Lehigh University
Lehigh University


'They have earned the right to be called doctor'

In a ceremony with roots dating back to medieval times, Lehigh University celebrated the accomplishments of 84 doctoral candidates Sunday who successfully made the transition to what President Alice P. Gast referred to as “becoming members of the academic elite.”

With spouses and children, family and friends, and faculty and staff looking on at Zoellner Arts Center’s Baker Hall, the candidates received colored hoods from their faculty advisors. The hoods—ranging from orange for engineering to light blue for education to copper for economics to white for arts and letters--represented the specific fields of study chosen by the candidates.

“They have become acknowledged experts in their fields of study,” Gast said. “They have changed their field through their contributions to it, and their papers will be referred to and discussed for years to come. They are leaders and authorities who have set the highest goals for themselves, and achieved them. They have earned the right to be called doctor.”

Gast conceded that, “Our society does not always know what to do with us.

“Over the years, I have had a chance to reflect on what it means to be a doctor of chemical engineering,” she said. “Being a Ph.D. certainly led to some strange cocktail party discussions on how to remove stains from a table linen or whether paper or plastic bags were more environmentally conscious. And more than once, the title ‘Dr.’ led to being asked if I was a medical doctor on an airplane. It pays to take first aid in any case.”

Gast said that in her research, teaching and service, “the doctorate itself is only a beginning.”

That idea was echoed by Provost Mohamed El-Aasser, who said the new doctors who shared the stage with him are embarking on “the pursuit of lifelong learning and creating and disseminating new knowledge. Today is not the end of their story, just the first chapter. There is so much more yet to come.”

Doctoral degrees were awarded by each of Lehigh’s four colleges: the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business and Economics, the College of Education, and the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science.

Within each college, a Stout Dissertation Award was bestowed on the doctoral dissertation judged to make unusually significant and original contributions to their field. The 2009 winners were:

• Colleen Ann Lutz Clemens, English, for Prisoner of My Own Story: Women and the Politics of Veiling in Postcolonial Literature. Advisor: Amardeep Singh
• Dana Costea, economics, for Essays on the Economics of Drug Pricing and Advertising. Advisor: Shin-Yi Chou
• Shelley Jane Hosterman, school psychology, for Halo Effects and Accuracy in Teacher Ratings of ADHD Symptoms: Influence of Ethnicity and Developmental Level. Advisor: George J. DuPaul
• Jason Charles Derenick, computer science, for A Convex Optimization Framework for Multi-Agent Motion Planning. Advisor: John R. Spletzer

In addition, William Leonard Coleman, who earned his Ph.D. in molecular biology, was honored with the College of Arts and Sciences Dean's Dissertation Award for Synapsin II and Rab3a Are Dynamic Regulators of Vesicle Cycling in Mouse Motor Endplates. His advisor was Maria Bykhovskaia.

“The students who have completed their doctorate degree and are being hooded today represent our future leaders,” El-Aasser said.

Gast also expressed confidence that the successful doctoral candidates would make a difference in the years to come.

“I look for these new doctors to make their marks in a wide variety of endeavors of importance to mankind,” Gast said.

--Jack Croft

For a complete article, audio, and photo slideshow about Lehigh's 141st commencement, see Commencement 2009: Sachs tells graduates that 'global and online connections might...be our world's salvation'

To read about Lehigh's baccalaureate service, see Baccalaureate speaker finds comfort on rocky ground

Posted on Sunday, May 17, 2009

share this story: