On March 10, Ramapo College honored Dr. Patricia Ard and Dr. Amanda Beecher as co-recipients of the Fred and Florence Thomases Faculty Award.
Florence Thomases was a founding member of Ramapo College, and her husband Fred a major leader in the community. They endowed the college with both this award and a yearly scholarship. This award was first given in 1977.
Introduced by HGS Dean Susan Hangen, Ard began her career at Ramapo in 1977 and has taught as a professor of literature for thousands of students.
Ard presented some of her scholarship, which largely worked on Jane Austen, and in her presentation spoke about how houses were such a major influence on her work.
“My scholarship is so influenced by houses in so many different ways,” Ard said. She began her story with her move into a nineteenth century home while she was working as a lawyer.
She went on to speak about the homes of Charles Dickens, Mary Peabody-Mann and Jane Austen, and how their homes influenced their work. She also spoke about the home of Geraldine Rockefeller-Dodge, a New Jersey philanthropist and animal rights activist, who Ard is currently writing a book about.
After her retirement from Ramapo College in June, Ard plans to continue writing about the women philanthropists of New Jersey.
Beecher was introduced by TAS Dean Edward Saiff, who spoke about her work in mathematics and data science, Saiff also mentioned Beecher's role as a director of the Interdisciplinary Contest in Modeling.
As the director of ICM, Beecher has worked to create teams for at Ramapo. The students compete to solve real-world issues and apply mathematics to questions from other fields.
“I was asked to talk about my scholarship,” she said. “It’s heavily influenced by teaching, and I don’t think I can really separate the two in any meaningful way.”
Beecher showed her passion for using math to solve real-world issues. She shared work done by one of her students to try to solve a voting issue for a New York county.
“Students are really great at helping you find time to work on projects that are interesting to you,” Beecher said. “And they also come with really great questions.”
These two women work to create new and inspiring work at Ramapo in their different disciplines. Both have made significant contributions to the Ramapo community.