2021 Founder’s Day Awards


Composite created by Sienna Sullivan from submitted and directory photos

Founder’s Day award recipients, clockwise from upper left: Liz Howley, Dr. Mahan Ellison, Gemma Leonard ‘21, Dr. Alan Eby, Dr. Christine Carrillo, Dr. Neal Rittenhouse and Heather Grant.

Sienna Sullivan, Staff Writer

Bridgewater, Va. – This year’s Founder’s Day award recipients were announced via email due to COVID-19-related concerns. Bridgewater’s annual Founder’s Day Convocation celebrates the dedication and accomplishments of Bridgewater students, faculty and staff who “exemplify our commitment to excellence and to the vision of the College’s founder, Daniel Christian Flory,” said President Bushman in an email announcing the award recipients.  

Presented awards include the Ben and Janice Wade Outstanding Teaching Award, the Martha B. Thornton Faculty Recognition Award, the Faculty Scholarship Award, the Daniel Christian Flory Award and the Founder’s Award. 

Associate Professor of World Languages and Culture Mahan Ellison is the recipient of the Faculty Scholarship Award. Ellison has also received a Fulbright U.S. Senior Scholar award and is preparing for a May through December sabbatical to Morocco and Spain where he will begin research for his second book.

“I am excited about, one, learning the stuff for myself and then, two, definitely sharing it with my students when I get back,” said Ellison about his excursion. 

While Ellison is looking forward to further exploring and writing about a topic through his travels, the highlight of his professorial position resides in the classroom. 

“There’s a certain reward to publishing and conducting exciting research for sure, but I do think the thing that gets me out of bed on a daily basis is to help and watch my students learn and grow,” said Ellison. 

The Daniel Christian Flory Award was jointly presented to Associate Athletic Director for Sports Medicine and Performance Heather Grant, Associate Dean of Students and Psychologist Neal Rittenhouse and Assistant Dean of Students Liz Howley.

“I do think [this award] is indicative of the kind of place Bridgewater is and what we value,” said Howley, “I appreciate the recognition and the acknowledgment that the work Heather and Neal and I did together was a true team effort.”

Associate Professor of Music Christine Carrillo was awarded the Martha B. Thornton Faculty Recognition Award. 

“This was a very nice recognition during a very tough year as a music teacher,” said Carrillo. “I teach something that is considered one of the most dangerous things to be doing right now, so it’s really nice to be recognized in that way.”

In addition to private lessons and teaching classes in music theory and conducting, Carrillo serves as the director of BC’s Jazz Ensemble and Symphonic Band.

“In my first job out of school, I realized that I wanted to teach at a smaller school where I could have the opportunity to teach a bunch of different things, which is something that I absolutely love about my job here at Bridgewater,” said Carrillo. 

This year’s Founder’s Award was presented to senior Gemma Leonard.

Leonard was recognized for her Flory Honors project which investigated the effect of service-learning on undergraduate pre-professional health majors, as well as for her vast and varied membership in several on-campus organizations including CRU, Student Ambassadors and BC United. 

“It was a complete surprise when I received the award,” said Leonard. “I am honored to have received it though, and I am grateful to have been a part of this community.”