Making It

By Chad Galts / July / August 1998
November 30th, 2007

Doctors of philosophy get a raw deal. Their time in graduate school varies from five to, on rare occasions, as many as fifteen years, and when they're done, junk mail still comes addressed to Mr. or Ms. Not yet faculty, and no longer students, most Ph.D. candidates look a little peaked when they emerge from their labs and library carrels after years of dissertation work.

After the thesis is over: graduate degree recipients cheer their own on Lincoln Field.

And then there's the relief of the Graduate School commencement, when the new Ph.D.'s join their master's counterparts in celebrating that they've made it. For a few hours, at least, no one worries about the job market or the prospect that his or her thesis may never by published by Oxford University Press. This May, under a sky scattered with clouds, the Graduate School awarded 174 Ph.D.'s, an 18 percent increase over last year, and 243 master's degrees, a 7 percent drop. Dean of the Graduate School Peder Estrup cautions against reading too much into the high number of Ph.D.'s, however. "We are looking for a stronger graduate school, not a larger one," he says. "I expect that we will go back to about 150 next year - that should be about the steady state."

Job prospects for some of the freshly minted doctors may be tough, but thanks to the newly established Joukowsky Family Foundation Outstanding Dissertation Award, four graduates may have a little more time to adjust. Zhiyi Chi of applied math, Shu-Huei Hung of geological sciences, Matthew McGrath of philosophy, and Andrew Stoesser Veech of anthropology all received a citation and a check for $2,000 from Professor of Old World Archaeology, Art, and Anthro-pology Martha Sharp Joukowsky '58.

In an attempt to recognize that the ability to teach is as important as a talent for research, the University awarded four Presidential Awards for Excellence in Teaching. Danielle Lynn Jamison '96 Sc.M., Jennifer Jang '95 A.M., Mark Cohen '96 A.M., and current student Victor Zabielski each received a $2,500 honorarium and a wry, pun-laden testimonial from Estrup. Jang, for instance, who taught a seminar titled "Eating the Ethnic: Food, Literature, and the Production of National Identity," was hailed as "a master chef in the very hot kitchen of American popular culture."

This year's student address was delivered by Charlotte Manly '98 Ph.D. of the department of cognitive and linguistic sciences. In "On Not Losing Heart," she asked her fellow floppy-hatted graduates to remember those who had helped them during the Ph.D. process. She also encouraged those still working their way toward completion to keep their chins up. "Support along the way is crucial," she said. "Something or someone kept us going in our darkest moments: friends, family, faculty - even fairy godmothers."

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July / August 1998