More than 250 degrees awarded at doctoral hooding ceremony

After years of hard work and determination, Carolina’s doctoral candidates graduated on Saturday, ready to take on the biggest issues in the state and world.

Students pose for a photo at Hooding ceremony.
Doctoral Hooding ceremony held May 12, 2018 at the Dean Smith Center on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The keynote speaker was Dr. Kathryn Lofton. (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill hosted its annual doctoral hooding ceremony Saturday, recognizing 262 students who completed their doctoral studies this academic year.

The graduating students are among only two percent of adults in the United States who have earned doctoral degrees. Faculty members awarded hoods to each graduate during the ceremony as a symbol of academic achievement.

Kathryn Lofton, professor of religious studies, American studies, history and divinity at Yale University, delivered the keynote speech, encouraging graduates to persevere through the challenges of academic life in pursuit of truth and justice.

“We go to universities not to decide what is definitively good and what is definitively bad but to learn how to think through our discomforts and our pain with reason, and how to reason toward fairness, given the infinite complexities of human life,” said Lofton, who earned her master’s and doctoral degrees in religious studies from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Chancellor Carol L. Folt presided over the ceremony, expressing appreciation for the graduates’ influence on their communities.

“The hooding ceremony is a time to celebrate our candidates’ achievements, and to thank you for your research, for the students you’ve inspired and for your contributions to our University,” she said. “Your future is certainly brighter because of your degrees.”

Among the graduates was University Board of Trustee member William A. Keyes IV, who earned a doctorate in communication studies.

Dean Steven Matson, who will step down as dean after nearly a decade leading UNC-Chapel Hill’s graduate school, explained the significance of the hooding—a medieval tradition welcoming graduates as full-fledged members of the scholarly community—and urged graduates to use their expertise to build a better world.

“I ask that you take your commitment to excellence and go out into your community—whether it’s here in North Carolina, across the United States or across the oceans—and make your community a better place for its citizens,” Matson said. “Lend your passion and your knowledge to your community, and watch it grow and prosper.”

A University-wide Commencement ceremony will take place on Sunday, May 13 in Kenan Memorial Stadium.