Campus & Community

Extension School students and faculty are honored with prizes for outstanding work

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This year, the Harvard University Extension School’s Commencement Speaker Award will go to Monica Antoinette Brooker A.L.B., cum laude. Brooker will speak on the topic “Commencement as Perfection” this afternoon (June 9).

The main address at the Graduate Certificate ceremonies, titled “What a Difference a Mission Makes,” will be delivered by Patricia H. Deyton, faculty director of the Center for Gender in Organizations at the Simmons School of Management and senior adviser to the Council of Women World Leaders.

In addition, the following Extension School students and faculty will receive special recognition during Commencement. The Dean’s Prize for the Outstanding A.L.M. Thesis, awarded in each of the five disciplines, recognizes work that embodies the highest level of scholarship. This year, two outstanding master’s degree recipients share the Dean’s Thesis Prize in the Behavioral Sciences. Renee Kochevar is recognized for her thesis “Medical Anthropology, Bioethics, and Culture: An Analysis of the Patient’s Right to Deactivate an Internal Cardiac Defibrillator.” Kochevar’s thesis examines the social, cultural, psychological, and behavioral factors involved in pain perception and the decision to deactivate a life-saving device. Her results showed that determining when stopping invasive medical treatment may be viewed as “suicidal” as compared with when it is just good sense is very context dependent. Thesis director Roberta Goldman, adjunct associate professor of public health, described the work as “a thoughtful, sophisticated, and well-written discourse on the issues and the multiple contexts that can produce differing perceptions and decisions among patients … Renee Kochevar’s thesis merits the highest grade and honor that can be afforded at the Harvard Extension School for a master of liberal arts.” Prior to completing her A.L.M., Renee earned a bachelor of arts in environmental, organismic, and population biology at the University of Colorado in 1998, a bachelor of arts in psychology in 1990, and a doctor of philosophy in clinical psychology from the University of California, San Diego, and San Diego State University joint degree program. She also completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Mount Auburn Hospital in the Department of Psychiatry in 1996, where she specialized in behavioral medicine. After several years in academic research positions, Kochevar is now a clinical project manager, managing international clinical trials for cardiac defibrillators and other medical devices.

The co-recipient is psychology concentrator Ann Smith for her thought-provoking thesis titled “Gender Differences in the Long-Term Psychological Impact of Industrial Struggle,” in which she examined both qualitative and quantitative data on personal changes among the men and women from British mining towns who experienced the closing of the national mines in the 1970s. Based on interviews with a sample in her native Manchester and a comparison group who were not affected by the lockouts, the study revealed that the women, in general, experienced increased self-esteem based on their increasingly important social and familial roles while the men were locked out of the mines, whereas the men suffered from the loss of a working person’s identity, and these effects persisted 20 years after the strike was over. Brendan Maher, Henderson Research Professor of the Psychology of Personality, who directed Smith’s work, wrote, “The data that she collected is of great value, and is a tribute to her ability to speak the language of her interviewees, as well as to her sympathetic understanding of the issues that were affecting their lives. This is not the kind of research that anybody with enough intelligence and training in research design could do; it required Ann’s unique combination of being a cultural ‘insider’ and the possessor of solid skills as a research investigator and data analyst.” Maher went on to say, “In the many years that I have supervised A.L.M. theses, this is undoubtedly one of the best, perhaps the very best.” Smith graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with a bachelor of arts in applied community studies where she received 2nd class honors and subsequently completed her RMN from York School of Nursing where she specialized in psychiatry. While studying for her A.L.M., she worked in a group home for psychiatric patients and has since returned to Britain following a year of traveling the globe from Canada to Australia. She hopes to return to North America in the next several months and settle in Canada.

