Maxwell School Celebrates Graduate Students, PhDs at 2016 Graduate Convocation

“You must not just change the world, you must SAVE the world,” urged keynote speaker Catherine Bertini at the Maxwell School’s 2016 Graduate Convocation celebrating the graduate students and PhDs who received their degrees at Syracuse University Commencement this past weekend. “Each of you have made a commitment to make the world a better place. One by one, you can do that.”

Bertini, a professor of public administration and international affairs at the Maxwell School, drew on her decades of experience helping to make the world a better place: as Executive Director of the World Food Program and Undersecretary General for Management at the UN; as Assistant Secretary in the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services; as a senior fellow with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; and as an academic. She also emphasized the importance of developing new strategies and ways of thinking for today’s world, citing examples of many Maxwell alumni, “who are changing the world – in new ways – employing new methods, renewed integrity, and a revitalized sense of energy.” Read her keynote address here.

Graduating student Mirjahon Turdiyev (EMPA ’16) shared how his time at Maxwell prepared him to better promote and lead initiatives that empower and include persons with disabilities in mainstream society: “The biggest intellectual evolution for me has been the expansion of my approach to all public issues by adding the question of ‘How?’ to ‘Why?’ … [it] has led me to deliberate about the processes and instruments for more effective, participatory, and democratic policies and decision making as a public servant.”


Dean James B. Steinberg served as Master of Ceremony, marking his last Syracuse University Commencement as dean of the Maxwell School. He celebrated the accomplishments of Maxwell’s faculty in developing the new class of future leaders, announcing recent teaching, research, and advising award recipients.

Assistant Professor of Sociology Gretchen Purser and Assistant Professor of Geography Natalie Koch both received the 2016 Daniel Patrick Moynihan Award for Teaching and Research, “the most valued recognition earned by a junior Maxwell faculty member.”

Steinberg congratulated Purser for her impressive service record both at the University and in the community, saying: “Her community leadership, evidenced in her training and support of low-wage workers, her placement of Syracuse student volunteers across the city, and her efforts at social justice organization, embody the spirit of citizenship and engagement that the Moynihan Award represents.”

Steinberg commended Koch for her prolific and wide-ranging research including a book manuscript to be completed this year, “Spectacular Cities: Authoritarianism and the New Capitals of Asia.” Koch is also the recipient of the 2016 Meredith Teaching Recognition Award for outstanding teaching at Syracuse University.

Professor of Anthropology Deborah Pellow received the Faculty Advisor of the Year Award at Saturday’s A&S/Maxwell undergraduate Convocation ceremony. Dr. Pellow is a fierce advocate for undergraduates, but one with a soft touch and warm heart,” said Kandice Salomone, associate dean for advising and career services in the College of Arts and Sciences. “She expects the best from students, always challenging them to meet their full potential, but always there to lend a helping hand.”

The weekend concluded Sunday with the all University Commencement Celebration in the Carrier Dome, with keynote address by Donald Newhouse ‘51.