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Doctoral candidates cap their academic success

Families and friends filled Baker Hall to watch Lehigh’s newly minted doctorates don their official academic regalia.

For the doctoral candidates taking the stage, Sunday’s traditional hooding ceremony culminated a long, arduous path that earned them the highest academic degree.

President Alice P. Gast told the candidates, “this distinction gives you the license, and the responsibility, to seek out and pursue challenging opportunities.” 

“With your doctoral degree, you are prepared to go forward and effect more change,” she said. “These changes will be greater and more challenging, and all the more fulfilling, for what you have already achieved.”

Held in Baker Hall, the ceremony honors doctoral candidates who successfully completed their degree requirements. The candidates, now experts in their fields, received guidance from faculty advisers and support from family and friends.

Some of the candidates will continue in academia, as professors, lab directors and mentors to their own students. Others will take their expertise to industry or government, in local communities or across the globe.

A time for generosity

“Your intellect, your passion and your perseverance got you here, and they will serve you well in whatever arena you choose to make your mark,” said Provost Patrick Farrell. “Be generous with your talents and your leadership, and you will do great things.”

The ceremony is part of a distinct American academic system of gowns and hoods that was adopted in 1895. Candidates wear official regalia chosen in medieval times to distinguish clerical and academic groups from the laity. Through the centuries they have been modified in cut and color to indicate the level of attainment in the major branches of knowledge.

During the ceremony, each candidate was called onstage where their faculty adviser draped a colored hood over their head. Lehigh’s hood is brown with white chevrons. The velvet trim of the hood indicates major field of study—golden yellow for science, orange for engineering, dark blue for philosophy, copper for economics, light blue for education, etc.

Doctoral degrees were presented by the deans of Lehigh’s four colleges: Donald Hall (Herbert J. and Ann L. Siegel Dean, College of Arts and Sciences), Paul Brown (College of Business and Economics), Gary Sasso (College of Education), and S. David Wu (P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science).

Dissertation award winners

Each year the Elizabeth Stout Dissertation Award is bestowed on doctoral dissertations judged to make unusually significant and original contributions to their field. The award is endowed by Robert Stout, professor emeritus of materials science and engineering, in memorial to his wife. The 2012 winners were:

• Alex Ireland, earth and environmental sciences, “Assessing the Sensitivity of Kettle Ecosystems to Climatic and Anthropogenic Disturbances”

• Suhui Li, economics, “Three Essays on Entry, Volume and Outcomes in Hospital Markets”

• Donghui Zhao, materials science and engineering, “Atomistic Mechanisms and Kinetics of Photo-induced Changes in Chalcogenide Glasses”

Kurt Douglass, who earned his Ph.D. in English, was awarded the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Dissertation Award for “Who Rules the Waves? Reading the Sea in Late Medieval and Early Modern English Literature.”

Ninety-nine doctoral degrees were awarded at Lehigh’s 144th commencement May 21.


Photos by Christa Neu


Story by Tricia Long

Posted on Monday, May 21, 2012

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