The Dean’s Prize for the Outstanding A.L.M. Thesis in the Social Sciences goes to Eric P. Olson, graduate in the history of science. Olson’s thesis, titled “Through Many Numbers: The Search for Mathematics and Pythagoreanism in the Design of the Parthenon,” investigates the popularly held belief that the Parthenon manifests sacred mathematics and the Pythagorean proportion of the “Golden Mean.” Olson undertook an exhaustive analysis of the mathematics and ratios involved in the Parthenon, going to Athens to do some of his measurements, and concluded that, although mathematics is a fundamental informing discipline at the heart of the conceptual Parthenon, in no way did numerological, geometric, proportional, or Pythagorean influences govern the final form. Co-thesis director Rabun Taylor, associate professor of the history of art and architecture, wrote that Olson’s thesis is “an extraordinarily well-researched and argued contribution to the scholarship on ancient architecture” and that “few have had such a thorough grasp of the mathematics of the time.” He called Olson’s analysis of the mathematical schemes underlying the construction of the Parthenon to be “trenchant, restrained, and sensible,” as well as “firmly grounded in the social and political history of the time.” Olson studied art and mathematics as an undergraduate at St. Olaf College and currently teaches at the Pingree School in South Hamilton, Mass.

Co-winners of the Dean’s Thesis Prize in the Humanities are Christine Donata de Maupeou and Kristine Guay, both concentrators in English and American literature and language.

In her thesis, titled “Henry James and the French Aristocracy Under the Napoleonic Code: Madame de Vionnet and a Contextual Reading of ‘The Ambassadors,’” de Maupeou painstakingly re-creates the French social milieu with which James would have been familiar – one governed by a strict and subtle system of rules that both determined and marked the conduct of men and women within their social class. The study demonstrates that the character of Madame de Vionnet has been almost universally misunderstood by James scholars, who have misread the subtle social gestures with which James endows her. The thesis director, Lawrence Buell, Powell M. Cabot Professor of American Literature, stated: “This thesis pursues a significant original angle of investigation that demands adjustments in the way the plot and characterization of ‘The Ambassadors’ is interpreted. … No one who reads this thesis seriously can re-read the novel in quite the same way again.” A former fashion model, screenwriter, and published novelist, de Maupeou holds a B.A. in French from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She resides in France, where she lives with her husband and two children.

Guay’s thesis is titled “Performing Gender: A Queer Theoretical Approach to the Writing of Margaret Fuller” and was directed by John Stauffer, professor of English and American literature and language. Arguing against the critical tendency to position Fuller’s work and her relationships with women within the 19th century social construct of “romantic friendship,” Guay demonstrates that Fuller’s writing is strongly marked by a queer sensibility, evidenced by a narrative voice that shifts between masculine and feminine, multiple instances of encoded lesbian language within her poetry and letters, and a serious attempt to unravel the complexities of socially constructed gender roles while struggling to de-eroticize her relationships with women. Stauffer praised the groundbreaking study for its “stunning analysis, subtle and elegant prose, and a magisterial use of existing scholarship,” and stated “Kris’ thesis is a work of art as well as scholarship. It will make you want to reread Fuller. … Her knowledge of Fuller’s writings is on the level of that of Fuller scholars, a stunning accomplishment for someone like Kris, who works full time in another career.” Guay holds a B.F.A. in film from Massachusetts College of Art, and currently works as a communications and Web editor for American Public Television.

The Dean’s Thesis Prize in the A.L.M. in Information Technology goes to George P. Stathis for his work “Aspect-Oriented Shade Trees.” Stathis developed a method for breaking up complex visual effects into small re-usable units of code that can be programmed and optimized by specialists. The code units can then be easily combined by nonprogrammers into more elaborate special effects using a visual tool. The software developed by Stathis is potentially useful for game development and movie industry professionals, and a paper based upon this work has been submitted to an upcoming hardware conference sponsored by the Association for Computing Machinery.

