Each spring, Kenyon celebrates the extraordinary contributions and accomplishments of its students, faculty and alumni through its Honors Day ceremony, held this year on Tuesday, April 9. In addition to prizes recognizing academic, artistic, athletic and community achievement, the College awards honorary doctorates to distinguished alumni and other members of the Kenyon community.
This year’s event included the inaugural Leopoldo López Student Award, presented to a student who has shown a commitment to free and fair democracy echoing that of the award’s namesake, prominent Venezuelan opposition leader and political prisoner Leopoldo López ’93 H’07. The $1,000 award was presented to Schuyler Stupica ’19, an international studies major from Sylvania, Ohio, who was praised for her outstanding scholarship and her engagement with issues regarding democracy; in addition to volunteering for Ken Harbaugh’s fall 2018 campaign for Congress, Stupica was one of just 24 students from 17 countries selected to attend the 2018 New York Times Athens Democracy Forum.
“Schuyler exemplifies what it means to be a civically engaged citizen. She is an especially fitting recipient for the inaugural Leopoldo López Student Award,” said Professor of Political Science David Rowe, director of the Center for the Study of American Democracy (CSAD), which facilitated the award.
Other new awards this year included the Natalia Olshanskaya Award in Russian, given to Grace Harris ’20 and named in honor of a beloved late member of the modern languages and literatures faculty; and the Muriel B. Kahrl Prize in American Women’s Culture, which honors the memory of one of the first women to teach at Kenyon. Winners of the Kahrl award were India Kotis ’20 and Grace Annabelle Halpern ’21.
The Anderson Cup, which honors the student determined by the faculty and student body to have “done the most for the College during the current academic year,” was awarded to Ghada Bakbouk ’19. A math major, Bakbouk has helped translate a medieval mathematics book from Arabic to English, served as a tutor and apprentice teacher, worked as a senior fellow in the Office of Admissions and successfully advocated for the availability of halal meats at Peirce Dining Hall and accommodations for students and guests who are fasting.
This year’s recipients of the Trustee Teaching Excellence Award, which recognize a junior and senior faculty member for “exemplary teaching informed by creative scholarship,” were Austin Porter, assistant professor of art history and American studies, and Professor of Mathematics Bob Milnikel.
Porter joined the Kenyon community in 2013 and earned his tenure-track appointment in 2016. Porter’s classes explore American art, politics and culture, and his primary research interests include American art and visual culture during the 1930s and 1940s and the international art scene in the postwar period. He earned his bachelor of fine arts from Kansas State University, his master’s degree from the University of Kansas and his doctorate from Boston University.
Milnikel joined Kenyon’s faculty in 2002. His research focuses on the mathematical analysis of logic as used in computer science, and his teaching bridges math and computer science to include algebra and calculus courses as well as logic and introductory programming. Milnikel earned his bachelor’s degree from Carleton College and his master’s and doctoral degrees from Cornell University. He also is an active member of Kenyon’s musical community, performing with multiple ensembles and presenting a special recital every Leap Day.
The Honors Day celebration also included presentation of honorary doctorates for three members of the Kenyon community: Richard J. Brean ’70, Portia Wade Morgan and Dartesia A. Pitts ’00.
Brean, who was awarded an honorary doctorate of laws, recently retired as general counsel for the United Steelworkers, a general trade union with more than a million members. A history major at Kenyon, Brean earned a master’s degree from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and a law degree from Harvard. He received the Alumni Council’s Anne J. Robinson Award for regional association presidents in 2010 and its Distinguished Service Award in 2015.
Morgan was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters. As a social sciences teacher at Cleveland’s John F. Kennedy High School, Morgan helped pioneer the Kenyon Academic Partnership with Professor of American Studies Peter Rutkoff and Professor Emeritus of History Will Scott. She worked for a quarter-century as co-director of the Summer Program of the Kenyon Academic Partnership (now known as Camp 4), and her efforts have had a direct impact on Kenyon’s growth in the diversity of its student body. Morgan earned a bachelor’s degree from Kentucky State University and a master’s from the University of Louisville.
Pitts, who was awarded an honorary doctorate of laws, is the recently appointed general counsel to Juliana Stratton, lieutenant governor of Illinois. Previously an attorney with the Cook County Board of Review, she is the immediate past president of the Cook County Bar Association, the nation’s oldest association of African American lawyers and judges. Pitts majored in history at Kenyon and earned her law degree from Northern Illinois University.
See the complete list of awards from Honors Day.