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Psychology Awards Banquet

(l-r) Sigma Xi award winners Joy Minchew '00, Jason Gray '00, and Jennifer Starr '00.
The following remarks were made by Professor Cole Barton at the psychology department's annual senior class awards banquet on Wednesday, April 12.

The Sigma Xi Award for Student Research

Each year the department decides that some of our students' research is particularly distinctive for its excellent quality. This year we have three winners:

We are celebrating Joy Minchew's focused and programmatic work collaborating with Dr. Greta Munger, culminating in an outstanding senior thesis effort. She has very creatively applied the rigorous theory and methods from perception research to the mystery of dreams, forging workwhich is both technically elegant and creative.

Jennifer Starr's work is similarly distinctive for its excellent quality. Her range is particularly distinctive, since she has designed theory-driven and well-controlled research within Dr. Munger's laboratory, but has also bridged her research training with applied clinical problems, being acknowledged with publication credit and research consultations in Behavioral Medicine.

Jason Gray's sponsors describe his incredible dedication, his prolific productivity, and his palpable love for research. He has been precocious as well. Drs. Smith and Ramirez have demanded much from him, and have great appreciation for not only what he has contributed directly, but for his support, training, and mentorship of other students.

Workman Award

Surfers and flyfishers are fond of saying "You should have been here yesterday:" That's certainly the case in regards to Gaty Workman. I am sad that more of you did not have the great privilege to know Dr. William Gatewood "Gaty" Workman, after whom our department's highest honor is named. He was a remarkable man.
Dr. William Gatewood "Gaty" Workman

In an age where we reduce complexity to bullet points, his life would say of him:

  • Educated at Emory University, with bachelor's and master's degrees in philosophy, psychology, and divinity.
  • Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, studying with two of psychology's giants: Thurstone and Lashley.
  • Hired to teach psychology within the philosophy department at Davidson, he established psychology as an independent major, and did us the great favor of hiring Ed Palmer.
  • Concerned about professionalism and quality in psychology in North Carolina, he wrote the licensing law for clinical psychologists in the state, and himself held license #2.
  • Concerned that a chaplain at Broughton State Hospital could not take a vacation, he volunteered time up there. That led to his developing a summer program that lives on until this day, and is one of the very few programs in the United States where undergraduates have the run of a hospital.
  • Besides establishing the department of psychology, within our community he stood tall on the floor of the faculty and compelled his colleagues to address inclusiveness for black people and women at Davidson

    But then, what is history? The best history is a legacy, and when I think about Gaty Workman I am encouraged about how you can still know who he was:

    You see his family here tonight, and you don't have to reflect much to see their loyalty and dedication to his memory and our department. You experience loyalty and affection that was his. If anyone in our community has made you feel like they really care what happens to you, you know part of Dr. Workman's legacy.

    You can reflect on your experience with Dr. Ed Palmer, and you experience an example of how psychology, personal goodness, and love for others can go hand in hand- like Gaty did it- and you recognize the joys of being around somebody who shows you how good people can be.

    Dr. Kello expresses a thought and an idea with an eloquence and excellence that makes you marvel, and you know someone who commands the language, gives a spellbinding lecture, and has the same penetrating understanding of what's important that Gaty did.

    Dr. Ault scrutinizes the ethics and merits of your thinking, to say nothing of your prose, and you can experience Dr. Workman's unquenching drive for the truth, and unflinching standards for doing things right.

    Dr. Ramirez's contagious enthusiasms and incredible focus show you how passionate Gaty was about his work, and how much more valuable it is when it's shared, and how meaningful it can become.

    The extraordinary breadth of Dr. Munger's talent, a Rennaissance person, a performing artist, an exemplary scholar- at home in the lab, concert hall, or gallery- and you know the range of talent Gaty had.

    If you drive by the applied psych building late at night, you'll see Dr. Kristi Multhaup's lights burning, and you'll see the commitment to not only taking the time and energy to do it well, but to take the extra steps to do it as well as it can get done; and Gaty would smile. . .

    People gravitated to Gaty Workman like they do to Paul Marciano, probably because they experience the same sense of compassion and concern, and they experience those things leavened with insight and helpfulness.

    And Dr. Smith's dedication to his work, his care and inspiration for his students, are a palpable demonstration of how to find a path within psychology to exciting discoveries that will benefit others, like Gaty showed generations of folks before us.

    So he's not in the past, he's still here- and it's important for us to know that, and to keep what he was the essence of what we're doing.
    Travis Barton
    Workman Award winner Travis Barton with Mildred Workman, widow of the longtime leader of Davidson's psychology department.

    So you can see that when we decide on who deserves the William Gatewood Workman Award, we consider lots of stuff. And know that it never seems to get any easier to decide between candidates. The Award connotes what we strive to maintain within our department.

    Our winner, Travis Vernon Barton '00, commands respect and affection in equal measure. Her boundless energy takes her seemingly everywhere there is an interest or need. She has made herself close to indispensable to several of her mentors, and has even bailed out a couple with her substantial skills, talent, and willingness to work on anything worthwhile. She has pursued her senior thesis subjects with an intensity approaching her aerobic endeavors, and has infected the most despondent or discouraged with her contagious good humor. Her talent and accomplishments across her classwork, research, and departmental contributions have been uniformly excellent. Given her remarkable juxtaposition of attributes, it's not clear if we will miss her technical sophistication or good will more. We will celebrate her memory with her name being engraved on the plaque as the 2000 William Gatewood Workman Award winner.

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