Stockbridge School Class of 2023
University News

UMass Amherst Stockbridge School of Agriculture Celebrates Class of 2023

Graduates praised at 101st Commencement Ceremony for entering ‘noble professions’ that confront the global climate crisis

Graduates of the UMass Amherst Stockbridge School of Agriculture—one of the oldest and most prestigious agricultural programs in North America—were told today at the school’s 101st Commencement Ceremony that their calling has never been more relevant as the world confronts the challenges of climate change. 

Baoshan Xing
Stockbridge School Director Baoshan Xing addresses the graduates

Baoshan Xing, director of the Stockbridge School, welcomed students and their families to Stockbridge Hall’s Bowker Auditorium. The Class of 2023’s 26 students each received an associate degree in one of four majors: Arboriculture and community forest management, landscape contracting, sustainable horticulture and turfgrass management. 

Xing acknowledged the student with the highest GPA, arboriculture and community forest management major Nicholas Bain, who was a member of Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy’s platform party at Friday’s UMass Amherst commencement. 

Interim Dean of the College of Natural Sciences Nathaniel Whitaker introduced the chancellor, who outlined some of the tangible differences the graduates have made to the campus community and the commonwealth.  

“Our arboriculture and community forest management graduates have spent the past two years caring for trees throughout the commonwealth,” through internships, Subbaswamy said. “They climbed, planted, pruned, removed and inventoried thousands of trees across the state – and received high praise from their employers. Some of our graduates will be returning to these companies, while others will be starting their own tree care businesses.” 

Chancellor Subbaswamy addresses Stockbridge graduates
Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy speaks to the Class of 2023

Touching on the climate crisis, he said, “caring for trees in the global climate crisis is one of the most important and noble professions our graduates have chosen. We thank them for their commitment to our global community and the planet we inhabit.” 

The chancellor also addressed graduates of the landscape contracting program and their work to create and maintain sustainable spaces and environment for the common good, such as their renovation and updating of the university’s award-winning Durfee Conservatory.  

Landscape contracting graduates spent seven weeks redesigning university property for possible future use as visiting faculty housing, Subbaswamy noted, and worked with University Landscape Services to plant the 2023 Class tree: a Swamp White Oak which now lives on the North side of the University Campus Center. 

He also noted that members of the Class of 2023 were in high demand, with 100 percent either already employed or continuing their education. 

Interim Dean Whitaker shakes a students' hand
Interim Dean of the College of Natural Sciences Nathaniel Whitaker congratulates a graduate

Director Xing then presented awards to two graduating seniors. The John W. Denison Award for Academic Achievement and Student Leadership was presented to Sydney Gagnon, a landscape contracting major, for her “enthusiasm, meritorious academic achievements, impressive skills in the green industry, loyalty and commitment.” 

The Roland H. Verbeck Award, given to a student who exemplifies and upholds the ideals and spirit of the Stockbridge School, was presented to Liam Power, a turfgrass management senior. Xing praised Power for his “passion, dedication and positive attitude, coupled with his enthusiastic spirit, selfless commitment, motivation and initiative in student activities, research and recruitment.” 

The graduates were then conferred their degrees and pinned each other with the traditional Stockbridge pin, which symbolizes the connections they share with one another and the greater Stockbridge alumni community.