WSU Honors College Students, Faculty Awarded at Spring 2012 Commencement Banquet

PULLMAN, Wash. — Students, faculty, friends, and family associated with the Honors College at Washington State University recognized and celebrated the achievements of more than 90 graduating seniors Friday, May 4, 2012 in the MG Carey Senior Ballroom of the Compton Union Building.

Among the graduates, a record 68 percent will be heading to graduate school.  In addition, 79 percent completed advanced foreign language courses, 38 percent studied abroad, and 81 percent earned Latin Honors with a GPA above 3.5.

“These students have done a lot,” Libby Walker, dean of the Honors College, said during the largest commencement banquet in the history of the college.  “Tonight you will hear more about them and what they have done, as well as the amazing things they are going to do.  Then we will award certain outstanding students and faculty for their contributions to our college.”

Honors supporter and commencement speaker Dan Harmon, one of three leaders of Hoffman Construction, the Portland-based company renovating Martin Stadium, addressed the audience about success in the spheres of both life and career, and how it ties to the students’ achievements.  He said his belief in the Honors College began when he attended orientation for his daughter, who graduated from the program.

“Dean Walker told us to give our children to the Honors College,” Harmon said, “and the college would return to us young people with the ability to discuss the most amazing things at the dinner table.  She was right.  The achievements we celebrate tonight are proof of that.”

Following Harmon’s address, several students and faculty members received recognition:

The S. Town Stephenson Award recognizes outstanding students who demonstrated academic excellence and involvement during their time in the Honors College.  The award stresses the students’ interests in a diverse range of topics, including those outside their major.

The spring 2012 Recipients of the S. Town Stephenson Awards are:

•    Omar Bayomy, neuroscience major

•    Cameron Frederick, bioengineering and Spanish major, mathematics minor

•    Casey Lawson, animal science/pre-vet major, Spanish minor

•    Ian Linde, philosophy and biochemistry major

•    Rachel Wanty, neuroscience/pre-vet and Spanish major

The Dean’s Award was presented to three graduating seniors.  This honor goes to students who exemplify the core values of the Honors College and challenge themselves to develop their potential to its fullest.  The 2012 recipients are Bayomy and Wanty, as well as Ryan Scott, a history major.

Awards were also presented to faculty who served as Honors thesis advisors.  These individuals were nominated by their students for being helpful, knowledgeable and supportive throughout the thesis process.

Recipients of the Thesis Advisor Awards are:

•    Nancy Bell, associate professor of English, nominated by student Elizabeth Janney

•    James Krueger, Regents Professor of neuroscience, nominated by Omar Bayomy

•    Michael Neff, assistant professor of crop and soil sciences, nominated by Paul Froese

•    Brendan Walker, assistant professor of psychology, nominated by Danny Reis

•    Matthew Weidenfeld, assistant professor of politics, nominated by Michelle Maley

•    John Wyrick, associate professor of molecular biosciences, nominated by Kyle McClain

•    Ray Jussaume, former professor of sociology, now at Michigan State, nominated by Roberta Nilson

The Honors College Faculty Award for excellence in teaching and outstanding contributions was presented to Rita Rud, clinical assistant professor.  She teaches creative writing courses and an Honors thesis preparation class.

MEDIA CONTACT: Jared Brickman, Communications Assistant, Honors College at WSU, 509-335-8070

SOURCE: Libby Walker, Dean, Honors College at WSU, 509-335-4505,