The University of Mary Washington presented its top honors during commencement ceremonies Friday and Saturday.

For the first time in UMW’s history, four graduates received the Colgate W. Darden Jr. Award, presented to the student with the highest grade-point average (GPA) in the four-year undergraduate program. The Darden award recipients are Sophia Josephine Lamp, Emily Lynn MacIndoe, Hollis E. Pultz and Lauren Marie Van Nostrand.

In announcing the recipients, Provost Nina Mikhalevsky noted that they all finished with a perfect 4.0 GPA. They are graduating summa cum laude, the highest academic distinction, and have been inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious academic honor society. “As a group, they took 145 different courses in 33 different subject disciplines and completed seven separate individual study projects, a distinctive mark of achievement given our emphasis on encouraging undergraduate research,” Mikhalevsky said.

Leslie Martin, associate professor of sociology, received the Grellet C. Simpson Award, the institution’s most prestigious annual award for excellence in undergraduate teaching. The recipient is routinely a senior member of the faculty.

Elizabeth Johnson-Young, assistant professor of communication, received the UMW Alumni Association Outstanding Young Faculty Member Award, presented annually to an exceptional member of the faculty who has served the institution for at least two years but no more than five years.

Jeremy Larochelle, associate professor of Spanish, received the Mary W. Pinschmidt Award. The winner is selected by the graduating class as the faculty member “they will most likely remember as the one who had the greatest impact on their lives.”

Woody Richardson, professor in the College of Business, was recognized with the Graduate Faculty Award. The honor showcases an exceptional full-time faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in graduate teaching and professional leadership in a graduate program. The person selected must have served in a full-time position at the university for at least two years.

Colgate W. Darden Jr. Award

Sophia Josephine Lamp is a psychology major who also completed the honors program and is graduating with university honors. She is described as a quiet leader who doesn’t need to be the center of attention but who always “steps up,” according to Mikhalevsky. “Her independent study faculty mentor said that 100% of the project design and research was her work, and they are writing the results for submission to a professional journal.” Lamp has been accepted to a quantitative psychology Ph.D. program at Arizona State University. “This is especially noteworthy because such programs usually do not admit students right out of undergraduate school,” said Mikhalevsky.

Emily Lynn MacIndoe is a double major in mathematics and physics who earned departmental honors in mathematics. Described as a quiet, serious, highly focused student, Mikhalevsky said, one of her teachers remarked that she only lost one point on all the work she completed in his course – out of 500 possible points. MacIndoe also completed the honors program and is graduating with university honors. After graduation, she’ll be continuing her work at the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), Dahlgren Division, which she started in her freshman year through the NSWC paid internship “pathway” program.

Hollis E. Pultz is a double major in computer science and mathematics. One of his advisors praised him for being highly inquisitive and able to grasp a wide range of subjects, from applied classes to abstract mathematics, according to Mikhalevsky, who noted that another advisor said that he was “one of her most favorite students ever. She thought he scored 100% on practically every test he took in her classes.” After graduation, Pultz also will work at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division.

Lauren Marie Van Nostrand is an accounting major who is praised for her willingness to ask questions when she doesn’t understand something or when she just wants to learn more, said Mikhalevsky. Van Nostrand’s professors describe her as quiet, hard-working, focused and highly capable. “Her advisor said he couldn’t think of a single superlative that wouldn't apply to her.” She also completed the honors program and is graduating with university honors. This fall, she will pursue a master’s degree in accounting at the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce.

Grellet C. Simpson Award

Associate Professor Leslie Martin holds multiple positions at UMW, where she has been a member of the faculty since 2007. Besides teaching such courses as urban sociology, race relations, and welfare and poverty, Martin chairs the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, and, last fall, she took on the position of director for the university’s Center for Community Engagement.

Martin, whose research focuses on homelessness, has a long history of activism around public health and social equality issues as well as a compelling record of community-based study. She has served on the Fredericksburg Continuum of Care, a regional coalition of homeless service organizations, and is on the George Washington Regional Commission’s Affordable Housing Task Force. Mikhalevsky praised Martin’s efforts in extending the classroom – “in breaking down barriers between UMW and our surrounding communities so that UMW is fully engaged with our regional partners.”