Mark S. Gold is the recipient of the Dean’s Thesis Prize in the A.L.M. in Museum Studies for his thesis, “An Ethical Framework for the Pledge of Collections as Collateral for Financing Museums.” Joseph C. Thompson, director of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, said of the thesis, “The issue is rigorously, precisely framed, the historical and professional context cogently (even thrillingly, for those of us in the field) told; and the analysis is supple. … This deserves publication in the field, at least, and even public debate.” Gold is the first recipient of the A.L.M. in museum studies degree and his thesis sets the standard for those to follow.

The Dean’s Prize for the Outstanding A.L.M. Thesis in the Biological Sciences goes to James Stephen Lee, whose thesis, titled “Global Habitat Shift and the Rise of the Devonian Tetrapod,” was directed by Henry Bryant Bigelow Professor of Biology Karel Liem, curator of ichthyology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology. Lee’s thesis focuses on a key step in the evolution of vertebrates, the shift from aquatic to land habitats. In many original behavioral experiments using modern fishes, Lee defined key factors that likely played an important role in this evolutionary transition. Liem calls the work “brilliant” and writes, “Lee’s work has succeeded in lifting us from the realm of hypothesis and speculation to solid experimentally based insights of this landmark evolutionary event.” A 1992 graduate of the University of Miami with a bachelors of science degree, Lee is the executive director of the New England Seacoast Institute, a nonprofit organization focusing on environmental research and education, a professor at Cambridge College, and a diver and naturalist with extensive travel experience in the Caribbean.

Santo J. Aurelio Prize

Santo Joseph Aurelio A.L.B. ’83, A.L.M. ’85 received his first two degrees at the 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 is Linda Sue Kush A.L.B., cum laude. Kush is graduating with the fourth-highest GPA: 3.82. She is a humanities concentrator who began her undergraduate career at Nebraska Wesleyan University. A native Midwesterner, Kush moved East in 1987 and a few years later was working at Harvard’s Printing and Publication Services and taking her first course at Harvard Extension School. She has been working steadily on her degree ever since, while raising her son, Jesse (also an Extension School student), and working full time. Kush graduates this June, 33 years after starting college and 10 years of Harvard Extension School course work. She plans to pursue a career as a journalist.

Derek Bok Public Service Prize

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

The first Derek Bok Public Service Prize recipient this year is Brent J. Sakoneseriiosta Maracle, A.L.M. graduate in government. Maracle has been a positive force in the American Indian community, promoting the importance of active involvement in education and academic life. He served as spokesperson for the Mohawk Nation during the student sit-in in April 2001, speaking on cross-border trade and its importance to the Mohawk economy. He served as a “Warrior” Escort to delegations of American Indian governments visiting Harvard. As chairperson of the Harvard University Powwow for two years, he helped educate the broader community about American Indian cultures. Approximately 10,000 people attended each year. A mentor to Harvard College Native American students, Maracle also served on the hiring committee for the Harvard University Native American Program (HUNAP). He frequently visits the Mohawk territories where he grew up to talk with high school students and encourage them to create a better future for themselves and the Mohawk people through higher education.

Maracle’s A.L.M. thesis, “Keep Off the Grass: Non-Superpower Nations and Their Position in the World,” has received recognition as an important contribution to American Indian governance as well as international relations theory. The Western Social Science Association has asked him to conduct a panel on his work looking at the measurement of Natural Liberty to better understand the international positioning of nations. His thesis director was Joseph Kalt, Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy. Maracle received his bachelor’s degree in government from Evangel College in 1997.

The second Derek Bok Public Service Prize goes to Carole Y. Rein, A.L.M. graduate in psychology. Rein has worked with Junior Achievement for the past decade; her successful involvement at Briscoe Middle School since 1999 gave rise to requests for more J.A. volunteers for their Personal Economics Program.

