Winner of Nation's Largest Undergraduate Literary Prize To Be Announced
Chestertown, MD, May 14, 2007 — Wes Jackson, the pioneering ecologist described as one of the "100 most important Americans of the 20th century," will address Washington College's 2007 graduates at the College's 225th Commencement ceremonies, Sunday, May 20. Ceremonies will begin at 10:30 a.m. on the Campus Lawn. Rain site is the Benjamin A. Johnson Lifetime Fitness Center by ticket only.
In recognition of their outstanding accomplishments and careers, Jackson and historians Edward C. Papenfuse Jr. and Mark S. Micale (Washington College Class of 1977) will be honored during Sunday's Commencement ceremony. L. Thomas Bortmes (Washington College Class of 1973), Executive Director of the Office of Intelligence for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, will receive an Alumni Citation.
The College also will award the Sophie Kerr Prize, the nation's largest undergraduate literary award, valued at $60,027 this year, up from last year's award of $55,907. The prize was established by the will of the late Sophie Kerr, a writer from Denton, Md., whose generosity has done so much to enrich the College's literary culture.
When she died in 1965, Kerr left the bulk of her estate to the College, specifying that one half of the income from her bequest be awarded every year to the senior showing the most "ability and promise for future fulfillment in the field of literary endeavor" and the other half be used to bring visiting writers to campus, to fund scholarships, and to help defray the costs of student publications. Ms. Kerr was a prolific writer who began her career as a woman's page editor for the Pittsburgh Chronicle Telegraph and the Pittsburgh Gazette and as managing editor of theWoman's Home Companion. During her lifetime she authored more than 100 stories and 23 novels. During the 39 years that the Sophie Kerr Prize has been awarded, its value has ranged from $9,000 to as high as $65,000.
This year's Commencement has added resonance, as it marks the beginning of the College's 225th anniversary year. Chartered in May 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest institution of higher learning in the country, and was the first college chartered in the new republic after the British surrender at Yorktown in October 1781. The College's 225th-anniversary theme is "the Revolution Continues."
Sunday's Commencement speaker is a leader in the international movement for a more sustainable agriculture. Life magazine put Wes Jackson on its short-list of individuals predicted to be hailed eventually as "the 100 most important Americans of the 20th century," and the Smithsonian lauded him on its list of "35 Who Made a Difference." Founder and President of the Land Institute, Jackson has received numerous accolades and awards over the years, including being named a 1990 Pew Conservation Scholar and a 1992 MacArthur Fellow. In 2000 he received the Right Livelihood Award, perhaps the highest international honor in ecology (awarded annually in Stockholm, it is known as the "alternative Nobel Prize").
The work of Jackson's Land Institute has been featured extensively in the popular media, including The Atlantic Monthly, Audubon, "the MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour," and NPR's "All Things Considered." Jackson is the author of a number of influential books, including New Roots for Agriculture, Becoming Native to this Place, and Rooted in the Land: Essays on Community and Place. His work is often referred to by author/activist Wendell Berry, with whom Jackson has shared a longtime friendship and has frequently collaborated.
A highly sought speaker and inspiring presence, Jackson brings solid science to his activism and charismatic eloquence to his cause. "The agriculture we seek will act like an ecosystem," he has said. The mission statement of the Land Institute reads, "When people, land, and community are as one, all three members prosper; when they relate not as members but as competing interests, all three are exploited."
After earning a B.A. in biology from Kansas Wesleyan University, an M.A. in botany from the University of Kansas, and a Ph.D. in genetics from North Carolina State University, Jackson established and served as chair of one of America's first environmental studies programs at California State University-Sacramento. He founded the Land Institute in 1976; it continues in the vanguard of the goal to develop natural-systems agriculture, and publishes the authoritative journal The Land Report.
"In his writing and frequent lectures, Jackson explores the intersection of science and society, agronomy and ecology, culture and politics," notes Counterpunch magazine. "His talks are a lively mix of styles—country preacher, old-time storyteller, hard-nosed scientist, and political organizer."
In recognition of Jackson's contributions to the field of environmental studies, the College will present to him an Honorary Doctor of Science.
