CHESTERTOWN, MD—Fall Convocation at Washington College will honor the head of one of the oldest public library systems in the nation, a Palestinian musician using his art to unite Arabs and Jews, and two young graduates who have distinguished themselves in their careers—one in theater, the other in international space exploration. The September 6 event, which is free and open to the public, begins at 3:30 p.m. in Decker Theatre in the Gibson Center for the Arts on campus.
Dr. Carla Hayden, chief executive officer of Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library and a past president of the American Library Association (ALA), is the perfect honoree to help the campus celebrate the renovation of its own Miller Library, a major construction project nearing completion. Hayden is credited with revitalizing the historic Pratt system, bolstering its financial health and expanding its outreach to the city’s neighborhoods.
The Library Journal named Hayden the 1995 Librarian of the Year, and Ms. magazine named her one its 2003 Women of the Year. The Ms. honor recognized Dr. Hayden’s leadership of the ALA, especially praising her stand against the provision of the USA Patriot Act that allowed the FBI to delve into the borrowing records of library users. “Hayden’s stance against the Patriot Act is part and parcel of her vision of the library as an integral element of democracy,” the magazine summed up.
Hayden grew up in Chicago, where she earned her undergraduate degree from Roosevelt University and her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Prior to taking the top spot in Baltimore in 1993, she was chief librarian of the Chicago Public Library. A former member of the Washington College Board of Visitors and Governors (2001-2004) she now serves on the National Museum and Library Services Board. Washington College will confer on Hayden an honorary Doctor of Letters degree.
Also receiving an honorary degree will be Dr. Nabeel Abboud Ashkar, an Israeli Arab violinist who has earned international praise for bringing young Jews and Arabs together through music. At age 34, he has already created a conservatory and an orchestra and been recognized with a Yoko Ono Lennon Courage Award. Washington College will award him an honorary Doctor of Arts degree.
A native of Nazareth and a graduate of Tel Aviv University, Ashkar earned a master’s degree in music in Germany before returning to his hometown determined to open musical doors for Arab youth there. Six years ago, with support from the Barenboim-Said Foundation, he opened what is now the Polyphony Conservatory in Nazareth and hired some of the best young Jewish musicians from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to teach his students.
Three years later, in 2011, he helped found the Polyphony Foundation and launch the Polyphony Youth Orchestra. “By introducing classical music to our young students, we open their minds, we open their hearts,” he has said of Polyphony’s mission. “They become creative and constructive members of their community and Israeli society, and very quickly they become part of the international community.”
Two members of the Washington College Class of 1998—Karen DiLossi and Tim Tawney—will receive Alumni Horizon Ribbons, which recognize graduates from the past 15 years who have demonstrated outstanding leadership, service or scholarship in their lives.
Karen DiLossi, co-artistic director of Madhouse Theater Company in Philadelphia, earned her undergraduate degree in drama and history at Washington College, then completed a master’s in theater at Villanova University. She has worked as stage manager, director, and producer for many respected theater companies. During her eight-year tenure as Director of Programs and Services for the Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia, DiLossi produced and directed the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre.
DiLossi is the first national director of Arts in Sacred Places, part of the Partners for Sacred Places program, which advocates for sound stewardship and active community use of America’s older religious properties. Her pioneering “Making Homes for the Arts in Sacred Places” program is established in Philadelphia and Chicago and is expanding nationwide.
Timothy R. Tawney will be honored for his contributions to the nation’s space-exploration program, including last month’s flawless landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars. A 12-year veteran of NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) who first joined the agency as a Presidential Management Fellow, he currently serves as a Senior International Programs Specialist and Space Science Team Lead in the Office of International and Interagency Relations. In that role, he creates and oversees NASA’s collaborative agreements with scientists and engineers around the world on projects that range from the study of the Sun, to the exploration of the outer planets of our Solar System and the farthest reaches of the Universe.
Tawney graduated from Washington College magna cum laude with honors in International Studies and Economics and a minor in German. As an undergraduate, he rowed for the Men’s Crew team, joined the Kappa Alpha fraternity, and participated in the Cater Society of Junior Fellows. He also studied abroad—in London, England as part of the Hansard Scholars Program; in Berlin, Germany; and in Manila, the Philippines, where he interned for the U.S. State Department. He went on to earn a master’s degree in German and European Studies from Georgetown University.
The Convocation ceremony also will recognize high-achieving students for their academic performance the previous year. Afterward, guests can congratulate all the honorees at a light reception in the Underwood Lobby and visit the adjacent Kohl Gallery to see the exhibition “What Comes Later,” which features multimedia works by studio-art faculty Heather Harvey and Benjamin Bellas.