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Some 180 Chemistry undergraduates celebrated their University of Michigan graduation with family, friends, and Chemistry faculty at the Department’s Commencement Ceremony at Ann Arbor’s Michigan Theater on April 28.
Student speaker Madeline Herman recounted her early love of chemistry starting in the kitchen. She gave her study group credit for helping her develop confidence as a female scientist in the face of being ignored or put down, and the lifelong friends she has developed as a result. She also praised the faculty for caring about their students’ education.
The commencement address was presented by Richard J. Cook, a 1969 University of Michigan graduate with a B.S. in Chemistry. After Michigan, he earned a PhD at Princeton. For many years he was professor and later provost of Kalamazoo College, and then led Allegheny College. He is now President Emeritus of Allegheny College and Chairman of the Board of Second Nature, Inc. Second Nature is the umbrella organization of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, dedicated to significantly reducing the carbon footprint for a sustainable ecosystem and society. He is also a Managing Partner of Lahti Search Consultants.
According to Cook, his undergraduate research with Professor Mark Green set the trajectory of his personal and professional life. He and his wife have now established the Richard J. Cook Undergraduate Research Endowment which will be used to provide research fellowships for Chemistry undergraduates.
Cook charmed the commencement audience with his accounts of the ways that chemistry and the University of Michigan have changed since his time on campus. In those tumultuous times it meant walking past anti-war demonstrations on the Diag to get to the building or an who arsonist torched the stockroom. Slide rules or simple calculators were his tools — the computer cost $1.3 million and took up a whole room, yet only had 64 kb of memory.
He challenged the graduates to “Be bold. Dare. Be empathic. Do good work for the good of others. The world needs you.”
From December 2015 through Summer 2016 terms, a total of 230 students graduated with majors from our Department. The distribution was: Biochemistry: 61; Biomolecular Science: 143; Chemical Science: 3; Chemistry: 21; Interdisciplinary Chemical Science: 2. The first two graduates of our Accelerated Degree program also earned master’s degrees, combing their bachelors work with an additional year of courses.