An American historian with a primary interest in the role cities play in fostering economic growth and social development, Edward Papenfuse has held the positions of Maryland State Archivist and Commissioner of Land Patents since 1975. As director of the extensive activities of the Maryland State Archives in Annapolis, Papenfuse is responsible for the Archives' vast collection of government and private materials. With a degree in political science from American University (1965), and a master's degree in history from the University of Colorado (1967), Papenfuse began his archival career in 1968 as a summer fellow working on the Maryland Hall of Records Indexing Project. He completed a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1973.
Papenfuse played a major role in the design of the present Archives building, initiated the creation of the award-winning Maryland State Archives web site, and teaches throughout Maryland. He is the author of numerous articles and books, including In Pursuit of Profit: The Annapolis Merchants in the Era of the American Revolution (1975) and, with Joseph M. Coale, The Hammond-Harwood House Atlas of Historical Maps of Maryland, 1608-1908(1982).
Among Papenfuse's latest contributions to regional history is Charting the Chesapeake(1990), an exhibit catalogue and comprehensive guide to the mapping of the Chesapeake Bay derived from the Huntingfield collection, a recent gift to the Maryland State Archives.
In 1985, the Maryland Colonial Society named Papenfuse Marylander of the Year, and that same year he received the National Governors' Association's award for distinguished service to state government.
In recognition of Papenfuse's contributions to the field of history, the College will present to him an Honorary Doctor of Letters.
An associate professor of history at the University of Illinois, Mark Micale is a specialist in the comparative cultural and intellectual history of modern Europe, and in the history of science and medicine, especially psychiatry and psychoanalysis. Over the past 12 years, Princeton, Oxford, Cambridge and Stanford University presses have published his books. His latest work, The Male Malady: Medicine and Masculine Subjectivity from the Renaissance to Freud, is forthcoming from Harvard University Press.
Micale's publishing credits also include: Approaching Hysteria: Disease and Its Interpretations (1995); Beyond the Unconscious: Essays in the History of Psychiatry (editor, 1993); The Mind of Modernism: Psychology, Medicine, and the Cultural Arts in Europe and America (editor, 2004); and Discovering the History of Psychiatry (co-editor, 1994). He has also published more than 20 scholarly articles.
After graduating from Washington College, Micale studied at Yale University, earning a master's degree in 1980 and a doctoral degree in 1987. His dissertation adviser was the world-renowned historian of modern Europe, Peter Gay. From 1984 to 1987, Micale was a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows. He completed a post-doctoral program in London in 1989 and then joined the faculty at Yale, where he taught until 1995. Among his many academic honors, Micale was a Fulbright Scholar, was twice awarded fellowships from the National Institutes of Health, and received several teaching awards, including Yale's Prize Teaching Fellowship and, at the University of Illinois, the Queen Prize for Excellence in Teaching and the Campus and LAS Teaching Prizes.
A former recipient of the George Washington Medal, Washington College's highest academic prize, Micale was inducted as a charter member of the College's Phi Beta Kappa Society in February 2007. In recognition of his contributions to the field of history, the College will present to him an Honorary Doctor of Letters.
This year's Alumni Citation recipient is a retired Naval Intelligence officer with more than 28 years of active-duty service. Thomas Bortmes is now Executive Director of the Office of Intelligence for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The priority mission of the office is to prevent terrorism and to protect the nation's physical borders as well as 328 formal ports of entry.
Before joining the federal agency, Bortmes commanded the Navy's flagship intelligence command, directing the Navy's intelligence response to the September 11, 2001, attacks, and directly shaped Navy support to Homeland Security, the Global War on Terror, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. During his command, he recruited several Washington College students for internships there. Today, 12 Washington College graduates work at Office of Naval Intelligence.
Throughout his U.S. Navy career, Bortmes was tapped for the most demanding sea, shore and joint intelligence leadership positions. He was Commander, Southern Region Joint Operational Intelligence Center in Naples, Italy; Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Commander, Carrier Group Three home-ported in Alameda, Cal.; Executive Assistant to the Director, National Imagery and Mapping Agency in Merrifield, Va.; Director for Intelligence, U.S. Pacific Fleet in Honolulu; and Director of the Intelligence Requirements, Plans, Policy and Programs Division on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations in the Pentagon.
Bortmes is the recipient numerous awards, including the Distinguished Service Medal and the Navy League of the United States/Naval Intelligence Foundation's Leadership Award.
Bortmes graduated with a degree in international studies and earned a master of arts degree in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia. His daughter, Amy, graduated from Washington College in 1995.