Editor's note: For an interactive PDF of the ceremony's program, click here.
12:35 p.m., Jan. 9, 2010----A hooding ceremony to honor University of Delaware Winter Commencement doctoral candidates was held Friday afternoon, Jan. 8, at Clayton Hall, with family and friends packing the auditorium.
The students officially received their degrees during Commencement ceremonies Saturday at the Bob Carpenter Center.
Pianist Anabelinda de Castro played music while the guests found their seats, and bagpiper Mark Hurm played as the doctoral candidates and representatives from the colleges entered the auditorium.
Debra Hess Norris, vice provost for graduate and professional education, greeted the doctoral graduates and congratulated them, saying, “As vice provost, I have enjoyed nothing more than reviewing your dissertation abstracts. Their scope is stunning. The breadth and depth of the research in all of our doctor of philosophy programs is remarkable -- and inspiring.”
Norris continued to talk about the dissertation topics she had recently signed off on, noting how far reaching and diverse they were, then singled out a few specific topics to show the variety of topics being studied. Those ranged from a dissertation on Egyptian perceptions of America to a study of shoulder injuries to baseball players.
Norris talked specifically about the students who completed the doctor of physical therapy program, which ranks fourth in the nation, saying, “The mission of the program is to advance physical therapy practice through the integration of education, clinical practice and research.”
Before handing the microphone to UD President Patrick Harker, Norris told the doctoral candidates, “Your collective research and scholarship addresses the challenges of today and tomorrow. It empowers us to respond to needs and opportunities from the local to the global scale. We are grateful. We are very proud. And we look forward to your continued association with the University of Delaware in the weeks, months and years ahead.”
Harker opened his speech with a lighthearted joke, telling the doctoral students that “If 'Earn doctorate' was among your New Year's resolutions, just go ahead and scratch that one off the list.”
After the laughter, Harker said, “As great a day as this is for you, it's a great one for me, too. Because, to a large degree, it's your scholarship and your research -- your dedication to your discipline and your groundbreaking work in it -- that make UD such a compelling place to be.”
After telling the doctoral graduates that they are “the reason why the University of Delaware is gaining a name as one of the nation's premier research and graduate institutions,” Harker went on to commend the graduates on a path that was no doubt paved in arduous trials and tribulations.
“This degree is a remarkable one, and it demands that a remarkable person earn it,” he said. “By the numbers alone, what you've accomplished is extraordinary. Just 1 percent of U.S. adults hold a doctorate. And that's because the path to it is long and hard, exhausting and - yes -- frustrating. Without doubt, attaining this degree takes equal parts passion and perseverance -- and it takes both parts in larger quantities than most people can fathom.”
Entering the top 1 percent, however, is not the end of the accomplishment, and Harker noted that “the most gratifying thing about membership in this top 1 percent is knowing the powerful benefit to be claimed by the other 99. In a very real way, your work is a profound act of service. It makes people healthier, lives fuller, communities safer and the world more verdant. But there's also something more subtle at play. Your work succeeds beyond its defined parameters and discrete outcomes. Your work betters humanity -- our nature, our outlook, our optimism -- what we prize and what we strive for. It contributes to a richer intellectual life, where questions are welcomed and curiosity rewarded, where an open, vigorous mind is valued above all else.”
Harker took the time to recognize the team of faculty and colleagues who helped the doctoral graduates along the way, and also cited the families who helped the graduates. “Without their encouragement and support, your road to this degree would have been longer and infinitely tougher,” he said.
In conclusion, Harker told the doctoral graduates, “Your ideas will inspire a whole new generation of thinkers who will owe a portion of their academic success to yours. And in that way the work you've done here at the University of Delaware will live on. We say that the University will nurture the intellectual leaders who will help solve the world's most intractable problems. You are those leaders. And it is your intellectual leadership we need right now.”
Mary Martin, assistant provost for graduate and professional education, discussed the importance of the doctoral hooding procedure and the doctoral degree itself. “The Doctoral Hooding Convocation is a tradition at the University of Delaware,” she said. “For the degree candidates, it is likely to be a one-time event in your lifetime. We believe that the experience of this event that recognizes your accomplishment will forever linger in your memory and the memory of your family as you step off into your future endeavors.”
Provost Tom Apple congratulated the doctoral candidates on their impressive achievements, before emphasizing that he also wanted to let the doctoral students know that some of the biggest challenges they will face in life lay ahead.
“What I want to tell you is that most of your best opportunities as you go forward are going to be disguised as risk,” he said. “So my message I want to give to you, and I want you to take away, is that you should take risks.”
Apple continued, “You're going to find, as you move through life, that you're going to have opportunities that will require you to really move outside of your comfort zone, and I want to encourage you to do those things.”
Stressing the importance of taking risks, Apple said, “What you find is that as you take those risks, the rewards are incredible. And I believe that if you take those risks, you can transform your world and you can also transform our world.”
Brent Schrader, a master's degree student studying education and public policy, sang the University's alma mater before the recession of the hooded graduates.
Article by Adam Thomas
Photos by Duane Perry