Campus & Community

Extension School announces 2003 prizes:

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Students and faculty receive awards

This year, the Extension School’s Commencement Speaker award will go to Stephen Silver, A.L.M. ’03, concentrator in religion. The title of his talk will be “Thomas Wolfe Was Right … Half-Right.”

At the same time, the main address at the Graduate Certificate ceremonies, titled “A Look at Your Inner Mirror,” will be delivered by Stephen Greyser, Richard P. Chapman Proessor of Business Administration Emeritus, Harvard Business School.

In addition, the following Extension School students and faculty will receive recognition during Commencement:

Dean’s Thesis Prizes

The Dean’s Prize for the outstanding A.L.M. thesis recognizes work embodying the highest level of scholarship. Prizes are awarded in each of the five disciplines of the School’s master’s degree program.

The Dean’s Thesis Prize in the behavioral sciences is awarded to Jennifer Wolfeld for her thesis titled “Non-native Speaker Intelligibility: Does Intonation Practice With Visual Feedback Make a Difference?” As a linguistics concentrator, Wolfeld had to teach herself the methods of the behavioral scientist and the statistician to take a behavioral approach to her work. She conducted a randomized control trial in which she compared traditional accent reduction strategies with visual representation of vocal accuracy. Wolfeld was able to articulate a distinction between objective intelligibility and subjective but pragmatic comprehensibility and to clarify the critical role of the listener in the verbal exchange. Wolfeld completed her undergraduate education at California State University, Humboldt, in 1974, and her M.Ed. from Stanford University in 1976. In addition to teaching English as a second language at Endicott College and in corporate settings, she is a musician who has played the bassoon with the Newton Symphony Orchestra, the Longy Orchestra, and various chamber music groups in the greater Boston area.

The Dean’s Prize for the outstanding A.L.M. thesis in the social sciences goes to Carla Bosco, graduate in history. Bosco’s thesis, titled “Prelude to War: The Harvard Community and Slavery During the Fugitive Slave Era, 1850-1855,” explores the Harvard community’s attitudes toward slavery during the period immediately following the passing of the Fugitive Slave Act. Drawing extensively on unpublished archival sources, Bosco analyzes how Harvard’s conservative stance on slavery embroiled it in a number of controversies and also affected faculty appointments. The thesis director, the Rev. Professor Peter J. Gomes, the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals, wrote that her thesis is “excellent … both in conception and execution. … This is original work of the highest order.” Bosco received her B.A. in English and history from Mt. Holyoke College (1993), her M.S. in library science from Simmons College (1996), and plans to go on for a Ph.D. in American history.

The Dean’s Thesis Prize in the humanities goes to David Palmieri, concentrator in French language and literature, whose thesis is titled “Chastes Archetypes: la cosmologie poetique d’Oskar Milosz.” The study explores the inherent difficulties posed by cosmological poetry, which seeks to unite religion, science, philosophy, and poetry; and the dauntingly complex work of Oskar Milosz, who drew from poetic traditions established by mystical poets such as Dante, Blake, and Yeats, from diverse philosophers and scientists ranging from Plato and Descartes to Spinoza and Einstein, and from several systems of Eastern and Western religious thought in order to create his own vocabulary of archetypes. The thesis director, Samba Diop, assistant professor of Romance languages and literatures, stated that the work “is a very important contribution toward Miloszian studies” and praised Palmieri for “his excellent mastery of the French language.” Palmieri holds a B.A. from Rutgers in history and an M.A. from Ohio University in film theory. He is now a doctoral candidate at the University of Montreal. Parts of the thesis have already been accepted for publication in the West Virginia University Philological Papers and in the forthcoming annual revue of Les Amis de Milosz in Paris.

The theses of two other humanities graduates have also been cited for excellence: Donald H. Angus‘ “Bears That Dance and Bears That Don’t: Cormac McCarthy’s Frontier” (English and American literature and language) and Doria A.P. Hughes‘ “The Tale of Ker-Is and the Lay of Graelent: Women, Water and Wickedness in Two Breton Narratives” (Celtic studies).

