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Champagne, Sunshine, and Celebration: Convocation

May 21, 2017

It was a perfect day in May for the annual Convocation ceremony in the courtyard of HGS. The sky was bright blue, trees were in bloom, and hundreds of people gathered to celebrate student prize-winners and Graduate Mentor Awardees. The School of Music Brass Ensemble performed festive tunes, and the reception for 600 guests featured a champagne punch, berries and cream, shortbread, and — new this year — gourmet “Yale Blue” chocolates made by local chocolatier Chip in a Bottle.

The heart of Convocation is the awarding of departmental prizes for academic excellence and public service. This year, close to 50 students were singled out for these honors. In addition, two special “university prizes” were given by the Office of the Secretary of Yale University.

The Theron Rockwell Field Prize for “poetic, literary, or religious works by any students enrolled in the University for a degree,” was presented to two winners: Kara Yoo Leaman (Music) for her dissertation, “Analyzing Music and Dance: Balanchine's Choreography to Tchaikovsky and the Choreomusical Score,” and to Waleed B. Ziad (History) for “Traversing the Indus and the Oxus: Trans-regional Islamic Revival in the Age of Political Fragmentation and the ‘Great Game’, 1747 – 1880.”

The John Addison Porter Prize, awarded for “a work of scholarship in any field where it is possible, through original effort, to gather and relate facts or principles, or both, and to present the results in such a literary form as to make the project of general human interest,” also had two winners this year: Andrew Timberlake (Genetics), for “Exome Sequencing Reveals Novel Causes of Non-syndromic Craniosynostosis,” and Joseph W. Peterson (History) for “Missionaries and Marabouts: Catholicism, Islam, and Secularism in Nineteenth-Century France and Algeria.”

A highlight of Convocation is the presentation of Graduate Mentor Awards to three faculty members, nominated anonymously by grateful students. Winners were David Blight, in the Humanities; Derek Briggs, in the Natural Sciences; and Kalyanakrishnan Sivaramakrishnan, in the social sciences. See separate story for details.