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The ‘culmination of a long-term promise’

Photo by Christopher Huang.

More than 40 doctoral students in education, physical therapy and law and policy in the College of Professional Studies at Northeastern University received their long-awaited academic hoods on Friday at the Colonnade Hotel in Boston.

They joined their fellow CPS graduates on Saturday at the Westin Copley Place Hotel in a graduation ceremony for more than 820 students in the college, which has achieved international recognition as a leader in educating working professionals.

The hooding ceremony — which marked the first time since 1997 that Northeastern has conferred a doctoral degree in education — symbolized an academic transformation from student to scholar, said John LaBrie, interim dean of the College of Professional Studies.

“Today, you change,” he told the new doctors. “You leave your place among students and join a place made ready for you in the circle of scholars — a place you had to earn.”

He praised the students for completing their doctoral theses in tough times. “You completed your doctoral work in a difficult economy, when fields of study and work are changing dramatically,” he said. “The need for new knowledge could not be more urgent.”

The celebration marked the culmination of a long-term promise the doctoral candidates made to themselves and their loved ones, noted John Caron, associate dean of education programs and college partnerships in the College of Professional Studies.

“It is a promise you made to yourself — and perhaps to your family and friends gathered with you — to do the work, learn and challenge yourself,” he said.

“Most all of,” he added, “you promised yourself you would finish.”

The ceremony included a moving tribute to Mary Jo Livingstone, a candidate for a doctorate in education who passed away this year.

As part of the tribute, LaBrie awarded Livingstone a posthumous degree. Beverly Cohen, her spouse, accepted Livingstone’s hood and diploma on her behalf.

“Mary Jo has become the symbol of honor and respect that the degree is intended to bestow,” said LaBrie, who described the former superintendent of the Weymouth, Mass., public schools as “respected, progressive and dedicated.”

“For those of you who knew Mary Jo,” he added, “I hope that your fond memories of her have been your companion during these last months.”

Eugene Pavone, a graduate of the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, received the inaugural Dean’s Medal for Outstanding Doctoral Work for his thesis entitled, “Vestibular Rehabilitation in a Patient with Labyrinthitis: A Case Report.”

His thesis advisor called his paper an excellent resource for practicing physical therapists. “The paper is one that a practicing physical therapist could read and apply the next day,” she said. “It presents an excellent application of theory.”