CAS Convocations Welcome New Academic Units, First Graduates of Programs

Posted: May 2, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Chrisi West

As the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) hosts its last convocation under that name (it’s due to become the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences July 1), it also celebrates the first graduates of several academic programs.

The newest PhD programs, including history, biodefense, physical sciences, mathematics, as well as the undergraduate Global Affairs Program, are welcoming their first graduates this year to the CAS convocation ceremonies on Thursday, May 18.

The undergraduate convocation will be at 1 p.m. in the Patriot Center, and the graduate convocation will be at 7 p.m. in the Center for the Arts Concert Hall.

Johanna Bockman, director of the Global Affairs Program, is excited to have her nearly 25 students take part in the CAS annual ceremony for the first time this year.

“They will get to graduate with their friends and classmates. They will also get to experience the excitement of a large graduation ceremony to celebrate their education at Mason.”

Khulood Kandil said the flexibility afforded by the Global Affairs Program was most appealing to him, especially the concentration on the Middle East and North Africa.

“I feel so much more confident in my ability to discuss not only those affairs concerning the Middle East, but the entire world,” Kandil says.

The PhD in biodefense has its first five students graduating this year. Charles Bailey, executive director of the National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases, says, “It has been very satisfying to get reports from our graduating students regarding their success in finding meaningful and well-paid positions either in government or industry.”

Biodefense students Katie Crockett and Dustin Razsi both say they were drawn to the program for its strong faculty and its interdisciplinary approach.

After graduation, Crockett will work as a senior analyst on a U.S. Department of Defense-sponsored study regarding U.S. military installation protection against attacks by weapons of mass destruction.

Razsi will continue to work for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, but says his education at Mason has prepared him for real-world issues.

“The best feature of the program is that it’s more than just microbiology and medical issues – it also encompasses intelligence, policy and history among its disciplines.”

Alberto Damiano, currently doing postdoctoral work in Prague, is receiving his PhD in mathematics after taking courses in the School of Computational Sciences (SCS) and receiving mentorship from CAS Dean Daniele Struppa.

Klaus Fischer, chair of the Department of Mathematics, says, “We are very fortunate to have our first PhD graduate in our program since its inception one year ago.”

The PhD in history program is celebrating its first graduate, Andrew Yarrow. Yarrow was advised by Roy Rosenzweig, professor in the Department of History and Art History and director of the Center for History and New Media.

Marion Deshmukh, interim department chair, says, “We are really thrilled to have our first PhD in a program that has achieved national recognition so quickly.”

Physical sciences, offered jointly by CAS and SCS, is also graduating its first PhD student. Ramesh Pant, who concentrated in organic chemistry, will be conducting postdoctoral research as a fellow with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.

This article appeared in a slightly different format in CASconnection.

Write to at