SARA XAYARATH HERNANDEZ: Welcome graduates and distinguished guests to the 28th hooding. I am Sara Xayarath Hernandez, Associate Dean for Inclusion and Student Engagement for the graduate school. The academic procession is about to begin. Please take your seats and kindly clear the aisles. Also please take a moment to make sure that the ringer's on your mobile devices are turned off.
We ask that you remain in your seat and do not get up to take photographs during the ceremony. As a safety precaution, please locate the stadium exit closest to you. In case of an emergency, listen carefully to instructions over the PA system. Thank you.
The academic procession will begin with University Marshal, Poppy McLeod, leading to the stage dean of the graduate school and vice provost for graduate education, Kathryn J. Boor, Provost Michael I. Kotlikoff, and President Martha E. Pollack. The Cornell University College deans and administrators will then follow. Next are the University faculty led by the dean of the faculty, Charles Van Loan. Finally our over 270 PhD candidates who will proudly possess to their seats.
As part of today's ceremony, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge that Cornell University is located on the traditional homelands of the Gayogoho:no, the Cayuga Nation. The Gayogoho:no are members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, an alliance of six sovereign nations with a historic and contemporary presence on this land. The Confederacy precedes the establishment of Cornell University, New York state, and the United States of America. We acknowledge the painful history of Gayogoho:no dispossession and honor the ongoing connection of Gayogoho:no people, past and present, to these lands and waters. Thank you for joining us on this magnificent day.
KATHRYN BOOR: Good evening, everyone. I'm Kathryn Boor, dean of the graduate school and vice provost for graduate education, and I am delighted to welcome everyone here this evening. Clearly, we are water resistant and resilient, and it's a pleasure to see you all.
The assembly is hereby called to order. It is my honor and my great pleasure to introduce to you, Provost Michael I Kotlikoff.
Welcome everyone. Thank you, Dean Boor. It's a pleasure to be part of this joyful occasion.
Welcome everyone to a key moment in the lives of the doctoral candidates we recognize today. I especially want to welcome the families and friends of the candidates to Cornell and to this very special ceremony. Welcome also to the faculty members. Thank you for being here today under these conditions and for the guidance you have provided these scholars.
Candidates, all of you are well aware of how important is the support of family and friends and how important that has been to your journey. They have encouraged you in the hardest times and celebrated the achievement of each step along the way. Let's take a moment to thank them. Candidates, would you rise and applaud those who have supported you and helped you to reach this important milestone.
Thank you. The degree we are about to confirm is evidence of the highest level of knowledge or expertise within a specific area. Many degrees reflect broad knowledge and competency, but the PhD recognizes discovery of new knowledge in a way that sets it apart from all the others. It represents years of intellectual engagement and research fueled by a fierce determination to discover and demonstrate something new, to elucidate something no one else has ever examined in quite the same way.
I know that I speak for my fellow faculty members in saying that it has been our privilege to work with you. You came here as our students, but soon you became colleagues. You have been partners in research and intellectual discussions, contributing valuable insights and creative new ideas. As you narrowed your specific focus for the dissertation, you have become the world's expert in your own particular area.
And along the way, many of you became skilled teachers contributing to the education of younger students. We are proud of all that you have achieved and glad to have been part of your journey. And I want to particularly acknowledge the incredible contribution that our graduate students have made to Cornell's COVID response. Graduate students, helped model our risk factors, helped conceptualize and validate our testing laboratory, kept our labs working throughout the pandemic, and contributed under very stressful conditions to our undergraduate teaching programs.
On behalf of the faculty, I wish you continued success in your careers and look forward to hearing more of you in the future. It is now my honor to introduce the 14th president of Cornell University, professor of computer science, information science, and linguistics, Martha E. Pollack.
MARTHA E. POLLACK: Thank you, Provost Kotlikoff, and congratulations new PhDs. I've been sitting here thinking there must be some joke about the weather. I don't have the joke, but wow really, really great to see you all here despite what's going on. The last time I was here in Chillicothe was at the beginning of this academic year. I was filming our virtual new student convocation. That's a phrase I hope I never have to use again. It was me and two camera operators six feet apart in our masks, and while there probably weren't any actual tumbleweeds rolling down Tower Road, I wouldn't have been too surprised to see them, no students, no parents, no big red robe.
Well, I wasn't going to say that I can't imagine any better way to walk back into Chillicothe nine months later than tonight with 225 new Cornell PhDs, but I could imagine a slightly better way. But you know, this is Ithaca. What are we going to do?
All of you finishing your doctorates and earning the right to wear those big red robes, that is a tremendous accomplishment. And it's almost impossible to understand what goes into it unless you've done it yourself. Finishing a doctorate requires focus. The singularity of focus to find out everything there is to know about one area of human knowledge and then to find something that isn't known and explore it so that you expand the boundaries of human knowledge that much further.
