Campus & Community

Extension School recognizes its students, faculty for their outstanding work throughout the year

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Santo J. Aurelio Prize

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

The Dean’s Prize for Outstanding A.L.M. Thesis, awarded in each discipline, recognizes work that embodies the highest level of scholarship.

The Dean’s Prize for Outstanding A.L.M. Thesis in Behavioral Science is awarded to Kristina L. Skrine, for her thesis, titled “Attention and Concept Formation in Socially Impaired Children.” A psychology concentrator, Skrine studied the neuropsychological profiles of children with features of Asperger’s disorder and borderline personality disorder, along with an emotionally volatile group with symptoms of each disorder that did not clearly meet criteria for either one. Experts in the field have proposed a new category, multiple complex developmental disorder, to diagnose these challenging and disruptive children who shift in and out of inpatient mental health units, residential treatment, and outpatient care. Skrine’s thesis further validates the distinctiveness of this group based on their unique performance on tests of information processing. Thesis director Eugene D’Angelo, assistant professor of psychology in the department of psychiatry and chief of the division of psychology at Children’s Hospital Boston, wrote, “Ms. Skrine has completed a high-quality thesis that makes an important contribution to the literature in developmental psychopathology. … I felt as though she operated more at the level of a doctoral candidate than someone who was completing requirements for a master’s degree.”

The Dean’s Prize for Outstanding A.L.M. Thesis in the Biological Sciences is shared by Robert Lennie and Luke McKneally. Lennie’s thesis, titled “Recent Positive Selection in Human-Chimpanzee Orthologs and the Density of Recombination Hot Spots,” was directed by Marco Ramoni, assistant professor of pediatrics, Children’s Hospital Boston. Lennie’s thesis uses bioinformatics to show that genes that have undergone recent evolutionary change have a high density of recombination hot spots around them, suggesting that where recombination occurs is itself subject to natural selection. Ramoni describes the work as “outstanding” and focusing “on a very interesting problem at the forefront of contemporary genetics.” Lennie is a 1994 graduate of the University of Illinois with a bachelor of science in biology.

McKneally’s thesis, titled “North American Malacasoma (Lepidoptera: Lasiocampidae): A Molecular Phylogeny of the Genus Inferred from Seven Gene Regions,” was directed by Naomi Pierce, Sidney A. and John H. Hessel Professor of Biology in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard, and James Costa, H.F. and Katherine P. Robinson Professor of Biology at Western Carolina University. McKneally’s thesis investigates evolutionary relationships of North American tent caterpillars, a group that shows social behaviors that are among the most complex of the butterflies and moths. Pierce describes the thesis as “superb,” representing “the most comprehensive hypothesis to date for the evolution of North American species of Malacosoma.” McKneally came to the A.L.M. program with a bachelor of architecture degree granted in 1994 from Syracuse University.

The Dean’s Prize for Outstanding A.L.M. Thesis in Environmental Management goes to Tracy Stamos. Stamos’ thesis, titled “Decades of Exposure to Jet Propulsion -4: A Critical Examination of the Fuel Spill -12 Groundwater Plume Using a Risk Assessment Model,” investigates the continuing water pollution and potential health effects of a decades-old military fuel spill of highly toxic and poorly contained jet fuel that has resulted in high levels of benzene and ethyleme dibromide in the Cape Cod groundwater aquifer. Thesis director A. Wallace Hayes, visiting scientist in environmental health at the Harvard School of Public Health, and John Spengler, director of the A.L.M. in Environmental Management program and professor of environmental health and habitation at the Harvard School of Public Health, commended the thesis as an exemplary project utilizing quantitative risk assessment methodologies on an important and timely topic while making optimum use of both current literature and government documents. Of particular note and importance to the thesis was the extensive fieldwork and related analysis that contributed to its excellence.

The Dean’s Prize for Outstanding A.L.M. Thesis in the Humanities is awarded to Kathleen M. Pike, concentrator in history of art and architecture. Pike’s thesis, titled “The Birth Horoscope of Iskandar Sultan: Astrology in the Service of Kingship,” is an investigation of the ambitious illustrations in the “Kitab-i-vilada,” the nativity book, or birth horoscope, of Iskandar Sultan, a 15th century Timurid Prince. The thesis director, David J. Roxburgh, professor of history of art and architecture, stated: “Working with existing scholarship on Iskandar Sultan’s patronage, Kathy has shown how the horoscope functions inside a broader program of manuscript commissions, which were intended to shape an image of the prince and to advance his political claims. She has also shown how it operates specifically as a uniquely powerful visual expression. This last aspect forms the core of her thesis and represents its most original scholarly contribution. Through her visual analysis of the painted double-page horoscope, Kathy has moved well beyond the contributions made by [previous scholars]. She has expanded their analysis of the science of astronomy and astrology by incorporating more recent publications on those branches of science and their practice at the Timurid courts …, and she is the first person to engage the visual composition of the horoscope.” Pike holds a B.A. degree in English literature from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and is a mutual fund systems consultant at Boston Financial Data Services. She graduates with a grade point average of 3.76.

