy of a doctoral dissertation.”

Santo J. Aurelio Prize

Santo Joseph Aurelio, A.L.B. ’83, A.L.M. ’85, received his first two degrees at the Harvard Extension School after age 50, and went on to earn a doctorate and enter a new profession, college teaching, after a career of more than 35 years as an official court stenographer for the Massachusetts Superior Court. The prize recognizes academic achievement and character for undergraduate degree recipients more than 50 years of age. This year’s recipient, Shirley Louise Krowitz, A.L.B. ’00, graduates at age 68 with the bachelor’s degree she began 23 years ago at Harvard Extension School. Acknowledging in her application essay that, given her age, she was at Erickson’s developmental stage of caring and reaching out to others, she believed that, before she could mentor others, she first had to acquire knowledge, skills, training, and understanding that only a degree from Harvard would supply.

Derek Bok Public Service Prize

The Derek Bok Public Service Prize is a distinguished prize in honor of the commitment of former Harvard President Derek Bok to adult continuing education and to effective advocacy of community service activities. It is awarded annually to degree and certificate recipients at the Extension School, who, while pursuing academic studies and professional careers, also give generously of their time and skill to improve the quality of life for others in the larger community.

W. Dean Eastman, a graduate of the Master of Liberals Arts (A.L.M.) program at the Extension School, has been awarded the Derek Bok Public Service Prize. Eastman, a public school teacher in Beverly for almost 30 years, has been active in numerous school and extracurricula projects and programs designed to end racism, religious bigotry, sexism, and xenophobia. He has served on the Educational Steering Committee of the Massachusetts Civil Liberties Union, and worked with homeless and immigrant children. In addition, he has been active in community work relating to the history of Beverly and New England, cataloging old public records and preserving colonial gravestones, providing a free video genealogy service for the families of Beverly, and initiating a summer archaeological program for students with physical and learning disabilities.

Annamae and Allan R. Crite Prize

Established by the Extension School and the Harvard Extension Alumni Association in honor of Annamae Crite, who for more than 50 years faithfully attended Extension courses, and her son, Allan R. Crite, A.B. in Extension Studies ’68, who is widely recognized as the dean of African-American artists in the Greater Boston area, these prizes are awarded to Extension School degree recipients who demonstrate “singular dedication to learning and the arts.”

The first Crite Prize goes to Marcheterre Fluet, A.L.M. recipient in Celtic languages and literatures. A 1989 graduate of Smith College (A.B., biology), Fluet was, for several years, a research assistant and photographer in tropical plant ecology in the Harvard Forest in Petersham, Mass. She is currently a regional planner in the natural resources section of the Massachusetts District Commission and the owner of a photography and graphic design business. In one of the more remarkable meldings of professional and literary interests, her thesis, “Trees and Forests in the Literary Landscape of Early Ireland,” examines the representation and significance of trees and forests as features of the landscape, as social and tribal landmarks, as literary settings and supernatural entities. Her director, Patrick Ford, the Margaret Brooks Robinson Professor of Celtic Languages and Literatures, wrote that Fluet’s thesis “is one of the most imaginative pieces of scholarship I have ever encountered. Literary scholars of Celtic and Irish literature tend to look past the trees to the themes and motifs of the literature. Archaeologists and such in our field tend to focus on the material remains of culture, not on the landscape. So in combining the approaches of at least two discrete disciplines, Marcheterre has managed to give us fresh and original glimpses into early Irish culture and society.”

The second Crite Prize goes to Lauren Bradford O’Malley, recipient of the A.L.M. degree in English and American literature and language. A 1990 graduate of Holy Cross (A.B., English), she is employed as a technical support engineer. Titled “Broken People Breaking Faith: Teacher-Student Relationships and the Erosion of Spirituality in William Blake???s Myth,” her thesis explores Blake’s insights into the detrimental effects of various relationships based on the teacher-student model: priests and their flocks, parents and children, wives and husbands, nurses and their charges. Blake employs these relationships as a vehicle for discussing the spiritual, social, and intellectual problems that arise when imagination, independent thinking, and questioning are stifled. O’Malley’s director, Leo Damrosch, the Ernest Bernbaum Professor of Literature, described the work as “a superb thesis, not only exhaustively researched but also deeply and imaginatively thought out. . . . I want to pay tribute especially to [Lauren’s] ability to wrestle with the details of Blake’s text to bring out less-than-obvious implications, even in much-quoted passages that critics tend to blur. On nearly every page [she] brings something into focus that has impelled me to write comments in the margin of my [Blake] text.”