It demands the intellectual commitment to become the world's leader, leading expert on a particular area of research, whether it's Chinese subaltern poets and documentary films or privacy preserving pose estimation for human robot interaction or plasma instabilities in the F region of the equatorial ISO ionosphere or the on-road and near-road dispersion and deposition of exhaust and non-exhaust particulate matter. And yes, those are real dissertation topics from this year's class.
Finishing a doctorate requires something else as well, something that I like to call tenacity. Tenacity, of course, very literally is the ability to hang on to everything. Now even before the pandemic, a PhD demanded tenacity. In fact, a couple of years ago at this event before we even heard of something called the novel coronavirus, I talked to our new PhD's about the importance of tenacity.
I told them that tenacity requires self-confidence, the willingness to keep going even when you're in the midst of things not going very well, when that experiment fails, when your conference paper is rejected, when your advisor tells you that great idea you discovered was actually discovered five years ago. Well, in those moments, you need self-confidence. You need the self-confidence to say OK that idea didn't work out, but I'm going to go on and try my next idea, and that one will work.
Tenacity also requires passion. In fact, I think that might be the single most essential requirement for anyone setting out on that intellectual marathon that we call a dissertation. It might not be the most elegant metaphor in the world, but passion is to a PhD what feet are to a bicycle. Without passion on the pedals, you're not going anywhere.
And tenacity requires the ability to seek and to accept the support of those around you. Your advisor, your committee members your office-mates, your friends, your family. All of that was true two years ago, and it's still true today. But all of you here today have brought those elements of tenacity to a new level. You found new ways to have self-confidence when you didn't have your classmates and your mentors around you encouraging you and cheering you on. You found the passion that kept driving you forward when that conference paper wasn't just rejected but when the entire conference was canceled.
The passion to power you through your intellectual marathon, when your feet couldn't leave the apartment, and through the months when we didn't have our labs or our libraries to work in, when we couldn't go see our family and friends and other towns to recharge our batteries or even to get a hug, you found ways to seek and accept the support of others. All of you have brought new meaning to the word tenacious. So wear those red robes proudly, and wherever you go from here I know that if you can finish a doctor in a pandemic, you can do anything. Congratulations to all of you, and welcome to the club.
KATHRYN BOOR: Remember that you can do anything. Thank you, President Pollack. Associate dean of the graduate school, Jan Allen, will announce each candidate. Candidates will stand to be recognized when their name has been read. For the safety of our graduates and guests, please remain in your seats during this time. Thank you.
So once more, please join me in congratulating our newest recipients of the PhD degree from Cornell University.
And now I would like to invite everyone to stand for the singing of the Alma Mater.
(SINGING) Far above the Cayuga's waters with it's waves of blue stands our noble Alma Mater, glorious to view. Lift the chorus, speed it onward, loud her praises tell. Hail to thee, our Alma Mater! Hail, all hail, Cornell!
Far above the busy humming of the bustling town. Reared against the arch of heaven, looks she proudly down. Lift the chorus, speed it onward. Loud her praises tell. Hail to thee, our Alma Mater! Hail, all hail, Cornell!
So this concludes our ceremony this evening. Please remain standing while the platform party and the candidates recess. Thank you again for attending this evening and good night.
[MUSIC PLAYING- "THE CORNELL FIGHT SONG]
(SINGING) C-O-R-N-E double L. Win the game and then ring the bell. What's the big intrigue? We're the best in the ivy league. Rah! Rah! Rah!
Score the point that puts us ahead. Knock 'em dead Big Red. One! Two! Three! Four! Who are we for? Can't you tell? Old Cornell!
[MUSIC PLAYING- "THE CORNELL FIGHT SONG]
(SINGING) Go red!
[MUSIC PLAYING- "GIVE MY REGARDS TO DAVY"]
(SINGING) Give my regards to Davy. Remember me to Tee Fee Crane. Tell all the bikers on the hill that I'll be back-- I'll be back again. Tell them of how I busted, lappin' up the high, high, ball, ball, ball. We've hall have drinks at Theodore Zinck's when I get back next fall.
[MUSIC PLAYING- "GIVE MY REGARDS TO DAVY"]
[MUSIC PLAYING- "MY OLD CORNELL"]
(SINGING) Oh, I want to go back to the old days, those good old days on the hill-- the bridge. Back to my Cornell, for that's where they all yell, Cornell, I yell, Cornell-- Cornell! Far above Cayuga's waters I hear those chiming bells. Ding dong. Oh, I'm long and yearning and always returning to my old Cornell.
[MUSIC PLAYING- "MY OLD CORNELL"]
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Cornell Graduate School honored the Class of 2021 at its Ph.D. ceremony on May 28.