Eight students earn Margaret Bates Awards

Margaret "Peggy" Bates
Margaret “Peggy” Bates

By Abby Weingarten

Eight Novo Collegians earned Margaret Bates Awards this year—annual honors given to students whose exceptional work was accepted for presentation at academic conferences.

The 2020 laureates are: Shelby Hennessy, Sarah Lane, Emily Lovett, Falon Mansfield, Pamela (Mellie) McCabe, Diana Proenza, Kari Solum and Ben Valen.

Amy Reid, Ph.D., professor of French and gender studies, and the director of the Gender Studies Program (GSP) at New College, applauds the recipients.

“This year, we had an impressive number of nominees—in fields including literature, art history, religion, history, psychology and gender studies,” Reid said, adding that the students were invited to present their work at a variety of regional, national and international conferences. “This is a sign of the talent of our students, the commitment of our faculty to mentoring, and our campus’ engagement in research across academic fields.”

The students and their work are as follows:

Shelby Hennessy, literature area of concentration (AOC): Disobedient Women: The Single Mother in Contemporary Literature and Life (accepted for presentation at the Southeastern Women’s Studies Association (SEWSA) conference in St. Petersburg in March); mentored/nominated by Miriam Wallace, Ph.D., professor of English and gender studies.

Sarah Lane, history/gender studies AOC: Sacrifice and Strength: The Representation of Women in Italian Fascist Visual Propaganda (presented at the Florida Conference of Historians in Lake City in February. Another one of Lane’s papers was also accepted for presentation at SEWSA); mentored/nominated by Wallace and David Harvey, Ph.D., professor of history and international studies.

Emily Lovett, history AOC: The Allegorization of Countess Matilda of Tuscany as Deborah in Eleventh Century Polemical Works (presented at the Florida Conference of Historians in Lake City in February); mentored/nominated by Harvey and Thomas McCarthy, Ph.D., associate professor of history.

Falon Mansfield and Pamela (Mellie) McCabe, religion AOCs: If You Build Them They Will Come: Religion, Gender, and Education in Contemporary Bhutan (a collaboration presented at the Southeast Conference – Association for Asian Studies, at New College in January; also accepted for presentation at the Florida Digital Humanities Consortium Conference in St. Augustine in March, and the ASIANetwork Annual Conference in Columbus, Ohio, in April); mentored/nominated by: Manuel Lopez Zafra, Ph.D., assistant professor of religion; and Cal Murgu (research, instruction and digital humanities librarian).

Diana Proenza, English and art history AOC: Redefining Womanhood in the Age of Industrialization: Women’s Magazines and Modernism (presented at the Florida Conference of Historians in Lake City in February); mentored/nominated by Harvey; Katherine Brion, Ph.D., assistant professor of art history; and Jessica Young, Ph.D., assistant professor of English.

Kari Solum, English AOC; Motherhood is a Mental Illness: Feminist Explorations of Mothering in the Film Hustlers (2019) (accepted for presentation at SEWSA); mentored/nominated by Wallace.

Benjamin Valen, psychology/art history AOC: Impacts of Church on LGBTQ+ Identity (a collaboration with Steven Graham, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology; presented at the International Association for the Psychology of Religion conference in Gdansk, Poland, in August 2019); mentored/nominated by Graham.

The GSP has been distributing Bates Awards for more than a decade “both as a way to highlight and encourage student work, and as a way to provide some financial support for their attending conferences,” Reid said.

During “Feminist Friday” gatherings at New College (which transitioned to a virtual format due to the pandemic), students presented their work and received feedback from the faculty.

“This was a win for both the students and faculty, giving all the students, especially those who unfortunately had conferences canceled due to COVID-19, a chance to speak about and receive feedback on their work,” Reid said. “The competitive side of things is in the work students have to do to get their research proposals accepted at academic conferences (students work closely with faculty to prepare their abstracts and papers/posters, often preparing this as part of an Independent Study Project or in conjunction with a research seminar).”

The Bates Awards are named after the late Margaret “Peggy” Bates, who was a beloved member of the New College faculty. An authority on African history and international law, Bates exemplified the ideals of global citizenry and inspired her students to excel. She served as a professor of political science from 1971 to 1995, and as the interim provost from 1989 to 1992.

New College students are thrilled to receive the Bates Awards, which also provided them with a modest sum for reimbursing travel expenses.

“I want to express my thanks for this opportunity, and I am amazed by all the different AOCs represented in this award,” McCabe said. “This connection goes to show the significance of this award and the importance of gender studies.”

Valen added, “Being a recipient of the Bates Award is an honor, and indicates that I am moving in the right direction with my research on LGBTQ+ identity. Receiving this award has driven me to continue my research during my thesis year and eventually into graduate school.”

Abby Weingarten is the editor/writer in the Office of Communications & Marketing.


Located in Sarasota, New College of Florida has educated intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement since its founding in 1960. As the State of Florida’s designated honors college, New College provides an exceptional education that transforms students’ intellectual curiosity into personal accomplishment. The 110-acre campus on Sarasota Bay is home to more than 700 students and 80 full-time faculty engaged in interdisciplinary research and collaborative learning. New College offers nearly 40 areas of concentration for undergraduates and a master’s degree program in Data Science.

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