Angus’ thesis examines how the Western novels of Cormac McCarthy interrogate and revise America’s frontier mythology. John Stauffer, associate professor of English and American literature and of history and literature, who served as the director, called the work “a brilliant thesis, without question the best [A.L.M.] thesis I’ve read, and one that, in its close textual readings, deep knowledge of the material, and intertextual analyses, is at the same level of advanced Ph.D. English theses from Harvard. It is definitely publishable. There is such passion in his analysis and elegance in the way he develops his narrative, that reading it has inspired me to teach ‘Blood Meridian.’” Angus is a 1992 graduate of Marietta College and holds a B.A. degree in English and philosophy. He is a college rowing coach and is in his second year of a J.D. program at Suffolk Law School.

Hughes’ study examines and compares the evolving literary representations of two very different female characters occurring in two Breton narratives associated with the legendary King Gradlon, and argues that, despite their differences, they appear to derive from a common Celtic notion. Her thesis director, Patrick K. Ford, Robinson Professor of Celtic Languages and Literatures, wrote, “This splendid thesis accomplishes three discrete tasks in the process of establishing a unity of theme in the two narratives. … Doria has succeeded mightily with a project that I would have warned others away from. Her bibliography and references in her text demonstrate familiarity with current Celtic scholarship at a level we would expect of the graduate students in our department.” Hughes received a B.A. degree in 1996 from Oberlin College, with a major in comparative literature and anthropology. She describes herself as a mother and an herbalist.

The Dean’s Thesis Prize for the A.L.M. in information technology goes to Yuechao Zhao, for his work titled “Nonlinear Dimension Reduction for Analysis and Synthesis of Human Face and Facial Expression.” Zhao, a full-time research associate with the materials science group at the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences, previously earned a Ph.D. in applied physics at the University of Science and Technology in China. According to Paul Bamberg, lecturer on mathematics at Harvard University, who recently read this thesis: “Mr. Zhao has applied sophisticated techniques to a difficult and important problem and has explained it extremely well. I have done similar sorts of dimension-reduction problems in speech synthesis and found that many Ph.D.’s don’t understand the general approach.”

The Dean’s Prize for the outstanding A.L.M. thesis in the natural sciences is awarded to Richard Macniven for his thesis titled “A Molecular Phylogeny of the Polymmatini (Lepidoptera:Lycaenidae): Testing the Origins of the Neoptropical Fauna.” Macniven’s molecular analysis of these butterflies supports Vladimir Nabokov’s hypothesis that the Neotropical Polymmatus Blues originated in Asia, migrated into North America via the Bering Strait, and continued into South America during the Great American Interchange 3 to 4 million years ago. Naomi E. Pierce, Sidney A. and John H. Hessel Professor of Biology, directed this work and praised it as a “truly magnificent thesis.” Pierce’s laboratory received a Putnam Expedition Grant due in part to Macniven’s work, which has been submitted for publication to several journals. Macniven earned his B.S. degree in biochemistry at Rutgers. He is employed at Biogen.

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, Doris Haas Finley, 59, is a humanities concentrator, and is graduating with a 3.84 GPA.

Finley was born in Germany and was unable to continue to university studies after graduation from high school in postwar Germany. She pursued her education whenever the opportunity presented itself while raising two sons. Governed by her interests in art and in history, she took a variety of courses in German, British, French, and American universities. In 1998, she and her American artist husband moved from Germany to Boston, and, encouraged by her mother, who offered to finance her long-coveted university degree, she began taking courses at the Extension School almost immediately. Finley plans to combine her love of art and history with her professional expertise in tourism to provide specialized travel events to bring together people on both sides of the Atlantic in a common appreciation of art, history, and culture.

Derek Bok Public Service Prize

The Derek Bok Public Service Prize honors the commitment of former 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 Harvard University 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.

