Social Sciences celebrates summer MA, PhD graduates

Announcement Type: 
Dean of Students

Social Sciences alumni address graduating students at inaugural summer celebration

Social Sciences Summer Degree Celebration 2017


Graduate students of the Division of the Social Sciences who earned their degrees during summer quarter participated in a warm celebration of their academic achievement on Friday, August 25 at Ida Noyes Hall.


Amanda Woodward, Dean of the Division of the Social Sciences and William S. Gray Distinguished Service Professor of Psychology, welcomed a gathering of graduates, families, and friends to the Max Palevsky auditorium. She explained that the event is the start of a new tradition to celebrate the Division’s Masters and PhD students graduating at the end of the summer quarter. 


The inaugural Social Sciences Summer Degree Celebration included an opportunity for graduates to pick up their diploma in person. The University discontinued the practice of holding formal graduations each academic quarter earlier this year.


Two accomplished alumni of MA programs in the Social Sciences were invited to address the students on the occasion. Margaret Mueller, MA ’97, shared her personal experience navigating the academic and corporate world, overcoming uncertainty and setbacks along the way, and the value of keeping a strong sense of balance throughout. 


“You can’t plan what’s going to happen in your life, but you can have a good compass that guides you and helps you decide what to do when two paths present themselves,” she said.


Mueller graduated from the Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences (MAPSS) at the University of Chicago in 1997. Today she is President of Shapiro-Raj, a brand and marketing research consultancy that is the sixth-largest independent company in North America. Mueller also serves as the Division of the Social Sciences liaison to the University of Chicago Alumni Board.


Michael Desch, MA ’84, PhD ’88 followed with remarks from his perspective as a graduate of the Committee in International Relations (CIR) in 1984. Desch is Professor and Director of the International Security Center at the University of Notre Dame. He is a University of Chicago alumnus twice over, also having earned a doctorate in Political Science in 1988.


“CIR was the perfect marriage of a rigorous and intense intellectual environment that characterizes the University of Chicago, but with a surprisingly practical focus,” Desch said. “You’re now part of this distinguished intellectual tradition, whether you take your MA and begin your career, or whether like Margaret and myself and your MA is just the first step on the ladder of further education. Either way you’re part of a great tradition.” 


In concluding remarks, Woodward invited the graduates and their guests to enjoy a reception and luncheon in Ida Noyes Hall, and congratulated the speakers and students again on their success.


“It’s wonderful to hear from these two alumni who’ve done wonderful things with their lives,” Woodward said. “I look out at the room and I think there are going to be stories like this over the years from each of you.”