UMCES celebrates new class of graduates

May 16, 2017
Larry Sanford (right) and Raleigh Hood drape the hood on graduate student Andrew Leight while UMCES President Don Boesch looks on. Leight earned his doctorate at the 2017 commencement ceremony, held May 16 at Appalachian Laboratory. Photos by Katie Kline
Wei Liu hugs his adviser, Ming Li.

One by one, a graduate student would come to the front of a wooden stage while their faculty adviser would share a story and offer words of encouragement and congratulations.

Then tassels were turned to the left. The smiles were captured in a flash. And the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science added its newest members to its growing alumni pool.

Tuesday marked the fourth annual commencement ceremony for UMCES. Students, faculty, administrators, and family members gathered for an outdoor ceremony at Appalachian Laboratory in Frostburg. Nine students participated in the ceremony, though a total 18 students earned their doctorate or master's degrees for the 2016-2017 school year.

Rear Admiral David W. Titley (retired), director for the Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk, gave the keynote address at the Center’s fourth annual commencement. In listing his advice for communicating their work with a larger audience, he urged the graduates to “Stay true to your science.”

“The reality is this planet will continue to warm. The rain will either not fall or fall very intensely, and the ice, both on land and at sea, will continue to melt and the oceans will respond, likely in unexpected ways, to stresses they have not seen for millennia, if ever. These facts over time will drive the public and the Congress to demand better understand and better solutions,” he said. “Science is still a growth industry and I think when you look back 15, 25, 40 years from now, you will be very happy with the decisions you made to join our science enterprise.”

I also charge you to always uphold the standards that the Center and its faculty stand for. Conduct your research, conduct your professional activities with the highest level of integrity – it’s never been more important than in these times. Always keep an open mind for new explanations and ideas. Work together effectively and innovatively across disciplines. Forever remember that our privilege to do science is based fundamentally on the service of that science to society.

Don Boesch
UMCES president

Lora Harris hugs her student, Jessica Foley, who earned her master's degree.

In his final commencement as president, Don Boesch closed out the event with a charge to the students. He told them the Center’s reputation could only grow with their accomplishments.

He called on them to uphold the standards of the Center and its faculty and to conduct their professional activities with the highest level of integrity.

“It’s never been more important than in these times,” he added.

Boesch also charged the students with keeping an open mind to new explanations and ideas and to work together across disciplines.

“Forever remember that our privilege to do science is based fundamentally on the service of that science to society,” he said. “This is our sacred contract. Change reality when you can; adapt to it when you cannot. Commit both to resolving and solving the worlds daunting environmental problems.

“On this great day we are proud of all of you. Set a course and head out in to the world, but stand ready to change your course, as surely you must. Solve the unsolvable, shape the future, and you will continue to make your UMCES family of faculty, staff, students and alumni proud.”