The Dean’s Prize for Outstanding A.L.M. Thesis in Information Technology is shared by Chi Yung Yuen and Cliff Lyon. Yuen’s thesis project, “A Card Game: AI Programming Using Java,” was supervised by Paul Bamberg, senior lecturer in mathematics, Harvard University. The project yielded an impressive game player that could perform better than human players at a Chinese card game called “Fight the Landlord.” Yuen not only developed an impressive artificial intelligence (AI) component but also gave serious attention to running a large number of tests to examine the effectiveness of several different strategies. Yuen has a bachelor of science in psychology and a master of science in statistics, both from McGill University.

Lyon’s thesis, “CADET: An Interactive Java Application for Cluster Analysis and Data Exploration,” was supervised by Bhiksha Raj, research scientist, Mitsubishi Electric Research Lab, and Sergei Makar-Limanov, principal engineer, CNET. CADET is an interactive application supporting data clustering and data visualization. It provides a very general, extensible solution to allow users to analyze a variety of large data sets; for instance, to discover patterns in the behavior of users visiting a large commercial Web site. According to Raj, “The work is definitely of commercial grade. There are no comparable applications with the level of scalability and extensibility that this application has.” Lyon received his bachelor of arts in music from Wesleyan University in Connecticut and has completed his A.L.M. in information technology with a perfect 4.0 GPA.

Daniel Elias is the recipient of the Dean’s Prize for Outstanding A.L.M. Thesis in Museum Studies for his work, “Vastly More Than Art & Money: A Strategic Analysis of the Harvard University Art Museums.” The thesis director, Arnold M. Howitt, executive director of the Taubman Center for State and Local Government at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, praised the work, stating that it “demonstrates a substantial body of original research, primarily interviews with museum staff and other stakeholders, as well as significant consultation of works on general organizational and management theory and specific analyses of museum history, policies, and management. These sources have been thoughtfully used and blended in service of Dan’s own probing analysis. … Conclusions are sharply drawn, appropriately so in light of the evidence presented. His analysis is very sophisticated by comparison with the typical master’s thesis … or, for that matter, among the thesis-equivalents I see at the Kennedy School.” Elias received his bachelor of arts degree from Tufts University and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in 1984. He graduates with a 3.79 GPA.

The Dean’s Prize for Outstanding A.L.M. Thesis in the Social Sciences went to Jonathan Salz, graduate in history, whose thesis, titled “Strategizing a Dream for the Twenty-First-Century Creative Moral Voice: Reaffirming and Reconstructing the Folk Music of Protest Forms,” investigates the history of folk renaissance and folk revival music and challenges the conventional scholarly wisdom that the “folk music of protest” form is dead. Salz undertook a thesis that is original in conception, research, and analysis. According to the thesis director, Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures Alice Jardine, Salz’s thesis “demonstrates a combination of historical and aesthetic seriousness [that is] rare.” Jardine adds that she was impressed by Salz’s ability “to synthesize vast amounts of archival research, theoretical exploration, and almost a cultural anthropologist’s sensitivity to oral history.” Jardine commends Salz “for his original work and insightful writing.” Salz received his B.A. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in history and currently works as a production associate for the Memorial Hall/Lowell Hall complex at Harvard.

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, Elizabeth Veronica McNeil, is 82 years young and fulfilling her lifelong dream of earning her undergraduate degree. A native of Massachusetts, she began her undergraduate career at Bunker Hill Community College 32 years ago. McNeil worked at Harvard University’s Health Services as a staff assistant for more than 25 years. She took her first course, “History of Boston,” at the Extension School in the fall of 1999 and has been working steadily on her degree ever since. McNeil was a social science concentrator who studied history, psychology, and government. Now retired from Harvard, she is considering further education or perhaps a career in acting. This summer she will be studying drama at the American Repertory Theatre (A.R.T.).

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.

