Convocation 2017 Remarks by Presidential Professor Tony Ro

Tony Ro at Convocation
It is an honor to be speaking to you this morning as you embark upon your journey through graduate school, and I congratulate you and commend you for making the decision to come to the Graduate Center. As the main graduate degree granting institution of the City University of New York, the Graduate Center is a very special and unique place for many reasons. Most importantly, it offers immense opportunities to advance one’s scholarship, while at the same time serving the greater good, through a public institution that was founded upon the premise of educating “the children of the whole people” rather than the privileged few.
By way of a little more background than my introduction by Vice President Schoengood, like some of you and many of the undergraduates who you may be teaching during your time at CUNY, I, too, am a child of working class immigrant parents, neither of whom graduated from college. Unlike my older brother, I was not qualified enough in high school to get the scholarships necessary to attend a prestigious private university. However, through hard work and determination, I obtained a high quality and affordable undergraduate and graduate education through the public University of California system. After about a year and a half in London on a postdoctoral fellowship, I spent nine years on the faculty at a private university. At times, the elite culture of the private university environment left me feeling out of my element, so I was very pleased to be returning to my roots at a public institution of higher education in one of the greatest cities in the world. After spending seven years at The City College of New York, I moved my lab to the Graduate Center two years ago. On the seventh floor, my graduate students and I are, in essence, conducting studies that measure how the human brain processes and filters sensory information. I am very proud that we are fulfilling the mission of furthering science and the greater good in this exceptional public university.
The Graduate Center has allowed me to further develop, and I am certain will foster in you too, skills to excel in scholarship. The Graduate Center has held a long tradition of excellence in many disciplines. As a scientist, this is an especially exciting place to be right now with the recent completion in 2015 of the Decade of Science at CUNY and the opening of our Advanced Science Research Center, where the state-of-the-art facilities for doing nanoscience, photonics, structural biology, environmental science, and neuroscience are second-to-none. As an example, and one that is dear to my heart, our brand-new research dedicated magnetic resonance imaging scanner at the ASRC will allow us to non-invasively measure the brain at unprecedented resolutions and speeds to better understand neural structure and function. In addition to shared resources like this, faculty throughout the CUNY system have other leading-edge resources and expertise that will become highly beneficial to your success. It is resources like these that, despite being a public institution, I encourage you to seek out and use to prosper.
It is likely that the time you spend here at the Graduate Center will have profound influences on the rest of your lives. The lessons and skills that I learned as a graduate student are the foundations that influence and guide my research today. Graduate school in general and research in particular are not easy, and it is likely that your studies and research will sometimes not only take much longer than you anticipated but it will lead you down many different and often unexpected paths. Yet sometimes these different and unexpected paths lead to some of the most exciting discoveries. It is easy to get sidetracked and distracted, especially in this city with so much to offer, so do spend your precious time here wisely.
As you start this new phase of your lives, continue to maintain the brilliance, integrity, and work ethic that has allowed you to get here and take full advantage of what this institution has to offer. For those of you who are new to New York, welcome to the city, and to all of you, welcome to the Graduate Center.
Thank you.

Submitted on: AUG 22, 2017

Category: General GC News