Commencement 2014 Award Winners
Algernon Sydney Sullivan Student Award: Holly Johnston
Recognizing unselfish service, noble character, and spiritual qualities. The student also receives the accompanying Mary Keith Fitzroy Award.
Johnston’s ability to motivate and inspire others to succeed elevated her above the crowd. Her accomplishments are rooted in personal faith and empathy, demonstrated by her selection as an undergraduate fellow for the Fund for Theological Education and her involvement with the campus organization Changemakers for Women. Her lead-by-doing philosophy was showcased in countless roles, such as political director for Mary Baldwin’s first Live Election broadcast, peer advisor for the Interfaith Explorations Gateway, and traveling to Richmond to lobby for higher education funding. As senior class president, Johnston helped initiate the project that placed a new Mary Baldwin College entrance sign on Frederick Street; organize a Commencement Weekend dinner where seniors could thank their professors; and bring to campus the 2014 Commencement keynote speaker, Beth Macy. She has applied to serve as a literacy tutor through AmeriCorps as well as to master’s degree programs in American studies.
Algernon Sydney Sullivan Non-Student Award: Lew Askegaard, dean of institutional research, associate dean of the college, and registrar
Recognizing unselfish service, noble character, and spiritual qualities.
For more than 30 years, Askegaard has infused roles — ranging from academic advisor to director of the computer center to head of international programs — with his signature wit and sharp eye for detail. In his current role as dean of institutional research, Askegaard collects critical statistical data about the college and provides and analyzes data for landmark higher education studies and expertly leads recurring accreditation evaluations. He has long been a salient voice in strategic planning conversations, and he helped gather information and perspectives that led to the creation of Mary Baldwin’s new Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences. Askegaard’s presence is so ingrained in the college that students have affectionately suggested renaming Mary Baldwin as “Lew U.”
Martha Stackhouse Grafton Award: Selma Elsarrag
Given to the graduate with the highest cumulative grade point average.
Elsarrag is a triple major in biology, chemistry, and mathematics from Richmond. In the fall, she will enter a combined MD/PhD program at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston to pursue her degree in computational biology.
Adult Degree Program Outstanding Student: Debby Bibens
Bibens, a marketing communications major from Verona, started working on her undergraduate degree through ADP in 1999, the same year she became an employee at the college. Her Capstone Festival project examined the role of Facebook advertising in recruiting prospective students. Bibens is now ADP director of operations, and she inspired her daughter and her husband to enroll in Mary Baldwin.
Graduate Teacher Education Outstanding Student: Victoria Cave
Cave is a veteran teacher of movement and music who chose to advance her career through Mary Baldwin’s master of education program. She focused on leadership, and her studies culminated in a thesis about the effects of stress on adolescents during musical performance.
MLitt/MFA Ariel Award: Amy W. Grubbs
Recognizing outstanding program service and leadership to the Shakespeare and Performance program.
While working on her Master of Letters and Master of Fine Arts at MBC, Grubbs gave selflessly to her fellow students, faculty, and the community at large and exemplified collaboration in both spirit and practice. Whether serving as an exemplary student representative or as an uncompensated teaching assistant in the undergraduate classroom, she is model of how to put others first.
Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters: Betty Gold
Internationally acclaimed artist Betty Gold’s large-scale steel sculptures beautify public and private spaces all over the world. Gold’s work has been collected and widely exhibited at museums and galleries across the United States, Europe, South America, and Asia, and her art career was honored with a major retrospective exhibition at the Casal Solleric Museum in Palma, Spain. Three of Gold’s sculptures grace the Mary Baldwin campus, and she has also imparted insight and creative vision on several occasions in connection with her installations and her exhibitions in Hunt Gallery.