Hoodings Honor 9 Doctoral Graduates Mentored by Same Prof

Doctoral Hooding with Dr. Brian Berry center

Dr. Brian Berry (center) gathers at the Doctoral Hooding Ceremony with nine doctoral scholars who graduated this spring after completing PhDs under his supervision.

Even in an academic career spanning more than five decades, there still is room for a few firsts.

For Dr. Brian J.L. Berry, the unprecedented feat took shape this spring when nine of his doctoral candidates completed their PhDs.

Dr. Berry, the Lloyd Viel Berkner Regental Professor in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, took the stage in the Clark Center last week to recognize his nine students’ academic achievements and presented them with their doctoral hoods.

“Different students work at different paces, and it was thus a happy accident that nine converged on the same graduation date – the most I have ever graduated in a single semester,” Berry said. 

Dr. Mehrzad Ahlberg

Dr. Mehrzad Ahlberg said the research she completed under Berry's supervision was rigorous but rewarding.


Dr. Robert Chalwell

Dr. Robert Chalwell said Berry helped keep his academic writing from becoming overly ornate.

He added that he works one-on-one with each doctoral student, tailoring weekly meetings to each student's needs.

“It’s a process of encouragement and occasional intimidation,” Berry said. “I enjoy it immensely when a doctoral student successfully defends the dissertation and moves on to a productive career.”

At the ceremony, Dr. Berry’s graduates walked across the stage one by one to receive their regalia and a congratulatory embrace from him.

“Dr. Berry’s been busy this semester,” Dean of Graduate Studies Dr. Austin Cunningham remarked after the ninth student received his hood.

After the ceremony, the group gathered for a few photos with Dr. Berry and commented on the arduous but rewarding task of finishing their degrees.

“I enjoyed every second of my work with Dr. Berry,” said Dr. Mehrzad Ahlberg. “It was a hardship, but a joyful one.”

Ahlberg completed her studies in public policy and political economy.

Dr. Robert Chalwell also received his doctoral hood from Berry this spring after completing his studies in political economies with a focus on the Commonwealth Caribbean.

“I’m honored to have been a part of this doctoral group,” Chalwell said. “I was humbled when [Dr. Berry] agreed to be my chair. The reputation that precedes him is enough to inspire awe in anyone, particularly an aspiring academic scholar.”

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Chalwell said he particularly appreciated Berry’s humor, even in criticism. One of the most valuable directions given by Berry, Chalwell said, was when he told him not to be quite so ‘Rococo’ in his writing style.

“I have a penchant for being a bit wordy and with a bit too much flourish in my academic writing,” Chalwell said. “I hope under his guidance I’ve struck a better balance in my voice as a scholar.”

Dr. Berry began his professional career in 1958 and has been on the faculty at UT Dallas since 1986. He was dean of the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences from 2005 to 2010.

“Guiding this many students to PhDs happens through a combination of incredible focus, tremendous attention to detail, and an outstanding empathy with students,” said EPPS Dean Dr. Denis Dean. “And Dr. Berry has all of these traits in spades.”

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].