A few years ago, when the United States was swept with a string of school shootings, Jane Catherine Eppley, herself a high school student at the time, was so concerned by what was happening that she began asking herself “What can I do to help?” Her answer came a few years later when in May 2000, Eppley founded and ran a nonprofit organization titled Artnotguns, Inc. The organization published a journal composed of literature and art from gun violence survivors and others concerned about gun violence. The goal of the organization and the journal was to provide a forum for individuals to talk about their experiences with gun violence. The journal was published in May 2001 on the Web at and in hard copy. Through this organization Eppley shared with the world the personal life stories that live behind the headlines. Eppley plans to attend graduate school in the field of theology and pursue a career as an Episcopal priest or professor of theology.

Elaine Victoria Grey is a celebrated Boston artist, whose accomplishments include a one-person exhibit titled “Innovations” at Harvard University’s Baker Library and copyright renderings of historic sites in Boston, including the State House and the swan boats. In addition to her art career, Grey has been an active public servant for decades in her hometown of Watertown. Her biggest contribution to date is the founding of the Watertown Center for the Arts, a children’s theater and a nonprofit organization that seeks to build a visual and performing arts facility at the Arsenal on The Charles (Watertown). Her other public service activities include running for Watertown town councilor in 1995 and 1999, serving as a member of the Watertown Historical Society, as chairman of the Watertown Arts Lottery Council, and as elected town meeting member. As a trustee of the Marshall Home for the Aged, she assisted in placing elderly residents in assisted-care living facilities. She also continues to serve as chairman of the Watertown Zoning Board of Appeals and as the Administrative Liaison for Watertown High School Athletic Hall of Fame. Last year, the Watertown Public Library named her as Watertown Woman of Achievement. Grey plans to continue painting, being active in public service, and pursuing her education at the Harvard Extension School to earn her A.L.B. degree.

Annamae and Allan R. Crite Prize

Established by the Harvard Extension School and the Harvard Extension Alumni Association in honor of Annamae Crite, who for more than a half-century 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 Virginia Ogozalek, concentrator in studio arts and film, whose thesis is titled, “Pop Goes the Electric Chair: Interpreting an American Icon From Warhol to the Web.” A masterful and at times disturbing study of the iconographic significance of the electric chair in American culture and art, Ogozalek argues that Andy Warhol’s repeated transformations of silks-creened, colored electric chairs represent an intriguing intersection between the chair as realistic instrument of death and the chair as mere simulacrum, neutralized and made even humorous in contexts such as children’s cartoons. According to her thesis director, John Stilgoe, Orchard Professor in the History of Landscape Development, “This especially powerful thesis derives from a stunning amount of background research and from the most sophisticated analysis of theoretical material I have encountered in several years. She covers not only the general understanding of death in American culture and the legal ramifications of punitive death, … she makes clear how the electric chair has become the generator of imaginative imagery. It is perhaps the first of a new genre of theses involving the aesthetic reconstruction of technology-based reality, a sort of tracking of re-invention.” Ogozalek holds a B.A. degree in psychology from Colby College, an M.S.Ed. from the University of Southern Maine, and a Ph.D. from Northeastern University. She is a professor of computer science at Worcester State College.

The second Crite Prize is awarded to Natasha Bershadsky, concentrator in classical civilizations. Her thesis is titled “A Comparison of Shields in Early Greek Art and Literature” and was co-directed by Gloria Ferrari Pinney, professor of classical archaeology and art, and David Gordon Mitten, Loeb Professor of Classical Art and Archaeology. The thesis explores the relationship between word and image, specifically the terms for “shield” in Homeric epic and the different shapes that shields assume in Geometric and Archaic art. Pinney wrote, “The first part of the paper contains a brilliant analysis of the use of the words aspis and sakos in the epic poems, relying on the Jakobsonian concept of markedness. The conclusion, clearly and convincingly argued, is that sakos is the marked term, which carries the idea of invincibility, while aspis may be used of the loser in battle or in a broad, unmarked sense.” Mitten likewise stated, “Ms. Bershadsky has accomplished something quite exceptional in this thesis. . . and could well turn it into an important article.” Bershadsky holds two B.A. degrees from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in psychology and linguistics (1999), and is now a doctoral candidate at the University of Chicago.

