Speakers to CHSS, Earth & Environment grads: Live ethically, cherish big moments, preserve the planet

Speakers to CHSS, Earth & Environment grads: Live ethically, cherish big moments, preserve the planet

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Environmental studies and GIS double major Brooke Iacone addresses Commencement for the College of Humanities & Social Sciences and the School of Earth & Environment. Pictured below, graduate Elliott Scates addresses classmates.

In a combined ceremony for the College of Humanities & Social Sciences and the School of Earth & Environment, more than 600 Rowan University graduates were urged to live ethical lives, cherish big moments, and work to preserve the planet during a Commencement celebration on Tuesday, May 8.

“Throughout your years at Rowan University, we have worked with you to develop knowledge as well as norms, ethical and accountability standards, a sense of connection to society, an appreciation of difference and diversity, and empathy. We did this in the classroom and beyond,” CHSS Dean Nawal Ammar told the graduates.

In his address, Ken Lacovara, founding dean of the School of Earth & Environment, saluted graduates for dedicating themselves “to seeking and understanding the connections that bind this world together.

(To view photos of the ceremony and all Commencement activities this week, check out Rowan on Facebook.)

“All of you take a global view. And all of you have learned just how small and fragile our planet really is,” Lacovara said, also telling the graduates he’s confident they will work the rest of their lives to make the planet a better place.

Speaking to his classmates, Elliott Scates, who earned degrees in English and subject matter education, recounted his long journey to his degree, which was delayed after he lost his mom to cancer. All members of the class had to overcome challenges in some way, Scates said.

“So, classmates, I urge you to cherish these moments. Remember to focus on what you have instead of what is missing. Thank all of the people responsible for bringing you this far. And know that it’s OK if things did not work the way you had planned,” Scates said.

Meanwhile, Environmental Studies and Geographical Information Science major Brooke Iacone recounted how she felt lost in the beginning of her undergraduate career until she transferred to the School of Earth & Environment. The school graduated 47 students, who earned geography, geographical information science, planning, community and environmental planning and environmental studies degrees.

“You must face your obstacles with inexhaustible optimism and hard work,” Iacone told her classmates. “Do not allow your valleys to define you. Learn from them, overcome them, and you will shine even brighter at the peaks. Today, we stand on a peak together, celebrating the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. Enjoy the view. You earned it.”

Also during the ceremony, two CHSS professors—Stephen Hague in history and Nadine Sullivan in sociology and anthropology—received the 2018 CHSS Excellence in Teaching Awards. The awards are voted on and selected by CHSS students and recognize faculty who have demonstrated a commitment to students inside and outside the classroom, innovative teaching approaches and a passion for their content areas.

Finally, CHSS honored David Clowney, who is retiring after 30 years as a professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion.  Past recipient of the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award, Rowan’s highest honor for teaching excellence, Clowney played a formative role in his department, “developing aesthetics and environmental ethics into courses that have transformed the education of students in art, music and environmental studies,” CHSS Associate Dean Corinne Blake said.

Clowney thanked the graduates for the privilege of teaching them and also saluted and thanked his University colleagues.

“Each one of you is a gift to the world,” Clowney told the graduates, adding that it is their responsibility to figure out their gifts and to share them humbly with others. “Live it with your whole heart. We need you.”