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Recognition Roundup 2020

The College of Liberal Arts is known for having highly-regarded faculty members and students. Here, we compiled just a few of the recent recognitions this semester.

2020 Distinguished Graduate Student Award Recipients

Eighteen Aggies in doctoral programs — four from the College of Liberal Arts — have been named 2020 Distinguished Graduate Students by the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies (OGAPS) and The Association of Former Students. Distinguished Graduate Students have earned one of Texas A&M’s highest levels of recognition for their extraordinary accomplishments in research or teaching.


“Graduate students enhance the intellectual spirit of our university, contribute to our research and teaching missions, and advance scholarship in their fields of study,” said Karen Butler-Purry, associate provost for Graduate and Professional Studies. “Thanks to The Association of Former Students’ support, we are able to recognize 18 of our most exemplary graduate students this year.”

President and CEO of The Association Porter S. Garner III ’79 agreed: “The admirable work of the graduate students recognized with this year’s Distinguished Graduate Student Award bring honor, prestige and recognition to Texas A&M,” Garner said. “Since the inception of this award in 1965, The Association of Former Students is proud to recognize graduate students’ excellence in research and teaching, as well as their embodiment of Texas A&M’s core values of Excellence, Integrity, Leadership, Loyalty, Respect and Selfless Service.”

Each award recipient will receive a framed certificate and custom gold watch from The Association. In lieu of a ceremony and reception to honor these students, OGAPS and The Association are planning alternate ways to celebrate their accomplishments.

The 2020 Distinguished Graduate Student College of Liberal Arts award recipients, along with their departments and faculty advisors, are as follows:

Teaching Awards

Chante Ajalon Anderson, Communication

Faculty Advisor: Kristan Poirot


Michaela Baca, English

Faculty Advisor: Nandra Perry


Kimberly Clough, English

Faculty Advisor: Marian Eide


Felicia York, Communication

Faculty Advisor: Lu Tang

2020 President’s Meritorious Service Awards

Two College of Liberal Arts staff members were recognized with the 2020 President’s Meritorious Service Award. 
The President’s Meritorious Service Awards recognize and reward staff for their commendable service to our great university. Recipients of this highly prestigious award have demonstrated their commitment to the Aggie core values of excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect, and selfless service. To each of them, I extend my most sincere congratulations and deep appreciation for their tremendous efforts that make Texas A&M such a great place to live and work.
Congratulations to the following 25 individual staff members, two supervisors, and two teams who were selected for their meritorious service to Texas A&M University!
Individual Award Recipients
Julia Jakab, Dean’s Office
Marisa Winking, Department of Sociology
All university employees, as well as Chartwells and SSC Service Solutions employees, are invited to the award ceremony honoring these outstanding staff members. The ceremony will be held on Monday, August 10, at 10 a.m. in MSC Bethancourt Ballroom. A reception with refreshments will be held following the ceremony. Each individual recipient will receive a $1,000 award, a commemorative plaque and a lapel pin.

Arts & Humanities Fellowships

Texas A&M University announced the selection of 10 faculty members as Arts & Humanities Fellows for 2020, eight of which are from the College of Liberal Arts. Each fellowship includes a three-year grant of $15,000 to support scholarship in the humanities or creative work in the arts.

Since its launch in 2015, the Arts & Humanities Fellowship Program has sponsored projects by 41 faculty members, including the 10 newest fellows.

The program is designed to recognize the importance of the arts and humanities in shaping and advancing human civilization, Texas A&M Vice President for Research Mark A. Barteau said.

“For the past five years, our Arts & Humanities Fellowships have encouraged our faculty to generate knowledge in history, literature, political science, philosophy, architecture, interdisciplinary critical studies and other disciplines in the humanities, or to pursue excellence in the performing or fine arts,” Barteau said. “The intellectual vibrancy of these fields is essential, not only to Texas A&M’s research and scholarship, but to our education of society’s leaders. I am excited by the breadth of topics and creative methods represented among the projects of this year’s fellows, and look forward to their fruition.”

The program received 43 applications for the 2020 fellowships, according to Gerianne Alexander, associate vice president for research and director of the program.

“We are thrilled by the high quality of this year’s applications, and encourage all eligible faculty members to develop proposals for the 2021 fellowships,” Alexander said.

Each spring, Arts & Humanities fellows are chosen by a peer-review committee from project-based applications. Selections are based on merit and originality, professional qualifications, clarity, benefit to the public and the quality of the overall presentation.

Arts & Humanities Fellowships for 2020 were awarded to the following College of Liberal Arts faculty members:

José Luis Bermúdez, professor, Department of Philosophy & Humanities, College of Liberal Arts, who plans to develop a cross-disciplinary understanding of different conceptualizations of selfhood in the ancient, medieval and early modern periods, based on the proceedings of a federally funded workshop and his research into Aristotle’s theory of the soul.

David Donkor, associate professor, Department of Performance Studies, College of Liberal Arts, who will produce a book, Staging Independence, about Ghana’s 1957 independence commemoration and exploring the national, international and transnational importance of Ghana’s maiden independence.

Side Emre, associate professor, Department of History, College of Liberal Arts, who will apply a combination of visual arts, computer technology, codicology, history, religion, anthropology and mysticism to generate a multi-lingual, interdisciplinary study of unpublished Arabic and Ottoman manuscripts that feature hand-drawn Sufi diagrams of mystical cosmologies.

Carmela Garritano, associate professor, Department of International Studies, College of Liberal Arts, who will complete work on a book that combines energy humanities scholarship with African film and media, demonstrating the crucial role of humanities-based research in addressing fossil-fuel dependence and human-influenced climate warming, which disproportionately affects residents of the global south.