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 first prize recipient is Nova Ann Najarian, A.L.B., cum laude. A natural science concentrator, Najarian is graduating at the top of her class with a 3.96 GPA. She began her undergraduate academic career 14 years ago at Smith College and currently works as a clinical researcher at Indevus Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Najarian plans to continue her education to earn a master’s degree in nursing or biology.

Asako N. Severn, A.L.B., cum laude, is the recipient of the second Phelps Prize, graduating with the second-highest GPA of 3.92. Severn holds an associate’s degree from Japan and began her undergraduate academic career at the Harvard Extension School in 1995. A linguistics concentrator, Severn completed courses in neurolinguistics and phonological theory through Harvard’s GSAS as a Special Student and plans to pursue an advanced degree in cognitive neuropsychology.

There is a tie for the third-place Phelps Prize. Ann Marie Murphy, A.L.B., cum laude, is a social science concentrator who began her undergraduate career at Northeastern University 37 years ago. Murphy is the deputy director of operations and information services for alumni affairs and development at Harvard.

Johanna Leslie Wilbur, A.L.B., cum laude, also a Harvard employee in the Slavic Department, shares the third-place Phelps Prize. In addition to her numerous courses at Extension, Wilbur, a Russian studies concentrator (and a single mother), completed four Russian language and literature courses through the GSAS as a Special Student. She plans to apply to the graduate program in Slavic languages and literature studies at Harvard and pursue a career in teaching.

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 the Harvard Extension School. 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.

Based on her exceptional academic record, with a final GPA of 4.0, Laurie Wilczynski-Zollo is awarded the Thomas Small Prize. She is an anthropology concentrator who has been working as an obstetrical and maternity nurse since 1994. She recently moved to San Francisco, where she completed her master’s thesis, studying ancient Greek cult heroization. In the thesis, she compared the rituals, memorials, and testimonials associated with women who died during childbirth to the men killed in battle, persuasively arguing that the men and women obtained similar status through untimely death. Her thesis director, Gregory Nagy, Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature, wrote, “Your perspective on the human condition, focusing on the experiences of childbirth and war as poeticized through heroic figures and reflected in fragmentary evidence about real people, is very incisive and compelling. … I am happy and honored to have been involved in your fine accomplishment.”

Phyllis Strimling Award

The Phyllis Strimling Award recognizes the character and achievement of a certificate of special studies in administration and management (C.S.S.) graduate who has used or is preparing to use the C.S.S. experience for the advancement of women and society. The 2003 recipient of this award is Andrea C. Spence. In 1996, Spence founded Imani Circle, a support group for Caribbean-American women that emphasizes education. She has also been a participant since 1989 in Loves Herself Regardless, a nonreligious program that supports the spiritual leadership of women of African descent. She plans to use the business skills she developed in the C.S.S. program to begin a cultural and arts center for Boston’s Caribbean-American community.

Judith Wood Memorial Prize

The Judith Wood Memorial Prize honors students who, while completing courses at the Harvard Extension School, face the challenges of a disability. Awarded from an income fund established by the family and friends of the late Judith Wood who, though born with cystic fibrosis, and beset with diabetes and blindness, took Extension School courses as long as she was able, and inspired many other students with her courage and fortitude. The Wood Memorial Prize honors those who travel a singularly difficult pathway in an academic setting. The 2003 recipient of the Wood Prize is Juan Botero, a candidate for the A.L.M. degree with a concentration in social sciences. Botero is majoring in anthropology and archaeology. A ceremony to present Botero with his prize will take place later this summer.

Katie Y.F. Yang Prize

Named for a 1990 graduate of the C.S.S. program, the Katie Y.F. Yang Prize is awarded annually to the international graduate of the program with the most outstanding academic record. This year’s recipient, Sujit Kumar Basu, is a citizen of India who holds a bachelor’s in pharmaceutical sciences and a master’s in pharmaceutical engineering from Jadavpur University, and a Ph.D. in pharmaceutics from the University of Southern California. Basu took the C.S.S. program to learn management skills to complement his scientific studies. He is currently employed as a group leader for Altus Biologics, a company that develops protein crystallization products.

