For Immediate Release—Friday, May 11, 2007
Mary E. McCrank
Media Relations Officer
Russian Educational Leader to Receive Honorary
SUNY Geneseo's 141st Commencement
Lt. Gov. David A. Paterson to deliver commencement address
GENESEO, N.Y.—Dr. Svetlana Grigorievna Ter-Minasova, one of Russia's most respected leaders promoting educational exchange and international cooperation among universities, will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the State University of New York (SUNY) during the 141st commencement at SUNY Geneseo this Saturday, May 12.
New York State Lt. Gov. David A. Paterson will deliver the commencement address. The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. on the site of the "B" parking lot adjacent to South Hall, just off of Park Street/College Drive between Main Street and Route 63. Approximately 1,140 undergraduates and 35 graduate students will participate in the exercises.
"Graduates in the Class of '07 have witnessed a tremendous amount of growth in their own lives as well as on the Geneseo campus since their arrival in September 2003," said Christopher C. Dahl, president of SUNY Geneseo. "In the brief span of four years, they have seen their soon-to-be alma mater build the Integrated Science Center; earn its first NCAA Division III national championship in women's cross country; win 26 SUNY Athletic Championships; and receive national recognition for helping Gulf Coast families recover from Hurricane Katrina, all while engaging in campus activities and pursuing academic excellence that has been recognized by leading national publications. They have much to be proud of, and our entire campus community salutes their achievement. In keeping with tradition started more than 135 years ago, Geneseo is sending thoughtful, well-prepared graduates into the world."
Paterson, who was elected lieutenant governor of New York in November 2006, is known for demanding and achieving change at every level throughout his political career. Elected to represent Harlem in the state Senate in 1985, he was voted by his peers in 2002 to serve as minority leader of the Senate, becoming the first non-white legislative leader in New York's history. In 2004, Paterson—who is legally blind—became the first visually impaired person to address a Democratic National Convention (Boston). In 2006, running on the Democratic ticket with Governor Eliott Spitzer, he became the first African-American elected as New York's lieutenant governor.
Paterson is a nationally recognized advocate for the visually and physically impaired. He is a graduate of Columbia University and Hofstra Law School and also serves as an adjunct professor at Columbia's School for International and Public Affairs.
Paterson's address is titled "A Challenge: Be an Integral Part of New York's Future—The Responsibilities of Higher Education."
According to Paterson, New York state faces many hurdles regarding economic development, education and opportunities. Since 1990, upstate's population has grown slower than all but two states and has lost 25 percent of its young people ages 20 to 34. In the Rochester area, population declined by 8 percent.
In a preview of his remarks, Patterson will encourage Geneseo graduates to be an integral part of New York's future, believing that "our state needs you and your imagination, valor and diligence to take advantage of the opportunities ahead of us. And like everything that's worthwhile, those opportunities come with challenges which you can tackle and conquer. The state of New York is counting on your success; we can't afford to see you fail."
Paterson will tell Geneseo's Class of 2007 they are the solution to New York's challenges. "The qualities that will help you overcome these trials are the things you learned in your old life. You have a life ahead of you and I dare you to use that life to find solutions to our common problems."
Also during the ceremony, Gordon Gross and Stephen Hunt, members of the SUNY board of trustees, will confer the Doctor of Humane Letters degree on Dr. Svetlana Grigorievna Ter-Minasova, professor and founding dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages and Area Studies of Lomonosov Moscow State University (MSU). As one of Russia's best-known and most respected leaders promoting educational exchange and international cooperation among universities, Dr. Ter-Minasova will be honored for her life's work, as well as her active partnership with the State University and Geneseo in creating exchange agreements and other dual degree programs between the academic institutions.
Dr. Ter-Minasova is a world-renowned scholar in applied linguistics and cross-cultural communications. She completed her undergraduate studies in the English department of the philological faculty at MSU, where she later earned a doctorate in language and logic. She joined the faculty in 1983 and has continued to serve with distinction as a teacher, scholar and administrator. Among her many awards is the Russian Medal of Friendship, presented by President Vladimir Putin.
Senior orator and international relations major Holly Klopchin, from Goshen, N.Y., will also speak to graduates and guests. Her address, titled "My Geneseo Family," will pay tribute to Geneseo's influence, which began in 1966 when her parents met as freshmen at the college. In addition, her sisters and brother-in-law are all alumni.
"Before 2003, the only Geneseo I had ever known was the one that my mother, father and sisters had talked about since I was young," she is expected to tell her classmates. "They talked about it as if it were another member of the family; the stories, the education, and the friends and memories my family would never forget. É"
Other highlights expected to take place during tomorrow's ceremony will include a greeting by Aminy I. Audi, a member of the SUNY board of trustees, and a performance of Geneseo's alma mater by senior John Kaczorowski of Williamsville, N.Y., who majored in theater/English and adolescent education.
Also during commencement, the Richard Roark Award will be presented to Sara F. Gordon, a double major in political science and psychology, of Chestnut Ridge, N.Y., for her excellence in academics and service to the community.
In addition, several awards were presented to students at today's New Alumni Convocation:
¤ The Student Association President's Cup was presented to Jessica Vigars of West Seneca, N.Y., for her exemplary service, dedication and leadership to the Student Association and its organizations.
¤ The Alumni Association Student Leadership Award was presented to Thomas Coleman of Allegany, N.Y., for his exemplary leadership in college activities directed at advancing the quality of student life at Geneseo and promoting greater awareness for lifelong associations with the college.
¤ The Edward Pettinella '73 Senior Leadership Awards were presented to Sergey Zinger of Fairport, N.Y., who will receive $2,500 for graduate school, and to Kristen Johnson of East Otto, N.Y., and Xiu Yi Zhen of New York, N.Y., who will each receive $1,250 for entering the job market.
Also during commencement, seniors Kristen Rathbun of Horseheads, N.Y., and Sarah Chambers of Fort Plain, N.Y., will present the college with a check representing the senior class gift, which will fund four student scholarships and a 15-foot presidential clock. The scholarships, each for $1,000, will be awarded to: freshman Colleen McNamara of Clarence, N.Y., sophomore Stephanie Murdock of Oyster Bay, N.Y., junior Brendan See of Lockport, N.Y., and senior Thomas Coleman of Allegany, N.Y.
The Geneseo Brass Ensemble will provide music at commencement.
Geneseo's commencement will be broadcast live on the Web at http://commencement.geneseo.edu.