Bridgewater College marked its observance of Founder’s Day on Tuesday, April 4, and presented awards to three faculty members for their excellence in teaching and scholarship, two staff members for dedicated service and one student for academic excellence.
The Founder’s Day observance at Bridgewater commemorates the April 3, 1854, birth of Daniel Christian Flory who, at the age of 26, began a new school at Spring Creek in Rockingham County in 1880. The school, first known as Spring Creek Normal School, moved to Bridgewater two years later and changed its name to Bridgewater College on July 12, 1889. The College’s observance of Founder’s Day began in 1920.
“We believe today, as D.C. Flory did in his own time, that education creates connections between passion and reason, between the classroom and the world outside the classroom, between a focused academic major and the exploration of free electives, and between the curricular and the co-curricular. We believe the great possibilities of life are realized in what we build together,” Bridgewater President Dr. David Bushman remarked at the ceremony in Nininger Hall.
Jennifer Babcock, senior instructor of communication studies, received the Martha B. Thornton Faculty Recognition Award; Dr. Donna H. Hoskins, associate professor of health and human sciences, received the Ben and Janice Wade Outstanding Teaching Award; and Dr. Stephen Baron, Harry G.M. “Doc” Jopson professor of biology, received the Faculty Scholarship Award.
Helpdesk Supervisor Shay Kelley was awarded the Daniel Christian Flory Award, and College Chaplain Rev. Dr. Robbie Miller is the first recipient of the James O. and Sylvia Kline Bowman Peace and Justice Award.
Hannah McPherson, a senior applied physics major from Callaway, Va., received the Bridgewater College Founder’s Award.
About the honorees:
Prof. Jennifer Babcock, Martha B. Thornton Faculty Recognition Award
Babcock, senior instructor of communication studies, has been at Bridgewater College since 2010 and teaches a variety of courses in communication studies. She earned her B.A. in communication from the University of Southern Maine in 2005 and her M.A. in communication from the University of Maine in 2007. She has been the Director of Endowed Lectures since 2019, bringing speakers including Monica Lewinsky, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Rev. Dr. William Barber II to Bridgewater.
The Martha B. Thornton Faculty Recognition Award recognizes faculty who “provide caring concern for students well beyond the role as teacher.”
Dr. Donna H. Hoskins, Ben and Janice Wade Outstanding Teaching Award
Hoskins, chair and associate professor in the Department of Health and Human Sciences, joined the Bridgewater College faculty in 2012. She received an M.S. in career and technical education from the University of Kentucky and a Ph.D. in human development and family science from the University of Georgia. Hoskins’ research focuses on the effects of parenting on child outcomes. In addition to publishing research and her classroom initiatives during her tenure at Bridgewater, Hoskins received the Virginia Outstanding Family and Consumer Sciences Professional Award in 2015.
The Ben and Janice Wade Outstanding Teaching Award is conferred annually upon the Bridgewater College classroom teacher who has demonstrated outstanding classroom teaching performance, the encouragement of which was a priority of Dr. Ben Wade during his tenure (1979-85) as Bridgewater’s executive assistant to the president, provost and professor of religion.
Dr. Stephen Baron, Faculty Scholarship Award
Baron, Harry G.M. “Doc” Jopson professor of biology, has been at Bridgewater College since 1995. He earned his B.S. and M.S. in biology from the University of Dayton and received his Ph.D. in 1988 from Virginia Tech. Baron teaches courses on microbiology, introductory biology for majors and non-majors, human genetics and molecular biology and has a strong research focus in the field of biodegradable plastics. Research mentorship with students is important to Baron, and over the years he has worked with more than 100 students on independent study, honors and summer research projects. Baron is the 2012 recipient of the College’s Martha B. Thornton Faculty Recognition Award and the 2019 winner of the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges’ H. Hiter Harris Jr. Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award.
The Faculty Scholarship Award recognizes a faculty member for his or her “established record of scholarly achievement.”
Shay Kelley, Daniel Christian Flory Award
Kelley has worked in the Bridgewater College Information Technology (IT) Center since 2005. She earned a B.S. from Virginia Tech in environmental science in 1992. As Helpdesk Supervisor, she oversees the help desk and IT student workers, training for new College employees, handling phone calls to the College main line, logistics for IT events and orientations and much more. In addition to going above and beyond to help others, she taught fitness classes in the College’s Funkhouser Center from 2010-2020 and still keeps in touch with an employee fitness class participant email list regularly, encouraging them to attend yoga and strength training and letting them know about other programs and opportunities to be active. Kelley has worked as tailgating staff since 2018 and has served as Tailgating Supervisor since 2022. She is also active at Mossy Creek Presbyterian Church, where she is a lifelong member and a deacon, and volunteers regularly with the Sangerville Ruritan Club.
The Daniel Christian Flory Award recognizes “the staff member(s) who made the most outstanding contribution to fulfilling the mission of Bridgewater College.”
Rev. Dr. Robbie Miller, James O. and Sylvia Kline Bowman Peace and Justice Award
Miller, who has served as College Chaplain since 1990, graduated from Bridgewater College with his B.A. in philosophy and religion in 1979. He went on to earn his master of divinity from Bethany Theological Seminary in 1983 and his doctor of ministry from Wesley Theological Seminary in 2006. Miller has organized regular worship gatherings and various opportunities for study and service and has
helped found and advise several spiritual life clubs and organizations at the College. In addition, he has taught courses in religion, including a “Lands of the Bible” travel course to the Near East, and has helped lead the College chapter of Habitat for Humanity’s alternative spring break trip for 25 years. The Shenandoah District Pastors for Peace recognized Miller in 2021 with the Living Peace Award.
New in 2023, the James O. and Sylvia Kline Bowman Peace and Justice Award is presented to a faculty or staff member in recognition of significant on- or off-campus service that best embodies the Kline-Bowman Institute’s mission “to promote the building of peace in communities ranging from the local to the global.”
Hannah McPherson, Bridgewater College Founder’s Award
McPherson, from Callaway, Va., is a senior applied physics major with a minor in mathematics. On campus, she is president of both the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Club and Comitatus, a group focused on the study and safe practices of Western martial arts. McPherson is vice president of the Student Support Foundation and a member of the Flory Honors program. She is a member of the national physics honor society Sigma Pi Sigma and Philomathes honor society, a society that encourages scholarship and recognizes Bridgewater students, faculty members and alumni who have achieved unusual distinction in the pursuit of knowledge. Additionally, she performs in the College’s Jazz Ensemble. McPherson is the 2022 Dale V. Ulrich Award recipient for the Department of Engineering and Physics. After graduation, McPherson plans to teach secondary mathematics.
The Bridgewater College Founder’s Award recognizes a “Bridgewater College senior who best demonstrates the values of the College’s Founder, D.C. Flory—both in and out of the classroom.”