UMW Awards Top Honors at 2011 Commencement

The University of Mary Washington presented its top honors during commencement ceremonies Friday, May 6 and Saturday, May 7.

Stacey Lynne Aylor of Spotsylvania County received the Colgate W. Darden Jr. Award, which is presented to the student with the highest grade-point average (GPA) in the four-year undergraduate program. She finished with a 3.992 GPA.

Teresa A. Kennedy, professor of English and chair of the Department of English, Linguistics, and Communication, was presented 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.

Krystyn Moon, associate professor of American Studies, received the UMW Alumni Association Outstanding Young Faculty Member Award, which is 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.

Charles M. Murphy, assistant professor of political science, received the Mary W. Pinschmidt Award. The winner is selected by the graduating class as the faculty member “whom they will most likely remember as the one who had the greatest impact on their lives.”

Laurie B. Abeel, associate professor of education, was presented with the Graduate Faculty Award, which recognizes 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.

Stacey Lynne Aylor

Aylor is a double major in computer science and mathematics. During her first year at UMW, she earned enough credits to be ranked as a junior.

She has been named to the President’s List every semester except her first semester when she received her only A-minus. She is recipient of the prestigious William M. Anderson Jr. Washington Scholarship, a distinction that includes a full-merit scholarship for exceptional academic integrity, leadership qualities and community service.

“Stacey is a dedicated student and strives for perfection in every task she undertakes,” said Karen Anewalt, chair and associate professor in the Department of Computer Science.

Aylor won first place in the Association for Computing Machinery International Collegiate Programming Contest for a programming challenge called “first composed, then transposed.” Some of her research findings have been submitted for consideration by IEEE Computer, the flagship publication of the world’s leading membership organization for computing professionals.

Aylor is vice president of the PERL computer science group, a student club dedicated to promoting the presence of women in the computing science fields. She also is a member of UMW’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious academic honor society, and the Zeta chapter of Pi Mu Epsilon, a national mathematics honorary society.

The daughter of Richard and Debbie Aylor of Spotsylvania, she is a talented musician who plays the bluegrass fiddle. After commencement, she will work for Naval Sea Systems Command.

Teresa A. Kennedy

Kennedy is specialist in comparative medieval literature who directs the university’s Simpson Program in Medieval Studies. A member of the UMW staff since 1991, she has been a beloved professor for two decades.

Students describe Kennedy as a brilliant mentor who fosters a passion for learning, inspires them to work tirelessly and refuses to accept anything but their best work. In addition, they say, she makes literature relevant.

A specialist in comparative medieval literature, Kennedy is the author of “Elyot, Castiglione and Problem of Style” in the Eckhardt Series in Renaissance Studies 20. In addition, she is co-editor of Exemplaria: A Journal of Theory in Medieval and Renaissance Studies and Routledge Medieval Authors. She has written scholarly reviews for such publications as Bryn Mawr Medieval Reviews and Fifteenth Century Studies.
Among her projects, Kennedy has written a facing-page translation of “Boccaccio’s Teseida” and a monograph on Boccaccian poetics. She is co-editor of Exemplaria: A Journal of Theory in Medieval and Renaissance Studies and Routledge Medieval Authors.

Kennedy has organized interdisciplinary symposiums that have brought to UMW some of the the nation’s most distinguished scholars of medieval and classical texts. Her efforts have increased the university’s participation in national scholarly dialogues and have provided opportunities for our students and faculty to showcase their work.

Richard Finkelstein, dean of UMW’s College of Arts and Sciences, said Kennedy “cultivates excellence in everyone with whom she works—her students, her junior colleagues, participants in the Rappahannock Scholars program and high school students who come to Mary Washington during the summer. I cannot think of anyone who works harder to carry out the mission of this university.”
Kennedy received three degrees from The Catholic University of America—a bachelor’s, a master’s and a doctorate.

Charles Murphy

Murphy, who has been a member of the UMW staff since 2009, teaches courses about American government, the presidency, political parties and elections, political communication and research methods and writing.