While pursuing a career as a computer specialist and technology manager, Rein has been an active member of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) for nearly 25 years. Rein has frequently been an AAUW board member, serving as president of the Bloomsburg, Pa., branch from 1985 to 1987 (where she was honored with the 1987 Woman of the Year award) and preparing to do so as co-president-elect of the North Shore (Mass.) branch. For the past five years, she has been liaison to Girls Inc., a nonprofit organization inspiring girls to be responsible, confident adults. In this role, she has shared in the planning and implementation of an annual Girls Summit, a day of lively workshops that encourage girls to explore careers in math, science, and technology.

Her thesis, titled “Gratitude Is Not Always a Hallmark Event,” explored the way in which gratitude is affected by the relationship of a benefactor to a beneficiary and was directed by Philip Stone, professor of psychology. Rein holds a B.S. in physics from Bloomsburg State College, and an M.P.A. in hospital administration from Marywood College.

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, this prize is awarded to Extension School degree recipients who demonstrate “singular dedication to learning and the arts.”

The 2005 Crite Prize goes to Tabatha Claudia Flores A.L.B., cum laude. Flores is graduating near the top of the class with a 3.71 GPA. Flores, a 10-year veteran of the sales and marketing profession, decided to return to school to follow her intellectual passion: art history. In addition to completing nearly all the history of art and architecture courses offered through the Extension School, Flores was a special student through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) where she completed four art history courses, all with A grades. Her history of art and architecture field of study GPA is 3.78. Flores has been accepted to Sotheby’s in London master’s in art business program.

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 Harvard Extension Alumni Association and the first Extension representative to the Associated Harvard Alumni, for prizes to outstanding baccalaureate degree recipients in honor of a former director of the Extension School.

The first Phelps prize goes to Israel Meir A.L.B., cum laude. Meir, a natural science concentrator, is graduating at the top of his class with a 3.92 GPA. He began his undergraduate career as an electrical engineering student in Tel Aviv, and then film scoring student at Berklee College of Music. While he did not finish his music degree, Meir was an arranger, conductor, and musical director, and composed the music of the sci-fi move “Acropolix.” He has also founded and then sold his own software company and worked as a principal software developer at Polaroid’s prestigious imaging science research lab. He came to the Extension School in the fall of 1993 to finally finish his undergraduate degree and to fulfill a childhood dream of becoming a veterinarian. While at the Extension School he completed all the premedical courses with a 4.0 average and was a teaching fellow for CHEM 20 at the College, where he was nominated for the Joseph R. Levenson Teaching Prize. Meir, while still an animal lover, has decided to forego veterinarian school in order to bring his entrepreneurial, project management, and science expertise back to the world of business.

James K. Song Jr. A.L.B., cum laude, will receive the second Phelps Prize. Song is graduating with the second-highest GPA: 3.87. A successful businessman and professional hypnotist for 10 years, Song decided to return to school to study the theoretical side of trance phenomena and hypnosis through the lens of experimental psychology. He came to Harvard because he was particularly drawn to the work of Daniel Wegner, Harvard professor of psychology. Soon he was taking courses at the Extension School, while working in Wegner’s mental control lab, first as a volunteer, then developing, designing, and running his own research studies. Song has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship. He will use the funds to research the efficacy of hypnosis and meditation in AIDS patients in Uganda. His future plans also include applying for the Marshall Scholarship to attend the University of Oxford master’s program in experimental psychology.

The third-place Phelps prize goes to Matthew S. Reid A.L.B., cum laude, graduating with the third-highest GPA at 3.83. At age 17, he enlisted in the U.S. Army with a first posting as an intelligence analyst. While serving in the Army Reserves, Reid attended Norwich University as a B.A. candidate in military history and then Boston University (B.U.) as a Russian history major to prepare for a position as an intelligence officer. While he had to leave B.U. and the military in 2001 due to a health condition, he re-enlisted in 2002 and was honorably discharged this April after eight years of service. Reid completed a field of study in history at the Extension School with a 3.92 GPA. He also has founded the Massachusetts Ancient Roman Coin Association and worked as a remedial history teacher at Boston Latin, through the McCarthy Institute and Boston Partners in Education. He plans to pursue a career as a history teacher.

