Constance Kassor, left, and Madera Allan share a laugh on stage at Memorial Chapel.
Constance Kassor, left, and Madera Allan talk about pilgrimages in Nepal and Spain during Friday's Honors Convocation. (Photos by Danny Damiani)

Madera Allan, associate professor of Spanish, called her visit last summer to the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal stunning and beautiful, a glimpse into a way of life “infused with a frenetic, spiritual energy.”

Constance Kassor, associate professor of religious studies, called her visit to Camino de Santiago in northwestern Spain last summer an incredible journey—a 100-kilometer pilgrimage leading to the awe-inspiring cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

The two Lawrence University professors made those journeys together, and on Friday afternoon they shared the experience in Memorial Chapel at Lawrence’s Honors Convocation, the third and final Convocation of the 2022-23 academic year.

Their Convocation address, On the Roads: Catholic and Buddhist Pilgrimage, explored the who, why, and where of pilgrimage. They described the special sort of community forged on pilgrimage and compared it to the community we make together at Lawrence.

Allan traveled to Nepal at Kassor’s invite, visiting together the shrines, temples, and stupas of Kathmandu, all stunningly beautiful.

Constance Kassor and Madera Allan showed photos from Spain and Nepal on a big screen during their presentation on pilgrimages.

And Kassor traveled to Spain at Allan’s invite, making the week-long pilgrimage along coastal Spain together on foot.

Kassor said arriving at the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela left her breathless—and not just because they had walked for a week straight in temperatures hovering above 100 degrees.

“I was just amazed about so many things about the Camino,” she said.

Their address, which included photos of their journeys, was insightful, thoughtful, and fun. You can view the Convocation, including the address by Allan and Kassor, here.

Awards and honors

The Convocation followed Thursday’s Honors Awards Ceremony and Reception, where 130 Lawrence students, two student organizations, and seven faculty and staff were honored with awards that spanned academics, athletics, and student life. The recipients were applauded again at Convocation.

“We celebrate excellence and leadership exhibited by students, faculty, and staff during this academic year,” President Laurie Carter said.

In addition to Allan and Kassor receiving the Faculty Convocation Award, the following faculty and staff were honored:

  • Babcock Award for outstanding service to students (voted on by students): Pam Yeager of Bon Appetit;
  • Mortar Board Honorary Award: Tim Spurgin, Bonnie Glidden Buchanan Professor of English Literature and associate professor of English, and Kelly Culhane, assistant professor of chemistry;
  • University Award for Excellence in Advising: José Encarnación, associate professor of music and director of jazz studies;
  • First-Year Studies Teaching Award: Megan Pickett, associate professor of physics.

“We can all take great pride in these students, faculty, and staff and the many ways they have enriched our community,” Carter said. “Thank you for your leadership, and congratulations on your impressive accomplishments.”

A musical selection, The Servant Girl at Emmaus, by Nansi Carroll, was performed during the Convocation by Emma Sayeg ’24, contralto soloist; Elena Crino ’24, Chelsea Dongas ’24, and Charlotte Hall ’23, sopranos; Evan Ney ’24, soprano saxophone; and Iris Hakes ’24, bassoon.

Mark Phelan, associate professor of philosophy, was announced as next year’s Honors Convocation speaker.