The 2018 Caspersen School Awards: Honoring Achievement

11 prizes bestowed at Mead Hall.

May 2018 – With student and faculty achievements in everything from poetry and medicine to education, there was much to celebrate at the annual awards ceremony of Drew University’s Caspersen School of Graduate Studies.

“These kind of events are among my favorites,” said Caspersen Dean Debra Liebowitz. “There’s something about being able to take a moment, to take stock, and allow students to do that for themselves.”

All told, 11 prizes were handed out. In presenting the Dean’s Medical Humanities Dissertation Prize award to Catherine Burns Konefal, Adjunct Professor Richard Marfuggi noted how “great researchers listen and engage with the world around them.”

By listening to a friend, for example, Konefal discovered the largely forgotten Guatemala Syphilis Experiment, where doctors from both the United States and Guatemala infected soldiers, prisoners, prostitutes and mentally ill patients with sexually transmitted diseases without their informed consent. The experiment, later condemned as unethical and unscientific, resulted in dozens of deaths.

Because she listened, Marfuggi added, Konefal’s research and dissertation on the Guatemala Syphilis Experiment “gives a voice and prominence to those victimized.”

Emma Barakat earned the Dean’s Master of Arts in Teaching Prize for her work with Advantage Arts, a collaboration between Drew and Newark Public Schools. Barakat mentored students in writing as they created a play that’s performed at the end of the school year.

“I’m one of seven kids,” Barakat said. “My parents never got to go to college. Two of my sisters have bachelor degrees, but I’m the first in the family to get a graduate degree.”

Barakat, from East Windsor, N.J.,  credited Caspersen faculty with helping her achieve that milestone.

“The specialized, personal attention is unlike anything anywhere,” she said. “I don’t know where I’d be without it. I’m so grateful for my amazing professors and family.”

General Awards

Dean Pain Prize – Andrew Clapham

Established in 2006 to honor Dr. Pain for 15 years of service as dean of the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies.  Awarded annually for the best interdisciplinary doctoral dissertation that is singularly distinguished by creative thought and prose style.

Dean’s Master of Arts in Teaching Prize – Emma Barakat

Awarded to a student graduating from the MAT program who has excelled in all facets of the program, including coursework, field experiences and student-teaching.

Dean’s Medical Humanities Dissertation Prize – Catherine Burns Konefal 

Awarded annually for the Doctor of Medical Humanities dissertation that is singularly distinguished by creative thought and prose style.

Dean’s Prize for Excellence and Creativity in Poetry – Amy Small-McKinney

Awarded to a student from the MFA program who has excelled in all facets of the program, including coursework, residencies and final manuscript.

Mary Pennywitt Lester Dissertation Prize – Peter Lee, David Reagles

Endowed in 2001 for Mary Pennywitt Lester C’78 and is awarded to an outstanding doctor of philosophy dissertation.

Neal Riemer Prize in Democratic Political Theory – Bryan Toth

Established in 2002 by family and friends in memory of former Political Philosophy Professor Riemer’s important contributions to the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies and of his significant body of scholarly work in the area of democratic theory. Awarded for a completed doctoral dissertation, master’s thesis or exceptional paper relevant to the work of Neal Riemer.

Patrice M. and John F. Kelly Fellowship in Arts and Letters – Karen Pechilis

The Caspersen School benefited greatly by the establishment of the Patrice M. and John F. Kelly Fellowship in Arts and Letters. The fellowship is established in recognition of the humanities based education and its purpose is to expand and enhance the teaching, mentorship and scholarly activities of faculty in the Arts and Letters Program.

Graduate Student Association Awards

Lisa Nocks Student Award – Jordan Reed

Introduced to celebrate the service of a graduate student to the graduate student community in general and the Graduate Student Association in particular.

Dean Pain Community Service Award – Angie Kirby-Calder

Awarded to a member of the Drew community who encourages and embodies the spirit of community through action and support within the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies.

Dean Robert Ready Award for Putting the Humanities to Work – Linda Swerdlow

Recognizes a member of the graduate community who demonstrates the importance of humanities education beyond the classroom through the implementation of programming in the larger community.

Merrill Skaggs Award for Excellence in Teaching – Edward Baring
Recognizes a Drew University professor who is passionately devoted to his or her discipline.

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