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Message from Michael C. Roberts, Dean of Graduate Studies

Doctoral Hooding Ceremony
The Lied Center, Lawrence, Kansas
May 12, 2018

"Today we observe not just a victory of individual accomplishments, but a celebration of a process—of learning, scholarship, insights, perseverance, and mentoring—a process that is rewarding and fulfilling. The Hooding Ceremony enacts a tradition practiced over centuries, a symbolic act of conferral where graduates with doctoral degrees receive their academic hoods. These hoods, colorful and uniquely displayed, are a longstanding tradition in Europe brought to American colleges in the colonial era. The meaning of the doctoral hood has been conveyed through the years as recognizing the highest degree of learning, research, scholarship, and creative performance that the academy of scholars can bestow. In awarding the doctoral hood, we acknowledge the educational process that preceded it.

For the graduates, the ceremony is a celebration of their success in that educational process—a recognition of long days and nights, dedication to studies, producing new knowledge, and building toward a future of contributions as a doctoral graduate. For the parents, partners, families, and friends of the doctoral graduates, this is a celebration of support and recognition of their graduate’s accomplishments. The members of the graduate faculty served as teachers, advisors, sources of significant knowledge and facts as well as irrelevant and irreverent stories and wisdom. They often fulfilled the esteemed role as a mentor. The graduate faculty who hood the graduates walk across the stage with their graduates as colleagues.

Graduate students are not recognizable as a distinct body, although they constitute one-fourth of the students at the University of Kansas. They may not attend many or any athletic events, they may never have waved the wheat, they may not know how to clap to the fight song, and they may not cheer the Rock Chalk chant… why? Because graduate students are busy working (which is why they have successfully reached the final stage at the hooding ceremony). In a large university as KU, graduate students are perhaps not as noticeable a presence as the undergraduates because they are distributed across the campus, in the labs, in the classrooms, searching in the libraries and online, conducting fieldwork, and filling the tables with papers and laptops at the 37 coffee shops in Lawrence.

Nonetheless, we are very proud and appreciative of what our graduate students accomplish. Their work represents amazing innovation, illuminating science, creative performance, and brilliant scholarship. The impressive range of research topics undertaken by the graduate students advances knowledge that is so important to our understanding of human functioning, our arts and humanities, and our physical environment. These topics are the expertise represented by the graduates and that expertise is symbolized in their doctoral hoods.

The hooding ceremony is a momentous event in the lives of the doctoral graduate and in the institutional life of the University. We celebrate the success of the educational process and anticipate the graduates’ continued success and relationship with their faculty, colleagues, and the University."

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