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wellsAurora, New York—During Wells College’s 2015 Commencement ceremonies, the College and Board of Trustees granted special awards and honors to several exceptional members of the Wells community. These awards—both new and long-standing—included the second awarding of the Wells Medal, the announcement of Emerita status for a member of the faculty, annual awards for outstanding student research and artistic merit, and recognition of the achievements of the student and alumna speakers for the event.

Wells’ President Thomas E.J. de Witt was awarded the second Wells College Medal, an award conceived “to bestow significant honor on individuals who are singularly important in the life of the College.” De Witt earned the honor, as Board Chair Carrie Bolton ’92 noted, as he “applied his considerable financial acumen and management expertise to the substantial challenges facing the College…led by example in facing difficult realities, devising innovative solutions and embracing positive change; revived the campus culture and infused a spirit of optimism; and…resulted in a College transformed and on solid financial footing, its community eager and prepared to engage the future.” The first Wells College Medal was awarded to Pleasant Rowland ’62 in 2014.

The Board of Trustees also announced that they would confer on retiring Professor Linda Lohn the title of Associate Professor of English and Film and Media Studies, Emerita. Professor Lohn joined the faculty in 1990, and over the following 25 years contributed significant time and expertise to many essential structural functions of the College, serving on numerous committees and as division chair; designing curriculum and the major in Film and Media studies; and advising and mentoring students in the English, Film and Media Studies and Cultural Studies programs.

Several student awards are also announced annually at Commencement. The 2015 Gertrude H. Freiert Prize in Fine Arts— noting the production a body of creative work of high quality during the student’s college career—was awarded Shalisa Chang ’15 and Alex Torea ’15. The Koch Prize for Best Senior Research Paper was granted to biology major and sustainable food systems minor Mikayla Kravetz ’15 for her thesis “A Biochemistry of Radical Justice,” a multi-disciplinary melding of biological data in support of a social justice framework.

President Tom de Witt announced the Frances Tarlton Farenthold Leadership Award, also earned by Mikayla Kravetz. The award honors consistently demonstrated qualities of commitment and activism in the Wells community and the wider world. The Presidential Leadership Award, which honors a student who has demonstrated particular initiative and responsibility in the service of the community, was earned by Collegiate Cabinet President, president of the student organization Umoja, and chemistry major Jamyra Young ’15.

Phylicia Green ’15 was chosen to be Wells’ second student Commencement speaker. A sociology and anthropology major with a minor in childhood education, Green dedicated herself to her learning and to her fellow students, serving for two years as a Resident Advisor and captain of the Prodigy Step Team, representing the senior class on Wells’ Community Court, co-chairing the K.N.O.T. knitting club, and contributing her talents to Appointed Gospel Choir and Umoja.

Tracy Hope Davis ’86 delivered the Commencement address. After graduating from Wells with honors, she earned a degree from Rutgers Law School and pursued a successful legal career. Ms. Davis joined the U.S. Trustee Program in 1997 as a trial attorney; served as assistant trustee and acting trustee in various regions of New York before being appointed U.S. Trustee in New York, Connecticut and Vermont in August 2010; and was appointed US Trustee for Northern and Eastern California and Nevada in 2013. Ms. Davis has been a member of the Association of Black Women Attorneys, International Bar Association and New York county lawyers, and in 1997 she was honored with an award from the Association of Outstanding Women in America.

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