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. This prize, established by Small’s family and friends to honor his achievements, is awarded annually on the basis of “academic achievement and character” to outstanding A.L.M. degree recipients.

Benjamin H. (Ben) Leeming is a co-recipient of the Thomas Small Prize. A teacher of history, Leeming graduates with an A.L.M. degree in history and an overall grade point average of 3.97. He began taking courses at the Extension School in 1998 to deepen his knowledge of the material he teaches. His thesis, “Playing with Pictures: Hieroglyphic Catechisms and the Shaping of Native Mesoamerican Christianity in 16th century Mexico,” investigates how Testerian pictorial catechisms may have been created and used in transmitting Christian teaching and in the indigenizing of Christianity in early colonial Mexico. Through an in-depth analysis of one of these catechisms, Humboldt Fragment XVI, Leeming convincingly demonstrates, among other things, that “the artist employed an indigenous form of communication and … style … [while] borrowing heavily from a repertoire of preconquest iconographic elements.” His thesis director, David Carrasco, the Neil L. Rudenstine Professor of Latin America, called Leeming’s thesis “a roaring success,” “a very well-written, original piece of research and writing,” adding that “he could have a revision of his thesis published. … “

Christine Donata de Maupeou, concentrator in English and American literature and language, also graduates with a grade point average of 3.96, and shares the Thomas Small Prize this year. Born in Hartford, Conn., to European parents, she has lived and worked in France since 1989, first as a fashion model for couture houses such as Givenchy and Pierre Balmain, then as an actress, and subsequently, as a writer. Her B.A. degree in French is from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She has written two plays (“Tu N’as Qu’a” and “Porcelain White”), published two novels (“Primordial Soup” and “Five Poems for Elsa”), and won a French cinema award for her screenplay “Maux D’Amour.” Her A.L.M. thesis, directed by Lawrence Buell, Powell M. Cabot Professor of American Literature, is titled “Henry James and the French Aristocracy Under the Napoleonic Code: Madame de Vionnet and a Contextual Reading of ‘The Ambassadors.’”

The Phyllis Strimling Award

The Phyllis Strimling Award recognizes the character and achievement of a graduate of the certificate of special studies in administration and management program (CSS) who has used or is preparing to use the CSS experience for the advancement of women and society. The 2005 recipient of this award is Levani Lipton, executive director of The Ananda Foundation since 2001. Lipton has demonstrated a strong commitment to women’s empowerment issues. She notes among her recent activities the establishment of a computer diploma program for 75 Dalit (untouchable) women in India, the initiation of grants for 500 women and children living in poverty on three continents, and assisting two young girls from a nomadic tribe in Kenya gain admission to a private boarding school. She tries to live her life according to Gandhi’s words: “We must become the change we wish to see in the world.”

Judith Wood Memorial Prize

The Judith Wood Memorial Prize honors students who, while completing courses at the 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 prize honors those who travel a singularly difficult pathway in an academic setting.

This year’s recipient is John Crompton, a graduate of the White Mountain School in Littleton, N.H., in 1981, where he received the award for most improvement over four years. Crompton has taken courses in arts and Sciences at Oregon State University, and took art courses in South Africa where he lived until the state of emergency was declared in 1985. He has been taking courses at the Extension School since 1987. Despite his dyslexia and difficulties with writing, he flourished in his writing courses and attributes his success to his professors Heather Bryant Jordan and Jennifer Klein Morrison. Crompton currently works for Harvard in the museum services group and continues to work towards his bachelor of liberal arts in museum studies.

Katie Y.F. Yang Prize

Named for a 1990 graduate of the CSS 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 is Ryoko Fukumoto, a citizen of Japan, and a graduate of Tokyo University, where she majored in Japanese literature. Fukumoto has worked since 1997 in the purchasing department of Tokyo Gas Co., where she is responsible for selecting suppliers. One of her achievements was designing a successful e-catalogue purchasing system for office supplies.