The third Crite Prize goes to Motoko Shimizu, A.L.M. recipient in history of art and architecture. A graduate of the International Christian University in Tokyo (B.A., political science, ’92), she is continuing her art history studies in France. Her thesis, titled “A Japanese in Paris, 1913-1929: Leonard Tsuguharu Foujita and the Problem of Cultural Identity,” is a groundbreaking study that examines the vexing question of how to approach the work of a painter with a double cultural identity. In the case of Foujita, whose painting has been previously labeled as both “Japanese-style” and “Western-style,” Shimizu argues on behalf of a “transcultural space” in which Japanese discourses are consciously played against Western ones and vice-versa. Her director, Eugene Wang, assistant professor of history of art and architecture, said of her thesis, “It is a remarkable piece of work. . . .[W]ith an acute critical and historical sensitivity, she brings out the historical irony that it was through the European lens, more specifically, the Parisian lens, that Foujita re-examined his own cultural heritage and discovered hitherto unexamined and underappreciated values in it. Shimuzu has therefore successfully avoided the pitfall of reducing such a subject to a mere influence study or a travel story. Instead, she sees clearly the dynamics between the two cultures that in many ways defies simplistic identification of essentialist traits.”

Reginald H. Phelps Prize

The Reginald H. Phelps Prize Fund was established by Edgar Grossman, A.B. in Extension Studies ’66, founder and first president of the Extension Alumni Association and the first Extension representative to the Associated Harvard Alumni for prizes for Extension baccalaureate degree recipients. The prizes are in honor of Reginald H. Phelps, A.B. ’30, A.M. ’33, Ph.D. ’47, director of University Extension at Harvard from 1949 to 1975, and are awarded annually on the basis of “academic achievement and character” to outstanding graduating students receiving bachelor’s degrees in Extension Studies.

The first Phelps prizewinner is Mariana San Martin, A.L.B. ’00, cum laude. San Martin is graduating at the top of her class with a perfect 4.0 grade point average. She pursued a field of study in Spanish language and literature and took Spanish literature courses as a special student at Harvard College this term. In addition, she constructed an independent study titled, “The Literature of Illness: Language, Ethics, and Space (1883-1992)” wherein she explored the portrayal of human disease and bodily suffering in eight Spanish novels. San Martin plans to apply to a doctoral program in Spanish literature next year.

Jennifer Dawson Ross, A.L.B. ’00, cum laude, is receiving the second Phelps prize. Graduating with a grade point average of 3.9, Ross decided to complete her degree after having a family. Balancing family obligations with her studies, she completed a field of study in English and American literature and language. She plans to work toward a master’s degree in education and teach high school English.

There is a tie for the third Phelps prize. Christian Manueal Labbée, A.L.B. ’00, cum laude graduates with a GPA of 3.89. Labbée has worked tirelessly to complete his degree in economics. Despite his rigorous academic schedule, Labbée found time to form the Chaitanya Vaishnava Society – a student group concerned with cultivating awareness of Hinduism at the University.

Janice Marie Stevens, A.L.B. ’00, cum laude, shares the third Phelps prize. As a registered nurse for over 15 years, dealing with critically ill patients in a rapidly changing medical arena, Stevens has dealt with ethical issues on a daily basis. For this reason, she studied ethics at Harvard Extension, while she was employed at the University as a case manager for faculty and staff. She now works in the field of clinical research, implementing the clinical trials of investigational drugs and devices, to which she directly applies her coursework. Stevens intends to apply to graduate school after a year long hiatus.

