University President Steven Knapp applauded the 250 recipients of doctoral degrees and urged them to follow in the footsteps of other GW alumni at the doctoral hooding ceremony Friday afternoon in Lisner Auditorium.
In the traditional ceremony, which has roots in the 14th century, doctoral degree recipients from a variety of colleges in the University received distinctive hoods – colorful sashes that adorned their graduation gowns at the University-wide Commencement ceremony on Sunday. Doctoral degrees are the highest degree offered at GW.
Serving as the keynote speaker, Knapp spoke about accomplished GW doctoral degree recipients who have gone on to make significant contributions in a variety of fields, such as Nobel Prize winner Julius Axelrod, who earned his GW doctoral degree in 1954, and Tulane University President Scott Cowen.
Without Axelrod, who invented the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors that are commonly used to treat depression, anxiety and some personality disorders, “drugs like Prozac would likely not exist,” Knapp said.
Knapp went on to commend Cowen, who graduated in 1975, on successfully leading his university, located in New Orleans, through the difficult period after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“Remarkably, he was able to lead Tulane out of the tragedy and reopen the university’s doors after only one semester with 87 percent of students returning,” Knapp said. “He continues to lead in recovery efforts as head of a committee charged with rebuilding New Orleans’ public school system.”
Young Sook-Kim, another GW doctoral degree recipient, is a member of the North Korean National Assembly fights for women’s rights in her home country, Knapp said.
“She is a powerful advocate for the rights of women and their rights as leaders in Korean politics and society,” Knapp told the graduates. “She chaired a special committee in women’s affairs where she introduced laws preventing gender discrimination, protecting minors from sexual crimes and creating opportunities for women.”
Knapp, who received his doctoral degree from Cornell University in 1981, charged the 2009 recipients of doctoral degrees to emulate the former graduates’ commitment to the advancement of learning and education.
“Today, as you follow in the footsteps of these successful doctoral alumni, I applaud your creativity, your dedication to excellence and your hard work and perseverance,” Knapp said. “May the love of learning continue to illuminate your lives.”