2012 PhD Hooding Ceremony

Remarks as prepared for delivery

Thank you, Marie.

As Dean of the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, I am pleased to welcome you to our inaugural doctoral hooding ceremony as part of the University’s 361st Commencement.

We are here to celebrate those individuals who have earned the Ph.D., the highest academic degree offered by Harvard.

Special thanks goes to Richard J. Tarrant, Interim Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and Pope Professor of the Latin Language and Literatures, and Margot Gill, Dean for Administration at GSAS.

I also want to acknowledge my good friend and colleague Allan Brandt, the prior dean of GSAS who recently stepped down.

I ask all of you to keep him in your thoughts and wish him well.

Allan’s leadership and dedication to higher education has been remarkable.

He deserves particular credit for helping to bring the various schools of Harvard together, creating a common intellectual experience for all graduate students, and most important, supporting mentorship and diversity.

In fact, this hooding ceremony is a testament to the importance of mentorship.

The simple act by a faculty adviser of the placement of the doctoral hood on his or her student signifies the completion of an ambitious intellectual journey.

---A journey that likely would not have been possible without the continued encouragement and guidance of all of you here.

I am especially pleased to see so many of our SEAS faculty here, along with our academic and administrative deans.

Associate Dean Gu-Yeon Wei and Assistant Dean Marie Dahleh deserve high praise for making advising and mentoring a priority at SEAS --- serving both as role models and, sometimes as polite taskmasters to our faculty.

After all, to find the time to be a true mentor is no easy task---as we have labs to run, courses to teach, grants to manage, papers to write, experiments to perform, tenure to chase, and of course, endless processes and paperwork thanks to deans like me.

I would now ask that all of our Ph.D. candidates to recall the role their advisors, faculty, peers, and friends and family played in helping them to achieve this academic milestone.

With that in mind, please join me in thanking all those who make it a priority to inspire and encourage our students. [APPLAUSE]

I know that I would not be where I am today without the encouragement of my mentors. As one of only three women at MIT pursuing a degree in applied physics in the 1970s, role models were hard to come by.

I owe my Ph.D. in large part to Professor Mille Dresselhause. She pulled me aside one day and went out of her way to get to know me. That simple act of friendship made a world of difference in my life.

As you leave Harvard and go on to make the world a better and more interesting place, I encourage you to serve as mentors as well.

Of course, we want you to tackle fundamental questions in science, found that next great start-up, lead companies and countries, and solve the most pressing problems of society.

BUT, I urge you to ALWAYS seek out opportunities to friend (in real life) the next generation of engineers and applied scientists.

Engineering, after all, is a SOCIAL enterprise. And we can only be successful by working together.

Thank you for listening.

Congratulations again to all of our amazing and talented Ph.D.s!

Now go out there and “SEAS” THE DAY!!