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WHOI Director Receives Honorary Degree from Long Island University

June 1, 2000

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Director Robert B. Gagosian was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science degree May 21, 2000 in ceremonies at Southampton College of Long Island University in Southampton, NY. The honorary Doctor of Science degree is the Director’s first honorary degree and was one of four presented during the afternoon ceremonies, part of the 34th commencement of Southampton College.

Other honorary degree recipients were Long Island-born singer/songwriter and performing artist Billy Joel, who received an Honorary Doctor of Music; artist and distinguished portraitist Chuck Close, who received a Doctor of Fine Arts; and Frederick E. Hoxie, considered by many the nation’s preeminent scholar of Native American history and a leading advocate of the rights of indigenous peoples, who received an Doctor of Humane Letters.

David J. Steinberg, President of Long Island University; Robert F.X. Sillerman, Chancellor of Southampton College and Trustee of Long Island University; Roger Tilles, Chair of the Board of Trustees of Long Island University; and Thomas W. Haresign, Professor of Biology at Southampton College of Long Island University, presented the degree recipients for hooding. Billy Joel gave a 10-minute address following the awarding of honorary degrees.

Professor Haresign presented the WHOI Director for his degree. Southampton College Provost Timothy H. Bishop, in the introduction prior to the awarding of the degree, noted that “Robert Gagosian… is a rare leader who moves easily from the molecular to the global. He has fostered appreciation of the crucial role oceans play in climate and weather, as well as of the threats facing our seas… He has encouraged some of our own students in marine and environmental science, 35 of whom now have won Fulbright fellowships. Dr. Gagosian is a distinguished chemical oceanographer, a gifted mentor of young research scientists, a skilled translator of scientific research into public policy recommendations, and a passionate advocate of educating school children and adults about the oceans.”

“Good friend of this college and her students, you have helped to link our best and brightest to the nation’s foremost marine research facility,” Professor Haresign said in reading the degree citation. “As a scientist, you have raised our awareness of the endlessly fascinating interfaces between the oceans, the atmosphere and the earth. At the helm of Woods Hole, you are directing the study of ocean surfaces with ATLANTIS, and you are probing the seas’ hidden depths with ALVIN. We thank you for teaching us that our precious oceans cannot be treated as isolated components of this fragile planet.”

Long Island University is the nation’s eighth largest independent university, with nearly 30,000 students, 700 full-time faculty and an annual operating budget of $308 million. Its residential campuses are located in downtown Brooklyn, C.W. Post in suburban Brookville, and Southampton College in the seaside community of Southampton on Long Island.

The multi-campus university offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs and has regional campuses primarily offering master’s degrees in Rockland and Westchester counties and in Brentwood, on Long Island. It also operates extension sites at a number of U.S. corporations and at the United States Military Academy at West Point. The WHOI Director will be awarded a second honorary degree June 17 during commencement ceremonies at Northeastern University in Boston, MA.

Southampton College is nationally-recognized for programs in marine and environmental sciences, fine arts, the Friends World Program of global education for social change, and the SEAmester program aboard tall ships.