Research Day represents the culmination of student research efforts and course projects.
(l. to r.) President Robert R. Lindgren, Professors Elizabeth Fisher, Catherine
Staples, and Grace Lim-Fong, and Provost William Franz
Randolph-Macon College celebrated Research Day and Honors Convocation on May 17,
This campus-wide event represents the culmination of student research efforts, including
senior and honors theses, as well as course projects. It also affords first-year
students, all of whom participate in the First-Year Experience (FYE) program, the
opportunity to create culminating projects that reflect their year-long, integrated
academic experience. Research Day activities includes poster sessions, presentations,
seminars, video projects, drama presentations and more.
Some of the students involved in Research Day did so in conjunction with the college’s
unique Schapiro Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF)
program. SURF was introduced in 1995 as an endowment to support scholarly undergraduate
research by students in all disciplines. Students conduct 10 weeks of full-time,
original research during the summer months, under the guidance of a faculty mentor.
The initial gift for the program was made by Benjamin Schapiro ’64 and his wife
Clad in caps and gowns, Randolph-Macon College graduating seniors marched into Blackwell
Auditorium, R-MC Center for the Performing Arts for the college’s annual Honors
More than 100 awards and scholarships were announced, along with recognition of
students inducted into honor societies. Several faculty and staff were also honored.
The Thomas Branch Award for Excellence in Teaching Award, presented by Provost William
Recipient: Professor Grace Lim-Fong
In 1969, R-MC received a gift from the Cabell Foundation as a memorial to Thomas
Branch, president of Merchant’s Bank, a member of the Board of Trustees from 1846-1883,
and one of the principle figures responsible for the college’s relocation from Boydton,
Virginia to Ashland. The gift established the Thomas Branch Award for Excellence
in Teaching. The award is given annually, and the recipient is selected by the students
of Phi Beta Kappa, Omicron Delta Kappa, and the Honors Program.
Grace Lim-Fong (biology) joined the faculty
in 2009. She earned her B.S. from the University of California, Berkeley and her
Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego.
“Grace quickly developed a following among students as a professor with high standards
and an approach that motivates her students to achieve,” said Franz. “In addition
to her outstanding teaching, she is also rapidly developing a reputation for excellence
in research, and her ability to involve her students in that research makes her
investigations all the more valuable. Perhaps most illustrative of how our winner
influences her students, one said, ‘I’ve learned so much in this class! I now feel
confident in my abilities to research and read scientific papers as well as come
up with ways to analyze interesting scientific research questions.’”
The United Methodist Church Exemplary Teaching Award, presented by President Robert
Recipient: Professor Catherine Staples
The Board of Higher Education and Ministry of The United Methodist Church, jointly
with R-MC, annually recognizes a professor who exemplifies teaching excellence,
civility, concern for students and colleagues, commitment to value-centered education,
and service to students, the institution, the community and church.
Catherine Staples (accounting) joined the
faculty in 1995. She earned her B.B.A. from the College of William & Mary and
her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina.
“From adding clickers in the classroom to using an online problem-set software to
continually tweaking her course pedagogy, Cathy creates a reflective teaching environment
where students are helped to figure out on their own how to do something,” said
Lindgren. “She teaches courses at all levels while still finding time to handle
one of the largest advising loads on campus. Students trust her wise counsel and
helpful demeanor and look to her for mentorship, which she gladly provides. Her
scholarly work is also prodigious, and Cathy has shown herself to be an outstanding
member of our community.”
The Samuel Nelson Gray Distinguished Professor Award, presented by President Lindgren
Recipient: Professor Elizabeth Fisher
The Samuel Nelson Gray Distinguished Professor Award was established by Mrs. Virginia
Clark Gray Backus in memory of her husband, an alumnus and former trustee of R-MC.
Although called the Distinguished Professor Award, this prize was established to
honor the faculty member or senior administrator selected by the president as the
person who has made a distinguished contribution to the college.
Elizabeth Fisher (classics) joined the faculty
in 1987. She earned her B.A. from the College of William and Mary, her M.A. from
Florida State University and her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota.
“Beth is the personification of passion, intensity and dedication; during her amazing
26 years with us, she has proven to be a master teacher, highly regarded scholar
in the broad spectrum of classics, art history
and archaeology, and engaged
member of our college committee system,” said Lindgren. “Her frequent travel-study
trips—to Ethiopia, Israel, Egypt and other destinations—elicit special praise as
being rigorous, filled with information and experiences, and exciting for her students.
Her teaching effectiveness receives consistent praise from her students, colleagues,
and department chair, and her professional activity is prolific and spans the world.”
The Marilyn J. Gibbs Dedicated Service Award, presented by John Conkright, executive
assistant to the president
Recipient: Rodney Bardwell
This award, created by a generous gift from former Dean of Admissions and Financial
Aid Steven Nape and his wife Diane, is given annually to a staff member for outstanding
service to and support of the mission of the college. The award is named in honor
of Marilyn J. Gibbs, whose 18 years of dedicated service to the college as assistant
professor of sociology and then registrar exemplified the highest ideals embodied
in the college’s mission.
Rodney Bardwell (residence life and housing)
joined the staff in 2005.
“Rodney is a man of integrity—honest, trustworthy and flexible,” said Conkright.
“He creates a work environment where successes are celebrated and failures are perceived
as a chance to grow and develop. As one colleague said, our recipient will ‘not
ask of us anything that he himself will not do.’ Rodney has advised numerous student
organizations; sat on Disability Services, Benefits and other college committees;
created an open communication partnership between Athletics and Residence Life;
and worked tirelessly to meet the needs of the college and its students. His pure
passion for higher education and the success of each and every student is beyond