On September 30, 2013, the Museum held its inaugural commencement ceremony for graduates from the Richard Gilder Graduate School (RGGS)—established in 2008 as the first Ph.D.-granting program offered at a museum in the Western Hemisphere—and from the Master of Arts in Teaching program.
“This is not only a milestone for the Museum, but the museum field, and more broadly for higher education,” said President Ellen V. Futter in her commencement address. “Today we celebrate not only the graduation of our very first doctoral and Master's candidates…but also a deeper and more profound integration of the Museum’s twin missions of science and education.”
With families and faculty members in attendance, Provost of Science Michael J. Novacek and RGGS Dean John J. Flynn conferred the Ph.D. degree in Comparative Biology on seven candidates, whose specializations range from the evolution of armor in lizards to the study of fossils for clues about ancient climates. During the second part of the ceremony, New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch and New York State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. presided over the conferral of Master of Arts in Teaching degrees.
The first class of graduates from this pilot 15-month urban residency program, which was established in 2011 in response to a demonstrated need for qualified Earth science teachers in the state, included 20 graduates who had already started the school year as teachers in New York State schools, part of their commitment to teach in high-need schools in the state for four years after completing the program.
Known as Kathryn W. Davis Graduate Teaching Fellows, they received their degrees from MAT co-directors Maritza Macdonald and Rosamond J. Kinzler and faculty members Edmond Mathez and Mordecai-Mark Mac Low.
President Futter, together with Provost of Science Michael Novacek, also conferred an honorary degree on Dame Alison Richard, eminent biological anthropologist and academic leader, for her extraordinary contributions to advancing science, enhancing education, and promoting conservation.
With deepest appreciation, the Museum acknowledges Kathryn W. Davis for her generous founding support of the Master of Arts in Science Teaching (MAT) Program.
The MAT program is supported in part by the New York State Education Department and by the National Science Foundation under Grant numbers DRL-1119444 and DUE-1340006.
Additional support has been provided by the Booth Ferris Foundation.