Honors Day 2015


Last Friday, 3 April 2015, the Department hosted our annual Honors Day ceremony, now in its fourteenth year. The event  was again held in Alumni Hall, so a big thanks to the Alumni Association for letting us use their space.

As usual, our event immediately followed the Arts & Sciences Honors Day Convocation in Moody Music Hall, but with time for families and faculty to mix and mingle before the awards presentations.


REL major Jared Powell (far left) and his parents chat with Prof. Nathan Loewen before the festivities.


Alexis Poston (far right), REL major and Judaic Studies
minor, joined by her family enjoying the food. Yum!


REL major Khortlan Patterson talks with
Prof. Russell McCutcheon as guests trickle in.


Ali Hval (right), the artist behind our Praxis Squad cartoons, poses for a picture with Prof. Merinda Simmons.

Prof. Russell McCutcheon, chair of the department, got the ball rolling and began the awards ceremony with a few opening words as everyone gathered round–all eyes on him!


To start the presentations, Prof. McCutcheon called on Prof. Eleanor Finnegan to present the first of three (that’s right three) Outstanding Student in the Academic Study of Religion awards to Anna Davis.

DSCN5293Anna Davis (right) receiving the first of this year’s three Outstanding Student Awards after her introduction by Prof. Finnegan.

Next, Prof. Steven Ramey presented our second Outstanding Student Award to Khortlan Patterson, citing her cross-campus involvement beyond the Department.

DSCN5297Khortlan Patterson (right) opens the gift portion of her award (keep reading to see what it is) as Prof. Ramey stands back in awe.

Prof. Steve Jacobs introduced our third Outstanding Student, Alexis Poston, a triple-major and triple-minor. One of those majors (and one minor) belongs to us, of course.

DSCN5309Lexi is all smiles after receiving her Outstanding Student Award!

This year, our three Outstanding Students each received a framed piece of original artwork in our Praxis Squad comic strip series, created by Art major Ali Hval (pictured below). Ali has served as our artist-in-residence this year, drawing each Praxis Squad cartoon (as well as last year’s newsletter). To thank Ali for her work, Prof. McCutcheon presented her with a framed print as well.

DSCN5312Prof. McCutcheon presents Ali Hval with a gift for all her hard work drawing our weekly Praxis Squad cartoons. Thanks Ali!

Next, the talented tandem of Prof. Merinda Simmons and Prof. Mike Altman were called upon to announce our Silverstein Scholars for the 2015-2016 year. The comedy duo presented each student with a plaque commemorating the achievement, with a few jokes sprinkled here and there as well.

DSCN5316Anna Davis was first on the chopping block
for our fourteen Silverstein Scholars.


REL major Andrew Dobry shakes hands
with Prof. Simmons.


Next up, REL major Abbey Lewis.


Aubrey (Liz) Long steps up to the plate.


REL major Sierra Loya comes to the stage
to receive her award.

DSCN5323Mark Ortiz, who presented at our Honors
Research Symposium in February was up next.


Outstanding Student Khortlan Patterson was also awarded
a Silverstein Scholarship this year.


REL major Maggie Paul coming in hot to
receive her award.


Jared Powell steps up next, as proud
Mama Powell looks on from the sidelines.


Judaic Studies minor Meagan Reif accepting her
hardware from Prof. Simmons.


Emily Vork was one of this year’s Silverstein Fellows in
addition to earning the scholarship.

After these awards were presented, Prof. Finnegan, faculty advisor to the Religious Studies Student Association, returned to the stage and gave framed photos of our various buttons to each of the student officers, as a thank-you for their hard work in planning all of RSSA’s events.

DSCN5337Prof. Finnegan holds the picture frame given to RSSA Secretary Catie Stewart (who was unable to attend).


RSSA Vice President Anna Davis walks away with
her framed button picture.


Prof. Finnegan presents RSSA President Jared Powell
with his zebra-print frame. Snazzy!

Honors Day is, of course, about recognizing the achievements of our students, but we couldn’t leave out a few faculty honors as well. So, Prof. Ramey returned to recognize Prof. Mike Altman and Prof. Nathan Loewen on their recent hires as tenure-track Assistant Professors with the Department. This also served as a moment to introduce Prof. Loewen, who started with the Department in January and will begin teaching in the fall. Both professors were presented with a framed photograph of Manly Hall.

DSCN5343Prof. Ramey (left) congratulates Prof. Altman after presenting him with a framed photograph of Manly Hall.


Prof. Nathan Loewen (right) receives his framed
photo from Prof. Ramey.

To close the festivities, Prof. McCutcheon returned once more to present a gift to Betty Dickey, our Administrative Secretary. Anyone who spends any time on the second floor of Manly is bound to hear “Ask Betty” at some point. Department life runs smoothly because of her, and this year she was given her own framed print of one of Ali’s cartoons in recognition of all she does for us.

DSCN5358Betty (the all-Knowing One here at Manly) opening her
framed print as Prof. McCutcheon looks on from behind.

This year Honors Day was yet another success. Big thanks to Betty Dickey and Donna Martin, and to the Alumni Association againl. Be sure to congratulate our award winners, and we’ll see you next year!

Picture 2