Jul 30, 2014
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AIDS Researcher Delivers Keynote at UConn Graduate Commencement

Virologist Robert Gallo discovered that HIV was the cause of AIDS.

Hundreds of graduate students were presented with diplomas at the university’s graduate commencement Saturday afternoon at .

The graduates, most of whom came from the university’s business school or teaching program, spanned a range of ages, interests, degrees and career goals. While many of the students enrolled in their post-graduate programs right after getting their bachelor's degrees, many, including Edilia Mora, postponed their advanced degrees.

“It’s just wonderful,” said Mora, who got her master's degree in business administration. “I actually stopped when I had my baby, so this was a goal for me.”

At the ceremony, UConn President Susan Herbst presented two influential scholars with honorary doctorate degrees from UConn. Herbst honored Thomas Pogge, a philosopher and international human rights advocate. Herbst said UConn emphasizes the importance of studying human rights, and soon will be the only public research university to have a human rights major.

The second person to receive an honorary doctorate Saturday was Robert Gallo, a virologist who discovered that HIV was the cause of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. Gallo was the keynote speaker for the ceremony.

Gallo, whom Herbst introduced as someone who “tirelessly devoted [his] life and career to fighting AIDS,” said in his speech that every scholar — not just those in the sciences — has the opportunity to improve the world and rid it of epidemic diseases like AIDS. His research, he said, spans all academic interests and research.

“Science does not flourish in unfairness,” Gallo said, adding that the “heaviness of life” would not be bearable without the “beauty and imagination” provided by those devoted to the arts and humanities.

Gallo, a Connecticut native, emphasized the importance of being adaptable and cooperative and told the graduates not to be afraid of failing.

“Anyone productive ... has failed many times,” Gallo said.

Students graduating with a doctorate of pharmacy had a separate ceremony Saturday, as did undergraduates from UConn’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the School of Engineering and the School of Fine Arts.

Undergraduates in UConn’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences graduate Sunday, along with graduates of the Neag School of Education and the School of Business. A full schedule of UConn’s graduation ceremonies can be found online.

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