Harvard V. Langlois Outstanding Scholar Award

Presented for the first time this year, the Harold V. Langlois Outstanding Scholar Award recognizes a C.S.S. graduate who has demonstrated exceptional academic accomplishment and promise as a manager. The recipient, David Ross Hurwitz, holds a B.S. in biology from the State University of New York, Albany, and a Ph.D. in genetics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Hurwitz is currently employed as business manager of Abcam, Inc., an English firm that develops antibodies for biotechnology researchers.

The Carmen S. Bonanno Award

Established in 1990 by the family of Carmen S. Bonanno, who studied a foreign language in Harvard Extension School many years ago, this award recognizes excellence in foreign language instruction. This year’s Bonanno Prize winner, Wayne Ishikawa, lecturer at the Extension School, has been teaching a variety of French language courses, including French E-5: “French Oral Survival,” for the past 26 years. He also teaches in Harvard Summer School, where he was formerly dean of students. Ishikawa holds the Ph.D. in Romance languages from Harvard University. “Dr. Ishikawa is one of the best teachers I have ever had, certainly the best language teacher,” commented one student on this semester’s course evaluations.

James E. Conway Excellence in Teaching Writing Award

David Gessner is the recipient of this year’s James E. Conway Award for Excellence in Teaching Writing. The author of several important works of creative nonfiction, including “Under the Devil’s Thumb,” “Return of the Osprey,” and “A Wild, Rank Place,” Gessner has been teaching creative nonfiction and environmental writing at Harvard Extension for four years. His students consistently praise him for his enthusiasm and expertise, his passion and professionalism. His students awarded him the highest possible scores in his most recent course evaluations. One student seemed to speak for all the members the class when he called the course a “transcendent, remarkable experience.”

Joanne Fussa Distinguished Teaching Award

This year’s recipient of the Joanne Fussa Distinguished Teaching Award, which recognizes exceptional teaching in the C.S.S. program, is Bayley Mason, who joined the C.S.S. faculty in 1990 when he was associate director of corporations and foundations in Harvard’s Development Office. He has taught two courses, C.S.S. E-520 “Development Communications” and C.S.S. E-142 “Principles and Practices of Fundraising” (with Scott Nichols). He has continued to teach in the program since his retirement from the Development Office in 1995. Mason is a committed and masterful teacher who consistently earns the highest student evaluations.

Petra T. Shattuck Excellence in Teaching Award

Established by the Harvard 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 Donna Cooper, Robert Lue, and Mary-Ann Winkelmes.

This fall will be Donna Cooper‘s 10th year teaching “Current Topics in Medicine,” a course designed for the patient, not the premedical student. Cooper, an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School, was nominated for the Shattuck Prize by students who appreciate the insights she provides into the complexities of today’s health-care system as well as the cooperative learning environment that she encourages. One wrote, “In my opinion, every educated person should be taking this course.”

Robert Lue, senior lecturer on molecular and cellular biology at Harvard, began Extension School teaching in 1995 and has developed a loyal following of students who appreciate his enthusiasm, professionalism, and sound career advice. They have enrolled in his lecture course on HIV and AIDS, his seminar on the biology of aging, and his graduate research methods proseminar. His students gave Lue a 4.9 instructor rating this year (on a 5-point scale) and many agreed with the person who wrote, “This has been one of my favorite courses at Extension – as is any course that Dr. Lue teaches.”

Mary-Ann Winkelmes, lecturer in Extension and associate director of the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, also earned a 4.9 in her course “Religious Art and Architecture in the Renaissance” this year, although one student wrote in a “6” and described Winkelmes as “off the charts.” Students praise her enthusiasm, her expertise, and her accessibility. As another student wrote, “Dr. Winkelmes works extremely hard for her students and it shows. Thank you for all your hard work and effort in helping us to learn.”