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Historian Lonnie Bunch to Receive Honorary Degree

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The founding director of the Smithsonian’s newest crown jewel—the National Museum of African American History & Culture—will visit Washington College as the nation’s oldest chartered college celebrates the birthday of its founding patron. Lonnie Bunch, a leading scholar in American and African American history, will receive the honorary degree, Doctor of Letters, at Washington’s Birthday Convocation on Feb. 24.

Bunch oversaw the architectural design competition and construction of a stunning museum that tells powerful stories of struggle and sorrow, of oppression and achievement, of slavery and freedom. The museum, which celebrated its grand opening in September 2016, holds more than 25,000 artifacts from private collectors around the country. Since his appointment in 2005, Bunch has developed several important exhibitions, including the museum’s traveling exhibition, “Changing America,” which will be shown at 50 venues across the country through 2018.

Lonnie BunchBunch also established the program, “Save Our African American Treasures,” featuring daylong workshops where participants work with conservation specialists and historians to learn to identify and preserve items of historical value.Bunch will spend some time with Washington College students before attending convocation to receive the honorary degree, Doctor of Letters.

The winter convocation is also when the College recognizes recipients of the President’s Medal, the President’s Distinguished Service Awards, and the Alumni Service Award.

President Sheila Bair will award two President’s Medals this year—to Washington College parent Richard Bookbinder and to a community organization, The Lions Clubs of Kent County. The award recognizes those who have made a sustained positive contribution to the quality of life in the region. Bookbinder is a member of the College’s Board of Visitors and Governors Investment Committee, and serves as the external advisor and mentor to Washington College’s Brown Advisory Student-Run Investment Fund Program as an Executive in Residence. He and his wife Arlene are co-chairs of the President’s Leadership Council.

The Lions Clubs of Kent County, encompassing Rock Hall, Galena, Millington, Chestertown, and Still Pond/Betterton, have been serving their communities since 1940. In 2000, when the Kent County Christmas Basket Committee’s annual project was struggling due to lack of funding, the five Lions Clubs banded together to maintain it, filling 500 baskets and serving nearly 2000 people in need every Christmas.

Five College employees will receive Distinguished Service Awards: Autumn “Lea” Carter, who as Lead of Auxiliary Services supports numerous campus functions and events; Alex Castro, the adjunct professor of art and art history who served as interim director of the Kohl Gallery and who spearheaded the SANDBOX initiative; Susan Golinski, operations supervisor in Public Safety; faculty administrative assistant Cindy Licata; and Otis Monroe, a U.S. Navy veteran whose passion for food led him to the Culinary Institute of America and a position as sous chef in Washington College’s kitchen.

Valarie Sheppard ’86, one of the longest-serving officers of Washington College’s Alumni Association, will receive the Alumni Service Award. Since earning her undergraduate degree in psychology and a master’s degree in industrial/organizational psychology from the University of Akron, Sheppard has spent the last 20 years working in a variety of human resources and human capital organizations She is presently senior HR consultant with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The George Washington’s Birthday Convocation is scheduled to begin at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, February 24, in Decker Theatre, inside the Gibson Center for the Arts.  The public is invited to attend, and admission is free.

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