The University of Mary Washington presented its top honors during commencement ceremonies Friday, May 9 and Saturday, May 10.
Daniel W. Lipscomb of Purcellville, Va., and Leah C. Tams of Midlothian, Va., received the Colgate W. Darden Jr. Awards, which are presented to the students with the highest grade-point averages (GPA) in the four-year undergraduate program. Both graduates finished with a 4.0 GPA.
Mara N. Scanlon, professor of English in the College of Arts and Sciences, 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.
Charles M. Murphy, assistant professor of political science in the College of Arts and Sciences, 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.
Lynn Lewis, professor of biology in the College of Arts and Sciences, 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.”
Beverly D. Epps, associate professor in the Department of Foundations, Leadership and Special Populations in the College of Education, was recognized with the Graduate Faculty Award. The honor 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.
Irene Piscopo Rodgers ’59 received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. The UMW Board of Visitors may award honorary degrees to recognize and express gratitude to individuals who have provided outstanding service or contributions that are instrumental in helping the University achieve major objectives.
Daniel W. Lipscomb & Leah C. Tams
Lipscomb is a psychology major who received a Bachelor of Science degree. He is a member of Psi Chi, the
psychology honor society, and Phi Beta Kappa. He recently presented his research, “Crippling Prejudice: A Study of Disability as Part of Diversity,” at the Virginia Psychological Association conference. Lipscomb also founded UMW’s Video Game Club.
“Some of his professors say that he was the one student who really ‘got it’ when learning the concepts behind statistics,” said Provost Jonathan Levin, who presented the award.
Lipscomb plans to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical or educational psychology and hopes eventually to work in the school system with a goal of making school environments more welcoming and receptive to all.
Tams is a history major with a minor in mathematics who received a Bachelor of Arts degree. She has held multiple internships, including at the Smithsonian Institution Archives, Kenmore Plantation and Virginia Historical Society. She is a member of Alpha Phi Sigma and Phi Beta Kappa. She is the recipient of the Almont Lindsey Award for Academic Achievement and Exemplary Service, which recognizes a graduating senior for outstanding academic achievement and service to the Department of History and American Studies.
“Her adviser describes her as upbeat, funny and analytical and points out that she will occasionally be seen knitting while she’s thinking,” said Levin.
Tams recently completed research on “Publishing Geographical Information in the Early American Republic” and “The Korean War in the 1960s and 1970s: A Cultural Analysis of the First Six Seasons of M*A*S*H” for her thesis in history for which she received Departmental Honors.
While she contemplates her long-term plans, she will return to work in an internship at the Smithsonian where she will be doing archival work.
Mara N. Scanlon
Mara N. Scanlon, professor of English, has woven together her passion for poetry, women’s literature, Asian American studies, and digital humanities during her decade at UMW.
Levin described Scanlon as a leading force in encouraging faculty and students to experiment with innovative approaches to teaching and learning, and commended her for fostering a sense of community in her classes. “She has been known to break out noise makers to accompany her poetry classes,” he said. “One colleague observed that her classes sometimes take on the character of a rock concert. But don’t confuse that for a lack of rigor. As one student put it, ‘If you get an A, you frame that next to your diploma!’”
Scanlon is the co-editor of a forthcoming book called “Poetry and Dialogism: Hearing Over,” for which she also wrote the introductory chapter. Her professional work includes a collaborative, multi-university National Endowment for the Humanities Grant awarded for a project in the digital humanities called “Looking for Whitman: the Poetry of Place in Life and Work of Walt Whitman.” She recently spent a semester on sabbatical for her “Digital Modernism: The Artifact, The Poetess, and The Modernist Journals Project.”
She received her Ph.D. and master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
Charles M. Murphy
Since Charles Murphy joined the Mary Washington faculty in 2009 as an assistant professor of political science, he has made his name for himself, both at UMW and in the community. He has been widely cited as a news source on U.S. politics, and has published numerous scholarly articles.
The recipient of the Mary W. Pinschmidt Award in 2011, Murphy serves as adviser and assistant coach of the university Mock Trial Team, sponsor of the Redistricting Team and is a manuscript reviewer for “Political Behavior” and “American Politics Research.”
“His most noteworthy achievement is his exuberant commitment to the one-on-one relationship that is the heart and soul of a liberal arts education at Mary Washington,” said Levin. “Consider these numbers: in five years, he has supervised 24 independent studies, 39 internships, and another 20 undergraduate research projects. His students have won national essay contests and have presented papers at regional and state professional meetings. And some of his students have landed positions working in the offices of state senators and delegates, thanks to the classroom and internship experiences they had with him.”
Murphy received a Ph.D. in political science and a master’s degree in mass political behavior from the University of California, Riverside and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Baldwin Wallace College.
In her more than 25 years at UMW, Professor of Biology Lynn O. Lewis has researched and taught microbiology and virology, advised countless student undergraduate research projects, and shared her knowledge with colleagues across the country. A former poultry virologist for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, she serves as the adviser for UMW’s pre-vet program. Her current research involves the analysis of viruses that infect bacteria.
“This professor’s enthusiasm for her material is palpable, and her passion is truly infectious,” said Peyton Kremer ’14, who presented the award. “The knowledge I gained in this course on infectious diseases is both fascinating and entirely applicable to my future career in medicine. But what makes what I have learned in this course truly unique is that I will never forget what she has taught me, and that is entirely due to the tireless efforts of this amazing professor.”
Lewis received a Ph.D. in microbiology and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She is a member of Sigma Xi, the Scientific Honor Society and the American Society for Microbiology. As the treasurer and a member of the Virginia Branch of the ASM, she has led discussions on the teaching of microbiology to undergraduates.
Beverly D. Epps
Beverly Epps, associate professor of foundations, leadership and special populations in the College of Education, specializes in teacher education. Prior to joining the UMW faculty in 2005, she spent more than 25 years as a teacher and administrator in Virginia public schools, including as the director of testing and curriculum for Prince Edward Public Schools.
“These experiences have significantly informed her research and the perspectives and approaches she brings to the classroom,” said Levin. “Her research focuses on how to better serve the neediest populations in our schools, including students from low income families, juvenile offenders, students of color, and those with disabilities.”
Levin said students repeatedly comment on how Epps contributes to their professional growth and readiness for their future and colleagues admire her expertise, energy, and positive outlook.
Epps serves on the advisory board of the Center for Honor, Leadership and Service and is a faculty adviser of the Stafford Campus Honor Council. She received a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia.
Irene Piscopo Rodgers ’59
Irene Piscopo Rodgers ’59 established a career as an expert in microscopy in a time when women in the sciences faced entrenched professional inequality.
Building on a Mary Washington bachelor’s degree in chemistry, Rodgers accepted a fellowship from the University of Michigan and earned a master’s degree in chemistry in 1961. She was an electron microscopist at Phillips Electronic Instruments before beginning a four-decade career as an independent consultant to FEI, a premier provider of electron and ion-beam microscopes and tools for nanoscale applications.
“Mrs. Rodgers has served her alma mater with devotion and is among UMW’s most generous living donors,” said President Richard V. Hurley. “Her philanthropy has been carefully and thoughtfully structured to benefit UMW students directly.”
Among her significant contributions, Rodgers donated a transmission electron microscope, which put the UMW microscopy laboratory on par with labs of much larger research universities. Afterward, she came to campus to train faculty and students to use the microscope and to recognize student achievements.
Rodgers has endowed two student research fellowships for research in the physical and biological sciences and has established two Alvey Scholarships. An active advocate for Mary Washington, she has enthusiastically participated in 11 reunions of the Class of ’59.