Graduate School To Hold Its 2015 Commencement Ceremony

Author: Evan Bryson


The Graduate School will hold its annual Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 16, at the Compton Family Ice Arena, 10:00 a.m.

Dr. Jane McAuliffe, a scholar of the Qur’an and early Islamic history, former president of Bryn Mawr College and director of the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, will deliver the Commencement Address.

At the ceremony, the University will recognize and celebrate the recipients of 245 doctoral degrees and 473 master’s degrees.

The recipients of several Graduate School awards will also be recognized during the ceremony.

  • Dr. Christopher Roberts (1994, Chemical Engineering), Dean of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, Auburn University, will be recognized as this year’s Distinguished Alumnus Award winner. A noted researcher whose focus is nanotechnology and synthetic fuels, Dr. Roberts was advised by Professor Joan Brennecke while at Notre Dame. As dean at Auburn, Dr. Roberts has led the college to record graduate and undergraduate enrollments and has spearheaded expansion of the college’s research programs—many of which address the vital issue of economic development in the state, region, and nation.
  • For his efforts on behalf of scores of graduate students, particularly his role in establishing a unique Ph.D. program joining the study of math and philosophy, Dr. Michael Detlefsen, the McMahon-Hank Professor of Philosophy, will be honored as the 2015 recipient of the University’s James A. Burns, C.S.C Graduate School Award. This award is given annually to a faculty member for distinction in teaching and honors the first Notre Dame president with an advanced degree.
  • Dr. Steven Corcelli, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, will be recognized as the winner of this year’s Director of Graduate Studies Award. He is so honored for his initiatives in increasing the number of external, full-stipend fellowships, such as the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships, won by Chemistry and Biochemistry graduate students and for increasing student diversity within the department.


The top graduating doctoral students in the humanities, social sciences, science and engineering will be honored with the Eli. J and Helen Shaheen Graduate School Awards.

  • Jeffrey Christians, Chemical Engineering, will be the recipient for engineering. He has performed pioneering research with solar cells, and has impressively communicated the results of this research worldwide. He is joining the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, as a postdoctoral researcher.
  • In the humanities, Ailbhe Darcy, an English Ph.D., will be the recipient. Darcy is honored for her scholarship on how contemporary Irish poets have responded to current pressures, including recession, emigration, and the changing role of the Catholic Church. In 2012, a poem from her book Imaginary Menagerie was featured in The Guardian as the “Poem of the Week.”
  • Douglas Hines, Chemistry, will be the recipient in the sciences. The broad focus of his research has been investigating cost-effective alternatives to the traditionally high-cost materials used in solar cells, which directly convert sunlight to electricity. He will be a visiting assistant professor at Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
  • In the social sciences, Michael Hartney, a political science Ph.D., will be the recipient. His innovative and compelling research examines the causes and consequences of teacher organization and activism in the United States. He is now an assistant professor of political science at Lake Forest College in Illinois.