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Spirituality and Service Guide Sullivan Award Winners

Psychology professor and senior engineering student are committed to helping others

Sullivan Award winners Lauren Harper, left, and Rick Hoyle, right, received their awards from Provost Sally Kornbluth, center, on Friday.
Sullivan Award winners Lauren Harper, left, and Rick Hoyle, right, received their awards from Provost Sally Kornbluth, center, on Friday.

Duke offered fertile ground for the generous spirits of Professor Rick Hoyle and senior Lauren Harper to make a difference. And that difference was honored Friday when they each received an Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award.

The award recognizes one graduating senior and one member of the faculty, staff or graduate student body of Duke University or Duke University Health System for their outstanding commitment to service.

 “It’s really a great pleasure to be able to call out those in the community who are really making a difference,” Kornbluth said. “Not only to honor them, but to show that this is a model of how we want our community to be.”

Hoyle and Harper were presented with a framed certificate and medallion from Provost Sally Kornbluth.

The award was established in 1925 to honor the memory of Sullivan, a southerner who became a prominent lawyer, businessman and philanthropist in New York in the late nineteenth century. It aims to perpetuate the excellence of character and humanitarian service of Sullivan by recognizing and honoring such qualities in others.

Lauren Harper

Harper, a senior in the Pratt School of Engineering, was singled out for her welcoming spirit and active role in Duke’s faith community.

“It’s nice, it’s a good way to stop and reflect on the ways I’ve been involved in communities on campus and how they have shaped me,” Harper said of the award.

Since her first year on campus, she’s been a driving force in Duke Presbyterian Campus Ministry. Always contemplating the connection between her faith, academics and values, she’s backed up her beliefs with action.

She’s been a fixture at Duke University Chapel, participating in weekly worship, fellowship activities and service events. She’s served as co-president of Voices for Interfaith Action. Whether it was working for Habitat for Humanity or bagging lunches for Urban Ministries, she was always ready to help.

“Few students embody the characteristics of this award – generosity, character, spirituality, and integrity – as well as Harper does,” wrote nominator Christy Lohr Sapp, Associate Dean for Religious Life at Duke University Chapel. “She is a blessing to the Duke community and a model of selflessness and service.”

A member of Ubuntu, a diverse on-campus living community, and someone who has built friendships with people of other faiths and sexual orientations, she’s taken the approach that the world won’t change if you limit whom you connect with.

She said she was grateful to find many welcoming people at Duke and has made a conscious effort to be similarly welcoming to others.

“Her humor, compassion, genuine willingness to listen to others and joyful spirit are infectious and inspire others to be more like her,” wrote Presbyterian Campus Minister Rev. Katie Owen Aumann.

Rick Hoyle

Hoyle, a professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, was honored for the positive impact he’s left on his students and colleagues during his decade at Duke.

“It’s a neat award,” Hoyle said. “I guess if you’re going to be recognized for anything, it’s gratifying to be recognized for making a difference in that way.”

In addition to teaching a full load of courses, running an active research lab and playing a major role in two multi-site grants, he recently took on the challenging role of Director of Undergraduate Studies for Psychology.

“It’s a wonderful chance to make a difference,” Hoyle said of the position.

His area of research, studying what makes people resilient in the face of hardship, is one that embodies his commitment to helping others. He’s spearheaded the work of the Center for the Study of Adolescent Risk and Resilience and the You@Duke project, both of which focus on how young people handle adversity.

“This research has deep value, in that it will provide new insights about how personality and experiences intersect to help students reach their goals,” wrote nominator Scott Huettel, the chair of the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience.

But his commitment to helping others has made an impact beyond Duke. He’s taken several service trips to, among other places, West Africa and the Caribbean. Always willing to volunteer his time for worthy causes, he’s also led efforts for his home congregation, Cary’s Greenwood Forest Baptist Church, to strengthen its bond to its surrounding community.

“There are many outstanding scholars, like Professor Hoyle, at Duke,” Huettel wrote in his nomination letter. “There are many outstanding teachers like Professor Hoyle at Duke. There are few, if any, who equal his commitment to living an ethical, other-regarding, and spiritual life.”