Annual Celebration of Excellence highlights student and faculty achievements


Illinois College commemorated academic accomplishments during its fourteenth annual Celebration of Excellence on Friday, April 19. Throughout the day, students and faculty engaged in various activities celebrating academic achievements.

The Honors Convocation, held in Sherman Gymnasium at the Bruner Fitness and Recreation Center, marked the ceremonial highlight of the day. Provost Catharine O’Connell delivered opening remarks. Subsequently, five significant awards recognizing academic excellence, service and teaching were conferred upon outstanding Illinois College students and faculty members. Additionally, the event included the announcement of student marshals for the upcoming academic year, recognition of Phi Beta Kappa inductees, and announced the winners of the Julian Monson Sturtevant Campus Leadership Award, the Harry Joy Dunbaugh Distinguished Professor Award, and the Don P. Filson Faculty Award for Vision for the Future.

Kara Dorris, assistant professor of English, was honored with the esteemed Harry Joy Dunbaugh Distinguished Professor Award, an accolade considered the highest recognition for a faculty member at Illinois College. The recipient of this award, chosen annually by a student committee under the dean's supervision, is not announced until the Honors Convocation.

Anna McKee ’25 and Thomas Menke ’25 were appointed as student marshals for the forthcoming academic year, a distinction reserved for individuals who exhibit exceptional academic achievement and campus leadership.

Illinois College’s Epsilon chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, founded by Charles Rammelkamp in 1931, welcomed new inductees: Isabella Aguirre ’24, Carson Beyers ’24, Shannon Engmann ’24, Emma Green ’23, Rebecca Hudson ’24, Arnaud Rioual ’24, Haylee Simmons ’24, Ainslee Stroup ’24, and Trenton Terry ’24.

The Julian M. Sturtevant Campus Leadership and Service Award recognized students who demonstrated outstanding service and leadership throughout their time on campus. Among the honorees were Anthony Aguilar ’24, Isabella Aguirre ’24, Luis Avila-Alvarez ’24, Kristen Costa ’24, Shannon Engmann ’24, CJ Liddell, Jr. ’24, Carlos Limon ’24, Edris Roman ’24, Rachael Rosenstengel ’24, Kenzie Strong ’24, and Madison Webb ’24.

The Don P. Filson Faculty Award for Vision for the Future was awarded to Brittney Yancy, assistant professor of history and African American studies program coordinator. This honor is awarded to faculty members who see beyond the scope of the status quo to further develop or implement a vision which can move the college forward. This faculty award was established by 1970 Illinois College graduate Darlene Nelson ’70 in memory of Dr. Filson’s vision for Illinois College to have a computer science department. 

Bernd Estabrook, professor of global studies, and Lawrence Zettler, Hitchcock professor of biology, were the recipients of the Enkyklios Award. Recipients of this award are recognized for their exceptional performance in teaching, professional engagement, and service, exemplifying excellence across these areas within a single year.

The Celebration of Excellence also showcased student presentations on recent research endeavors and achievements spanning various disciplines in the liberal arts. For additional photographs from the event, visit the Illinois College Facebook page.

About Illinois College

Founded in 1829, Illinois College is a residential liberal arts college fostering academic excellence rooted in opportunities for experiential learning while preparing students for lifelong success. The college is located in Jacksonville, Illinois. With an enrollment of more than 1,000 students, the college offers over 50 undergraduate programs. In 1932, the society of Phi Beta Kappa established a chapter at Illinois College, and it remains one of only 11 in the state.

Illinois College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

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Emily Titsworth '19, Writer
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