The School of Information celebrated 236 graduates on Sunday, January 16, in an online commencement ceremony.
Dean Jennifer Chayes opened the I School’s third virtual commencement event by saying that while the virtual format wasn’t what everyone had wished for, graduates should focus on what was really important: their considerable achievements.
“I see the I School and you, its graduates, as leaders in taking our world to where it needs to go next,” she said. “You will create breakthroughs, run companies, start companies, found movements, and be academic leaders — and you’ll do all this by doing what the I School has always done — by combining information and technology with human perspective and purpose. I am much more confident about the future knowing that the world will be in your very capable hands.”
Assistant Dean of Academic Programs, Equity, and Inclusion, Catherine Cronquist Browning asked graduates to begin to see themselves as part of a new, larger network that includes all of the I School’s alumni, and asked that the new graduates take on not only the technical challenges of data science, cybersecurity and information studies, but to also eagerly take responsibility for the social impacts of the work they will do. She went on to tell graduates that she understood and personally recognized the difficult journey they faced in pursuit of their graduate degrees.
“I know intimately the kind of juggling, time management, and self-discipline that each of you has applied while you were an I School student, and I’m very proud to work with and for a group of such dedicated, creative people,” Assistant Dean Browning said. “So today I am celebrating your intellectual achievements, and I also want to recognize your personal achievements — doing everything you needed to do to make it to this Commencement ceremony.”
The graduates included 159 Master of Information and Data Science program (MIDS), students (including 66 from Summer 2021 and 93 from Fall 2021), 47 5th Year MIDS students, 28 Master of Information and Cybersecurity program (MICS) students (including 10 from Summer 2021 and 18 from Fall 2021), and two Ph.D. students.
Resilience and optimism was a recurring theme, with keynote speaker Jennifer Urban, Clinical Professor of Law at the UC Berkeley School of Law and inaugural Chair of the California Privacy Protection Agency board, expressing hope for a future with I School graduates in it. “The stakes are high,” she said. “But I am optimistic — and I am optimistic in part specifically because of you and the skills and knowledge your degrees represent. In working on these problems, you will bring with you the professional traditions and understandings of information science — library science, data science, social science, and technical expertise — and the gift of the I School approach,” she said.
Head graduate advisors professors Alex Hughes and Chris Hoofnagle announced Final Project and Capstone Award winners, and graduates from each program recognized outstanding faculty and students as voted by students.
Two I School Ph.D. program graduates were recognized by their advisors: Aditya Parameswaran spoke about graduate Doris Lee, whose dissertation highlights making data exploration and visualization easier and more accessible through automation, and Deirdre Mulligan honored Nitin Kohli (MIDS ’15), whose work focuses on privacy, security, and fairness.
And while we weren’t all celebrating together in person, the cheer and community were palpable in the live YouTube comments, across social media, and over Zoom, where graduates were cheered by family, friends, faculty and staff.
Urban asked graduates to pause and remember how we have all been destabilized by the uncertainty of the pandemic, and said, “... in this moment, we pause to remember your success in a difficult endeavor, the community you’ve built, and both the achievement and potential your degrees represent. You have accomplished a great deal — for yourselves, for your profession, for Berkeley — and I am excited for what you will accomplish next.”