Students described Martin as spunky, demanding, committed and inspiring, according to Mikhalevsky. Students say they not only learn the course material but are challenged to determine what is truly important to them, what matters and why—to find their own purpose. One student commented: “She is the most passionate professor I have ever had, and it is contagious.”

Martin received a Ph.D. in sociology from Emory University, an M.A. in urban studies from Temple University and a B.A. in history from The College of William and Mary. She has received several faculty grants and published several articles about homelessness in academic journals. Martin also has served as a housing counselor for a fair housing organization and for an AIDS service organization and consulted on housing issues with city leadership in Boise, Idaho.

Outstanding Young Faculty Member Award

Assistant Professor Elizabeth Johnson-Young has taught at UMW since 2015, but she’s made a difference from the start, according to Mikhalevsky. She’s taught six different courses, including public speaking, communication, public relations and quantitative research communication methods. Johnson-Young has more than 10 peer-reviewed conference presentations and publications in her field and numerous service accomplishments. “Her CV reads like that of a person who’s been a faculty member much longer,” said Mikhalevsky.

Students characterize Johnson-Young as a devoted mentor who works hard to make difficult theories understandable. She energizes her classes and embraces a classroom culture where everyone has a voice, said Mikhalevsky, who noted that students raved about the impact she had on them. “Whether it was staying after class to help one student who was struggling with challenging material, or demonstrating by example how to balance family and career, or bringing treats to the last day of class, [she] presented herself to students as an outstanding example of what a dedicated, student-focused and fully engaged faculty member can and should be.”

Johnson-Young received a bachelor’s degree in media studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, an M.A. in communication from Virginia Tech and a Ph.D. in communication, rhetoric and digital media from North Carolina State University (NCSU). Before coming to UMW, she was a teaching research assistant at NCSU, an adjunct instructor at Guilford Technical Community College and a teaching assistant at Virginia Tech.

Mary W. Pinschmidt Award

Associate Professor of Spanish Jeremy Larochelle has clearly made an impact on students, according to Class of 2019 Vice President Nancy Pham, who presented the Pinschmidt award. She quoted one student who wrote, “he is someone who is in higher education for all of the right reasons. He dedicates all of his time and efforts to helping students succeed, both inside and outside the classroom. He is described by many students on campus as a friend and a mentor.”

Larochelle has been supportive not only to his students academically, but he also helps those that aren’t in his class, said Pham. One undergraduate, who met Larochelle on an inaugural visit to the Fredericksburg campus, said he played a major role in the student’s decision to enroll at Mary Washington and continued to encourage the student throughout the college experience.

“He always pushed them to achieve higher … and when they hit rough patches throughout undergrad, he was always there to convince them to keep going,” said Pham, who recalled the effect he had on her as a sophomore. “I can confidently say that he has taught me more than just what was on the course syllabus – but, a life lesson where/on?? simply being kind and understanding to one another can go a long way.”

Larochelle received a B.A. in Spanish from The College of William and Mary and a Ph.D. from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

Graduate Faculty Award

Woody Richardson came to Mary Washington in 2013 with a well-established record in higher education that included faculty appointments at five universities over nearly 30 years, according to Mikhalevsky. “He put this extensive array of teaching and academic leadership to work in his new role in UMW’s fledgling College of Business, where he became quickly noted for his willingness to take on virtually any challenge. Described as the ultimate team player, he is “willing to do the hard tasks no one else is willing to do.”

Richardson’s leadership in the graduate program is evident in the significant courses he teaches, according to Mikhalevsky. That includes the MBA program’s capstone strategy course, one in which students have praised him for his emphasis on applying financial management, marketing, human resources and decision-making lessons in a case-study approach.

Students appreciate the opportunities Richardson affords them to learn by trial and error in a safe environment. One student writes, “This was one of the most challenging classes I have taken; it is no mystery why we are required to take it as the capstone. I learned more in this class than most any other class … (Dr. Richardson) he??? is a tough professor, but … he makes you learn.”

Richardson’s leadership in the graduate program is reinforced by a significant record of publications in leading journals in his field, said Mikhalevsky. One of his works has been cited by other authors over 1,200 times. Many other academics might not have that many citations for all their publications combined. He’s also distinguished himself through active service on college committees, on the University Faculty Council, as a faculty marshal and in his role as UMW’s NCAA faculty athletic representative.

He received a B.S. from Auburn University, and an M.B.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas.

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