The first Derek Bok Public Service Prize recipient this year is Betty King Cuyugan. King Cuyugan moved to Cambridge from Lenoir, N.C., “to stoke the furnace,” as she says. An animal rights activist in North Carolina, she has pioneered efforts in animal protection and animal therapy in her state. She is the author of a memoir, “Dog on a Leash: The Healing Power of Dogs.” While a candidate in the Certificate in Management program this year, she set the groundwork for two civic initiatives: the erection of an Asian Holocaust Memorial in Boston, and an international conference on pluralizing Chinese institutions through philanthropy.

The second place Derek Bok Public Service Prize is a tie between Siza Mtimbiri, A.L.B., and Oliver Orion Wilder-Smith, A.A.

A teacher from Zimbabwe, Mtimbiri has been involved in local and international community service for a continuous 10-year period. In Africa, he volunteered with the Andrew Murray Center to improve the lives of squatter-camp residents in Cape Town, South Africa. As a youth minister for Youth Valley for Christ in Chicago, he brought a team of students to Haiti to work on a variety of community service projects. Here in Boston, Mtimbiri volunteers at the Walker Center teaching youth groups race education, conflict resolution, and community service. He also works at the Horizons Initiative, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of homeless children and their families as well as the Woburn nonprofit PEER Servants, where he works in support of Invest-Credit, a Moldovan partner making small amounts of credit and basic business training available to the materially poor of that country. Mtimibiri plans to pursue the master of liberal arts in educational technologies program at the Extension School and then return to Zimbabwe to open The Hope Academy and Medical Center, a school and medical facility for orphaned children whose parents died of AIDS.

Despite being only 17, Wilder-Smith has already offered years of service to his community. Since the age of 10, he has volunteered at many museums and conservation organizations, including the National Parks Service, The Trustees of Reservations, and Old Sturbridge Village. He has worked as a costumed interpreter, educating patrons about tin and blacksmithing, farming, and pottery. He has conducted primary research on 19th century professions that was developed into a middle and high school curriculum for students to read about and role-play 19th century community life. He also writes for a quarterly historical newsletter with proceeds to benefit the Orchard House. A true history buff, Wilder-Smith has inspired countless children to become interested in America’s political, social, and literary history.

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, who earned an A.B. in Extension Studies in 1968 and 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 recipient of the first Crite Prize is Catherine Amelia Kreider, concentrator in fine arts, who graduates with a grade point average of 3.92. A 1993 graduate of Colgate University, with a concentration in history of art, Kreider lives and works in Philadelphia where she is a relationship assistant with an investment management firm. Her thesis, titled “Myth and Morality: The Sculpted Façade of the First Bank of the United States, 1795-1797,” explores the complex sculptural iconography that was designed to communicate the Philadelphia bank’s political, economic, and moral fitness at a time when the nation’s finances were tenuous and the stability of its government uncertain. Her thesis director, Jennifer L. Roberts, assistant professor of history of art and architecture, praised the study as a “splendid work of scholarship, by far the most substantial and sophisticated analysis yet produced of the sculptural program of the First Bank of the United States. … Kreider has skillfully synthesized two fields of study that rarely intersect: art history and financial history. She has meticulously gathered information from a wide range of sources … and has woven from these various evidentiary strands an elegant case study of early American art and politics.”

The second Crite Prize is awarded to George W. Frode, concentrator in classical civilizations. Frode received a B.A. degree in English from Indiana University in 1974 and the C.S.S. from Harvard Extension School in 1990. Titled “The Greek Alexander Romance: The Beginning of a Legend,” his thesis examines a text believed to be composed of historical accounts, wonder tales and other fantasies, and forged and possibly authentic letters circulating shortly after the death of Alexander the Great and asks what this hybrid of fiction and nonfiction contributes to the modern understanding of Alexander’s legend. The study also explores the ways in which this account reflects the cultural and literary preoccupations of the Hellenistic Age. David Gordon Mitten, James Loeb Professor of Classical Art and Archaeology, directed the thesis and praised it for its “exhaustive research into the voluminous scholarly literature on the ‘Alexander Romance,’ its development and its reception within the Greek world and in the Western tradition. What has resulted is a valuable work of synthesis that makes an original contribution to our understanding of the ‘Romance’ as perhaps the most widely diffused and long-lastingly popular ancient novel. I shall urge Mr. Frode to consider turning his thesis into a published monograph [for it tells us much about] how Alexander’s life and career [were] regarded throughout antiquity and well beyond it.” Frode completes the A.L.M. with a grade point average of 3.88. He is an independent sales representative in the publishing industry for manufacturing services, both in the United States and China.

