Environmental studies major Tait Ferguson is one of only eight students chosen as a President’s Medalist, Denison’s highest award for students, for the Class of 2023. Ferguson, who also minored in religion, says, “I was surprised about how easily and quickly you can become close to professors (in and out of the classroom). Coming from a high school of over 3,500 students, I did not have the opportunity to forge mentorships with my high school teachers.”

Ferguson, who has been highly involved in student voter education and registration, says, “Having already spent 1.5 years doing civic engagement work on campus, I realized I had never considered the administrative or high-level conversations related to campus civic life. I sent Dr. Weinberg an email, and he responded surprisingly quickly and informally… catching me a little off-guard.”

“Around a week later, we sat down for a morning chat on A-Quad, an experience that felt so quintessentially ‘college.’ It was a fantastic conversation about how to better foster a culture of civic engagement on campus, and helped inform the next DU Votes Action Plan. But, what made the moment special was how casual and accessible the conversation was. The opportunity to have an immersive conversation with my college President, and the knowledge that this was not a ‘unique’ experience, is a moment I still bring up on every tour I give at Denison.”

“Over my four years, the entire Denison staff, faculty, and administrative community has demonstrated how important deep relationships are to a successful college experience. Especially during my senior year, I have made close bonds with many faculty, and consider several of my former professors to be close mentors who I would go to for academic, professional, and personal advice.”

Ferguson’s citation reads, in part:

“…you’ve been a leader both on campus and off, dedicating yourself to connecting peers on other university campuses and across the country. From the Campus Vote Project to political engagement with causes and candidates supporting environmental measures and open democracies, you have built not just bridges, but highways connecting life on campus with other colleges and universities, and to the wider political world all around us.

“…Described by your nominators as the “quintessential liberal arts student,” out of your major in environmental studies and minor in religion, you ventured into the challenging terrain of a senior research project looking at oil & gas extraction on Native American lands.

“…You also took on the challenge of study abroad in Berlin, considering environmental and democratic governance in an international setting.

“…You were part of an astonishing 99+ percent voter registration tally among Denison University students, leading our campus to have one of the highest voter registration rates among American universities…you have made voting a cool thing for Denison students to do.

April 24, 2023