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WHOI Holds Commencement Ceremonies as Part of 75th Anniversary Celebration

September 28, 2005

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) held commencement ceremonies September 24, awarding 34 master’s and doctoral degrees in ocean sciences and engineering as part of the Institution’s Joint Graduate Program with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Commencement ceremonies for the MIT/WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography and Applied Ocean Science and Engineering  are normally held annually at MIT, and are only held in Woods Hole during anniversary years.  The exercises, on the McKee Ballfield on the Quissett Campus, were held as part of the Institution’s 75th anniversary celebration in 2005.

Commencement activities began with a day-long symposium on the oceans and education September 23, attended by graduates and alumni, and other informal events. Earlier in the week several hundred attended an anniversary science symposium highlighting some of the Institution’s contributions to ocean science during its history, particularly in air-sea exchange, climate change, life in the ocean, mid-ocean ridges, observing the ocean and ocean circulation.

Twenty-two degree recipients were in attendance to receive their degrees Saturday, which included Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy candidates. To date, 722 degrees have been awarded through the joint graduate program,  which began in 1968. WHOI has awarded four Ph.D. degrees on its own,  for a total of 726 graduate degrees. This year’s ceremonies also recognized alumni/ae who have completed their degrees since June 2000.

Dr. Patricio Bernal, Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and an Assistant Director-General of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) since 1998, was commencement speaker.  In his current position at IOC, he serves on several international committees dealing with ocean, coasts and islands issues and has become one of the leading advocates for the establishment of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), the major program of IOC. He is the author of many papers and book chapters in the international scientific literature, and serves on the editorial boards of four international scientific journals.

Several awards were presented during the commencement ceremonies.  The Arnold B.Arons Award for Excellence in Teaching, Advising and Mentoring was presented to Senior Scientist Joseph Pedlosky of the Physical Oceanography Department.  The Paul M. and Ruth E. Fye Best Paper Awards were presented to Oscar Pizzaro  (Applied Ocean Physics and Engineering), Masami Fujiwara (Biology), Jess Adkins and Mak Saito (Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry),  Margaret Boettcher and Rhea Workman (Geology and Geophysics), and Judith Wells (Physical Oceanography).

The MIT WHOI Joint Program Alumni/ae Distinguished Service Award was presented to James A. Austin, Jr., a 1979 Joint Program graduate and a senior research scientist at the University of Texas at Austin Institute for Geophysics. The Rear Admiral Richard F. Pittenger USN (Ret) Fellowship was  presented to Joint Program student Colleen M. Maloney.