School of Engineering Dean Delivers Commencement Address to Missouri S&T Ph.D. Graduates
Dr. Oscar Barton, professor and dean of the Morgan State University Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. School of Engineering, delivered the commencement addresses during Missouri University of Science and Technology’s (S&T) graduation ceremony for Ph.D. students, held Friday, May 12, on campus in the Gale Bullman Building in Rolla, Missouri. Dean Barton was selected by Missouri S&T Chancellor Mohammad Dehghani to share his wisdom and perspective with the doctoral graduates, their families and guests. Missouri S&T is a STEM-focused research university of more than 7,000 students
Barton told graduates about his childhood experiences in a Washington, D.C., family of eight, learning servant leadership and the importance of education from his father, a veteran of World War II and the Korean Conflict.
“Although a man of few words, I am sure that he would have celebrated that his son was the first African-American to achieve the rank of tenured full professor in the Division of Engineering and Weapons at one of our nation’s colleges, The United States Naval Academy,” Barton said. “And then to go on to lead its 42-member faculty as department chair. No doubt we both would have shared in my election as a Fellow of ASME.
“He would never enjoy any of these moments,” said Barton, whose father died two years before he earned his Ph.D. However, Barton said, “He is never far from me. Now in my office at Morgan State University sits his American Flag alongside a statue of a gold eagle, both of which are quite close to my desk plate, which reads Dean Oscar Barton Jr.”
Barton told the graduates about the history of Missouri S&T’s Ph.D. programs, noting the first Ph.D. graduate, William Smothers, who earned a Ph.D. in ceramic engineering in 1944. Barton then cited interesting demographic facts from that time, noting key innovations developed since.
“We continue to address societal needs through innovation and knowledge creation, the essence of a terminal degree,” Barton said. “And what does the future hold? How will you advance society with your newly earned credentials?”
Barton concluded his speech with predictions of future innovations.
“The robes you adorn symbolize your academic achievements,” he said. “Your graduation today authorizes you to challenge nature and all of its glory for the betterment of humanity.
“You are ready,” Barton said. “Accept this challenge. Remember this day. Remember this feeling.
“And remember what Miners do – Miners dig deeper.”
Barton is a member of the Missouri S&T Board of Trustees and a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), through which he is actively involved in academic innovations and program assessment. He was appointed to the ASME Foundation board of directions in fall 2022.
The video can be viewed on Missouri S&T's Facebook page.