Sunday, June 15, 2008

OSU Commencement

I was honored today to hood two recent Ph.D. graduates at OSU's commencement ceremony. One was my first Ph.D. graduate student, Suzanne Fluharty, who finished her dissertation last September. She asked me a few weeks ago and I of course was thrilled to perform this ceremony with her. Then, yesterday, out of the blue, Kate Sloan asked if I would hood her - I was not the chair of her Ph.D. committee but because of some miscommunication, her real chair, Court Smith, not able to do this. I told her I would be more than happy to do this for her! I was the chair of Kate's master's degree committee and served on her Ph.D. committee as well.

Both women finished their Ph.D.'s in Environmental Science. Suzanne completed an environmental history of a plot of land that has been returned to the stewardship of the Coquille Indian Tribe. Kate's dissertation was about tribal historic preservation offices. Both were well done and done in consultation with tribes on the west coast.

I was very proud of both of them and we were all excited to be there! It was hot, though, sitting in the middle of the football field at Reser Stadium even though the ambient temperature was 75 elsewhere. Luckily, there was a nice breeze to cool things off and as we listened to the various remarks, I opened up the robe to allow the breeze to cool me off and I would take off my cap to allow some heat to dissipate. They left bottles of water for everyone there - and I brought one with me, so I drank two bottles of water.

Two other things really stood out about this commencement ceremony. First, the commencement speaker was Helen Diggs, who also received an honorary doctorate. She's now the director of a veterinary program at UC Berkeley. She'd completed her DVM (veterinary medicine) at OSU in 1985. But she'd also finished her undergraduate at the University of Portland, which is where I finished my undergrad. I actually knew Helen while I was getting my degree there - she stayed in the McElligott house that I lived in while she finished up some coursework (I think). Somehow, she knew the McElligott family - I was friends with the youngest sister (one of 11 kids) and lived in that house for two years. Helen was always very nice and friendly and I was able to go up and reintroduce myself during the processional into Reser Stadium.

The other significant happening was that OSU conferred honorary bachelor's degrees on Japanese American students who had been sent to internment camps in 1941 before they could finish their degrees. There were 20+ of these individuals (or their families if they were deceased or otherwise not able to attend) out of a total of 42, I think. When they were called to the stage, first one person in my row and then I stood up to begin a standing ovation that lasted several minutes. (There were others in the crowd that stood up, too, I think.) The Japanese internment camps were a travesty and one thought I had was how long it had taken OSU to give them honorary degrees - two OSU students championed the effort and got the Oregon State legislature to pass resolutions to confer their degrees. One gentleman, whose name I've forgotten, was a member of OSU's Rose Bowl appearance in 1942, but because of the Presidential Executive Order that interned Japanese Americans, he was not allowed to actually play in the Rose Bowl. He had his Rose Bowl ring, though, which he proudly showed the crowd.

All in all, it was a touching event and one that I was happy to have participated in. Good job, Suzanne and Kate!


Carver said...

That sounds great Dee and I'm so glad to hear about the honorary degrees.

I'm still catching up after vacation (just got back today) but I've enjoyed reading through your posts which I missed while I was away.

I like the idea of throwing plates which I saw in a prior post and I also like the gratitude lists you are doing. I used to do those daily and they helped me a lot. I am grateful to have gotten to know you.

Take care, Carver

Dee said...

Hi Carver,
I hope you had a great vacation! Thanks for visiting and getting caught up. I am definitely doing much better the past couple of days. I think acupuncture, reiki, and maybe even the seed acupuncture are helping a lot. And, of course, the support of a lot of friends like now.
Take care!

jeanne said...

Goosebumps. Gave me goosebumps! nyc jeanne