Harold V. Langlois Outstanding Scholar Award

Presented for the first time in 2003, the Harold V. Langlois Outstanding Scholar Award recognizes a C.M. graduate who has demonstrated exceptional academic accomplishment and promise as a manager. The 2006 recipient, Tamara Vargas-Ortiz, holds a bachelor’s degree in public communication, magna cum laude, and the J.D., cum laude, both from the University of Puerto Rico. Most recently, she has worked in the highest position a recent law school graduate can aspire to: law clerk for an associate justice of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico. Her goal upon completion of the certificate in management is to return to Puerto Rico and seek an executive position within the legal department of a governmental agency and, eventually, open her own law firm.

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 Chester James Phillips III, A.L.B., cum laude. Phillips, a religion concentrator, is graduating at the top of his class with a 3.84 GPA. He began his undergraduate career at Jefferson Community College in Kentucky, and then Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia. Throughout his early undergraduate career, Phillips held a diverse array of jobs and volunteer positions, including farmer, cab driver, welder, machine operator, hospice worker, grassroots organizer, and independent media writer. A devotee of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, Phillips studied Eastern and comparative religion at Harvard Extension as well as Sanskrit, Hindi, and German. In spring 2005, he completed a reading and research project with Professor Anne Monius on “Chaitanya Caritamrta and the Bhakti Traditions of Eastern India.” Phillips has been accepted to the Harvard Divinity School.

Gary Todd Higginson, A.L.B., cum laude, the second-place Phelps recipient, is graduating with a GPA of 3.80. Higginson began his undergraduate career at the University of Washington in fall 1987. Soon he replaced full-time school with full-time work as a software engineer at Microsoft, and as a drummer for a number of local bands. Higginson, now a successful businessman who owns his own company, came to Harvard Extension in 1998 to finish his undergraduate degree. A humanities concentrator who commuted from Connecticut to Cambridge each week, Higginson studied philosophy, religion, and creative writing as well as German and computer science. He plans to apply to a graduate business program.

The third-place Phelps Prize goes to Melissa Leach Dowd, A.L.B., cum laude. Dowd is graduating with the third highest GPA: 3.78. Dowd began her undergraduate career at Boston University in 1968. Now, 38 years later, she is finally earning her undergraduate degree with honors and at the top of the class. Dowd, an environmental management concentrator, complemented her Harvard Extension School program with courses in history, biology, and astronomy. A wife and mother of two children, Dowd plans to continue her career as a museum educator and program developer.

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 master’s of liberal arts recipients.

Three graduates share the Thomas Small Prize this year, all with a perfect grade point average of 4.0: Timothy DiLeo Browne, Kristina L. Skrine, and Janiffer Whang Wyglendowski.

Browne graduated from the University of Toronto in 1983 with a degree in music. He is an assistant in the French-Italian division of Widener Library’s Technical Services Department at Harvard. A concentrator in linguistics, his thesis is titled “Michif: A Study in Language Contact and Relexification.” Jay Jasanoff, Diebold Professor of Indo-European Linguistics and Philology and chair of the Department of Linguistics, directed the thesis and described it as “a fine piece of work,” noting that “Tim did original fieldwork in Manitoba to form a nuanced picture of the Michif language and its speakers. His presentation of Michif as a relexified form of Cree is surely correct. As he describes it, Michif lies somewhat toward the Cree side of a continuum between the other Métis languages – Métis French and French-influenced Cree. With the experience he has gained from this project, Tim is now in an excellent position to make himself a real authority on ‘Métis linguistics.’” Browne has been accepted into the Ph.D. program at Carleton University in Ottawa.

Skrine, a psychology concentrator whose thesis is described elsewhere in this article is the co-recipient of the Thomas Small Prize. She was graduated cum laude from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, La., with a bachelor of science in computing science in 1981. Before coming to the A.L.M. program, she also took courses at the University of Houston and Northeastern University. While working toward her A.L.M. degree, Skrine has been employed at IBM as a senior software quality engineer, where her younger colleagues often turn to her for mentoring support and professional guidance because of her combination of wisdom, common sense, and experience. Skrine will be applying to doctoral programs in clinical psychology next year.

