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Hooding ceremony celebrates successful doctoral candidates

Lehigh's 98 graduate students were recognized for earning the highest academic degree during the 2008 Doctoral Degree Hooding Ceremony.
Commencement '08: Highlights & photo galleries

It may have been overcast and raining outside, but inside Zoellner Arts Center’s Baker Hall Sunday afternoon, the future could hardly have looked brighter.

As spouses and children, family and friends, and faculty and staff looked on, 98 graduate students were recognized for earning the highest academic degree during the 2008 Doctoral Degree Hooding Ceremony.

“Today is a day of transformation for you, when the word ‘candidate’ no longer applies,” Lehigh President Alice P. Gast told the gathering. “You are now acknowledged experts in your fields of study. You have set lofty goals for yourselves and you have achieved them. The world will turn to you as a leader and authority, your papers will be referred to and discussed. You have transformed a field by your contributions.

“You are also transformed from ‘student’ to ‘colleague,’” she added. “People can call you ‘doctor.’”

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.

In what Provost Mohamed S. El-Aasser called “a distinctly American tradition,” each doctoral candidate came to the front of the stage, where the student’s faculty advisor or another representative draped a hood around the student’s neck.

Each hood featured two sets of colors: the linings were brown and white, denoting that the doctoral degree came from Lehigh University, and the velvet trim signified a major field of study. For example, philosophy is dark blue, engineering is orange, education is light blue, and economics is copper.

El-Aasser called the selection of a faculty advisor “the most important decision a graduate student will make in graduate school,” and encouraged the students to stay in touch with and seek counsel from their advisors through the years that follow.

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 2008 winners were:

• Steven James Sweeney, physics, for Pulsed and CW Laser Experiments in Cs and NaK Vapors, advisor: John P. Huennekens
• Jason Michael Hockenberry, economics, for Learning, Forgetting, and Technology Substitution in the Treatment of Coronary Artery Disease, advisor: Shin-Yi Chou
• Lisa Ann Woodbury Kensler, educational leadership, for The Ecology of Democratic Learning Communities, advisor: George P. White
• Constantine Yuri Khripin, chemical engineering, for Aqueous Processing of DNA-Dispersed Carbon Nanotubes, advisor: Anand Jagota

In addition, Keat Edward Murray, who earned his Ph.D. in English, was honored with the College of Arts and Sciences Dean's Dissertation Award for Dissembling Gentlemen and Pretended Purposes in the Early Republic: Constructing Indians and Gentlemen in the Writings of John Heckewelder and James Fenimore Cooper, 1760-1830. Murray's advisor was Dawn Keetley.

“Wherever your talents take you, remember that you will always be part of the Lehigh community,” Gast told the students, who received their doctoral degrees Monday during commencement. “Think of the people who have helped and inspired you as you traveled the long and difficult path to reach this point.

“The cycle does not stop as you move on. You will perpetuate the cycle by being an inspiration to current graduate students and being ambassadors for our graduate programs.”

For more photos of the hooding ceremony, plus photo galleries and coverage of the 2008 commencement and baccalaureate services, visit Commencement 2008 Highlights

--Jack Croft

Photo by Theo Anderson

Posted on Friday, May 16, 2008

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