Thomas Small Prize

Thomas Small was born in Lithuania, came to the United States in 1900, and earned a bachelor in business administration degree from Boston University in 1918. He retired from business in 1965 and that year enrolled in Harvard Extension. In 1983, at age 89, he received his A.L.M. degree, thereby becoming the oldest earned graduate degree recipient in the history of Harvard University. The Thomas Small Prize was established by his family and friends to honor this achievement by awarding prizes in his name. This prize is awarded annually on the basis of “academic achievement and character” to outstanding A.L.M. in Extension Studies degree recipients.

The winner of the first-place Thomas Small Prize is Douglas Stickle, candidate for the A.L.M. in natural sciences, for a perfect 4.0 average. Stickle is a graduate of Illinois State University and is employed by the United States Air Force. His thesis, “Corticoloys Macrolichens Distribution, Abundance and Species Diversity on Quercus Rubra in Massachusetts,” explored the so-called “edge effects on lichens. From his work it is now possible to support ideas about distributions based on exposure, light availability, drying effects of winds, and physiological difference in species to explain particular patterns of species distribution. His thesis director, Professor Donald Pfister lauded the thesis, stating “I have advised several A.L.M. theses…Doug’s work is at the top of the list. It is satisfying to me to see what is essentially a publishable article.”

Tied for the second Thomas Small Prize are Kimberly Parke and David Riquier, each with a 3.92 grade-point average. Parke, candidate for the A.L.M. in literature and creative writing, holds the B.A. degree from Douglass College and is employed as assistant director of the A.L.B. program at the Harvard Extension School. Her thesis project, directed by Michel Chaouli, assistant professor of German and comparative literature, is titled “Love and Other Natural Disasters: Illusion and Catastrophe in California Literature,” which Chaouli describes as a collection of “highly accomplished short stories” with California settings, prefaced by a critical essay that explores the literary representation of the natural and social landscapes of California in relation to the creation of personal identity.

David Riquier, candidate for the A.L.M. in English and American literature and language, is a 1967 graduate of Boston University and works as a marketing consultant at the M.I.T. Media Lab. His thesis, titled “The Symbolic Function of Music Imagery in the Poetry of John Keats,” traces images of music throughout the poet’s canon and argues that Keats uses them to convey his belief in a special kind of intuitive knowledge that comes to the poet through a process that Riquier terms “influx.” According to James Engell, professor of English and comparative literature, who served as the director, the study provides the reader “with a new and solid perspective on a major image cluster in Keats.”

Katie Y.F. Yang Prize

Vanesa Campi, a native of Argentina, will be awarded the Katie Y.F. Yang Prize at the Extension School’s Certificate Commencement ceremony. This prize is given annually to the international student who earns the highest grades in the Certificate of Special Studies in Administration and Management program (CSS). Before joining the CSS program, Campi worked for Arthur Anderson in the company’s Buenos Aires office. She is currently an auditor for the State Street Bank in their Boston office.

The Carmen S. Bonanno Award

Established in 1990 by the family of Carmen S. Bonanno, who studied a foreign language in Extension School many years ago, this award recognizes excellence in foreign language instruction. This year’s recipient is Johanna Damgaard Liander, senior preceptor in romance languages and literatures, Harvard. Liander holds four degrees: the B.A. in romance languages and literatures from Radcliffe College; the M.A. in Spanish literature from New York University; and the A.M. and Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literatures from Harvard. An Extension School instructor since 1990, Liander has been a pillar in the Spanish program, teaching a total of six courses on Spanish and Latin American literature and film to her many appreciative students. One of her graduate students wrote the following in nominating her for the Bonanno Award: “She encouraged me to work hard because she believed I had the academic talent to pursue the Ph.D. I applied to five different programs and was accepted to four. Dr. Liander has the ability to inspire, motivate, and support students throughout their academic careers and beyond!”

James E. Conway Excellence in Teaching Writing Award

Grace Dane Mazur is the recipient of the James E. Conway Excellence in Teaching Writing Award, which was established in 1991. As the instructor for the Master’s Class in Creative Writing, she has been central to the A.L.M. program in literature and creative writing since its inception in 1996. Students consistently praise her for her generosity and insight, and for her thorough engagement with their work. As one student put it in a recent course evaluation, “[She] has an amazing ability to see right into the heart of a story – and to express to the writer how to make his or her vision come alive.”

