Bates alumni receive awards at Reunion Weekend

Bates College presented awards to distinguished alumni at the college’s Reunion Weekend 2001 held this year from June 15 to 17. John A. Kenney, M.D., class of 1942, was presented with the Benjamin Elijah Mays Medal, while Sally Ehrenfried, class of 1989, received the Distinguished Young Alumni Service Award.

Stacey Kabat, class of 1985, received the Alumni Community Service Award, and Norma Crooks and Richard Coughlin, class of 1952 and 1953, respectively, received the Helen A. Papaioanou Distinguished Alumni Service Award.The Benjamin Elijah Mays Medal is given only when Bates wishes to honor an alumnus or alumna who has made extraordinary contributions to America and to worldwide society. This award was established during Mays’ lifetime, and he was the inaugural recipient of the award in 1982. Other recipients have included Edmund Muskie, class of 36; Frank Coffin, class of 1940; Vincent McKusick, class of 1944; and Peter Gomes, class of 1965.

John A. Kenney was born in Tuskegee, Ala., where his father was physician to Booker T. Washington and George Carver. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Bates in biology and chemistry, and a medical degree in 1945 from Howard University School of Medicine, where he later became a member of the faculty.

For more than 25 years Kenney served as chairman of the department of dermatology at Howard, a medical consultant in dermatology to the Department of State, an officer of national medical associations and trustee of Bates College for 23 years.

The Distinguished Young Alumni Award recognizes recent graduates who have given distinctive service to the college or have achieved distinction in their careers. A native of the Lewiston-Auburn community, Sally Ehrenfried majored in political science at Bates and, after graduation, took a position on then Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell’s staff. After Mitchell left public office, Ehrenfried served both Republican and Democratic senators from Maine and currently serves as the personal assistant to Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon. But, every Thursday afternoon, she works as a reading tutor in a Washington D.C program called Everybody Wins, a commitment Sally has maintained since the program’s founding six years ago.

Winner of the Alumni Community Service Award, Stacey Kabat, graduated from Bates in 1985 and, nine years later, she won an Academy Award for co-producing and co-directing “Defending Our Lives,” a documentary which portrays the terrible choices faced by battered women. A survivor of an abusive home as a child, Kabat came to Bates and found, in her words, “some amazing human rights activists.” She has spent the fifteen years since graduating working with battered women and for human rights, receiving worldwide recognition for her efforts. She was awarded the 1992 Reebok International Human Rights Award for raising consciousness that acts of domestic violence are violations of the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Kabat used the $25,000 Reebok prize to found Peace at Home, a not-for-profit organization devoted to stopping domestic violence. She also received the Clara Barton Award from the American Red Cross for outstanding dedication to easing human suffering.

Each year, the Bates Alumni Association recognizes an outstanding graduate or graduates for their distinguished service to the college. Historically known as the Distinguished Alumni Service Award, the 1999 award was renamed the Helen A. Papaioanou Distinguished Alumni Service Award, to honor Helen Papaioanou, class of 1949, M.D., for her decades of service to Bates and to the board of trustees from 1965 to 1999.

In the nearly five decades since their graduation, Norma and Richard Coughlin have served Bates tirelessly. The Coughlin’s have served as class president, alumni class officers, reunion volunteers, club officers, College Key and campaign and leaders trustees. In 1987, they established the Richard F. Coughlin and Norma Crooks Coughlin Scholarship Fund, to benefit needy and deserving students.

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