Rambling through Parsons Reserve yesterday to see the resplendent white and yellow daffodils, I pondered for a moment on Emerson's poem,
"Rhodora! If the sages ask thee why
This charm is wasted on earth and sky,
Tell them, dear, that if eyes were made for seeing,
Then Beauty is its own excuse for being..."
The recently released National Climate Assessment report (2014) (click here) sounds the warning that climate change is already affecting the United States now. In the population-dense Northeast, temperatures increased by almost 2°F and precipitation increased by about five inches, or more than 10 percent between 1895 and 2011. Heat waves, droughts, heavy downpours, and coastal floods pose serious risks to our environment, economy, and health. How do we confront these profound changes, and how do we mobilize for action?
Four days from now, we will conduct this year's commencement ceremonies, marking a crucial milestone for our students and their families. I look forward to seeing you graduating seniors, along with our faculty, to celebrate all that you have achieved through their tutelage and mentorship. We will celebrate the conferral of doctoral degrees honoris causa on esteemed and accomplished leaders: U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, retired U.S. Army Colonel Susan Annicelli, Robert Leduc, and Reverend Liz Walker. We will bestow Chancellor's Medals to Governor Deval Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray, Katherine Craven, and Professor Lester Cory.
Congratulations to Electrical Engineering student Matt Bejtlich, senior men's tennis captain, who garnered the male Senior Scholar-Athlete Award at the UMassD Athletic Awards Banquet on May 5, 2014! Kudos as well to Sociology student Victoria Wood, senior women's lacrosse player, and English student Kathleen Landers, senior women's soccer player, who tied for the female Senior Scholar-Athlete Award!
Eight UMassD students in Electrical and Computer Engineering competed in the Governor's Cyber Aces State Championship held in Boston. I am proud that of the top 10 champions, four were from UMassD: Nolan Paduch (5th place), Elia El Lazkani (6th place), Sean Reid (8th place), and Daniel Noyes (10th place). Others who made it to the championship were David Goncalves, Keith Kevelso, and Jonathan Larcom. Thank you to Professor Hong Liu, who taught the Cyber Threats and Security Management course this semester and who served as advisor for five of the students who were engaged in computer security research projects.
At our Scholarship Luncheon on April 28, we had 95 students who received a total of $660,000 in scholarships from some 92 generous donors. Monica Diaz, Rachel Pacheco, and Joshua Encarnacion spoke at the luncheon, representing the many students who benefited from having the philanthropic contributions reduce their financial burden. Inspired by the story of Monica Diaz, David Sluter -- UMassD Engineering alumnus and founder of the company New England Construction -- and his wife Marge, and their sons Matthew, Steven, and Ethan, established the Sluter Family Scholarship last year. To all the donors who help in making our students' educational dreams come true, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
A highlight of this week was the spectacular presentation by our Mechanical Engineering alumnus Scott Tingle, an Astronaut, Navy Captain, and fighter pilot. Astronaut Tingle not only dazzled us with his striking video clips depicting the landing of a fighter plane on an aircraft carrier at night and the grueling training for astronauts, but also touched us with his nostalgic recollections of his past life as an undergraduate student at UMassD's predecessor institution, Southeastern Massachusetts University. Scott lauded the mentorship "for life" by Professor Ron De Pippo and the exceptional teaching of Professor John Rice - who both sat watching in the audience - and the unforgettable camaraderie and buoyant spirit of his friends and classmates, who also attended the event. Scott was selected as one of nine astronauts for training from a pool of 3,500 applicants! As commencement approaches, let us reflect on the long and wondrous legacy of UMass Dartmouth in educating young men and women of our region for meaningful lives and successful careers.
Have a good week, everyone!