JoAnne Fussa Distinguished Teaching Award

This year’s recipient of the JoAnne Fussa Distinguished Teaching Award, which recognizes exceptional teaching in the Certificate of Special Studies in Administration and Management program (CSS), is Dan T. Dunn Jr., associate professor of business administration, Northeastern University. Dunn is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Washington and Lee University, where he earned the bachelor’s degree in commerce, and of the University of Virginia, where he earned the M.B.A. and D.B.A. with an emphasis in marketing management.

A researcher with a range of interests, including high-tech marketing, and an accomplished instructor in Northeastern University’s varied management programs, including the High Technology MBA Program and the Executive M.B.A. Program, Professor Dunn is celebrating this year his 20th year of teaching in the CSS program. His two challenging courses, Marketing Management and Strategic Sales Management, are consistently among the most popular in the CSS program. One of his students this year, reflecting the exuberance of many, wrote the following on the year-end course evaluation: “Thanks to Professor Dunn, I am beginning to see the world of color for the first time, after viewing it from an engineering perspective (black and white) all this time. This is an excellent course!”

Petra T. Shattuck Excellence in Teaching Award

Established by the Extension School in memory of Petra T. Shattuck, a distinguished and dedicated teacher in the program, who died of a cerebral hemorrhage in the spring of 1988, these prizes are awarded annually to honor outstanding teaching in the Extension program. This year, the three recipients are George D. Buckley, Robert B. Charles, and Sarolta A. Takács.

George D. Buckley, chairman of science in the Watertown Public Schools and director of the Marine Ecology Project, began teaching courses on environmental management and ocean environments in the Extension School in 1983 and has served as an inspiration to many students over the years. In a course evaluation, a student wrote: “For a long time, college has been hard for me, but now I am starting to understand what it is that I would like to do. This is really exciting for me. Thank you so much.” Students praise Buckley’s high energy, his enthusiasm, and his dynamism, and they applaud the courses for their extras: the Websites, the slide shows, the guest lecturers, and above all, the field trips to Cape Cod. In the words of one student, Buckley is a “great field tripper.”

In her nomination, one student wrote, “For many of us, Robert B. Charles epitomized the best that we hoped to find at Harvard.” Charles, at the time chief counsel for the subcommittee on National Security, International Affairs, and Criminal Justice in the U.S. House of Representatives, joined the Extension School in the fall of 1998, teaching two timely courses. In his courses on Congressional oversight of the White House and another on cyberlaw, topics of classroom discussion often appeared in headlines the next day. Students praised his unique real-world perspective and his commitment to public service. One concluded: “Bobby Charles was caring, charismatic, brilliant, and a delight to spend two hours with each week.”

Starting in the Summer School in 1995, Sarolta A. Takács, associate professor of the classics at Harvard, has offered a number of courses to continuing education students including: classical drama, women in Greece and Rome, beginning Latin, and Roman history. Like the other Shattuck award recipients, Professor Takacs has earned consistently high evaluations, and she is praised for all the extras — the slides, the handouts, the outlines, the music — that she brings to her classes. One student wrote, “She is an amazing professor! So passionate and engaged with the subject, she truly brings the subject alive. Had I had the good fortune of hearing her lecture when I was a freshman at Harvard, I’m certain I would have become a classics major.”

Dean’s Distinguished Service Award

The Dean’s Distinguished Service Award is bestowed occasionally by Dean Michael Shinagel on behalf of the Extension School upon a distinguished teacher with a long record of service. Since 1980, Brendan and Barbara Maher have been teaching courses in psychology in the Extension School. For three years, a course on The History of Psychology was taught jointly by the Mahers. Over the years, they have supervised 30 A.L.M. theses – a record at the Extension School.

Brendan Maher was a mainstay of the administrative board for the Extension School in the early 1980s. After their co-teaching in the History of Psychology course, Barbara continued to teach this popular and well-received course on her own for 15 years, while Brendan offered a gateway graduate seminar, Introduction to Social Research.

Brendan and Barbara Maher have been honored in the past with the outstanding teaching award of the Extension School and will be honored this year with the Dean’s Distinguished Service Award.