Since 1947 Denison University students have been formally honored with the Louis Kussmaul Friendship Award for their service to the Granville community. This year's awardees are seniors Erika Johnson from Essex Junction, Vt., and Carly Matas from Kent, Ohio. Elizabeth Shoby from Eastlake, Ohio, also was honored as a nominee for the award. The Kussmaul award is presented to Denison students “who have contributed most to the friendly relations between Granville and the college.” The students were recognized at the Kussmaul Award Luncheon held on Wednesday, April 17, at Denison. Denison President Dale Knobel and Maggie Barno, executive director of the Granville Area Chamber of Commerce, presented the award certificates and modest cash prizes to the students.
Johnson, a political science, philosophy and economics major, was nominated by Jesse Yeager, assistant director of admissions at Denison. Yeager applauded Johnson for her role as a leader for YoungLife, a nondenominational Christian outreach ministry, saying “Erika has spent hundreds of hours selflessly serving the students in the Granville High School community. For all four years of her time at Denison, Erika has shared her life with Granville High School students, conducting weekly Bible studies, meeting for coffee, and hanging out with them after school, at school dances, and football games.” Johnson also volunteers on the Denison campus. She is active in the Student Appeals Board and Denison's Moot Court team. After graduation, Johnson will work with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Baltimore and as a paralegal at the Public Justice Center there. She plans to attend law school.
A double major in women's studies and religion, Matas was nominated by the Rev. Dwight Davidson, pastor of the United Church of Granville. Matas was recognized for her leadership of the children's church program she created, providing caring and meaningful age-appropriate activities. After returning from her semester in Senegal, Matas presented a slide show and spoke of her service-learning experiences there to a group of middle and high school students. This, as Davidson said, “broadened their horizons and gave them a taste of what Denison service-learning is like in an overseas context. Her loving care and brightness of her smile on Sunday mornings will be truly missed.” On the Denison campus, Matas served as an America Reads tutor and Advisory Board member to schools across Licking County. She was active in the Chamber Singers Choir and served in the admissions office as a tour guide, summer intern and senior interviewer. Elected for membership to Phi Beta Kappa, Matas plans to serve as a high school English teacher on a Native American reservation in South Dakota with Teach for America.
Shoby, a studio arts major, was nominated by Micaela Vivero, associate professor of studio art at Denison, for her work with the Garden of Hope and the YMCA Mural Project, both in Newark, Ohio. Shoby coordinated and supervised teens from the Licking County Juvenile Court System. Together they designed, planted, maintained and harvested the Garden of Hope, a community garden in downtown Newark. Her service also included working with the YMCA of Licking County, where she facilitated the revitalization of old murals in Newark. In addition to her volunteer activities, Shoby received the Mary K. Campbell/Caroline Woodrow Deckman Scholarship in Fine Arts, which honors students who show outstanding creative achievement in studio art.
Louis Kussmaul, brother of former printer and owner of the Granville Times W. H. Kussmaul, was a well-loved character in Granville during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Kussmaul was intensely interested in both Granville and Denison and the relationship between them. His good friend Harry Amos, editor of the Cambridge (Ohio) Daily Jeffersonian, honored “Lou” in 1947 by funding the annual award. The Louis Kussmaul Friendship Award stands as a testimony to the friendship of the two men and to the importance of friendly relations between a college and its hometown.