College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters

CASL Chancellor's Medallion Recipients

Two CASL students, Katherine Pfannes and David Renard, will be honored as Chancellorís Medallion recipients at the University of Michigan-Dearbornís commencement ceremony on April 26.  The students demonstrated excellence in scholarship, leadership, and service.  The Chancellor's Medallion is UM-Dearborn's most prestigious academic honor bestowed on students. The University presents the award at each commencement.  CASL student Benita Robinson will be the student speaker at the ceremony. 


Katherine Pfannes will graduate High Distinction with a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and a minor in biological sciences. Ms. Pfannes was named to the Deanís List eight times, received UM-Dearborn Honors in 2014, was named a James B. Angell Scholar from 2012 to 2014 and received the William J. Branstrom Prize in 2011. She also has been awarded the Chancellorís Scholarship.

Ms. Pfannes participated in the University Honors Program all four years at UM-Dearborn and also was selected into the Psychology Honors Program in her junior year.

Ms. Pfannes has excelled in research while on campus. She has been the lab manager for Dr. Arlo Clark-Foos for two years; he says of Ms. Pfannes, ďShe is the best representation of what our department (and university) has to offer the world.Ē Along with working with faculty, Ms. Pfannes has pursued independent research projects, presenting her research at national conferences, including the Association of Psychological Science conference in 2014 and the Midwestern Psychological Association conference in 2015.

In addition to excelling in academic and research pursuits, Ms. Pfannes has contributed to the campus community through her role as a Supplemental Instruction Leader, Orientation Leader and Teaching Assistant; she also was an active member of the Psychology Club.

Ms. Pfannes will soon begin work toward her Ph.D. in developmental psychology at the University of California-Davis.


David Renard will receive a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and graduates with High Distinction. He has earned University Honors five times, was named to the Deanís List seven times, was named a James B. Angell Scholar in 2015, and was named the chemistry disciplineís Honors Scholar for 2015. He is a recipient of the Chancellorís Scholarship.

In addition to maintaining an exceptional record in his coursework, Mr. Renard has been an active presence on campus both in research and in mentoring. His research activities have taken place in the laboratory of Associate Professor Krisanu Bandyopadhyay, focusing on studies of nanoparticle chemistry. He has presented the results of his work on campus and at national conferences, and he co-authored a study published in the technical journal Colloids and Surfaces A. Mr. Renardís research contributions have been recognized with several awards, including an Undergraduate Research Award from the UM-Dearborn chemistry discipline and a best poster award at the 2014 American Chemical Society meeting in San Francisco. Since Fall 2013, Mr. Renard has served in a mentoring capacity as a Supplemental Instruction (SI) leader for courses in biochemistry and organic chemistry. In addition to mentoring these students, Mr. Renard also has helped train new SI leaders.

He is an active member of the UM-Dearborn Chemistry Club and has been a student member of the American Chemical Society since 2012.

Mr. Renardís efforts led to his being named a 2015 UM-Dearborn Difference Maker. Nominated by  faculty and staff, recipients are recognized for academic achievement, integrity, leadership and creative contribution in and out of the classroom.

After graduation, Mr. Renard intends to pursue a career in the field of chemistry. He has been accepted into doctoral programs at several Big Ten and other major research universities.


Benita Robinson will graduate with High Distinction, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree with dual majors in sociology and womenís and gender studies. She earned placement on the Deanís List three times, and she was recently named the Womenís and Gender Studies Departmentís Honors Scholar for 2015. Ms. Robinson is a recipient of numerous campus scholarships, including the Shirley Dudek Demmer Scholarship, the Edward J. Bagale Difference Maker Scholarship, the General Merit Scholarship and the University of Michigan Center for the Education of Women Irma Wyman Scholarship. Outside the university, she also has been awarded the Virginia Wagner  Scholarship from Soroptimist International, the Association for Nontraditional Students in Higher Education Board of Directors Scholarship and the Michigan Council of Women in Technology Laptop Scholarship.

Transferring from Wayne County Community College in 2010, Ms. Robinson entered UM-Dearborn as a non-traditional student through the Student Outreach and Academic Resources (SOAR) program. Since then, she has excelled both personally and academically. In 2011, Ms. Robinson was selected to participate in the Women in Learning and Leadership (WILL) program and currently serves as chair of the group. She is a member of the campus branch of the American Association of University Women, and she serves as a student mentor for the Womenís and Gender Studies Department. Off campus, she volunteers as a first responder for the Wayne County Sexual Assault Forensic Examinerís Program (WC SAFE), visiting survivors of assault in local hospitals and clinics to serve as their advocate.


She has served as a presenter at numerous conferences, conventions and fundraising events, including the AAUWís state convention, the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders and a Soroptimist International fundraiser for Vista Maria. She also has been a speaker at many on-campus events, including Take Back the Night and On the Move: College is an Option.

Ms. Robinsonís determination and work led to her being named a 2012 UM-Dearborn Difference Maker. Nominated by faculty and staff, recipients are recognized for academic achievement, integrity, leadership and creative contribution in and out of the classroom.

Ms. Robinson plans to take a year off from studies, during which time she will apply to graduate school for a masterís degree in either public policy or social work.