By Elijah McGuire-Berk
Elm Staff Writer
Washington College’s Convocation is an event always filled with prestigious awards and honored guests, and spring Convocation last Friday, Feb. 19 was no exception.
WC President Shelia Bair led the ceremony. She began by announcing that the seven finalists for the annual George Washington Book Prize had been chosen. This $50,000 prize is awarded to the best book about the United States’ founding era. Their books are on display in the Miller Library.
Many of the faculty and staff of the college received years of service recognition for working at the college in incriments of five years. Dr. Richard L. Gillin, professor of English literature and director of the Humanities Program, was recognized as the faculty member currently with the most years of service at 42 years.
High achieving students were honored with an induction into America’s oldest academic honor society, the Phi Beta Kappa Society. A total of 29 students were welcomed.
Other awards given out during convocation included The President’s Distinguished Service Award, The Alumni Service Award, The President’s Medal, and The Honorary Law Degree.
The President’s Distinguished Service Award is given to an employee of the college. The recipient has a record of, “exemplary performance and distinctive contributions to the operation of an administrative, academic research, or service unit on campus.” This year, there were two winners. Associate Professor Lauren M. Littlefield, Class of 1991, was the first winner. She recieved the award for her student mentorship and her multiple scholarly publications that focus on cognition and how children learn to read or speak a second language.
The other winner was Phillip D. Ticknor, assistant to the athletic director for communications and academic support who recieved the award for his dedication to communications and its positive impact on the College. “Because of his work, WC was the first institution in the Centennial Conference to have live internet statistics and play-by-play text for any sport,” said Bair. The President’s Medal is an award given to “an individual or organization with an exemplary record of sustained and acknowledged contribution to the quality of life in Chestertown, Kent County, or WC.” This year, it was awarded to Patricia K. McGee, Class of 1981 and Joseph P. Baker.
Baker’s organization, the Kent County Backpack Program, works to give free meals to impoverished school students in Kent County during the weekend, when school breakfasts and lunches are not avaliable.
McGee’s journalism work has recieved recognition, specifically her piece titled, “Best in Show,” honoring Baseball Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson, a retired Oriels player. It was published in 2012. Her community involvement is wide-spread as she works as an associate editor for the Kent County News, serves on the Kent County Board of Eduction, and coaches field hockey for Kent County High School.
The Alumni Service Award is “given to an alumnus who has given outstanding and continued support to the college.” This year, the award was given to Richard L. Creighton, Class of 1973. Since 2009, he has been on the College’s Board of Visitors and Governors. In 1981, he and his wife launched The Magazine Group, (TMG) a multimedia marketing company. In 2013, it merged with a communications agency called McMurry and now McMurry/TMG is the largest independent content marketing company in the nation. His work as a supporter of the Washington Fund and the Vincent Hynson ’87 scolarship as well as being co-vice chair of the WC board was recognized.
Each year, the College awards an honorary doctorate to a deserving individual whose life accomplishments have made them an expert in their field. Some may recall seeing the tiles in front of William Smith Hall that label locations where the college bestowed these degrees to former Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and George H.W. Bush
This year and honorary Doctorate of Law was awarded to John A. Moag Jr, Class of 1977. He accepted the degree in good humor. “For a lot of people this is a cold day in hell,” he said in a jokingly about the academic accolade. In the late 90s, his negotiations to build a stadium for the Baltimore Ravens earned him statewide recognition. He served on the College’s Board of Visitors and Governors from 1989-2008 and was a top donor in the project to have the Johnson Fitness Center renovated. Currently, he’s the CEO of Moag & Company, an investment-banking firm for sports and sports related industries. He entertained the convocation audience with stories of his undergraduate debaucheries in the ‘70s and advised students to put down their cell phones and talk to each other face-to-face. Though he already has a law degree from the University of Baltimore, his dedication to WC as well as the state of Maryland has earned him another.