Congratulations 2010 Graduates.
May 16, 2010
By Edward Levenson
The head of a national wildlife conservation group told this year's Delaware Valley College graduates that their future success depends on more than academic achievements and work experience.
"Don't forget this important advice: Do what you love! Because that's the secret to any truly meaningful career path," Dr. Michael Hutchins, executive director and chief executive officer of The Wildlife Society, said in his address at the college's 111th commencement on May 15.
"I've always had a deep and abiding love for nature and, frankly, I can't think of anything else I'd rather be doing. It's a passion I've had since I was a kid," said Hutchins, who received a doctorate from the University of Washington in 1984 and has headed The Wildlife Society since 2005. The society, based in suburban Washington, D.C., is an international nonprofit scientific and educational association that promotes the preservation of wildlife.
Listen to Michael Hutchins' speech.
Members of the Class of 2010 -- the largest in the college's 114-year-history -- and hundreds of family members attended the two-hour ceremony under a tent on the Quad. Of the record 455 graduates, 362 received bachelor's degrees, 90 master's degrees and three associate's degrees. Baccalaureates were awarded in 18 disciplines, but four dominated: animal biotechnology and conservation, animal science, biology and business administration.
The college conferred honorary degrees on James L. Linksz, president of Bucks County Community College since 1992; and Bruce Katsiff, chief executive officer and director of the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown since 1991.
Linksz, described as "a bedrock force in Bucks County education," received an honorary doctor of letters in recognition of his key role in expanding the Newtown-based college to campuses in Upper and Lower Bucks and launching online courses.
Katsiff, who holds a master's degree in fine arts from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y., was cited for his major contribution to the growth of the museum's facilities and endowment and transforming it into "a regional force in the world of art." He was awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters.
In his speech, college President Dr. Joseph S. Brosnan described four graduates who exemplify the diverse backgrounds and goals of DelVal students. They are: Elsbeth Centola of Bend, Ore., a biology major; Douglas Bocchino of Randolph, N.J., an ornamental horticulture major; Megan Barilla of Coopersburg, Pa., a counseling psychology major; and Debora Childs of Jamison, Pa., a mother of five and a food science major.
Other members of the Class of 2010 also have compelling stories, the president said.
"All will make a mark. All have potential, and all will realize it in some way -- whether you are aware of it or not," he said.
Listen to President Brosnan's speech.
Dr. James F. Trainer, chairman of the board of trustees, drew approval from the audience when he described the graduates as a "good-looking, smart class."
Hutchins told the graduates that his 30-plus years in wildlife conservation included tracking giant tortoises in the Galapagos Islands, banding Megallanic penguins in Argentina, scuba diving with manta rays on Australia's Great Barrier Reef and searching for rare Javan rhinoceroses in the jungles of Indonesia.
"I worry that the next generation will not have the opportunities that I have had to experience nature -- or even the desire to do so," said Hutchins, who earned his doctorate by studying the behavioral ecology of free-ranging Rocky Mountain goats introduced into Olympic National Park in Washington. Hutchins, who spent 15 years as conservation director of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, has written more than 200 technical and popular articles and books on wildlife management and science.
He urged students, whatever their discipline, to get involved in promoting wise environmental practices that ultimately will benefit humans and wildlife alike.
"We must all be optimists, and there is still much we can do if we act now," said Hutchins, who is active in the National Global Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center.
During the ceremony, the Distinguished Faculty Member Award was presented to Rodney Gilbert, assistant professor of animal science and a faculty member since 1973. The award recognizes teaching excellence, ability to relate to students and contributions to the college.
George F. West, who is retiring after 41 years at DelVal, was named emeritus professor of business administration. West also served as college president from 1991 to 1994.
Class President Amanda Leirvik, an animal biotechnology major, told her classmates, "From the first campus tour, I fell in love with DelVal." She said her affection for the school only grew during her four years on campus.
Peter Duane, a 1972 DelVal graduate and president of the alumni association, paid tribute to the members of the Class of 1960 in attendance. He noted they were the last graduates of the National Agricultural College, which was renamed Delaware Valley College of Science and Agriculture later that year.
He told this year's graduates they will be part of the fine reputation the college has achieved.
"We all want to protect that investment and see that investment grow," Duane said.