Sonia Hernandez, associate professor, Department of History, College of Liberal Arts, who will use the example of an attempted lynching of a Mexican migrant in 1900-era Texas to produce a book on how such moments of violence led regional Mexican and Anglo American elites and working-class Mexicans from Texas and northern Mexico to create unlikely cross-border alliances to mitigate violence.

Britt Mize, associate professor, Department of English, College of Liberal Arts, who will generate a public scholarly database and a traditional scholarly book to document the influence of the eighth century epic poem “Beowulf” on the modern world and to analyze its impact on academic and popular culture (scholarly, creative, political, educational and religious) from the 18th century to today.

Stephen Badalyan Riegg, assistant professor, Department of History, College of Liberal Arts, who will produce a book that explores how and why the Romanov dynasty both encouraged and encumbered European settlement in the Russian empire’s strategically vital periphery between 1800 and 1917 while examining how diverse Westerners benefited or hindered tsarist imperialism.

Robin Veldman, assistant professor, Religious Studies Program, College of Liberal Arts, who will study a phenomenon she calls “incivil religion” — religious discourse that embraces incivility as its underlying mode of expression — with a focus on how this discourse portrays the environmental crisis, which may undermine the narrative of progress fundamental to discussions about America’s purpose and destiny.

2020 Gathright Outstanding Juniors

The Gathright Phi Kappa Phi Outstanding Junior Award is a collaboration between The Association of Former Students, LAUNCH: Academic Excellence, and the Texas A&M chapter of Phi Kappa Phi that recognizes the top junior in each of the academic colleges at Texas A&M University.

Selection for the Phi Kappa Phi Gathright Outstanding Junior Award is based on an evaluation of research and/or creative production, community engagement, accomplishments/awards, and academic record, with the final selection criteria determined by the dean of each respective college.

The Texas A&M chapter of Phi Kappa Phi is pleased to announce the 2020 Gathright Outstanding Juniors! In alphabetical order by college, they are:

Kalista Jordan-DeBruin is a junior international studies and economics double-major with minors in Spanish and environmental geosciences. She is currently serving as the 2019-2020 Chair of the MSC Leland T. and Jessie W. Jordan Institute for International Awareness and has previously served as the 2018-2019 Executive of the Internship and Living Abroad Program and 2018 Interim Executive of the Overseas Loan Fund. She is also involved with the University Honors Program, Liberal Arts Cornerstone Honors, and International Studies Departmental Honors. She was also a 2020 nominee for the Udall Scholarship. Off-campus, Kalista volunteers at the Brazos Interfaith Immigration Network. She was a participant of the MSC Champe-Fitzhugh International Honors Leadership Seminar in Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy as an incoming freshman and spent 12 weeks volunteering in Ecuador between her freshman and sophomore years. Last summer, Kalista spent 3 months as a Wilderness Volunteer/Intern with the Gunflint Ranger District in Superior National Forest in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and was tentatively offered seasonal employment with the U.S. Forest Service in a National Forest in Utah for the upcoming summer. Eventually, she plans to pursue a Masters in Environmental Management and work towards increasing equitable access to public lands balanced with resource management. In her free time, Kalista enjoys rock climbing, stand-up comedy, trivia, and spending time with her friends.

2020 Distinguished Achievement Awards

For 65 years, Texas A&M University and The Association of Former Students have recognized the most deserving faculty and staff members with one of the university’s highest professional honors—the University-Level Distinguished Achievement Awards.

This year’s recipients were chosen for their stellar performances in teaching, research, student relations, continuing education, staff service and graduate student mentoring. Since the award’s inception in 1955, it has been presented to 1,122 professionals (including this year’s recipients) who have exhibited the highest standards of excellence at Texas A&M.

In recognition of their achievements, honorees will receive a cash gift, an engraved watch and a commemorative plaque. The 2020 Distinguished Achievement Awards ceremony planned for Rudder Theatre on the Texas A&M University campus was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Through the generous support of former students and friends of Texas A&M, The Association of Former Students is able to support A&M faculty and staff through programs like the Distinguished Achievement Awards. The Distinguished Achievement Award is an award of excellence, and each of the 24 recipients is more than worthy of the distinction. The College of Liberal Arts recipients are as follows: 


This award is presented to superior classroom teachers: individuals whose command of their respective discipline, teaching methodologies, pervasive caring, communication skills, and commitment to the learning process exemplify the meaning of “teacher” in its highest sense.

  • Marian Eide, Associate Professor in Department of English, College of Liberal Arts
  • Dwight A. Roblyer ’84, Lecturer in Department of Political Science, College of Liberal Arts

The Distinguished Alumnus Award is the highest honor bestowed upon a former student of Texas A&M University, awarded since 1962 to only 303 of Texas A&M’s more than 517,000 former students.

Presented jointly by the university and The Association of Former Students, this award recognizes Aggies who have achieved excellence in their chosen professions and made meaningful contributions to Texas A&M University and their local communities.

The College of Liberal Arts alumni are as follows: 

Carol E. Jordan ’80 is executive director of the University of Kentucky’s Office for Policy Studies on Violence Against Women. She previously headed UK’s Center for Research on Violence Against Women and Governor’s Office of Child Abuse and Domestic Violence Services, cofounded Aggie Women Network and created a UK scholarship program.

John D. White ’70, a former Air Force judge advocate with over 40 years’ experience as a fund manager and lawyer, has chaired The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents and Ed Rachal Foundation and has served on boards for The Association, the Greater Houston Partnership and more.

Charean Williams ’86, a sportswriter with more than 25 years covering the NFL, was inducted in 2018 to the writers’ wing of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, is a Pro Football Hall of Fame selector and was the first woman president of the Pro Football Writers of America.