Students admire Murphy as a mentor and a friend as well as a professor. They say the bond he has built with students will last far beyond graduation.

“He never stopped teaching me when class was over,” said graduating senior Nick Jacobs. “His passion for teaching never ends, and while he will likely read fewer of my papers now that I’m graduating, I know I can always turn to him for advice.”

Murphy is sponsor for the UMW Redistricting Team that earlier this year competed with teams from 12 colleges and universities in the Virginia Redistricting Competition that recommended redrawing election district maps using 2010 Census data. He also is advisor for the UMW Mock Trial Team that competed this spring in the American Mock Trial Association National Championship in which two UMW students received national awards.

His focus is on the psychological and institutional foundations of democratic representation, including the effects of redistricting and how they change over the course of the 10-year cycle. Murphy’s research on redistricting has been published in Political Research Quarterly, Political Geography and American Politics Research.
In addition, Murphy is an expert on elite rhetoric and public perceptions of rhetoric His work in this area has been published in Journal of Politics, Presidential Studies Quarterly and The Journal of Language and Politics.

He received a doctorate and master’s degree from University of California at Riverside, and a bachelor’s degree from Baldwin Wallace College.

Krystyn R. Moon

Moon is an expert in the history of U.S. immigration and ethnicity. During her five years at UMW, she has taught 14 separate classes and has broadened the curriculum at the university in crucial ways. Due to her focus on immigration and Chicano/Latino and Asian American studies, she has enlarged the repertoire of methodological approaches that students now use, as well as the diversity of content they study.

Richard Finkelstein, dean of UMW’s College of Arts and Sciences, said that Moon helps students recognize that important insights can be obtained by using innovative methods to examine the structures of everyday life.

As director of American Studies, Moon has brought an increasing number of faculty into the interdisciplinary program that enables students to explore the complex interactions of peoples, cultures, social structures and political institutions that have shaped the development of this country.
She has spearheaded a revision of the American Studies curriculum and built a strong bond between students and faculty

In addition, Moon is a productive scholar. She is author of “Yellowface: Creating the Chinese in American Popular Music and Performance, 1850s-1920s,” a work that has received high praise from scholars around the nation. Her articles have appeared in key journals across a range of disciplines, including ethnic history, American musicology and African-American history.

She received a doctorate and a master’s degree from The Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree from Pomona College. Before coming to UMW, she spent four years teaching at Georgia State University.

Laurie Abeel

Abeel, a member of the UMW faculty since 2002, has demonstrated leadership to the graduate program through her teaching, research, extensive professional and community activities and service on numerous UMW committees.

A specialist in gifted education, she is recognized for the example she sets for her students as they strive to become future teachers of the gifted.

Students praise Abeel for engaging and active lesson plans, extensive feedback on all assignments, commitment to high standards and willingness to encourage students to succeed.

She also has provided leadership to the graduate program through the development of new courses and the supervision of student research.

Abeel’s professional experience includes extensive work with gifted and talented students, having taught and coordinated programs for the gifted for nearly 10 years in Charlottesville and Culpeper County schools. She is an expert in student assessment, having worked for a nonprofit research organization that developed assessments and training materials to measure student achievement growth over time. She has been trained as a VIEW administrator, which measures creative problem-solving style, and she has collaborated with one of the developers of the instrument. Her work with Destination ImagiNation®, a creative problem-solving program for students who are ages 4 through 22, includes writing and editing challenges and developing new creativity programs. She is also state director of Destination ImagiNation.

Later this month, Abeel will lead 41 teams from Virginia to the Destination ImagiNation Global Finals at University of Tennessee where more than 1,000 teams from around the world will present creative solutions to challenging problems. In addition, she has produced the play “The Diary of Anne Frank” for the Fauquier Community Theater.
Abeel earned a doctorate and a master’s degree from the University of Virginia and a bachelor of science degree from Pennsylvania State University.

About Marty Morrison