Museum Marks Third Graduation

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On Monday, October 5, proud families, advisors, and guests from around the world gathered in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life to celebrate the third commencement in the Museum’s history and to send a new crop of scientists and science teachers into the world.

RGGS Grad Class 2015

The 2015 graduates of the Museum's Master of Arts in Teaching (blue robes) and Ph.D. degree in comparative biology (green robes, center second row) programs.

© AMNH/D. Finnin


Four graduates of the Richard Gilder Graduate School were awarded Ph.D. degrees in comparative biology, the latest class to graduate from the only Ph.D.-degree granting program at a museum in the Western Hemisphere. Read profiles of these young scientists here.

In her remarks, Museum President Ellen V. Futter spoke about the place that the Richard Gilder Graduate School holds in the Museum’s longstanding tradition of education. This year’s graduates, she pointed out, were the latest to emerge from a series of education and academic training programs, which range from early education to teacher training to fellowships for postdoctoral researchers, with “roots in the founding of the Museum.”

Fourteen Kathryn W. Davis Teaching Fellows were also granted Master of Arts in Teaching degrees at the commencement. These graduates are continuing as teachers in high-needs New York state schools, joining more than 40 MAT graduates who are already in classrooms—and who have helped double the number of students taking the Earth Science Regents exams at their schools.

RGGS Grad Class 2015_1

Graduates were honored under the iconic blue whale in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life.

© AMNH/C. Chesek


This year’s ceremony marked the first time that the MAT degrees were awarded directly by the Richard Gilder Graduate School, whereas in prior years the degree was conferred by the New York Board of Regents. Over the summer, though, the Board of Regents voted unanimously to allow the Museum to grant its own degrees, an important vote of confidence in the innovative program that is focused on bringing talented new Earth and space science teachers to New York state classrooms.

Mee-mann Chang

Noted paleontologist and commencement speaker Dr. Mee-mann Chang received an honorary Doctor of Science degree at the ceremony.

© AMNH/R. Mickens


Dr. Mee-mann Chang, a former director of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing, received an honorary Doctor of Science degree during the ceremony. In her remarks, Chang noted that globalization and improved collaboration between international partners meant high expectations for today's scientists and teachers.

“Since you are better positioned than Roy Chapman Andrews was 100 years ago, I encourage you to go places where the devil fears to tread, and to make great discoveries there,” Chang told the graduating class.