Harold V. Langlois Outstanding Scholar Award

Presented for the first time in 2003, the Harold V. Langlois Outstanding Scholar Award recognizes a CSS graduate who has demonstrated exceptional academic accomplishment and promise as a manager. The 2005 recipient, David Fleming, received a B.A. in government from Cornell University and a J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law. After serving as partner in a number of New York City law firms, he joined Warren Resources Inc., a public company specializing in gas and oil exploration and drilling, as senior vice president and general counsel. Fleming took the CSS program to understand in more depth the business perspective of his firm’s clients and also to become a better manager.

The Carmen S. Bonanno Award

Established in 1990 by the family of Carmen S. Bonanno, who studied a foreign language in the Extension School many years ago, this award recognizes excellence in foreign language instruction. This year’s Bonanno Prize winner, Anthonio Di Sanzo, director of foreign languages in the town of Reading, has been teaching elementary Italian in the Extension School for 26 years. He is known for his energetic teaching style and his masterful understanding of the teaching process. “He is benissimo!,” in the words of one of his students this year. Di Sanzo holds two Harvard degrees, the M.A. and the Ph.D., both from the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures.

James E. Conway Excellence in Teaching Writing Award

John Lenger is the recipient of this year’s James E. Conway Award for Excellence in Teaching Writing. The editor in chief and assistant director of the Office of News and Public Affairs at Harvard, Lenger has been teaching journalism at the Harvard Extension School since 1997 and serves on the advisory board of the Extension’s new master’s degree program in journalism. In nominating him for the prize, students commented on his willingness to serve as teacher and mentor; several students remarked that his course had changed both their career plans and their lives. One student said: “I came out of the final class feeling quite encouraged and certain that I wanted to become a journalist. And I owe that to John. He gave me the confidence that I needed. …”

Joanne Fussa Distinguished Teaching Award

This year’s recipient of the JoAnne Fussa Distinguished Teaching Award, which recognizes exceptional teaching in the CSS program, is Paul Tumolo. Tumolo is principal of Edusult Performance Systems, a consulting firm that provides operations and service consulting and executive education services for leading high-technology companies. He has been an instructor in the CSS program since 1997, teaching operations management and co-teaching customer relationship management. Fussa’s student evaluation ratings have been consistently outstanding, placing him in the highest strata of Extension School instructors. He is known as an energetic lecturer who also possesses a strong commitment to individual student learning.

Petra T. Shattuck Excellence in Teaching Award

Established by the 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 Paul G. Bamberg, Eric Connally, and Helmut Koester.

Paul G. Bamberg, senior lecturer in mathematics at Harvard University, received the Extension School’s Dean’s Distinguished Service Award in 1995 and was honored for 25 years of teaching in 1994. In courses as diverse as “Calculating Pi,” “Developing Windows Applications Using Visual C++,” and “Principles of Physics,” he has earned consistently high ratings on evaluations (4.9 and 5 on a 5-point scale with 100 percent of his students completing evaluations). His enthusiasm for teaching prompted one student to write: “I think he would teach for free.”

“I do not like math and have avoided it all my life,” wrote one student before naming Eric Connally, analyst at Elytics Inc., “the best instructor I’ve ever had.” Eric has changed many students’ attitudes toward math since he started teaching college algebra, precalculus, and “Introduction to the Calculus A” in 1991.

One student describes discussions with Helmut Koester, John H. Morison Research Professor of Divinity and Winn Research Professor of Ecclesiastical History, Harvard Divinity School, as “intellectual feasts.” Koester began his Extension School teaching in 1977 and was a 25-year honorand in 2004. His fall 2004 course, “The Apostle Paul: His Theology, World, and Legacy,” inspired one student to commit to becoming an ordained minister and to pursue a doctoral degree.