Wyglendowski, a concentrator in English and American literature and language, holds a bachelor of arts degree in music from Princeton University and a master of arts degree in music theory from Yale University. She currently lives in New York City where she is a consultant for, a multimedia physician training and employment company. Her thesis, titled “‘Credences of Summer’ and ‘The Auroras of Autumn’: The Fluent Mundo of Wallace Stevens,” explores the figures of summer and autumn in two of Stevens’ poems, specifically their dual roles as manifestations of unmediated reality and as imaginative constructs, the irony of which suggests that our fictions cannot be differentiated from our reality. Her thesis director, Peter Sacks, John P. Marquand Professor of English, called the study an “excellent work on the aesthetic and philosophical features” of Stevens’ poems and praised its “practical insight into the evolution of the poet’s engagement with questions of reality, temporality, the limits of the imagination, art itself, and its capacity for existential and epistemological apprehension. Well researched and written, this is a work of intelligence, humanity, and elegance, and the fruit of long and serious thought.”

Katie Y.F. Yang Prize

Named for a 1990 graduate of the Certificate of Special Studies in Administration and Management program, the Katie Y.F. Yang prize is awarded annually to the international graduate of the Certificate in Management program with the most outstanding academic record. This year’s recipient, Diana Huidobro, a citizen of Chile, concentrated in finance and control. She is a 2002 graduate of Pontifica Universidad Católica de Chile, where she received a bachelor’s degree in industrial and environmental engineering, and acquired an interest in finance. Her professional experience has been focused in the financial area, most recently as the head of a commercial unit for, a company dealing with financial applications for risk management. One of her immediate goals is to develop a new financial product for the global market.

The Carmen S. Bonanno Award for Excellence in the Teaching of a Foreign Language

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, Louise Marie Wills, is grants, technology, and alumni relations coordinator at Harvard’s Phillips Brooks House Association. She has been a respected member of the Extension School’s French faculty since 1996. Most recently she has been the instructor of FREN E-1x “Reading for Information” and FREN E-1y “Reading and Translation.” The student who nominated her for the award called her “an inspiration who makes impossible things seem possible.” Wills holds a Ph.D. in romance languages and literatures, Harvard University.

James E. Conway Excellence in Teaching Writing Award

Thomas A. Underwood is the recipient of this year’s James E. Conway Award for Excellence in Teaching Writing. A preceptor in the Expository Writing Program at Harvard College, Underwood has been teaching EXPO E-25, “Academic Writing and Critical Reading,” at Harvard Extension for five years. His students consistently praise him for his dedication and energy, for going “above and beyond” his obligations as an instructor. In course evaluations they describe being transformed as thinkers and writers by Underwood’s writing class. One student commented: “He has changed my entire concept of academic writing. He has completely changed my writing style, and I have understood and enjoyed every minute of it… . Anyone who is lucky enough to be enrolled in his class will leave a changed person.”

JoAnne Fussa Distinguished Teaching Award

This year’s recipient of the JoAnne Fussa Distinguished Teaching Award, which recognizes exceptional teaching in the Certificate in Management program, is Linda DeLauri. DeLauri, most recently director of the office of sponsored projects in the Harvard Graduate School of Education (1996-2006), has been the instructor of COMM E-130 “Grant Proposal Writing” since 2004. She holds a master of education degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a bachelor of arts degree in Anthropology, with distinction, from the University of Colorado. Her student evaluations, which stress her rigor, thoroughness, enthusiasm, humor, and organizational skills, have been among the highest in the Certificate in Management program.

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 School program. This year, the three recipients are Andrew Engleward, Sue Lonoff, and Anne Monius.

Andrew Engelward, preceptor, Mathematics for Teaching Program, Harvard University, began teaching in the Extension School in the fall of 1999. Middle and high school teachers who have taken his “Math for Teaching Geometry” and “Math for Teaching Number Theory” courses are inspired by his enthusiasm and energy. “This was a fantastic way for me to start taking classes again,” wrote one student. “I would take any class he teaches in the future.”

“A wonderful course with the perfect teacher,” wrote one student about Sue Lonoff’s “Cross-Cultural Studies in the Novel.” Lonoff, senior associate at the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, Harvard University, has been a student favorite since she started in the fall of 1983.

“Comparative Religious Ethics,” was a popular course when Anne Monius, professor of South Asian religions, Harvard Divinity School, started offering it in the fall of 2003, but its enrollments took off when she offered it as a distance education course in the fall of 2004 and fall 2005. A student noted, “Anne has an obvious enthusiasm and a huge well of knowledge about the material which comes across in her organized and entertaining lectures.”